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Controversial left-wing candidate in Miskolc

July 5th, 2014

Columnists wonder whether it is acceptable and reasonable for the Left to support as a candidate for mayor of Miskolc a former police chief known for his highly controversial statements about Roma crime.

The MSZP and the Democratic Coalition support former Miskolc police chief Albert Pásztor, who is running as an independent candidate for mayor in the autumn municipal elections. In 2009, Pásztor was placed under investigation and almost fired for after claiming that petty crime and public robberies in the city are committed only by ethnic Roma. He added that “coexistence with our Roma fellow citizens is simply impossible”. The local leaders of Bajnai’s Together also supported Pásztor, but the national party leadership said they would not endorse his candidacy because of Pásztor’s earlier statements on the Roma.

In Népszabadság, Judit Doros writes that the Left wants to send a clear message to voters by supporting the former policy chief known for his law and order views. The left-wing columnist, who is Népszabadság’s local correspondent, recalls that in 2009, Pásztor’s controversial statements were criticized only by watchdog organizations, while the local leadership of all major parties defended the former police chief against accusations of racism. Doros believes that the Right will have a hard time if they want to criticize Pásztor, although he may well be looked on with suspicion by liberals.

In a front-page editorial, Népszabadság points out, without mentioning Pásztor by name, that the Left has no chance at the municipal election without cooperation, so intra-Left disputes should be saved for another time. It is crucial for the Left to put forward credible and popular candidates, otherwise voters dissatisfied with Fidesz will have no other option than to support the far-right Jobbik. In order to find credible candidates, left-wing parties need to recruit people who bear the respect and trust of locals, the daily adds.

It is absolutely unacceptable for left-wing parties to back Pásztor, Zsófia Mihancsik writes in Galamus. The left-liberal pundit finds it sad that Pásztor’s racist statements are considered even on the Left as brave and honest sentences revealing untold truths repressed by political correctness. “It cannot happen that parties which claim to be democratic want to win the municipal election by appealing to anti-Roma sentiments,” Mihancsik exclaims.

The Left wants to use Pásztor’s popularity in Miskolc to woo the support of anti-Roma voters, Matild Torkos suggests in Magyar Nemzet. Torkos finds it peculiar that the Left support Pásztor, whom they labeled in 2009 as a racist. Torkos hints that it is rather absurd that former PM Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition now claims that Pásztor will stand for human dignity and freedom. (In 2009 PM Gyurcsány called Pásztor’s statement about the Roma “unacceptable”.)

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