A Hungarian pragmatist: Gábor Kuncze

I always liked the man who was for many years the leader of SZDSZ. By now it is evident that he was the only person who could keep the party together. Once he resigned his post (and he also announced that he would retire from politics altogether at the end of this parliamentary session) it became clear what a heroic job Kuncze must have done. Without him at the helm the party fell apart.

In 168 Óra (March 11, 2010) there is a fairly lengthy interview with Kuncze entitled "And whom do you vote for?" Kuncze's answer is "I decide pragmatically." The upshot of it is that Kuncze will most likely vote for MSZP. And he explains why. He doesn't want Fidesz to win big. He wouldn't like his vote to be lost by voting for a party without any chance. He will vote for those "who I think have the best change of preventing Viktor Orbán and Fidesz from overreaching themselves."

This answer must have hit the liberal camp hard because the liberals simply cannot make up their minds what is the right thing to do. And they, unlike Kuncze, are not pragmatic souls. They overcomplicate every issue. Long articles are written by liberal publicists about the pros and cons of all possible variations on the theme. What if they don't vote at all because after all there is no party they can consider to be their own? When the saner ones tell them that by their abstension they would only help those they object to most, that is, Fidesz and Jobbik, some come up with a bizarre variation: they will go and vote but they will void their ballots. This would amount to a protest vote. The saner ones try to explain that there is no practical difference between the first and the second actions.

Then there are those who are madly looking for a party that is closest to their ideals. Some seem to find it in MDF while others think that perhaps the new party LMP (Lehet Más a Politika/Politics can be different) is a good ideological fit. But there are the critics. What do you mean? MDF? This is a conservative party that managed to get Lajos Bokros who is the representative of a hard-nosed liberal economic agenda. What a combination. Just because József Debreczeni, a greater supporter of Ferenc Gyurcsány, agreed to run? That is not enough. Moreover, it is very possible that Debreczeni will not be able to collect the necessary number of endorsements. As for LMP. The critics will call attention to the fact that the leaders of this party come from the same civic organization that suggested one of its own members, László Sólyom, for president. And just think what a disaster his presidency has been.

MSZP? Oh, no. These are the awful people who managed to ruin Ferenc Gyurcsány and now it turns out that it is the most corrupt party in the whole of Hungary. No, they couldn't possibly vote for that party. And so they are back to square one: they don't know what to do.

Then there are those liberals or at least formerly liberal people who think that MSZP has no chance whatsoever and the only important consideration is to prevent Jobbik from having too great a representation in parliament. These people argue that if Fidesz wins the desired two-thirds majority then Viktor Orbán will not need the assistance of Jobbik to pass certain pieces of legislation and therefore he will not be beholden to Gábor Vona and company. Therefore they urge former liberals or even MSZP voters to vote for Fidesz. My feeling is that it is too late for this dangerous strategy. Jobbik will do very well and I doubt that Fidesz will receive a two-thirds majority regardless of the handful of liberal votes.

To me all this soul searching is absolutely foreign. There is no such thing as a perfect party. One must choose between two (or more) parties with all their imperfections. One must simply take stock and decide which party more closely approximates his or her political views. I wrote about this in Galamus-csoport but I don't think that my pragmatic thinking made a great impression. I remain convinced, however, that as long as Hungarians expect miracles or perfection from a political party there will not be an acceptable level of political culture in that country.

So I was glad to see that Gábor Kuncze agrees with me and thinks pragmatically. To my mind the best possible outcome under the circumstances would be a situation in which Fidesz would have to form a grand coalition with MSZP and together they would turn against Jobbik. However, for the time being it is only Jobbik whose sympathizers are growing while MSZP's campaign is going nowhere. We have exactly one month to go.

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If he wants a pro-hungarian party free of corruption, whe ill vote for Jobbik, as the difference between Fidesz and MSZP grows smaller by the day.


A good short video for Eva Balogh about the economy policy of the social-liberal government. (only K.S.H data)


@Paul: “difference between Fidesz and MSZP grows smaller by the day”
Only the difference between Fidesz and Jobbik is getting bigger, as the common goal to remove the socialists is coming to completion.

John T

Paul – As I’ve said often enough on this blog, I have an extremely low opinion of all the established political parties in Hungary. But I have to say that I don’t consider Jobbik to be pro-Hungarian – more anti-Hungarian in their rather childish, narrow view of the world. Although I’m there are enough Hungarian’s that think it, the world does not revolve around Hungary.


Paul: “If he wants a pro-hungarian party free of corruption, whe ill vote for Jobbik, as the difference between Fidesz and MSZP grows smaller by the day.”
And the trains will be on time, like under Mussolini. What a Freudian slip, he “ill” vote…

Erik the Reader

Fidesz will win the two thirds.
@John T If there are anti-hungarian parties they are MSZP and Szdsz. Do you know deep down why? Because they betrayed their voters and country to the outmost level and showed their immoral face.

Eva S. Balogh

Erik the Reader: “Fidesz will win the two thirds.”
Doesn’t look that way. They lost several percentage points in one month and right now they are under 60%. Meanwhile both MSZP and Jobbik are going up. If I were you I would be more cautious.

John T

Erik – I don’t disagree that they have let down the voters badly. As you’ll note, I don’t think much of any of the politicians. But Jobbik are campaigning as the patriotic Hungarian party and I’m struggling to see how their programme actually has the interests of Hungarians at heart.