The ugly side of MSZP, but will it win in the long run?

Before Sunday all those who wrote about the establishment of Demokratikus Koalíció (DK) assumed that the ten MPs who left MSZP would be in parliamentary quarantine for six months. The quarantine in this case means that they will have to operate as independents with very limited opportunities to play much of a role in the debates. Moreover, the party cannot be represented on the parliamentary committees which under the present circumstances is not a huge handicap. On the other hand, not receiving any money from the budget to which every recognized party is entitled will be a big problem. It is a well known fact that no party can be maintained for any length of time from dues and voluntary contributions alone. The amount of money a party receives naturally depends on the size of its parliamentary representation and therefore DK would receive relatively little money, but it would still be better than nothing.

I think I already mentioned that the fate of DK depends on the speaker of the house, László Kövér, and one cannot expect much good will from him. In one of my posts I called him a "dúvad," a Hungarian word with a dual meaning. It can mean "beast of prey," but in ordinary speech people use it to describe a brutish fellow. In addition to his brutishness he is also vindictive and full of hatred. From him Ferenc Gyurcsány and Csaba Molnár can't expect much sympathy. If Kövér has a way of interpreting parliamentary rules in a way injurious to the new party, he will find it.

And it seems that Kövér will have an easy time of it. Csaba Molnár argued that the situation is crystal clear. The ten MP's didn't "withdraw" and they were certainly not "expelled" from MSZP. They simply seceded as an already declared new party, just as MDNP (Magyar Demokrata Néppárt) seceded from Magyar Demokrata Fórum (MDF) in 1996.

Although Kövér is still in South America and will not be back in Budapest until Sunday, there are signs that DK's quest to form a parliamentary caucus immediately might be a difficult if not impossible proposition.

György Rubovszky, chairman of the parliamentary committee on immunity and mandate questions, wrote a letter to Kövér in which he outlined his understanding of the situation. According to Rubovszky, Attila Mesterházy's letter to the House explicitly states that the ten members of parliament "withdrew" from the party's parliamentary delegation and according to house rules a member who withdraws or is expelled is considered an independent member for six months. According to Rubovszky the House didn't examine, as it shouldn't, whether the leader of a caucus is telling the truth or not.

Csaba Molnár was naturally perplexed and announced that there must be a misunderstanding which he will clear up with Attila Mesterházy. Their meeting will take place tomorrow. According to Molnár, if these ten people "withdrew," their withdrawal would have been accompanied by a formal notification, and they didn't sign such a declaration. Indeed, in English at least "to withdraw" among other things means "to give up a position especially by formal notification," but the Hungarian dictionary doesn't mention such a requirement. Moreover, here we have a difference of opinion about the circumstances under which the DK members left MSZP. Whether it seceded as an already organized party or whether the members of the new party withdrew individually.

Mesterházy's excuse is that he had no other choice. He had to specify "withdrawal" (kilépés) because MSZP rules have only two categories: "kilépés" and "kizárás" (expulsion). I'm pretty sure that this is the case, but at the same time with a little good will he could have phrased the letter in a way that wouldn't have made Kövér's job so easy. He could have said that the ten people left because the day before they joined another party. But he didn't. Why not?

While Ferenc Gyurcsány in his speech at the declaration of the new party emphasized that he and his fellow DK members of parliament will never utter a bad word about MSZP, it seems that politicians of MSZP are not reciprocating. Right after Gyurcsány's speech András Balogh, one of the deputy chairmen of the party and a representative of the party's left, said a few nasty things about DK. In making a speech on the anniversary of October Revolution in Kaposvár, birthplace of Imre Nagy, Balogh announced that his former comrades are establishing a new party that will be "some undefinable liberal party, a kind of new SZDSZ."

Gábor Simon, the chairman of MSZP's board, made it clear that DK is not a successor to MSZP because itt is not a socialist but a liberal formation. That's why this is "withdrawal," not "separation." Moreover, said Simon, the ten members should give up their parliamentary mandates and let MSZP fill their positions with others from the party list. The chairman of MSZP in Komárom-Esztergom County demanded the same. József Tóbiás, director of the MSZP delegation, triumphantly announced that with Gyurcsány's departure "gyurcsányism" also disappeared from the socialist party. So, it seems to me, MSZP is not taking "the separation" too well and the "peaceful divorce" will remain a pipe dream.

According to an article in HVG the debate within the MSZP leadership has been going on for weeks between those who want to get rid of Gyurcsány and his friends in such a way that they would not be able to set up a parliamentary delegation and those who were hoping for a friendly divorce. According to the article the letter Mesterházy wrote to the speaker of the house was written to reflect the views of the former group. The same article also mentions that the three latecomers to DK–István Kolber, Lajos Oláh, and Erika Szűcs–could have been talked out of joining Gyurcsány but "this wasn't the goal." The hard-liners wanted to get rid of them too because these three were considered to be too liberal. Apparently the pressure on Mesterházy to be really hard on the Gyurcsány faction was intense.

It is hard to tell who is Gyurcsány's greater enemy. The people within MSZP or Fidesz. He is being attacked from both the left and the right.

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Jano
Guest
Well, goodwill is not a political category. I understand Mesterházy from his point of view. Like it or not, these political parties are going to fight fiercely for the same core voter base, if DK is never going to utter a bad word, then why did they split in the first place? This comes off so dishonest to me, GYF doesn’t have the balls again and plays the innocent victim (he’s good at this). He had problems with MSZP that is why he left, then cut the crap and start talking about what is wrong with MSZP and what is he going to do better. They are probably going to loose this battle for the immediate new fraction, so what? I think he knew that this was going to happen (or if you tell me that he actually thought Fidesz would help him then he is more incompetent than I previously thought). Understandably, he tried his best shot, didn’t work out. Move on. Six months is not the end of the world, the elections are far, they can function on a low budget for now. I thought you were going to mention that MDNP’s split from MDF is not the… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Jano: “I understand Mesterházy from his point of view. Like it or not, these political parties are going to fight fiercely for the same core voter base”
But if this is what they will be doing Orbán will be around for a long time.

GW
Guest

How long after the opening of parliament did the KDNP “caucus” have to sit as independents before getting recognized as a separate party caucus from the FIDESZ-KDNP list they had been elected from?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

To GW. Six months.

Johnny Boy
Guest

This is simply pathologic. You devote three lengthy paragraphs on bashing Kövér in his absence, just because you SUPPOSE he is going to do what the law prescribes him to do. And the law is also crystal clear. Mesterházy, the caucus leader announced that the ten MPs quitted the caucus, and it’s the caucus leader’s word only that counts.
If there is any debate, it is between Mesterházy and DK, Kövér has absolutely nothing to do with that.
It is your extreme malignancy that drags Kövér into the picture.

Member

I wish that Mesterhazy would put the same energy in to fighting Orban than the energy he puts in to fighting Gyurcsany. HE will only alienate people from the left by his bickering. He should know that by now. THis is not time for personal grievances.
As for Johnny Boy’s comment.. How about Johnny if for once you would look at what is the best for Hungarians and Hungary in overall versus what is best for your agenda to keep the right in power. It seems that Fidesz have no problem to rewrite and misinterpret the law, scrap the constitution, outlaw churches, and create an autocracy by any means and with every tool available, so what is the big problem when people would be offered more selection? Of course that would put a rock on the road for Orban’s “one party” desire as he often publicly announced. We know where you coming from…

Paul
Guest

JB, you make a valid point, but why do you have to use phrases like “simply pathologic” and “your extreme malignancy”?
Not only is it rude and aggressive, but it does your cause no good at all. We badly need someone on here to keep us focussed and to put the other side’s views, but you waste the opportunity by using such childish language.
No one is going to take you, or anything you post, seriously if you write this sort of bile.
PS – past tense of ‘quit’ is irregular.

evianna
Guest

KDNP formed its caucus on the very first day of the new parliament:
they insisted on a separate representation, themselves – the proportions of the mandates must have come from some internal arrangement between the two ‘governing’ parties (none of our business, presumably).
By the way, the 6 months rule applies only to withdrawals and expulsions (“other forms” of terminating membership in a caucus are mentioned, but not defined in the Parliament’s rulebook – Házszabály).
Still, I believe this is just it, some “other form”:
the party was not split, but some of its MPs are now in a different party. (And a caucus cannot consist of members of different parties, according to the rules.)
In addition, a specificity of the situation is that this group of MPs had their own platform within the party already since years, so they do represent some of the voters, consequently, they have full right to keep their mandates. (But that will be probably disputed, too…)

Member

Paul: “JB, you make a valid point,” I do not think he does. He would if Fidesz would be consistent in reinforcing what is the best for Hungary. What Fidesz is reinforcing currently is what the best for Fidesz to create a one party system. Kover was not so keen to follow “house rules” when Vona showed up in banned paramilitary uniform, and that is just a small instance.
THe description of Kover is very important, as we have readers who just “tune in” time to time, and they missed who Kover is and whet drives him…

Odin's lost eye
Guest

The only person who will gain from this spat between Mesterhazy and Gyurcsány will be the Victator.
The Mighty One (OV) when he has finished punishing the E.U. for as someone in Jobbik claims ‘stealing money’ from Hungary. He will doubtless turn his Solomon like wisdom to the problem.
He will make it a Cardinal Law which says that when an M.P has been expelled from or leaves a party then he/she automatically looses his/her seat.
The reason was that the offending MP was elected on his party ticket and used his party’s resources to gain election. In being expelled or leaving the party the M.P. is betraying the electorate.
The replacement will be chosen from the Party Lists by the Party Leadership and approved by a majority of the House.
If three separate proposed candidates for the post to be filled are rejected by the house. Then the Speaker of the House will nominate a candidate which the House will then adopt. (Nem Con).

Johnny Boy
Guest

Paul I tell you why.
Because this is extremely tiresome.
Every time I read a post here I am so offended by the malignancy that shines through every word in the updates.
The hostility is so pervasive and omnipotent that I would be offended even when its targets were not the ones I support politically.
So if you want genuine answer, ask ESBalogh why the articles are so full of hatred. You disapprove my wording but you don’t have a word on “dúvad” (which is comprehensively explained), you don’t have a word on the detailed explanation on how Kövér is a brutish, vindictive and hateful person.
The only hate that is prevalent is what constantly pours out of this blog.
This is why I come rarely nowadays. My energy is simply drained by being offended again and again and again.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

Odin makes a good point. If a MP is elected on his party’s list and then quits the party, should s/he keep the mandate? Clearly, directly elected MP’s, regardless of party affiliation have a mandate from the electorate. In case of MPs elected on a list do not have the same mandate. The voters voted for a party and the party is entitled to its seats in Parliament.
Of course it is far more democtaric to have a House filled exclusively with directly elected members (like the British Parliament or the US Congress), but that is not what the Hungarian people chose either in 1990 or in 2011. It could be changed, but which party is going to voluntarily give up its seats around the pig swill trough?

Member

JOhnny Boy: “This is why I come rarely nowadays. My energy is simply drained by being offended again and again and again.” Well, that never bothered JOhnny when he told people to f00ck off and some similar language that he picked up from Fidesz’ favourati publications, like Magyar Nemzet. NO, Johnny Boy is only comfortable when he can spread hate. He cannot deal wit the truth, provokes, and hardly ever comments on the subjects. Kohnny simply resorts to name calling, as he called a woman representing MSZP ugly and so forth. He just does not like when Eva tries to explain someone’s personality. Johnny also cannot deal with people who do not take his bs, and backs away. I do not think Johnny adds anything important to any conversation at all. He not posting is not a big loss, and let’s us focus on what is happening, instead on what Johnny wants us to talk about.

Kirsten
Guest
‘his former comrades are establishing a new party that will be “some undefinable liberal party, a kind of new SZDSZ.” ‘ The origin of the particularly bad reputation of the ‘liberals’ has not yet become clear to me. (The only ‘explanation’ that I remember to have read was that the party had ‘too may Jewish members’, which I discarded as too weird or testifying to a ‘hopeless case’ nation. The issue is open to me, in particular if SzDSz played an important role in 1989.) But what I did learn from this remark is that Ferenc Gyurcsany does not appear socialist enough to the ‘true socialists” in MSzP. The behaviour of Attila Mesterhazy and MSzP may be comprehensible but if Ferenc Gyurcsany is too liberal, I very much expect MSzP to define its programme now along the lines of Kadar’s socialism. The programmes of Fidesz and MSzP could then very well converge and the conservative voter (that of MSzP) will easily join the conservative camp of Fidesz. As Fidesz already has some prominent former MSzMP members, the problem of the past may not be too obstructing. But DK, if they will stay committed to their programme, will not compete for… Read more »
Wondercat
Guest

Without various Johnny Boys, this blog and its comments would be only a mutual-admiration society. I am pleased to have the chance to view Dr Balogh’s postings through the perspectives of the Johnny Boys. Persons who disagree with those perspectives have nothing to lose by civility.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Wondercat: “Persons who disagree with those perspectives have nothing to lose by civility. ”
Civility? They don’t that word.

Kirsten
Guest

I find it remarkable to read that OV needs to be replaced instantly while Johnny’s ‘comments’ are welcome to spice it up.

Paul
Guest

“Of course it is far more democtaric to have a House filled exclusively with directly elected members (like the British Parliament”
In what bizarre way is that MORE democratic?!
I have voted in UK general elections since the early 70s and in countless local and EU contests, and only once has my vote counted – and that was in the last EU election, which is about as close to proportional as it gets in the UK (large multi-member constituencies).
That’s how ‘democratic’ the British system is. Myself and millions of other citizens are effectively dissenfranchised.
And this, I hope I don’t need to remind anyone, is the method OV is heading towards in Hungary.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: “have voted in UK general elections since the early 70s and in countless local and EU contests, and only once has my vote counted”
Since reading a lot about different electoral systems I’m coming to the conclusion that the British, Canadian, US way of doing things is not very fair. The minority’s voice is totally ignored. Therefore, I think that there should be “compensation.” This is, for example, how MDF got into parliament in 2006.

Paul
Guest
Éva – the usual excuse for our travesty of a ‘democratic’ system is that MPs represent the people of his/her constituency, irrespective of how they voted. He/she is ‘our’ MP, our representative (and it does actually work like this). In theory, we don’t elect a government or a Prime Minister (the PM is actually asked by the Queen to lead HER government), we elect a representative. In fact when I first started voting, just 40 years ago, the name of the party wasn’t even on the ballot paper. (This caused some fun locally when voters of a solid Tory ward accidentally elected a labour councillor because he happened to have the same name as the local MP!) Every time an alternative voting system is discussed, the reactionary forces trot this tired old ‘advantage’ out as the best reason for keeping our mad system. But it would be easy to maintain the voter-MP relationship in a proportional system – multi-member constituencies (as in our EU elections), constituency representatives, plus party list top-up, as in Hungary, or two houses, one elected purely proportionately, one elected on a constituency basis, are three examples just off the top of my head. But the progressive… Read more »
Paul
Guest

And the terrible thing is that OV is trying to bring this system to Hungary.
As imperfect as the old Hungarian system was, it was far closer to a fair democracy than what they’ll have by 2014.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest
Admittedly, having lived all my adult voting years in the US, I find it difficult to imagine that my legislators are not accountable to the electorate but to a party machinery. This gives the legislators a great deal more independence to act according to their own conscience, subject to approval of their specific district’s voters. Those districts vary by geographic location, economic and social status, ethnicty, etc. Their needs are not necessarily the same. Their representatives should not be the same either. I suppose if you blend all of Baskin Robbins’ (a large American ice cream chain) 47 flavors together and even pay attention that Vanilla and Mint Chocolate Chip have proper politically correct proportional representation, you still would end up with a pretty awful and bland ice cream. I prefer to have a choice. Of course, we have parties here, too, and they do try to exert a lot of control over their flock. But in difficult cases each Representative can and must make up his own mind and vote differently than his party’s leadership. Some of the greatest pieces of legislation were introduced by independent minded members from both parties. The renowned liberal Senator Kennedy regularly teamed up… Read more »
Wondercat
Guest

@Dr Balogh: “Civility? They don’t know that word.” True enough. But “Tu quoque!” seldom carries the day.
If the bad-mannered were all on one side of an argument, they would rapidly discredit themselves. “Don’t feed the trolls”, as the saying goes.
I greatly enjoy your narratives and analyses. (What a grand job of visual archaeology in your subsequent post, by the way!) From time to time traded vituperation obscures the valuable ideas within them. That vexes me.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Paul the soon-to-be-enacted electoral system does NOT differ radically from our present one.
I could say that in terms of proportion and vote utilization, the differences are very slight.

Member

JOhnny Boy: “the soon-to-be-enacted electoral system does NOT differ radically from our present one.
I could say that in terms of proportion and vote utilization, the differences are very slight.”
THis post only means that many Fidesz members are not clear about the current and the proposed electoral system.
I fully agree with changing the current system as is it is very cumbersome and costs a lot of money, but changing it to a system that would benefit any parties is just an other step by the Fidesz to make it more difficult to get rid off them. THe new system makes it very difficult or almost impossible for any new parties to get a seat in parliament. Also the changes (and this is NOT a small change) are necessary for Fidesz in order to grant the voting rights outside of Hungary. It is not a coincidence that Fidesz in this difficult financial situation pouring millions of forints across the border to “support” Hungarians in Austria, Romania, Slovakia, etc.
If it would be true what Johnny Boy says, then why would they change the current system at all.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Some1 you claim things without any attempt whatsoever at supporting them.
No it is not true that new parties cannot get a seat. In fact, there is only a very slight change concerning the requirements of getting into the parliament.
In no way does the new system favor Fidesz. There is no party name written in the law. The law has not been tailor made for anything that is Fidesz. There is no one who could say how parties will look in 2014.

Member
Johnny Boy: ” In fact, there is only a very slight change concerning the requirements of getting into the parliament. In no way does the new system favor Fidesz.” I wrote “changing it to a system that would benefit any parties is just an other step by the Fidesz to make it more difficult to get rid off them. ” What this means is that the new structure will favour some parties (hence “any parties”), namely the popular parties. Fidesz happens to be one of the popular parties. THat is established. MSZP is an other popular party so is Jobbik, but it is not MSZP or the Jobbik who propose these changes that will favour them. Am I correct? Eva very correctly wrote about the differences between the old and the new system, back on July 12 on this blog, so allow me to repeat what she said: “How would that new electoral system work and whom it would benefit? It would strengthen the position of large parties and would make the chances of smaller parties practically nonexistent. How? There are several points in the present plan that work in that direction. You may recall that candidates must collect “endorsements”… Read more »
Member

Johnny Boy: “you claim things without any attempt whatsoever at supporting them.” I think my above post covers your concern, but the new law was covered as I have mentioned back in July, so I did not think that we need to react that discussion. Please visit the topics related to this item from full coverage from July 12 and July 13th.

nimh
Guest
Ambivalent about this one. Instinctively, I feel it would only be fair to recognize Gyurcsany’s group as a separate caucus. They are elected representatives, and they represented a substantive current within the MSzP as it campaigned and got elected last year. Simon’s argument that these members “should give up their parliamentary mandates and let MSZP fill their positions with others from the party list” is nonsensical. It would also break precedent. Practically speaking, any further fragmentation of the center/left opposition to Orban is bad news. But so was a divided MSzP preoccupied with internal struggles. Mostly, I just wish Gyurcsany would go away. His supporters (and I think I can fairly count you among them, Eva) seem to be out of touch with just how reviled and discredited he is by many – and not just on the right, either. His mere involvement would doom any new oppositional group or alliance, because it would guarantee that many voters whom you’d need in order to turn Orban out would be turned off by it. It’s not that the MSzP without Gyurcany looks any better – when it comes to pure ideology, Gyurcsany’s program probably has better long-term electoral prospects than a… Read more »
nimh
Guest
Oh that link didn’t post, here it is: https://www.facebook.com/notes/one-million-for-the-freedom-of-press-in-hungary/banned-interview-in-heti-v%C3%A1lasz-040711/135877009827224 Lemme copy and past a bit: – How do you view the opposition today? AI: Fractured. No opposition consensus has developed yet, which might become an alternative to the National Cooperation system. Everyone feels the necessity to cooperate, but this can’t come about on the present grounds. To change this, in my view the left has to sort out its attitudes. -Ferenc Gyurcsány. Without him there is no opposition cooperation, yet the previous Prime Minister was a discomfort even for his own party. How far is the Fourth Republic willing to go for cooperation? Would you be willing to ally with the MSZP(Socialist Party) or Gyurcsány, let’s say to take to the streets? AI: In all probability the reverse is true: only without Ferenc Gyurcsány can there be cooperation among the opposition. His political heritage is unacceptable to the majority of NGOs and the LMP too. He should recognise that a political era, one in which he was the defining personality, has finally come to an end. -After your last interview with Heti Válasz online, many of our readers accused you of Gyurcsányism, saying that if you dont work with Orban,… Read more »
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