Will MSZP split? It looks like it

Yesterday I discovered a brief news item in Magyar Nemzet. It was about Ferenc Gyurcsány's alleged decision to establish a new party. The article was entitled "Left wing party bloc may be established." Magyar Nemzet claimed to have "learned that the current leadership of MSZP and the followers of the former prime minister are contemplating negotiations about 'a peaceful divorce' that would resolve the irreconcilable differences between them." Magyar Nemzet's informer expressed the opinion that the debate within the party must end by the spring of 2012 when the party will hold its general meeting in order to be ready for the 2014 elections.

It's easy to dismiss information coming from Magyar Nemzet because this newspaper is notoriously unreliable when it comes to scoops about the opposition. So at first I disregarded the news as being "one of those Magyar Nemzet stories" until this morning I learned that Csaba Molnár, Ferenc Gyurcsány's right-hand man and deputy in DK (Demokratikus Koalíció), sent a letter to Attila Mesterházy in which the Koalíció suggests that the socialist MP's who received their seats in parliament from the party list resign to provide an opportunity for new, more capable people to represent the party in public. Such a mass resignation would leave only two current MSZP parliamentarians, who won their districts outright. Of course, such a decision would also entail the resignations of Ferenc Gyurcsány and Csaba Molnár. The news about Molnár's letter is accurate, and Attila Mesterházy took it seriously: he is calling together an extraordinary meeting of MSZP's parliamentary delegation to discuss these new developments.

Mesterházy's reaction to the suggestion is naturally negative. He pointed out this morning in an interview with György Bolgár that Gyurcsány's fomenting dissension within the party doesn't serve the true interests of the democratic opposition. After all, it is MSZP that most likely will be able to gather the forces of the left-liberal opposition, and these debates that are conducted in public only weaken the party.

On the surface Mesterházy's argument has merit: it seems easy to criticize what Gyurcsány is doing. After all, he is the man who most ardently desires the fall of Viktor Orbán and his regime. Moreover, he is a talented and intelligent man. Therefore, why is he forcing the issue? For personal gain? I very much doubt it.

Here is my take on the issue. Gyurcsány and his followers came to the conclusion that a "renewal" of the party from within is a hopeless undertaking. Yet, with the current leadership it is impossible to remove Fidesz and Viktor Orbán. So the decision was made to come up with a demand so impossible that it would necessarily lead to a parting of the ways. I assume that Gyurcsány is counting on his popularity within the party. According to the latest vote taken only a couple of months ago it looks as if the pro-Gyurcsány forces are in the majority. If the party membership splits, the financial resources of the party must also be split. Thus, the new party (Demokrata Párt?) wouldn't have to start from scratch. There would be membership and even financial resources in addition to real estate holdings.

Why did Gyurcsány decide to act? I think because by now he is convinced that a Mesterházy-led MSZP simply cannot inspire the anti-Orbán forces. There is something to that. Here are the results of the SzondaIpsos (lately only Ipsos) public opinion poll that shows the changes between May 2010 and August 2011:

Partok nepszerusege 10-05-11-08
MSZP is languishing. It doesn't matter how Mesterházy tries to chalk it up to a devastating defeat from which recovery must be slow. There is no way of explaining the stagnation away.

Medián just came out with its latest poll, and its results are in line with those of Ipsos taken just before September 8. Fidesz's share is 31%, the smallest in the last six years. Viktor Orbán's popularity stands at 38%, a historic low. The last time Orbán was doing very poorly at the polls was in December 1999, in the middle of his first tenure as prime minister, but even then his popularity stood at 41%. And yes, very few people are satisfied with the current government: less than 30%. Almost 70% of the people think that the country is heading in the wrong direction.

All this should sound like music to the ears of the anti-Orbán forces, but the trouble is that MSZP is stuck at 12%. That is bad enough, but if we consider that Jobbik is doing just as well as MSZP then we must realize the gravity of the situation. It doesn't matter how often Mesterházy announces that in the near future their strategy and communication will change dramatically, words are not enough and a lot of people are convinced that the current MSZP leadership is simply not capable of more.

I would call Gyurcsány's latest move–if my analysis of the situation holds–a bold and risky one. But perhaps in grave situations drastic actions are needed. Given the current state of affairs perhaps it is a risk worth taking. Perhaps this way one could also measure the popularity or unpopularity of Ferenc Gyurcsány. Since at the moment there is no rising political star on the horizon, it might be worthwhile to find out for sure what he would be capable of doing. If he fails, he can put a permanent end to his political career and move on to something else. And the left can go in search of another dynamic politician.

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kincs
Guest

This is madness.
The party is going down the well-trodden path of public infighting taken by the Christian Democrats, the Smallholders, the Free Democrats and the Democratic Forum. And look where they are now.
No, Mesterházy is not the person to unseat Orbán, but neither is any other MSZP politician right now. Least of all Gyurcsány.
Gyurcsány IS the most talented politician in the party, but he needs to realise that he is also the most unpopular.
He could do a lot of good by using his considerable rhetorical skills to make his points, while letting the party leaders, whoever they might be, get on with the day-to-day business of leading the opposition.
The party needs to bide its time and regain respectability. This is not the way to do it.

Jano
Guest

Kincs: I agree, but Eva’s last paragraph is correct. Let’s see!

Paul
Guest
Madness indeed! Orbán has ensured that Gyurcsány is too toxic for any party led by him ever to do well. He may be able to persuade the Hungarian people that he is OK after all, given time, stranger things have happened, but he isn’t going to manage that in 2 years. And just how easy is it to split a party? Has this ever happened in modern Europe? Would the losers quietly accept the deal and divide offices, workers, money, etc neatly down the middle? Here you are Úr Gyurcsány, the man we’ve hated all these years and who is responsible for destroying our party, please take half our assets and set up your new party. Bon voyage! As I said the other day, the left has a serious problem in Hungary – they can’t get people to vote for them. A year and a half into a new government, in the teeth of a serious recession and the Euro crisis, and with the government very unpopular, the opposition should be riding high. But instead they are flatlining at 12 or 13%. Even a large part of their own core support isn’t voting for them! As kincs accurately points out,… Read more »
Paul
Guest

And if this topic doesn’t bring old JB back out of the woodwork, nothing will!

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kincs: “Least of all Gyurcsány. Gyurcsány IS the most talented politician in the party, but he needs to realise that he is also the most unpopular.”
I think he ought to find out. Here is an opportunity.

Member

I think what the MSZP or a new party needs is to show some alternative options to “rebuild” the country. Just saying that “we do not like what the Fidesz is doing” is not enough. THe reason why Jobbik is excelling because they put all their energy to come up with alternatives that are as popular as Fidesz’ nonsense. It is not that what they say have any merit, but they act.
An other message to MSZP or any alternatives…For goodness sake, hire a marketing expert, and a decent spokes person!!!!

Vándorló
Guest
It is ridiculous that the bes that is being offered from the left is a tainted and failed ex-PM. One who ensured that support for Fidesz grew, despite Orbán being on his knees after his second defeat. My reasons? Well I’ve already stated them many times. For example here on the 22nd February 2010: “In an article from the 21st June 2007 the Economist notes that Gyurcsány had “little interest in restarting reforms” (article title “Eastern Europe’s politicians”). And so it turned out to be, by the time he left two more years were wasted (at best). His right-hand man in Finance Ministry was an ex-electrical engineer, Keller László, a person whom Péter Kende picked out as one of the three people that should be cleared out of politics. Yet as you note yourself Gyurcsány even entrusted this man Keller to investigate others wrong doing “as undersecretary was in charge of checking on the many very shady financial affairs of the Orbán government” (this blog, April 23, 2008). Talk about bare-faced cheek. And I did ask you a direct question regarding this on the 11th Nov 2009 that you have yet to respond to: ‘As you believe Péter Kende to… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Vandorlo: “Yet as you note yourself Gyurcsány even entrusted this man Keller to investigate others wrong doing “as undersecretary was in charge of checking on the many very shady financial affairs of the Orbán government”
I said nothing of the sort. It was Medgyessy who appointed him. So, he wasn’t Gyurcsány’s right-hand man. It helps to know the facts.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

To Vandorlo, Your rambling tirade against Keller is most likely based on some Fidesz source. Keller did nothing wrong. He was cleared in the Kulcsár-affair. Károly Szász, head of PFÁSZ, wanted to sue him but eventually he had better sense and dropped the charges. Just lately he won against a number of papers that accused him of all sorts of wrongdoings.
I really don’t know what your problem is, but you have a serious problem. You throw all sorts of unrelated things together and come up with some completely unsupported accusations which simply don’t stand up.

John T
Guest

“As I said the other day, the left has a serious problem in Hungary – they can’t get people to vote for them. A year and a half into a new government, in the teeth of a serious recession and the Euro crisis, and with the government very unpopular, the opposition should be riding high. But instead they are flatlining at 12 or 13%. Even a large part of their own core support isn’t voting for them!”
Paul – I’d go further and say that as well as the Hungarian left, the Hungarian centre also has a serious problem. The reality is that only the right & far right have any influence – MSZP and LMP’s performance is abysmal. And at a local level too, Fidesz has things sown up, with no real opposition. Anyone who tries to clean things up or take a different course gets squeezed – look at the way the independent mayor of Esztergom,Éva Tétényi hasn’t been able to assert any kind of authority, despite being elected by people fed up with the behaviour of the Fidesz group there.

Vándorló
Guest

@ESBAlogh: “most likely based on some Fidesz source.” I clearly detail three sources with quotes: yourself, Péter Kende and The Economist.
Which one are you suggesting is the Fidesz source?
NB. I also clearly point out that you assert that Péter Kende is highly credible, as you state he is: “…in my opinion the best investigative journalist in Hungary”. So that only leave The Economist?
Wonderfully clear reasoning and again you side-step all the issues relating to Gyurcsány and your support for him beautifully.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Vandorlo: “yourself, Péter Kende and The Economist.”
I’m glad that you consider me such a reliable source. Péter Kende managed to find some dirt on Viktor Orbán and he had some harsh words to say about Hungarian courts, but I wouldn’t take every word of his as Bible truth. If he said something nasty about Keller–which, by the way, he didn’t–he was wrong. Keller was found not guilty on all accounts. The people he tried to bring to justice naturally weren’t enamored by him and tried to blacken his name. It didn’t work. However, you swallowed every word of the accusations. Meaning, the few words that reached you.
As for The Economist. Where does it say that Keller, a crook, was Gyurcsány’s right-hand man? Nowhere.
I think, you’re worse than JB. A man who doesn’t really know what he is talking about and who brings all sorts of nonrelated things together to create a nonexistent story.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“they need to raise international awareness about what is going on in Hungary.”
What is going on in Hungary?
I live here, as opposed to the vast majority of you, yet I don’t see anything about what “international awareness” is needed to be raised.

Vándorló
Guest

@ESBalogh: “Where does it say that Keller, a crook, was Gyurcsány’s right-hand man?” You need to slow down and read my comment again. At no point to I make even the vaguest claim that The Economist makes any statement about Keller.
Rather, I clearly state their direct opinion of Gyurcsány’s competence and that he: ‘…had “little interest in restarting reforms” (article title “Eastern Europe’s politicians”)’
And just to clarify further, I am making no claims about the competence, implied or otherwise of Fidesz. Here and elsewhere I have made myself perfectly clear on that matter.
To make a remark against Gyurcsány and MSzP is not a vote a support in any way for their opposition. To be perfectly honest, I don’t consider them as antithetical to one another. In terms of the damage they do to Hungary, the way they conduct themselves, pilfer money and spread enniu they are exactly the same.
Is it so hard to grasp that you can be both anti-MSzP and anti-Fidesz?
This bipolar fixation is bordering on clinical.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Vándorló: “This bipolar fixation is bordering on clinical.”
Simplistic people seek for simplistic responses to the questions of life. These blog dwellers are among the most simplistic ones who cannot imagine their wicked image of Hungarian reality any other way.
They simply cannot think outside this small bipolar kennel.
As I happen to swim upstream here and support Fidesz most of the time, the dwellers’ only possible reaction to it is that I am paid/sent by Fidesz and what I’m writing here is “official Fidesz propaganda”.
Because they, in their thinking wired to the extreme, cannot imagine any other connection between the opinion of a sole poster and Hungary’s leading party.
Yet they are absorbed in their moaning that they don’t understand why Fidesz is so widely supported in Hungary.
Their mental and emotional shortcomings blind them from the answer staring right into their confused faces.

Paul
Guest
John T – such are things in Hungary, that I actually get depressed when people agree with my gloomy views! In my defence, my views are not lazy pessimism, I am naturally very much an optimist. My thoughts on Hungary are based purely on what I see and hear and on as neutral an analysis as I can manage. And I’m afraid I really do see no hope at the moment. OV has things pretty much sewn up. He has total control and can (and does) alter procedures and laws at will, he has destroyed the opposition, and he is rapidly moving the country towards effective dictatorship. And, most importantly of all, no one can stop him. He has called the bluff of both the EU and the US and proven what many of us suspected – that the EU has no teeth at all, and that Hungary just isn’t important enough for the US to care. And those who think his mistakes in government will be the undoing of him are in for disappointment. Even if he really does mess the economy up completely (which I fear he is very much capable of), in what way will that help?… Read more »
Paul
Guest

Welcome back, JB!
We need you on here, without you around, we end up fighting amongst ourselves!
Did you see my ‘facts we know’ post about the Gy court case? It’s a few days back, now I’m afraid, but I’d welcome your reaction to it (seriously).

chayenne
Guest
The way I see it, MSZP in its present form is dead. Gyurcsány is politically ruined, personally demonised, he can’t be a figurehead anymore, he divides the people instead of uniting them. Yet, I’d almost welcome a split within MSZP, if only for the sake of something finally happening. What Hungariann politics needs is a new infusion of blood. Where are the new faces, those young titans who want to make a career in politics? It’s a political wasteland now. Gyurcsány should take a step back even if this split actually happens and let the new party attract all those people who have been disappointed in MSZP and who, with only MSZP as a leftist option, have been left without a party they could vote for. The most important thing now is to somehow lure that almost 45% back into politics, let them develope a stake in the fate of the country again and this requires new parties, new faces who are not tarnished by the past 20 years. Apathy and disillusionmen only favours Fidesz. If half the country withdraws from politics and won’t even cast their ballots at the next elections, a ridiculously small number of votes will be… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Vandorlo, I had enough. To grab a few quotations from here and there, to take a sentence out of context from The Economist and then to say that here is the proof for this or that is nonsense. I finished the discussion.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Paul: I’ll look into it when I can take the time.
Eva: you lost this discussion miserably, there were no quotations taken out of context, and you can’t even begin to argue with logical reasoning. You were and are chanceless from the start.

Member

JOhnny Boy: “I live here, as opposed to the vast majority of you, yet I don’t see anything about what “international awareness” is needed to be raised.”
It’s time for you to step out from your cubby hole. Do a little search on facebook on various HUngarian subjects and you can find hundreds of people who are reaching out. (Not you of course.) I am also aware at least 2 dozens of Hungarian people in HUngary who wish some sort of intervention from ore civilized countries.
“Eva you lost this discussion miserably, You were and are chanceless from the start.”
I think not. (Poor Johnny Boy! Look who is talking. You ran away from the questions you could not or dared not to answer. You should be the last one to tell people who is right and who is wrong!)

Kirsten
Guest

Vandorlo: “Is it so hard to grasp that you can be both anti-MSzP and anti-Fidesz?”
This is very easy to grasp but is there also somewhere a positive programme in store? As Chayenne wrote very convincingly, if these two parties are unbearable, why aren’t there other parties in addition to tiny LMP and big Jobbik…? You criticise Gyurcsany, which is certainly alright, but it appears that you criticise him because he is still one of the very few political talents in Hungary and therefore (no matter how much despised) he cannot be truly dismissed. Gordon Bajnai indeed was a very convincing PM but there apparently were important reasons why he did not wish to continue in Hungarian politics in this high position. It always gets back to the question why those people who wish to have “normal” politicians that work in the interest of the average citizen do not have the power to establish such a regime.

Paul
Guest

JB – it’s on the “Gyurcsány’s “case”: Not a very solid one in the first place” thread from September 15.
If that’s too far back I can re-post it.

Member

If MszP or the two successors will gradually disappear as Vandorlo suggests, where will those voters go? They will not turn conservative. Will they join he undecided crowd, boosting it to over 60 precent? One of the MSzPs will dissolve, probably taking in the members of the other half. The battle of the MszPs is coming.
What we really have to watch is the split of the Fidesz. It should crack under it’s own weight. The Titanic already hit the iceberg, and there isn’t enough life boats. You have to get into one until you can.
It will be very important for the new party to reach out for the Fidesz refugees. To take them in without humiliation. That new party has to be open in many ways. It definitely has to have some kind of christian/nationalist flavor to pick up the stray Fidesz sheep.

Jano
Guest
Mutt: “If MszP or the two successors will gradually disappear as Vandorlo suggests, where will those voters go?” There are two scenarios IMHO, A. MSZP falls, some of it’s voters will vote the only viable non-right party, LMP, some will support the tiny parties that will appear as mushrooms after rain on the dead body of MSZP but mostly I think they’ll go to the undecided crow. I think there is a pretty serious chance for an invalid election with landslide Fidesz victory+superstrong Jobbik presence. Very serious legitimation crisis follows and it’s impossible to even guess beyond that point. B: Maybe LMP, maybe some other new party will be finally show some potential and grow some balls so that they’ll be able to attract and unite the anti-Orbán forces. This might also happen if they can score all the Anti-Orbán votes. This can lead to a hung parliament where Fidesz will have to seek a coalition or a minority government. We saw under Gyurcsány how pathetic the former can be while coalition between parties positioning themselves so far away from each other is almost impossible and could only end with one of the parties loosing credibility. I know some of… Read more »
Andy
Guest

What is happening to Gyurcsány is a dead cat bounce. He is finished for good. He is the other narcissistic fellow (@Ann) right after Orban….

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Jano: “There are two scenarios IMHO,”
What about a third? Gyurcsany now has seven followers in the caucus. What if they manage to recruit at least three more and form a caucus of their own? That would give Gyurcsány and the new party (whatever it will be called) a platform. That is a possibility, don’t you think?

Member
I am not sure if Gyurcsany can pull it off. It would be one of the largest come back in Hungarian History. Frankly he had his chance, and blew it. I am not blaming him alone, and Orban’s unfair play had a lot to do with it. Any serious reforms Gyurcsany suggested in order to better Hungary ended up in the toilet, thanks to Orban who preferred to lie Internationally and domestically to raise his “bankability”, and now tries to reintroduce similar changes (too little, too late). Still Gyurcsany had time to prove himself, and he couldn’t even pull his own party together. Now that other huge comeback was Orban, who while in opposition, spent most of his time on trying to divide the country by his civic groups that were founded on one thing, creating a “personal cult” for Orban himself. ALl his followers are crying wolf against the International attention, but it was Orban who run all over every country like a chicken who lost his head, and deceived Hungarians with his promises (“Don’t listen to what I say”), as well he deceived the West. Orban plays as a double again for that matter, where all the benefits… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Some1: “I am not sure if Gyurcsany can pull it off.”
I admit, it is a long shot. Here is DK’s manifesto: http://tiny.cc/05oeg

An
Guest

@Andy: “What is happening to Gyurcsány is a dead cat bounce. He is finished for good. He is the other narcissistic fellow (@Ann) right after Orban….”
Whatever Gyurcsany is, he is definitely not a narcissist. A narcissist is unable to have an “Oszod speech” or any true reflection on his actions. He is unable to acknowledge any mistakes or lies, not even to a narrow group of his followers.

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