Well, he is a member of parliament, but otherwise he has been very quiet in the last year and a half. Mind you, every time he opens his mouth Péter Szijjártó, Viktor Orbán's personal spokesman, is mighty upset and tells the "Hungarian people" that the end of the world is coming: Gyurcsány has the temerity to push his way back into politics. After all, in Fidesz parlance, all the troubles the country is experiencing now are his fault.
In the last few months Gyurcsány delivered two speeches. The first was a speech in front of about 2,000 people at a gathering organized by the Hungarian Democratic Charta that came into being in September 2008 at the initiative of Ferenc Gyurcsány, then still prime minister. The second speech was delivered at a conference organized by the Fapados Alapítvány. I reported on both speeches at length on this blog.
Gyurcsány while prime minister was himself an avid blogger. With the exception of weekends he wrote every day. Or rather he dictated his blogs, mostly in the car, and his people transcribed them and put them up on the internet. Thousands and thousands read these blogs and hundreds wrote comments. Since he left office he writes rarely. Perhaps once every two weeks. But when he writes all Hungarian newspapers, written and electronic, tell their readers about it. Therefore it was surprising that Gyurcsány agreed to contribute five pieces to www.galamus.hu, a website that carries a complete collection of MTI news items and daily two or three opinion pieces.
Two weeks ago the editor-in-chief of Galamus decided to launch a new column called G-7. The idea was to have one person provide articles between Monday and Friday on topics that he/she found interesting. László Kéri, a political scientist, was the contributor the first week and to everybody's surprise Ferenc Gyurcsány agreed to be the author of this week's G-7.
As far as Gyurcsány's political career is concerned, almost everybody is certain that we will hear of Ferenc Gyurcsány in the future. That he will one day play an important political role again. The only question is–and this is where people differ–when?
There are some who think that he should remain quiet for a while. These are usually the people in the MSZP or its left-wing sympathizers who basically never liked Gyurcsány's liberalism. In their eyes Gyurcsány is not really a socialist, although when these people are asked to give a coherent description of what kind of socialism they have in mind, their answers are usually rather fuzzy. A typical example in that category is János Avar, a journalist, who makes no secret of his belief that it was Gyurcsány who turned the socialist voters away from MSZP. He makes himself clear every time Gyurcsány's name is mentioned on Monday evenings at the Újságíró Klub, a political program on ATV, where he is one of the participants.
But then there is the other side. They claim that the old-fashioned, still kádárist MSZP leadership not only abandoned him at crucial times but in fact some of them actively tried to get rid of him. They use the word "megfúrták" which in plain English means "they screwed him." These people are convinced that it was an MSZP member of parliament who was responsible for the leak of the infamous Gyurcsány speech at Balatonőszöd which ended up in the hands of Viktor Orbán.
It is not surprising that those who never liked him very much think that his return to politics is premature, while the other side is certain that he is the only man who could revive the party or at least gather all the anti-Fidesz forces and make them a viable political entity. Surely, timing is of the essence and I for one can't decide whether Gyurcsány's re-entry into politics would be timely at the moment or not. However, there are signs that he is contemplating a return soon. In one of his blogs at the end of summer he wrote about the still lazy summer days at their country house and talked about his building a patio, but he rather significantly added that it is time to return to Budapest because one must "build more important things than a patio."
Building a left-liberal coalition of forces against Fidesz at the moment seems fairly hopeless. The leaders of the new party (LMP) that has a fair number of admirers among this blog's readers refuse to cooperate with MSZP because, just like Fidesz, they are certain that everything that is wrong with Hungary today is MSZP's fault. Of course, this is not the case. One can certainly blame Péter Medgyessy for an irresponsible economic policy, but from 2006 on under Ferenc Gyurcsány there was a serious effort with very good results to put the country's shaky finances in order. But then came the worldwide recession. Moreover, Fidesz's behavior in the last eight years left something to be desired, to put it mildly. They pretty well managed to torpedo any reasonable reforms. So MSZP was not the only culprit.
All efforts on the part of MSZP to cooperate with LMP by putting up a viable non-party candidate for mayor of Budapest failed, although it is clear that neither LMP's nor MSZP's candidate stands a chance to win against Fidesz's man, István Tarlós. For the first time in twenty years Budapest will also turn orange, although by all calculations a good independent candidate supported by all the anti-Tarlós forces could have won.
LMP's mayoral candidate, a thirty-year-old biologist, only yesterday gave an interview to Magyar Hírlap, a newspaper that until recently was even farther to the right than Magyar Nemzet, the mouthpiece of Fidesz. The so-called democratic LMP mayoral candidate gleefully announced that although he would like see a strong showing of oppositional parties, after the elections as far as he is concerned MSZP should disintegrate because by that time it will not matter which way the socialist party is heading. Once MSZP disappears LMP can cooperate nicely with István Tarlós and Fidesz.
Thus, surely, one cannot count on LMP as one of the "democratic coalition forces" Gyurcsány is dreaming of. It is also clear that appeals to democracy don't move Hungarians. For the time being the only thing that interests them is their economic well being. What Fidesz does with checks and balances or the constitution is of no concern to them. Therefore, one must wait until the Fidesz supporters realize that they were duped. I would say within a year they will find out.