LMP’s rebels left the party: Who will be the winner of this game?

A fair number of commentators have compared the current situation in LMP to what happened in Fidesz in 1993 when Viktor Orbán decided to make a sharp turn toward the right. At that time a number of liberal-minded leaders of Fidesz who objected to Orbán’s change of political orientation and his shift in strategy left the party. The “Dialogue for Hungary” platform is leaving LMP for strikingly similar reasons.

In preparation for writing this post I decided to take a quick look at a 2001 book, Csak a narancs volt (It was only the orange), about the early days of Fidesz. The volume, edited by György Petőcz, includes lengthy interviews with people who in 1992-1993 belonged to Fidesz’s internal opposition. One ought to read and reread this book to better understand Fidesz’s history and Viktor Orbán’s role in shaping it.

The liberal inner opposition left and joined SZDSZ. By the time the election rolled around in 1994 Fidesz had lost its momentum and the party barely had enough support to be represented in parliament. Viktor Orbán’s gamble paid off in the long run, however; four years later he became the prime minister of Hungary.

I doubt that András Schiffer will be able to imitate Viktor Orbán’s gambit. Surely, no one can believe Schiffer’s claim that LMP, currently polling at 3%, can win the elections either in 2014 or in 2018. Most likely he would like LMP to be strong enough by 2014 that in case Fidesz doesn’t have a clear majority, Viktor Orbán would have to turn to him as a coalition partner.  The European Union would frown on Fidesz becoming bedfellows with Jobbik but couldn’t raise any objections to a coalition with a green party.

Although LMP stands for “Lehet Más a Politika” (Politics Can Be Different), Schiffer himself is not a refreshingly different politician. Among other things, he plays fast and loose with numbers.  He confidently announced today that only 10% of the party’s membership is leaving LMP. Well, yes, about 70 people voted for the strategy advocated by the Dialogue for Hungary’s program at the congress. And indeed, there are 700 LMP members. But only about 150 people attended the congress. So about 45% of the attendees voted with the internal opposition. Most likely relying at least in part on this number, the internal opposition claimed that more than half of LMP members will follow them to form another party.

Schiffer ardently disagreed with this assessment, despite his poor short-term predictive track record.Yesterday he was certain that not all eight rebels in the fifteen-member parliamentary delegation were planning to leave the party but only “two or three.” As it turned out, he was wrong. The decision was unanimous. Despite this decision, he repeated several times today that we are not witnessing “the break-up of the party.”

The three young politicians of the rebels in LMP:Benedek Jávor, Tímea Szabó, and Gergely Karácsony

Three young rebel politicians in LMP:
Benedek Jávor, Tímea Szabó, and Gergely Karácsony

Even though he may say that LMP will remain whole, he’s joining Fidesz in advancing a conspiracy theory. Magyar Nemzet obliquely suggested that Gordon Bajnai’s E14 movement is behind this new development. Schiffer and his closest ally, Gábor Vágó, agree: E14 stoked the discontent of the rebels in the party.

One practical question is what will happen to the LMP caucus. House rules state that ten members of parliament can form a parliamentary delegation. With the split-up, LMP will not have enough members to retain its current status, and sitting with the independents allows the members very little opportunity to make an impact in parliament. Most likely LMP and whatever the new party will be called will sit together as a group. An interesting situation, although Benedek Jávor claims that as far as their work in parliament is concerned the two groups get along just fine. The only difference will be that the still No-Name Party will negotiate with E14 and other political parties on the left while the Schiffer faction will not.

Some people argue that such a parliamentary accommodation would be unsavory, especially from a party that considers itself the epitome of decency, honesty, and transparency. In at least partial defense of  the Jávor group, I would note that they announced that they will not claim half of the state subsidies LMP has been receiving since 2010.

As for my own opinion of the rebels, I consider them the “better half” of LMP, but I still have serious objections to some of their political views. Their anti-capitalistic stance is the last thing Hungary needs at the moment or, for that matter, at any time in the foreseeable future. What the country needs today is more capital and more capitalists who are ready to invest in the Hungarian economy. I understand their ecological concerns, but I can’t support a policy that would prevent Hungarians from shopping in large supermarkets where the selection is greater and the prices lower.

I was also outraged by Tímea Szabó’s behavior when she was a member of a sub-committee investigating Ferenc Gyurcsány’s and the police department’s handling of the “unfortunate events” of September-October 2006. She was siding with members of Jobbik.

The man I like best in this group is Gergely Karácsony, but even he behaved dishonorably when he first agreed to support Katalin Lévai (independent with MSZP backing) in the by-elections in District II in Budapest if Lévai received more votes than he did after the first round of voting and then went back on his word. I wrote about this sorry affair on November 14, 2011. I suspect that he was pressured to do so by Schiffer, but still…. I also found it unfortunate that Karácsony at one point suggested a “technical alliance” with Jobbik in order to dislodge Fidesz, after which they would hold new elections. The idea was dropped, but it just shows the ideological confusion that exists within the party.

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Paul
Guest

“Most likely he would like LMP to be strong enough by 2014 that in case Fidesz doesn’t have a clear majority, Viktor Orbán would have to turn to him as a coalition partner.”

Speaking as someone currently suffering under an unelected right-wing government put into power by so-called ‘liberals’, this sounds horribly plausible to me. Although more likely in 2018, than in 2014.

Mind you, first of all he and his half party have to actually get elected in 2014 – and that is NOT going to be easy.

petofi
Guest

“…it just shows the ideological confusion that exists within the party.”

No.
I’d say it shows the lack of character of Mr. Karacsony. What possible, good, reason could he have had not to keep his word to Levai?
I’ve yet to hear an explanation.
And, Kalman Olga, for whom I’ve lost 90% of my respect, keeps inviting him on her show.
Integrity in Hungary goes for the price of week-old radishes.

Zum
Guest

Tímea Szabó’s husband was (or is) Gábor Hunnyadi from Jobbik, so her actions re the 2006 committe were part of their pillow talk.

Kirsten
Guest
Petöfi, I am not sure about the value of “integrity” in the current circumstances. This interpretation is equally helpful: “Some people argue that such a parliamentary accommodation would be unsavory, especially from a party that considers itself the epitome of decency, honesty, and transparency.” Hungary is in a state where moral judgements about what politicians should do or not are only helping Fidesz to cement their rule. (You cannot first bring people into “impossible situations” and then wonder why they are not behaving according to the highest moral standards. Your lamentation for me sound as just another expression of the expectation of the “good king” that has to present himself eventually – which paralyses Hungarian politics.) Any opposition is immediately criticised for not being in all circumstances morally superior to other people and not changing the situation within a second, while survival in Hungary currently requires people to make quite a number of morally dubious “compromises”, and there are so many ideas around that is gets more and more unclear what type of Hungary the majority of people actually want. Why should these rather young politicians have a definite answer to the many ills? No matter whether their actions are… Read more »
LwiiH
Guest

OT but here we go again…. the HUF is pushing 300.

And blog spam shows up in “recent comments”. someother is a blog spammer.

Integrity Integrity
Guest

Petofi is my favorite. Integrity is important.
One Hungarian leader was integrity itself.
Ferenc Deak!
His speeches can be found: http://mek.oszk.hu/02200/02213/html/
DEÁK FERENCZ: Súlyos átok gyanánt nyomja nemzetünket a hajdan korból, úgy látszik, örökségül reánk szállott irigy viszálkodásnak minden közbizodalmat elfojtó indulatja.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

petofi :
“…it just shows the ideological confusion that exists within the party.”
No.
I’d say it shows the lack of character of Mr. Karacsony. What possible, good, reason could he have had not to keep his word to Levai?
I’ve yet to hear an explanation.
And, Kalman Olga, for whom I’ve lost 90% of my respect, keeps inviting him on her show.
Integrity in Hungary goes for the price of week-old radishes.

Well as a journalist she has to invite also people you and I dislike. By inviting him and letting him speak she does a great service to the public.

Member

Have you got an idea about the identity of the 4th person on the photo?
This photo is not exactly identical with the one found on Index (one extra person from behind on this page)

Member

Zum :
Tímea Szabó’s husband was (or is) Gábor Hunnyadi from Jobbik, so her actions re the 2006 committe were part of their pillow talk.

Similar types of breakups of friendships, relationships or families due to political disagreement are very sorrowful everyday occurrences of recent times in Hungary …

Peggy
Guest

Dénes: I know what you wanna say, but the thruth is real friendship and love are rather difficult between people who have completely different world views and values.

Member

Dénes :

Zum :
Tímea Szabó’s husband was (or is) Gábor Hunnyadi from Jobbik, so her actions re the 2006 committe were part of their pillow talk.

Similar types of breakups of friendships, relationships or families due to political disagreement are very sorrowful everyday occurrences of recent times in Hungary …

Timea Szabo has had three husbands and she’s only 36. Her anti-Gypsy utterances are documented. In her 2010 campaign for European Parliament she lied about being “director of research” at Harvard University. The list continues. She is nothing but an opportunist. Hopefully, Bajnai will have the good sense to sideline her immediately.

petofi
Guest

Karl Pfeifer :

petofi :
“…it just shows the ideological confusion that exists within the party.”
No.
I’d say it shows the lack of character of Mr. Karacsony. What possible, good, reason could he have had not to keep his word to Levai?
I’ve yet to hear an explanation.
And, Kalman Olga, for whom I’ve lost 90% of my respect, keeps inviting him on her show.
Integrity in Hungary goes for the price of week-old radishes.

Well as a journalist she has to invite also people you and I dislike. By inviting him and letting him speak she does a great service to the public.

Inviting an untrustworthy person to give his opinion is “a great service to the public”?

How so?

Member
The petofi : Karl Pfeifer : petofi : “…it just shows the ideological confusion that exists within the party.” No. I’d say it shows the lack of character of Mr. Karacsony. What possible, good, reason could he have had not to keep his word to Levai? I’ve yet to hear an explanation. And, Kalman Olga, for whom I’ve lost 90% of my respect, keeps inviting him on her show. Integrity in Hungary goes for the price of week-old radishes. Well as a journalist she has to invite also people you and I dislike. By inviting him and letting him speak she does a great service to the public. Inviting an untrustworthy person to give his opinion is “a great service to the public”? How so? We must get over this communist-era mentality that the purpose of a TV interview is for a politician to give his opinion. Karacsony is a public figure. He is paid by your tax money. Kalman asks questions in order to hold him accountable to the public. If the public doesn’t like what they hear, they can vote against Karacsony at the following election. That’s one of the many reasons why journalism is a public trust.… Read more »
Member

Peggy :
Dénes: I know what you wanna say, but the thruth is real friendship and love are rather difficult between people who have completely different world views and values.

Peggy,
Well, we are speaking about two young people and two young parties.
I remember how innocent jobbik looked like in its earliest appearances erecting crosses on bigger squares, innocent wording, no utterance about gypsies and jews, etc.
Gábor Vona attended the same civil circle or what the hell it was called as OV did, in his (OV’s) yet “normal” epoch…
Even a friend of mine casted his vote on jobbik, later regretted of course!
Thak you, anyway!

Kingfisher
Guest

Pibroch, spot on!!!

I must say, I’m very uneasy that ATV refuses to invite Jobbik MPs to be interviewed and held to account. Yes, they are an appalling party (from my perspective) but they were legally and fairly elected and it is not ATV’s job to pursue a political agenda (which of course, ATV does). The best way to discredit Jobbik is for someone bright like Olga to tear them to shreds on camera.

Member

Pibroch :

Dénes :

Zum :
Tímea Szabó’s husband was (or is) Gábor Hunnyadi from Jobbik, so her actions re the 2006 committe were part of their pillow talk.

Similar types of breakups of friendships, relationships or families due to political disagreement are very sorrowful everyday occurrences of recent times in Hungary …

Timea Szabo has had three husbands and she’s only 36. Her anti-Gypsy utterances are documented. In her 2010 campaign for European Parliament she lied about being “director of research” at Harvard University. The list continues. She is nothing but an opportunist. Hopefully, Bajnai will have the good sense to sideline her immediately.

Pindroch
This is the 1st time I heard this.
“Gypsiing” from Tímea Szabó sounds weird for me, no matter how old she is and how many husbands she has had.
Could you please, provide me with some citations? (I don’t know of any)
The only one I know regarding her Gypsy related utterrances was a speech given before agenda on the day about Gypsy – Hungarian cohabitation
Thank you in advance! For me it would mean that the LMP filter is not properly working!
Its no longer LMP, anyway!

Member

Kingfisher :
Pibroch, spot on!!!
I must say, I’m very uneasy that ATV refuses to invite Jobbik MPs to be interviewed and held to account. Yes, they are an appalling party (from my perspective) but they were legally and fairly elected and it is not ATV’s job to pursue a political agenda (which of course, ATV does). The best way to discredit Jobbik is for someone bright like Olga to tear them to shreds on camera.

Its an intetionally applied boycott, Kingfisher. I can understand it very much.
Otherwise in a sinister situation it could happen and it is not guaranteed at all that jobbik MP will be washed down from the interviewing chair.

Furthermore it could turn out very unfortunately. Like when Imre Para-Kovács in Klubrárió invited András Stumpf from Heti Válasz, the final result was a huge triumph favouring Stumpf (latter was much more prepared than PKI, he does not belong to jobbik though).

The emphasis is the boycott!

Hys
Guest

I also don’t remember her saying she was “director of reasearch”, but I do remember she said she studied at Harvard, which is not too much.

Member

Hys :
I also don’t remember her saying she was “director of reasearch”, but I do remember she said she studied at Harvard, which is not too much.

She was most likely acting as “coordinator of reaseasch”, at least according to one of her reference pages. He did his work in Afghanistan and Pakistan, under the aegis of Harvard University.

I think it must satisfy any delicate tastes.

FYI:

Tímea Szabó, Hungarian Helsinki Committee Tímea Szabó graduated from Hungary’s József Attila University of Sciences and studied comparative refugee law at Harvard Law School. Before joining the Hungarian Helsinki Committee to coordinate the organization’s Refugee Program, she worked in Afghanistan and Pakistan for various international organizations, including CARE International and the International Rescue Committee. Her focus was on human rights, human security and refugee protection. Prior to that, she worked as research coordinator at a human security program of Harvard University, researching con?ict prevention strategies and the protection of civilians in con?ict areas. Before joining Harvard, she was a Budapest-based journalist, writing for a number of U.S. and British newspapers, magazines and newswires
http://www.zoominfo.com/#!search/profile/person?personId=781184790&targetid=profile

Kingfisher
Guest

Dénes, what an utterly shameful attitude.

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