I haven't written about MDF for some time because it wasn't at all clear to me where the party was heading or what its leaders wanted. The campaign manager of MDF is Zoltán Somogyi, formerly the president and part owner of Political Capital, a think tank that has been acting as MDF's political advisor for years. Ibolya Dávid, head of MDF, and the ever smaller top echelon of the party were very impressed with the advice they received from Somogyi's company. I suspect that it was Zoltán Somogyi's idea to get in touch with Lajos Bokros and convince him to join forces with MDF before the European Union elections. Everybody was stunned by the announcement that Bokros would be heading MDF's list, but Somogyi's brainchild was a success: Bokros, followed by the resident Habsburg, György, second son of Otto, once the heir-apparent to the Hungarian throne, managed to become members of the European Parliament.
After that coup Somogyi's reputation within the party must have risen considerably. Thus, when Somogyi announced that he was tired of being a businessman and political analyst but wouldn't mind embarking on a political career, naturally within MDF, he was warmly embraced and was immediately made the party's campaign manager.
Since his elevation to this post and the promise of a respectable place on the MDF list Somogyi has had a rather bumpy career. First was his idea (or at least I think it was his idea) that the party should get together with SZDSZ, or to be more precise with the little group of second-rate politicians who remained members of the truncated party. Considering that SZDSZ has the reputation of being an ultra-liberal party while Ibolya Dávid explains every second day that MDF is the only conservative party in Hungary, the marriage of these two parties raised some eyebrows. Within MDF the outcry was considerable and several old-timers actually left the party.
The second problem is that while Fidesz, MSZP, and Jobbik managed to collect enough endorsements to be on the ballot in all nineteen counties in addition to Budapest, MDF fell short: they were unable to put their people on the ballot in two counties. In addition, the National Election Committee only a few hours ago changed its verdict on the County of Nógrád. Someone complained about some technicality or other, and the Committee decided to strip MDF of this county as well.
Gathering endorsements in Budapest was not easy either, and without Budapest MDF has no chance of ever being represented in the Hungarian parliament. A couple of days ago there was great rejoicing: they would have a Budapest list. They needed eight people with the requisite number of endorsements and they had ten. But then MDF ran into trouble with the Capital City Election Committee who voted that a great number of endorsements received by MDF candidates were not valid and therefore the MDF candidates didn't have the requisite number of endorsements. The alleged reason for that decision was that on some endorsements the candidates' names were written with a different pen. The motion to deny MDF's place on the ballot came from Fidesz and was supported by Jobbik and MSZP. The vote was 3:2.
Ibolya Dávid is outraged and is convinced that the aim of the other parties is to silence Lajos Bokros, a serious contender. I'm not so sure that Dávid is right in the sense that the other parties are afraid of Lajos Bokros. If there was foul play, and there might have been, it was simply to get rid of a troublesome contender. Fidesz doesn't want to see a third force on the right; the party has enough problems with the extreme right, Jobbik. And MSZP wants to be the only representative of "the democratic forces."
Ibolya Dávid held an international press conference this morning where she outlined all her suspicions concerning this affair. MDF is appealing. Meanwhile Fidesz's reaction was that surely Ibolya Dávid is only fighting for her parliamentary immunity. In case anyone missed the reference, this "criminal activity" as András Cser-Palkovics, deputy spokesman of Fidesz, called it, is one of the most shameful cases of the Hungarian justice system. Details of the affair can be found in an earlier post entitled "Hungarian Watergate?" The upshot is that a company specializing in surveillance was entrusted by some Fidesz politicians to spy on Ibolya Dávid. However, by the end, with the assistance of the prosecutor's office, the victim became the accused. The company, UD Zrt., was wronged by Ibolya Dávid.
So this is where we stand at the moment. MDF is a scrappy party and has survived against all odds more than once. But with the first round of national elections set for April 11 time is not on its side.