What’s going on in SZDSZ?
Maybe I’m being influenced by Bálint Magyar, one of the founders of SZDSZ, whom I heard twice today on the SZDSZ election crisis, but I’m getting increasingly suspicious. Somehow I can’t get it out of my head that this whole controversy, given its timing and circumstances, has links to the largest opposition party. This would not be the first time that Viktor Orbán managed to get rid of a party that was not exactly to his liking. In 2001 it was his own coalition partner who became a burden. This time perhaps he thinks that the demise of SZDSZ might serve his purpose. After all, in the last two elections, SZDSZ’s presence helped the socialists into power.
Without wanting to repeat myself since I know that I already wrote about this controversy once, I would like to summarize the events leading up to the current situation. After Gábor Kuncze’s decision not to run again as a candidate for the post of president of SZDSZ the election became wide open. Against Kuncze no candidate stood a chance. Gábor Fodor tried twice and lost. The situation now was different. His opponent was János Kóka who until recently wasn’t even a member of the party and whose political experience was slim. This time Fodor had a real chance. A fierce battle ensued. In the first round each candidate received exactly the same number of votes. A second round of voting became necessary. Kóka won by thirteen votes. That was more than a year ago.
A couple of months ago a fellow showed up at HírTV with a juicy story. He claimed that, although he wasn’t even a delegate, under false names he and some others voted for János Kóka, assuming the places of real delegates who were absent. According to him, the head of the county delegation asked them to do this. The only problem with the story was that the head of this particular country’s delegation was an ardent supporter of Gábor Fodor, and it was unlikely that she would urge phony delegates to vote for Fodor’s opponent. An internal investigation followed that came to the conclusion that, although several people voted who were ineligible, neither Fodor nor Kóka had anything to do with the affair. Moreover, for some inexplicable reason the fellow changed his story, claiming that he actually voted for Fodor. The committee investigating the affair, of course, couldn’t verify his story one way or the other. Thus, Kóka and people supporting him, including Gábor Kuncze, felt that there was no need to repeat the election.
Throughout the investigation Fodor kept repeating that he wasn’t taking any action, that he was awaiting the committee’s verdict. Well, Fodor was furious with the decision. It was clear that he was hoping for a different outcome. He wanted to repeat the election because he believed that this time he would triumph. My feeling is the same. There are a lot of people who are very disappointed in Kóka. Kóka promised all sorts of things, including strengthening SZDSZ. Instead, SZDSZ support has shrunk to under 5% which means that, if national elections were held today, SZDSZ wouldn’t get into parliament.
There is no question that SZDSZ can only come out of this badly. Some people talk about a split between the two camps. And many recall the agony of the Smallholders, splitting into bits and pieces until they eventually disappeared from Hungarian political life. That can happen to SZDSZ. People keep asking: "Cui prodest?" or "Cui bono?" In whose interest or for whose benefit? Certainly not Kóka’s. Certainly not SZDSZ’s. The very fact that the phony delegate offered his services to HírTV, whose owner is the same as that of Magyar Nemzet, tells us something. Who sought out whom? Another question: why now? The elections, after all, took place about a year ago. There are no definite answers, of course, but one can’t help being suspicious.
If Viktor Orbán’s hand is in this sordid affair, one can ask: what role is Gábor Fodor playing in the game? After all, Fodor began his career in Fidesz. He shared a dormitory room with Orbán while in law school. He left Fidesz in 1993 because he was dissatisfied with the party’s turn toward the right and was suspicious of the financial dealings conducted in secret by Lajos Simicska, Orbán’s right-hand man. He went over to SZDSZ, where I’m sure he greatly contributed to the impressive SZDSZ showing in the 1994 elections. Whether his move may also have been at least partially responsible for the poor showing of Fidesz is debatable. In any event, Fodor prides himself on being a man who is able to achieve consensus. He was the only SZDSZ candidate for a ministerial post whom Fidesz members supported in committee. Some of his legislative proposals were accepted wholeheartedly by the opposition members as well. A unique situation in the current political atmosphere. He normally talks in glowing and reverent terms about "Mr. President," with whom he consults all the time.
Anyway, I can’t get it out of my mind that "something is rotten in the state of Denmark." But why? Why? It seems so unnecessary when, according to a post-referendum poll, if elections were held today Fidesz would receive two-thirds of the votes. They don’t need a dead SZDSZ. Or are they still not sure? Okay, all you conspiracy theorists, is there a plot afoot and, if so, what’s the strategy?