Whither MSZP?

There is no question that there is a power struggle going on inside the Hungarian Socialist Party. At the end of the summer Ferenc Gyurcsány, former party chairman and prime minister, decided to return to politics. Attila Mesterházy, the current party chairman who was chosen as a compromise candidate, is heroically trying to hold together a party whose leadership is sharply divided on both ideology and strategy.

Among the party leadership there seems to be fairly solid opposition to Gyurcsány's suggestion to "make a new party out of MSZP." First of all, there are a number of people who simply don't want to change the party either structurally or on ideological grounds. Some of these people started their careers in Kádár's MSZMP and believe that MSZP, which was formed from the reform wing of that party, is perfectly suited to represent the Hungarian left. Some of these people love talking about "the left" without being able to give a coherent account of what modern social democracy is all about. Even the party's name, Hungarian Socialist Party, is indicative of the fact that those who established it in 1989 didn't want to go so far as to include "social democracy" in the party's name. I just learned from an article by Iván Vitányi, the grand old man of the party and a close ally of Ferenc Gyurcsány, that the question of name change came up at least three times but the old timers voted down the suggestion to change the party's name to Hungarian Social Democratic Party every time.

So, one can imagine the upheaval within the party leadership when it became known that a group of five or six men who sympathize with Gyurcsány are working to register and thus reserve the name "Demokrata Párt" just in case. It was Magyar Nemzet that found out about the registration efforts and it released the news on the day the MSZP leadership discussed Gyurcsány's proposals for a party-wide vote. The leadership, including Gyurcsány, was closeted for nine solid hours where the topic of the Demokrata Párt and its connection to Gyurcsány caused quite a stir. Surely, the timing couldn't have been a coincidence. Gyurcsány has powerful enemies both inside and outside of the party.

One such enemy is László Puch, who bluntly said in an interview a few days ago: "We have had enough of Gyurcsány!" He finished his lengthy interview by comparing Gyurcsány to a bus driver who in 2004 took over the wheel of a vehicle with 2.5 million passengers. He was driving the bus at an incredible speed but had an accident. In the last minute he jumped out of the vehicle and left the bus with only 1 millon live passengers. And now he wants to reoccupy the driver's seat. "If it depends on me he will never get behind our wheel."

Another man, Tibor Szanyi, told Gyurcsány that he should leave MSZP and start his own party. After all, they survived the departure of Sándor Csintalan and Katalin Szili. Of course, the weight of these two people within the party cannot be compared that of Ferenc Gyurcsány. Others like Imre Szekeres, István Hiller, Péter Kiss are less vehement. They simply claim that the "timing isn't right."

Yesterday András Lázár, a member of the party's governing body, wrote an abominably long letter to Ferenc Gyurcsány which he embellished with all sorts of literary allusions. The upshot of the letter is that "our paths have diverged." As is abundantly obvious from the Puch quotation, the old guard think that it is Gyurcsány alone who is responsible for the decline of MSZP.

However, says Vitányi in his article in yesterday's Népszabadság, the real problem with the party is that its leaders "didn't quite digest the basic creed of modern social democracy." There is not much new in this. For the last twenty years we have often heard that MSZP is still not quite a modern social democratic party. But Vitányi goes further and insists that a modern prosperous society must be based on a healthy and sustainable economy. The aim of modern social democracy is the economic progress of the whole society. The latter cannot be achieved without the former. MSZP didn't pay enough attention to the modernization of the economic structure inherited from the earlier regimes and thus didn't manage to raise the living standards of everybody. Only about one-third of the population enjoyed the economic progress made in the last twenty years.

Because the party didn't face the challenges that would have been necessary to achieve rapid growth and rising living standards "left values were limited to empty promises and generous assistance from the state coffers." In 1994 MSZP had a splendid opportunity to tackle the problems. László Békesi, Gyula Horn's minister of finance, worked out an excellent plan for structural reforms but the prime minister, partly out of personal jealousy, removed Békesi from his post. And the party leadership supported Horn's decision. There was a second attempt by Lajos Bokros, Békesi's successor, but Horn put an end to his reforms as well because of his fear of losing the elections.

In 2002 there was another opportunity that was also missed. Four years went by without any structural reform while the government continued to spend more on social services than it could afford. It is true that Ferenc Gyurcsány in late 2004 became prime minister, but he had too little time to introduce any substantial reforms before the elections in less than two years' time. And when he tried to do something, neither the party nor the socialist parliamentary delegation supported him wholeheartedly. The party leadership wasn't ready to embrace a far-reaching reform of the economic structure and the party completely neglected its relationship with the civic society. How often did I hear socialist supporters complain on György Bolgár's call-in show that they phoned party headquarters and offered help but their offers were not answered. The party became isolated and bureaucratic.

So, according to Iván Vitányi, the trouble within MSZP is much deeper than the simplistic explanation that is so often heard from the anti-Gyurcsány forces: "it is Gyurcsány's fault." The decline of the party is due to the Hungarian socialists' inability or unwillingness to embrace the tenets of modern social democracy.

Gyurcsány seems to be casting a wider net, stressing plain-vanilla (or perhaps chili and vanilla–a nod to those who follow Hungarian cooking stars) democracy over social democracy. He wants to open the doors of the party to everybody who is committed to democratic principles. Some of the party leaders make no secret of the fact that they have no intention of admitting non-socialists to the party. Perhaps within a week we will know who will win the battle for the heart and soul of the socialist party.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jano
Guest
“It is true that Ferenc Gyurcsány in late 2004 became prime minister, but he had too little time to introduce any substantial reforms before the elections in less than two years’ time.” Other than this quote and the usual Gyurcsány-apologist tone, I find the post quite accurate. But the “he had too little time” argument is at least quite euphemistic as he was just too power hungry and a coward to risk loosing an election. Two years is a long time to do other things than just “visszahozni a kormányzást a szarból”. I know most of you might disagree with me, but Fidesz was in a very bad shape in 2006 and did an awful job at the election campaign which would have allowed a lot of room to real, responsible politics. Back then, it is my firm belief, a huge portion of the population would have listened to sound arguments (Just observe how Fidesz support is still super strong and a lot of people seem to accept even the most painful austerity measures) and there would have been a good chance to win the elections anyway. Of course that would have been risky and that would have taken a… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Jano: “as he was just too power hungry and a coward to risk loosing an election.”
Meaning F. Gy. Have you ever heard of a politician who wants to lose an election? I haven’t. And if I met one I would say that he is out of his mind.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“Have you ever heard of a politician who wants to lose an election? I haven’t. And if I met one I would say that he is out of his mind.”
Can we then hope that in the future you’ll spare your remarks on how “Orbán wants power”?

Member

“Have you ever heard of a politician who wants to lose an election?”
I think this didn’t come out right. Wanting to lose or risking to lose is the difference.
This is actually one positive thing in the lackluster OV government. The hypnotized, still ecstatic, Johnny crowd happily accepts the austerity measures.

Member

Johnny: “Orbán wants power” or loosing an election are different things Johhny. Of course not in your or in Orbans’ book. lol Wanting to win is everyone’s goal if they run for a position, but correct me if I am wrong. Wanting power can be done without being in position (literally), and this is what Orban has been doing with or without being elected. Also he dents, smears and reinvents laws and practices in order to retain power, and that again has nothing to do with the election.
So go ahead Eva and let us know any further instances about Orban’s cheating and undemocratic practices (although it is not hard to miss) to retain power!

Johnny Boy
Guest

“The hypnotized, still ecstatic, Johnny crowd happily accepts the austerity measures.”
There are no austerity measures that hit the population.
Forcing the maliciously retired policemen back to work is not an austerity measure.
Neither is taxing the banks.
Neither is the lower flat tax.
Neither are the limits on the medicine manufacturers’ profits.
And I could go on.
And you still don’t understand why Fidesz’s popularity is still very strong.
“and this is what Orban has been doing with or without being elected.”
Are you out of your mind? When did Orbán want power without being elected? Your starting point is yourself. Your kin wants and grabs power without being elected, see the Rákosi and Kádár regimes.
Orbán waited for 8 years to regain power. Out of the past 20 years, he was in power for only 4 years and waited through 16!!! You are completely out of your mind.

Member

Yeah, yeah, Johnny! Just keep loving them! 🙂
It comes down to pure math: the Hungarian economy will not be able to finance what was possible with loans in the past 20 years. The money will have to came from somewhere. The taxpayers pockets. Let’s forget the word austerity. The living standard of many will have to drop. You cannot consume more that you produce. But the point is until you are writing posts like the above the changes will go through.
The “maliciously retired policemen” made me chuckle. Like Sandor Pinter, the minister of interior, who retired in his 40s and even today is pulling a nice chump change from the state as pension.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Mutt: what I said still holds: there is no austerity hitting the population.
So I am right and you are not, simple as that.
Pintér should be deprived of his pension too.
Strange, shouldn’t you respect the government for implementing measures that hit even their own highest ranking members? It all comes down to your attitude. Whatever they do is wrong in your eyes.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“The money will have to came from somewhere. The taxpayers pockets.”
The money always comes from our pockets but this time, for a change, does not get thrown out of the window as profit for companies providing extremely overpriced services, but goes to repaying the debt.
It is still our money but used for the good purpose. That’s what makes the difference. Your kin wasted everything, now we pay a little less than before but that goes to getting rid of the problem.

Member

“So I am right and you are not, simple as that.”
And your mother was a hamster … and I’m rubber and your are glue. Simple as this.
“shouldn’t you respect the government for implementing measures”
Actually I do. As I said the tightening of the belt is very necessary (that’s what the IMF wanted too, by the way). I’m just banging my head into the wall how insensitive and dumb the way the FIDESZ is dealing with people regarding these changes.
The way you talk about profits is like my PolGaz teacher in the 80s (PolGaz = Politics and Economy – Marxism/Leninism. It was part of the curriculum in colleges). Also I think you are a bit naive about the magnitude of these monies. The skimmed extra-profit will not save the Hungarian economy.
My kin – who the hell is my kin? I don’t have any MSZ(M)P members in my family) – didn’t waste anything. The Hungarian governments (all) in past 20 years did. The country lived up the loans and now the good life is over.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“that’s what the IMF wanted too, by the way”
No, IMF wanted an entirely different set of measures, they wanted measures that hit the working population and the state by raising taxes and privatizing national assets.
These measures, apart from being very hurtful to the country, would meet strong opposition from the majority of the population. Whereas the government’s current measures to force the 40-year old, yet strong but already experienced policemen back to work has huge popularity.
And that’s your problem because the government’s popularity will not fall but rise as a result of these measures.
“The skimmed extra-profit will not save the Hungarian economy.”
Of course this will not save the economy alone. But several other similar measures, combined, will gain some money and, more importantly, please people’s pine for truth.
“The country lived up the loans and now the good life is over.”
The country lived up the loans in the past 20 years, except for Orbán’s first tenure when government debt was steadily falling despite a likewise falling inflation.
The country lived up the loans during the post-communists’ tenures. Voters rightfully punished them for that, albeit way too late.

Member

@Johnny “they wanted measures that hit the working population”
… and the FIDESZ doesn’t …
Like the Teacher’s Union (see url below) threatening the government with a strike if they raise their workload by 30% leaving their compensation the same.
http://hvg.hu/itthon/20110418_pedagogus_tiltakozas
Law enforcement, teachers. All the easy targets. Such a brave fellow this Matolcsy is.

PT
Guest
Johnny Boy wrote: “during the post-communists’ tenures” Let’s be intellectually honest and get over this phrase already. All of the parliamentary parties in Hungary are “post-communist” and have been for a generation now. All have personnel continuities with the pre-89 era and all have policy continuities. The critical questions go to the competence of these personnel in legislating (in opposition or in government ) and administrating in the post-communist, EU-membership era and which continued policies each particular party has chosen to emphasize are effective for the citizens of Hungary and which are not. Fidesz has chosen continuity in foreign relations to communist China and socialized medical care and the use of “surveys” with barcodes so that the identities of supporters and dissenters can be known to the state (and likely the party as well). If we’re going to throw these labels out, honesty demands a thorough debate of those issues to determine how well such labels fit. Johnny Boy, you support Fidesz and you seem to be an anti-communist. Do you support the closeness of the Fidesz government to communist China? Do your support socialized medicine? Do you support the use of non-anonymous surveys of opinion by the state and… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

Why do ardent believers in socialism dislike the idea that someone could found a Democratic Party? Either they wish Ferenc Gyurcsany left MSzP but then he is free to do whatever he pleases, or they do not want him to leave but then he has a place in the party that they should not question. Or, if they are so sure that he is a “dead man” already, why do they waste their time? From what you write, Eva, MSzP is a rather typical Communist Party, unable to learn that they are just one among many contestants. And if they are still rich, which I suspect, there is no need to reform the party, the just cling to these resources. Gyurcsany should go ahead with the Democratic Party.
And to Johnny: Getting a pension first but having to return to work to earn the same in income later is “austerity”. There is no other way of saying it. But what I cannot wait to learn is “why Fidesz’s popularity is still very strong.” Please tell us! Is it because of the firefighters? Is it because of the flat tax? Is it because of the banks’ tax?

Member

Johhny Boy: “Are you out of your mind? When did Orbán want power without being elected? Your starting point is yourself. Your kin wants and grabs power without being elected, see the Rákosi and Kádár regimes.” t is very hard to talk to someone who is so short-sighted and such pushy, name calling “flying fook” like you Johnny. Where were you when Orban did not show up in the parliament, when he did not shake hands, when he started to organize his little “kindergarten groups for adults”..
You say “There are no austerity measures that hit the population.” You kidding me…. People who earn under 300,000 Ft (not Orban) take way less money home wit the flat tax. Privatizing retirement income is austerity too, although yu can call it whatever you want. Orban already come up with new vocabulary for that, maybe he figuring out with the Chinese. I am not going to go on to educate you, as it is a waist of time. You are simply an oxymoron, trying to push Orban’s agenda at any prize, but maybe we should talk about this when you finished your exchange program with the communist China Orban supports.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Sorry for being offtopic again, but here’s something that of course gets ignored here again:
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/c7817292-856d-11e0-ae32-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1NGZMmAlG
“Hungary has been the surprise star of emerging markets this year, leading a string of advances in central and eastern European currencies, equities and bonds that few observers had predicted.”
Go downplay this now, or rather: ignore, that’s the easiest.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Kristen: yes you are right, forcing premature pensioners back to work is austerity.
For those who are forced to work again.
For all others? Just an action to restore justice.
Guess who are more in number?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

J: “”Hungary has been the surprise star of emerging markets this year, leading a string of advances in central and eastern European currencies, equities and bonds that few observers had predicted.”–says the Financial Times.
I would suggest to read the whole article from which a more balanced picture of the whole economy emerges. As for bonds one cannot be surprised that they sell, especially the short-term ones. With a 6-7% interest rate selling bonds is not terribly difficult. But financing the country with short-term loans and high interest is very expensive.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

To the attention of JB: Perhaps one also ought to consider some other news of late. Here is one: “Hungary’s economic-sentiment index dropped to a one-year low in May as confidence in industries whose exports pulled the country out of recession unexpectedly plunged, research institute GKI said as cited by Bloomberg.
The index fell to minus 13.2, the lowest since May 2010, from minus 9.1 in the previous month, Budapest-based GKI said in an e-mailed statement today. The business confidence index dropped to minus 4.3 from 0.6 in April while the consumer confidence index fell to minus 38.5 from minus 36.8 the previous month.

Member

Johnny Boy: “Sorry for being offtopic again” Nothing new form you Johnny Boy. Hungary is good for investors but it is sad place for thos who are not on the top of the barrel. This was brought to your attention many times, but then again, you do not respond to those comments, and then again staying true to yourself you “do not give a flying f00k” about anything that does not support your trolling. Also a headline form another publication regarding your link “If Hungary is a bright spot in the world economy, we are all in big, big trouble”
“action to restore justice. Guess who are more in number?” Collective punishment by Johnny Boy. You again provide the perfect proof for the thinking of Fidesz, like all good until the rich stays rich, all good with the communists until it serves our interest, lies, lies, and more lies.

Member

Eva, you did not even mention the newest data to Johnny Boy, “The majority of people are dissatisfied with the performance of the Orbán cabinet, the latest Medián poll suggests. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s popularity has fallen to 43% from 68% in one year”

Johnny Boy
Guest

Eva: it doesn’t matter.
In your weird views, everything that happens to Hungary is entirely negative. And this article completely counters that as its overall message is positive.

Member

Ah, Johnny … everything YOU say is positive. Stop this.
What Eva is trying to explain to you, is that the country will issue the same amount in bonds in say 5 years as the IMF loan would have been but with 2-3 % higher interest. In simple words: the country takes the same loan with higher interest. So sticking up to the IMF may sound good but it costs you hundreds of million dollars a year. At the same time Orban is doing pretty much the same things what the IMF wanted. This Hungarian Pride thing is very costly. The real reason IMHO for not taking the IMF help is that they know that the money would have flown away the same as in the past because they have no clue what to do with it. So they just would have gone down in history as the government that give the coup de grace to the Hungarian economy. They are spinning this as big patriotic thing.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Mutt how many times can you write down the same nonsense that Orbán is doing the same as what the IMF wanted, despite me and every news source informing you of the complete opposite?

Johnny Boy
Guest

Take the latest news for example: Hungary bought all shares of MOL back from Surgutneftegas. And guess where it was financed from? The IMF loan.
LOL. The IMF intended this money for everything but to strengthen Hungary’s economic autonomy. And now that money is being used for this purpose. They completely went a mucker.

Member

Ok, I admit, I don’t know the full details of the IMF conditions. I was mainly referring to the belt tightening measures by Orban.
I’m not quite convinced though that governments can better manage companies. I hope we won’t lose money on this nationalization frenzy.

Ron
Guest

Johnny Boy: As per the article in the BBJ Hungary paid EUR 1,88 billion, the current price is HUF 517 billion, at market value per share of HUF 23,310. Exchange rate is EUR/HUF 275, while currently it is actually 269.388145. They paid goodwill of 25.5% on the acquisition price EUR 480,000,000. It is expected that the oil price will go down, so why is this a good investment for Hungary?
Furthermore, I do not know the exact conditions of the IMF, but I can tell you nationalisation is not one of them, unless FGy did some good negotiations with IMF.

Ron
Guest

Mutt Damon: Ok, I admit, I don’t know the full details of the IMF conditions. I was mainly referring to the belt tightening measures by Orban.
Here are some conditions of the IMF:
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2008/11/06/afx5656942.html
http://www.mnb.hu/Root/Dokumentumtar/ENMNB/A_jegybank/eu/A_jegybank/eu_imf/mnben_stand-by_arrangement/796_08nov_hu_stby_staffrep_cr08361.pdf
http://www.mnb.hu/Root/Dokumentumtar/ENMNB/A_jegybank/eu/A_jegybank/eu_imf/mnben_stand-by_arrangement/letter_of_intent.pdf
Nothing is mentioned about buying stocks from companies. I hope this will not lead to a situation that Hungary is forced to sell the share to another party at discounted price and have Fidesz make a buck or two on this deal.

Member

Thanks Ron.
Yup. No IMF demand to “privatize national assets”. This is the point, when Johnny usually yells: YOU LIED.
Any comments? Turul Trooper?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Ron: “Furthermore, I do not know the exact conditions of the IMF, but I can tell you nationalisation is not one of them”
I have my doubts whether this will float. Moreover, Orbán who keeps talking about the enormous national debt is now adding more to it just to have a share in MOL? I just heard that the government will also take over 300 billion forints worth of debt of MÁV. All this is on credit. After all the IMF loan will have to be paid back. That is, if the IMF will ever allow this transaction.

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