MSZP steps up to support László Botka without talking to the other parties

I’m amazed at the ineptitude of most of the politicians in the Hungarian opposition parties. They simply don’t know what should and what should not be said. I’m afraid that László Botka’s surprise announcement of his willingness to lead an election campaign, which I greeted enthusiastically, will lead nowhere because of the mistakes he and his party made within the short span of 24 hours.

Let’s start with the interview itself, to which I didn’t have access two days ago when I wrote about the Botka phenomenon. I had to rely on summaries. Now I have the full text. Botka stressed that he considers the closest cooperation among the democratic parties to be the cornerstone of victory. That means that he, as a long-time leading member of MSZP, must convince the other parties to join the common cause. But if this is the case, why did he feel it necessary to include the following sentences? “I have a better opinion of Ferenc Gyurcsány than the average Hungarian citizen. The numbers show that a good two-thirds of the electorate wouldn’t vote for a party list on which his name appears.” This is not an auspicious start toward forging a united front against the Orbán government.

Let’s take a look at the poll to which Botka was referring. Apparently, one of the smaller opposition parties commissioned it for their internal use. The party wanted to assess the attitude of the electorate toward a common list that included Gyurcsány’s name. If you take a look at the results as they appeared in 168 Óra, you will find that the numbers Botka is quoting include Fidesz, LMP and Jobbik voters, who wouldn’t vote for a list put together by MSZP, DK, Párbeszéd, Együtt, etc. in the first place. Not terribly surprisingly, 86% of Fidesz, 89% of Jobbik, and 79% of LMP voters wouldn’t want anything to do with the democratic opposition’s common list. These people are not the democratic opposition’s potential voters. The numbers that are relevant are the MSZP, DK, and undecided voters. Naturally, 91% of DK voters would vote for a common list that included their party chief. Even the majority (62%) of MSZP voters aren’t allergic to the former prime minister. And most importantly, the undecided voters are split almost down the middle on the issue. Surely, headlines like “No Gyurcsány even against Orbán” are misleading. And Botka’s reliance on the overall poll number is regrettable.

MSZP made the second mistake today. Botka’s conditions for being a candidate for prime minister were addressed to the leaders of all the democratic parties. Not just to MSZP. Yet the party, without consulting with the others, made an official announcement saying that they accept Botka’s conditions because “in the last six months the party in its negotiations with the other opposition parties represented exactly the ideas that László Botka put forth.” Therefore, “MSZP supports him as the candidate for the post of common prime minister of the democratic opposition.”

Not surprisingly, DK is not thrilled. The official reason for their dissatisfaction is that, until now, MSZP supported the idea of selecting both the candidate for the post of prime minister and the 106 individuals who would run in each electoral district through primaries. MSZP’s unilateral support for Botka goes against the party’s position during the negotiations. Otherwise, Zsolt Gréczy, spokesman of DK, announced that his party is ready to give up the idea of primaries because, after all, at earlier by-elections opposition candidates won handily without any newfangled selection process. They are, however, waiting for MSZP’s “final suggestion on the method of choosing a candidate for the post of prime minister” before they announce their reaction to these new developments. Gréczy said nothing about Botka’s implicit demand to remove Gyurcsány’s name from the joint party list, but there is no question that the DK leadership will never agree to such a condition.

The Orbán media is making the most of Botka’s unfortunate remarks. Magyar Idők’s headline trumpets that “according to Botka, the left cannot win with Gyurcsány.”

The paper is also piling abuse on László Botka as a politician. Apparently, one of the leading socialist politicians told the paper that “Botka should stay in Szeged” because he is a “disagreeable fellow” who has only demands while he waits for others to do the work. Other socialists pointed out that “creating a joint list without Gyurcsány is impossible.”

888.hu is busily publishing article after article about Botka, saying that his popularity in Szeged is waning because of his “support” of the “migrants.” He is described as someone who would love to see thousands and thousands of migrants because when the refugees arrived in Szeged during the summer of 2015, he dared to say that “they didn’t disturb the inhabitants of the city at all.” His sin was that he behaved humanely when thousands were stranded at the Szeged railroad stations.

Soon enough Botka will find himself in Gyurcsány’s shoes

I suspect that Viktor Orbán is not happy with the appearance of László Botka as a possible leader of the opposition, and therefore the pro-government media is already hard at work trying to discredit him. It would be time to close ranks on the left, to iron out the differences in a great hurry. That will mean compromise on Botka’s part as well.

December 23, 2016
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Erwin27
Guest

Do you know anything why Olga Kálmán quit ATV’s”Egyenes Beszéd and went over to Simicska;s Hír TV?

Reality Check
Guest
Member
The democratic opposition really does seem to have a knack for botching things, though in fairness it has to be remembered that they are working at a huge media and monetary disadvantage (not to mention the Polt-Orban legalistic chicanery). Botka may have his heart in the right place but he lacks the depth and insight to detect and root out the influence of the odious Orbanian vilification campaign against Gyurcsany that has clearly penetrated Botka’s psyche too (just as Trump’s nefarious innuendos against Hilary Clinton wrought their poison not just on the deplorables but on decent democrats too). It seems that almost everyone is susceptible to negative propaganda; only the few who are really thinking and paying attention are immune to it. I admire Gyurcsany most for the fact that Orban’s foul and relentless hate campaign against him neither intimidated nor embittered him, nor did it turn him against himself. (I expect we will hear some of the toxic effects of Orban’s FUD on some of the democrats in this forum too, but before you preach that Gy should recuse himself for the sake of unity against Orban, consider the Orbanian venom that you refuse to recognize and resist in… Read more »
aida
Guest
I believe there is an oversimplification about the prospects of winning with or without Gyurcsany. The prospects with him maybe difficult to assess but there is a widely held assumption that he is a burden more than an asset and therefore he has a difficulty in becoming a unifying force on the left. On the one hand, in his favour is his huge experience and ability. Also 10 years is a long time in politics. His perceived sins are diminished in the light of the reputation earned by those now in power since 2010. On balance however, the left must turn the page. The public and especially the voters need to see new faces and hear new voices. It is very rare in advanced democracies for come back kids to win. Richard Nixon is a good example of one that did, but most wish he had not. More recently however we have seen ex President Sarkozy bite the dust on his attempt at a second go at the Presidency. Your followers’ favourite, not mine, HRC is the mos recent example. Once you have lost you are a loser and the voters prefer to back winners. I have no solution to… Read more »
petofi
Guest

For Hungaricoes, there is one unifying principle, or, reality–money! Hungas will rally to any side were the chances for lucre is great. If there is none, forget ‘rallying’ and ‘unification’.

petofi
Guest

Oh, I forgot:
HAJRA MAGYAROK!

Guest

After reading the piece I can see that political life of the opposition will always for the foreseeable future be subservient and malleable to the machinations of the current party in power. The seeming continual ‘one-upmanship’ in the quest for power within the opposition would seem to negate any push for some kind of successful and united partnership. They shoot themselves more in the foot than
dealing in what absolutely needs to be done in defeating Fidesz. And that is pure and unfettered cooperation by all in the battle.

Observer
Guest

Aida
The stark reality is that the democratic parties can’t turn the page, there isn’t any next page. Many new, young newcomers tried to cut into the top tier of politics, but none succeeded to win the recognition Gyurcsàny has.
Like it or not, Gyurcsàny is the best we have. Not that he should lead the democratic side now, but trying to deny his major role is delusional and foolish.

The solution is to counter the Fidesz propaganda script and show that if Orban attacks someone/something, that must be a good something. In the Fidesz’ face – YES P.Juhasz, YES Botka, YES Gyurcsàny, etc. Such expression of self confidence, of strength people like, particularly when the
Public is conditioned by Fidesz to political blood fights.

Bastiat2
Guest

The big problem with Hungary is that any opposition to Fidesz has to be from the left, because Orban is supposed to be right wing.
Any possibility that there could be a liberal (in the sense of von Mises, not in the American sense) democratic opposition whose main objective would be to improve the economy so that the best Hungarians do not flee abroad anymore?

Ferenc
Guest

Question to Eva: the billboard about Botka, where is that from, who put (paid for it!) it there?
These type of billboards and way the mouthpiece press is operating is the modus operandi of OV/Fidesz. This press is actually not so important, as it is only read by it’s supporters (apart from active opposition for ‘information’ only), those billboards are the real threat as they are in the open and seen by all.
The opposittion should put together a think-tank about what’s best to do with/against these sort of billboards, so be fully prepared for it and act, if needed, to neutralise or eventurn around the ‘billboard messages’.

Furthermore, as even Botka seems to have reservations concerning Gyurcsany, can people here explain what is the real core of the aversion against Gyurcsany?
This core should be discussed within the same thinktank, can it be solved yes or no.The results should then be discussed with all opposition parties and decisions taken what’s best to do.
I agree with Steven the Gy would withdraw if that would make the chance to beat OV realistic.

Guest

Re billboards and other types of advertising:

I still remember the outrageous number of billboards on the referendum against refugees – and the buses that had the same lunatic “sentences” (in German it would be Latrinen-Parolen …) on all sides. I don’t think the opposition could manage a similar number of ads – but you have to remember:

All those crazy threats didn’t help them in the end to get a majority of voters to appear …

So there is hope even though I fear that the next Fidesz campaign will be even uglier – no holds barred …

These Mafia types will do anything (and I mean anything, including violence – remember 2006!) to stay in power, so it will be difficult.

Rather OT (and not in the typical Xmas spirit):
Here’s what one of Trump’s campaign mangers had to say about the Obama family:
http://www.snopes.com/carl-paladino/
Please read this only if you have a bucket ready for throwing up into – you’ve been warned …
This is the type of “thinking” that’s typical for those lunatic right winger rednecks!

Ferenc
Guest

Those bloody blue boards made me active, and I started to closely follow things happening in Hungary……
OV/Fidesz is working basically in quantity, so best make quality the core of opposition (re)actions. I don’t know what that should be, but there needs to be done serious brainstorming in advance, otherwise chance for success with be small.

Ferenc
Guest

The thing which also shouldn’t be forgotten: continuous and deep investigations into all affairs OV/Fidesz.
Best what could happen is more than 100% proof of anything illegal performed by them. Just one full proof, so that even the biggest OV/Fidesz supporter will start scratching his head, and even the smallest of doubts creeping in into it.

Observer
Guest

Ferenc

The core Fid supporters won’t budge even if Orban introduces cannibalism – eg. they viscerally hated the Russians, now they are friends, ditto with the communists, but they love “their” communists, Orban hated/hates the elite/Budapest, but he wants “his” elite.
Finally the poor country boys of Fidesz want to become the richest exclusively by embezzlement, but their faithful still support them.

Forget about the these, the effort should be on the undecided, eventually on the ones who have turned away from Orban.

aida
Guest

Ferenc,

The Gyurcsany problem is often made to sound very complicated and it focuses on the speech at Oszod. The simple answer is that he lead his party to an election defeat in 2010 in the course of which they could not get up to the third of the votes in Parliament. The defeat would have been worse if he had not handed over to Bajnai in the last year before the poll. Do you need a better testimonial?

Ferenc
Guest

you mean the core (as that’s where I asked for) is Oszodi Speech?

aida
Guest

I am sorry Ferenc, I got diverted before answering your question. I believe that the Speech is at the core of the problems faced to this day by the Left. As I wrote before it was mishandled at the time by not forcing Gy to quit. Belatedly the MSZP recognised him as the source of its problems but by then the damage had been done and it cannot be undone until the Left is united as one Party and not as ad hoc alliances for elections. An obstacle to that unity is Gy’s continuing divisive presence in politics at the top.i know this blog has many followers who disagree with me.

Istvan
Guest
Eva I assume you read Andrew Higgins New York Times article this morning on Russian penetration of the Hungarian far right (Intent on Unsettling E.U., Russia Taps Foot Soldiers From the Fringe), including the Jobbik, and the fact that Russian military intelligence officers, masquerading as diplomats, staged regular mock combat exercises using plastic guns with Istvan Gyorkos along with other members of the Hungarian National Front near Bony, Hungary. I think these revelations will merit a posting especially since supposedly secret discussions in the parliamentary security committee that looked at issues involving Gyorkos. The NY Times article includes this interesting passage: “Zsolt Molnar, the head of the security committee, said that the diplomats were believed to be members of Russia’s G.R.U. military intelligence agency, and that the games were a form of military training. “It was all entirely legal,” Mr. Molnar said. “There was no problem, and this is precisely the problem.” He expressed dismay at how easily and openly supposed Russian diplomats had cultivated ties with violent and disruptive elements on Hungary’s political fringe. Bernadett Szel, a legislator from Hungary’s small Green Party and a member of the security committee, said she had this month proposed a full-scale parliamentary… Read more »
Observer
Guest

“.. There is practically no difference between Fidesz and Jobbik” … At the present moment Orbán is much more dangerous than Vona..”

I second this, and say that Fidesz is worse because in addition to its appalling messages and “ideology” it’s a mature criminal organisation syphoning billions of dollars per year out of the public domain.

vomart huli
Guest

Yes.

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