László Botka has taken things into his own hands in MSZP

Yesterday I ended my post saying that, because only a few hours had passed since MSZP submitted its own proposal for a new bill that would regulate political advertising, I was unable to gauge the reaction of the other smaller parties on the left. I suspected that their reception of MSZP’s very questionable political move was not going to be favorably viewed. A couple of hours later, I had the chance to listen to a television interview with Csaba Molnár, one of the deputy chairmen of the Demokratikus Koalíció (DK), who promised that the party leadership would take a good look at MSZP’s proposal but hinted that one has to be very careful when negotiating with Fidesz. The government party’s surprising readiness to negotiate was suspicious.

By this morning it became clear that no opposition party was ready to discuss the MSZP proposal. If the socialists go ahead with it, it will be a private deal between Fidesz and MSZP. But no opposition party can afford the stigma of making a deal with the devil. Only “political illiterates” could come up with such an idea unless, as many people suspect, certain members of the MSZP leadership are ready to cozy up to Fidesz for one nefarious reason or another. In this particular case, I think “political illiterates” were at work.

MSZP’s candidate for the premiership, László Botka, had been left in total darkness about the leadership’s decision to submit a “poster bill” of their own. That such a thing can happen gives you an idea of the chaos and confusion that must exist in the Hungarian socialist party. The most important officeholders in MSZP must have approved the proposal and its submission for consideration because it was Gyula Molnár, party chairman, and Bertalan Tóth, leader of MSZP’s parliamentary delegation, who announced the move at a joint press conference on Friday. Fidesz-KDNP jumped at the opportunity and secretly indicated they were game. When Jobbik got the wind of the pending deal, János Volner, Jobbik parliamentary leader, made it public.

Bertalan Tóth and Gyula Molnár at a press conference

It was at this point that Botka decided to intervene. He explained that any negotiations and any joint action, like voting with Fidesz, would discredit the party and himself personally since he had stressed on several occasions that any collaboration with Fidesz was out of the question. He apparently argued that if an election advertising bill were to pass, MSZP might be in a better position vis-à-vis Jobbik as far as political advertisement is concerned, i.e., both parties would receive the same rate from the providers of advertising surfaces. But MSZP “would lose its character as an opposition party.” Jobbik would be Fidesz’s primary opponent at the next election.

Today MSZP also created a new body called the “national election committee” (Országos Választási Bizottság/OVB), which will be in charge of the election campaign. According to Index, OVB will consist of five people: László Botka; Gyula Molnár, party chairman; József Tóbiás, campaign manager; György Kerényi, director of communications; and Bálint Ruff, Botka’s political adviser. I suspect that readers of Hungarian Spectrum may not be familiar with the names of György Kerényi and Bálint Ruff. Kerényi is a highly respected journalist who worked for Magyar Narancs, Tilos Rádió, and Roma Sajtóközpont and was one of the founders of vs.hu. He was known for his independence, and therefore his colleagues were greatly surprised that he accepted a party position. His decision was based on his conviction that MSZP is the only party that has a chance to unseat Viktor Orbán, who in his opinion must go. And he must personally do everything he can to make that happen. As for Bálint Ruff, he is a young man, a law school graduate, who is a managing partner of Invisible Hand Coaching and Consulting.

Most likely not independently from the blunder committed by the party leadership behind Botka’s back, the composition of OVB changed significantly in the last two days. Index reported on June 18 that Botka had named József Tóbiás’s campaign manager, who in turn named Zsolt Molnár, campaign manager in 2014, Ferenc Baja, a really old socialist politician who served in high positions both in the party and in the socialist-liberal governments between 1994 and 2010, and Bertalan Tóth, the most important man in the party’s parliamentary group, to the body. These three people have since disappeared from OVB, and I suspect that Gyula Molnár remained only because he is, after all, chairman of the party. Keep in mind that it was Molnár and Tóth who came forth with the announcement of an independent MSZP proposal for the “poster law.” In fact, we have evidence that Tóth’s removal is connected to this political miscalculation. István Nyakó, MSZP’s spokesman, said at today’s press conference that Bertalan Tóth represented the interests of the party to the best of his knowledge in negotiating with the other parties concerning the “poster law,” but with the appearance of Botka a “new political calendar” has begun. I wonder how long Tóth will remain the leader of the Fidesz caucus in parliament. As for Zsolt Molnár, he is a controversial character who has been the subject of long-standing criticism for his cozy relations with Fidesz politicians. As for Baja, perhaps Botka objected to his very high positions in the party for almost twenty years when Botka didn’t want to have anyone associated with the campaign who had had “substantial responsibility” for the political situation in which Fidesz could win a two-thirds majority in 2010. I might add that I for one don’t share Botka’s assessment of the guilt of the socialist-liberal governments for the overwhelming victory of Fidesz in 2010, but Ferenc Baja was never one of my favorites.

In addition, Botka tightened the reins on communication and finance. Without the knowledge of Kerényi, no MSZP politician can issue any statement or express any opinion different from the official one. I must say that this decision has been long overdue. MSZP is a notoriously undisciplined party where party leaders regularly contradict one another and voice their personal opinions about accepted party policies in public. István Nyakó, MSZP’s spokesman, also said that anyone who in any way collaborates with Fidesz will be expelled from the party.

Indeed, MSZP is shaping up to be a different party. Perhaps in the long run this botched-up political move will have a beneficial effect on MSZP. This incident might have prompted Botka to take a more active role in the everyday running of party affairs which, if he makes good decisions, might improve the party’s acceptance by the public. At the same time, if those socialist politicians who are the most visible public representatives of MSZP are not better able to convey the party’s messages and if the party leadership is unable to mobilize its supporters, no amount of firmness, tenacity, and determination on the part of László Botka can revive the Hungarian socialist party.

June 20, 2017
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In recent days, several people have been commenting that the MSZP is the same as Fidesz in terms of corruption and disrespect for civil liberties. Friends, the MSZP has its problems. But never, ever have they been willing to trample upon free expression and the free market in the manner that their leadership espoused by offering to support the Lex Billboard. The incident highlights a lack of principle. Socialists are now led by Gyula Molnar, a man who disavowed any relation to the wildly unpopular MSZP during his unsuccessful bid for reelection as mayor of Budapest’s District 11 in 2010 — even though he was running on the MSZP ticket. This is the political equivalent of a man showing up at a party and introducing his ugly wife as a “friend.” Safe to say “principle” is not Molnar’s strong suit. On paper, the MSZP might have benefitted from the Lex Billboard, gaining an advantage over Jobbik and shutting up COF. But realpolitik cannot go so far as to betray democratic principle. The campaign is now being managed by Jozsef Tobias, a man whose milquetoasty leadership of the MSZP is partly responsible for its current status as third party behind Jobbik.… Read more »

“I might add that I for one don’t share Botka’s assessment of the guilt of the socialist-liberal governments for the overwhelming victory of Fidesz in 2010.”

Then why oh why did MSZP lose so badly in 2010?

The timing of the Great Recession was bad for MSZP for sure but I think it’s ridiculous to think that Fidesz won in 2010 because it (ie, Fidesz) was so good. People did actually hate MSZP and wanted a change no matter the consequences. One of the reasons for that was that MSZP was really so bad, so incoherent, divided, weak, hapless, not to mention corrupt and its leaders must surely share the blame for that


We are now in a new season, having officially crossed the threshold to summer at 06:24 Budapest time. And it’s hot, with temps hitting 30°+ all week, starting with yesterday. Not as hot as Paris or Phoenix, though.

Alex Kuli makes some good points re MSZP. What is salient, from what I can determine, is that MSZP is viewed as being equally corrupt as Fidesz, or perhaps almost as corrupt as Fidesz.

When it comes to choosing between the two, the Magyar electorate will likely pick the devil [Fidesz] it knows over the devil [MSZP] it doesn’t trust. Fidesz, after all, will protect the populace against the foreigners clamoring at the southern fences for entry to Magyarország.

I dont see much chance of dispossessing Fidesz of Hungary in the next election. What is likely is a diminished Fidesz majority. If Momentum can consitute itself as a viable post2018 political entity, then maybe Fidesz could be derailed in 2022.

The fact that Viktor Orbán is employing salami tactics [szalámitaktika] to relentlessly diminish Hungarian democracy is without relevance to a public that understands corruption, unemployment, higher prices, national deterioration better than it kens esoteric political considerations.



We should fight against anti-Semitism.


Isn’t it high time (was tempted to write High Noon …) to have a look at all the old Communists aka leftovers from MSZMP, see whether they really changed into Democrats – and if not, get rid of them?

Does MSZP have any young people at all who could lead it?


Perhaps you are thinking of Jozsef Tobias (46), Zsolt Molnar (42) or Attila Mesterhazy (43) — all of whom have been about as useful as a chocolate teapot?

I personally like Agnes Kunhalmi (34), but she is considered too young and inexperienced. I have seen her campaigning and she has no clue. If she works on her political skills, she may have a chance. Women like her because of her strong support for family and children’s issues, men like her because of her considerable personal attractions. However, I think she will have to find (or found) a new party. The MSZP is a dead duck, in my opinion.


Re: ‘High Noon’

The clock is ticking relentlessly on, isn’t it? As it does, Magyarorszag in the background hears the plea, ‘Do not forsake me oh my darlin’….An honest sherrif worth speaking of has gone missing and townspeople abandoning their responsibilities to let the law of the jungle produce havoc.


Alex, these people in their forties grew up under “Socialism” so probably were indoctrinated too …
I remember from Germany that only people who were essentially/totally disconnected from the old regime really made it into democracy – I don’t know anyone of the former SED members that I would trust!

And if there was one thing the Socialists/Communists/Stalinists were good at it was indoctrinating the young! Not too many had the willpower to go into opposition to the regime …


People in their 40s are far too young to have joined the MSZMP and probably KISZ either. They might have been indocrinated by the Pioneers, but that’s it.

Strange as it is, I would much sooner trust crusty old commies like Laszlo Kovacs and Ildiko Lendvai with Hungary’s governance than the people who went to university in the 1990s.


Totally OT but significant:
Almost 1.2 million Hungarians are planning to seek jobs abroad, with a particularly high ratio of almost two in five young people planning to leave the country to work, according to a representative survey by Publicus commissioned by weekly Vasárnapi Hírek.

This is being discussed everywhere (on politics.hu e g) – even here near Hévíz businesses have problems getting workers at all levels.
And the head of the German employer’s association just said that Germany needs around half a million workers until the end of this year – not enough refugees for that, so Hungarians may apply too …

PS – forgot the reasons they want to leave:
Some 55% of those who admitted they were planning to leave said they will seek jobs abroad because wages here are not enough to live on. Some 28% said they cannot make a decent living for their children, while 27% said they are “fed up” with the politics of the country.
Doesn’t look too good for Fidesz – though if all the people who are fed up with the government should leave then Hungary will be Happy Orbanistan …


Interestingly, in the BBJ [Budapest Business Journal] link, 4 times as many departers from Hungary [26% versus 7%] blamed Fidesz as opposed to MSZP. In a way that is selective memory, given that Fidesz has been in power since 2010. Regardless, the reality is that, in many eyes, Viktor Orbán is the major problem. Two thirds of the respondents made indirect or direct links to the current government of Hungary as being responsible for their [impending] departures from Magyarország.



Might be more tickets out considering the state of politics. Up on ahead the electorate will be given a choice to choose Fidesz, Jobbik and the ‘socialists’.
For some to even vote for any of these can be looked on as ‘walking the plank’. When they see a sort of ‘can’t beat’em let’s join’em attitudes’ it’s time to go as they see perhaps a dismal environment for coalitions and democracy. They of course would be the jaded ones who walk with their feet and even oerhaps try to save their integrity under well let’s call it a myopic regime.


Breaking (cultural) news: a golden shin armour (greave) dating back to the Late Bronze Age has just been found near Szeged. This is an important archaeological find, as researchers have hitherto been unaware of the existence of golden greaves in this period. (By contrast, greaves made of bronze were qute widespread throughout Europe.)


And next you’ll be telling us that the Mighty Magyars were already living there, in their homeland?
And everybody who came later was an illegal immigrant!
Back to reality – those were “interesting times”:
Later came the Hallstatt Culture (Hallstatt is still a nice town in the Austrian Alps btw, worth a visit) which extended into Pannonia – there gold was more abundant: