What does the Demokratikus Koalíció stand for?

On September 3, I wrote about an opinion piece by Tamás Bauer, vice-chairman of the Demokratikus Koalíció. Its title was “Electoral mathematics: The Demokratikus Koalíció’s position.” Bauer argued for DK’s right, based on its numerical support, to receive at least 8 or 9 electoral districts. He added that DK’s positions on many issues differ from those of both MSZP and Együtt2014-PM and therefore it deserves a parliamentary caucus.

At the end of that post I indicated that I would like to return to DK’s political program because relatively few people are familiar with it. I had to postpone that piece due to DK’s very prompt answer to MSZP. On the next day, September 4, I posted an article entitled “The current state of the Hungarian opposition: Negotiations between MSZP and DK.”

Over the last few days it has become obvious to me that Ferenc Gyurcsány has already begun his election campaign.  Zsolt Gréczy’s appointment as DK spokesman signaled the beginning of the campaign, which was then followed by several personal appearances by Ferenc Gyurcsány where he began to outline his program. Surely, the amusing video on being a tour guide in Felcsút, “the capital of Orbanistan,” was part of this campaign. So, it’s time to talk about the party program of the Demokratikus Koalíció, especially since only yesterday Attila Mesterházy answered Ferenc Gyurcsány’s letter to him. I elaborated on that letter in my September 4 post.

You may remember that one of the sticking points between the two parties was whether DK is ready to have “an electoral alliance” as opposed to “a political alliance.” Gyurcsány in his letter to Mesterházy made light of the difference between the two, but as far as the socialists are concerned this is an important distinction. Yesterday Attila Mesterházy made that crystal clear in his answer to  Gyurcsány which he posted on his own webpage. According to him, a “political alliance” means the complete subordination of individual parties’ political creeds to the agreed upon policies.  In plain language, DK “will have to agree not to represent its own political ideas during the campaign.”

Since DK’s program thus became one of the central issues in the negotiations it is time to see in what way DK’s vision of the future differs from that of MSZP and Együtt 2014-PM. Here I’m relying on Tamás Bauer’s list of the main differences.

(1) An MSZP and Együtt 2014-PM alliance following an electoral victory will only amend the new constitution and the cardinal laws that are based on this new constitution. The Demokratikus Koalíció, on the other hand, holds that the new constitution is illegitimate because it was enacted without the participation of the opposition. Therefore, according to DK, the new constitution must be repealed and the constitution of the Republic must take its place.

(2) MSZP-E14 by and large accepts the policy of Viktor Orbán on national matters and would allow people living outside of the borders to vote in national elections. The Demokratikus Koalíció rejects this new law and would put an end to these new citizens’ voting rights.

(3) MSZP-E14 does not seem to concern itself with the relation of church and state or the Orbán government’s law on churches. DK would restore the religious neutrality of the state and would initiate a re-examination of the agreement that was concluded between Hungary and the Vatican or, if the Church does not agree to such a re-examination, DK would abrogate the agreement altogether.

(4) MSZP-E14 talks in generalities about the re-establishment of predictable economic conditions and policies that would be investment friendly but it doesn’t dare to reject such populist moves as a decrease in utility prices or the nationalization of companies. Only DK is ready to openly reject all these.

(5) MSZP-E14 accepts the tax credits that depend on the number of children and therefore supports an unjust system. DK, on the other hand, wants to put an end to this system and to introduce a system that treats all children alike.

(6) Együtt2014-PM opposes the concentration of land that is necessary for the creation of  a modern and effective agriculture. The policy of small landholdings was the brainchild of the Smallholders Party, which was largely responsible for the collapse of Hungarian agriculture after the change of regime. MSZP is against foreign investment in Hungarian agriculture. The Demokratikus Koalíció intends to liberalize the agricultural market. DK thinks that agricultural cooperatives should be able to purchase the land they currently cultivate. It also maintains that foreign capital should be able to come into Hungary in order to make Hungarian agriculture competitive again.

(7) The attitude of MSZP and Együtt 2014-PM toward the conflicts between the European Union and the Orbán government is ambiguous, while the Demokratikus Koalíció unequivocally takes the side of the institutions of the Union against the Orbán government.

These are the points that Tamás Bauer mentions. But as the Gyurcsány campaign unfolds more and more differences will be visible. For example, only yesterday Gyurcsány talked about his ideas to abolish the compulsory retirement age and to financially encourage people to demand higher wages in order to maximize their pensions after retirement. During this talk in Nyíregyháza Gyurcsány made no secret of the fact that his party is working on its election program.

So, it seems to me that the Gyurcsány campaign has already begun. Maybe I’m wrong and Gyurcsány will give up all his ideas and will line up behind MSZP-E14, but somehow I doubt it. Even if he tried, he couldn’t. Temperamentally he is not suited for it.

Meanwhile, an interesting but naturally not representative voting has been taking place in Magyar Narancs. Readers of the publication are asked to vote for party and for leader of the list. DK leads (52%) over Együtt 2014 (29%) and Gyurcsány (54%) over Bajnai (32%). Of course, this vote in no way reflects reality. What it does tell us is that the majority of readers of Magyar Narancs are DK supporters. Something that surprised me. If I had had to guess, I would have picked Együtt2014.

As for Ferenc Gyurcsány’s visit to Felcsút, I wrote about it a couple of days ago. The video is now out. This morning I decided to take a look at it because from Zsolt Gréczy’s description on ATV’s Egyenes beszéd the whole scene of Fidesz cameras following them everywhere sounded hilarious . At that time the video had been viewed by about 5,000 people. Right now the number of visitors is over 53,000.

Clips from The Godfather are juxtaposed with scenes from Felcsút. The video ends with the wedding of Vito Corleone’s daughter. While Gyurcsány is narrating the enrichment of the Orbán family, two people, one of whom is the Fidesz regional secretary and the other perhaps the cameraman of the Puskás Academy, follow him everywhere and record his every move and word. Definitely worth seven minutes of your time.

Since I am no fortune teller I have no idea what will happen. A couple of things, though, I’m pretty sure of. DK will never agree to drop Gyurcsány as their party leader. And Mesterházy indicated that this might be one of the MSZP demands for an agreement. Or at least that Gyurcsány not be DK’s top candidate, or possibly any candidate. Otherwise why would he have asked: “Are those media predictions that the Demokratikus Koalíció plans to nominate the chairman of the party, Ferenc Gyurcsány, for the second slot on the list true?”

At first reading I didn’t notice this linguistic oddity. The letter is addressed to “Dear Mr. Party Chairman, dear Feri” and continues in the second-person singular: “te.” Now that I returned to the sentence in order to translate it, suddenly I noticed that Mesterházy switched from “te,” which in a personal letter would have been normal, to “Ferenc Gyurcsány” in a letter addressed to Ferenc Gyurcsány.

What will the final result be? I have no idea. Let’s put it this way, it’s much easier to predict the outcome of Hungarian soccer matches than the outcome of opposition politics.

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Paul
Guest
Perhaps we should forget the election and look to the future? The left is not going to oust Fidesz/Jobbik next April. The system is against them, the figures don’t add up, and the left itself is unelectable as a government. So, why worry about the technicalities of how this defeat will be arranged? Perhaps the best answer (the only answer) is to use the election as a springboard for the future opposition to (and eventual ousting of) Orbán? In which case, Gy is the best spokesman the left has – so let him speak. Let him proclaim his more radical (and far more sensible) programme – some of it might get through the Fidesz media control and actually strike a chord with disaffected voters (the lukewarm, diluted, nonsense coming from MSzP certainly won’t). OK, so he’ll run into the ‘anti-Gyurcsány factor’, but so what? People actually hearing what he has to say might change their minds. And anyway the aim is not to win this election, but to start preparing the ground for the eventual defeat of Orbán. And the only way to do that is to remove the tacit support of the people. Orbán cannot be removed by traditional… Read more »
Mutt
Guest
I don’t think it’s impossible to win. You just need a narrow win of the individual candidates and you can even have 2/3 of the house. It seems the DK is doing everything agains that … We keep talking about the unity of the parties but what is more important is the unity of the voters. It’s time to throw in the concept of endorsing parties. Yes, my dear Hungarian brothers and sisters, you can help a cause without getting a piece of the pie. Shocking. I know …. So if you are a DK supporter and Gyurcsany tells you to vote for the individual DK candidate, because the boys, Bajnai and Mesterhazy showed him the door, then please don’t, unless you want Orban back for 4 more years. This result of the poll by the Magyar Narancs, that shows support for Gyurcsany, is interesting. I think the same phenomenon is going on here on this blog. Liberals know that the DK is the closest to a modern European party (not necessary liberal) . But their ideas don’t sell too well in Hungary at the moment. We should take it slow. If you are adamant about the voting rights and… Read more »
Jerry K.
Guest
DK is Gyurcsány’s party in the same way Fidesz is Orbán’s. Both parties are a personal property of their leaders, they are vehicles existing solely for the support of one singular person. Thus these parties behave differently from traditional Western European parties which cover multiple interests and unite various strong often antagonistic personalities. These days only MSZP is like a Western European party in that sense, the rest of the market are personal vehicles. This has been a common misunderstanding of foreign analysts, they think all parties are like CDU or the Labour or even MSZMP. No — DK and Fidesz are both personal enterprises, however big Fidesz is now. Thus MSZP is in a more difficult position since decision making is slower and beholden to more particular interests, while DK and Fidesz can be much quicker and tougher and consistent. Of course, this is not to judge the quality of the decisions, but it is important to realize the situation. (Although I have a feeling that MSZP will transform itself into Mesterházy’s personal vehicle as the older guard retires.) It is a bit strange to demand from DK that Gyurcsány would not be a leading representative of it. DK… Read more »
grantbg
Guest

I tried to find the video via Google & YouTube, but without success; please could you post a link to it?
I am not familiar enough with GF’s policies to be able to form an opinion about what he has to offer, but the other opposition parties are treading too lightly, IMO. I would like to see OV booted out as much as any (non troll) reader here, but I don’t find this gentle opposition in the least compelling, unfortunately. I prefer DK’s more honest offering. And whilst on the subject of honesty, his famous admission of having lied to the voters struck me at that time as being surprisingly, even refreshingly, honest (for a politician).

Guest

I agree with DK on all seven points in the list of main differences between the positions of DK and MSZP- E14.

In stead of outright rejecting policies whose sole purpose is to secure the prolongation of Orban’s sovereignty the positions of MSZP-E14 lend some plausibility to such policies.

It seems that Gyurcsan alone has the pluck it takes to distance himself completely from Orban’s populism.

grantbg
Guest

The utility rate cuts alone are going to secure OV victory, I suppose. Voting DK means voting to increase utility costs. Turkeys voting for Christmas springs to mind. More’s the pity.

tappanch
Guest

In case you missed this:

On the income side, Orban will be receiving a mere 100 billion from extending the mobile phone licenses by 10 years.

On the other hand, the government used up another 81.2 billion forints of the private retirement funds in July.

The remainder amounts to 212 billion (it was 2,945 billion in May 2011)

The debt is at a record high, the budget deficit has been increased quietly.

15 325 316 – 16 376 151= – 1 050 835 is the new equation.

http://www.parlament.hu/irom39/12100/12100.pdf

If there is a downturn in the US stock market in the Fall, the forint will collapse (I expect EUR= 400 HUF), together with the Orban government.

Commie
Guest

Grant, no so sure, people do get used to utility decreases and other money hand outs rather quickly.

However, when any potential new government will have to increase prices to allow for investments, depreciation (or simply because across the board price decreases always favor the heavy users, so they are simply a bad and unfair policy) and the like, Fidesz will kill such government and brand it forever as a “price increasing population torturer”.

Fidesz will say with its complete media power and mobilization capability that, why, it’s only natural the communists want to suck the blood of good Hungarians in any way they can, like increasing utility prices.

Kirsten
Guest
Very good post of Jerry K. It appears indeed best to approach many parties in the East/Central European countries as organisations built around particular people and not ideas. (So no Hungarian specifics.) It helps understand why the broad public stays suspicious (even if it should be these suspicious people who demand that parties and movements are organised around ideas and goals, and not strong egos). In the list of DK, I started to wonder already at point 1: “The Demokratikus Koalíció, on the other hand, holds that the new constitution is illegitimate because it was enacted without the participation of the opposition. Therefore, according to DK, the new constitution must be repealed and the constitution of the Republic must take its place.” How will they manage to make the constitution more legitimate through participation of the opposition, in this case Jobbik and Fidesz, I wonder? And this for me is the biggest problem with such programmes in current circumstances. There is nothing said about how the nation could cooperate more and existing “insurmountable” divisions overcome. DK presents a programme that they consider superior, which is acceptable in a democracy, but they present it in a confrontational manner in an autocracy… Read more »
Member
Eva S. Balogh : OT but you might be interested to hear that the Hungarian fans completely destroyed fourteen railway cars on the way home. I guess, in their sorrow. The “funny thing” is that at the same time the three Romanian politicians with Hungarian origin (the representatives of the Hungarian minority in Romania) filed a complaint with FIFA against the Romanian soccer fans, as “Lately it became customary that on soccer games they continually repeat that Hungarians must leave the country.” Now, I am not a legal expert, but after looking at the footage or reading the articles on various languages that can be found all over the Internet about how the Hungarian (soccer fans) behaved, I am not sure if the complaint could stand. Why wouldn’t they want the Hungarians out? THe statement was general , and simply could mean they wanted the troublemakers out. Although most Hungarian press only reports that the trouble makers are the members of official fan club of the soccer league, a further digging brings up the full name is the official fan club is Carpathian Brigade. THere were around 1000 fans un the train. I would like to remind everyone that these… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :
OT but you might be interested to hear that the Hungarian fans completely destroyed fourteen railway cars on the way home. I guess, in their sorrow.

This should come as no surprise once the structure of a legal society is tampered with. Once people see that an illegality is not met with the proper legal response but is fudged–as per example, the dealings with the Garda–the bunko element arises. ‘Lets loose the dogs of war’…is the bastardized saying that comes to mind.

Paul
Guest
Re the Romania-Hungary game – I only realised after my last foci post that the loss wasn’t just a loss, or even ‘just’ a loss to Romania, it effectively ended Hungary’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup (for the first time in decades). Hungary were lucky with their qualifying group, as it includes only one strong team (Netherlands). The other four countries are Romania, Turkey, Estonia and Andorra – so second place in the group was a serious possibility for the Hungarian team, and runners-up have a 50/50 chance of qualifying, via the play-offs. Hungary went into that game in second place, 1 point above Romania. A draw would have kept them in second, and a win would have opened up a 4 point gap – giving Hungary a real qualification chance, with only 3 games to go (with a good chance of winning two of them). But instead, the Romanians are now second, 2 points above Hungary, and with a better goal difference. And that result has more or less ended Hungary’s first real chance in years to qualify for the World Cup. It was a huge blow for Hungarian football. And a huge blow for Orbán –… Read more »
Paul
Guest

PS – I am on no way trying to excuse the violence and vandalism – nothing excuses that sort of behaviour.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

To quote an old saying, a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Te problem is that the camel will not win races. This whole process of trying to come to a negotiated political front is ridiculous and its only outcome is Fidesz’ guaranteed win in 2014. Gyurcsany’s presence will only push people away from the left. Banai and Mesterhazy will not campaign effectively because they will be keeping an eye on each other instead of Orban. Frankly, I don’t think the left is capable of mounting an effective campaign.

Paul
Guest

“I don’t think it’s impossible to win.”

Even if it was possible for MSzP or a united opposition to win.do you think Orbán would just stand by and let it happen?

He can (and will) do anything he has to do to ensure a Fidesz win. Last minute changes in the rules (which Fidesz is mysteriously prepared for), disqualification of candidates on technical grounds…

And he knows he can get away with it.

Ron
Guest

OT Talking about history. Please find a nice history falsification. comment image

This is apparently from a history book, which kids have to learn.

cjflesch
Guest

It is amazing that a liar like Gyurcs

petofi
Guest

Paul :
“I don’t think it’s impossible to win.”
Even if it was possible for MSzP or a united opposition to win.do you think Orbán would just stand by and let it happen?
He can (and will) do anything he has to do to ensure a Fidesz win. Last minute changes in the rules (which Fidesz is mysteriously prepared for), disqualification of candidates on technical grounds…
And he knows he can get away with it.

So much pie-in-the-sky nonsense herein. Hasn’t Orban banned the OSCE from monitoring the elections? And also reduced party monitoring?
Pray tell, what do people think he’s doing that for?

Mutt
Guest

Carl, before you call 200,000 Hungarians stupid, how about you read *both* Oszod speeches not just the 30 second Fidesz version of the second speech.

Here is the first one for ya. Judging from your style, I’m sure you speak Hungarian …

http://www.nol.hu/archivum/archiv-418825

Mutt
Guest

petofi :
So much pie-in-the-sky nonsense herein. Hasn’t Orban banned the OSCE from monitoring the elections? And also reduced party monitoring?
Pray tell, what do people think he’s doing that for?

Certainly, the doomsday scenario doesn’t seem to be impossible. But again, dictatorship requires a lot of work, dedication and intelligence. And these are not the treats of the Orban army.

Fudging a 10% lead is difficult at this moment. Too many free journalists are running around in the Kingdom.

Well, we’ll see in April.

petofi
Guest

Mutt :
Carl, before you call 200,000 Hungarians stupid, how about you read *both* Oszod speeches not just the 30 second Fidesz version of the second speech.
Here is the first one for ya. Judging from your style, I’m sure you speak Hungarian …
http://www.nol.hu/archivum/archiv-418825

Only 200,000?! I’d go much higher than that.

I saw this in the NYTimes recently: mass psychotherapy…Hungarians free.

Member

cjflesch :
It is amazing that a liar like Gyurcs�ny should have a chance as a politician. Are some of the people in Hungary so stupid to vote for him?
Carl Flesch
Realpstr. 61
CH-4054 Basel
Tel: +41(0)61 3017740

CArl, How about the 2/3 of Hungary who gave a chance to Fidesz? Are they so stupid? Are you one of them? Just asking. Orban clearly said that “do not listen to what I say” Fidesz called on the police to use live ammunition against the crowd in 2006. Pal Schmitt lied about having a phd, as well as he plagiarized. Fidesz lost billions of dollars of the nationalized private retirement savings. Are the Hungarian people insane to dismiss these facts? ARe the Hungarian people insane not to see that Gyurcsany told the truth about Hungarian politicians who lie day and night? Are you hating Gyurcsany for the truth and admire Orban for his lies. Are you so stupid?

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