Divided opposition: Fidesz can be the only winner
Last Sunday there were by-elections in Zugló, the XIV district of Budapest. A Fidesz-KDNP member of the city council, Imre Garaba, had resigned for family reasons. So, a new campaign, new elections for the seat. MTI simply announced the results: Tildy Balázs (Fidesz-KDNP) won with 39.1% of the votes. HVG's headline read: Fidesz-KDNP nominee has a solid [biztos] lead in Zugló.
Well, I wouldn't call the win spectacular. After all, Márta Demeter (MSZP) was second with 30.3% while Gábor Kaibinger (LMP) received 17.5% of the votes. The final result might be a Fidesz win, but the fact is that the MSZP-LMP (socialist-liberal) opposition beat the Fidesz candidate by a mile. If there had been unity on the anti-Fidesz side, a socialist-liberal candidate would have won 47.8% of the votes and would have been declared the winner.
This Fidesz win is even less impressive if we compare the results to the numbers in October 2010, at the time of the municipal elections. Imre Garaba, the man who just resigned, received 47.49% of the votes. Thus, looking at the results in Zugló, we see that Fidesz is losing its supporters but as long as MSZP and LMP can't get together Fidesz is unbeatable.
Leaders of LMP always find some excuse for not cooperating with MSZP. Last September-October the excuse was that LMP couldn't possible hitch its wagon to MSZP because MSZP was corrupt and hated. No way would LMP agree on a common candidate even if that person was not attached to any one party. The Budapest MSZP candidate, Csaba Horváth, was certainly not an exciting choice. Yet he still managed to get almost 30% of the votes, which under the circumstances was close to a miracle. How did the independent LMP candidate fare? He received less than 10%. I'm convinced that an independent common candidate would have done much better than 40%.
The latest alleged obstacle in LMP rhetoric is Ferenc Gyurcsány. Prior to September-October 2010 Gyurcsány was not active politically, but since then he has been making efforts to move his party in a direction he finds most useful under the circumstances. Some of his suggestions–for example, boycotting the discussion of the new constitution–were accepted not only by MSZP under the leadership of Attila Mesterházy but also by LMP. Of course, they would never admit that Gyurcsány's suggestion and their decision had anything to do with one another. Now that Gyurcsány is again in the public eye, LMP and its media began an attack on him as the reason for Fidesz's two-thirds majority as well as for the impossibility of cooperation with MSZP. If Gyurcsány disappeared completely, everything would be wonderful. LMP and MSZP would be bosom buddies.
This is of course a huge lie. It is hard to know what LMP's real role is in this new political game, but its leaders are wrong if they think that their party can wage a political war on two fronts. On the one hand, tell the world how terrible Fidesz is and, on the other, maintain that MSZP is a corrupt party with an unacceptable leadership. In the end, such a two-front war can end only in failure. If LMP sticks with this strategy it will manage, perhaps inadvertently, to keep Fidesz in power.
One mustn't forget the origins of LMP. It grew out of a group of citizens who cared about the environment. During the 2002-2010 period these environmental groups did everything in their power to delay or make impossible any development whatsoever in the country. Whether it was the construction of a radar station, a new factory, or a road, they opposed everything. The particular environmental group that gave birth to LMP was Védegylet. Among other things Védegylet is linked to the election of László Sólyom with Fidesz help to become the president of the republic. One of Sólyom's very first acts was to demonstrate against the radar station that the Hungarian government was obliged to build because of its obligations to NATO.
Sólyom's dislike of Gyurcsány was a well-known fact and András Schiffer (LMP), one of the men who was vital in elevating Sólyom to his position, is only following in his idol's footsteps. He was the one, for example, who went to the prosecutor's office and brought charges against Ferenc Gyurcsány in the Sukoró case. This was the land swap that was undertaken to facilitate the construction of a large entertainment center and casino. As I mentioned several times, Gyula Budai, the commissioner who is supposed to put every opposition politician into jail, tried but failed to implicate either Gyurcsány or Gordon Bajnai. And as things stand right now, it very much looks as if no crime was committed in the course of the transaction. Naturally, the investment is down the drain. The case, by the way, also has anti-semitic overtones since the men who were planning to establish King's City (the intended name of the project) were Israelis and American businessmen of Jewish origin.
As far as I can see MSZP would be ready to work together with LMP at any time, but LMP isn't budging. If there is no united opposition in the next couple of years we will know whom to blame.