Although some people claim that Ferenc Gyurcsány is a man of the past who has no political future, his speech on February 18 created quite a storm. According to Ádám Mirkóczki (Jobbik) if the Fidesz government took its job seriously and did what it promised, Gyurcsány would have made his speech from inside a jail cell.
The spokesman for Fidesz was Lajos Kósa, one of the vice presidents of the party, who claimed that "Ferenc Gyurcsány proved again that he is a huge burden for Hungary." Considering the latest fiascos Hungary has been facing because of Viktor Orbán, I would have been quiet if I had been Kósa. Of course, as they say, the best defense is a good offense, and Fidesz runs an excellent offense.
Kósa then listed all of Gyurcsány's sins, including ordering the police to "blind ordinary pedestrians' eyes" on October 23, 2006. Although Gyurcsány in the speech made it quite clear that he doesn't want to establish a new party but to renew MSZP as a modern social democratic party, Kósa's reading of this particular part of the speech was different. Most likely it was wishful thinking on his part: he figured that Gyurcsány wants to split the left and remarked with considerable glee that "even his own comrades think that he has no place in MSZP." Although I'm sure that certain people within the party would be very glad if Gyurcsány left MSZP, I don't think that this is true about the majority of the more important politicians in the party.
Ágnes Seszták of Magyar Nemzet wrote an editorial entitled "Ninety minutes of hatred." Any normal person who read the text distributed by Demokratikus Koalició, the platform Gyurcsány created within MSZP, knows that in fact it isn't "hatred" that motivates Gyurcsány but his belief that Orbán is abandoning the democratic regime that functioned reasonably well in the last twenty years. Nine years ago Gyurcsány was ready to have a political dialogue with Fidesz, but since then he has come to the conclusion that Orbán wants to "annihilate the left" and thus establish a one-party system. This is not a "pathological hatred" of the man but simply a recognition of the nature of Orbán's politics. Seszták sweeps aside all of Gyurcsány's criticisms of Orbán's undemocratic governance of late by saying, "too bad but Fidesz has a two-thirds majority." So, long live the dictatorship of the majority, which never was really two-thirds of the voters, and soon enough it may not be even a simple majority if the dissatisfaction with Fidesz spreads further.
Gábor Török also disagrees with Kósa. He read Gyurcsány's speech the way I did. Gyurcsány "will not give his rivals the satisfaction of seeing him create a new party." Török rightly points out that it is difficult to analyze Gyurcsány calmly and in a measured way because he has been "demonized and heroized" to death in the last four or five years. Török found his speech middle-of-the-road and his messages not terribly different from those of most of the MSZP leaders. And indeed both Péter Kiss and Attila Mesterházy agreed with practically everything Gyurcsány had to say.
From Török's blog the right-wing media quoted one sentence with great satisfaction: "While acknowledging Gyurcsány's unquestionable political talents, I must say that in my opinion there are only two things that keep him alive, make him really important: on the one hand Viktor Orbán, on the other, MSZP." I might add here that those who quote him usually leave out the phrase that refers to Gyurcsány's political skill. But Török continues: "(1) As long as Orbán is leading Fidesz (and specifically the country) the more than half a decade of single combat between the two of them might be exciting and interesting; and (2) there is no other politician in MSZP with the charisma, ability to convince, strategic thinking, and other qualities necessary to be considered an unquestionable leader."
Gyurcsány in his speech mentioned "betrayal" in connection with the speech at Balatonőszöd that was made public. As things stand now, Gyurcsány claims that he doesn't know who the betrayer was, something that is difficult to believe. My feeling is that he didn't want to have a huge internal upheaval that would split the party. We know who were and are Gyurcsány's sworn enemies in MSZP: Katalin Szili who left the party and now is creating a constitution hand in hand with Fidesz, Tibor Szanyi who makes no secret of his feelings, Imre Szekeres, and László Puch.
Here is an excellent cartoon published in www.varanus.blog.hu. One must know that "to screw" someone in Hungarian actually means "to put a knife in his back." The implication is clear: Gyurcsány was betrayed by his own comrades.
I left Puch to the end because he just gave a very lengthy interview to József Nagy in www.figyelonet.hu. Puch is the éminence grise of MSZP. He is the treasurer of the party. He holds the purse strings and, since all the parties have more money in reality than on paper, he is a powerful man of many secrets. As became known a few months ago there has been bad blood between Gyurcsány and Puch for a long time, and it seems that Gyurcsány lost that battle. Gyurcsány complained that it was an untenable situation that the president of the party is powerless because he cannot learn the financial situation of the party and, an even more serious problem, he has no say over how to spend the funds. Instead of Gyurcsány, Puch was actually running the party as he is running it now. The purse strings of Fidesz are held by Lajos Simicska, an old friend of Orbán from high school days, but Simicska's activities are supervised by Orbán. Simicska works for Orbán. In MSZP that wasn't the case. On the contrary, Puch worked against Gyurcsány.
László Puch makes no secret of his hatred of Gyurcsány and of his desire to see him outside the party. In fact, he predicted that "soon it will be clear whether Gyurcsány submits to the majority of the party or he leaves." He also admitted that Attila Mesterházy is his man and that he helped him to be elected president of the party. When József Nagy, the journalist, kept probing about Puch's allegedly good relations with some Fidesz politicians, including his counterpart in Fidesz, Lajos Simicska, Puch was evasive but emphasized that he was "always ready to compromise." Gyurcsány in his speech said that there are some people in the party who think that there is room for negotiation with Fidesz, but he thinks that as long as Viktor Orbán is leading Fidesz it is worthless even to try to create some kind of modus vivendi. Orbán will consider it a sign of weakness.
So, some people inside of the party, like Puch, Szanyi, and Szekeres could do Fidesz a favor and get rid of Gyurcsány, but I don't think that it would help the left-liberal cause. But not only the right and the left think in terms of an MSZP without Gyurcsány. There are also many liberals who think that Gyurcsány is wasting his time on his old party. He should make a clean break and establish a liberal party of his own.
One journalist who advocates that road is László Bartus, editor of Amerikai-Magyar Népszava. His argument rests on the betrayal of Gyurcsány in the summer of 2006 when someone handed over the text of his speech at Őszöd. If Gyurcsány stays in the party, he must reveal to the public the name of the person who was responsible for this dastardly deed. The country has the right to know who caused the catastrophe that occurred in Hungary. "The handing over the text of the speech paralyzed the functioning of the government, created a domestic crisis of earlier unknown magnitude, made a battlefield out of Budapest, almost caused a Fidesz-backed coup d'état, and finally led the way to the 'revolution' of the two-thirds majority. Who was capable of betraying his party, sacrificing the future of the country, throwing his own prime minister to the enemy to weaken his position and cause his downfall?" If Gyurcsány remains in the party he will have to face the same man or men, says Bartus. The question is whether Gyurcsány would be willing to go that far.