Well, I never thought that my venture into rudimentary early Hungarian history would bring such a reaction from the nationalistic extreme right who are busily trying to rewrite Hungarian history. So let’s move back to a more peaceful subject. Hmmm! Like Hungarian politics.
I must say that I’m very disappointed in SZDSZ. A few years ago if someone asked me which party was closest to my taste I would have said SZDSZ. I certainly wasn’t too crazy about the socialists, especially those leftovers from the Kádár regime: Gyula Horn, Mrs. Magda Kovács, Tamás Suchman, Pál Vastagh, among others. I could not imagine that these people, if for no reason other than their age and their former positions in the "ancien regime," would be the harbingers of a new era. On the other hand, I looked upon the leaders of SZDSZ, uncompromised by the Kádár regime, as more fit to lead Hungary into a new world order. I wasn’t keen on MDF because the party’s origins were too close to the populists (népiesek/narodniks), whose ideology I found backward-looking.
However, slowly I changed my opinion. On the one hand, Horn and company after about eight months realized that privatization was necessary and began to implement it. On the other hand, I began to realize that the liberal party (SZDSZ) was too doctrinaire to have universal appeal. Moreover, liberalism was never too popular in Hungary; it was the party of the capital, with all the stereotypically attached code words. Between the two world wars only in Budapest did the liberal party manage to garner enough votes to send a representative or two to parliament.
I also have to confess that I was on János Kóka’s side a year ago when he and Gábor Fodor fought for the leadership position within the party. I thought that Fodor was the most doctrinaire liberal of all. As it turned out, I was wrong. He seems to have more political sense than his adversary. I personally didn’t like Kóka, but I thought that as a young, successful enterpreneur, he would have a more forward-looking attitude than Fodor. Kóka turned out to be an undistinguished minister and an even worse party leader. He and his friends, and here I think mostly of Gábor Horn and Mátyás Eörsi, led the party on a downward spiral.
Meanwhile interesting things were going on in MSZP. Ferenc Gyurcsány became prime minister and party leader, and he was as liberal a man as anyone in the liberal party. (That is one reason the party’s left wing doesn’t like him. The leader of the this wing is Katalin Szili, who just yesterday announced that the party is running into the abyss and she is the one who is trying to save it.) Except that man is more talented and has more vision in his little finger than János Kóka in his head. And János Kóka is turning against his mentor, Ferenc Gyurcsány, who brought him to the attention of the liberal party. Not very nice! I would say is outright ugly.
And after Kóka and his friends announced the end of the coalition and thus created a political crisis, Kóka stood up yesterday and suggested that perhaps Gábor Kuncze should come back and lead the party. Obviously, because he is incapable of doing so. He claimed that he would be satisfied with the position of leader of the SZDSZ caucus. How many ways can one scream "dysfunctional"?