Gábor Fodor versus János Kóka

Everybody who is familiar with the Hungarian political scene knows that the SZDSZ is a deeply divided party. In an interview today (Friderikusz ma/Friderikusz today) Gábor Kuncze, former president of SZDSZ and a supporter of János Kóka, made it clear that he blames Gábor Fodor for the upheaval within the party over the possibly fraudulent election results. In his opinion Fodor and Kóka together should have announced that they both regret what happened, that they don’t know who got more or fewer votes, and that in the future more attention must be paid to the proper identification of delegates. But, he emphasized, the party shouldn’t have scheduled new elections. That is very bad for the party. It was Fodor who insisted on new elections, to be held in June.

The competition between Fodor and Kóka is intense in spite of Fodor’s announcement yesterday that after all he and his undersecretary changed their minds and wrote their letters of resignation. However, they didn’t give their resignations to János Kóka. They have them in their own safes. Admittedly, it is a small thing, but shows that Fodor doesn’t want to put his fate in the hands of his rival.

Another interesting twist is that while Kóka keeps insisting that the break with MSZP is complete and that there can be no retreat from their current position, Fodor announced that keeping the coalition together might not be entirely hopeless. There are a few weeks between now and the end of the month. He would give the survival of the coalition a 50/50 chance. Now, admittedly, to announce a 50/50 chance is not exactly daring odds making, but at the same time it tells us something.

And finally, the most interesting announcement of Fodor was that "the new SZDSZ" will have to cooperate with Fidesz if and when the need arises. The normalization of the two parties’ relationship is a necessity. This is all very nice but I can’t quite imagine Viktor Orbán and Fidesz being too eager to have a closer relationship with SZDSZ. After all, Fidesz’s real bête noire is not so much MSZP but the neo-liberal party of sophisticated Budapest intellectuals who, Viktor Orbán and his friends believed in their student days–and the hurt lingers on, looked down on them for being from the countryside. Moreover, if I were Fodor I would be terrified of Fidesz’s embrace. It is usually deadly.

Of course, it is possible that Fodor doesn’t mean any of this but simply wants to frighten the socialists into making concessions in order to hold the coalition together. Perhaps he thinks the socialists will get so frightened at the prospect of Fidesz-SZDSZ co-operation that they will change their minds. I have the feeling that this may not happen because, I suspect, the socialists consider SZDSZ no more than a toothless lion. Or a mouse that roars. In any case, although the game may not be entirely over, one wishes it were. The longer these uncertainties remain the worse the political situation is.

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