Where is András Schiffer leading LMP? Straight into the arms of Fidesz

I was hoping to answer the question that has been on a lot of people’s minds: will LMP split if András Schiffer’s insistence that the party goes its separate way triumphs at the party’s congress? I even postponed my post to get the latest word. Unfortunately, I have nothing definitive to report. Schiffer’s ideas were endorsed by a majority, larger than last time, but we don’t know what the internal opposition led by Benedek Jávor will do after their second defeat by the Schiffer majority.

The dispute is not just over whether they should join the E14 or not. The members of the opposition sense a certain shift toward the right outlined earlier by András Schiffer and voted on at the last congress in November.

Their political views are irreconcilableAndrás Schiffer and Benedek Jávor

Their political views are irreconcilable:
András Schiffer and Benedek Jávor

Common sense would dictate that LMP should join forces with the other democratic parties if they, as they claim, want to defeat the Orbán government at next year’s election. How can a party whose support in the latest Medián poll was a mere 3% do that alone? Does András Schiffer really believe his own propaganda that he frequently repeats during interviews, that between now and April 2014 LMP will be able to defeat Fidesz single-handedly and form a government?

I believe that András Schiffer is leading his followers down the garden path. Or, to switch metaphors and put a more malevolent spin on it, I think he has something up his sleeve. At the November LMP congress the majority didn’t support a proposal that would consider the defeat of the Orbán government and LMP’s existence as a separate entity of equal importance. The final wording emphasized the “independent existence” of the party over the defeat of the Orbán government. The majority also voted against a proposal to preclude the possibility of negotiations with Jobbik and Fidesz.  There was one proposal that was eventually voted down, according to which LMP would consider itself “half way” between Jobbik and its opposition. The delegates also voted down another proposal that stated although LMP would decide on an individual basis whether to participate in anti-fascist demonstrations, it would always be ready to declare its solidarity with the demonstrators. No automatic solidarity here.

Gábor Scheiring, a member of the opposition group within the party, declared after the November congress that what happened there meant that “LMP is turning to the right.” Scheiring found it “surprising how many of our members feel that perhaps it is better if Fidesz stays if it can be defeated only with MSZP. The majority is looking at Gordon Bajnai as part of the MSZP scheme. That’s why so many people [at the congress] voted for independence rather than change of government [as the party’s primary goal].” Scheiring added that for him this kind of strategy was unacceptable.

Last September Schiffer wrote a twenty-page study for internal use in which he outlined his ideas about the future of LMP. Soon enough the pamphlet became public. In it he noted that many of the views of Jobbik and Fidesz are the same as those of LMP. “We speak the same language when we talk about globalized capitalism or ecological catastrophe.” He added that LMP is critical of capitalism, globalization, and modernization and “therefore it is a leftist party.” But, in his opinion, “a new government in which the socialists would also be represented wouldn’t move ahead with the required speed to cure the wounds of society.”

In the same study Schiffer spent a great deal of time on the success of Jobbik that in his opinion highlighted legitimate grievances about the last twenty years. LMP, he argued, can’t afford to ignore the 800,000 men and women who voted for Jobbik. He suggested that especially in the larger towns on the Great Plains there could be a serious competition between Jobbik and LMP for the votes of the younger generation. A few lines later Schiffer declared that “LMP’s goal in ideal circumstances by 2014 or in the longer term is to be the alternative to the populist, right-wing Fidesz.”

Where will LMP find supporters for such an ambitious plan?  It’s unlikely that LMP will find new recruits among MSZP supporters. But that can mean only one thing. LMP must find new followers on the right.

Népszabadság got hold of Schiffer’s political manifesto and naturally wanted to talk to him about the contents of the pamphlet. Schiffer stood by his ideas but said that anyone who interprets his message as a move to the right “simply cannot read.” However, many of Schiffer’s colleagues in the party, for example Tímea Szabó, told the Népszabadság reporter that it is difficult to belong to a party that refuses to categorically distance itself from Jobbik. She, like others of the new internal opposition of LMP, cannot stomach the party’s move toward the right and its decision that the removal of the Orbán government is not the party’s primary goal. She considers the removal of Orbán an absolute necessity because another four years of this government would ruin Hungary’s chances of once again becoming a functioning democracy.

During today’s gathering the pro-Schiffer forces gained ground. A couple of days ago Benedek Jávor told Antónia Mészáros on ATV Start that if the majority follows Schiffer’s lead he will seriously consider leaving the party. According to today’s Origo, “if the congress doesn’t support the strategy of the Dialogue for Hungary its member will resign.” The paper predicted that the day of decision will be tomorrow.

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Lecso
Guest

This is an example of :
“If you can’t beat them, join them.”
or
“Go with the flow (towards the right).”

You decide.

Paul
Guest

Almost certainly your answer is ‘yes’. LMP’s political future is being sacrificed on the altar of
András Schiffer’s ambition and ego.

Having seen how Orbán did it, he is aiming to do the same.

But all this is largely academic anyway. With the reduction in the number of MPs, the change to a far more first-past-the-post system, and the other anti-small party changes in the electoral system, there is very little chance of many (or any) LMP candidates being elected in 2014.

Minusio
Guest
Éva I quote: “Common sense would dictate that LMP should join forces with the other democratic parties if they, as they claim, want to defeat the Orbán government at next year’s election…. I think he has something up his sleeve. – What happened there meant that “LMP is turning to the right.” – … the pamphlet became public. In it he noted that many of the views of Jobbik and Fidesz are the same as those of LMP. – “We speak the same language when we talk about globalised capitalism or ecological catastrophe.” He added that LMP is critical of capitalism, globalization, and modernization and “therefore it is a leftist party.” But then: “But that can mean only one thing. LMP must find new followers on the right.”(!!!) – Tímea Szabó, told the Népszabadság reporter that it is difficult to belong to a party that refuses to categorically distance itself from Jobbik. She, like others of the new internal opposition of LMP, cannot stomach the party’s move toward the right and its decision that the removal of the Orbán government is not the party’s primary goal.” End of quotes. Basically there is nothing to add, except that common sense is… Read more »
Zsuzsánna Formanekné Nagy
Guest

Sajnos Schiffer és követői érzelmi alapokon politizálnak. S.A. bár nem tagadja meg családját, de minden rezzenésével elutasítja mindazt, ami baloldalról jön. Nem racionális, képtelen a baloldallal kompromisszumot kötni, viszont bent szeretne maradni a parlamentben, ezért sajnos rossz irányba megy. A fidesz, mint annyi más pártot ezt is be fogja kebelezni.

Turkmenbasi
Guest

The lunatics have dragged Fidesz’s political center of gravity sharply to the right.

So there is now an intensive fight to conquer the vacated space of the moderate / centrist right by other political forces.

As we have seen, hapless Bajnai made a huge mistake by not inviting respected moderate right-wingers to his E2014 organisation. To make matters worse, Bajnai has instead rushed to invite shadowy zombie figures, like Péter Bárándy. Bárándy is a former Socialist justice minister, later serving as defence lawyer for white-collar criminal Gábor Princz of PostaBank. Really disgusting – and what a political miscalculation!

So it is just more than rational by LMP after all to remain open to the moderate right voter group, while also courting green-agenda-conscious leftist liberals.

oneill
Guest

“He suggested that especially in the larger towns on the Great Plains there could be a serious competition between Jobbik and LMP for the votes of the younger generation.”

He’s on drugs if he seriously believes that.
The only opportunity with that far-right electorate is on the far, far-right and unless he is suggesting LMP are going to adopt a Final Solution pogrom policy against the Roma and Jews then he’s talking complete and utter nonsense.

Bekafenek
Guest
It’s not the parties, it’s the voters. Under the current election system, even most feeble mind will realise that as regards the local representatives, it does not worth to vote for your little party, it would be a lost vote. So LMP and Schiffer can do whatever they want, the issue is what its voters will do. The right wing voters of LMP will vote for Fidesz, the left wing voters for Bajnai/Mszp. Simple as that. Forget LMP, in the current election system they are doomed for failure (which is exactly what Fidesz wants). Turkmenbashi, Péter Barándy is a lawyer. An attorney is happy to represent anybody who pays his fees, as a doctor has to perform a life saving operation even on Hitler. A defense attorney represents murderers, rapists, embezzlers as a daily job. If you are not a practicing attorney, it may be difficult to understand the way of thinking of a lawyer — but then again, that is why people completely underestimated what Fidesz was going to do, they simply do not know how lawyers think. That said, Bajnai did invite everbody and anybody who is able to move to go to that meeting. Everyone declined for… Read more »
Turkmenbasi
Guest

Bekafenek: “So Péter Barandy was the only well-respecet lawyer (he is, and he was a mnister of justice as well) who actually dared to go to the meeting. Would you have thought?”

No, actually I would not have thought that Bajnai is so short-sighted politically to invite such a tainted man to his team. It was really ridiculous to see Péter B. to discuss constitutional issues with his own son, MSzP MP Gergely B. at the E2014-Socialist coordination talks. You can believe me, centrist votes were not amused!

Yes, “an attorney is happy to represent anybody who pays his fees”. Unless we are talking about Gábor Princz (born in 1956 in Moscow, as son of a Rákosi-era intelligence officer), who was appointed head of PostaBank by PM Horn. His task was to recapitalise Socialist political bigwigs.

No, such a political criminal, as Princz, is not allowed to hire anyone as lawyer! Indeed, the whole trial was a farce, and Princz was allowed to walk away with a minor penalty sentence.

Minusio
Guest

@ Turkmenbasi. What a strange idea of the rule of law you have!

Kingfisher
Guest

If you get your information about Hungary from Klubradio or Galamus then Bárándy might appear respectable. He isn’t. A few years back, I was translating some documents for a foreign company in Hungary who had run up against a provincial court that was clearly stalling in what was also an open and shut case in the company’s favour. Their decided to course of action was to contact someone well known for being able to “intervene” with recalcitrant courts (i.e. pay them off). And the person chosen was Mr Bárándy. I was a little horrified when I read that but I’ve heard subsequently that this is one of Bárándy’s services.

I have a certain sympathy with Schiffer because at least he and his colleagues have no skeletons in their cupboards. How can any man of integrity join up with Szekeres, Veres, Gyurcsány et al? Only by pretending that they are honorable people and turning a blind eye.

Schiffer’s political philosophy is moronic and unworkable and I think the only option for him is to stand down from politics. But morally, I’m not sure he is doing the wrong thing by refusing to join up with the current opposition.

Kingfisher
Guest

Turkmenbasi, do you remember when Princz was public enemy number one? Supposedly he was being hunted by the Hungarian police and intelligence services. Amazingly enough, I saw him with my own two eyes, at the Angelika Kávéház, drinking coffee openly and without shame. He also turned up in a car with diplomatic number plates. A friend of a friend knows him and apparently, Pintér went out to Vienna to broker a deal (because Princz knows stuff about Fidesz that Fidesz would rather keep quiet.) And so the fact that he got off is, well, unsurprising.

I know Eva will not believe this but the whole point about corruption in Hungary is that much of it is so open that there is no pretence of secrecy.

Bekafenek
Guest
Turkmenbashi, I think you are way carried away, to say the least. First, Péter Bárándy is, in my opionion, not tainted. He was a minister of justice and he did not even want to carry out a budget cuts in the judicial branch, he (and to be honest I think he was probably thinking about his own future carrier as lawyer before the judges) rather resigned. He never did anything which would have tainted him. P. Bárándy had literally hundreds of clients, that is what a criminal defense attorney does. In fact as a lawyer one has to understand and internalize the rule that everybody, even the lowliest of lowlives are entitled to the best lawyer and to a fair trial. It is such a basic rule that to be honest all people (whether or not they are lawyers) need to have this conviction, otherwise it is not a state based on the rule of law but a dictatorship. (Perhaps your name has a root in your subconscious, trying to ge to the surface?) I mean, try to imagine if you are the defendant in the 1950 and everybody, the majority of the population thinks you should be going to… Read more »
Paul
Guest

“But morally, I’m not sure he is doing the wrong thing by refusing to join up with the current opposition.”

I doubt very much if morals have anything to do with this. He’s seen how it’s possible for an ego/power driven person to start in a small issue-driven, party that’s going nowhere, take control, turn it to the right, and use it to gain power – and he wants to do the same.

Progress Spectrum
Guest

This is another report from a journey into the mind of true good Hungarians.
There is a myth in rightwing minds that honor and moral was good under Horthy and got lost under Rakosi and Kadar.
The leftwing younger people have a different view. The Kadar system developed opportunities for the members of the poorer classes.
Today, the clash is based on envy between these people.
I can not understand that the old people from the Horthy era, can not accept any responsibility for the war crime.
On the other hand, the favorites of the Kadar era, are also running away from any responsibilities.
The citizens who gained from the post Kadar era are similarly void of the feeling of responsibility.
Where can we find honest people outside of the Hungarian Spectrum?
I am attracted to this small crowd. This could be the center for a new Hungarian political assembly. Progress Spectrum of Hungary.

An
Guest
@Kingfisher: You have just contradicted yourself in your own post: “…because Princz knows stuff about Fidesz that Fidesz would rather keep quiet.” AND “I know Eva will not believe this but the whole point about corruption in Hungary is that much of it is so open that there is no pretence of secrecy.” I read an interview with a young Hungarian sociologist in one of the Hungarian papers a couple of years ago (before Fidesz won the elections in 2010). He was writing his dissertation on corruption in Hungary at a university in New York. Pretty good topic, I’d say. The interesting thing he said in the interview that when he was doing his research, MSzP politicians were pretty open about things in personal interviews .. as if saying like, everybody knows this is how things work. Fidesz was just the opposite, they kept absolutely quiet and defended each other at any hint of a shady deal. Of course, we know that Fidesz was not any less corrupt that MSzP, even in those days (as there is a bunch of info on deals that both parties were involved in). Fidesz may have been more careful because it was preparing to… Read more »
Turkmenbasi
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :
Turkmanbasi: “No, such a political criminal, as Princz, is not allowed to hire anyone as lawyer!”
I think you ought to think this whole issue of who is and who is not allowed to have a lawyer. Everybody is!!! You have to learn a thing or two about democracy and justice.

Éva, Bekafenek: So, once again: Princz was appointed by the Invisible Legion / political mafia to head a state-owned bank and channel them funds. The Bank then duely went bust, but the taxpayers have consolidated it. By the way, 40% of them are by now living under the poverty threshold – indeed, there have a number of such incidents in the last 20 years..

It has nothing to do with justice/democracy/freedom/EU/atlanticims or any other crap ideology. Rather it has very much to do with how a banana republic / Balkanic robber-state operates. In such circumstances, the lawyer of a political criminal is not an ordinary man. By definition NOT.

Is it me or you who are daydreaming?

Turkmenbasi
Guest

Éva: Yes, since 2010 there seems to be a new system in place.

Meanwhile Jávor Benedek’s Dialogue for Hungary platform has just announced that they are leaving LMP and will set up a new party…

Spectator
Guest

@Turkmenbashi
In yor opinion what difference does it make, if Bárándy defended Princz – or whoever, for that matter, he is a defense attorney, it’s his job, for Heavens sake – in the present situation?
Why do you think, that people must be put in a box – your box, for one – and stay there indefinitely?
According to your brilliant logic Viktor Orbán still pursuing the agenda of the Young Kommunist’s (KISZ) even today, since once upon a time he was a secretary of the organization..?
Please, think again, it is really the past, what matters?
If you can accept, that Orbán has changed, (quite a few times, actually, mind you) why is it so difficult, even impossible to understand, that just about everyone has the same right to change?

Give yourselve a chanche and look at things without preconceptions for a change – you’ll be pleasantly surprised, I promise!

petofi
Guest

Turkmenbasi :
The lunatics have dragged Fidesz’s political center of gravity sharply to the right.
So there is now an intensive fight to conquer the vacated space of the moderate / centrist right by other political forces.
As we have seen, hapless Bajnai made a huge mistake by not inviting respected moderate right-wingers to his E2014 organisation. To make matters worse, Bajnai has instead rushed to invite shadowy zombie figures, like Péter Bárándy. Bárándy is a former Socialist justice minister, later serving as defence lawyer for white-collar criminal Gábor Princz of PostaBank. Really disgusting – and what a political miscalculation!
So it is just more than rational by LMP after all to remain open to the moderate right voter group, while also courting green-agenda-conscious leftist liberals.

What, pray tell, passes for a ‘moderate right’ wing group in Hungary? (No such animal.)

Spectator
Guest

Zsuzsánna Formanekné Nagy :
Sajnos Schiffer és követői érzelmi alapokon politizálnak. S.A. bár nem tagadja meg családját, de minden rezzenésével elutasítja mindazt, ami baloldalról jön. Nem racionális, képtelen a baloldallal kompromisszumot kötni, viszont bent szeretne maradni a parlamentben, ezért sajnos rossz irányba megy. A fidesz, mint annyi más pártot ezt is be fogja kebelezni.

Totally agree. My guess is, that in Schiffer’s case some personal issue clouding his judgement, and he acting upon it, whatever it cost.
Just for an example: what else ever wold have been motivated his attack against Gyurcsány (the Sukoró affair)?

A concerned citizen? Why, since there wasn’t any damage on public interest, not penny/nickel/fillér gone missing, so, what’s the motive?

You know, – and this is my very personal opinion – I can’t stand people who pursuing a personal agenda disguised as common interest, who overcompensating personal shortcomings and try to sell it as a moral principle, in short: I can’t stand dishonest people.
My bad luck, let’s say.

However, having a frustrated, bitter guy with a certain personality problem deciding over a faith of a party – well, this is somehow pretty sad, say the least.

Paul
Guest

“However, having a frustrated, bitter guy with a certain personality problem deciding over a faith of a party…”

Sounds familiar though.

Peregrine
Guest
Schiffer is a doctrinaire leftist (one could say maniac, since in these days you don’t have such ideologues any more). He is also pathological, but actually he behaves exactly as the ideologues of the communist tradition [or as Madách so aptly wrote about them in the Tragedy of man, who were endlessly arguing about homousion vs. homoiusion]. Or as the eurocommunists of the ’60-80s: endlessly debating who was the real socialist, who the real communist, who sold out to capitalists ans so on. He simply thinks that Bajnai and Gyurcsány betryed the left, in fact sold capitalism to the masses under the banner of the left. What is more, they continue to sell capitalism to the people. These two are unforgivable. He hates, and I repeat this, he hates capitalists and right wingers too, but hates most those who are betrying the ’cause’. Plus Fidesz in reality is quite anticapitalist, anti investor, etatist, is it not? So the thing is, he hates Fidesz’ takover of the constitutional arena, but he likes their main economic ideas (nationalizing, anti-investors etc.) Plus LMP is really Schiffer’s fiefdom, similary to Orbán’s Fidesz (though truely there is more democratic legitimacy at LMP). He established it,… Read more »
Paul
Guest

“He simply thinks that Bajnai and Gyurcsány betryed the left, in fact sold capitalism to the masses under the banner of the left.”

Well, he’s not wrong there.

Paul
Guest

Intelligent comment, Peregrine.

hect
Guest

True, but in Europe capitalism is not qustioned fundamentally any more (or yet). There are no system-deniers really.

Perhaps greens are the most special case, but they do not even exist in many countries.

I agree with the green ideas and that capitalism should be regulated (perhaps stronger than it is now) but what is Denmark, Sweden, or France? With almost or actually half of the GDP being redistributed without regard to market forces (btw similiaryl to Hungary). It is not like we are living laissez fare any more, so denying even a half and half as too capitalistic is a problem.

More state cannot be an answer it always leads to legal restrictions not just to economic ones.

spectator
Guest

Paul :
“He simply thinks that Bajnai and Gyurcsány betryed the left, in fact sold capitalism to the masses under the banner of the left.”
Well, he’s not wrong there.

For your information, capitalism was sold to the masses long before: right in ’90, when ‘the masses’ decided, that Hungary indeed should turn to capitalism, you see.

Furthermore, a viable alternative nowhere to be seen, let alone implement.

Having utopian pipedreams of the strictly environment-friendly industries, agriculture, etc., without capital and capitalism involved – well, it’s a dream, indeed, but nothing as a reasonable contemporary political agenda in the present day Hungarian reality, that’s for sure.

Unfortunately.

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