MSZP’s self-inflicted wounds, with some outside help

Mistaking the date of the publication, I started reading a report by József Nagy of 24.hu from June 2017. The report was based on conversations with ten high-level MSZP politicians about the prospects of their party. Most of them were so optimistic about the bright future for MSZP led by István Botka that Nagy’s article bore the title “Botka eats the grandmother.” One of them described the situation as follows: the party now has 20% of the votes among the determined voters and perhaps by October MSZP will have 27%. If not, they will have to come to terms with the Demokratikus Koalíció.

The polls published in May and June did show a slight bump in MSZP’s popularity, but that didn’t last for long. The party began losing supporters at a fairly rapid rate. Instead of reaching 27% support by October, Medián reported at the beginning of November that MSZP has only 9% support among those voters who are 100% sure that they will vote. DK has 7%. So, it’s no wonder that an article appeared in HVG today that talked about “shrinkage of the declining MSZP.” MSZP is in such a sorry state, claimed the article, that by now its leaders are ready to invent agreements with DK in order to boost the waning trust of the voters in MSZP. This description of the state of affairs is not quite accurate, but it is true that some observers talk about the party’s “death struggle.” It is just a question of time before the socialist party meets its maker.

Party preferences in October 2017 / blue: population as a whole; green: eligible voters; red: committed voters

Many of MSZP’s problems are self-inflicted. Let’s start with Tibor Szanyi, who for years has been a problematic character. Every few months he comes out with something outrageous, but he seems to have enough clout within the party that he never gets into serious trouble with the leadership. It’s possible that his latest job as a member of the European Parliament was an attempt to remove him from center stage, but unfortunately Facebook is always at his disposal. And he is a diligent contributor. Moreover, he is still a frequent guest on radio and television programs.

In order to “appreciate” Szanyi’s lack of common sense, here is an early example. A few months after Szanyi occupied his office in Brussels, he invited the far-right Goy Bikers for a visit to get acquainted with the workings of the European Parliament. Their airfare was paid from a special fund that could be tapped by members of parliament for such invitations but, naturally, whoever came up with the idea didn’t have the Goy Bikers in mind.

This time Szanyi decided to commemorate the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution by posting a photo of the only major blemish on the face of a revolution, which was renowned for its incredibly humane treatment of those on the other side. Anyone who tried to use force was told that these people should be dealt with in a court of law. But a mob attacked and lynched several people after the occupation of the party headquarters. The Kádár regime used this event as proof of the counterrevolutionary nature of the revolution. Szanyi decided to remember the revolution with this photo, which he posted on Facebook. By now the photo and Szanyi’s comment are no longer available. Everybody, not just Fidesz-KDNP and its media, was outraged. Gyula Molnár felt compelled to distance himself and his party from Szanyi’s outrageous “remembrance of the revolution.”

But that’s not all. Szanyi’s latest is that he shared his opinion, again on Facebook, of László Marton’s sexual dalliances, saying that he finds “the public calibration of Marton’s penis a disgusting thing. It is worth recalling who is running around on stage stark naked,” obviously referring to the women who were allegedly the victims of Marton’s sexual interest. Well, that wasn’t well received in the party either. Kata Tüttő, a member of the board, sent Szanyi straight to hell. István Ujhelyi, his colleague in the European Parliament, wrote “Tibor, this is shameful. Stop it!” Szanyi’s post elicited an incredible number of comments, practically all negative.

One could write Szanyi off as an aberration. But when a letter to the party chairman, written by an important party leader, accusing him of incompetence, reaches the public, the situation is more serious. And that is what happened yesterday. HírTV got hold of a letter that Árpád Velez, a former “party director,” wrote to Gyula Molnár. In it he describes at length how Molnár ruined the party. From a “leading party of the left [Molnár] created a vulnerable political community which is unmotivated, dejected, trailing after the others.” In this weakened state MSZP is at the mercy of DK, which has been building a strong structure while “our own party is in ruins.” Apparently one reason for Velez’s distraught state of mind is that the district he was supposed to run in was allegedly given to DK.

The impression is that MSZP is in total chaos. Gyula Molnár stated already on Friday that MSZP and DK had reached an agreement. The announcement was made in an interview with György Bolgár, the moderator of Klubrádió’s call-in program “Let’s Talk It Over.” Molnár said that the two parties had agreed on a 60-40 split of the 106 electoral districts. DK’s press office immediately released a correction: “Contrary to a series of news items and statements, so far no agreement has been reached concerning the coordinated candidacy of electoral districts between MSZP and DK. Negotiations are still ongoing. Our aim is to reach an agreement within weeks.” It turned out, however, that Molnár had told the truth. An agreement about the ratio had been reached, but there was no final decision yet on the particulars. For example, MSZP and DK must talk to the other smaller parties about the allocation of districts.

The way I see it, DK has tried to undermine MSZP’s credibility by choosing to interpret what constitutes an “understanding.” As a result of DK’s denial, the alleged chaos within MSZP has been magnified, and the public perception of the incompetence of the MSZP leadership has been strengthened. DK is counting on the further weakening of MSZP and the growth of DK as a result of a promising signature drive against the voting rights of dual citizens. Apparently, in the first five days DK collected 70,000 signatures. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these negotiations drag on until the end of November, when new opinion polls are available. Perhaps, if DK closes the gap with MSZP, even the 60-40 split will have to be renegotiated. Of course, with Fidesz support among committed voters standing at 61%, these negotiations will have at best only a marginal effect on the outcome of next year’s election.

November 7, 2017
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Member
It’s disheartening that the left-centre and/or liberal camp, which was a commanding and unavoidable presence on the Hungarian political spectrum ever since 1990 has been reduced to the MSZP-DK sideshow. Frankly, the longer this spat between two marginal parties continues, the more their irrelevance will grow. MSZP has its fair share of terribly unsavoury characters, but I don’t see the rationale behind DK’s end game, if it is indeed to bleed out MSZP and becoming the “largest” party on the left or liberal side. Would it satisfy DK if it won 9% of the vote on the party list (and not a single riding), with MSZP winning 7%, and not a single riding? What would DK achieve between 2018 and 2022 if it had 7 or 8 MPs in a parliament with a near three-fourths Fidesz-KDNP majority? And how would Hungarian democracy be well-served in 2022 if perhaps DK “grew” its support to 10% and if by then the rump MSZP slipped to below 5% and vanished from the political scene? There is a troubling demographic reality that both MSZP and DK must contend with…they are doing nothing but cannibalising each other’s political camps but are not bringing in a… Read more »
Farkas
Guest

Very simply, the evisceration and disembowelment of MSZP by DK is – beyond all political considerations – obviously and above all the sweet revenge of Gyurcsány on all those who knifed him in the back after the speech at Balatonőszöd in 2006.

Aida
Guest

Gyurcsany’s are self inflicted wounds. If he thinks there is someone to blame other than himself he is much mistaken.

Farkas
Guest

Yes, Gyurcsany’s are self inflicted wounds. And yes, he ought not have run for prime ministership in 2004 with a bankrupt economic program based in lies. And yes, he ought not have made an open confession of this at a forum, where his words could be readily leaked out to the media. The blunders of youth, hubris and inexperience.

But the fact is that the then leadership of MSZP had then gleefully took the opportunity to knife him in the back. The whole affair could have been handled quite differently, and in a much more decent and decorous manner.

As they say, revenge is a dish best served cold, and now, eleven years later, Gyurcsány is having his sweet revenge. That’s life, my friend, what goes around, comes around.

Aida
Guest

Yes the revenge theory may have substance. The sufferers of this standoff are the Hungarians who look to a way they can be rescued from the Orban regime by responsible politicians they can trust. Is Gyurcsany one such? Does he again put his ego first and his people at the back of the queue.

Guest

Oh vey!
Has anyone calculated yet what 56% or even 61% of the votes for Fidesz mean in seats – with the “special democratic” Hungarian voting system?
I fear this would lead to a clear two thirds majority of seats …

Member

61% on the party list would likely translate into a three-fourths majority in parliament for Fidesz-KDNP, with Fidesz also sweeping all 106 ridings. I estimate that 61% would net 163 out of 199 seats for Fidesz.

Farkas
Guest

61% plus another potentially one and a half million non-resident, mostly Fidesz and some Jobbik voters from the neighbouring countries who do not seem to have been included in the survey above! So, oy vey indeed!! Lucky me, living in Australia and not in Hungary . . . .

Member

Don’t worry, Wolfi. It WILL NOT lead to a clear two-thirds majority for Fidesz.
It will lead to a clear three-quarters majority for Fidesz.

Marty
Guest

At about 40-41% Fidesz has 2/3s.

61% would mean something over 80%. (Would win all 106 local districts, plus win 61% of the party list spots and actually more because of the ethnic Hungarian votes which are not included in the polls, and on top of that would get a compensation as a winner so altogether probably 170 spots out of 200).

Guest

Thank you all for your answers – I feared as much!
Just wanted to make sure …
And this shows again that Hungary is no longer a democracy but a country with an “illiberal constitution”.
Every country gets the government it deserves – really?

Member

Yup.
If five people are sitting in a room and three of them want Orban to continue as PM, then the other two are just out of luck. The nation gets what it deserves.

Farkas
Guest
Fidesz and Jobbik together represent the electoral choice of 75% of committed voters. This is pretty well the same rightward distribution of political power and voting intentions as was the case with the Party of Hungarian Life (a Magyar Élet Pártja) and the Arrowcross Hungarists (Nyilaskeresztes Párt – Hungarista Mozgalom) in the immediate prewar years. This traditional political line-up is quite obviously a pretty well genuine representation of the political and strategic mindsets, proclivities and comfort zones of the Hungarian electorate. To all appearances, therefore, nothing much have changed in this regard over the past 80 years. The question is whether Orbán would be forced into a reluctant coalition with Vona in order to retain a parliamentary super-majority, in the unlikely event that opposition parties on both the left and right of Fidesz were to make serious inroads into the Fidesz numbers in the upcoming general elections. With such an alliance of corrupt nationalists and neo-Nazis open and mindless fascism would then be just around the corner. As to the MSZP, I have always been wondering what was the sense of salvaging the old MSZMP, in particular by openly transforming it into a party of unprincipled young careerists and aged… Read more »
Marty
Guest
Orban already could’ve worked together with Vona on a supermajority but Vona declined. It was LMP which supplied votes (and almost MSZP) when it was necessary but in many cases Fidesz failed to get the 2/3s in the last few years. As to any coalition with Jobbik. First, any coalition government is better than a unitary government from a democratic point of view, Jobbik would not move the government to the right as Fidesz is already more right-wing than Jobbik is and third it is simply not in Jobbik’s interest to work with Fidesz in a coalition since Jobbik as a junior party would get blamed while the senior party Fidesz would get credit for successes and anyway there would be danger of being “leszalámizva” sliced up (as the communists did with the Kisgazdák and Szocdemek and Fidesz did with Kisgazda, KDNP etc.). Should Orban fail to get 50% (which implies something like 33-35% of the votes cast – of course this is right now inconceivably low) most likely he would engineer a snap election within 6-9 months after which many Jobikniks would flock back to Fidesz (just like Erdogan did recently when stability seeking voters went back to Erdogan).… Read more »
Guest

Hey Marty!
You dare to compare Hungary with Turkey?
That’s not very nice – on the other hand shows you might be some kind of realist …

Farkas
Guest
The great misfortune of Hungary is that the politically active Christian intelligentsia never had either the willingness or capability to form a non-corrupt, non-(excessively)-nationalist, British-style Conservative Party or at least a West-European-style Christian Democratic Party, that would have had the vision, principles and support networks capable of reaching, motivating and mobilizing a large majority of the Hungarian electorate. In doing so, they would have been able to harness the naturally conservative mindset, proclivities and political comfort zones of Hungarians, while neutralizing tendencies to mindless nationalism. But they never had any willingness or capability in this direction either before the war, or after the regime change. Instead, they have by and large been preoccupied with reviling “the Jews” (i.e. their left-wing competitors) and trying to fruitlessly undo Trianon. Bethlen and Bíbó was among the very few conservative Christian politicians and thinkers who realized the full horrific implications of this for Hungary, albeit there was precious little they could do about it in the political circumstances and intellectual isolation in which they found themselves. The tragic failure of the Christian intelligentsia in Hungary to take the lead in a Western-European-style conservative direction leaves an utter and complete leadership vacuum on the Hungarian… Read more »
wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘the tragic failure of the Christian intelligentsia’

From the looks of it the ‘devil’ got his due. The ‘secularization’ of society plus a toleration of an almost ‘everything is permitted’ philosophy reprsented the fear of losing out in the fight for power and influence. Now it’s more ‘if you can’t beat’em join’em’.

In fights like these ethics and morality are second hand clothes to be worn and thrown off by the dregs of political life taking everything oh so idealistic with it. Truly what we are seeing is the ‘sorrow and the pity’ of a society unmoored from valued principles. It is beyond estimation when discernment can make an appearance in the land of the roaming farkasok greedily plotting their next meal.

Farkas
Guest

Wrfree, I think you might have misunderstood the drift of what I was saying in my post above. In Hungary the tragic leadership failure of the politically active right-wing Christian intelligentsia had started in 1919, continued to 1945, then resurfaced in 1989, and had been continuing uninterrupted ever since. Nothing to do with ‘secularization’ or with the “toleration of an almost ‘everything is permitted’ philosophy” or with “if you can’t beat’em join’em,” and everything to do with “the Jews,” with trying to fruitlessly undo Trianon, with historical myths of ancient glory, with a profound suspicion and indeed hatred of modernity, and with a just as profound love of semi-feudal ways in social structuring and interpersonal relationships.

Aida
Guest

Please, please do not wish the British Conservative Party on anyone. Just look at them now.

Farkas
Guest

Britain and the British Conservative Party has been in the throws of an intense identity crisis for quite some years now. I am sure, furthermore, that the disaster and distraction of Brexit that they have foolishly and senselessly engineered will prove to be an enormous footbullet, an almighty blunder, and sooner or later a profoundly humiliated Britain will no doubt have to crawl back into the EU on strictly European terms. However, let us not confuse the current ructions in the ranks of the Tories with the imperishable merit and glory of what they have historically represented in the vanguard of classical liberalism and liberal democracy, and it is to this that I made reference in my post above.

Aida
Guest

As an investor you would be familiar with the mantra “past performance is no guide or guarantee of the future”.

The current crisis in Britain and in the Tory Party is as you know not a biproduct of Brexit. It is exactly the other way round.

Britain’s opponents can look forward to a great victory but it will be at the expense of those in England to a large extent who helped to bring it about. I cannot say I will be sorry.

The English must be taught to learn the virtues they proclaim. Modesty, hard work, humility and above all integrity.

Farkas
Guest

DK is a very interesting political formation on the Hungarian left.

In contrast to all the other political parties, it seems to be completely non-corrupt and non-nationalist, as well as highly principled, rational and business-like in its approach to the economic and social problems awaiting solutions in Hungary. Essentially, it is a quintessential West-European-style Liberal Democratic Party, a highly unusual prodigy in an otherwise viscerally illiberal political desert.

The “Democratic” designation in its name is however a little bit jarring for me, because “Democratic” can also cover the phenomenon of an illiberal tyranny by a democratically elected super-majority. Thus, if the inclusion of “Democratic” in the name of the party is indeed perceived as such a humungous imperative, then, if I had my druthers, I would rather be calling this political formation as the “Liberal Democratic Coalition.”

Given however the conservative nationalist mindset, proclivities and political comfort zones of much of the Hungarian electorate, DK has of course Buckley’s chance of ever being able to form government. What a pity that they are positioned on a perceived “Jewish” left, instead of the “Christian” right, where in reality they could do the most good, given the political Zeitgeist of Hungary.

Observer
Guest

Guy,
I also see the figures, but let’s not make sweeping historic pronouncements.
The popularity figures change very quickly, as this poll proves, and it was by phone where many would not reveal non-fid affiliation.
Remember MSZP/ Liberals won the elections 2006 where almost 10 p Fid lead was forecasted.
There is always the unexpected factor e.g. proofs of Orban’s offshore accounts, Russian plots, a world financial/economic crises.
Soldier on, do your best and if we don’t succeed, I’ll start again.

Ferenc
Guest

OT – Trump ‘loves’ (?) Hungary
Former Trump aide, appearing before the US House Intelligence Committee, stated to have visited HU government officials in Budapest for a meeting in 2016.Aug on suggestion and arrangement by HU ambassador Réka Szemerkényi.
Very strange and vague testimony, recommended to be seriously checked on HU side!!

story: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/11/carter-page-international-man-of-mystery/545159/
transcript: https://intelligence.house.gov/uploadedfiles/carter_page_hpsci_hearing_transcript_nov_2_2017.pdf (not searchable scans; HU at pages 181-194 / pdf 216-229)

tappanch
Guest

Let me summarize what I wrote here on November 3.
Pollster “Median” asks the opinion of only 1000 people.

http://24.hu/belfold/2017/11/02/rekordmagassagban-a-fidesz-tamogatottsaga/

The headline is: Fidesz popularity reached 32% [30%] in the population in October [August] 2017.

What this actually means (since the sample size is only 1000) :

If we neglect at least three other types of errors possible during polling,
Median is 95% confident that the popularity of Fidesz was in the
(27%,33%) range in August and in the
(29%,35%) range in October, 2017.

This means that Median cannot even claim that Fidesz has gained in popularity at all !

Guest

To get into a lighter mood my wife told me to have a look at this site on facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/gondolkodok/
Kind of gallows humour …

PS and rather OT (or not?):
Hungarian humour seems to be best in hopeless situations, just think about all those famous Hungarian movies …

tappanch
Guest

On the one hand, if the sample size is only 1000, the margin of error is plus-minus

4.073% with 99% confidence
3.099% with 95% confidence
2.601% with 90% confidence
2.026% with 80% confidence
1.639% with 70% confidence
1.331% with 60% confidence

On the other hand, if I want to make a prediction with 95% confidence, I have to tabulate the answers of at least

1068 people with plus-minus 3% margin of error
2401 people with plus-minus 2% margin of error
9604 people with plus-minus 1% margin of error
38415 people with plus-minus 0.5% margin of error

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