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Prospects for the new opposition coalition

January 17th, 2014

Left-wing pundits maintain that the new alliance is the only possible hope to challenge PM Orbán, albeit a rather slender one. Pro-government columnists consider the deal as proof that the left lacks ideas.

On Tuesday, MSZP chair Mesterházy, Together 2014’s Gordon Bajnai, Ferenc Gyurcsány (Democratic Coalition) and Gábor Fodor (Liberals) agreed to run jointly at the next election (see BudaPost January 15). It was also agreed that Attila Mesterházy will lead the joint ballot as candidate for Prime Minister.

In Népszabadság, Róbert Friss suggests that the last minute left-wing coalition is not a dream team, but one must realize that at this point, it is the only possible option on the left to challenge Viktor Orbán at the election this spring. By creating a broad coalition, the left wing has simplified the dilemma facing voters, Friss speculates. He believes that the left alliance unites democrats against what Friss calls the authoritarian Fidesz. The main question that voters will have to answer is whether they want to give a chance to the democratic left to modernize the country. But even if they cannot defeat Fidesz, it would be important for the united left to gain enough seats to keep a next Orbán government under democratic control, Friss concludes.

Writing in the same daily, Ervin Tamás contends that the agreement is a huge blow to Gordon Bajnai. Together 2014 chair Bajnai, who had ambitions to be PM Orbán’s challenger, has had to realize by now that his party may not even pass the 5 per cent parliamentary threshold on its own, Tamás remarks.

Index also believes that the main loser of the new arrangement is Gordon Bajnai. His party will now have seats in the next Parliament, but it cannot from now on credibly claim that it is an alternative both to Fidesz on the right and the left-wing parties. While the deal is very beneficial for Ferenc Gyurcsány, who both secured seats in the House and restored his image on the left, MSZP chairman Mesterházy, the leader of the opposition ballot could easily become the scapegoat for a likely defeat at the 2014 election. Pondering the chances of the left-wing alliance in a separate article, Gábor Miklós contends that the same old faces on the left are unlikely to mobilize enough undecided voters to defeat Fidesz. The liberal analyst speculates that the deal will prolong and conserve the debates among the left-wing parties, and thus the coalition will be ephemeral only.

In Magyar Nemzet, political analyst Áron Máthé suggests that the pact is a huge success for former PM Gyurcsány. Máthé points out that both the Socialists and Bajnai’s Together 2014 wanted to distance themselves from Gyurcsány, but they finally had to knuckle down after Gyurcsány successfully threatened that he would run against them with his own candidates. By practically blackmailing Mesterházy and Bajnai into the deal, Gyurcsány secured access to the Socialist Party infrastructure and also restored his own image on the left, Máthé believes.

Magyar Hírlap‘s Zsolt Bayer finds it regretabble that Mesterházy failed to reform the left as he planned. The pro-government columnist known for his highly opinionated pieces contends that the inclusion of Gyurcsány in the left-wing coalition indicates Mesterházy’s retreat from creating a new left-wing party without the old nomenclature. Bayer speculates that Gyurcsány’s inclusion will attract more voters than it deters from voting for the left, and so Fidesz needs to do everything in order to inflict a crushing defeat on the left which will sweep away all the left-wing leaders once and for all.

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