Gordon Bajnai versus Attila Mesterházy: Two views, two strategies
Although the democratic opposition is in disarray, the Fidesz government is already preparing the ground for a possible return of Gordon Bajnai as leader of the opposition that hopes to regain power after the 2014 elections.
A sure sign that Viktor Orbán is somewhat worried about Bajnai’s candidacy is that Kehi (Kormányzati Ellenőrzési Hivatal/Government Control Office) just made the decision to initiate a formal investigation in connection with the sale of Dataplex Kft back in 2005. The accused are not mentioned by name, but the suspicion is that the real targets are Gordon Bajnai and János Kóka (SZDSZ), minister of economics and transportation between 2004 and 2008. Indeed, today’s Heti Válasz claims that the paper has absolute proof of the guilt of these two men. Anyone who’s interested in the complicated story of Dataplex Kft. can find plenty of material in Magyar Nemzet and Heti Válasz in 2009 and 2010. In brief, the charge is that in three months Kóka and Bajnai made 3 billion forints on the sale of Dataplex Kft., originally a state-owned firm. They bought it on the cheap and sold it for a handsome profit to Magyar Telekom.
Heti Válasz, which began investigating the case in 2007, is overjoyed. At last, after all the cases that Budai investigated came to naught, here is one that is rock solid. Or at least this is what the pro-Fidesz organ claims. Well, we will see. After all, it is also in today’s news that Gyula Budai, who was sued by Ferenc Gyurcsány and Gordon Bajnai because he had accused them of perjury, was found guilty today. He is obliged to pay 300,000 forints to each man and must publicly apologize for falsely accusing them of a very serious crime.
So, why this sudden interest in Bajnai’s candidacy and how serious is it? First, yesterday Ferenc Gyurcsány wrote a short note on Facebook in which he summarized the current political situation as he sees it. According to him, many people think that the chaos among the different groups that oppose the current government makes the situation hopeless. But he is more upbeat. From the study by the Homeland and Progress Foundation, established by Gordon Bajnai, everyone knows that without cooperation there is no way of removing Viktor Orbán from power. LMP refuses to cooperate with any other political party. MSZP doesn’t exclude the possibility of cooperation, but Mesterházy and his circle believe in the possibility of winning the elections on their own. After praising Mesterházy as the chairman of the party, Gyurcsány pretty well declares that Mesterházy is not a good candidate for the job of prime minister. He likens the situation to the 1998-2002 period when, although László Kovács managed to build up MSZP, he was wise enough to allow Péter Medgyessy to be the official candidate for prime minister. “He stepped back and his party won.”
From here it’s but a short step to naming Bajnai as an acceptable candidate of the joint effort to dislodge Viktor Orbán. “The key is in Gordon Bajnai’s hand.” DK is not putting up anyone for the post, so it is up to LMP and MSZP to shape what happens. If they refuse to cooperate with all other forces Viktor Orbán will remain and “the voters will punish them. Rightly….”
An article that appeared yesterday in HVG deals with the same topic. Gábor Gavra and Ferenc M. László claim that “Bajnai already decided but MSZP is unwilling.” The authors seem to know that negotiations are going on between the staff of Bajnai and the MSZP leadership, but it seems that Mesterházy and his friends within the party believe that they don’t need anyone from the outside to win the elections. Within the party only Péter Kiss and Ildikó Lendvai are pushing for cooperation, not only with other parties but also with civic groups like Milla, 4K, and Szolidaritás.
According to the information these two reporters received, Mesterházy is against any kind of coalition/cooperation with the other parties. Working out a common platform with LMP is almost impossible because MSZP would have to make too many compromises. As for DK, he is certain that the current supporters of Gyurcsány’s party will eventually return to the fold.
There seems to be another consideration within the leadership of MSZP. According to the current MSZP strategy that surfaced a few days ago, MSZP wants to return to the traditional left-wing policies that made the socialists popular in the past. The proponents of this return to old-fashioned socialism accuse Gyurcsány and others of infecting MSZP with the virus of liberalism. Liberalism might appeal to intellectuals, but MSZP doesn’t even want to be popular with that segment of MSZP supporters. The eggheads should follow the party’s leadership, not the other way around.
Mesterházy apparently also believes that if Gordon Bajnai headed the ticket it would serve Fidesz well. Fidesz would come up with Bajnai’s austerity package and a “bad deal with the IMF.”
So, apparently this is where we stand. I don’t know why Ferenc Gyurcsány is optimistic.