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Deception on the left over failed talks on PM candidacy

August 27th, 2013

After Saturday’s twin commentary on the subject, Népszabadság devotes an editorial, four opinion pieces and two online commentaries to the failure of the two main left-wing leaders to agree on how to choose a joint candidate for Prime Minister for next year’s elections.

Socialist Party chairman Attila Mesterházy and  Together-2014 leader Gordon Bajnai proposed two, mutually unacceptable methods to decide who should lead the left-wing opposition into the electoral campaign. Bajnai suggested a series of public debates with pollsters reporting on their relative popularity, whereas Mesterházy said proper primaries should be held in all 106 constituencies to choose whose candidate should run against the right wing in each, with the leader of the most popular party becoming automatically candidate for Prime Minister. (See BudaPost, August 26.) On Monday, Bajnai partially backed down, accepting one third of the constituencies as originally proposed by the Socialists, but without withdrawing his call for a virtual primary system, involving opinion poll companies.

In his Népszabadság comment, deputy editor Gábor Horváth doubts if either of the two conflicting proposals were made in good faith. He believes it is too late to prepare for primaries. Since to run separately would condemn the left-wing parties to failure, he continues, one of the two leaders should step back: there is bound to be only one candidate for premier, he explains, and it must be the stronger one (i.e. Mesterházy). “Life is cruel,” he concludes, as if addressing his words to Bajnai.

In Népszabadság online, Sándor Révész takes Bajnai’s side and believes the solution involving pollsters would be a fair one, while Mesterházy’s idea of a series of proper primaries was made in bad faith, as those caucuses would reflect the superior Socialist infrastructure, but not the mood of the potential voters. Among those favouring a government change, he argues, Bajnai is more popular than the Socialist leader, but most such people are not devoted enough to take part in caucuses. Their opinions can only be measured by the pollsters. By rejecting that solution, Révész concludes, Mesterházy has sacrificed the already meagre chances of the Left.

László Rab accuses left-wing leaders in his Népszabadság online comment of “doing their utmost to keep Fidesz in power”. He is “sad to declare” that left-wingers must get used to the “fearful reality”, of another four years of Viktor Orbán as Prime Minister.

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