Ibolya Dávid’s latest

There are people who possess political acumen and those who don’t. When it comes to Ibolya Dávid I’m of two minds. I admire her for her single-minded effort to keep her party independent of Fidesz. I like her attempt at a "more normal" political discourse. I find it refreshing, especially after hearing Fidesz politicians’ constant and unbending opposition toward everything, that she and the MDF welcome certain proposals from the government side. Or, if they don’t agree, they say so, but their negation is not shrill, antagonistic, and total. They also have reasonable counterproposals. So, all in all, especially in comparison to Viktor Orbán, the leader of the MDF is a moderate "European" politician. However, occasionally she shows a total lack of political sense. Today was one of those times that Ibolya Dávid lost her footing.

I realize that it must be frustrating to be head of a party that is for all intents and purposes irrelevant in current Hungarian political life. The two big parties slug it out; SZDSZ, as a coalition partner, makes its presence felt in legislative proposals and on the floor of parliament. Poor MDF is on the sidelines, its votes unnecessary to either side, its ideas usually ignored. Moreover, given the political climate, it can’t even be an honest broker between the two sides. So it’s perhaps not surprising that it has fantasies of "doing away with" (figuratively, of course) political leaders.

There was a fairly long period when Ibolya Dávid announced daily that "both Ferenc Gyurcsány and Viktor Orbán must disappear." Just like that: you close your eyes and, poof!, a minute later the two politicians simply are no more. Ibolya Dávid used a magic wand. Such a turn of events is entirely unrealistic. Let’s assume that Dávid’s wish is fulfilled, and then what? Gyurcsány returns to the business world and Orbán becomes a soccer coach. Just like that. The two parties pick new leaders and from there on the political life of the country will be absolutely tranquil. No one will demonstrate, no one will throw Molotov cocktails, no one is going to demand the return of Orbán. In parliament ladies and gentlemen will have pleasant conversations. Everything will be solved because, after all, the problem of Hungary is simply these two politicians. Well, after a while she realized that this was not a very constructive position. It didn’t matter how often Ibolya Dávid repeated her wish, nothing happened.

Then there was a period when both Ibolya Dávid and Péter Boross, former MDF prime minister, seemed to differentiate between the two sides. From their statements one could discern that they found Gyurcsány more democratic and more reasonable than Orbán, whom they called a populist and a power-hungry politician with whom there could absolutely be no partnership. They accused Orbán of socialist demagoguery incompatible with conservative thinking.

Now there seems to be a new tack. Gyurcsány must go! Ibolya Dávid triumphantly pointed to a Goldman Sachs’ study in which she found a sentence about the possible beneficial economic effects of the Hungarian prime minister’s departure. That is what inspired Ibolya Dávid. I can’t imagine that Ibolya Dávid is particularly savvy in economic matters and, since her command of foreign languages is limited to a little French, I don’t think that she read all those other mostly English-language analyses that predicted exactly the opposite: Gyurcsány’s departure could send the country’s economy into a tailspin. His departure would be interpreted as the end of the economic reforms as well as Hungary’s willingness to follow the convergence program to the letter. It’s enough to look at what happened after the referendum: Standard & Poor’s immediately downgraded Hungary because they interpreted the results in a negative way. So try to imagine what would happen if the prime minister resigned shortly thereafter.

Ibolya Dávid made this grand pronouncement early morning on Napkelte and a few hours later in parliament. By the afternoon she refined her position. György Bolgár, in a telephone interview with her, began by saying that he found it surprising that Ms. Dávid suggested that Gyurcsány should depart in a great hurry. She responded that this was "an exaggeration." Then she gave a long lecture about the impossible situation that has developed in Hungary when the two sides are killing each other and precious time is being wasted. She wants reform, even "more profound reforms," but the prime minister is not "trustworthy." The country needs a new prime minister who enjoys the trust of the people. She even brought up the possibility of a grand coalition for a couple of years. Such a grand coalition could actually introduce these "profound" reforms. Of course, this is a pipe dream. But even without a grand coalition, it is very unlikely that Viktor Orbán would be satisfied with Gyurcsány’s departure and that he would co-operate with another MSZP prime minister. Oh, no! The next demand would be new elections.

I know that Dávid longs to be a truly significant player on the Hungarian political scene, as she might be in a grand coalition, but she doesn’t have the wind at her back.

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Eva- The fact is that even if one passionately believes substantial and pervasive reform is necessary in Hungary, as I do, one can still argue that, all else being equal, it would be better if Gyurcsany were not PM. The problem, sadly, is that the majority of the MSZP (the Finance Minister may be an exception) do not believe in the reforms, and if the PM were to be removed then any semblance of reform would likely end. Having said this, what this Govt is trying to do (with at best modest successs)is extremely difficult politically. The difficulty is compounded by an irresponsible opposition and President. Nevertheless, the Govt’s job would be easier (not easy) if the PM had engendered a greater level of trust among the population and had the real or perceived “moral authority” to lead the country through this difficult time. He does not, and this failing (significantly of his own making)has negatively impacted the reform effort. In sum, David would be correct if there was anyone else willing to take on the job Feri is doing (Veres?). It seems from my vantage, there is no one ready, willing or able to do just that.

That may be the reason why Fidesz seem to hate Veres so much. If you keep on throwing mud, it will stick.

Odin's lost eye

I do not know of Mr? Veres. Who ever takes the job on and does it successfully would need the statemanship of a Margret Thatcher with the support of men like Amory, Howe, Lawson and of course Milton Friedman. He/She would also need the comunications ability of popular papers like Murdock’s UK Daily Sun to help tell the true story. Look at the ‘Baltic Tigres’ for an example of what can be done! Hungary has recources far greater than than they had when the SovU fell. There are too many people who just want to get onto the Gravy Train and get their snouts in the trough! Ms Ibolya David seems not to want this, but I fear that she lacks the qualities needed to do the job.
It is my impression that Mr Olban has downgraded the position of parliment for his own and to my mind very devious reasons.
I have a suspicion that for the third time in its history Hungary is going to throw away the opportunity of becoming a modern democratic state and will return to a sort of feudal system of governmentb with strong absolitist tendencies.