I wasn't sure whether I should write anything today because I can't make heads or tails out of what's going on in Hungary. Surányi says he doesn't want the job. So more scrambling. One wakes up to the name of János Takács as the newest MSZP suggestion for prime minister. I had never heard of him. He turned out to be the CEO of Electrolux Hungary. His name surfaced only to be dropped within a couple of hours: SZDSZ wants no part of János Takács. SZDSZ, although earlier its leaders emphasized that MSZP should nominate while they would simply nod or not nod, decided to come out with its own candidate, earlier the MDF candidate: Lajos Bokros.
Bokros at the beginning seemed eager enough and expressed his willingness to serve. At least that is what the Hungarian media reported. However, today the situation seems to have changed. Now Bokros says that he is not going to be part of the political machinations of MSZP. That can mean only one thing: he wants the support of the "opposition" parties: Fidesz, SZDSZ, and MDF. Well, if this is true Bokros will not be prime minister because in Orbán's opinion Hungary's future prime minister can only be Viktor Orbán, preferably after early elections. The new spokesman of MDF, Szabolcs Kerék-Bárczy, behaved rather oddly today when Olga Kálmán inquired whether if MSZP supported Bokros's candidacy MDF would lend its name to a three-party political alliance behind its own favorite candidate, Lajos Bokros. Kerék-Bárczy refused to answer, saying that the very supposition is totally absurd. I guess that MDF is so afraid that anyone might associate the party with the left that its spokesman refuses to answer even a hypothetical question.
At the moment SZDSZ is sticking with Bokros although there are some voices (currently a minority) in the SZDSZ caucus who would be willing to support one of the MSZP suggestions. According to the latest rumors half of the MSZP nominating committee is ready to accept Bokros but the other half is dead set against him. They will meet again tomorrow morning. However, it might be irrelevant how Gyurcsány, Lendvai, and some of the others decide. The party's left wing is gathering strength: they have had enough of the "circus" of the whole nominating process and are planning to overthrow Ferenc Gyurcsány. According to Tamás Suchman, one of the heavyweights in this group, because Gyurcsány already announced his intention to resign he shouldn't be conducting the negotiations about his successor. Instead his deputy, the minister in charge of the prime minister's office, Péter Kiss, should assume his place at the negotiating table. Moreover, Suchman continued, he is going to make a motion to convene an extraordinary congress to elect a new party chairman. A left-wing putsch against Gyurcsány is brewing. Katalin Szili, Gyurcsány's rival in the party and the head of its left wing, somewhat more obliquely spoke of the party's duty to stop the "drift of the country" and urged that the party should take "political responsibility." I guess that means that Szili, Suchman, and others are ready to get rid of Gyurcsány both as prime minister and party chief and alone shoulder the responsibility of governing. But how?
Given the intra-party revolt, MSZP and SZDSZ should move quickly to decide on a mutually satisfactory candidate. A rational human being would think that the survival instinct of these two parties would kick in and dictate cooperation. However, we are in Eastern Europe. In fact, very close to an area called the Balkans. In that area rational political thinking doesn't always have the upper hand. Cooperation? They don't know the meaning of the word. Western businessmen often complain that Hungarians are not good at team work. They are not joking! These two parties should have learned a lesson from the fiasco four years ago; because of their refusal to cooperate, although they had a majority in parliament, the country ended up with László Sólyom as president. The same left wing of MSZP was certain that their candidate, Katalin Szili, would win despite SZDSZ's refusal to support her. Well, it didn't work out that way. Both parties were at fault then and both are behaving the same way now.
I consider Gyurcsány a talented politician, but at the moment he is in a very difficult situation. The candidate both parties supported wouldn't accept the job. So now names come, names go, and tempers flare. His party's left wing wants to unseat him and undermine him at every turn. Meanwhile Viktor Orbán calls any prospective candidate a "clown" (paprikajancsi in Hungarian) because a "serious" candidate simply wouldn't take the job. Meanwhile the Hungarian Guard is planning to blockade roads to force early elections.
I'm downbeat today and I recall "Gloomy Sunday," the Hungarian "suicide anthem." Why would political parties in effect commit suicide? According to the Hungarian psychiatrist Bela Buda, Hungarians regard suicide differently from most other people. "In the unconscious popular mind suicide is a positive pattern of problem solution, it's a formula which is actualised in times of crisis because everybody has experiences with other persons who committed suicide and who were regarded not as failures but as brave people daring to restore their self-esteem and dignity by this desperate and heroic act." Is it heroic to turn over the reins of government to Fidesz? I think not. So MSZP and SZDSZ had best come up with another solution to the problem of national governance.