There may be a united democratic force after all in 2014

There are two very recent political developments that might have something to do with each other. The first piece of news that hit the Internet today was a poll by Tárki concerning party preferences. The results are based on a representative sample of 1,000 Hungarian citizens over the age of 18, and it looks as if Médián’s poll a couple of weeks ago wasn’t a fluke. Gordon Bajnai’s “Together 2014” would be one of the strongest parties if elections were held today. Moreover, just as the Bajnai group predicted, most of the supporters are coming from the hitherto undecided group of voters.

As for the details. All the other parties pretty much held their earlier support while the percentage of undecided voters decreased from 50 to 47%. The only exception was LMP, which lost some of its followers, and I don’t think that this is the end of the party’s downward slide. After all, the poll was taken before the story broke about the internal fighting that occurred within the party only a few days ago.

Within the population as a whole Fidesz’s support is 19%, MSZP’s is 14%,  and Jobbik’s is 10%. The new Bajnai formation would receive 7% support, ahead of LMP and DK. Among those who claim that they would definitely vote, “Together 2014” got 13%!

The announcement of MSZP’s decision to join the others against Viktor Orbán’s regime

Because I more or less predicted that Bajnai’s new group would do well and that Médián’s earlier poll was not a fluke, that piece of news didn’t surprise me greatly. However, I was stunned by MSZP’s announcement that the party is initiating serious conversations with all democratic opposition forces aimed at forming “a common party list and naming common candidates in each of the 106 electoral districts.” They dubbed the program “Association for Change.”  MSZP’s suggestions and ideas were sent to Gordon Bajnai’s Haza és Haladás Foundation (HH), to Milla, to Solidarity, to LMP, to DK, to the Social Democratic Party of Hungary, and to Ákos Kornél’s group, “Together for Hungary.”

The timetable would be the following. Starting in January these groups would sit down and work out a program that would include details about economic and budgetary policy, constitutional matters and the state of democracy, employment, education, social policy, the development of the countryside, the environment, regional strategies, public safety, local governments, foreign policy, and “national policy” (nemzetpolitika). The socialists would send a delegation consisting of three or four members to each of the subcommittees that would be set up.

Once these details are ironed out, they should begin a joint registration campaign. Attila Mesterházy in a press conference announcing the party’s decision to join forces with the others emphasized that the democratic opposition would need 20-30 thousand activists because according to the new election law the democratic forces would need at least 20,000 people to be poll watchers. Why that many? Because if a party cannot produce two poll watchers at each polling station then that party cannot send any!!!! This electoral law is full of surprises. But more about the details later. The socialist proposals can be found here.

“Together 2014” immediately responded positively to the MSZP initiative. Bajnai and his associates consider this development important because by now MSZP also shares the belief that in order to win against the forces of the Orbán regime unity is a must. Ferenc Gyurcsány also supports the idea.

This is a very important development. Until recently some key MSZP politicians spoke about the party’s chances of winning the elections single-handedly as a given. I’m sure that it couldn’t have been easy to convince the majority of the top brass to support Mesterházy’s plan. I wonder whether the party’s internal poll might have given early notice to the socialist leaders that the number of MSZP supporters was stagnating and that Médián’s poll indicated that support for Gordon Bajnai and the people who joined forces with him was real. Mesterházy himself seemed to me always very flexible. He said on several occasions that heading the common list should be the person who has the best chance of winning the elections.

So, as far as I can see a new Round Table is shaping up, if the other parties are ready to cooperate. My feeling is that the majority of the eight formations mentioned above will. The exceptions most likely will be LMP and 4K!

LMP’s problems are not over yet. LMP MP Katalin Ertsey suspended her membership in the party. During the coming weekend she will decide whether to leave the party altogether. She minced no words and called the latest round of voting that resulted in electing András Schiffer to lead the LMP parliamentary caucus “a dirty compromise” and described her fellow MPs as cynical and immoral. And then there are Gergely Karácsony’s more than unfortunate remarks in Debrecen to a group of university students which he has been trying to deny with not much success. Karácsony is not a very good liar. I will also be curious how long Schiffer will be the leader of the LMP delegation especially given the latest developments and the declining number of LMP supporters. Actually, I am not at all sure that LMP will survive.

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Zoltan Bertok
Guest

Obama’s slogen (Change) recycled. – A változásért (For the change).

Minusio
Guest

Éva: as you said “unity is a must.” This is where I have my greatest doubts.

And how well can this new party (with probably mostly unknown candidates) mobilise the voters? And what about fundraising?

Not to forget: Orbán is always good for a last-minute surprise.

But I do wish Hungary luck!

Kirsten
Guest

It is definitely worth a try! The only thing that worries me a bit is that it comes only a few days after the statement of Mr Bauer that one should not be too critical of cooperating also with some rather shady people. But that is a minor issue compared with the general effort of establishing better cooperation between the democratically minded opposition.

Kingfisher
Guest

Puch’s partner in crime was Veres János, who will be negotiating on economic matters!!!!!

How utterly depressing

Minusio
Guest

Éva, in order to be better able to judge the chances of this new – desperate – movement, I would be interested in a geographical breakdown of the people and possible candidates concerned. Budapest has less than 1.7 million inhabitants, except for Debrecen, all other four cities count clearly less than 200 000. So far, almost all political manifestations of the opposition were Budapest events. But the elections will be won in the other five cities and the countryside with its tiny villages. Do the non-Budapest regions have the manpower, the grasssroots organisations, the funding, the intellectual and political clout to make a difference?

Ms KKA
Guest

On the heels of the new election “law”, and Jobbik’s outrageous, and unchecked, display of antisemitism in Parliament, this is, indeed, cause for, if not a full-on celebration, at least believing that the 2014 elections will not be an exercise in futility.

Paul
Guest

This is excellent news. I will admit I never thought MSzP would do this.

A united opposition, with MSzP’s party machine behind it is the one thing Orbán would really fear.

Now we’ll see just how desperate he is to retain power at any cost. It’s going to be an interesting 18 months, but boy is it going to be dirty!

Penny Oswalt
Guest

It seems to be a promising sign of things to come.

Petofi1
Guest

Mszp had to do this or they would sink away the way LMP will. The momentum of Bajnai is palpable. By joining early, Mszp will have a giant say as to the makeup of the government leadership. Although this is, temporarily, a good sign, I’m not sure they can maintain the promise of acting together. As the election nears, the negotiations will become red hot.

Jano
Guest
I’m still pessimistic. Just wait and see how well this people cooperate when the talks go beyond agreeing on “the restoration of the rule of law in Hungary” and reach the dirty business of putting up a common list. For example, DK is naturally in favor of cooperation as they have barely more than zero chance of making it to the parliament alone, if their real weight is represented, that will mean no more than 2-3 MP’s which is not a lot. Are they still going to be this enthusiastic when they are presented a scenario like this? Also, even though I was cheering for his rivals, Schiffer makes a very good point saying that voter support arithmetic doesn’t work as naively as the author of this blog has been implicitly assuming it. As the polls indicate E14 draws its voters mostly from the undecided voters who are not MSZP supporters for a reason. There is a high chance that when they realize the only option they are presented is an MSZP or a DK candidate they just simply go back to not participating, draw a penis/Eric Cartmen/vote for LMP on the ballot. Great would be the surprise of the… Read more »
An
Guest

@Jano Nice theory, but LMP is going to fall apart and disappear… a lot more likely scenario, I think.

Jano
Guest

An: Maybe, but to use a Hungarian colloquialism (the origins of which I have no idea), we have seen crows on poles before..I’m pretty sure this is Schiffers plan at least. If the party avoids falling apart next year it might work. But as much as the chances are concerned I agree with you.

Turkmenbasi
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :

Kingfisher :
Puch’s partner in crime was Veres János, who will be negotiating on economic matters!!!!!
How utterly depressing

This is your mania. I liked Veres. He was a good finance minister. Competent. More than one can say about the current one.

To describe former finance minister Veres as competent is really weird. He was one of the main actors in undermining Hungary’s fiscal integrity.

He is a typical representative of the communist state security which then turns into an oligarch of a banana republic.

Here is typical story on him (for those who speak Hungarian):

http://index.hu/gazdasag/magyar/veres060608/

Kingfisher
Guest
Breki
Guest
About Veres: it does not matter in politics wheather he was incompetent or not [I would say he had no policies of his own, he executed whatever Gyurcsány told him, similarly to Matolcsy re Orbán, only Gurcsány was not crazy, but Gy’s policies in economy were also hopelessly inadequate], corrupt or not. Politics is not a fair game. What matters, and what matters only is perception, image. Veres unfortunately lost his reputation among non-MSZP-hardliners. If MSZP will continue to use Veres, Kiss, Szekeres and other similar figures (who may or may not be well meaning people), they will lose. And the continued presence of these poeple will prevent even the most liberal right wingers to join the ‘unity front’ because (even if they wanted to join the front) they simply can’t afford to be associated with tired, worn-down (levitézlett), loser (and disliked) politicians. Unfortunately, those MSZP people over 50 can be connected by the right very easily to the “communists”. It is very easy to hate them. In that Fidesz was successful, but if that is the case, one has to accept this as part of politics. It is also ridiculous that MSZP can’t get (attract) a better finance or… Read more »
Erik
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :

Kingfisher :
Puch’s partner in crime was Veres János, who will be negotiating on economic matters!!!!!
How utterly depressing

This is your mania. I liked Veres. He was a good finance minister. Competent. More than one can say about the current one.

Veres vs. Matolcsy = Ebola vs. Marburg Virus.

Sziv Vagy
Guest

Option Method may help: discard most of your belief and myth.

See the latest Gero lines on Galamus:

http://galamus.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=177382:akademikus-vagyakozas-a-helyet-keres-gyani-gabor&catid=9:vendegek&Itemid=66

Breki
Guest
Oh my gosh: it is not only Veres, but Szekeres, László Kovács, Feri Baja, and Szófia Havas. Of these poeple only the hardliner, anti-capitalist Szófia Havas (at least she is tough, but is she normal or just a primadona?) who is a “new” name rising in the media in the last decade. All the others are – without exception – represent, symbolize and embody in everbody under 50 the corrupt, hopeless, grey, bland mess that MSZP is. l would also raise the fact that SZekers, Baja and Kovács are genuine reform-communists. They have been there for decades (30-40 years in politics) and MSZP can still present these people… Sure many voters are older than 50, but still. If Kovács can stay there for so long (he is over 70), this does not bode very well for us re Orbán (he still has two decaeds at least). If anything Fidesz is so happy now. They are relieved. They kow they can buy (blackmail etc.) these people for song. Do you seriously think Szekeres and Baja and Kovács will have the stamina and ability to replace the Fidesz regime? Do you think they have even the understaning of the sophistication and depth… Read more »
Member
I am happy to see that if first time in Hungarian history, politicians would be able to put aside their small-minded thinking to benefit the country. THat is more that many of the readers can do on this blog. I really do not want to offend anyone here, as most of you honestly want the best, but just like Hungarians in general many of the readers do not willing to compromise. They see xy as the one who did this, zp done that. fk belonged to the… and the list goes on. I will note for them because…. Give it up. Let’s see the bright side, let’s see how it could work. If the undecided already is turning around, then there is a promise, and it is important to give encouragement to people to go out and register. My biggest concern at this moment is the 2 scrutineers per poll rule. How in a small village where everyone knows each other and elections should be secret can you expect that two person will stand up and say I will vote against Fidesz. As soon as you become a scruinteener, you do not hiding under your sleeve, that is for sure.… Read more »
Jano
Guest
“So, let’s keep this in mind when some of you are making propaganda against the anti-Fidesz forces.” Excuse us?? We are not making “propaganda”, this is our opinion. We don’t like Fidesz any more than you do but we are more than entitled to our reservations. This constant wartime logic is what is tearing this country apart, in 2002-2010 Fidesz’s only goal was to kick out the MSZP-SZDSZ government and that overruled every rationale. Now your only focus is to boot Orbán and that overrules every rationale. I refuse to go along with this freedom-fighter naivity and I don’t believe in the omnipotence of “the cause” anymore. This is not a Hollywood movie where the credits roll after the happy election victory, we will have to put up with the Szekeres-Baja-Kiss-Havas-Szanyi-Veres etc. group coming back that takes a little more swallowing for the most of us than for you. Just as an example to my earlier point. As it stands, if there are joint opposition district candidates in this race, my only option to support them will be to vote for Tibor Szanyi. In that case, consider my vote lost. Don’t worry too much though, he’ll win that district without… Read more »
Jano
Guest

Sorry, the tone I used is a little harder than intended. I believe you want the best too, we just really don’t see eye to eye.

Member

Jano, there is no wartime logic here only sheer pragmatism. Use it or loose it.

On Planet Hungary we see politics like the season of bitching every 4 years. We don’t seem to see that the bulk of the work comes between elections. At this moment we have to remove this government because there is no way to talk to them. They are steadily moving the country toward a dictatorship.

This is not the time for criticism. Let’s grab the last straw, bring those Soci muppets back and THEN let’s kick their asses if they they are not willing to do things our way. But this will require us to be active constantly.

I share your reservations but unless you have a better idea for a group that is capable of scooping up enough votes let’s shut up and use what we got.

By the way IMHO rejecting the Socialists this vehemently is actually the remnants of the anti-Socialist histeria that was whipped by Orban and Co.

Petofi1
Guest

A couple of doses of Hungarian Reality….

One problem with logical discourse on Hungarian politics is the fact that immoral, illegal, activity has proven efficacious and acceptable. No holds are barred in the Hungary of today. That’s one kernel of truth.

The other is: a criminal mentality will go to greater lengths, much greater lengths (even to ‘death’, one might say) than a non-criminal mentality in fighting to achieve its ends. There is an inequality of fortitude and vehemence…

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