I’m afraid I have to go back to the MSZP-DK negotiations because some of the coverage of MSZP’s reactions is far too sketchy. MTI, which serves all Hungarian news organizations, first reported that MSZP found “three of DK’s nine-point suggestions unacceptable.” They are unacceptable because they suggest a renegotiation of the agreement between MSZP and Együtt 2014-PM. MSZP also found it worrisome that DK offers only “an election alliance while the socialists and Együtt 2014-PM agreed to a political alliance.”
Since not too many publications bothered to reprint DK’s nine-point proposal, which is available on DK’s webpage, I’m going to list the points here. Some of the more important passages are quoted verbatim. Others are only summarized.
(1) DK’s ideal arrangement would still be naming a common prime minister and having only one common party list. Therefore “we suggest holding out the possibility of coming to a possible understanding on these issues.”
(2) “We recognize the validity of the MSZP-Együtt 2014 agreement. Although at present we are negotiating only with MSZP, we want to adhere to the MSZP-Együtt-PM agreement and we would like to apply the principles and their consequences to the agreement as a whole.”
(3) “The Demokratikus Koalíció is interested in the success of the negotiations and to this end the Party is ready to give up its right to form its own list and put up individual candidates.”
(4) “The desired agreement aims at concluding not a political but an electoral alliance…. From here on parties of the electoral alliance … will represent their own politics independently.”
(5) “It is our aim to have a common MSZP-DK list and to have common individual candidates.”
(6) DK believes in proportional representation when it comes to the individual candidates of the 106 electoral districts. MSZP and Együtt 2014 together have 1.4-1.6 million voters, DK has 100-200,000.
(7) Each party will have the right to name its own preferred candidates in the individual districts as well as on the lists.
(8) According to the unbroken Hungarian custom, “the largest party, i.e. MSZP, has the right to name the first person on the list and the smaller party, i.e. DK, will be able to name someone for the second place.”
(9) The two parties will prepare jointly for the election, they will name a team together and will jointly finance the campaign.
Even before the official word came from MSZP headquarters Magyar Hírlap learned from socialist sources that “MSZP is no longer interested in Gyurcsány.” According to the paper, MSZP politicians believe that leaving DK out of the agreement is more beneficial to MSZP because, according to polls ordered by the party, MSZP will receive twice as many votes without DK than with DK support. The paper took it for granted that as a result of MSZP’s refusal Ferenc Gyurcsány’s party will enter the race alone.
This doesn’t seem to be the case, however. As of this moment we still don’t know which three points are unacceptable to MSZP. In addition to these three unnamed points MSZP, which originally sided with DK on voting rights for ethnic Hungarians living in neighboring countries, by now has changed its mind, most likely as a result of pressure from Együtt-2014-PM. Now MSZP insists on DK’s acceptance of this Fidesz-introduced law which in fact is unpopular among people in Hungary proper. MSZP also wants to have an answer about DK’s position on a tuition-free first year of college.
It would seem on first blush that there is no reason to think that there will be an agreement between these two parties. But MSZP didn’t close the door. The talks continued, after which Gyurcsány seemed optimistic. He claimed that “we got one step closer to an accord” and expressed his hope that a final agreement will be reached within days. Gyurcsány said that DK doesn’t want to reopen the negotiations, stressing that its nine-point proposal didn’t contain such a demand. He also indicated that DK accepts all of the policy concepts on which MSZP and E14 agreed. I assume that means DK’s abandonment of its strongly held view on ethnic Hungarian voting rights.
Gyurcsány found it especially heartwarming that MSZP didn’t raise objections to DK’s proposals for a common list and common candidates. He added that there was no MSZP criticism of DK’s ideas on proportionality. According to him, MSZP simply indicated that they don’t want to extend that principle to Együtt 2014-PM because MSZP had already closed those negotiations.
If Gyurcsány’s understanding of the conversation with the MSZP leadership is correct, this would mean that DK would have the right to name its own candidates in 7 or 8 districts. In the 75 districts to which MSZP is currently entitled, all candidates would run under the MSZP-DK logos. And on the list DK politicians would receive about 10% of the places.
Perhaps Gyurcsány is overly optimistic, but if his description of the situation is correct, DK is not as badly off as I thought only a few hours ago. I still have some doubts, however. What if MSZP insists on leaving Gyurcsány off the list? There is no way that DK will ever accept that demand. What will Együtt 2014-PM think if DK’s logo appears alongside MSZP’s red carnation? Or perhaps Gyurcsány’s reference to “common candidates” doesn’t mean that they would run under MSZP and DK logos. In brief, there are still many questions. But within a few days we ought to know more.