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Left wing in crisis less than 6 months before the elections

November 25th, 2013

Right-wing commentators concentrate their fire on Bajnai and Gyurcsány, and tend to consider Mesterházy as the victim of the aforementioned. Left wing analysts have begun to voice serious doubts about whether the Socialists and their allies are in a position to even successfully wage a campaign.

In Magyar Nemzet, Anna Szabó thinks the MSZP is still under the influence of the now defunct Liberal party (SZDSZ), whose ideology, she suggests, is encompassed today by Gordon Bajnai’s Together 2014 party “and the financial circles supporting it from behind the scenes”. On top of it all, she continues, these forces do not merely wish to shape the economic policies of the Socialist party – “they want to lead the left-wing electoral alliance as a whole”. Szabó quotes as evidence a recent statement by Bajnai: “This time next year, I will be Prime Minister”.

In the same daily, Miklós Ugró wonders why Gordon Bajnai “so stubbornly” repeats that his reforms “will hurt”. (He said so in 2009 when elected Prime Minister by the left-wing parliamentary majority for one year as head of a crisis-managing government. He repeated that sentence recently, but explained later on that this time his measures, in case he becomes Prime Minister again, would hurt the beneficiaries of the right-wing regime.) Ugró has another explanation for Bajnai’s statement, namely that those leaders who don’t win their post as a result of a general election, but are practically “appointed”, are prone to losing self-control. The reason is, he thinks, that they build no “natural contact” or dialogue with the people, and therefore have no sense of what the community’s real needs are.

In Heti Válasz, János Pelle says that with six months to go until the elections “we have no idea” what the left wing would actually do if it won the elections. It criticises the present government but offers no tangible alternatives, which suggests that a potential left-wing government, would revert to the “neo-liberal utopia” which signally failed to improve the lot of the great majority of Hungarians over the past two decades. Strange as this may sound, he adds, voters must choose between the right-wing policies of the left-wing parties and the left-wing policies of the current right-wing government. The planned nationalisation of part of the energy sector and of public utilities and subsidies granted to productive enterprises are all left-wing practices. Their success is far from guaranteed, Pelle concludes, but apparently the electorate finds these policies far more attractive than those proposed by the opposition.

In the print version of the same weekly, editor Gábor Borókai believes the main difference between the two sides in Hungary today is that the right wing is ruled by elected politicians, who sometimes don’t even bother to listen to their intellectuals, while on the Left leaders are subordinated to their intellectuals and market forces. The result of that influence is a „no people, no cry” mentality, which consists in suggesting that the majority should bear the brunt of this subservience to market forces, which is then supposed to produce affluence for all. The trouble is that people have been told to be patient, waiting for a better future for twenty years and have had enough by now. Today’s majority opts for a strong state, because it has absolutely no faith in the altruism of market forces, Borókai concludes.


In Népszabadság, former Socialist MEP Gyula Hegyi also believes that the current MSZP, not to mention its allies, is unable to come up with an authentic left-wing alternative to the coherent world view of the governing conservatives. This is why, in spite of what he deems as the right wing failure in government, the opposition hasn’t been able to increase its own constituency since its crushing defeat in 2010. “They even let the right wing act as the chief   critic of Capitalism!”, he exclaims. They oppose the nationalisation of public services and “uncritically admire the US just like they used to (admire) the Soviet Union”, which in Hegyi’s opinion means that they haven’t learned anything from history. And since the groupings to the left of the Socialist Party are unable to coagulate into a sizeable force, he suggests, the new Left will have to be shaped through a thorough reform of the MSZP after the elections.

Népszabadság’s acting editor-in-chief Levente Tóth seriously considers the option of staying at home next spring, tending the trees in his garden, rather than going to vote “for this impotent opposition”. Left-wing leaders bare their teeth more fiercely in their battles with one another than with the governing forces, as if victory was guaranteed and the only problem was who should become Prime Minister. In reality they are one step away from the abyss (of electoral defeat) Tóth warns. Just like in 2010, PM Orbán must feel that he does not have to do anything to win, for the opposition is even unable to tell the voters what it wants to do in case of victory. “If they happen to know, they should tell us. And if they don’t, they had better not win this time”.


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