Will the MSZP congress elect a new chairman with a new strategy?

I haven’t written anything about the internal affairs of MSZP, Hungary’s socialist party, for ages, mostly because there has been nothing much to say about the party, especially nothing good. I did appreciate the party’s clever handling of the referendum scandal, which somewhat improved its standing. Bertalan Tóth’s efforts to acquire documentation regarding the spending of the Hungarian National Bank’s foundations also added to a rise in the popularity of MSZP, which according to the latest poll now surpasses that of Jobbik. However, a lot of people inside and outside the party have been dissatisfied with the current party chairman, József Tóbiás, under whose leadership the party has been languishing since July 2014. Soon MSZP will have the opportunity to elect a new chairman when it holds its biennial congress on June 25. Four people, including Tóbiás, will be vying for the position.

Already in February two people announced their intention to challenge József Tóbiás: Tibor Szanyi and Tamás Harangozó. Szanyi is viewed as the enfant terrible of the socialist party, someone who is obviously smart and well educated but who often finds himself in impossible situations of his own making. Perhaps because of his cantankerous disposition he ended up as MSZP representative to the European Parliament in 2014. Szanyi has been preaching for years that the problem with MSZP is that it is not really a leftist party. When he talks about the left, Szanyi thinks of a socialist party of yesteryear. This is not the first time that Szanyi has tried to capture the chairmanship. In 2014 he lost out to Tóbiás. I suspect that he will not be any more successful this time around.

Tamás Harangozó is currently deputy whip of the socialist caucus in the Hungarian parliament. He has relatively little political experience, but he appears a lot in public, representing the views of his party. These frequent public appearances may have something to do with the fact that he completed “communication training at the Dale Carnegie Strategic Workshop.” Harangozó is one of the young Turks Attila Mesterházy recruited with a view to changing the image of the party as a collection of old-timers who, in his opinion, were responsible for the decline of the party. As a result, the most experienced people in the party were forced out of leading positions. Real greenhorns took their place and also appeared on the party list for parliamentary seats. I don’t give Harangozó much of a chance of winning this race.

A latecomer to the contest is Gyula Molnár. Unlike Harangozó, Molnár is an old-timer. He started his political career immediately after the regime change as deputy mayor of District XI (Újbuda). From 1994 to 2010 he was a member of parliament. In 2002 he became mayor of District XI, where he was reelected in 2006. Most likely he would have won again in 2010 if Viktor Orbán’s favorite prosecutor hadn’t charged him and his SZDSZ deputy with fraud a few days before the election. It took him five years to clear his name. While he was under a cloud he remained outside of politics, but a few months ago he decided to run for the party’s chairmanship.

Source: Népszava / Photo József Vajda

Gyula Molnár / Source: Népszava / Photo József Vajda

Molnár announced his candidacy in an interview he gave to ATV’s Start program in early April. Since then he has outlined his program which, in my opinion, is a step in the right direction. Instead of Tóbiás’s totally unrealistic idea that MSZP will win the election running separately from other opposition parties, Molnár stands for “peace within the family.” What does he mean by this? If I understand him correctly, he considers the ideological differences among MSZP, DK, PM, and Együtt so minimal that they all belong to the same ideological “family.” He would open channels of communication with the other members of the “family” while also approaching the very active civic groups and the trade unions. In an interview with Népszabadság a few days ago Molnár claimed, I think correctly, that the real action is on the streets, not in parliament. Finally, Molnár indicated that he would like to build bridges to liberal intellectuals and professionals whose services are of vital importance to any political group. One problem with Fidesz is that the party lacks talented professionals who can assist the work of the government.

According to the latest survey, Molnár has a good chance of getting the most votes at the congress. The congress is made up of 290 elected delegates from Budapest and nineteen counties in addition to seventy ex officio delegates. At the moment it looks as if most county delegates in addition to the huge Budapest delegation of 63 men and women support Molnár. But this projection is tentative. It all depends on how dissatisfied the delegates are with the status quo. If the reformers are in the majority, Molnár will be the winner.

This morning Népszava published an article about Molnár after he had a conversation with one of the newspaper’s journalists. During the conversation he said: “We believe in the openness of Ferenc Deák, the humanity of Árpád Göncz, and the pragmatism of Gyula Horn.” I find this statement significant. You may recall an old post of mine about prominent MSZP politicians, 22 in all, who established the Ferenc Deák Circle right before the 2014 party congress. They feared that under Tóbiás’s leadership the party would not choose the best path. Ildikó Lendvai, one of the leaders of the group, wrote in a post on Facebook that the political dividing line is no longer between left and right. “Today in Hungary that line is between openness toward Europe and inwardness, between progress and boorish conservatism.” She wrote that there are impressive politicians on the left, outside of MSZP, and said that Ferenc Gyurcsány’s party is here to stay, “whether we like it or not.” MSZP “must make peace with them and cooperate.” The group’s choice of the name “Ferenc Deák” was significant because Deák was the architect of the famous Compromise of 1867, which was one of the wisest political moves in modern Hungarian history. Molnár is ready for a compromise. Equally important is the mention of Árpád Göncz, who before his election to the presidency was a liberal politician. Surely, Molnár is ready to embrace the liberals as well to form a united opposition against Viktor Orbán and Fidesz. And Gyula Horn was MSZP’s most successful politician and, according to many commentators, the best Hungarian prime minister since 1990.

I’m glad that Molnár has returned to politics despite having been dragged through the mud by Fidesz.

May 17, 2016
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Guest

Hi Eva!

Is that a picture of Molnár?

Guest

London Calling!

If Molnár wins with a reformer mandate – and he can rally all the opposition parties into his ‘family’ – then he ought to persuade them to stand for elections, then boycott the ‘Parliament’ by not taking their seats.

In a no-opposition-party-can-win situation, it will be the strongest message to show what a farce democracy in Hungary is.

It can then open negotiations for proper representation of the people.

Open and fair elections with a proper debating chamber with a first task of bringing in parallel laws that enable the re-drawing of the constitution.

If Molnár is just same old same old – then it’s more years of Hungary in the wilderness.

ambator
Member

A couple of weeks ago I have spent an hour alone with Molnar, talking about politics. He made it clear to me that in case he becomes the chairman, he is advocating a compromise with Fidesz, instead of pushing for the calling to accounts. He is an immensely likable fellow, but I emphatically disagree with him on that point. Not that it would matter at all.

Guest

Oh dear!

You would have thought that having been stitched up for many years clearing your name you would be a raging bull – against the perpetrators.

I wrote my optimistic post above in that vein.

A ‘compromise’ position is outrageous and it will just be the same old same old.

Wolfi (and wife!) is right – where are the blazing young guns?

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Hungary ……(sigh…)

Observer
Guest
@eva “Because this position can be even supported if one follows the argument Tölgyessy ” I beg to differ on the compromise position because: 1. The political environment is very tense, the (active) downtrodden are calling for blood. I’ll bet money that no compromise/ wishy washi position will win votes to start with. I also challenge anyone to demonstrate a support for such position, bar some intellectuals of the democratic side, who confuse moral desiderata with politics. 2. Such compromise will also reinforce the “they are all the same” notion that will reduce participation and benefit Fidesz. 3. The orban mafia will fight tooth and nail, regardless of what the opposition says. They know their crimes best and will never trust any negotiated compromise as they wouldn’t keep any themselves. 4. Compromise with some Fidesz backbenchers and voters theoretically may be possible post elections, but not with the orban mafia. As “szöke” noted here, Orban will triple cross anyone anytime while hard at undermining the government, as he’s always done. 5. Ignoring or even passing lightly over political and corruption crimes so outrageous and massive will be a big default in serving justice. Such a gaping hole in the rule… Read more »
pozsonyi
Guest
Compromise as the Hungarian left-wing imagines it is simply surrender. Even back in 2010, Szigetvári and former people close to Bajnai advocated a grand bargain. The easy way (they hoped) to get back to power. It’s also easy, because they don’t give up anything (as they lack any real vision about anything). The leftists simply don’t want to work hard and think it’s better to give in to Fidesz if – after all – Fidesz is so aggressive, an if the people apparently so much love Orban (not true, but the leftists think Orban is popular because they themselves are not). Let them have it (the stolen money, the continued influence, the buildings and statues etc.) , we will build a better health care system, education and whatnot and people want that. Let such outdated things as ideology be the plaything of the conservatives, we are so post-ideology, so progressive that we just want to govern. This line of thinking implies that the leftists haven’t learnt a thing in the last 25 years and haven’t comprehended the political changes of the last 3-4 years especially (the so-called populist movement, whether on the right or o the left). Pathetic. This bunch… Read more »
Guest

Another troll who only sees only the ‘left’ as the opposition.

The non-Fidesz politicians represent a spectrum of all political shades.

When you talk about ‘the left ‘ – meaning anyone but Fidesz and Jobbik you show your naivete about politics – even in Hungary.

Naïve naïve naïve.

You don’t understand democracy, because you’ve never had it.

Geddit?

You’ll have to try a little harder with a little more intelligence.

Bye pozsonyi – your ignorance shows. From Bratislava are we? One of Orban’s purchased voters are we?

Clear off.

pozsonyi
Guest

Are you really paranoid about trolls or are you unable to face the state of mind of many Hungarian leftist , left-leaning, left of center politicians?

Btw please tell me what the proper English term for being baloldali should be and I will use that.

Guest

“The leftists simply don’t want to work hard and think it’s better to give in to Fidesz….

Your evidence for this piece of typical troll wisdom?

Oh omniscient one.

Don’t bother answering – there is none.

Guest

Just so you know – as others do on here.

I may write from London – but I visit Hungary often and have a home there .

I also know what many Hungarians think.

pozsonyi
Guest

It’s provocative, sure, but once you eliminate all the other possible options, what remains, however unlikely or offending, must be the truth.

It is a general complaint of non-pro-Fidesz people in Hungary that the left-wing does not like public actions similar those Orban organized during his time in opposition. For example if it turned out that Andras Simor (who was the hated offshore knight centra bank governor) spent 260 billions forints then Fidesz would have literally burnt down the central bank building, maybe even Budapest. But for sure it would have organized a huge anti-government, anti-corruption rally (it had the infrastructure to pull in 100,000 people at a whim). Fideszniks had a show for every day. Yet, the left-wing parties did nothing similar. Why is this so? Because it’s quite inconvenient to stage those events, rallies, stunts week after week.

The constant wish to be bipartizan and desire to enter into terrible compromises are perennial and well-documented problems for the Hungarian Left too. Why are you so upset? Be more critical about the Hungarian left-wing , especially if you like it because in this stage it is unlikely to win in 2018.

Guest

You clearly don’t live and work in Hungary.

pozsonyi
Guest

This is ridiculous, I am a native Hungarian living in Budapest. Deal with it.

Observer
Guest

Orban will be defeated by his greed, arrogance, ceaseless lying and gross mismanagement.
He is not so popular, he’s already sliding down (see the electoral votes down trend).

petofi
Guest

What nonsense!

“He is not so popular…”–So? Who cares. The Hungnarian ‘democractic’ system precudes the importance of OBJECTIVE elections. There will be none, especially since Fidesz/Orban control a million votes from Romania and Szerbia.

There is only one person to end Orban–Pyutin.
Once you realize that you’ll know the true state of affairs in
Magya-land!

Guest

Imho MSZP is a hopeless case!
Just look at Molnár’s picture – these old men are all the same …
A compromise with the mafia aka Fidesz?
Ridiculous!
Why don’tthey all go home, drink their wine and pálinka, eat their szalonná and let the next generation take over …

Seems Hungary is a lost (nut)case – my wife says the same btw!
After she’s been with me in Germany many months, all over Europe and the USA on holiday and has seen the modern world of today 🙂

Szőke
Guest

While Deak was a great strategist, this certainly cannot be said about MSZPniks.

God save Hungary from any kind of MSZP grand bargain/compromise with Fidesz. (It’s not a suprise that Fidesz would like to have MSZP as its adversary).

If history is any guide Fidesz will triple-cross the morally corrupt MSZPniks.

I mean this in the sense that MSZPniks don’t have any discernible ideological principles, but they are always too happy to wheel and deal for some upside especially as dogged, disciplined fighting would be way too tiresome.

MSZP and the left-wing only have a chance if they get tough and act tough and relentless.

The voters are upset and want clear action against Fidesz.

Whishy-washy leftists who will never be able to govern successfully or make Hungary better.

Guest
Re: ‘MSZP and the left-wing only have a chance if they get tough and act tough and relentless. The voters are upset and want clear action against Fidesz’ After all is said and done I’d think nobody is going nowhere no how in Magyarorszag until some new manifestations of communication, intelligent persuasion, grounded principles and oh last but not least ethically minded thinking manages to pervade the stinking air of historical and present day Magyar ‘revenge’ politics. It is only then the country can get started to pull itself out of the morass it is in. The corrupt have won the battle so far. It will be no Balatoni picnic to throw the bums out. They know how to man the ramparts. And finally there’s an adage which I’m sure our sports-minded here know about and that’s when you get pretty injured the takeaway is ‘no pain no gain’. With that to heal, to get better necessitates the activity of being prepared to suffer. Not sure if the electorate who want Fidesz out see things that way. Back in ’56 some wanted change. They got it alright in spades. And they suffered with absolutely no recompense. Question of today is… Read more »
pozsonyi
Guest

if and when a normal pro-Western conservative party emerges such a compromise can be made. I honestly think that any constellation of parties (including Jobbik and potentially new parties), but without Fidesz, can reach a compromise of some sort.

But at this point, when Orban already erected the pillars of the his system (with his friends, family entrenched into important positions literally for decades), after so much – in fact unprecedented – corruption, incompetence and arrogance, compromise cannot be an option.

A politician from the opposition must be insane to start to campaign by offering “bi-partizanship” and embracing Orban in the name of love of whatever, after all these 6 years. Nobody in their right mind can think that this is what will bring opposition voters to the booth.

Reward Orban for being the most corrupt tyrant in CEE? Just insane.

Guest

Prior to implementing strategy it just might be worth it for those among intelligent and thoughtful people in the land of ‘Opp’ to sit down and take a little time to mull over these lines by the great Bard-psychologist of the human condition:

‘Our country sinks beneath the yoke
It weeps, it bleeds and each new day a gash
Is added to her wounds’….. Macbeth

And to remember that when Magyar leaders get photo ops with main-man Vlad or any other illiberalists of the day:

‘Tis time to fear when tyrants seem to ‘kiss’… Pericles

Now for some reason those ‘barats’ know how to stick together. If only the ‘bal’ ones could pick up something from Dale Carnegie’s ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’….;-)…

Member

I like old William.

Guest

Sometimes we (my wife, her family and me as a bloody EU-foreigner … 🙂 ) think that even Jobbik is doing a better job as an opposition – though of course we have nothing in common with them!

Today I found again the Jobbik paper Hazai Pálya in my letter box – with a “nice” picture of O and M (in the background the Felcsut stadium and the castle) and the song:

Aranyesö a szép kis házra
Aranyesö a családomra …

Member

OT: KNDP Gyorgy Rubovszky, MP, KDNP, Chairman of the Justice Committee caught on camera advising and other Fidesz MP that Janos Ader cannot be reelected as the President, since “Viktor does not allow it”.
http://hirtv.hu/ahirtvhirei/a-viktor-nem-engedi-meg-hogy-adert-ujravalasszak-1342753

tappanch
Guest
How much is the Hungarian debt? Eurostat does not know it either. The Hungarian state did not include the debt of the state-owned Eximbank in the published numbers, the European statistical office does not accept this. http://www.portfolio.hu/gazdasag/igy_osztottak_ki_magyarorszagnak_a_meretes_fekete_pontot.2.232000.html How much are we talking about? I did not find the 2015 numbers. The latest audited report on their website is from 2014 . The gross debt was about 1.8 [1.2] on the balance sheet, plus of 2.3 [0.9] liabilities “outside the balance sheet”, which gives a total of 4.1 [2.1] billion euros on December 31, 2014 [2013]. (provided I interpret the audit report right) So the Hungarian government concealed billions of euros of national debt in Eximbank. Let us remember the official GROSS debt numbers as of March 31, 2016 [2013] (using the official exchange rate on the same day) 81.083 [71.286] (central government, as calculated by AKK) 109.700 [81.382](central government, as calculated by MNB) not yet published [76.774] (total government, as calculated by AKK), “Maastricht” 83.493 [76.700] (total government, as calculated by MNB), “consolidated” 110.035 [85.168] (total government, as calculated by MNB) The value of the 2015 full year GDP was 107.308 billion euros at the March 31, 2016 exchange rate.… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

But do not forget, the forint-denominated PART of debt will fall in euros if the forint is devalued.

Observer
Guest

Thanks for pointing to another instance of cheating by the Orban regime, namely the exclusion of the Eximbank’s negative balance from the Gov accounts.

Since Eurostat won’t swallow this one, it seems, the GGDebt will come somewhat larger than the published 25 473 billion Forints for Q1.

Lies, damn lies, Orban

Istvan
Guest

Related to our discussion of yesterday: According to Péter Szijjártó former President Clinton’s statement relating to Hungary made earlier this month was due to the influence George Soros has always had with him and his wife.

Ah yes, we now can see all the threads come together, Ambassador Ball gives a critical speech at CEU, and Clinton issues a critical statement with Soros behind it all. See http://nol.hu/belfold/szijjarto-szerint-clinton-mogott-is-soros-all-1616057

Does this mean that Péter Szijjártó is endorsing Trump for President of the USA?

Observer
Guest

See, this is the “Clandestine Power” (háttérhatalom) Orban and his little fascists refer to. They (we know who) control everything – from the CE University and “the NeoLiberal educations system” (which Fidesz/Lanczy/Matolcsy are going to bust) to the Syrian terrorists, the Clintons and the droughts and global warming. All these conspiracies are hatched to undermine the triumphal march of the Magyar nation led by it’s Für.. sorry, Orban.

Szijjártó obviously has learned to tie his fashion shoes faster, so now he has time to make statements to everyone’s chagrin.

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