The situation is very fluid and I would hate to predict anything. Instead, I would like to give a short assessment of my own thoughts on the "political crisis."
First and foremost, I don’t think that Ferenc Gyurcsány just blurted out his criticism of the SZDSZ blah-blah as some observers claim. They argue that Gyurcsány often improvises and that he simply didn’t think through the consequences of his critical remarks about SZDSZ. No way, in spite of Gyurcsány’s own protestations to the contrary. He is a savvy politician who would not cause a coalition crisis because he didn’t weigh his words. I believe he actually wanted to provoke a split because decided that the SZDSZ had become a burden instead of an asset. If the coalition continues in its present form another referendum cannot be avoided and a referendum, this time on the whole health care program, is more than his government would be able to weather. Yes, Gyurcsány knew what he was saying and was actually hoping that the outcome would be SZDSZ’s possible departure.
When did he come to that conclusion? Most likely the day before when he spent six hours with the inner circle of the party. The script was probably written during that meeting. The time to attack SZDSZ was well chosen since the party is deeply divided between the Fodor and the Kóka factions. Yesterday it seemed that the two factions would at least temporarily bury the hatchet and stand up to Gyurcsány as a united front. Kóka announced that under no circumstances would his party collaborate with this government; as of April 30th all the SZDSZ ministers and undersecretaries would officially resign. Moreover, between now and then they would not fulfill their duties. Then this morning there was the first crack in the purported unity. Gábor Fodor and his undersecretary, Kálmán Kovács, refused to sign the resignation papers prepared for them by Kóka and his friends. While Kóka, Horn, and others went to negotiate with Gyurcsány and other leading MSZP members, Fodor was nowhere to be found. Moreover, although Kóka although seems very determined, at least verbally, he didn’t deliver the resignations to the prime minister. He kept them in his own safe. So, on the one hand, SZDSZ’s current leaders claim that the coalition is dead, on the other hand, they go and negotiate with MSZP.
Meanwhile members of the MSZP caucus are ecstatic. Károly Tóth, the man who wanted to scrap the co-payment from the health care bill in order to avoid the referendum, is certain that if MSZP got rid of its coalition partner, public opinion polls would immediately jump 10-15% in favor of MSZP. He might be right. At least listening to MSZP voters’ telephone calls this afternoon in György Bolgár’s talk show at KlubRádió. Absolute jubilation! People who are in favor of a minority government claim that after all the MSZP caucus is only six votes shy of a majority and there is one independent from Somogy County who normally votes with MSZP. So they would need only five more votes. If Fodor’s men in parliament were to vote with the government, there would be no problem. Moreover, there were many times when even MDF voted with the government.
And finally, Imre Mécs was the guest of Ferenc Vicsek (substituting for Olga Kálmán) this evening. A couple of things about Imre Mécs. He was sentenced to death after 1956. At that time he was an engineering student from a deeply religious family. His uncle László Mécs was a well known Catholic poet. Apparently, Zoltán Kodály, a friend of his uncle, interceded with János Kádár to spare his life. On appeal his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. In 1963 he received amnesty, eventually finished his university studies, and became an inventor. He was one the founders of SZDSZ and has served as a member of parliament ever since 1990. However, SZDSZ wasn’t particularly kind to Imre Mécs. A couple of times they put him so low on the list that his chance of victory was slim. This is what happened again before the last elections and Mécs finally had enough. He suspended his membership in SZDSZ and offered his services to MSZP. MSZP was delighted to receive a "hero of the revolution" in its ranks and gave him an elegant position on the list. Mécs obviously has a very low opinion of the new SZDSZ leadership. He called Kóka "a stranger" who was dropped on the party. He predicted the demise of the party he helped to create. Vicsek tried to play the devil’s advocate with not much success.
So now the question is whether MSZP is willing to drop SZDSZ as a coalition partner and perhaps offer Fodor some inducement to blend his followers into the MSZP fold. Only time will tell.