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Mesterházy at the helm

January 10th, 2014

Left-wing dailies express mixed emotions over the new opposition pact, fearing that time is too short to reach out to potential voters. A pro-government commentator thinks that by embracing Mr Gyurcsány as their future partner, Socialist Party chairman Attila Mesterházy and Together-2014 leader Gordon Bajnai have given up their quest for something different to the pre-2010 system of government.

In Népszabadság, Judit N. Kósa is still “desperate”, despite agreeing with prominent liberal intellectuals who have expressed their satisfaction over the decision to expand the opposition alliance to Ferenc Gyurcsány’s DK and other left-liberal groupings (See BudaPost, January 7 and 8). (The signatories, some of whom wanted to see Mr Bajnai as PM Orbán’s challenger, are also calling for a new candidate for Prime Minister “if possible”.) She finds it appalling that three months before (the probable) date of the elections the opposition is still negotiating on a list of joint candidates, whereas they should already be loudly propagating their common programme, which is still to be forged. Kósa suggests that opposition leaders have shown flexibility because they are already thinking about what could happen after a probable electoral defeat. Firstly, they do not want to carry the can and be blamed for that defeat, and secondly they are already trying to maximise their presence in the future parliamentary opposition. After all that is done, how much time will be left for a clear and responsible campaign? she asks.

Népszava strikes a more upbeat tone in its title – “Democrats forward”, but economist András Lázár essentially agrees with Kósa. It is fine, he says, to see the fragmented opposition finally uniting, but it comes a little late. To present themselves as a credible alternative to the Fidesz regime, they have to convince voters that such an alliance of forces with diverse programmes could act as a unified government, sacrificing both personal ambitions and diverging visions. Still, it is not too late to reach a compromise, he claims, within which individual views are not suppressed but will not be expressed in public.

In Magyar Hírlap, László Kiss quotes statements by Socialist luminaries who have strictly excluded any kind of close co-operation with Ferenc Gyurcsány over the past few months. Tibor Szanyi , MP said “no future can be built with a mentally deranged billionaire”. Party chairman Attila Mesterházy also said recently that “Gyurcsány represents the past”, and “today’s MSZP is another party, different from the one led (from 2007 to 2009) by Ferenc Gyurcsány”. Kiss suggests that in rewriting their original stance, the two leaders have shown that party interests are more important to them than ideals.

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