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Botka’s struggle for supremacy within the Left

July 31st, 2017

Commentaries continue to flow on MSZP front runner László Botkas surprisingly candid accusations against traitors and collaborationists within his own party. Commentators tend to agree that a left-wing victory at next years election is highly improbable.

On Mozgástér, Béla Galló describes the infighting within the left-wing opposition as a scene of flashing rusty knives in an oxygen-poor environment, as he finds the succession of new proposals for electoral alliances against Fidesz equally unreasonable. The first which he describes as bewildering, is a suggestion by former leading liberals who would seek an alliance with Jobbik. Galló remarks that if party leaders happened to issue such instructions, their voters would never obey. Similarly, he also thinks Mr Gyurcsánys name would be a strong repellent on the joint left-wing list. At the same time, he believes, László Botkas branding  of opponents within his own party as traitors is also a self-defeating strategy.

On 444, Péter Magyari quotes a series of unnamed Socialist sources to corroborate Mr Botkas allegation that Fidesz has built-in operatives and paid beneficiaries within the MSZP. They told him that before the last parliamentary elections, then campaign director Zsolt Molnár played from Fideszs score in promoting Mr Gyurcsánys candidacy on the joint left-wing party list. (Molnár is the only Socialist politician mentioned by Botka by name as an example of traitors within the MSZP. See BudaPost, July 28.)  Fidesz wanted to see the extremely unpopular DK leader on that list, and Magyaris sources believe this is why it could gain a two thirds majority in Parliament. The unnamed Socialist politicians also told Magyari that the government and the Fidesz-led Budapest city council regularly instruct their suppliers to subcontract companies linked to certain Socialist luminaries. Some believe that Fidesz has by now bought influence over Népszava and Vasárnapi Hírek, two newspapers thought to be near to the MSZP, Magyari writes.

On Kettős Mérce, András Jámbor accepts that analysis, but thinks that Molnár and other MSZP people close to Fidesz represent the majority of regional MSZP leaders. Their problem is that if Gyurcsány is not on board, his people will run on their own in the individual constituencies and MSZP candidates will have a hard time winning in the first past the post system. On the other hand, Jámbor thinks Botka is right in trying to silence his opponents, otherwise they will eat him alive during the campaign. He warns however that without co-operating with Gyurcsány the MSZP cannot prevent Fidesz gaining a two thirds majority in Parliament next year. That is what he can realistically set himself as a target, as victory is definitely out of sight.

In Heti Válasz, Anita Élő warns the leaders of the opposition that hopes to send the incumbent government packing are futile as long as they hate each other more than they dislike Viktor Orbán. She finds it inexplicable why Botka chose to raise Zsolt Molnár, who until now has been practically unknown to the public, and remarks that the recent skirmishes may severely impair the recruiting potential of the MSZP, for there are hardly any undecided voters who would opt for a leader who is unable even to keep his own people in line and who, instead of explaining how he would lead the country, spends his time arguing against an article by Molnár on a small news site.

In Magyar Nemzet, Albert Gazda recalls that in the 90s, Viktor Orbán cleared his way to being elected and re-elected by eliminating or annexing competitors within the right-wing camp.  The Christian Democratic Party, the only survivor of a large array of right-wing parties is a mere annex to Fidesz. Botka has tried to convince the public of the uselessness of the new small parties on the left-liberal side, arguing that they only divert votes from the MSZP and therefore play into Fidesz hands. His problem is that rather than coalescing with his party, they seem to proliferate.  The elections will perhaps seal their fate, but the MSZP can itself be happy not to have sunk to the level of those small parties. Although who knows how that story will end, Gazda remarks.

In 168 Óra, Péter N. Nagy laments that the opposition constituency has been waiting for about ten years for some kind of a solution, but it is still not in sight. Sure, he continues, the disparate opposition forces would find it easier to coalesce into one single alliance if it promised to be victorious. It is much more difficult to unite those forces with the promise of a probable defeat. And still, Nagy explains, the stakes are high. He fears that if the opposition is not strong in the next Parliament, then what he already defines as a semi-autocratic regime, will develop into situations of eclipsing freedom. The main obstacle to left-liberal unity, he writes, is the paradox of the similarity of all those parties. That is what turns them into competitors trying to win over the same segments of the public. On top of it all, the small parties are afraid of being swallowed by a big one, as happened to many of their predecessors. Given the importance of the stakes, however, parties should not ask what they may gain from the alliance, Nagy writes, but what sacrifice they are ready to make for it.

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