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No hope for the Left

September 8th, 2014

A month ahead of the municipal elections, conservative columnists agree that the Left has little chance to avoid another defeat. Among the causes of the Left’s decline they mention that it has become ideologically hollow and lacks able leaders on various levels.

Public opinion polls suggests that the local elections in October will end with another defeat of the Left – the third this year, Tamás Fricz writes in Magyar Nemzet. According to the latest opinion poll published by Nézőpont Institute, Fidesz is supported by 33 per cent of eligible voters, while the MSZP stands at 10 and Jobbik at 15 per cent. The Democratic Coalition commands 4 per cent of the electorate, while LMP is supported by 4 and Together 2014 by 3 per cent of the adult population. The conservative political analyst acknowledges that it is very hard to assess support for individual candidates in local elections. He believes, however, that the national polls suggest the overwhelming popularity of Fidesz, which foreshadows its victory at the municipal elections. With less mayors, the Left will lose access to resources and influence, which will further deepen its crisis, Fricz predicts.

Heti Válasz editor-in-chief Gábor Borókai suggests that the Left seems to have no clue what it should stand for. Borókai finds it bizarre that Ferenc Gyurcsány in a recent essay proposed that the Left should follow Anthony Giddens’ “third way” model. Those ideas, which Gyurcsány first put forward more than a decade ago, have already cost him a huge defeat, Borókai believes. Instead of a credible vision and creative initiatives, left-wing personalities try to emulate campaign tools that were successful in the US, including the bucket challenge (see BudaPost August 28). All this is a sign of the complete intellectual emptiness of the Left, Borókai concludes.

The Left is falling apart, Gábor G. Fodor comments in the same weekly. It lacks meaningful ideas on poverty, capitalism and governance, the conservative political scientist remarks. Instead of offering a clear take on important issues, the Left looks down on everyday people rather than addressing their concerns, Fodor adds. He suggests that the era of bipolar politics in Hungary is over and it is futile for the left to hope that it can win back roughly one half of the electorate. “One power centre (literally ‘central power field’) can only be defeated by another power centre”, he says. (PM Orbán used this expression in 2009, his last year in opposition, to describe his vision of a political setup after 2010 with one centrally positioned dominating force challenged by weak right- and left-wing groups from both sides.) At this point, however, the “Left has ceased to be a major actor in the Hungarian political sphere,” Fodor writes.

In Magyar Nemzet, Dávid Megyeri comments on Ferenc Falus’s bucket challenge performance, and surmises that in addition to the ideological crisis, the Left is handicapped  by a lack of able personalities. Megyeri suggests that Ferenc Falus’ nomination as candidate for Budapest Mayor indicates that only inept candidates have a chance to be popular on the Left.

“The Left has for long had only single issue to talk about: itself,” Péter Krekó writes in 168 Óra. Instead of working out a coherent political program, the Left has been preoccupied with its own internal crisis, the liberal analyst maintains. Should Fidesz weaken, its supporters will opt for Jobbik, rather than the Left, he contends. He explicitly praises Ferenc Gyurcsány’s stance, and recommends that in order to restore its credibility, the Left should stop co-opting Fidesz’s anti-market messages and offer instead a clear-cut liberal alternative to the ideology of the governing party.

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