MSZP and DK at the negotiating table

Although most people would consider a Fidesz win at the next national election preordained, several political analysts consider the situation not that straightforward. There are several reasons to believe that Fidesz’s road to victory might be more difficult than it would seem at first glance. First of all, Fidesz voters at the moment appear to be complacent. Four years ago Fidesz was very effective in getting out the vote. But in several recent by-elections relatively few Fidesz voters bothered to go to the polls. Second, we know that the majority of voters would like to see a change of government. Only the sorry state of the opposition is responsible for the enormous Fidesz lead. Third, although opinion polls show an unstoppable Fidesz, support for the government party is usually overestimated in polls. Fourth, although few analysts pay enough attention to it, dramatic changes are taking place on the left that might change the political landscape. Here I am referring to the slow but steady disintegration of MSZP. Fifth, there is still an untapped pool of 1.5 million men and women who tell pollsters that they will definitely vote but at the moment are still undecided about their party preferences. These conditions, I believe, provide a level of political fluidity that may result in a closer election than most people expect.

Today I will concentrate on party politics, primarily the battle between MSZP and DK. Ever since László Botka decided to throw in the towel, both DK and MSZP politicians have been telling us that they are furiously and effectively negotiating. The winner of these protracted negotiations seems to be the Demokratikus Koalíció. According to the latest public opinion polls by Závecz Research and Medián, the difference between MSZP and DK is only 2%, in favor of MSZP, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if in the November polls DK would surpass MSZP.

Why? DK just launched its election campaign with an impressive program, whose highlight was an hour-long speech by Ferenc Gyurcsány. We know from past experience that Gyurcsány is an effective campaigner. Also helping DK is its campaign against the voting rights of dual citizens which, I understand, is going well. With this issue DK is reaching people across the political spectrum because we know that a great majority of the Hungarian electorate opposes voting rights for those who don’t bear the burden of their decisions at the ballot box. DK obviously finds this approach to be of such importance that the party is investing in robocalls, to take place this week. With all this effort, I expect a surge in DK support. Of course, the question is whether DK will be able to appeal to any of those 1.5 million unaffiliated voters or will only siphon off disenchanted MSZP voters.

First, a few words about the gala opening of DK’s campaign. Judging from the video, it was a glitzy affair with lots of enthusiasm for the party’s chairman. The occasion  reminded Gábor Török, a political analyst, of American political rallies. In Török’s opinion, Gyurcsány is an oddity of sorts in Hungarian politics because he knows what his political interests are and he works resolutely on achieving his goals. On Olga Kálmán’s program on Hír TV Török called him “a potent politician.”

If there is agreement on the 106 electoral districts, which means only one opposition politician against the Fidesz candidate, Gyurcsány said he is “absolutely optimistic about the election.” At the moment, he believes that his support is 12-13%, as opposed to the 10% reported by Medián and Závecz, and he hopes that by election time DK might reach 15%. This is probably too optimistic an assessment of the chances of the opposition at the forthcoming election, especially since there are serious obstacles to DK and MSZP agreeing on those 106 electoral districts. At one point negotiations broke down, and a few days ago MSZP announced that, in addition to István Haller and Bertalan Tóth, two former chairmen, Attila Mesterházy and József Tóbiás, will join the MSZP negotiating team.

Apparently, in at least two districts there was a serious rift between the two parties over whose candidate will be the Fidesz challenger. One was the electoral district in Újpest; the other, one of the two seats in the city of Szeged. Let’s start with Újpest because its fate has already been decided. MSZP caved. László Varju (DK) will replace Imre Horváth (MSZP). In response, Horváth left the party, although he will sit with the MSZP delegation between now and the end of the current parliamentary session. This is a sad turn of events because in November 2014 Horváth, against all odds, won a by-election after the death of Péter Kiss. It was a tremendous victory. Péter Kiss in the spring had received 40.7% of the votes while the Fidesz candidate got 35.2%. In November Horváth got 50.6% of the votes and his opponent only 30.6%. No wonder that now, three years later, Horváth feels that his party has thrown him to the dogs, allowing DK to take over a traditionally socialist district. According to rumor, Horváth either will run as an independent or perhaps he will be LMP’s candidate, running, of course, in the same district against Varju.

Another bone of contention is one of the two Szeged districts that the local MSZP people refuse to hand over to DK. László Botka, the mayor of Szeged and former MSZP candidate for prime minister, is still strong enough to defend his territory against the MSZP negotiating team. István Ujhelyi, a member of the European Parliament and a strong Botka supporter, gave a press conference in Brussels, of all places, where he said that the local MSZP leadership has no intention of replacing a “winning team,” a claim that is only partially true. It is correct to say that Sándor Szabó (MSZP-Együtt-DK-PM) won one of the two Szeged districts, but the other went to László B. Nagy (Fidesz). The local MSZP’s candidate for the second district is Márton Joób, a MSZP-DK-Együtt-PM member of the city council and a close associate of Botka. Given the very loose party discipline in MSZP, it is not exactly easy to negotiate with the socialists. The center might make decisions that the national leadership finds important for the party as a whole, but the local party leadership can rebel, citing its own priorities.

All of this is hellishly complicated. The electoral law devised by Fidesz counted on just these kinds of situations that occur in each and every electoral district when it comes to dividing the political terrain among several parties. On the other side, Viktor Orbán handpicks the candidates, who are nothing more than loyal voting machines.

November 22, 2017
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Gabor Toka
Guest

Excellent article but “Kispest” should be read as “Újpest”, of course. At Kispest Hiller himself if the socialist incumbent and he is as unlikely to give up his seat as any.

poncho
Guest

Oh my god, Attila Mesterhazy and Jozsef Tobias negotiating on MSZP’s side. They sold the 2014 elections to Fidesz and they still represent MSZP. Unbelievable. I mean seriously why would anybody vote for MSZP? So that Mesterhazy or Tobias could buy a bigger house and a bigger chopper bike? (Mesterhazy is said to be an avid biker and according to rumors this is how he received, far from the urban areas, the cash from Arpi Habony back in 2014, ie. to continue to remain a numb, impotent leader of MSZP.) I’m not at all surprised that Gabor Török said that if Fidesz would end up with less than 50% of the mandates then he thinks MSZP would be willing to form a coalition with Fidesz. I agree, these corrupt mszpniks would sell their own mother for a bigger chopper bike.

Member

“Mesterhazy is said to be an avid biker and according to rumors this is how he received, far from the urban areas, the cash from Arpi Habony back in 2014, ie. to continue to remain a numb, impotent leader of MSZP.”

I have heard that if you throw a bucket of water on Mesterhazy, he melts. But I don’t believe it.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘he melts.. But I don’t believe it.

Check it out! Art imitates life you know…😎👍
https://youtu.be/aopdD9Cu-So
Have to say it looks great in HD .. This goes back to ’39!

Istvan
Guest

Erzsébet Szalai the left wing sociologist the other day wrote an essay that is relevant to Gyurcsány and the future of DK. It’s the generational divide in Hungary and effectively the mass and rapid replacement of older Hungarians in the political structures of the country. Her essay can be read in Hungarian at http://muon.hu/a-generacios-ellentetekrol-2/

A happy Thanksgiving holiday to Eva and other American Hungarians on this blog. This holiday was declared by President Lincoln in the midst of the US civil war to essentially give thanks for series of Union victories against the slave owner oligarchs of the Confederacy after numerous defeats. It has since been converted into a more ecumenical holiday embracing New England’s early settlers contacts with native people in a rather fantastic manner having little to do with history. My family gives thanks this day for the Union victory and remembers the thousands upon thousands of our young men that died to achieve that bloody victory.

wrfree
Guest

And I would like to echo Istvan’s comments as well. Lots of meaning today behind the feasts of turkey,sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and libations and at the end finding oneself plumped in a chair absolutely ‘stuffed’. It is good that we ‘give thanks’ on this special day. We have alot to be thankful for.

We here do not reside in a ‘perfect’ country however I would think that this great ‘experiment’ has presented a haven for giving the opportunity for individuals to have the power of trying to achieve the Jeffersonian ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in these United States. Many have given up their lives for this sacred freedom. We should hope that successive generations in these States continue to protect and cherish our freedoms. And giving thanks for that continues the remembrance.

gugli
Guest

Overheard on the tram by a journalist of hvg.hu.

Lady1: She went into the hospital and contracted flesh-eating bacteria. We didn’t have this under Gyurcsany.

Lady2: No, no, this is because of Orban.

Lady1: C’mon! This is George Soros!

http://munchausenparokaja.tumblr.com/post/167801742921/két-néni-a-villamoson-egy-harmadikról-néni1

gugli
Guest

Interesting bear story from Romania with lots of ethnic Hungarians. It’s clear that Orban is very influential among ethnic Hungarian politicians. Recommended.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/22/how-the-brown-bear-became-public-enemy-number-one-in-rural-romania

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

This is off topic, but I want to take this opportunity to wish all my friends in the United States a very happy Thanksgiving!

I have a very special (although not unique) reason to be thankful. It was around this date in 1956 my father and I escaped from Soviet-occupied Hungary and found freedom and a new life in the Free World. I will always remain thankful to a certain Republican President with a heart (yes, there were those, also) who extend a helping hand and allowed us to come to the United States as refugees.

petofi
Guest

1956: That american president was Eisenhower–a much better president than given credit..Back in the days when Republicans still had some decency..

petofi
Guest

Nowdays, the Democrats are no great shakes either. Has anyone explained why the Dems allowed the gerrymandering that lost them both the House and Senate with narry a whimper?

tappanch
Guest

Forcing out tenants or former owners after a foreclosure:

Exemption periods:
in a regular winter: from December 1 to March 1
in an pre-election winter: from November 15 to May 1.

http://www.jogiforum.hu/hirek/38440?utm_source=jfhl&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=201747