The LMP parliamentary delegation is no more

A few days ago I wrote a post entitled “Talking heads of Hungary” in which I mentioned that Vera Lánczos, a member of the Galamus Group, called attention to a young political scientist who said that “the sole difference between the two factions [of LMP] is that one of them likes [Gordon] Bajnai while the other doesn’t.” It was a flippant description of what is going on because, after all, the divide between the group led by András Schiffer and the so-called platformists of Benedek Jávor and Tímea Szabó is much deeper than their differing attitudes toward Bajnai. They differ fundamentally on strategy. Or at least this is what it looks like from the outside.

I also predicted–it wasn’t too difficult, mind you–that by the time parliament convenes there will be no LMP parliamentary caucus. Indeed, on Monday  Benedek Jávor will officially inform László Kövér, the speaker of the house, that the eight members of the Párbeszéd Magyarországért (Dialogue for Hungary) will leave the LMP delegation. Since according to house rules a separate delegation needs at least twelve MPs and the Schiffer faction has only seven members, neither group can form a caucus. They will have to sit with the independents, who number fifteen at the moment. With the addition of the present and former LMP members their number will double. It will be an interesting group; it includes former Jobbik members, the left socialist Katalin Szili, and the “independent” Gypsy-hater Oszkár Molnár whom even Fidesz refused to back as the party’s candidate in the 2010 general elections.

The public perception is that the cause of the split is a deep division over the future of Hungary. Most people claim that the platformists’ main concern is the removal of the Orbán government at the earliest possible moment, and to this end they must not follow the road András Schiffer envisages for the party. Schiffer wants to keep some distance from both left and the right. As Katalin Ertsey (LMP MP) said in an interview, as a “green party” LMP is steadfastly in the middle avoiding the right as well as the left and keeping its eyes on what is ahead. Given the new electoral law, critics of Schiffer claim, this strategy only helps Fidesz.

But from the inside it seems that some of the pro-Schiffer members of LMP see the struggle differently. Yesterday Katalin Ertsey described the situation as a simple “power struggle” between Benedek Jávor and his followers and András Schiffer and his group. Ágnes Osztolykán (LMP MP) elaborated on the same point, claiming that the platformists caught the common disease of politicians, a “hunger for power.”

Alone by Fahad-Nasir / Flickr

Alone by Fahad-Nasir / Flickr

These two were joined by Beáta Eszes in an article that appeared in Galamus. She isn’t sure that the Jávor group is at all serious about negotiations with the opposition forces. To bolster her claim she reminds her readers of past utterances of the platformists that contradict their present orientation.

At the time he became LMP’s whip in February 2012, Benedek Jávor vehemently attacked Ferenc Gyurcsány because of the events of September-October 2006. And let’s not forget that Gordon Bajnai was a member of Gyurcsány’s cabinet. Of the three-member LMP caucus in the Budapest City Council two refused to vote against the proposal to strip Ákos Kertész of his honorary citizenship and thus joined with the representatives of Fidesz and Jobbik against Kertész. The still unified LMP decided to bring suit against Ferenc Gyurcsány. Gábor Scheiring and Gergely Karácsony suggested a strategic coalition with Jobbik in order to remove Orbán in 2014. LMP refused to join a demonstration against the Horthy cult, racism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia because MSZP and DK also took part in the demonstration. Dávid Dorosz engaged in a discussion with a Jobbik MP about “national policies” (nemzetpolitika) on the notorious Echo TV. At the end of the article Eszes points out that while the platformists declared that their group would establish a left-wing party, “the person of Gordon Bajnai is no guarantee of a left-wing, socialist type of government.”

Like Eszes, I also have my reservations about both groups. Yet the claim that the difference of opinion on strategy stems solely from the platformists’ hunger for power doesn’t sound plausible. In fact, by leaving LMP and sitting as independents they lose a lot. They will have less opportunity to speak in the House and will have to give up their seats on parliamentary committees. This means less political influence as well as a financial loss to individual parliamentary members. They are also giving up their share of the state subsidy allotted to parties that from here on will go to Schiffer’s LMP. They’re losing the assistance of fifty-five men and women who have been helping the LMP caucus. So, I don’t see how individual ambitions are being served by this move.

But one thing is sure. If the Párbeszéd Magyarországért Párt (PMP) is serious about forging a united democratic opposition, they cannot continue the strategy that LMP has pursued. Otherwise, the break-up of LMP was a useless exercise that will serve no one.

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Paul
Guest

Politically, they have pointed a gun at their collectives heads and pulled the trigger. There will be few, if any, LMP MPs after April 2014. LMP RIP.

And a strange definition of ‘green’ politics from Schiffer’s faction – “as a “green party” LMP is steadfastly in the middle, avoiding the right as well as the left”. Every other green party I am aware of is most definitely on the left of politics, some (as in the UK) are actually further left than the main supposedly-left party.

It will be interesting to see if the Schiffer rump go on calling themselves ‘green’.

Koeszmeod
Guest

Paul, IT is not in defense of Schiffer , who is playing for Fidesz, but in Hungary there is no left . DK, MSZP and Bajnai are all for market economy. fidesz is populist or national socialist. Even when MSZP tries to address social issues like Mesterhazy at Pecs, they fall into the trap of populism, repeat the Fidesz propaganda on energy costs.

Kirsten
Guest
Éva: “To bolster her claim she [Beata Eszes] reminds her readers of past utterances of the platformists that contradict their present orientation.” I hope the platformists are politicians by now, so that we might hope that they have developed their ideas a bit. I am not convinced yet that these earlier statements should be decisive for what they are goint to do now. But I do see a problem in the “Gyurcsany issue”. If the willingness to cooperate with him – before there is more debate in the opposition about the several interpretations of the past, if possible without mutual accusations of lying – so if this willingness is considered a litmus test for being truly oppositional, it will be very difficult to forge a unified opposition. You will not overcome the personal animosities by promising not to think or speak about them anymore (for that the Gyurcsany aversions have been too strong and play for too many people still a role) but by defining steps that could be taken together. If part of the agenda would be: “acceptance that my view has been the correct one”, no matter whether there were truly ONE correct view and the others all… Read more »
Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

For years now Gyurcsany has been a destructive factor in Hungarian politics. His mere presence in the political arena has boosted support for Fidesz and Jobbik, caused the defeat of the left and prevented their healthy resurgence. At this point it makes no difference if he is right or wrong on any issue. His mere voice and image grates on people. He would do the country a great favor if he would retire from politics and possibly accept a job in the West for a few years.

GabeGab
Guest

In my view Javor and Karacsony have been fairly reasonable in the whole process. It has been way overdue for them to part from Schiffer. They seem far from being the showy politicians that some other “young” political organization could produce. As far as I know they got the support of the LMP organization of the capital. They are backed by the whole Budapest faction of LMP, with Jeno Kaltenbach on its the head.

PMP (Parbeszed Magyarorszagert Part) might turn out to be a very attractive party especially for the generation under 40. Check out: http://parbeszedmagyarorszagert.hu/manifeszto

yaay
Guest

LMP and Párbeszéd are both dead in the water. Politically they are no more. One has to appreciate that they entered politics (note to self: we did not, we only comment smart things on blogs), it was a nice try, but the game is over now.

Given the election system, Fidesz’ control over the media, not to mention a host of other issues, it is impossible to get elected for either factions. Not gonna happen.The fact that they don’t see this, shows their political dilettantism. Anyway, it’s not worth the time to deal with them.

Actually it is like contemplating how Hungary will win the soccer world championship against Brazil. Sure, we could enter the round robin and there is also a minuscule mathemtical chance (we usually don’t even get into the final 24), but that is it.

I guess it is time for them to look for a new emplyoment, as the job market is terrible and they have only a year left.

Member

A broad coalition that cares about the poor and prefers citizens to subjects can win a free and fair election.

The problem is that the Fidesz-appointed election commission will validate any Fidesz fraud.

Orban started the election campaign among non-taxpaying voters in Romania using the money of taxpayers living in Hungary:

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130208_orban_konzultacio_level

Maria
Guest
[OT]: Firewood and generators Eva, I hope you are still with electricity and will be spared yet more cold days! I almost posted this after Irene, but then the storm was over and I thought you’d be left in peace for a while. In vain, so here’s my 2 cents for the next storm: If I remember right you said you had some sort of oven somewhere, but no firewood? Well, hardwood has its highest caloric value when it is 2 years old, and when its 5 years old the loss of heating power is still hardly noticeable. So if you’d get yourselves a small stack of cut and split hardwood and some place where it is more or less dry (either a roof or even just a thick plastic foil to put on top – mind you, not on the sides), you’d have an emergy firewood stock for the next 10-20 years. We also invested in a moderate generator some 3 years ago, though we “only” need it for the freezers, computers, telephone, not for heating. If it is a fairly new machine and if you take the precaution of letting it run for a bit every couple of… Read more »
vindo
Guest
Tappanch: it is not that the election commission, it is that everybody is against the opposition. The most important thing to understand is that at one point when (if) the opposition gets popular, these state agencies will be a bit sysmpatehtic, they also have to accept popularity, its normal organisational behaviour. So it would look for a brief moment that the new government (who would be diplomatic, reserved – lertists are never agressive, its not in their nature) could work with these agencies in a ‘spirit of cooperation’. Wrong, only naive leftists would think that. At the point when the new government (again that is if they get a majority) will get unpopular (that is soon after the election) these agencies, courts, boards etc. will initiate a war of attrition and in Hungary we have a saying that a “lot of geese overpower a pig”. Since these agencies are headed by loyalists of Orbán (who, if they would not be loyal enough, would control them with various issues) they will turn against the new government which will have 10 fronts open. Fall is assured. Note that János Lázár (the minister heading the office of the prime minsister, the best pupil… Read more »
Guest

At least Sólyom is “free” now to say what he is thinking – ans he says it loud and clear compared to what he said and did while in office – anyone remember when he wanted to visit Komarno and was sent back ?

I think that’s better than nothing and it may turn some people to wonder about Fidesz and its politicians …

OT again re the blizzard:

I’ve looked at some pictures and it seems really bad – let’s hope that our host(ess) Eva and her family are safe!

When we were in New York a few years ago, on our departure day we made a nice trip via Brooklyn Bridge to Brookly then on to Staten Island, the beaches (where we went for a walk), the old town centre and then to Newark airport – to think that the roads are full of snow, some have been closed and cars trapped for hours …

Guest

So happy to hear from you, Eva!

That kind of snow we don’t even get in the Black Forest, even in the Alps it’s not so common.
I’m surely speaking for everybody here when I wish you all the best and a speedy return to “normal weather” …

spectator
Guest

tappanch :
Orban started the election campaign among non-taxpaying voters in Romania using the money of taxpayers living in Hungary.

I keep wondering, when, if ever those voters in Romania going to realize, that their right – as Hungarian citizens – to parliamentary representation has been robbed by Orbán and his gang?
In any event, they should have their own independent MP-s (their number proportional to the population they represent) sent to the Hungarian parliament, in order to be adequately present by the decision-making effecting them, shouldn’t they?
Being ‘independents’ should ensure – well, theoretically anyway – that they could be free to support a case, not only a party, while could freely side with whoever they like, if and when there is a reason. Not to mention the possibility, that if their fate wouldn’t hang on the color of the Hungarian government, but only on the will of their voters. Of course, in case of their suffrage isn’t only nominal, and if their right to the fair representation isn’t only smokescreen.

I’m aware of it, that it will be far too democratic to the taste of our little wannabee dictator, but hey, isn’t still ‘Democracy’ the official form in Hungary?

Kirsten
Guest

spectator, communist countries also called themselves democracies, “people’s democracy”, so why could Orban not think of his system as “national democracy”.

Member

It’s too bad when little entities, who just made it to the parliament, chunk up themselves and don’t get enough votes to get seats on the next election. These votes essentially get lost if there is no second round of elections. If we have a bunch of little HCPs (Headless Chicken Party) on the left, the number of lost fractional votes could reach 10% (ex. 5 times 2% of the whole pool, for 5 little parties). This is the real reason for the one round election not saving money.

What about a system where you could designate secondary votes. Like I vote the PIMP party (Parbeszed az Igaz Magyarorszagert Part = Dialog for the True Hungary Party) but if they don’t get X%, say the threshold to get into the parliament, count my votes to the MSZP. Endorsing a secondary party could allow us to silently “unite” without a gag reflex for voting MSZP. It would cost nothing. Computers do the tallying anyway. Is there a system like this anywhere?

Kingfisher
Guest

The computers are controlled by a Fidesz company by the way.

spectator
Guest

Kirsten :
spectator, communist countries also called themselves democracies, “people’s democracy”, so why could Orban not think of his system as “national democracy”.

-You don’t say… 🙂
By the way, the combination of words in the above expression sounds familiar too!
What about “national-socialist-democracy”? Then we could combine most of the significant features of the present system, couldn’t we?

What I intended to say is, if the new Hungarian citizens outside – well, presently the better side – of the border would decide, that instead being an Orbán puppet they actually want to exercise their rights as any other Hungarian citizen, they should have the possibility to chose their own MP-s, shouldn’t they?

nimh
Guest

I don’t quite see the logic of the argument that the Platformists might not actually be serious about collaborating with Bajnai and Egyutt 2014 because in the past they have vehemently criticized (and refused to work with) Gyurcsany. As far as I know, nothing has changed on that account. The Platformists are eager to work with Bajnai and Milla and Egyutt 2014, and are even open to considering strategic cooperation with the MSzP, but from how I understand things, they are still very much unwilling to work with Gyurcsany and DK.

Good thing too. Gyurcsany and his DK don’t rally more than 1-3% of the voters, whereas any association with Gyurcsany will cost a center-left alliance a lot more support than that. That’s a bridge they’d better not cross.

Paul Wal
Guest

In the mean time in the “funny farm”.
comment image

nimh
Guest
Paul makes a good point about the strange argument from the Schiffer camp that “as a green party, the LMP is steadfastly in the middle, avoiding the right as well as the left”. Like Paul writes, most green party are actually firmly on the left of politics, thank you very much. This is especially true in the West (Germany, France, Italy, the UK, Belgium, Austria, etc). There are only a couple of exceptions I can think of, and they are all in Eastern Europe. The Czech Greens, a centrist/intellectual kind of party focused primarily on civil liberties and economically rather free-market oriented, briefly helped a right-wing government into power. The Estonian and Latvian Green parties, if I recall correctly, are of a moderately nationalist and economically centrist bent. There was also a Ukrainian Green party that didn’t seem particularly left-of-center, but then political parties in Ukraine are seldomly what they seem – especially the smaller ones usually just carry the water of some behind-the-scenes business or political interest. The (fairly minute) Slovak Green Party has historically ran in elections in alliance with both the left (1994) and the center-right (1998). And way, way back in the days of the revolution,… Read more »
nimh
Guest

Eva – three percent is three percent, but if Gyurcsany’s participation in turn chases away more than 3% of voters that might otherwise have voted for the oppositional coalition, it’s not worth it. And since last I looked, Gyurcsany’s favorability rating was mired somewhere in the teens (15% or the like), near the very bottom of the pile, that seems likely. He’d scare more people off than he’d attract.

LwiiH
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :
If people will vote for Fidesz or refuses the vote at all because of the garbage that had been thrown on Gy. by Fidesz, then they deserve four more years of Orbán.

I don’t hate Gy. But the reality check is in the numbers he’s pulling. They simply say it’s past time that he step aside or do something gutsy to prove he deserves a second chance. Problem is, he won’t ‘cos he can’t because he’s part of the problem. I get the feeling that many people won’t vote this time round ‘cos everyone is in shock at the damage Fidesz has caused and there simply isn’t anyone credible left standing.

Maybe you’ve heard this but… my daughter came came home from school with this; Eve asks Adam, where are we? Adam looks around and says, we’ve got no jobs, no money, no cloths, no house. Ahh, we must in Hungary!

Kirsten
Guest
Eva, it is one thing to be Gyurcsany hater and another to fall for Viktor Orban. Currently, OV is in a far better position so people who are uneasy about both, thereby may help cement Fidesz’ position. But there is a problem in equating the opposition to Viktor Orban to support for Ferenc Gyurcsany. The current troubles are not about two people – although this appears to be understood like that by some people – but about a country. People in my impression will not get four more years of Fidesz because they hate Ferenc Gyurcsany but because they have no vision for Hungary. MSzP is the largest opposition party and their programme is anything close to what would be necessary to offer people a convincing way forward. The Hungary of before 2010 is gone and will not be restored – because people were not satisfied with that either. (And it is during that time that the huge division in the society hardened.) But people have to find out what they want, the more concrete the better. (Sarcastically I could say: most probably lower utility prices.) Should at some moment a liberal democracy gain enough support from the public, very… Read more »
Member

Dear Eva,

Mr Palmer passed away a few days ago. Is there any chance left we can get Radio Free Europe back in Hungarian? 80% of the people do not have access to Klubradio, and I have the strong feeling that Klubradio in Budapest will be banned too between now and the election.

Kirsten
Guest

LwiiH :
I get the feeling that many people won’t vote this time round ‘cos everyone is in shock at the damage Fidesz has caused and there simply isn’t anyone credible left standing.

This is what I find most depressing. It is this collective disorientation that I consider to be the greatest stumbling block for change. Instead of making useless jokes, people should just start to get engaged. I suggest to people who are in shock to study Gordon Bajnai’s speech from Oct 23. They need not go far into the text to find:

Our country has once again become a place where we must take to the streets for our common future and take to the streets for our rights. Where even someone who simply wants to be a citizen, a “civilian”, must engage in politics.

Or:
A hazánk megint olyan hely lett, ahol utcára kell menni a jövőnkért és utcára kell menni a jogainkért. Ahol politizálnia kell annak is, aki csak egyszerű polgár, „civil” akar lenni.

Blekk
Guest
The election is more than a year away, may I remind the commenters, everybody seems to assume its gonna be tomorrow. No. Its not like in the US that things (constitution, laws) are stable and you look for the economy to figure out who may win. In Hungary, everything is in a state of flux. The new constition (Basic Law – just to call it differently) was “carved into granite”, Orbán said — yet the upcoming one is its fourth (this time wholesale) amendment, and counting. And the election laws are also set to change (partly because some laws containing detailed provisions have not even been enacted, but the basic structure of the system may also change – depending on what the polls will show). People are apathetic now, but may not be so in 14 months time. They may realise that voting for whichever opposition party is a smarter decision than to see Hungary (their miserable lives) slowly fade away in the hands of a lunatic and his cronies. And I guess the opposition cannot lose: absolutely everything is set against them (there is really no such situation in the EU or in the Western/Northern world – generations of… Read more »
Kingfisher
Guest

We shouldn’t forget that Gyurcsány was Prime Minister for four and a half years, achieved nothing and left the country in an even worse situation than when he found it. Irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the Öszödi Beszéd, or whether he is as corrupt as I know he is, on just his past record alone, he should not be on the Hungarian political landscape. He tried and failed badly. And it is unreasonable to criticise the electorate for not sharing Éva Balogh’s conviction that he is Jesus reincarnated.

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