The first written report on the final decision of the LMP delegates came out at 1:43 in the morning. It was HVG that managed to scoop everyone else. The congress decided to reject negotiations with Bajnai’s group, Together 2014. The paper also reported that Benedek Jávor, the leader of the LMP parliamentary delegation, resigned his post in protest on the spot.
The reaction on the right was immediate. Dávid Lakner, who writes frequently on a blog called “teadélután” (tea time, and I wonder whether the name has anything to do with the tea party), was thrilled to hear the news. He hoped that András Schiffer would again be the leader of the LMP caucus because “he is the most acceptable politician in LMP among the right-wing voters.” Lakner also expressed his hope that the whole LMP delegation would stand by Schiffer. Lakner’s hopes don’t seem to have materialized because two of the deputy whips, Gergely Karácsony and Tímea Szabó, also resigned. In addition, Gábor Scheiring, the party’s economic expert, openly condemned the decision, calling it “a sin.” The positions are far apart. Scheiring, for example, until now considered LMP a left-of-center party which with this action took a turn to the right and thus gave up the idea of defeating Fidesz at the polls in 2014. Another LMP member of parliament, Dávid Dorosz, considered the decision “injurious to the country and injurious to the party.”
As it turned out, the vote was extremely close: 84 voted to reject any ties to Together 2014 and 77 voted to begin negotiations with the Bajnai group. Therefore, one can safely say that the party at present is utterly and completely divided. One blogger, Varanus, is already burying LMP. The title of his article is “Ciao, LMP!” János Dési in Népszava described the event as “LMP’s road to hell.”
The so-called political scientists also came forth with the usual range of mostly wacky interpretations. According to Zoltán Somogyi, “MSZP is the winner in this game.” He argues that the strategy of Together 2014 was to start negotiations with the smaller organizations, Milla and Solidarity, and then move on to an already existing smallish party that is represented in parliament. After successful negotiations with LMP, Bajnai’s group could continue on to the “strongest, MSZP.” Now Together 2014 has been stopped in its march toward successful completion of a series of negotiations, and this will strengthen the position of those members of the MSZP leadership who think that their party should defeat Fidesz singlehandedly.
Gábor Filippov of the Magyar Progresszív Intézet let his imagination fly. He already sees the possibility of LMP moving into the place the weakening MSZP will leave open. According to him, LMP could repeat the performance of Fidesz after the collapse of MDF. Clairvoyance, that’s all I can say. However, in good “political scientist” fashion he immediately retreats from this bold position and admits that “it is not at all sure that such a vacuum will materialize.” Moreover, it is also questionable whether LMP will survive at all. But then he immediately adds that “it might be too early to bury LMP.” There might be some miracle that would boost support for the party, he continues. I leave it to the readers to figure out what Filippov’s actual position is.
According to Ákos Gergely Balogh, a young conservative who is the editor-in-chief of Mandiner, which occasionally publishes articles written from a liberal point of view, LMP by its decision “chose a more difficult and braver road.” Balogh compares LMP’s current situation to that of Fidesz in 1992-1993. At that time Fidesz was leading in the polls (40.5%) but Gábor Fodor and his followers left the party and eventually joined SZDSZ. In the short run this had terrible consequences for Fidesz. In the 1994 elections the party received only 7% of the votes. Yet, continues Balogh, in the long run Orbán’s decision proved to be correct. Four years later Fidesz won the elections. (Balogh neglects to add that the victory was achieved only with the help of József Torgyán, the party chief of the Smallholders.) The author of the article suggests that Schiffer take “a turn to the right.”
In a conservative blog called “Sword: Alternative Conservative Reform and Democracy,” Gábor Tímár predicts that Péter Róna “will be a key figure of the party in the future.” He suggests that Schiffer and Róna turn to the “prominent representatives of conservatism,” but I wish he would have mentioned a few names because it doesn’t matter how hard I keep looking, I don’t see any such moderate conservatives who would be ready to work with a party that positions itself in the middle, somewhere between Fidesz and the democratic opposition. Tímár even suggests a change in the party’s name. With a moderate conservative leadership this new party would be a serious challenge to Fidesz, he claims.
Although I consider Tímár’s predictions utterly unrealistic, I think he is right in one thing: Péter Róna will be a key figure in Schiffer’s party. Today, for example, he accompanied András Schiffer for an interview with Antónia Mészáros on “Szabad szemmel” (With open eyes) where he called Gordon Bajnai a crypto-fascist while his comrade-in-arms smiled broadly and approvingly. And to make sure that no one would think that he himself was turning to the (capitalist) right, Schiffer announced that he and his party will continue their fight against the financial plutocrats (nagytőke).
Finally, let me add my own thought on the subject. Yesterday I finished my post with this sentence: “I do hope that the party leadership will decide to join Together 2014, if for no other reason than self-preservation.” The emphasis was on “self-preservation.” However, it seems that LMP decided to commit harakiri instead. As things stand now, I don’t see how the LMP parliamentary delegation will remain intact. There is every reason to believe that those heavyweights in the party who opposed the majority view last night will eventually leave the caucus. That means sitting with the independents. And those seats are right next to the members of Demokratikus Koalíció. Now that would be a funny turn of events.