With or without Gordon Bajnai: LMP’s dilemma

I was hoping that I would be able to report on the LMP Congress, which will decide the party’s attitude toward Gordon Bajnai’s Együtt 2014 Movement. Hence “Together 2014.” However, the internal differences that exist within the party seem to be difficult to iron out, and it looks as if a decision can be expected only tomorrow. Not a good sign.

Péter Róna threw in his lot with LMP a few months ago. Róna has many admirers in Hungary. There is a certain aura that surrounds Hungarians who spent the greater part of their lives abroad, as Róna did, and who achieved financial success. Róna was an investment banker who, after he returned to post-1990 Hungary, had a few business ventures that made him a wealthy man in Hungary. He also became a kind of gentleman farmer; he is currently experimenting with cheese making. Recently he was invited to be a senior research fellow at Blackfriars Hall of the University of Oxford where he is working on “the restoration of value judgement and moral sentiment in economic theory.” It’s not surprising that the LMP leadership, no friends of western-style capitalism, found their spiritual leader in Róna.

Politics Can Be Different
But can it?

The discussions about the direction LMP will take are being held behind closed doors, but Róna, who is certainly not media shy, told MTI his own opinion on the matter.  Róna apparently rose and expressed his belief that “cooperation with Together 2014” is absolutely necessary for the removal of Viktor Orbán from power. However, “he didn’t recommend joining the movement”  because “there is a vast gap between the economic and societal ideas of the two organizations” that simply cannot be bridged. As far as Róna can ascertain, Gordon Bajnai’s ideas on the economy would be a continuation of the programs of the Gyurcsány and Bajnai governments, which would mean “a policy structured by capital to the interests and needs of capital.”  But, Róna claimed, the time of such economic and societal structures is gone.

During an interview with György Bolgár (October 17) Róna expressed his disappointment in Gordon Bajnai’s economic plans which the former prime minister had outlined before a group of economists earlier. Right after the interview Bolgár asked László Békesi, former finance minister, what he thought of Róna’s ideas. Békesi began: “Yes, I’m familiar with his line.” (In Hungarian: “Ismerem a szöveget.”) According to Békesi, “Róna would like to see a third-road character but there is no such person.”  Here Békesi was referring to a school of economic thought from the 1930s that championed a “third road”  between capitalism and socialism. According to Békesi, there are some realistic elements  in Róna’s concept, but in its entirety it is not a viable economic model. Hungary cannot get out of its economic troubles by relying on small businesses and taking an antagonistic attitude toward capital, globalism, and banks. If Róna criticized Bajnai for wanting to continue the economic policy that stabilized the rocky boat of the Hungarian economy between 2008 and 2010, he said, then it is actually high praise of the former prime minister.

As for Róna’s ideas on foreign investment, Békesi found them totally unrealistic. If it depended on Róna, he wouldn’t allow any foreign company to settle in Hungary “that creates less value to the country than what it takes out.” Róna, for example, insists that the Mercedes factory in Kecskemét was a very bad deal for Hungary because Mercedes received too much government assistance while it created only a few thousand jobs. So, the Hungarian taxpayers’ money wasn’t used effectively. But, according to Békesi, these companies (Mercedes, Audi, Opel) have expanded their operations in Hungary over the years and thus they reinvested some of the profits that accumulated in their plants in Hungary. Second, Hungary is not in a position to pick and choose among investors. Viktor Orbán occasionally says the same thing as Róna: there are good multinationals and bad ones and Hungary will make the decision who the lucky ones are who can invest in the country. It simply doesn’t work that way.

Of course, I have no idea how much influence Róna has on the youngish membership of LMP. Most likely more than his ideas deserve, but one must admit that anti-capitalist sentiment, especially against big business, is prevalent in LMP. Some people in LMP even talked about him as their candidate for prime minister, an idea Róna rejected, calling himself totally unfit for the job.

A last note. There is a remark that requires a little parsing. Gábor Vágó, an LMP member of parliament, announced after the meeting that whatever the decision is, it has to be announced unequivocally and resolutely. And they should stick to their decision whatever it is. Well, he expressed it a little less politely (“ne tökörésszen az LMP” was the exact phrase). He added, however, that “the decision shouldn’t be based on the current opinion polls.” That additional information is hard to interpret because the opinion polls at the moment are all over creation.

I do hope that the party leadership will decide to join Together 2014, if for no other reason than self-preservation.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
petofi
Guest

Eva,
your mind must’ve been on the roast when you wrote the last sentence: why would you care if LMP survives?
For my money, only Vago Gabor is worth anything.

petofi
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :

petofi :
Eva,
your mind must’ve been on the roast when you wrote the last sentence: why would you care if LMP survives?
For my money, only Vago Gabor is worth anything.

To tell you the truth I wouldn’t particularly care but it would be very bad for the democratic opposition if one after the other party would say no.

Of course it would, but I understood your last sentence to mean that the self-preservation of LMP is at stake…

Minusio
Guest

So that makes already two parties which won’t join Bajnai’s Együtt 2014 (the other being 4K, according to Pester Lloyd).

What strikes me is that in Hungary economic knowledge is in very short supply (which doesn’t mean that some people get rich quick).

According to my Hungarian economist girlfriend, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) accounts for more than 750 000 jobs for skilled workers in Hungary. Those people get higher wages and pay more taxes than the average Hungarian working within the domestic economy. It is also FDI that gives Hungarian economic statistics still an almost acceptable touch. So it’s rather silly of Orbán as well as Róna to criticize those foreign-owned companies, even though they enjoy tax breaks and government subsidies.

The Mercedes works in Kecskemét will consist within a short time of 90% Hungarian employees – who were trained on a rotational basis in the Mercedes factory in Rastatt, Germany. As Hungary is not able to give decent vocational training to its own workers this knowledge transfer in itself is worth many times the subsidies.

Róna lives on another planet.

Guest

London Calling!

LMP are too inexperienced a party: still evolving; too Budapest-centric; too experimental with leadership; too undecided with policy – and too fearful of making a wrong move with their fragile ‘constituency’ – which could disappear in a puff – to make any lasting impression on the Hungarian political scene.

Having such an idealistic chairperson policy will never work. The ‘Greens’ in England chose not to have a leader for ideological reasons too (no one in overall charge) – but it only produced chaos and they soon abandoned it.

And of course they are not into party politics like the others? Er..sort of politics without the politics. Eh?

Why did Róna throw in his lot with them?

LMP are destined to be in the political (non-political?) wilderness for a good few years – before they are honed into a mean lean party, hungry for power.

They need a good dose of realpolitik before the electorate will trust them.

Regards

Charlie

gdfxx
Guest

I always wonder about people like Rona. He made his money in the capitalist system and now he wants to abandon the system (I guess he doesn’t want others to do as well as he did).

He reminds me of Warren Buffet, a US investor billionaire who advocates higher taxes on people like him (and others, much less wealthy), but in the meantime he prefers to donate his wealth to charitable causes of his choice, instead of paying more in taxes voluntarily, something the US tax forms clearly allow (and encourage).

spectator
Guest
In my opinion presently Hungary is quite a few light-years away from the possibility to be able to chose between capitalism and socialism, or between anything else, for that matter, what has anything to do with economy. Which is just about anything, as we know it. When the government practically strangling the economic growth with every step what they make, – legislation, education, financing, social- and cultural changes, and the list growing by the second – they pushing the country into a corner, with no way out in the foreseeable future, the whole discussion of ‘choosing’ any way is clearly fictitious. And I still didn’t mentioned the all-penetrating backward ideology which forcefully implemented on just about every aspect of the life, particularly in the education, so our only chance to any future advancement severely truncated by design. As long as the horseback-archery won’t be really in a ‘business-mainstream’, and the NYSE and NASDAQ won’t start to use rune-script on their display’s, that is… Regarding the ‘Politics Could Have Been Different’ party, I guess they trying to maneuver themselves into some kind of key-position, but failing to notice, that there is no such thing today. The alliance of Gyurcsány and Bajnai… Read more »
buddy
Guest

Saw my first anti-Bajnai advert today – on a city bus in the capital. It linked Bajnai and Gyurcsány together and said something like “Don’t forget they ruined the country together!” I couldn’t see the sponsor as it was written in smaller letters.

petofi
Guest

Konrad Gyorgy was on ATV yesterday and said that the only modest politician he’s seen in Hungary in the last 20 years was Bajnai. That sounds like a good recommendation to me.

I used to be partial to Rona but his joining LMP rather than Bajnai seems like the big-fish-in-small-pond syndrome; that is to say, he hopes to be drafted to lead that party and have some political leverage as their leader. Not what the country needs.

It is somewhat disheartening that opposition ‘segments’ are playing with what is clearly the only route the country should be taking–Bajnai.

petofi
Guest

I’ve just read about the LMP ‘no’ to Bajnai.
Schiffer has earned a new name: henceforth, Schiffer Draskovitch Andras.
I suppose Orban will back Schiffer for the Budapest mayoralty next.

Christopher Adam
Guest

I’m sorry to see that LMP won’t join Bajnai and that they’re so incoherent and chaotic as of late. I know a number of people in the LMP and quite fancy their youthful idealism on many issues. They make for wonderfully engaging people with whom to share a dinner and a great philosophical conversation. I also think that there is space on the Hungarian left for a party that is somewhat critical of capitalism, multinationals and globalization. But I’m afraid I don’t see much potential cabinet material in their midst.

Kingfisher
Guest

I find it slightly odd that Békési is being quoted as some sort of authority. He was part of the Kádár administration, was Németh’s finance minister and was fairly ineffective when working for Horn. That’s hardly a CV to be proud of.

It is also nonsense to characterise Róna as anti-capitalist. His argument is that investments such as Daimler don’t make economic sense when you look at the benefit for the country weighed against the cost in terms of tacit subsidy that brought them here. As governments, not least Bajnai’s, refuse to publish the relevant details for these deals, I suspect this is true.

As for saying that Hungary shouldn’t rely on small businesses …. they are the life blood of any modern economy and it is not only nutty to dismiss them, it is nutty for the Orbán government to make them impossible to run.

Minusio
Guest
I agree that SMEs are the backbone of many a country’s economy – but only if they excel in their niche. This is especially true for Germany that has about 2500 world market leaders amongst its small-to-medium-sized enterprises. The educational and state-imposed economic conditions in Hungary are not conducive to achieving excellence anywhere. As for FDI such as Daimler’s, I have pointed out in another comment that the know-how transfer and the tax income derived from the employees (there will be more than 2500) are a net benefit to Hungary and far outweigh the subsidies and tax holidays granted. I have been suggesting to scholars in Hungary to document the enormous developmental changes taking place in Kecskemét and its region due to this investment. But to no avail, although there would even be funding for it. [The same goes for EU funding available to Hungary: the “absorption rate” is about 37% which means that more than 60% or thousands of millions of euros never reach Hungary because of government incompetence and graft.] BTW, Daimler looked for Hungarian subcontractors and suppliers. Most of the building construction went to Hungarian companies. But each Mercedes built there will have no more than 7%… Read more »
Guest

@Petofi–Sorry, I don’t get the ‘Draskovitch’ reference. Can you tell me?

Member
OT: – The Office of the Parliament blocked all emails that are being sent in protest against the law requiring pre-registration for the election.(we are not talking abut the pre-elction required in most countries, but a system that will limit many Hungarian citizen’s right to vote). – Matolcsy paranoid and misleading words (same has been spoken by Orban not long ago), where he said that financial analyst are “the pirates of the financial world” were not received with the greatest enthusiasm, and gave a great chance to the financial world to point out how dumb Matolcsy is when it comes to understanding how the financial world work. ““Our research is based on thorough and reasoned analysis, and I’d hope that most people who read it would see that. Plus we’re completely independent anyway–we do not hold positions in the financial markets, and have no book to talk,” Mr. Shearing said in a written response to Hungarian business news portal Portfolio.hu. Another, unnamed, London-based analyst also felt the need to respond. Research analysts in London are independent under the U.K. Financial Services Authority’s rules and it would be illegal for them to manipulate financial markets, he told the same news portal… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Gretchen :
@Petofi–Sorry, I don’t get the ‘Draskovitch’ reference. Can you tell me?

Draskovitch was the leader of the opposition to Milosovic back in 1996. The movement had traction, so much so that American congressmen were showing up and marching in Belgrade. Then…poof! before you knew it, it was all over. Draskovitch stopped organizing, the marches ended, the senators et.al. went home…and soon after, Draskovitch was made the mayor of Belgrade.

Kirsten
Guest
Reading Kingfisher’s scepticism about nearly any Hungarian politician, I wonder who you suggest could manage the transition to a “more mature” democratic political system? And because I believe that you are also thinking about the desirable political system of Hungary as of a democracy, it will be necessary to name not one or two people but quite a number. Not only people who are “clean” but also who are “politically effective”. To be so “choosy” reminds me of LMP, who suggest that politics can be different. Might be that it can also be different than what MSzP and Fidesz have been doing but this “different politics” should have also some tangible results. I do not know much about LMP but my impression is that their programme and actions are not really precise. Was there not some cooperation with Fidesz and Jobbik from time to time also? Should we therefore discard people from LMP also? Or is that a minor problem relative to being a former member of MSzMP and not having converted to Fidesz? Would it not be better to define which type of behaviour before and after 1989 really discredits people and only than look whether they were members… Read more »
Paul wal
Guest

Hi Eva,

Off topic….but did you know. That it is, at least for me, impossible to comment on politics.hu.
Something behind this maybe?

Bowen
Guest

buddy :
Saw my first anti-Bajnai advert today – on a city bus in the capital. It linked Bajnai and Gyurcsány together and said something like “Don’t forget they ruined the country together!” I couldn’t see the sponsor as it was written in smaller letters.

Here’s a poster on the back of a bus in Budapest. In the small print, you can see ‘Bekemenet.hu’. Therefore, this ad is being sponsored by Fidesz, using taxpayers’ and EU money.

http://gepnarancs.hu/2012/11/karaktergyilkos-kampany-bkv-buszokon-allami-penzbol/

petofi
Guest

Bowen :

buddy :
Saw my first anti-Bajnai advert today – on a city bus in the capital. It linked Bajnai and Gyurcsány together and said something like “Don’t forget they ruined the country together!” I couldn’t see the sponsor as it was written in smaller letters.

Here’s a poster on the back of a bus in Budapest. In the small print, you can see ‘Bekemenet.hu’. Therefore, this ad is being sponsored by Fidesz, using taxpayers’ and EU money.
http://gepnarancs.hu/2012/11/karaktergyilkos-kampany-bkv-buszokon-allami-penzbol/

Disgusting.
High time for the world to establish an international agency for the measure of performance of governments along democratic principles.

Bowen
Guest

@ Petofi: disgusting? Well, obviously. Teachers can remain under-paid, and hospitals severely under-resourced. But top priority is making sure Fidesz remains in power, with their anti-EU and anti-opposition propaganda.

Member
petofi : Bowen : buddy : Saw my first anti-Bajnai advert today – on a city bus in the capital. It linked Bajnai and Gyurcsány together and said something like “Don’t forget they ruined the country together!” I couldn’t see the sponsor as it was written in smaller letters. Here’s a poster on the back of a bus in Budapest. In the small print, you can see ‘Bekemenet.hu’. Therefore, this ad is being sponsored by Fidesz, using taxpayers’ and EU money. http://gepnarancs.hu/2012/11/karaktergyilkos-kampany-bkv-buszokon-allami-penzbol/ Disgusting. High time for the world to establish an international agency for the measure of performance of governments along democratic principles. Obvioulsy it can be debated who financed the advertising and from what money, but what I find very interesting is that this goes through the same time when Fidesz is busy to limit political advertising. This ad can appear on a transportation system that is owned by the city that is financed by taxpayers’ money. Maybe an other campaign should be launched by Bajnai with Orban saying: “Let’s not forget that Orban wants the old regime back with he sitting in Kadar’s chair” or “Let’s not forget how Orban lied his way into becoming a Prime Minster… Read more »
Bowen
Guest

Out of interest, I’d just like to ask about this anti-Bajnai campaign in Budapest right now. On BKV, you can see pictures of him and Gyurcsany, along with the slogan ‘Together, they destroyed the country’. Isn’t this in some way libellous, or an infringement of personal rights? This isn’t (officially) a political campaign. It is being sponsored by the “Bekemenet”, supposedly a civil movement.

petofi
Guest
Eva S. Balogh : Bowen : Out of interest, I’d just like to ask about this anti-Bajnai campaign in Budapest right now. On BKV, you can see pictures of him and Gyurcsany, along with the slogan ‘Together, they destroyed the country’. Isn’t this in some way libellous, or an infringement of personal rights? This isn’t (officially) a political campaign. It is being sponsored by the “Bekemenet”, supposedly a civil movement. I would like to mention here that Gyurcsány swore way back at the time of his senior paper that he will sue everybody who engaged in the smear campaign. And he did. As far as I know he won every and each case. He might be still in this kind of mood. First of all, this is SERIOUS STUFF. Orban is out to blacken Bajnai as he has already blackened Gyurcsany. So suing will not be easy with the political ally picking the judge etc. Plus, the judge-herd know what’s being expected of them. The game is rigged. What’s more, Orban wants the opposition to KNOW that the game is rigged. All that being said, if Gyurcsany should–sometime in the future–win a court case against this advertising, the damage will… Read more »
spectator
Guest

There is and endless source of the campaign material: just print over any of the old – but obviously evergreen – “Rosszabbul élünk mint négy éve” (Our life is worse than four years ago) Fidesz billboards with “Thank you Fidesz!” – and you mostly done.

Put up a few portrait of prominently wealthier people – Szijjártó pops up first – with some big Fidesz logo and a simple message:
” He is living much better, than four years ago! How about you?”

Want more?
The famous ‘Old fragile lady kissing the hand of Viktor The Messiah’ picture with the simple
“Thank you, Viktor!”

I promise, that this kind of gratitude can move mountains…!

Paul
Guest

And where will they display these ads? Billboards? Nearly all owned by Fidesz supporters. Newspapers? Nearly all owned by Fidesz supporters. Public transport? Owned by Fidesz.

Bowen
Guest

Paul :
And where will they display these ads? Billboards? Nearly all owned by Fidesz supporters. Newspapers? Nearly all owned by Fidesz supporters. Public transport? Owned by Fidesz.

I’m with Paul. You will find a lot of witty stuff on the internet criticising the goverment in ways Spectator describes. See the ‘Magyar Ketfarku Kutya Part’, with it’s funny photoshopping (e.g. Viktor Orban’s face carved into a giant statue on Gellert Hegy).

You’ll get a lot of this ‘underground’ satire in Hungary. And while young, urban Hungarians may lap all this up, a strong campaign against Fidesz, with a strong message, using all available media, reaching out to the average person (e.g. those people in the audience listening to Matolcsy’s speech).

And you need a proper, mature campaign, not cynical, aren’t-I-clever-with-my-photoshopping -skills jokes.

I can’t imagine it realistically happening. Meanwhile, some people seem to be waiting for Hillary Clinton (of all people), or ‘international institutions’ to magically come to the rescue.

Guest

London Calling!

No Bowen

Just the realisation that Orban has stitched up all the processes of state.

And the reality that the opposition has to be unusually united; the electorate unusually perspicacious; and the ‘personnel’ superglued into their jobs being unusually compliant.

This ‘confluence’ of perfect events is so unlikely in some of our views – that Orban is unshiftable – that we are just getting real.

(And I haven’t even touched on the ‘registration’; the rigged media; or the gerrymandered districts and…..and…..)

So not ‘waiting’ for Hillary – just recognising that the most likely way of shifting Orban will be with outside help – and only with outside help – including the EU and with the disapproval of other countries.

Hungary has to be a fully paid up pariah state before this even begins to happen.

I DO hope I am wrong – as Eva has said we mustn’t ‘diss’ the opposition’s efforts before they have even begun.

(But LMP’s actions have started the rot.)

And we mustn’t raise false hopes either.

Regards

Charlie

Guest

…and just one more thing!

For Hungary to have a healthy economy – it will require real austerity measures – not austerity-lite of Matolcsy et al.

The opposition’s manifesto will be so unattractive to the electorate – they will have to be fair and honest – that they will promise an ‘idealistic’ vote to the pollsters – but vote for Orban’s cheap energy and petrol in the voting booth.

Regards

Charlie

wpDiscuz