Now that MSZP’s leaked “working paper” has become available we have a better idea of what the party leaders have in mind as far as strategy is concerned. Although the MSZP politicians I heard speak about the document emphasized that naturally this is not the final word on the strategy the party will follow in the next year and a half, after reading the text I think it is fairly clear where the party is heading.
The authors of “The Left, Hope, and Strength” are convinced that MSZP shouldn’t try to cooperate with any of the other smaller democratic parties. It is in the party’s interest to divide the political spectrum sharply between MSZP and Fidesz, so MSZP shouldn’t be concerned with the other parties. While Fidesz’s interest is to be in the center of the political stage, flanked by the extremist Jobbik on the right and smaller opposition parties on the left, MSZP’s strategy should be to weaken Jobbik, LMP, and DK. According to these unnamed political advisers there is a good possibility of gathering a sizable number of voters from Jobbik because many of them actually sympathize with leftist values. Moreover, when asked, Jobbik sympathizers doubt that the current Jobbik leadership could actually govern the country. On the other hand, some of these Jobbik followers consider MSZP much more capable. The document doesn’t mention any vote gathering from LMP or DK.
Those intellectuals and professionals who seem to be worried about the rule of law, democracy, and human rights are on the wrong track because most of the electorate are worried about their own material well-being. The document pretty well writes off these people. Almost as if MSZP gave up on them and let them gather in LMP and DK. It also looks as if the party has given up on people in their twenties. MSZP politicians naturally would like to see a few more votes coming from this group, but at the same time they know that young people are not the most conscientious voters.
What are the main problems facing MSZP? The document admits that people don’t think that the party can change for the better. They are also not at all convinced that MSZP can actually win the next elections. So, the primary goal should be to change of the image of the party. A few simple messages should be devised, and the whole overall strategy should be based on these messages.
The messages should emphasize the values of the traditional left. They also have to convince the voters that there is hope and that their lives will improve if MSZP wins the elections. And they have to change the current weak image of MSZP.
What are these traditional leftist values? Primarily, a welfare state, assistance to the poor, and a fight against inequality. A survey the party conducted at the beginning 2012 showed that people are angry about the huge income disparities that exist in Hungary today.
And yet it seems that the party leaders realize that returning to the traditional Hungarian leftist tradition is pretty hopeless in today’s world. They talk about something called “the modern left” without defining what they mean by it. But they say that the best example to follow is the French Social Democratic Party.
MSZP strategy should emphasize the material well-being of the individual rather than talk about the country itself because for most people such things as inflation, the deficit, and economic growth don’t mean much. They should concentrate on the “ordinary people.” They should return to the ideas of Gyula Horn. The party’s chief audience should be working men and women rather than intellectuals.
As for the economic plans of the party, fiscal discipline is definitely a dirty word in their vocabulary. The emphasis should be on economic growth and job creation. MSZP mustn’t even think of an austerity program. They shouldn’t offer immediate and dramatic improvements but should send messages about catching up with the West that would entail an increase in family incomes. MSZP must redefine its attitude toward austerity and populism. Just because a promise is popular MSZP must not automatically reject it.
MSZP must radiate hope. All politicians who appear in the media must be shown as optimistic as far as the party’s chances at the polls are concerned. Attila Mesterházy must look youthful and energetic as a contrast to the less than exciting Viktor Orbán of today.
After winning the elections alone MSZP will get together with the other democratic parties and arrive at a consensus, will make public all the documents Fidesz kept secret, will control energy prices, will raise the minimum wage, and will create a 60% tax rate for the rich.
Anyone interested in voting for MSZP in 2014?