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Opposition negotiations: is there a place for Gyurcsány?

September 9th, 2013

A liberal commentator argues that the Socialists, after coming to an agreement with Gordon Bajnai, are much less eager to grant Gyurcsány the positions he has asked for, while a conservative columnist points out that even if opposition forces come to an agreement regarding their candidate for PM, they still have no political programme for the voters. An independent centrist analyst says that despite naive hopes to the contrary, new faces are unlikely to emerge on the Hungarian political scene in the near future and the political elite is here to stay.

Following the agreement between the MSZP and Together-2014 (see BudaPost September 2), Ferenc Gyurcsány asked MSZP for ten constituencies for his DK party and the second place on the national MSZP list. MSZP finds this request overly ambitious.

Analysing the conflict-ridden relationship between MSZP and its former leader on Index, Szabolcs Panyi believes on having Gyurcsány back on board. The MSZP did offer cooperation to four small parties, including DK while wrangling with Together-2014, he recalls, but has much less incentive to embrace them after coming to terms with Bajnai. Panyi also mentions substantial divergences between the two sides – Gyurcsány would cancel the vote for transborder Hungarians while MSZP and Together would not; the Socialists want to abolish tuition fees which Gyurcsány wants to retain; finally, MSZP and Together both stand for a progressive income tax. But over and above such policy differences is the perception among MSZP leaders that Gyurcsány is deeply unpopular. The former Prime Minister is now relegated to the status of one of the very minor partners, and Panyi thinks MSZP is unlikely to offer him more than one or two districts.

In Heti Válasz, János Pelle argues that despite the agreement between the MSZP and Together, the two opposition parties have very little to offer: “they fall back on the usual theme of anti-Fascism and on references to minority problems”. He suggests the left should have realized the downside of taking the lead in privatisation and deregulation (conducted mainly by a left-liberal government from 1994 to 1998), instead of creating a truly social democratic framework at that time. Now they think vague promises of solidarity will suffice – yet their message is confused and incoherent, thereby unlikely to attract new voters in 2014.

Gábor Török in his regular monthly analysis for the print edition of the same weekly relates how often people ask him “when new faces will appear” on the political scene. Such desires are understandable, he says, but it is highly unlikely that a competent politician can emerge from nothing. It took Mesterházy, now leader of the Socialists, and the prominent Fidesz politician János Lázár years to establish their political persona, each weathering a heavy barrage of press criticism and internal intrigue. The present elite – with Orbán, Lázár, Mesterházy, Bajnai and the others, Gyurcsány, Jobbik leader Gábor Vona and LMP leader András Schiffer –may not be easy to like but they will be the only choices in 2014.

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