Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Left-wing alliance talks run into the sand

August 26th, 2013

Commentators and analysts ponder whether a left-wing election alliance is still possible after negotiations between the MSZP and Together 2014 stalled and a bitter dispute erupted between the party leaders.

In a new round of talks between the MSZP and Together 2014 on Friday about a possible electoral coalition, former PM Bajnai proposed a virtual primary election to choose the two parties’ joint candidate for Prime Minister. The leader of Together 2014 suggested that after a round of public debates between the candidates, opinion polling companies should be commissioned in order to identify the more popular candidate. MSZP leader Attila Mesterházy called the idea ”a diktat” and recommended that proper primaries should be held in each of the 106 constituencies. Mr Mesterházy added that if Together 2014 does not agree, his party would consider the negotiations closed and the MSZP would then try to seek an alliance with former PM Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition, a new liberal party led by former SZDSZ chair Gábor Fodor and Andor Schmuck’s tiny Social Democratic Party. According to an unnamed source quoted by Index.hu, Together 2014 is not willing to compromise and would rather run independently than accept the terms proposed by the Socialists. Political scientist Gergely Karácsony, a former MP of LMP, now supporting Bajnai’s Together 2014 argued in his blog that it was impossible to organize fair and transparent primaries, among other reasons because it would not be clear who should have the right to vote in the caucuses.

The joint candidate of the MSZP and Together 2014 cannot be elected by a proper primary election, Judit Kósa agrees in Népszabadság. The left-wing columnist suggests voting eligibility could not be specified in a way which would rule out fraud. She believes that the solution suggested by Bajnai would be helpful not only in picking the ideal candidate but also in providing wide publicity for the opposition parties.

In the same daily, Ervin Tamás contends that the bitter tug of war between the MSZP and Together 2014 is bound to weaken both parties. Because of the recent electoral reform, the left-wing parties may hope to defeat Fidesz at the 2014 election only if they run in an alliance, Tamás points out. If the two parties decide to have separate candidates and party lists, Fidesz can easily win a two-thirds majority again, and then the blame game on the left would further entrench the cleavages between MSZP and Together 2014, Tamás notes.

It would be tragic if Fidesz could again secure a two thirds majority in Parliament, conservative blogger Dávid Lakner ruminates on the same subject. He accuses Fidesz of having misused its power and weakened democratic checks and balances in order to strengthen its financial and ideological hinterland rather than uprooting corruption as expected by its voters. In the absence of a strong left-wing alliance, the radical Fidesz policy line would be prolonged, Lakner concludes.

The whole dispute between the MSZP and Together 2014 is completely misplaced, Heti Világgazdaság maintains. Instead of forming a proper coalition, the two parties should simply focus on defeating Fidesz in 2014 with the single aim of restoring the 1989 Constitution and reversing all the reforms introduced by the Orbán government, the left liberal weekly proposes.

In the light of the recent developments it is unlikely that the MSZP and Together 2014 will broker an agreement in the near future, Gábor Miklósi speculates in Index. However, the liberal commentator does not believe it was necessarily a bad move from Bajnai to break the status quo and put forward an ultimatum since after the break-up of talks his party can focus on spreading its message rather than fighting with the Socialists. Even if the two parties do manage to initial an agreement, it cannot be taken for granted that their coalition government would be any better than a Fidesz government, Miklósi concludes.

Gábor Török also believes that the odds are that the two parties cannot agree about a joint party list and candidates. The centrist analyst adds that the long skirmish between the MSZP and Together 2014 has weakened both parties. Pondering the wider implications, Török believes that neither Mesterházy nor Bajnai will be able to maintain their leadership after the 2014 election, since both will be held responsible for a Fidesz victory. If the two parties fail to agree at least about jointly supported single seat candidates, Fidesz could even secure a four-fifths majority in the House, Török notes.

Writing in Mandiner, Bence Pintér suggests that there is no real competition between Mesterházy and Bajnai to become a joint PM candidate. On the contrary, both party leaders want to avoid being the poster boy of a left-wing alliance without any realistic chance to defeat Fidesz in the 2014 election.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,