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The lessons of the elections for the left

April 10th, 2014

A left-wing columnist suggests that the Left should focus on the plight of ordinary Hungarians living in poverty, rather than on left-wing elites whose concerns are distant from the problems of those living below the subsistence level. A centrist and a conservative commentator point out that it will be very hard for the Left to shift its focus and revamp its image.

The Left can only regain its strength if it addresses people living in poverty, Ákos Tóth argues in Népszabadság. The left-wing commentator suggests that without an urgent facelift the Left looks doomed to another huge defeat at the European Parliamentary elections in May and the municipal elections this autumn. The combined result would be to reduce the Left to a political featherweight. Many of its current supporters might even vote for Fidesz in order to halt the advance of far-right Jobbik, Tóth speculates. Instead he proposes that left-wing parties respond to the concerns of the three million voters who stayed at home on Election Day. Most importantly, he urges the Left to address the needs of the four million Hungarians living below the subsistence level. The left-wing columnist suggests that the input from left-wing intellectuals is very distant from the problems of most normal Hungarians, and is of little help in connecting with poor constituencies.

Writing in 444, Péter Magyari suggests that the Left will have a very hard time reinventing itself. There is little evidence so far that it has dawned on the leaders of the left-wing coalition that they must take a long hard look at themselves, or get lost in the political wilderness he notes. The composition of the new Parliament will prove a major obstacle for the Left to create a new identity, he adds. After their huge electoral defeat, leftist leaders have no choice but to cooperate, Magyari believes.

As a result of the defeat, the same old personalities will dominate the left, Gábor D. Horváth contends in Magyar Nemzet. The conservative columnist recalls that right after the election, both MSZP leader Mesterházy and former PM Gyurcsány said that they would continue their fight against the Orbán government, which suggest that they are not considering personal changes which he deems necessary to improve their parties’ image. A facelift for the Left would require the current leadership to step down, but instead the very same politicians who were rejected by voters in the Parliamentary elections reign supreme, Horváth concludes.

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