Ferenc Gyurcsány’s new party, the Democratic Coalition (DK, Demokratikus Koalíció), was established on October 22, 2011. Its chairman is the former prime minister and there are four deputy chairmen: Tamás Bauer, economist and former SZDSZ member of parliament; József Debreczeni (MDF), author of biographies of József Antall, Viktor Orbán, and Ferenc Gyurcsány; Csaba Molnár (MSZP), minister in the Gyurcsány cabinet; and Péter Niedermüller, ethnographer.
A few days after the birth of DK, Ferenc Gyurcsány swung into action. On October 26 he had breakfast with the members of The Hungarian International Press Association (HIPA), the association of foreign correspondents in Hungary, where he gave a fairly detailed description of DK’s program.
The next day he gave a speech in parliament in which he severely criticized the Orbán government’s budget to which Péter Szijjártó’s only answer was that the former prime minister should show a little more “modesty.” After all, Szijjártó contended, he is responsible for Hungary’s current problems.
Then Népszabadság published a long interview with him in which he expressed his relief at once again being his own man with an agenda that is different from that of MSZP. Gyurcsány also managed to meet several ambassadors, including U.S. ambassador Eleni Tsakopulos Kounalakis who, by the way, seems to be seeking out members of the opposition lately. For example, the Hungarian media reported her meeting with Attila Mesterházy as well. A few days ago Gyurcsány reported that at least one of these ambassadors complained to him that although they spend a great deal of time translating newspaper articles from the Hungarian media, he still doesn’t quite understand what is going on in Hungary.
Gyurcsány thinks that under these circumstances it is especially important to be able to inform foreign diplomats and politicians about the Hungarian political situation. Thus the new chairman of DK, accompanied by his wife, visited Berlin on November 9 to meet with Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Matthias Platzek. Frank-Walter Steinmeier is currently the leader of SPD in the Bundestag, but he was also the foreign minister (2005-2009) and vice chancellor of Germany (2007-2009). According to Gyurcsány, Steinmeier is so well informed about what’s going on in Budapest that he didn’t need any assistance in recalling the names of István Csurka and György Dörner in connection with the scandal at the Új Színház (New Theater). Matthias Platzek, a German socialist politician originally from East Germany, served as minister-president of Brandenburg and for a short period in 2005 and 2006 was chairman of the SPD.
A day later Gyurcsány made an appearance before an audience of mostly young people at a forum organized by an organization called Policity. Here he talked about “the natural development that is taking place at the moment in oppositional circles.” The government is losing popularity while MSZP and LMP are unable to attract new voters. He naturally emphasized the necessity of cooperation in order to have a chance of defeating Viktor Orbán’s regime.
Gyurcsány is not the only one who is busy. The whole leadership moved into high gear. Csaba Molnár announced on November 8 that the twelve-member board has been hard at work on the party’s program and promised that soon enough they will have specific suggestions on the most important issues, from health care to education. The same Molnár today joined others who are seriously worried about the total collapse of the Hungarian economy in the near future. The new party is taking the position that the Orbán government should negotiate with the IMF in order to ensure the possibility of a loan if it becomes necessary. After all, lately there have been no takers of Hungarian government bonds, and if the country cannot sell its new issuances it will be unable to pay back its earlier loans. For the seriousness of the situation I recommend taking a look at an article that appeared today in a blog called Ténytár.
The first reactions to the establishment of DK came from young political scientists. Responding to an MTI inquiry Gábor Fillipov of Magyar Progresszív Intézet was certain that DK will not succeed. Attila Juhász of Political Capital was also certain that the new party will not be successful. Only the third political scientist, Orsolya Szomszéd of the right-wing Nézőpont Intézet of all places, had the good sense to admit that we cannot see into the future and that the parting of ways between MSZP and DK may be either beneficial or detrimental to the left. Only time will tell.
One of the cartoons inspired by Imre Kerényi’s hideous pictures was called Foxhunt:
The cartoon is not exaggerating. It seems that Viktor Orbán is still terribly preoccupied with Ferenc Gyurcsány and is increasingly trying to discredit him. His instrument is Magyar Nemzet which began a hate campaign against Gyurcsány and the new party immediately after its founding. The first editorial appeared against him and the new party on October 25 in which Miklós Ugró complained about the timing of the establishment of the new party to coincide with the anniversary of the October Revolution of 1956. According to him, the timing is a defilement of the anniversary.
In the last two days three articles in Magyar Nemzet dealt with the party and Gyurcsány. Yesterday Ádám Tompos complained that “the former prime minister, the leader of the Democratic Coalition, talked with Kornélia Magyar, analyst of the Magyar Progresszív Intézet, before a young audience in Trapéz, a pub frequented by young people.” Tompos’s aim was clearly to ridicule Gyurcsány. Today László N. Kovács wrote an editorial which seems to be an answer to Gyurcsány’s Facebook note about his conversations with western political leaders and diplomats. It seems that the Hungarian right is somewhat worried about Gyurcsány’s active pursuit of foreign leaders because the article is mostly about the author’s doubts that “western leaders will accept Gyurcsány.” The gist of the article is that western liberals are actually following in the footsteps of Viktor Orbán when he attacks the banks and “the plutocrats” while Gyurcsány and his kind are defending them. Plus he himself is a plutocrat. Kovács then goes on to compare Gyurcsány to some American politicians and I must say that the comparisons are quite incredible. According to him Gyurcsány is like Joe Lieberman who is outwardly a liberal but “he always knows which way the wind blows.” He could be Rick Perry “who is quite ready to give up his conservatism” if he is paid off. But the most outrageous comparison is to William J. Jefferson who stashed his ill-gotten money in a freezer. Except, says Kovács, in Hungary the money goes into Nokia boxes.
Surely, someone is still very much afraid of Ferenc Gyurcsány even if today we don’t have the foggiest idea whether there is any reason to worry about his reappearance as a serious contender in Hungarian politics.
The Hungarian right receives quite a bit of help from Hírszerző, a liberal online site lately carrying only opinion pieces. In today’s issue there is a transcription of Gyurcsány’s Facebook note with the title “Gyurcsány and his German political cronies” (Gyurcsány és a német politikus haverok). One wonders what Hírszerző wants to achieve with headlines like this. Perhaps to compete with Magyar Nemzet.