I mentioned that one of my problems with LMP (Lehet Más a Politika/Politics Can Be Something Else) is that it is an offshoot of a environmental organization that suggested László Sólyom to be president of the republic. It seems that I'm not the only one who finds this an "original sin." I recommend an article by Ferenc Lendvai, a philosopher, about the "center" in Hungarian politics. I laughed heartily this morning when I read this piece in which, among other things, Lendvai complains that this party's "predecessor is the organization that let loose on us our current president, that odd creature who successfully combines the characteristics of Don Quijote and Tartuffe."
Lendvai doesn't even like the name because in his opinion the very name means turning away from the last twenty years. Although one could conduct politics in a more civilized manner in Hungary, rivalry among parties is part and parcel of democracy. Lendvai adds that Jobbik does the same thing from the right, admittedly in a less moderate form. This party, says Lendvai, is not left of center despite its greenness. Hungarian environmentalists, unlike their western colleagues, never really supported any reform movements. They simply opposed a limine every piece of investment even if the locals had no objections. Therefore, with their opposition to all foreign investment they actually strengthened the far right.
I even have problems with the predecessor's name: Védegylet/Defense League. It is linguistically quaint because it harks back to 1844 when Lajos Kossuth established an organization called Védegylet that was supposed to urge people not to buy foreign goods and to rely only on Hungarian products. Given the absolutely backward state of the Hungarian economy in the first half of the nineteenth century, one can imagine what happened to Védegylet. A huge flop. Yes, the city folks could buy Hungarian food at the local markets, but when it came to buying cloth to have a suit made that was a different matter. This economic nationalism spread to other spheres as well. Sándor Petőfi, a contemporary, refused to wear western style cloths and wore an outfit he thought was purely Hungarian. Apparently when he first appeared in this outfit on the streets of Pest people made fun of him.
Perhaps the founders of our modern Védegylet didn't think in terms of what I just outlined when deciding on the name, but the thinking of the nationalistic Hungarian politicians in the 1840s is not too far from the thinking of the modern Védegylet. András Schiffer, the number one man on the LMP list, made an appearance last night on MTV where it became obvious that this party is anti-capitalist and especially antagonistic toward foreign investors. Their ideas about taxes on polluting agents, for example, trucks, could have very serious negative consequences. Their whole economic program simply doesn't add up. There is not enough savings from a green economy to balance the expenses they consider essential at the other end. For example, they want more money for healthcare without any change in the present structure which is extraordinarily wasteful. But the source of the money is vague.
András Schiffer further undermined his and his party's credibility by appearing on György Bolgár's call-in show today. For those of you who don't know Bolgár, he is an extraordinarily polite man with a very mild manner. However, at the same time, he in his quiet way can be very hard hitting mostly because he knows his stuff. He was trained as an economist although after graduating he became a journalist and a writer. However, he seems to remember his economics pretty well. Mr. Schiffer crumbled during this interview. The transcript of this conversation will be available either tomorrow or on Sunday on galamus.hu and then I will be able to quote from it more precisely. But put it this way, voting for LMP is a real waste in my opinion.