New MSZP leadership: A breath of fresh air

Those who two weeks ago insisted that nothing would change in the Hungarian Socialist Party after the election of a new/old set of officers were wrong. Despite the fact that some of the newly elected socialist politicians are old-timers, the ideas and strategies that are emerging are refreshingly new. Instead of the indecision that the Tóbiás-led party exhibited in the last two years, Gyula Molnár and his crew are resolutely and unambiguously opposing  the politics of the governing parties. Judging from the reaction of Fidesz and its media, they must be on the right track.

József Tóbiás and his team were reluctant to handle politically difficult issues. Let me recall here four such sensitive matters that are now being treated very differently.

The first is voting rights for those recent Hungarian citizens who live in the neighboring countries. MSZP, fearing that their popularity, which is terribly low in the Hungarian diaspora, would suffer further if they came out against the government position, refused to take a stand on the issue. Molnár, by contrast, has given a definitive answer: ethnic Hungarians can receive Hungarian citizenship but not voting rights. At last MSZP is joining the other opposition parties on this issue.

The second matter is how to respond to the government’s referendum on “compulsory quotas.” From the start all the other major opposition parties (save Jobbik of course) suggested boycotting the referendum. Although the “no’s” will obviously win, for the referendum to be valid at least half of the eligible electorate must vote. The opposition shouldn’t assist Fidesz by encouraging voter participation. The Tóbiás leadership, again worrying about the party’s popularity, hesitated to endorse the boycott. Now MSZP is joining the others in opposition to the referendum. The slogan is: “Stay at home, stay in Europe!”

Third, Molnár said that although “the security of Hungarians” is of the utmost importance, they “would take the fence down” once they have the opportunity. I don’t know whether Molnár discussed this matter with his close ally, István Hiller, chairman of the party’s board, who a few months ago declared that although he hates the fence, he cannot come up with anything better.

And finally, Molnár doesn’t seem to be afraid to handle a hot potato, gay marriage and adoption rights, which the earlier leadership judiciously avoided. MSZP is joining the other opposition parties in expressing its support for people who are being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

Gyula Molnár with Attila Mesterházy, former chairman, announce the boycott of the referendum

Gyula Molnár with Attila Mesterházy, former chairman, announce MSZP’s boycott of the referendum

Fidesz hasn’t gotten around to attacking MSZP’s new leadership on all of these issues, but fear not, they will. Right now they are concentrating on MSZP’s endorsement of the boycott which, judging from the pro-government media’s reaction, is a real blow to the Orbán government.

On Saturday Molnár announced in a Facebook note that the party will organize a “Free Europe Day” on October 2, the day of the referendum. “On that day we should remember our parents and grandparents who at home, in secret, were listening to Radio Free Europe, which helped loosen the bonds of an oppressive regime and acquainted the citizens of our homeland with the idea of our common Europe.” MSZP doesn’t want to monopolize the event. It’s inviting everybody who wants to join. Although the other opposition parties haven’t had time yet to discuss the idea, I’m fairly certain that most of them will join, with the possible exception of LMP. Its spokesman already announced that although LMP wants Hungary to remain in the EU, “the problem of migration must be solved first.” The referendum, he said, is no answer, but MSZP and the other democratic parties aren’t offering a better solution.

Gergely Gulyás, deputy chairman of Fidesz and deputy speaker of parliament responsible for legislation, was the first party leader to respond to Molnár’s call for a Free Europe Day on October 2. In his opinion, MSZP’s call for a boycott illustrates the party’s “irresponsibility” because the referendum “gives the government the strongest instrument to avoid the compulsory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary.” For good measure, Gulyás added that Gyula Molnár was elected chairman of “the corrupt heir to the party that had jailed listeners of Radio Free Europe” during the Kádár regime.

Magyar Idők finds MSZP’s call for a boycott truly outrageous, especially since it came right after the European Parliament voted, with the support of the MSZP, DK, Együtt, and LMP members, in favor of stiff fines on those governments that refuse to allow refugees to settle in their countries. Anyone, the paper continued, who until now has hesitated should be sure to vote and vote with a resounding “no.”

Dániel Deák, one of the analysts of the pro-government Nézőpont Intézet, predicted today in an interview at MTV’s M1 that with the election of Gyula Molnár cooperation among the parties of the political left is assured because of the similarities of political ideas and strategies that now exist between MSZP, DK, and the other smaller parties. He interprets Molnár’s announcement of the boycott as the party’s acceptance of the idea of settling a certain number of refugees in Hungary, which until now only DK and Együtt had supported. In his opinion the MSZP chairman is preparing cooperation with DK, and “in the next two years the two parties might even unite.”

Understandably, Molnár has his critics within MSZP. László Botka, mayor of Szeged and until two weeks ago chairman of the board, was massively rejected by the delegates in his bid for reelection. They opted for István Hiller, minister of education (2010-2014) and earlier chairman of MSZP, who helped the party win the election in 2006. From an interview Botka gave to Index it is evident that he feels betrayed and a victim of some behind-the-scenes conspiracy. He really wanted to remain in his post because, according to the new by-laws, the board has some important new functions. He would have been able to influence the party’s strategy for the election campaign that would have involved decisions concerning partnerships with other parties. It is possible that this is exactly why an overwhelming majority didn’t want Botka to head the board. He most likely would have been vehemently opposed to any kind of understanding with DK. Right now he is “following such steps with growing concern.” Naturally, he is no friend of Gyula Molnár, whom he considers to be “behind the times” because “he was not part of everyday politicking in the last six or seven years.” He is hoping that Molnár “during the summer can figure out what strategy he will follow.” If he chooses a strategy different from Botka’s own, then, Botka said, he will keep fingers crossed for the party in Szeged. I suspect that Botka will not be involved in MSZP national politics for the foreseeable future. And, as opposed to Botka, I believe that Molnár has already figured out his strategy.

July 11, 2016
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Roderick Beck
Guest

We could use some fresh air … and hope ….

Joe Simon
Guest

Breath of fresh air? The MSZP is dead duck. Hungary does need a united opposition, but they are all fragmented. Right now, no credible alternative to Viktor Orban.

Observer
Guest

@Joe Troll

Not now, not ever has Orban been credible in anything , but cheating and stealing.
Anyone is a good alternative compared to this low life criminal gang emaciating Hungary.

Rozsa
Guest

Why is Joe Simon a troll?

He was not supportive of Orban and I completely agree with his posting

He may be a FIDESZ supporter or he may hate FIDESZ – his own political opinion was not stated nor was it relevant.

A viable Center Left party is desperately needed in Hungary – until then, get used to the fact that FIDESZ has no opposition.

If “anyone ” was a good alternative to Orban than FIDESZ may not have won the second time around.

Observer
Guest

@rozsa
Pls note the pretty standard trick used by the “smarter” trolls: they start seemingly in agreement and always end with fidesz support line, ie we looked objectively and Orban us winning…. (the last experience is the dominant in memory acc to psychology)
Fidesz, similarly to MSZMP earlier, does have significant opposition and has been doing everything to stifle or eradicate it. How viable, credible or even known was the opposition in 1989?
The elections in 2014 we’re already heavily rigged, they we’re not fair and not completely free, think media, deception and lies, money, gerimandering, public work used as leverage, trumped up criminal charges, etc.
All it takes is to support you preferred Democratic party. So it is Anyone but Orban.

Member

Based on the other response you made, you are a Ceausescu propagandist. Hungarians are still the majority in the Carpathian Basin and the Vlachs are the invaders. Dacia was a very small mining territory during the Romans. It lasted only 150 years and it was much smaller than Transylvania. The Roman people did not stay behind. The Vlachs originated from north of Greece, and from the gypsies who call themselves ‘Roma’. Romania was created in 1864. 2000 year old “Romanian Kingdom”? ROFL What was it’s name? List of rulers? Any maps?

Rozsa
Guest

You are absolutely right – I did not get the impression you were a FIDESZ supporter, I got the impression you were stating facts which means that whatever party you support is irrelevant

Guest

Rozsa, Joe has a long history of trolling here – watch out!

He is just one of those (appearing under different names …) whining day and night “The opposition has no chance against glorious Viktor!”

Guest

London Calling!

So – some opposition factions are discovering the power of the ‘unity’ boycott?

Alleluya!

And MSzP may unite with DK?

Wonders will never cease!

There seems to be peace breaking out in the opposition parties and a dawning of common sense sun-rising. Maybe they will begin to fathom out that the next step might mean you have to make a pact with the devil – supping with a long spoon – to finally oust Viktorlae Orbanescu. Yes – even with Jobbik.

Gy answered my question in the negative – but Jobbik has to share the same tent against their ideological will too.

Politics is nothing if not a pragmatic compromise.

However before MSzP can go anywhere it has to purge itself of all the detritus of collusion with Fidesz.

Mesterházy has to go – and any one else who has taken Orban’s shilling – and their funding and accounts must be completely open and transparent.

The ‘statement’ photograph with Molnár and Mesterházy together doesn’t augur well.

LMP?

LMP will just peter out eventually.

Guest

Re: ‘Politics is nothing if not a pragmatic compromise’

That is true. And it would seem the left is not getting enough recompense for it if that is the game they are playing. Each political administration in power is a combination of strength and weaknesses. One has to ask when will the Fideszian mantra against the ‘failings’ of the left show its age? How long can that broken record keep singing? The left needs a tune to play by. They may not have the problem if they can get some ‘Lennon-McCartneys’ to drown out the old Fideszian ditties. Right now it’s like ‘Sing Along With Viktor’…. Yeah Yeah Yeah. Magyarorszag sure has had some ‘hard days nights’ in these times.

Guest

At the moment it’s ‘Back in the USSR’! – (You don’t know how lucky you are boys.)

Guest

As kis Viktor enekels…;-)….I know that for some here Viktor is always ‘winning’. Perhaps deep down he believes Vlad is too as a result of the political calculus results the old boy comes to when assessing East-West dynamics. If Europe is the scary monster now perhaps the Magyar assessment is that the Russian lap is really the place to be in the long run. Everything nice and safe under the Russian boot once again. Russia…they come in spiffy new shoes nowadays with a new story but they still sniff that door the same way always trying to get that nose in anyway they can.

Guest

Rather OT:

Our German magazine SPIEGEL has another scathing report on Hungary, this time on the well known Roma “boss” Flórián Farkas who seems to have disappeared several months ago. He didn’t appear in parliament where he should have answered questions about the EU money that disappeared too ???

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/roma-eu-foerderung-fliesst-an-korrupte-politiker-a-1102365.html

Sorry, just realised the article is behind the new paywall …

pamplona
Guest
In the whole of Europe, Hungarians are afraid of the migrants the most. They are actually terrified. 76% of the Hungarians are afraid that Islamic migrants will carry out terrorist attacks in Hungary and 82% are afraid that the immigrants will take away their jobs. The government propaganda works. Arpi Habony is worth every billion forints he steals. TV2 and the rest of the media hasn’t even started to restructure themselves, after Andy Vajna and Arpi took them over. Lokal, the new pro-Fidesz free gossip and celebrity weekly is popular, people read them on the subway. The lock on the minds will only increase. Fidesz will win in 2018 because it owns the minds of Hungarians. They may be a bit angry here and there but just as Putin won over the Russian voters, Orban will too. The liberals are goners. They thought media doesn’t matter. Now it’s too late. MSZP can do whatever it wants but nobody will care and know about it. MSZP has no media, and so it will lose. Sorry, Orban was smarter. He thought media was important and prepared for this 20 year ago. Maybe MSZP will have a chance in 20 years from now.… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Pamplona,

what a can of worms you’ve opened up!

–‘take away their jobs’….yeah, who’d want their underpaid jobs…?

–‘it owns the minds’….not much to own, is it?

–‘Orban was smarter’…than what? an amoeba? No, Orban just followed direction from the home office.

–‘MSZP will have a chance in 20 years’…it don’t matter; no difference.

Guest

Are you telling us that Hungarians are the dumbest people in Europe?

OK, if that’s the case – then good bye Hungary! Get out of the EU and into Putin’s Eurasian Union – it won’t be good for the regular people but nice for the Oligarchs and the Fidesz Nomenklatura.

Back to the good old days of Kadar – or was it Horthy?

Seems like Hungarians are just not ready for democracy – if we believe you and the other trolls appearing again …

Observer
Guest

@wolfi
Not the dumbest (statistically not very well educated/informed) , but with the deepest complexes. 1930d PM Pal Teleki reportedly used to say that one can plough the Hungarian’s back as long as the plough is “national”. Orban is screwing the Hungarians, but it’s a “national” rape and pillage…
well, on second thoughts about this dumb thing…

PALIKA
Guest
The problem is difficult to resolve for Hungary. The immediate cause of where we are now is that the outgoing Bajnai government and its parties were wiped out in 2010. They did not just lose an election. It was this that opened the door to the Fidesz rule with an absolute majority. The election result was not a Fidesz plot. The election was run under the old and respected rules. Ok, they probably had some bad luck. They had an uphill struggle to get away from the public perception that the speech of Oszod was an admission by the PM of the MSZP’s unacceptable conduct of public affairs. The result was the opening of the door to the changes that enabled Fidesz to entrench its authority over Hungarian society. What Fidesz refused to do is to exercise any or any reasonable self restraint. And that is where we are now. Who leads the opposition hardly matters. What does matter is whether the forces opposed to OV are able to work out a workable strategy to unseat him and his odious oligarchs. No small task. Maybe it will not succeed in 2018 or not even in 2022. We do not know… Read more »
Guest

‘Re: ‘Seems like Hungarians are just not ready for democracy’

Let’s hope that platitude gets dumped in the dust bin. ‘Democracy’ in the country exists unfortunately under real bad management in the country. If the country was a corporation probably most would be fired for incompetence in their duties and responsibilities. The fix here revolves around people with integrity and beliefs who truly understand the democratic notion and can execute its ideas. Viktor and his boys at bottom are ‘farmers who till the land’. Problem is they know not a thing about irrigation. But it could even go deeper. They just don’t care. They use their own almanac.

Observer
Guest

Fidesz organized the Öszöd speech campaign, the 2006 riots and the Gyurcsány character assassination (while MSZP notables we’re looking on). The 2008/9 crisis was the second factor, inept and half hearted counter propaganda the third. The rest is fidesz fables and straight lies. See A 2006. Ősz by J. Debreceni .

petofi
Guest

No, MSZP notables were not just ‘looking on’–they were instrumental in hanging Gyurcsany out to dry. Bu the fascinating thing is this: when I heard what he said on radio, my immediate take on it was that you could trust this man now, even if you couldn’t before because no shyster would confess to a wrong before being found out. Simple as that. I was astounded when Orban succeeded in making the peewee-brained Hungarians turn everything on its head!

PALIKA
Guest

The country is not about Gyurcsany. In political power terms he failed. He should retire to write his biography and/or adventure stories.
The party should have thrown him out for total failure of judgement. They also lacked judgement because they, as you often find in politics, think that loyalty to a poor leader should override their good sense.

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