Budapest municipal election: MSZP-LMP deal?

I think it’s time to pay some attention to LMP which, against all expectations, managed to garner 5.34% of the votes on April 6 and thus will be represented in parliament. LMP is a relatively new party. Its origins go back to a group of environmentalists who were responsible for the nomination of László Sólyom, himself an ardent environmentalist, for the position of president in 2005. Several members of this civic organization, called “Védegylet,” came up with the idea of forming a new political party which, as the party’s name indicates, would be a different kind of political actor. Obviously pure as the driven snow. This message resonated with many voters who were convinced that all politicians are corrupt and all politics outright dirty. The party received 7.48% of the votes in 2010 and was able to send 16 of its members to parliament.

The LMP delegation which represented the party was very active. Women comprised half of the delegation, a welcome addition to the otherwise monotonously male makeup of Hungarian politics. Their ambitious leader, András Schiffer, had great plans. Eventually, he wanted to have LMP be the premier party. A party that could win elections by itself. Therefore, he always refused to tie LMP to any other opposition party. It was this stance that eventually led to a split within the party. More than half of the party’s parliamentary delegation left LMP. They considered Schiffer’s position injurious to the democratic opposition which should have united to concentrate their efforts against Viktor Orbán, whom they considered to be the greatest danger to Hungarian democracy. When Schiffer and six other people in the caucus rejected their argument for unity, they left and joined Gordon Bajnai’s Együtt 2014. At the time Schiffer accused these people of selling their honor for parliamentary seats. As it turned out, none of the former LMP politicians who joined Bajnai managed to get into parliament, whereas the rump LMP will be represented by six MPs in the new parliament.

In comparison to 2010 LMP lost a considerable number of votes. In 2010, 383,876  people voted for Schiffer’s party while in 2014 that number was only 269,414, a loss of about 30%. In Budapest, however, they did a little better than four years ago. They were especially strong in the center districts. In districts I and V, which are known to be conservative areas, they received over 10% of the votes, one percentage point higher than in 2010. Schiffer is certain that this slightly improved performance means that he is making headway with conservative voters. I somehow doubt that this interpretation holds water. LMP’s fiercely anti-capitalist rhetoric shouldn’t appeal to conservatives.

Whatever the case, according to reliable sources many members of the MSZP leadership are thinking of enticing Schiffer to cooperate with MSZP in the forthcoming municipal election in Budapest. MSZP’s original candidate for the post was Csaba Horváth, who lost to István Tarlós (Fidesz) in 2010. At that time LMP had its own candidate, Benedek Jávor (who got 9.98% of the votes), who today is the co-chairman of Együtt 2014-PM. (The Jobbik candidate, it should be noted, received 7.27% of the votes.) At that time, right after the large Fidesz victory in the spring, it was clear that the Fidesz candidate was practically unbeatable. Since then, polls indicate that Tarlós can be beaten, but MSZP believes that LMP votes are necessary for a victory. Thus, apparently, some people came up with the idea of dumping Csaba Horváth and instead making a deal with LMP: Schiffer’s party can name its candidate for lord mayor (főpolgármester) and MSZP will support him/her.

Apparently, MSZP is ready to abandon Horváth because Együtt 2014-PM refuses to support the MSZP candidate. Moreover, I am almost certain that important MSZP politicians consider Horváth a weak candidate and hence are quite ready to look for someone else. The cooperation would work the following way: MSZP and LMP would start the campaign with their own candidates but eventually the MSZP candidate would throw his weight behind the LMP person. A generous offer, but it looks as if LMP politicians are not crazy about the idea. They feel that in the long run any kind of electoral cooperation with other parties will harm LMP’s prospects.

Critics of the idea of MSZP-LMP cooperation in the Budapest municipal election, especially those who don’t think much of LMP and András Schiffer, have already announced that the MSZP leaders lost their minds. LMP wouldn’t be able to come up with a viable candidate. Well, I could come up with a name: Péter Róna, the American banker and economist. Róna left Hungary with his mother in 1956 when he was 14 years old. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and received a law degree from Oxford University. Lately, he threw in his lot with LMP and seems to be in LMP’s inner circle. I’m not surprised at Róna’s attraction to LMP: he considers himself a socialist and, despite the fact that he headed an investment bank before returning to Hungary, is a fierce critic of banks and capitalism in general. Róna also seems to be popular among those who are regular listeners of Klubrádió and ATV. It is another matter whether Róna, who is over 70 and has no political or administrative experience, would accept the nomination.

Péter Róna

Péter Róna

Today a caller to György Bolgár’s program, “Let’s talk it over,” announced that the opposition should simply give up the city and let Tarlós continue in office. If the candidate of a united opposition wins, Viktor Orbán will make sure that Budapest is “bulldozered.” Whoever the new mayor is, his life will be hell as will that of the city. Let Fidesz have Budapest for four more years. Sooner or later the Orbán regime will collapse because such a system cannot be maintained for too long. Maybe there is something in that argument.

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buddy
Guest

They should nominate Ágnes Somfai to be mayor! She ran for LMP’s nomination for mayor in 2010 (but lost to Jávor), and she currently sits on the Budapest City Council.

Unfortunately, since she was part of the splinter group that broke away to form PM, he name is probably mud in LMP nowadays 🙁

An
Guest

If the best candidate the opposition can come up with is Rona, then yes, I agree with the idea of just giving up the city. Rona would be a catastrophic choice. Horvath is not a good candidate either. What’s going in Hungarian politics is a really painful tragicomedy. Come on, there are so many bright people in the opposition… they should be able to find somebody who could be a competent leader for the city and take on Tarlos.

Istvan
Guest

I thought Peter Rona had a very tenuous relationship with LMP and András Schiffer at best. Now I admit I recall this from around November of last year, or am I confused about this?

Moreover didn’t the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) has file a criminal complaint against Peter Rona yesterday, who is a member of its supervisory board, for publicly stating that some of the bank’s decisions had been unlawful. The National Bank also sued news website Index for claiming that the bank spent large sums of money on non-essential items without sufficient transparency or control. See http://www.politics.hu/20140423/central-bank-sues-board-member-for-slander/

Is this a preemptive attack on Rona or coincidence?

An
Guest

Eva, exact same thing I heard… coming from people who know economics. The were dumbfounded to see how little understanding Rona has of macroeconomics, yet he is posing as an academic expert. He may have had a successful career in investment banking, but his grandiose, populist economic ideas are dubious.

tron
Guest
No sane opposition can avoid having a candidate, a serious, plausible contender. Fidesz nominated law professor Ferenc Madl already in 1995 against Arpad Göncz and Madl accepted the nomination knowing full well that he will lose against Göncz given the mathematics in the Parliament which elected the president. In 2000 Fidesz – when it had the majority – thanked Madl for his nomination and nominated him again and Madl was elected. If the whole Budapest municipality is rearranged than the opposition mayor can protest and resign, but at least it should show that he/she can win (if he/she can). I agree that Rona is a kókler and it shows that impotency and visionlessness of the left that they cannot come up with better names. Of course this shows something else too. Few people dare to get shredded by the mighty Fidesz political machine and get associated with the left-wing openly. The lefties are just not committed as much as the right wingers are, they care way too much about their reputation and about what people might think about them. Winning against Tarlos will not be easy for anybody. Long gone are the days when Demszky could win easily. The majority… Read more »
Jano
Guest

I think this was a very cleverly devised step from Mesterházy. He knew LMP would outright refuse the offer. An LMP mayor would absolutely be exposed to either a Fidesz or MSZP dominated representative board (sitting duck in both cases) but he or she would have to be the one taking the fall for an innefficient governance. On the other hand now MSZP looks like the one who’s willing to give up their own selfish interest for the greater good. Smart.

Paul
Guest
In purely practical terms, I think the anonymous caller is right. Even if an opposition candidate could win, it would be a devastatingly pyric victory. Let sleeping Orbáns lie. Entirely OT – one of the reasons I haven’t been on HS much recently is that I was taken quite seriously ill whilst in Hungary (the other reason is that I have little to say!). As a result, I spent some time back under the tender mercies of the Hungarian health service. My previous experiences of Hungarian health care have ranged from OK to outright terrible, so this was something I was facing with some trepidation. But I needn’t have worried, my care was second to none. From the initial doctor’s conclusion that she wasn’t entirely sure what was wrong but she was worried and was sending me to hospital, to being given a barrage of tests, was unbelievably smooth and quick. The attention I got was at all times caring and friendly (with many staff speaking English), and there was very little of the traditional waiting in corridors. All in all, I was very impressed. It was at least up to the standard of the English NHS, if not better… Read more »
Logodi
Guest
Jano : I think this was a very cleverly devised step from Mesterházy. He knew LMP would outright refuse the offer. An LMP mayor would absolutely be exposed to either a Fidesz or MSZP dominated representative board (sitting duck in both cases) but he or she would have to be the one taking the fall for an innefficient governance. On the other hand now MSZP looks like the one who’s willing to give up their own selfish interest for the greater good. Smart. Tarlós is just there and he is waiting — until the casting show is over and all the media hype settles and then he can easily win. People respect calmness and firmness and (perceived) vision. With this lefty bunch, winning will be a piece of cake for Tarlós. This is not leadership on the left, people will not buy into that. They only see that MSZP is yet again wavering, has no vision or any plan. The left is splintered, is going against each other, it’s the usual lefty game (wirtschaft), trying to find candidates via personal ads. Ridiculous. People will vote for the corrupt but will not vote for the stupid. People can sometimes rationalize away… Read more »
Member

Monday Morning Quarterbacks

Yes, the opposition seems to be pretty gormless — but the pundits who keep harping on this seem to forget that the opposition has been up against a government that is incomparably worse than gormless: it is profoundly corrupt, utterly unscrupulous and has the power to subvert elections, property, pensions, the constitution, the judiciary, laws and the media. And it is doing all of this, and more, full tilt, with the approbation of a brainwashed (and likewise gormless) populace. Let the pundits recall that nowhere has a user’s manual been written for what an opposition should do under such conditions. Those who are closest to the truth are probably the ones who say that the opposition has no choice but to wait for the government to implode under its own iniquities and their ultimate consequences.

Member

Meanwhile, those who yearn for justice for Hungary should refrain from adding oil to the shameful fire with which Fidesz has fried the opposition, otherwise it’s just self-immolation.

An
Guest

@Paul: Glad you are feeling better. Welcome back.

Hungarian healthcare can be a hit-or-miss. Sometimes it’s pure luck, sometimes it’s who you know. Most Hungarians rely on an informal network of friends and if you get referred to a doctor through some kind of acquaintance, your care is more likely to be better. I don’t know if that was a factor in your case, or you were just lucky this time.

The problem is that you cannot trust that there is a persistent quality to the system.

Member

That said, Magisterdomum esse expulsum…

buddy
Guest

Paul :
in the NHS, you are very lucky to see any British doctors or staff.

Why would you be lucky to see British doctors or staff? Is there something wrong with non-British doctors?

Paul :
And there, in full sight of anyone walking by, was a man and a woman (neither old or particularly poor looking) methodically working through the bins to see what they could find.

Yes, I see this every day in Budapest.

oneill
Guest

Logodi,

“People respect calmness and firmness and (perceived) vision. With this lefty bunch, winning will be a piece of cake for Tarlós”

You obviously don’t live in Budapest.

Those who don’t consider Tarlos to be an homophobic, racist, Orban-poodle merely regard him as a pathetic, pompous, characterless moron. Even Fidesz/Jobbik make fun of him.

I would be tempted to let the idiot win while the fascist still runs the country- look at the example of Esztergom where the regime punished the whole town for daring to vote out the corrupt Fidesz scumbag of a mayor. We can wait for the day that both he and his master get their just reward for their crimes.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Paul I would not making sweeping judgments on the Health Service of any country only based on my personal experience.
So you believe that the Hungarian Health Service is better than the British. However, Hungarians flock to the UK and not vice versa. Looks like more than half a million Hungarians prefer to risk to be treated by the British, German or Austrian Health Services. And I have heard other stories about the Hungarian Health Service.

Back to the proposal that LMP name a mayor for Budapest. Having heard yesterday Bernadette Szél at Egyenes Beszéd, I had the impression that she is very interested in continuing Gyurcsánozás. Most of the disappointed in Fidesz-KDNP will – I am afraid – rather vote Jobbik than LMP. Hungary will go from bad to worse.

whoever
Guest

“I would be tempted to let the idiot win while the fascist still runs the country- look at the example of Esztergom where the regime punished the whole town for daring to vote out the corrupt Fidesz scumbag of a mayor. We can wait for the day that both he and his master get their just reward for their crimes.”

It would at least signal that Fidesz are not invincible, and it seems that in Hungary perception of the chances of victory and momentum are hugely important in determining the resolve and participation of people… it would also provide a chance to build up NGOs which would help the people most affected by the government on the ground – remember, this is not just a political game, despite how Fidesz play it! It would have symbolic, and international importance.

True Fidesznik. Or Not.
Guest
True Fidesznik. Or Not.
whoever : “I would be tempted to let the idiot win while the fascist still runs the country- look at the example of Esztergom where the regime punished the whole town for daring to vote out the corrupt Fidesz scumbag of a mayor. We can wait for the day that both he and his master get their just reward for their crimes.” It would at least signal that Fidesz are not invincible, and it seems that in Hungary perception of the chances of victory and momentum are hugely important in determining the resolve and participation of people… it would also provide a chance to build up NGOs which would help the people most affected by the government on the ground – remember, this is not just a political game, despite how Fidesz play it! It would have symbolic, and international importance. It would have a symbolic importance, for sure. But Esztergom is a great example not because Oneil says but because it just voted resoundingly for another Fidesz candidate (ie. despite Meggyes). The local democratic opposition candidate had no chance despite Meggyes. People, especially in rural places became quite pragmatists (i.e. those who are not hard core right-wingers like most… Read more »
googly
Guest
The problem with just letting Fidesz run things until the system implodes is that as long as Hungary is in the EU, the system will not implode, and as long as Orbán is alive, Fidesz will continue to make sure that it rigs the system to stay in power. Ask Belarusians if the waiting game works. In Venezuela, the opposition stood no chance until Chavez died, and now things might change. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe decided to destroy the country rather than give it to the opposition, and he is still in power. Don’t count on the EU to kick Hungary out, either, since Orbán is shrewd enough to keep from crossing their red lines, and Hungary just isn’t important enough to worry about for long. I’m convinced that resistance must continue whenever and wherever possible, just to show that Fidesz is not as strong as they seem. If they lose Budapest (and why wouldn’t they, look at how many districts they lost in the general election), it may just further alienate the city from the rest of the country, but it would buttress Szeged and Miskolc in their stubborn resistance. The sky didn’t fall in on Szeged, by the way,… Read more »
Guest

@Paul: Good to have you back, best wishes for your health!

We also know from experience how erratic the Hungarian health service can be …

OT:

Somehow I missed the number of female members of the new parliament – are there any at all? mayor (Mayoress?) for Budapest be a great idea – is there any chance for a candidate from the better sex?

csubakka
Guest
Most people seriously underestimate the resilience of various organizations, systems, regimes. Dictatorships, authoritarian systems are very resilient and will not collapse so easily as people think, or, rather, hope. Nether Iran will collapse even if the sanctions caused inflation, nor North-Korea will collapse, nor Russia even if oil production will decrease in about five years, nor Hungary even if it is dependent on the purchase of its debt by foreigners (as due to the never ending QE, there will always be buyers for its debt and foreigners will finance Orban till the end if the EU monies would not be enough to allow him to operate easily). Slobo Milosevic’ system did not collapse until Serbia was bombed in connection with Kosovo. People were OK with Berslusconi for 20 years, despite the decline. And the list goes on. A lot of people genuinely admired Hitler all over Europe (ie. in Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, not just in Hungary) in the thirties, it was not just a German phenomenon at all. People at times want to find somebody whom they can admire. This person is now Orban for about 35% of the Hungarian population. That is more than enough to give him… Read more »
oneill
Guest

“If he is healthy, he can stay as long as he wants, he will still stay when Merkel or Obama are long gone (but not Putin who will also stay, as the pros do it).”

The way the fascist’s girth is expanding perhaps a heart attack is not that far off.

Obviously no decent person on this blog would wish that (or even a bullet in the back of his head fore that matter) but it would, however, solve a lot of problems in the long run…

The rest of his regime are bullies, cowards and as in Tarlos’ case, idiots. Occasionally a mix of all three. Once their Fuhrer is gone, his regime will crumble.

petofi
Guest

@ oneill

“Once their Fuhrer is gone, his regime will crumble.”

You underestimate the ‘backers’–the boys behind the scenes, as well as foreign power support. Hungary is now ‘in the bag’, and the above forces will seek to keep it that way,
so they will find a suitable frontman when Orban is gone.

Guest

googly: “Don’t count on the EU to kick Hungary out, either, since Orbán is shrewd enough to keep from crossing their red lines, and Hungary just isn’t important enough to worry about for long.”

Maybe Hungary isn’t important enough, but dictatorship is. The people in EU countries that pay the bills will sooner or later want to quit a club that embraces dictators. The anti-EU feelings are already on the rise all over. The EU will fall apart if the dictator is not thrown out.

Member

OT: Can please someone explain the new move by MNB? I am not really sure why it means. (article in Hungarian) http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20140424_A_bankokkal_vetetnenek_allampapirt_Matolc

Member

There is a wonderful article about he March of the Living, the one Fidesz should be participating in versus their useless and divisive Peace March.
There are many relatives of the victims, and many relatives of the guilty who participated in the March. THey made peace with each other, they accepted each other, and the whole thing is just so nice. There are HUngarians who do take responsibility what their relives done, and does not try to put the blame, like Orban and his band does, on “outside” forces (idegenkezuseg). I think it is very important to note that there are Hungarians who do take responsibility, who do apologize.

Orban should listen to Simonyi Andrea, and the likes of Gries Andrea, not to crazies like Kerenyi, and Bayor and Balog.
http://nol.hu/belfold/nemet-bocsanatkerok-az-eroltetett-menet-utkovein-1458287

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