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%!
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.