The mouse that roared: The Hungarian liberal party

If I were to collect all the negative descriptions of the SZDSZ leaders that are circulating in the Hungarian media I could fill a whole page. "Running amuck" is one of the less kind, but I don't think that "bájgúnár" as a description of Gábor Fodor is much better. I have to admit I had to do a little research on the meaning of "bágjgúnár." "Gúnár" means gander in English and "gander" has the meaning of simpleton as well as male goose. "Báj" is "charm," but the two words together mean an empty headed dandy who tries to act as if he were a woman killer. József Debreczeni, who called Fodor a "bájgúnár" fifteen years ago when after being defeated by Viktor Orbán he left Fidesz and joined SZDSZ, describes a "bájgúnár" as someone who is a lightweight but who acts important in public. Tamás Mészáros, another political commentator, said that the SZDSZ leaders are "whistling in the dark." That is, they are in fact afraid because they have found themselves in an untenable situation. Another comment I heard was that SZDSZ is "in no man's land" since its leaders left the coalition. Most people simply can't figure out what SZDSZ is doing.

One thing is evident by now–that truthfulness is not exactly the forte of Fodor and his friends. A few days ago they claimed that the twelve-member leadership (elnökség = presidium) unanimously approved the official SZDSZ stance: there should be a government of experts, Ferenc Gyurcsány must resign, and the prime minister's plan of action (Compact) is unacceptable. Today, it leaked out that of the twelve people only eight supported the Fodor-Horn-Gulyás trio. And a second case in point: after the meeting today of the leaders of MSZP and SZDSZ Fodor gave a different account from both Gyurcsány and Horn. According to the prime minister the question of a government of experts was not mentioned. According to Fodor it was. And the "third way": Gábor Horn said that it wasn't, but the question is still on the table and in subsequent meetings they will return to the topic. Now whom should one believe? This time I even sympathize with Péter Szijjártó, the bull of a spokesman of Fidesz, when he said something rather unkind about a "professional" discussion of concrete proposals after which the participants can't even agree about the topic of conversation.

Today it became public knowledge that the majority of the parliamentary delegation is not behind Fodor's plans. Moreover, it seems that Fodor has lost the battle to head the parliamentary delegation. He wanted the post, though he was willing to cede it to a close ally. But János Kóka, whom he defeated in the election for head of the party by two votes, remains in this position. That must be quite a blow to Fodor because, after all, the job of head of the delegation is important. The delegation head personifies the party in public. More so than the president of the party.

Under these circumstances Fodor and his fellow SZDSZ leaders really couldn't do anything else but give up the idea of Gyurcsány's resignation, the nonsense of the government of experts, and sit down and talk about cooperation with MSZP. After all, they had to decide: either they join the right and help  dissolve the parliament and have early elections where Fidesz would win, perhaps even achieving a two-thirds majority in the House, or help MSZP to keep going. SZDSZ's ideology is still much closer to the left than the right. There is no place for SZDSZ in the company of Fidesz, KDNP, and MDF. I am also certain that SZDSZ's rude awakening was in part triggered by MDF's decision to bring the dissolution of parliament to the floor when parliament convenes on September 15th. In order to achieve dissolution one needs a majority of the House. However, without the twenty SZDSZ and at least one independent member there is no majority. Surely, SZDSZ will say "no." This will be the first clear signal that after all SZDSZ stands by the government and MSZP.

All this bravado about a government of experts, about SZDSZ's absolute unwillingness to negotiate with Gyurcsány, and about Gyurcsány's resignation came to naught. The mouse that roared, one could say. I know, it is embarrassing, and perhaps that's why Gábor Horn said that they will return to the idea of a government of experts. But I bet they won't. At the same time I don't think that they will rejoin the government because that would be a real loss of face. But that they will support the government from the outside, I'm almost sure.


  1. Mr Sandor
    I do not think that it is MZSP who is at the bottom of the destruction of SZDSZ. Remember one of that poisonous little toad Rakosi’s little tactics was to install Communist party supporters into other parties; these then acted as a ‘fifth column’ (see General Mola at the taking of Madrid) and generally wreck the party into which they were infiltrated.. The obvious choice are the three stooges (see Peter Rona’s ideas on the Hungarian economy and society (III))
    The ‘All Highest’ of Fidesz would be aware of these tactics and would have no hesitation to use them. Rakosi’s goons then ‘rewarded’ the wreckers with the usual visit to 60 Andrassy u etc. I wonder what Orban has in mind for them.
    So whilst MZSP fillets the carcase of SZDS they are doing what Fidesz want. This is to give the voters no alternative to MZSP but Fidesz and only Fidesz

  2. Sorry Ondine’s, your expose is a bit too oblique for me at this time. (Unusual from you. Or I am just too dense today?)
    I never suggested that the SzDSz disintegration is fomented by the MSzP. They are just the possible beneficiaries as the SzDSz is doing it to itself out of hubris.
    In fact, as I listened today to Fodor’s halfhearted explanations on ATV, his inane generalities and half-truths, I couldn’t help feeling that he really has no latitude to think or to do anything, his trajectory is set and he is just flying on it, being unable to get off. Meanwhile he is making democratic noises.
    One day some years ago, Fodor came into the very fancy patisserie in Buda where I was sitting with my daughter. She came into feverish excitement, pointed at him and said: “look there is Fodor, I adore him, he-so-cute! What a pity he will never amount to anything!”
    What can poor Fodor do? He has no choice but to fulfill my daughter’s prediction.

  3. Mr Sandor
    I am sorry I was rather muddled in my argument. I was not certain as to who would really benefit. Now the Professor has given us the other half of the story, I am certain that Fidesz is at the bottom of it. If you will recall to quote the Professor *** “József Debreczeni, who called Fodor a “bájgúnár” fifteen years ago when after being defeated by Viktor Orbán he left Fidesz and joined SZDSZ,” ***. After daring to challenge the great Viktor Orbán he had to go. So he was sent to wreck SZDSZ, with the promise that if he succeeded all would be (almost) forgiven.
    This trick of inserting ‘good comrades’ into other parties to wreck or compromise them was used by Rakosi as part of his ‘Salami Slicing’ technique.
    Fidesz wants to eliminate all alternatives to MZSP so that a disgruntled MZSP voter could only do two things. Either vote for Fidesz (very good) or not vote at all (good). If SZDSZ still existed they had a third choice, which would still let them vote against Fidesz. That is to vote for SZDSZ. I hope this makes things clearer.

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