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Strategic vacuum on the Left

November 12th, 2018

A Left-wing pundit laments the depressing disorientation in left-wing politics. He fears that the Socialists are about to squander their chance of winning the mayoral elections in Budapest next year.

In 168 óra, Ervin Tamás thinks the idea of a primary to decide who should be the opposition candidate for the post of mayor in Budapest is a trap for the Socialist party. The veteran left-wing columnist sees the recently announced candidacy of Róbert Puzsér, an op-ed columnist as a clever move before the leading left-wing party names its own candidate. The smaller opposition parties, which have seen their ranks decimated since April’s elections, may find Mr Puzsér a viable candidate to boost their own popularity, with his simple message of turning the whole of inner Budapest into a pedestrian area. However, he writes, Puzsér’s candidacy is hopeless from the outset, because he blatantly lacks the wherewithal to run a big city. To prevent him from splitting the opposition vote, Tamás continues, a primary election might seem the only solution for the Socialists, and this option is in fact being seriously pondered by Socialist leaders. All the more so, since their ‘experienced loser’, Csaba Horváth refuses to cede the candidacy to the more popular Gergely Karácsony on the grounds that the latter is not even a Socialist, although he ran as their top candidate in April’s parliamentary elections. The commentator believes however that such a solution, though workable in a mature democracy, may be suicidal in Hungary. Puzsér might be supported by outsiders, mainly Jobbik supporters, and thus beat the two left-wing rivals. Nevertheless, rejecting the idea of a primary could also backfire as an ‘undemocratic option’ and Tamás thinks therefore that the Socialists are manoeuvring themselves into a trap.

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