Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Reshuffle on the Left after the EP election

June 2nd, 2014

Opinions diverge on whether the MSZP made the right choice in convening its congress for mid-July or if it was the result of a last ditch trick by the failed leadership. Analysts also think Fidesz is putting the Left in an awkward position with the planned new rules for the municipal elections in Budapest. What they do not know is what will enable left-wing parties to attract more voters rather than cannibalising each other.

On Origo, Szabolcs Dull believes that Attila Mesterházy and his allies have forced the National Board of the Socialist Party to launch a nationwide re-election procedure from top to bottom, whereas their opponents wanted an interim leadership to take over the party until the municipal elections scheduled for October. Six leading officials submitted their resignations after their chairman, Mesterházy resigned, and Dull thinks a prolonged power vacuum will enable them to elect the leadership of the Socialist parliamentary group without the party being in a position to pick its own candidate for faction leader. In other words, the Mesterházy group hasn’t capitulated fully, despite the fact that it was forced to resign in the uproar that followed the Party’s second resounding electoral defeat in a row.

Népszabadság, on the other hand, argues that by ordering a complete reshuffle of party committees at all levels, the MSZP has shown that it realizes the gravity of the situation. A thorough renewal of the leading officials is the only way to confer legitimacy on the new leadership, the left-wing daily argues in a front page editorial. Now it is vital for the MSZP not to miss the follow-up, by which the authors mean that groupings behind the individual candidates for leading posts should be able to compromise and unite. If they fail to do so, “that will be the end of it”. If they succeed, however, they will keep their chances open to achieve anything in the future.

I came to bury the MSZP, not to praise it,” Magyar Nemzet’s Zsuzsanna Körmendy paraphrases Antonius in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. And in fact, she does not praise the Socialist Party, because, as she sees it, the MSZP has never really represented the interests of its potential constituency. Instead, it “put itself at the service of global financial forces”, and so it is little wonder that Hungarian democracy “has shaken them off, like a dog shaking itself dry”. Körmendy disagrees with her right-wing colleagues who have been sympathetic to Mesterházy throughout his term as Party chairman: “It makes no sense for the right to shed tears for him. At least we over here should not depict him as a hero”. She thinks Mesterházy simply didn’t have the stature of a leader and thought that a party can be renewed with second rate people. Körmendy thinks Mesterházy was picked for the job to put a brave face on a bad business while the real candidates of international big business, Bajnai and Gyurcsány were “waiting their turn”.

Meanwhile, Matild Torkos another front-line Magyar Nemzet commentator fulminates in the print edition against the Bilderberg group, an annual informal gathering of leading global personalities, who invited Gordon Bajnai to join as the only Hungarian participant this year. She suggests that gesture was a clear signal to PM Viktor Orbán, whose policies are diametrically opposed to what multinational corporate owners, managers and bankers represent. Torkos thinks that if the Bilderberg group intends to influence the course the world is to take, then its proceedings should not be held behind closed doors and the participants should not be forbidden to talk about what they see and hear there.

In Figyelő, political analyst Gábor Filippov opines that the crisis of the MSZP does not enable Bajnai or Gyurcsány to successfully defy the present government. He doubts if it is worthwile for any of them to try and conquer the Socialist Party after Mesterházy’s fall, since they could not take over the parliamentary group, and a feud between the party and the MPs would entail fatal risks for both. It would also be difficult for them to unite their forces to demolish the remnants of the MSZP, for such an alliance would raise serious credibility problems, especially for Bajnai who entered party politics in order to “break with the past”, of which Gyurcsány is a prominent representative. And in any case, all three parties have one common problem: they can bite into each other’s electorates, but have not managed to integrate new voters. And for the moment no solution is in sight to this problem, Filippov concludes.

Népszabadság’s Károly Lencsés says the new system proposed by Fidesz for the election of the Budapest municipal assembly will leave the left-wing opposition with no positive options. Instead of 50 councillors elected on party ballots, the new assembly would consist of the mayors of the 23 districts, while nine seats are to be distributed among the party lists in proportion to the “losing” votes cast for their candidates for district mayors and the Mayor of Budapest. That system would force the left-wing parties to merge into one single body running for the posts once again, just as they did to their deepest regret before the Parliamentary elections. Quoting left-wing experts, Lencsés argues that the new scheme has been devised in order to assure Fidesz’s majority in the Assembly even if a relative majority of voters opts for the Left. Fidesz is in fact likely to get more mayors elected than the left and since the number of voters largely varies from one district to another, the ruling party may get the majority of the 32 seats in the Assembly even if it is not supported by the majority of the electorate.

In Népszava, János Dési calls on the opposition to boycott the Autumn vote in protest against the planned changes. At present, he says, the Left is too busy with its own internal problems, but the day will come when it starts to ponder how it could win over the city of Budapest. By then it will be confronted with a new law which according to Dési guarantees a decisive majority to Fidesz in the Assembly even if it will only be supported by a minority of voters. “Once the left gets over its manly struggle over who should defeat whom”, he continues, “perhaps they should then decide to boycott these elections.” A well-planned and well-communicated boycott, he argues, might after all signal to the world that what it faces here is “a clear case of despotism.”





Tags: , , ,