MSZP-Párbeszéd held its campaign launch

MSZP’s congress, which also served as the party’s campaign launch, has concluded. Originally, the congress was supposed to be held in December, but until the last minute the MSZP leadership kept hoping that they would be able to convince Ferenc Gyurcsány to join them in creating a common party list. The other reason for the general sluggishness of the MSZP negotiators was their ardent hope that by announcing László Botka’s candidacy for the premiership in October the party’s standing would improve considerably. That hope was pretty well dashed by the end of the year. And then a somewhat unexpected turn of events brought Gergely Karácsony, co-chair of Párbeszéd, to the negotiating table with the leaders of MSZP. He said he would be willing to be the party’s candidate for prime minister but only if Párbeszéd as a distinct entity could join the socialists, forming an MSZP-Párbeszéd ticket.

Such a demand is reasonable when the two parties are of equal or close to equal weight, but Párbeszéd is a minuscule party with perhaps 1% of support in the electorate. And there was another impediment to a merger. According to the Hungarian electoral law, if two distinct parties formally join, creating a new entity, that entity must receive at least 10% of the votes to become a parliamentary party. Given the poor showing of MSZP of late, some people in the party thought that such a move would be too risky. Others, apparently the fiery Ágnes Kunhalmi included, warned against that kind of gloomy outlook, saying it would negatively influence the whole socialist campaign.

“Alliance for change” / Source: Népszava / Photo: József Vajda

Current thinking is that MSZP will be able to garner at least 15% of the votes, which translates more or less into a 15-member parliamentary delegation. In 2014 the common party list of MSZP, DK, and Együtt received enough votes for a 37-member parliamentary delegation, of which 29 seats went to MSZP due to a list on which MSZP members had an undue advantage. This time, in exchange for an attractive candidate in the person of Karácsony, the socialists seem to be a great deal more generous. Párbeszéd has three candidates in the first 20 slots, two of whom will probably be sitting in the next parliament.

Then there is the Magyar Liberális Párt of Gábor Fodor. It is even less significant than Párbeszéd, yet for some strange reason Party Chairman Gyula Molnár wanted Fodor to be part of the team. First, he suggested that Fodor run in the district that includes the city of Gyöngyös, Fodor’s hometown. Gyöngyös has a socialist mayor, whom László Botka recommended to be MSZP’s parliamentary candidate for the district. When the mayor was told by Molnár that plans had changed, he resigned from the party. But in the end it wasn’t Fodor who got the district but a young MSZP member from the area. The flip-flops gave the impression of a party that doesn’t know what it’s doing.

That was not, however, the end of the Fodor saga because Molnár still wanted Fodor to be part of the team and suggested him for the fifteenth slot, which is considered to be winnable. At that point a revolt broke out; Molnár was voted down 8 to 1. In the end a compromise was reached. Anett Bősz, one of the better-known members of the liberal party, was chosen instead of Fodor to represent the liberals. Perhaps Ferenc Gyurcsány’s experience with Fodor in 2014 made the MSZP leadership leery of trusting Fodor. On Gyurcsány’s insistence, Fodor got a top-notch place on the joint list, but after he was elected he refused to join the DK group, which needed only one more person to form an official parliamentary delegation. In any case, it is possible that Fodor’s long political career is over.

All this wrangling has done considerable damage not just to MSZP but also to the other left-of-center parties. Voters cannot understand their inability to set aside personal ambitions and coalesce into a united front. But it is easy to give advice from the outside. The creation of a party list is a difficult, emotional  undertaking. The mayor of Gyöngyös was practically in tears when he announced his resignation from the party. And Gergely Bárándy, who in the last 12 years was the party’s legal expert, announced his retirement from politics. The reason is most likely his slim chance of continuing his work as a member of parliament.

In addition, although I often point out that the left-of-center parties have a great deal in common and that they agree on the fundamentals of liberal democracy, there are still many issues that divide them. One such issue is their attitude toward the recent past. Együtt, LMP, Momentum, and to a certain extent even Párbeszéd look upon the socialist-liberal era before 2010 as political baggage that must be discarded. Something went wrong as early as 1990 and everything must begin anew. Obviously, MSZP and DK feel differently about the democratic accomplishments of those years.

The parties’ views on liberalism also differ sharply. Members of the socialist party are convinced that the reason for their loss of support was the party’s move toward liberalism under the chairmanship of Ferenc Gyurcsány. In fact, the chairman of Demokratikus Koalíció still maintains that it is his party that most clearly represents liberal values; it is the most market-friendly party and the most sensitive among the democratic parties when it comes to human rights.

There is also the question of voting rights for Hungarians living beyond the borders, which sets DK apart from the rest of the left-of-center parties.

Gergely Karácsony believes in a guaranteed minimum income (GMI), which sends people like Lajos Bokros, a man holding hard-and-fast views on the traditional market economy, into fits of apoplexy. But the left wing of MSZP must welcome Karácsony’s ideas on what he calls “szociális demokrácia” as something different from szociáldemokrácia, which is a political movement. My understanding is that Karácsony is talking about a democracy that first and foremost concerns itself with the betterment of its citizens’ standard of living. Other political leaders believe that the restoration of the rule of law is the first order of business, which will then lead in an organic way to a more prosperous life.

Karácsony is promising help for those who suffered at the hands of financial capitalism, both honest and corrupt. Just today, he said he would take care of those people who took out Forex loans and ended up with incredible financial burdens for decades to come. He would also compensate those who suffered losses as a result of the Quaestor scandal of 2015. Other parties, for example DK, are worried about financial promises that either cannot be kept or, if kept, would be economically disastrous for the country.

Let me close by pointing out a few positive developments. In two instances MSZP members gave up their electoral districts to non-politicians who might stand a better chance of winning. One of the most promising examples is economist Tamás Mellár’s electoral district in Pécs. In 2014 Fidesz won the district narrowly and with the help of LMP, which had its own candidate. Since then, the local Fidesz government has driven the city to the brink of financial ruin, so voters seem to be eager for a change. The other district is around Siófok, where the “star lawyer” György Magyar decided to run with MSZP support.

These are good signs, but LMP’s reluctance to cut a deal with MSZP-Párbeszéd and DK is still a serious impediment to the opposition’s chances against the government party.

February 11, 2018
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Marty
Guest
“Gergely Karácsony believes in a guaranteed minimum income (GMI), which sends people like Lajos Bokros, a man holding hard-and-fast views on the traditional market economy, into fits of apoplexy.” This is much simpler. People (usually white rural folks) neither in the US nor in Hungary accept that their (gipsy, black) neighbors receive free money. They won’t accept that and will only vote for politicians who don’t throw free money around. Karácsony is totally out of touch with rural voters if he thinks GMI is relevant, in fact the idea is a net destroyer of votes for anybody who raises it. The entire public work/fostered work program was set up by Fidesz exactly becauase average rural voters couldn’t accept that gipsies received wealfare and did nothing in exchange (only refered constantly to their human rights but they accepted no obligations in return). Rural voters demanded a change and now the program is the new normal. No self-respecting politician dares to do away with it even though it’s economically very bad. Yes, but as a method of discipline it works and rural voters demand it. This entire GMI could only pop out of the head of a clueless Western person who never… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Marty
You make many firm assertions which seem completely baseless, eg Fid introduced fostered work because rural voters demanded it ?! Pls gimme a break…
Secondly, think beyond the slogans – fostered work pays well under the min wage (and is being abused for this firing loc gov staff and re-hiring them as fostered, great joy in the community?)
GMI is talked about in the range of $ 100-180 a month, not much, and to be offered to ALL, eliminating the envy factor.
Finally, the successful “western” countries are led by “urban economists” and the most successful ones are the most egalitarian.
I know, there’s the Magyar ugar (retrograde semi feudal society, i.e. Horthy), but these serfs can be bought on the cheap, eg witness the 10k Xmas and Easter vouchers (in Hmvàsàrhely), the sacks of potatos or apples handed out by B.Rètvàri etc. all paid by public, not party money (i.e. illegal political support, remember ASZ?)
God, what a swamp…!

Observer
Guest

Marty
You ignore the arguments that 1. ALL people would be entitled to GIM 2. Many low pay working folk feel threatened by the possibility of being pushed into fostered work.
In rural places as a matter of course there are on protests, not even opinions voiced, just like in the communist regimes – “keeping control over” everything by the local fid boss, who is untouchable, ie NOT accountable. Being a small countryside character Orban very well understands the rural mentality – this is his most important political skill.
Your musing about the gypsies and the rural people are standard Jobbik now Fid propaganda, not without truth in it, but oversimplified for our level of discussion even if we think “communication”. After all, to jab on Lázár’s comment, it takes 10 min to steal a chicken or smth after fostered work and everyone there knows it.

Marty
Guest
Why would a person with good salary be entitled to any money? It doesn’t make sense to me and neither to average people. Getting taxpayer’s money when you don’t need it is perplexing and doesn’t seem moral – when in fact there are people who actually need that money. But believe me, I get the idea and I think it can work in Finland – all I’m saying it cannot work politically in Hungary and other places which lived thorugh Socialsm. But not so coincidentally, do you know who is pushing for GMI very much? Silicon Valley. They now own everything, the big five Amazon-FB-Google-Apple-MS suck up all data and make unbelievable profits (tens of USDbn per quarter). No wonder they want to continue to internalize profits and externalize social costs (the problem of people not having jobs due to automation caused by Silicon Valley). The “state” (we taxpayers) should solve the salary issue (ie grant the GMI) which then the hapless citizens then can spend on services which benefit these five (maybe 15 other similarly situated data-based) companies. Of course one would have to regulate and tax these companies but politically it seems impossible – not because of the… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Marty
Good points. GMI is just one form of redistribution, we can argue about the options, but the fundamental problems are the level and ways to redistribute or “internalize” the concentrating income and wealth (see T.Pickety, W.Buffet et al) and arrest the sinking of the middle class, which is one of the factors for the populist wave – pay more tax or the pitch forks are coming. So far the US is still drifting, actually being by pushed by Trump down the Reagan road of tax reduction contributing to the slow, but steady impoverishment. Notably the most crisis resistant economies seem to be the German, Dutch and Scandinavian – their people living very well despite high taxes.

Guest

A bit OT re the USA:
What I really don’t get is the “middle class” voting for reducing taxes for the rich, it’s bad enough in the EU too but at least a minimum is paid, but in the USA?
Infrastructure is deteriorating rapidly, roads, education and health care the prominent example, but people seem ok with this – don’t they think at all?
Do they really believe in that “trickle down” concept?

And Hungary seems a lost case right now anyway …

Marty
Guest
The communication works differently in rural places, you won’t see people demonstrating. It’s very hush hush. But Fidesz has an extremely comprehensive rural political/intelligence infrastructure and the regional managers constantly check how people feel, what’s on their minds, what do they care about. The local politicians are held accountable. There’s benchmarking, all the management speak you can get. You wouldn’t believe how comprehensive it is. One of their conclusion was – especially in light of then-Jobbik’s stance on gipises – that rural people just didn’t like that gipises stayed home all day and constantly invoked their rights but didn’t accept obligations. People constantly asked Fidesznik politicians how come we (as municipality) pay for cleaning the ditch when we have able people who do nothing all day and get free money? Can’t they be used to do some of the work? The rural sense of social justice does not accept the concept of free money (welfare) – they feel that something must be demanded from people who receive wealfare. Fidesz realized that and now the program is there. People realized also that it’s finally an effective – feudal – method of keeping control over gipises (if somebody is making problems (túl… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

OT
Gorka disappeared from the WANTED list (as predicted in previous comments here, by Observer?)
Source: https://444.hu/2018/02/11/nem-korozi-mar-a-rendorseg-gorka-sebestyent

Well that can be seen as good news also: police found new suspects and had to “cleaned up” the list, to make space for new “WANTED MEN”, some suggestions: Tiborz, Lazar, OV (up to the police in which order…)
May be some creative Hungarians can use this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kHiuxn0FhI – and adapt it to current happenings around them…

Ferenc
Guest

Szel Bernadett will ask info about Gorka in the next (when?) meeting of the National Security Committee. To be continued…
http://lehetmas.hu/hirek/240909/nemzetbiztonsagi-bizottsag-kerjen-tajekoztatast-gorka-sebestyen-elleni-nyomozasrol/

Aida
Guest

@Marty
You maybe right that Karácsony is out of touch. I still wish him well. Very difficult to accuse him of being a left over Communist. How the issue of the rural poor will play out is not within my experience. The suggestion that both in the US and in Hungary there is a significant body of opinion that regards blacks/gipsies as undeserving indolent people does not surprise me. However the question I would ask those who know what is the ethnic make up of the Hungarian rural poor. Maybe and I do not know that the true beneficiaries of GMI would be the ethnic Hungarians and not the significant niumber of gipsies. Much of the so called gipsy crime is a bye product of poverty. Is Karácsony not more far sighted than he has been given credit for by Marty?

Farkas
Guest

“Ethnic Hungarians”???? Who are they??

Yeah, the usual stuff, like daddy came from Croatian stock, mom is from a Schwabian family, but we are an ethnically pure Hungarian family . . . .

:-)))

Aida
Guest

So what, you are a Hungarian if you feel and profess you are Hungarian. What other test is there?

Farkas
Guest

With all due respect Aida:

Hungarian YES, by all means, but “ethnic” Hungarian most definitely NO.

As far as I know, that particular species only exists in nationalist delusions.

Farkas
Guest

I hold that ethnicity is primarily a matter of genetic descent, and therefore to designate a language group as also an ethnicity is profoundly erroneous.

I realise of course that native speakers of Hungarian living in neighbouring countries are usually referred to as ethnic Hungarians for fairly straightforward political reasons.

Inside Hungary proper, Gypsies and Jews do indeed constitute genuine and recognisable ethnicities, and even the German-, Slovakian-, Romanian-, Serb- and Croatian-speaking minorities would probably qualify as ethnicities on the basis of familial descent.

The overwhelming majority of other Hungarians are however of an incredibly mixed descent and cannot possibly qualify as an ethnicity.

Therefore, if a contrast needs to be drawn between Gypsy and other Hungarians, I would use the admittedly awkward “Gypsy versus non-Gypsy Hungarians” designation, rather than “Gypsy versus ethnic Hungarians.”

Farkas
Guest

In other words, (1) a given ethnicity may include native speakers of more than one language (Gypsies, Jews, Kurds, Chinese), and (2) a given language may be spoken as the native tongue of more, or many more than one ethnicity (or for that matter, of no particular ethnicity), which is often the case around the world (English, Russian, Persian, Hindustani/Urdu, or, for that matter, Hungarian in the Carpathian Basin).

Marty
Guest
Voters don’t make rational calculations. Poor white Amerians are worse off under Trump and Republicans yet especially in the South they always vote Republican (“against their interests”). They are not economists. It doesn’t matter if many recipients of GMI would be poor whites, the idea that poor gipises will now have money without work and they will have time to watch TV all day and make more kids, who in turn will demand more GMI etc. is outrageous to any white folks in rural regions. In rural regions the gipsy question is the single most important and existential question and it is not a rational, financial question. The white people will rather stay poor for ever but will not let gipises get rewarded again for doing nothing. That era is over, rural folks have had enough of lefty intellectuals. There is one more thing with the GMI – purchasing power varies very much in the country. The same universal amount is worth less in Budapest and maybe three times as much in rural Borsod. But the idea of the GMI only works as a universal amount (and not as a new kind of wealfare) if it’s the exact same amount… Read more »
Istvan
Guest
I certainly agree with you Marty about rural whites in the USA voting against their own interests when they voted for Trump. The non-urban population of the USA is overall much whiter than rest of the USA, it is getting older and losing population steadily. The best and the brightest children from those communities go to college and leave those areas moving to urban centers creating what I call a brain drain. From my experience in Komárom-Esztergom county in Hungary I see a similar brain drain taking place, even amongst children of Fidesz and or KDNP supporters. In this case the mirgration is to other EU countries after a stop in Budapest following university. Only in the South of the USA are there high Black populations in rural, small town to small city counties. It is extremely rare to find pockets of rural poverty with racial minorities similar to the Roma in Hungary in the modern USA. What took place in the USA is called the “great migration” of African Americans from the rural south to northern cities, today there is actually a decline in high concentrations of urban black communities and a suburbanization taking place of middle income African… Read more »
bimbi
Guest

Seen in Budapest – an addition to one of the shameful Rogán signs:

Soros Elefántokat telepítene be Afrikábόl es a Közel-keltről STOP SOROS!

One loves the humour but alas, we are all still dancing to Orbán’s tune. Hungary sinks beneath a sea of Orbán’s excrement.

Member

I have never quite figured out why Hungarian politicians see an advantage in running as “an independent with the support of XYZ party.” The only time this could be beneficial is when the candidate was truly independent before receiving the political endorsement, like Ferenc Geiger in Soroksar.
Did Hungarians consider Pal Schmitt and Istvan Tarlos to be independents? No, they considered these men to be Fideszniks, which they clearly were.
Did they view Lajos Bokros as an independent who just happened to head the MDF’s list two elections in a row? No. They saw him as the MDF’s last desperate grab at relevance.
Do Siofokers think Gyorgy Magyar is an independent? Doubtful. He is the MSZP’s candidate and will be treated as such by the Fidesz machine, which is very powerful throughout the Balaton region.

Ferenc
Guest

OT
The Guardian: “Orbán allies could use EU as cash register, MEPs say”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/12/orban-allies-could-use-eu-as-cash-register-meps-say
PS: the two EU politicians quoted in it are both from EPP member parties (Grässle, German, CDU and Engel, Luxembourg)

wrfree
Guest

Re: the restoration of the ‘rule of law’

The country should hope then it won’t be in the manner after the short dalliance with democratic traditions. There is already disunity between the opposition parties. Add to that the differences in what kind of democracy is needed points to difficult times ahead.

If rule of law is to be restored it must be that all are on the same page in its requirements and that it is ‘law’ for the ‘greater good’ not for cliques whose concern appears to generate laws which back a mission continuing the advantages of holding power. There looks to be mighty work ahead with sharp thinking needed for the challenge.

Member

Surprise, surprise. Peter Juhasz, the candidate with the best chance of defeating the KDNP’s Istvan Hollik in the race for the parliamentary seat being vacated by Antal Rogan, is accused of drugging and abusing his ex-girlfriend (mother of three of his four children.)
Juhasz is fighting back with libel suits, and the mother of child #4, actress Gabriella Hamori, is not speaking out against him (at least for now).
Certainly, if the story is true, Juhasz needs to drop out of the race and face the legal consequences. But what fortuitous timing! The incident supposedly occurred in December 2016, but his ex finds the emotional strength to file charges only 13 months after the fact. As luck would have it, just before the general election. And the story gets broken by Andy Vajna’s Bors tabloid, followed by Andy Vajna’s TV2.
Too many coincidences.
If you want the full flavor of Fidesz venom, I suggest reading the 888.hu version:
https://888.hu/article-juhasz-peter-napokra-a-lakasba-zarta-nyugtatozta-es-verte-a-volt-baratnojet

Guest

Eva, I think you should put politics.hu (twitter) back into the “noteworthy” list. Ith has so many links to the ugly stuff that O and his cronies are producing right now.
It’s really an abominable sight – seeing Hungary going down the drain ever faster, horrible!

Guest

If we follow Marty’s ideas life is so simple:
As a foreigner just use Hungary – it has cheap workers …
As a Hungarian either try to become a member of the mafia or leave as fast as possible – if that doesn’t work maybe kill yourself!

Observer
Guest

The Marty profile is of a Jobbik lawyer – a mix of education, Hun nationalism, patent anti-communism/ now anti-left, but not so anti-democracy after Fid squeezed Joibbik (no hope for a privileged status anymore) and anti-corruption. Some of them realize the economic consequences too. All in this order of importance.

Marty
Guest

I am not a Jobbik lawyer, chill out. What I am trying to explain is how Fidesz has built out a genuine support (because although Fidesz is corrupt and tyarannical but it has a genuine support too) and how rural, uneducated folks think.

You either dismiss them as hopeless (in which case you will never get elected even when Hungary becomes a democracy again) or you try to understand them and try to cater to their needs.

I agree that for an urban, educated left-leaning person it’s not easy to embrace these folks, but as long as they have a vote too you have to work with them. You dismiss them at your peril.

I’m not anti-left, but I don’t like the current crop of leftist politicians (well, do voters like them?) because they are weak, clueless and hopelessly corrupt.

Just today it turned out DK’s candidate Norbert Élő (protege of the late Sandor Nagy) was in bed with a Fidesznik municpality – but of course what do you expect? A former MSZPnik will sell his mother for some cash, that’s all.

Observer
Guest

Marty
I’m cool and didn’t say what YOU are, it just resembles. I, for one, don’t dismiss the sad reality, but I think (despite my Machiavellian spots) there should be limits to the populism “we” indulge in. I was a conservative on economic (Tatcher, Heathrow), law & order and many social issues, on others liberal, but always vehemently anti-fascist.

Marty
Guest

wolfi, can’t you differentiate between the thinking of white uneducated rural folks and my thinking? You dismiss these white folks as racist, bunkó etc. What I am doing is simply provising a somewhat more complex rationale behind their political preferences (not my political preferences).

Ferenc
Guest

Which leads to the question: what did the “all-knowing” M choose for himself?? What has ‘M become… member or leaver??

Marty
Guest

I live in Hungary, always have, I’m way too old to leave. But If I was 25 years younger I may’ve ended up somewhere in the West. For me it still wasn’t so easy to just leave and now I’m not so young anymore for such a radical change.

Guest

Of course we older people (just turned 75 and my wife is also over 70) aren’t important any more, except as “Stimmvieh” (voting animals) maybe – my comment was for the young whose decisions are important – leave Hungary as fast as you can!
And looking around the village it seems they do …
And the Remainers (no connection to GB implied!) get what they deserve? A minimal pension and minimal health services and minimal everything (pálinka is still cheap however …) – just like in Kádár times?

Ferenc
Guest

And to make your life in Hungary bearable, what are you doing/writing/commenting here?
Trying to discredit each and everyone opposing OV&Co!!

Marty
Guest

We talked this over, Ferenc, I repeat that I did a lot, certinaly sacrificed a lot of money and opportunity. I know a lot of people and I don’t see anybody who would’ve even come close.

Ferenc
Guest

That’s not the point.
Somebody’s never too old to change…