Yesterday I already mentioned some of the unbelievable speculations concerning the prime minister, the coalition, the SZDSZ, and early elections. At the moment nothing much is happening. The SZDSZ’s National Council approved the decision to leave the coalition at the end of the month and the MSZP is planning to govern alone. That’s all we know. Well, this is mighty little. The curious public must have more excitement, or at least that’s what journalists (always aware of ratings) think.
The latest speculation concerns the fate of the prime minister. On Friday he said that he would resign only to allow the government to execute a more "radical" economic overhaul. His plan is to follow moderate reform policies. (That was like saying to the MSZP that they might have to continue taking a little arsenic for a while, which could make them feel ill, or they could opt for a fatal dose. It’s hard to imagine that the MSZP, struggling with the moderate reforms, would decide to move to the extreme, which would undoubtedly equate to "in extremis–at the point of death.")
There was a widespread belief that Gyurcsány’s fate would be decided by the MSZP caucus tonight. The media reported that "personnel questions" would be seriously discussed at this extraordinary meeting of the parliamentary faction. Surely, this would be no easy session: it might last three hours, late into the night. "We," meaning the press, might not know until tomorrow morning. I heard this on the evening news on ATV, with the anchorwoman anxiously asking her colleague on the scene whether there was any update. The first time, no; about ten minutes later the reporter sadly announced that he managed to talk to a senior MSZP leader and that "personnel questions will not be even discussed." How disappointing.
OK, if the personnel change didn’t occur tonight perhaps it will tomorrow night. Stop.hu’s headline reads: "The fate of Gyurcsány might be decided by Monday evening." From the article we "find out" that the successor might be János Gönczi, János Barabás, or Imre Nagy. Wow! What well known names! The first two I have never heard of, the third, Imre Nagy, I heard of but his namesake was a much more famous man than he is. I can well imagine how happily the outside world would greet Gönczi, Barabás, or Nagy as the new prime minister of Hungary. Who, who, who? And the forint would begin to fall and the Budapest Stock Exchange would get the jitters. Of course, we must keep in mind that two other people, Gordon Bajnai and Péter Kiss, had been mentioned earlier as candidates for the job. At least we know who they are.
Then come speculations concerning SZDSZ. That is no ordinary story either. According to the latest gossip, although the National Council overwhelmingly approved Kóka and his friends’ decision about leaving the coalition, the Meeting of Delegates will make the so-called final decision. But these are the old delegates. At the end of June, after the SZDSZ elections, the revamped Meeting of Delegates will get together and choose a new president. And then the SZDSZ will return to the coalition. One doesn’t know whether to laugh or to cry over this type of fantasizing.
What worries me is that the Hungarian public becomes befuddled, and panicked, by all these wild speculations. The Chicken Littles can envisage the complete political and economic collapse of the country. And as if the speculations weren’t bad enough, we have real news: that István Gaskó, head of one of the trade unions at MÁV (Hungarian State Railways) will strike again as of midnight tonight and most likely the Budapest transit workers will join in this time. If not in government, there will probably be chaos in transportation.