Whither MSZP? It seems to be stalled

Before going into the latest follies of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), I should briefly summarize the findings of the most recent opinion polls in order to illustrate the true state of the party’s popularity among Hungarian voters. All four polls I consulted show Fidesz to have an enormous lead over its opponents. In all four, Jobbik was the second largest party in the country. Third place is occupied by MSZP and fourth by DK. Support for the other parties, with the exception of LMP, hovers around 1%. LMP has 3%.

Since the beginning of the year not much has changed in the popularity of the parties. A couple of percentage point differences here and there, but the ranking has stayed the same and, most importantly for our purposes here, support for MSZP hasn’t grown substantially since January. Combining the four opinion polls (Republikon, Závecz, Tárki, and Medián), the average support for MSZP is only 12% among active voters. In the same category, Fidesz would receive 50.25% and Jobbik 19%. DK’s support is 6%, which is nothing to brag about, but it is still a voting bloc one must reckon with, especially given the low popularity of the socialists.

Republikon also included a question about people’s opinion of the four declared candidates for the post of prime minister. The respondents were offered a choice of three people in two combinations. The first included Viktor Orbán, Gábor Vona, and László Botka; the second, Viktor Orbán, Gábor Vona, and Gergely Karácsony (Párbeszéd). The result is telling. In the first option Orbán received 38% of the votes, Botka 16%, and Vona 15%. The rest had no opinion. In the second option, where Karácsony took the place of Botka, the results for Orbán and Vona were practically the same and Karácsony received 14%, compared to Botka’s 16%. Not much of a difference. Once Republikon looked at party affiliations, it turned out that, as opposed to Fidesz and Jobbik voters who overwhelmingly support their candidates, only 60% of the left-of-center voters find Botka a desirable candidate. Karácsony, chairman of a party with 1% support, received a fairly impressive 48% popularity rating.

It looks as if MSZP’s leadership is blind to the reality of the numbers presented here. Otherwise, it is inexplicable that the party hasn’t considered changing course. After a while they should have recognized that László Botka’s remedies aren’t working. His “go-it-alone” strategy could have worked only if there was a spectacular growth in MSZP’s popularity, which in turn would have inspired the smaller parties to flock behind him. Since this hasn’t happened, a good politician would have changed strategy. But there was no sign of any soul-searching in MSZP until a few days ago, when Zsolt Molnár, one of the leading politicians in the party, wrote a short article in which he suggested that Botka should start negotiations with Ferenc Gyurcsány of DK, whom until now he had refused even to meet. I wrote about the subsequent unpleasant exchange between Botka and Molnár a few days ago.

When I summarized the Botka-Molnár controversy, I had no idea what the final outcome of this latest party quarrel would be. A couple of days ago there was a glimmer of hope that Gyula Molnár, the party’s chairman, would take matters into his own hands and would initiate some sensible alternative to the present hopeless course. But I’m afraid Gyula Molnár is not a strong leader, and instead of “summoning” Botka and Zsolt Molnár to party headquarters, as he first promised, we learned yesterday that it was Zsolt Molnár who traveled to Szeged. After a two-hour, apparently “amiable meeting,” as Molnár described it, he threw in the towel and assured Botka of his full support.

It is hard to know exactly what happened at this “amiable meeting” because it seems that Molnár either misunderstood what Botka told him or he was double-crossed. I suspect the latter. Molnár was supposed be in charge of negotiations with the other parties regarding the election campaign in Budapest and, as he recalled, this particular topic wasn’t even discussed at the meeting. However, the other politicians in the party already knew last night that Molnár would be stripped of all of his functions related to the elections.

The official confirmation of that fact came today at a press conference Botka gave. There it became clear that Botka had already come to an agreement with József Tóth, the very successful socialist mayor of District XIII, to take charge of negotiating with the other parties regarding the allocation of candidates of the united front of the democratic opposition in all 18 electoral districts of Budapest. These negotiations would include DK as well but, according to Botka’s wishes, without Ferenc Gyurcsány. Good luck to József Tóth, since there is no way that anyone from DK would sit down to negotiate with him if the price of cooperation is the shuttering out of the party’s chairman. And, according to analysts, Budapest cannot be won without DK. Even Tóth’s own very socialist district might be in jeopardy without it.

Botka, at least for now, is holding fast to his earlier position that every democratic politician will have to decide whether his own political future is more important than the removal of the Orbán government from power. He made no secret of the fact that he has Ferenc Gyurcsány in mind. Successfully pinning the blame on Gyurcsány, however, would work only if Botka himself weren’t carrying so much baggage in the eyes of the electorate. First of all, there is the problem of his lackluster support among left-wing voters. His high-handed treatment of Ferenc Gyurcsány also alienated a great number of people. His belittling of the politicians of the smaller parties as dupes didn’t endear him to the ones with whom MSZP is now supposed to negotiate. And finally, his ill-tempered attack on Zsolt Molnár is apparently disapproved of by the majority of the leading MSZP politicians. It can thus easily happen that it will be Botka who will end up being seen as the impediment to unity, not Ferenc Gyurcsány.

August 1, 2017
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Member

The Hungarian voters deserve exactly what they are getting! They approve and hold harmless all the thieving, lying maffia criminals who masquarade as their Government, so it can go on in almost perpetuity. (Until the money runs out.)
Nobody is holding the gun to anyone’s head to vote for all these gangsters, so the majority is impressed by them. It is always at the end of the rainbow, when people wake up to the colorless reality. Until then, the votes goes to the the little dictator viktor, running the Fidesz and everything, reflecting the wishes of the majority.
“Be careful what you wish, you might just get it.”

Guest

Gyuala, and still, with all the propaganda and the quasi monopoly of Fidesz in the media there are some Hungarians (like my wife and her family …) who won’t accept O and his minions as the real representatives of Hungary!

If you add the numbers, there is probably a majority who won’t vote for Fidesz – even though with the clever election laws Fidesz’s majority is guaranteed.
So all is not lost …
But it will be a long journey!

Member

Let’s hope I am wrong and you are right – we will see in 2018.

But you forgot about the very fact, that there will not be a true election, it will be just called that way.

Hundreds of thousands of votes are “Made in Hungary” by busy Fidesz “volunteers” in the name of those, who do not vote within the borders and outside the borders, nee Transylvania.

Member

Thank you and I said, making a distinction, that the majority of “The Hungarian VOTERS” not the Hungarian PEOPLE, who are impressed and hold harmless the viktor and the Fidesz.

Aida
Guest
Gyula is right. The Kadar regime was imposed from Moscow but there was a measure of flexibility in how it operated. This flexibility did not include any electoral choice. I have always found it incomprehensible the post 1989 blanket blame of those who helped to run the regime. However the Orban regime is not imposed from outside, indeed its activities meet widespread disapproval from much of the civilised world. Yet the Hungarian population has now chosen them twice to run the country. But their choice was not the usual election victory we are used to seeing elsewhere. It gave Orban dictatorial powers. When the opportunity was given in 2014 to revoke these powers or to remove Orban, the voters chose neither. Maybe the opposition does not communicate its message effectively. Maybe the media is controlled by the regime. But you do not need sophisticated political analysis to see what is obvious. “Ti dolgoztok, Ok lopnak. This is a lawfully elected government enjoying overwhelming popular support. Maybe it should not. But it does. The population has no excuses. I have adopted the same response as I do with all regimes I disapprove. I do not go there and I boycott their… Read more »
Guest

It seems that too many Hungarians are either really stupid , totally enjoy being screwed, just don’t care or – I don’t know.
Just one example where my wife got very angry (because it also concerns her as a pensioner):
Some Fidesz idiot announced (maybe it was O himself?) that this August pensioners would get two (extra?) payments.
But it turned out that it’s the same as last year – just split in two halves which are paid at different times if I understand my wife correctly.
Btw that was difficult because she was so angry and used many of those Hungarian words that are supposed to make you blush – if you understand them …

exTor
Guest

I was born into Hungarian (in England) but I grew into English (in Canada) which made my Hungarian, in effect, my second[ary] language, wolfi.

Whether your English is your first language may reflect on your word choices. I object to your use of ‘stupid’ [“Hungarians are either really stupid”] which needlessly [read: wrongly] adhominems an entire ethnicity.

You need to address the issue[s], not the person/people, wolfi. The term ‘adhominem’ [my spelling] derives from the Latin ‘ad hominem’ [‘to the person’] and it categorizes a type of inappropriate characterization, which sometimes occurs in issue-avoiding argumentation/statementing.

Instead of generalizing about an entire group of people [Magyars] with an all-encompassing characterization [all stupid] that cannot logically be true, you would have been less-strident, but just as smart-relevant, by saying something to the effect: “Far too many Hungarians are unaware of how they are being totally screwed by Fidesz.”

MAGYARKOZÓ

Guest

Please look again at what I wrote:
It seems that too many Hungarians are either really stupid , totally enjoy being screwed, just don’t care or – I don’t know.

Member

Wolfi – I’ll go for all three. And I’ll also wager that the decided majority of Hungarians would agree with your statement.

olga
Guest
Do not be fooled by wolfi’s reply re “too many Hungarians” etc before you read the following “joke” he posted on politics.hu : “This reminds me of a really bad joke I heard once: Somewhere (won’t say which country …) a Hungarian woman is waiting for the bus which is delayed and delayed … She urgently needs to go to the toilet, but doesn’t want to miss the bus so in the end she just poops at the bus stop – a really big pile … When the bus finally arrives the shortsighted driver tells her: OK – but your stinking child I will not let on my bus ” http://www.politics.hu/20170728/jobbik-vows-to-turn-hungary-into-a-food-industry-powerhouse-if-elected/ ” In my world , you do not refer to a woman nor her child as excrement, and repeat it as a ” bad joke” regardless of the person’s race, nationality or religion, nor would he, unless the word “Hungarian” was used. Calling it a bad joke is irrelevant, and so is the term “too many Hungarians” etc from someone who has a history of reprehensible behaviour when it comes to posting insults about Hungarians on politics.hu. I was one of his targets on politics.hu with the crudest of… Read more »
Guest

Olga aka leto’s groupie is back, how “nice” . Remember when you called me a slug while continuing your “pleasant conversation” with leto – the fascist creature who called our host and Prof Scheppele b*****. No comment on that from you ! How often did you applaud leto when he spouted his antisemitic and racist comments – like “Soros is not Hungarian” he’s a Jew born in Budapest?
And when he called for Molov cocktails on gays?
Did you meet leto again and have a nice weekend with him as before?
Btw you promised once to leave pol.hu and asked the creature to do so too – but of course “a criminal always returns to the crime scene” …

Guest

Since I’ll be on the road tomorrow I’m doing a “preemptive strike” now.
Someone described your activities onpol.hu (which I call leto’s groupie’s) very succinctly:
But they’re not harmless. Her comments (if they’re coherent) are rarely to the point of the article they come under, which means that they are probably designed to deflect attention or change the subject (this would be enough to get her comments deleted on some moderated sites).

But my utter contempt for anyone who comments here with racism, abuse, or expletives, and openly supports violence or hatred against minorities, “foreigners”, women, homosexuals, etc. is such that I have loads to spare for anyone who openly or implicitly condones and encourages those hate-spreaders. Which “Olga” does.
Eighty years ago in Nazi times one would have called you a Nazi Helfershelfer!
Is leto’s site which you also liked to comment on no longer active? What a pity! You should go (like leto) to breitbart.com maybe – good riddance!

exTor
Guest

My apology, wolfi. I’m embarrassed at not having given your sentence its due. I was too fixated on that ‘stupid’ word. Double sorry. I should have paid more attention.

MAGYARKOZÓ

petofi
Guest

(Embarrassment becomes you-)

exTor
Guest

You be funny, petőfi. Actually, iron
pumping makes me . . . like Arnie.
Good for the brain, too. Two hours
yesterday, two hours today planned.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Member

Thank you and I said, making a distinction, that the majority of “The Hungarian VOTERS” not the Hungarian PEOPLE, who are impressed and hold harmless the viktor and the Fidesz.

petofi
Guest

“…so the majority is impressed by them…”

Though I have an appropriately low regard for the average Hungarian’s perspicacity, I’d say they’re not impressed.
However, knowing how the cookie crumbles in ‘proud Hungary’, the peuple are aware that they’re being held by their gonads: that is, vote against Fidesz in a region and you’ll feel the wrath of the gypsy king by the sudden disappearance of government moneys…

Member

Thank you and I said, making a distinction, that the majority of “The Hungarian VOTERS” not the Hungarian PEOPLE, who are impressed and hold harmless the viktor and the Fidesz.

Christopher Adam
Guest
MSZP is certainly stalled, but some of Botka’s accusations against Molnár surrounding his alleged unreliability, lack of loyalty and collusion were mentioned to me back in June when I visited Budapest, during informal chats with some socialists. I sensed that Botka’s plans and abilities sparked doubt among socialists, while Molnár seemed to elicit disdain and derision. In term of Ferenc Gyurcsány and his impact on voting intentions: in an earlier post there was an excellent suggestion that a poll specifically focused on the impact of the DK leader’s presence as part of some type of opposition election alliance or cooperation would be useful. It may finally offer empirical evidence of whether Gyurcsány is really as detrimental as people like Botka and others on the left say and whether he truly does turn off large numbers from casting their ballot for the democratic opposition. At the moment, I can only go on my own feelings as a thirty-something year old who shudders at the likely prospect of another Fidesz government after 2018. I can also refer to completely anecdotal evidence, through chats that I have had with liberal, left-leaning and liberal-conservative friends in my age range over the years, of whom… Read more »
Member
Gyurcsány and DK again: A while ago my opinion about Gyurcsány and DK was this: He is somehow odd, I wouldn’t vote for him, but at least he has a clear democratic and pro European vision. And DK doesn’t make any collaboration and dirty deals with Fidesz behind the curtains, like MSZP does. Further, unlike MSZP, they took a consistant stance in favour of human rights and against propaganda during the refugee crisis. After his ridiculous show with his probably baseless claims against Orbán he has sunk very low in my opinion-ranking. But this is my personal opinion! What I hate is the fuss, that is made around him, which on a big part is based on defamation since he held his speech (for me, he just told the truth there and I don’t understand the histeria). I would never suggest to put Gyurcsány in a list or not, or to retreat from politics at all, soleley for the reason, that I then would cave in to hate propaganda and lies, as I would, if I e.g. talk bad about refugees, only because most of the people hate them (due to propaganda and lies). The people should just send the… Read more »
wrfree
Guest
Hello Mr. Adam. Thank you for your columns. They present another needed ‘line’ (as HS) to parallel the barrage of tired rhetoric and propaganda built on cant that constantly drives itself upon the population. These are both needed to keep them and observers of the Magyar scene awake to what is really occurring within the country. The electoral ‘Championships’ are coming up in ’18. And unfortunately the opp looks as if they are a long long long way from competing as a modern ‘arany csapat’ to the Fidesz machine. Leadership is fractured and split in various ways taking them ‘off the scent’ so to speak. There is no one who captures the imagination of the electorate to encapsulate a vision of ideas and positive forces moving towards a winning goal. And this un-unified ‘team’ doesn’t appear psychologically prepared to win. Perhaps at bottom it may be that they don’t even believe they can experience victory. Not a very enticing state of affairs as confidence seems to be lacking. And regarding Mr. Gyurcsany I’d think he might take some time to read about Churchill when he was on the ‘down and out’ prior to his role of ‘war leader’. For some… Read more »
Member

Nicely written wrfree, and for me to speak, you hit the nail.

wrfree
Guest

And well as you know ‘Winston’ there are others who use hammers too. The new builders of a ‘working’ Xanadu…

‘Mechanic slaves
With greasy aprons, rules, and hammers, shall
Uplift us to the view’… the Bard

Observer
Guest

Unfortunately Botka seems ever more like another dud from MSZP. Come to think about it – the last party stalwart PM was Gyula Horn.

Gyrcsàny was relatively a newcomer, with only two years of sports minister record, when he won a contest against apparatchik Peter Kiss for the PM post vacated by outsider Peter Megyesi in midterm 2004. GyF won the 2006 election with a strong personal showing and moved forcefully to reform the party and the corrupt Hun politics.

Dared to tackle the healthcare with the most comprehensive reform ever attempted here.

Even the Fid mad dogs and the Polt minions couldn’t pin any corruption case on him.

GyF faced alone (with little if any support even from his party whem PM) the longest and heaviest character assassination campaign in 50 years conducted by the Fid media against him, and still managed to form and maintain the fourth largest party.

GyF is all out for cooperation on the dem side and has never laid any claim to PM or other top position, nor any pre conditions.
His democratic credentials are as good as they get in Hun.

Well?

Metzger
Guest
I dunno. This is a bit like merger of two bad companies. Why would insiders think that two losers would add up to a winner on the market place? Such a merger is usually a last ditch effort by insiders to save their positions (some would lose out for sure in the aftermath of the merger but generally everybody assumes the losers would be others). But there is way too much maths involved and not enough inspiration, dreaming and vision. Elections are not about maths but about inspiring, trustworthy and credible personalities. The fundamental issue is who will be the leader on the left who will inspire the voters with his or her vision? Time is running out for the left wing. Once Vona and Jobbik holda the position of prime minister in waiting (as Orban did for years under Gyurcsany and Bajnai) the game is over to the left wing for good since all the elite will flock to the new winner. Right now its still a contest between Jobbik and the left but more and more people realize that the left wing is hopeless and Jobbik is the only stable option. This will be a tragedy but one… Read more »
Istvan
Guest
I do not see the ideological point of any Hungarian voting for MSZP, except for having some type of delusion they can rebuild something of a welfare state in Hungary. For example I read fairly regularly nepszava and search for any vision of a future for Hungary in the editorial line of the paper and what I find is really only a critique of the Mafia state, which while it is valid, but it offers no future for Hungary within the context of contemporary capitalism. The crisis of the social democrats in Hungary reflects the crisis of social democracy internationally, including for Senator Sanders in the USA. As a critique of the present he is often spot on, as for moving the USA to a revitalized social welfare state he is simply absurd. This story http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nancy-pelosi-town-hall-capitalism_us_58925a53e4b070cf8b807e28 reflects the reality of the situation in the USA. Sen Pelosi when confronted by a social democratic supporter of Sanders made it very clear where she stood: “I thank you for your question. But I have to say, we’re capitalist ― and that’s just the way it is. However, we do think that capitalism is not necessarily meeting the needs with the income inequality… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Expecting Hungarians to be ‘collaborative’ is a pipe-dream.
Our hospital, in a poor section of Budapest, was remodeled
with the newest in bathroom planning–no toilet roll fixtures…(They’ve also done without coat hooks so that in the winter, you can have the pleasure of balancing your coat on your lap. Why? you ask. Silly question: both fixtures were regularly vandalized.)

Hajra Magyarok!

Istvan
Guest

Should be Rep Pelosi not Senator, sorry.

Member
Hungarian political parties have an interesting – perhaps even unique? – practice of assigning leading positions to people who are responsible for discrediting their parties’ public standing. The prime example is Viktor Orban. Can anyone imagine a Western political party electing a thrice-defeated prime minsterial candidate as its Supreme Leader? The only recent example that comes to mind is Richard Nixon. However, Fidesz is not a political party in the accepted sense of the word; it is Orban’s private club. Fidesz has not held a genuine leadership contest since 1993. There is no identifiable party ideology. Ultimately, Fidesz’s power is not rooted in voter approval, but in crime and corruption. Let’s look at the MSZP. You have Gyula Molnar, a man of feeble principle whose time as mayor of Budapest’s District 11 (Ujbuda) was pockmarked with still-unanswered questions about official corruption. The MSZP saw fit to put him at the party’s helm for the 2018 election contest. Then, we have Zsolt Molnar, famous for his incompetent leadership of MSZP’s 2014 election campaign. Ron Werber, the Socialists’ pricey political guru, once quipped that Zsolt Molnar should “thank God for every day that I keep my mouth shut.” There are many more… Read more »
wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘ Ultimately, Fidesz’s power is not rooted in voter approval, but in crime and corruption’

Of course. Guys who lose three times and get to be king of the mountain have made sure no one climbs Mt. Orban ever again. Once at the top the Orban ‘pivot’ was on and the democratic life is now on life support due to O2 deprivation.

No one breathes now except him and all his Magyar Sherpas. Unfortunately, those are his ‘indispensables’. And that has been the illiberal way in utilizing the ‘will to power’. Magyarorszag….having another unique response to conflict now in a bleak Dark Ice Age.

And it is not ‘talent’ that drives the ‘success story’ but as
many have said here it’s the reprehensible kleptomania.

Member

That’s an insult to Sherpas.

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