A few words about the Hungarian “green party,” LMP

LMP is not exactly my favorite party. I especially dislike András Schiffer, the leader of the party’s fifteen-member parliamentary delegation. LMP is a party unlike the others and therefore the leaders decided that they don’t need a party chairman. However, the other day Antónia Mészáros, an especially well prepared journalist, made the mistake of introducing Schiffer as “party chairman.” Schiffer in his charming style immediately gave her a lecture about the peculiar structure of LMP.

LMP may not have the post of chairman, but it is quite clear that it is Schiffer who has the commanding position within the party. Magyar Nemzet not long ago published the rumor that Gordon Bajnai is the secret choice of Ferenc Gyurcsány as the next prime minister behind whom all democratic opposition parties can rally, including LMP–that is, if they get rid of András Schiffer.

In the last year and a half, András Schiffer has consistently refused any cooperation with either MSZP or lately with Ferenc Gyurcsány’s DK. Gyurcsány is Schiffer’s particular bogey man which is difficult to understand because in 1989 Schiffer, together with Gordon Bajnai, was a member of the short-lived Movement of the New Generation led by Gyurcsány. A year later he was the founder and managing director of the Movement of the Young Socialists. But today Schiffer is an enemy of both Ferenc Gyurcsány and MSZP.


As a result of LMP’s antagonism toward the other democratic parties several opportunities were missed that could have altered the outcome of some key elections. First and foremost, there was a good possibility of preventing István Tarlós’s election as lord mayor of Budapest if MSZP and LMP could have come up with an “independent” candidate of their own. LMP refused.

Another opportunity was in Zugló, one of the districts in Budapest. Here Fidesz won 45% of the votes, LMP and MSZP together about 50%. If they had designated one common candidate LMP and MSZP would have won the election.

The latest “sin” of LMP is an important by-election in Budapest’s second electoral district. I should make it clear that this is a conservative district where a socialist or liberal candidate has never won. However, at last year’s election the Fidesz victory was less spectacular than on previous occasions. The delegate’s personality might have had something to do with the lower number (53%). Their MP was István Balsai, who has since been elected to the Constitutional Court. Fidesz put forth the mayor of the district, Zsolt Láng, who is already a member of the Fidesz parliamentary delegation. LMP decided on Gergely Karácsony, who lives in the district.


He is also already a member of parliament. Katalin Lévai, a former MSZP member of the European Parliament, decided to run as an independent supported by MSZP.


On October 7, Lévai and Karácsony sat down with Tamás Lajos Szalay, a reporter for Népszabadság, and the three of them had a pleasant conversation. Szalay’s impression at the time was that Karácsony was such an attractive candidate that he might even win the election, a possibility that could be embarrassing for MSZP. Karácsony expressed his confidence in the outcome of the election and proudly announced that LMP “doesn’t want to hide behind a half-independent candidate like MSZP.” However, he promised that if he receives fewer votes than Lévai, he “would withdraw in the event that his withdrawal would substantially promote the defeat of Fidesz.” Lévai’s response was more straightforward. Whoever receives fewer votes should withdraw in favor of the other. She was ready to do that and expected the same from everyone else.

Yesterday the election took place. Zsolt Láng (Fidesz) won 52.61% of the votes, Katalin Lévai (independent, MSZP) 24.18%, Gergely Karácsony (LMP) 15.55%, Zoltán Bodor (Jobbik) 6.53%, and Ádám Kovácsics (Jesz, formerly MDF) 1.13%. However, the results are not valid because only 39% of the voters went to the polls instead of the necessary 50% plus 1. On November 27 there will be a second round where the number of voters will not matter.

I expected that Gergely Karácsony would withdraw in favor of Katalin Lévai. Perhaps he would even help her in order to defeat Láng. But no. Karácsony says that the emphasis is on the word “substantially.” Surely, says Karácsony, the difference between Láng and the MSZP + LMP votes is too great to have his withdrawal make any difference.

Of course, this is not necessarily true. We know that last-minute reversals can happen. This is especially the case in the present Hungarian political climate where the problem is voter apathy. Moreover, the anti-Fidesz voters, seeing that LMP and MSZP are running separately, might have decided that it was simply not worth taking the trouble to vote because the defeat of the anti-Fidesz forces given the split was certain. Voting would be a waste of time.

I’m really very sorry to see Gergely Karácsony in such a role because I find him, as opposed to Schiffer, one of the more attractive politicians in the LMP delegation. There are some really zany characters there. Tímea Szabó, for example, who together with Jobbik and Fidesz happily participated in the subcommittee investigating the “police attack” on the innocent bystanders on October 23, 2006. Or the other Szabó, Rebeka, who fought valiantly against larger supermarkets until it became clear that Fidesz found the LMP proposition very handy for paying off two of the “oligarchs” who gave millions and millions to Viktor Orbán’s campaign. These two men own supermarket chains that are in the middle of negotiating a deal with the owners of the Match, Profi, and Core chains. They would benefit from a “plazastop” as this latest brainstorm of Fidesz, with the help of LMP, is called. Another attack on foreign investors and on the Hungarian public. Stopping the expansion of supermarket chains will only force consumers to buy produce at a higher price. Not exactly what the country needs at the moment.

But more about this ridiculous idea tomorrow.


  1. A sentence:”Válságban van az eurózóna, de válságban van az egész szabadkereskedelemre létrejött globális kapitalista rendszer, és látható, hogy Magyarországon is megbukott az elmúlt húsz év fejlődési modellje.”http://www.parlament.hu/internet/plsql/ogy_naplo.naplo_fadat?p_ckl=39&p_uln=122&p_felsz=12&p_szoveg=&p_felszig=12

  2. Dvhr, five of that 20 years have been Orban, too. And what is the alternative now? What sofisticated better system provides fidesz, that could make the world a better place? It is funny to hear people condemn the capitalism, while they buy cheap chinese goods and have work places in international companies. Nationalism, specially with hungarian flavour, is a naive dream that will lead nowhere but into 400 Ft./Euro…

  3. I share Éva’s disquiet about Schiffer, he reminds me too much of OV.
    Incidentally, whilst surfing for more on SA, I came across an earlier article of Éva’s on the same subject (pre-last year’s election) – http://esbalogh.typepad.com/hungarianspectrum/2010/03/two-interviews-with-andr%C3%A1s-schiffer-chairman-of-lmp.html
    It’s quite an interesting read, but it’s the comments that really got me. It’s only when you read discussions like this that you realise just how much we miss Mark’s knowledge and analysis.
    (The ‘Paul’ in the comments, is not me, by the way.)

  4. 🙂 Yesterday MSZP, now LMP, you’re really committed to the DK cause! Anybody who’s life depends on what is written about him/her on this blog, don’t you ever go against GYF.
    Paul: Yes, Mark’s comments were priceless and even though he had his own standing (as we all do), he was exemplary careful not to let his preferences interfere with his analysis.

  5. Dear Eva,
    unless you change your tone of voice the rest is silence from me. I refrained from commenting on several of your posts now; yeah..he-he-he.. Milton Friedman is our national hero worth quoting /according to you/.
    In my eyes Mr. Friedman should stand trial right now. He is partly responsible for the current Hungarian mess. Too late I guess /for the trial/.
    I am willing to share a narrow corridor with you; don’t rock the plank, please.
    I truely appreciate your effort but you must know: it is futile without an alternative.
    There always was one: anyone here please watch the “Take” by Ari Klein, Naomi’s husband. Free on the net.
    For your information, Eva, my whole family voted LMP or MSZP.
    Andras is no less my friend than Feri. Feri sucks /we all know that by now/. This is not about political personae; it’s about a chance/ a new beginning/ platform. Let’s do it!
    Guess this is my last communication on your site.
    The “THIRD WAY” is alive.
    Peter Litvanyi

  6. One last thing:
    Dear “Rigo Jancsi”:
    “It is funny to hear people condemn the capitalism, while they buy cheap chinese goods and have work places in international companies. Nationalism, specially with hungarian flavour, is a naive dream that will lead nowhere but..”
    I am a self employed builder. By intent i pay the same wage as i am getting to everyone on my sites. I must factor in experience and contribution, of course. I buy US made tools whenever I can. I buy as little as I can from the supermarkets /we have a garden + there is the local farmer’s market/. No one can totally break a chain alone; it’s not a good idea to totally break a chain even together; anyways we all know what we need to do.
    The City of Boulder as of yesterday decided to run /nationalize or more like buy out/ its own utility services.
    It’s a good idea.
    Peter Litvanyi

  7. Peter Litvanyi: “Dear Eva, unless you change your tone of voice the rest is silence from me. I refrained from commenting on several of your posts now”
    It is beyond me why anyone thinks that we must think exactly the same way and if not then the other–the one who holds the “wrong”views–is outright evil.
    How can I dislike Schiffer? Easily. Just as easily as you dislike Gyurcsány.

  8. “This is not about political personae; it’s about a chance/ a new beginning/ platform. Let’s do it!”
    I’m afraid it’s not, it’s about SA’s ego and his desire for power. He is OV’s younger brother. LMP(2011) = Fidesz(1991).
    I wish too there was a ‘third way’, but I’m afraid there isn’t. We went through 13 years of ‘third way’ politics in the UK, and what did it get us? The crazy experiment of trying to live on credit for ever, involvement in an illegal (and stupid) war, and the beginnings of the destruction of our few remaining public services.
    The ‘third way’ always turns out to be the centre-right in disguise.

  9. Peter – why give up just because you don’t agree with everything Éva posts?
    I suspect most of us don’t agree with Éva at least some of the time, but we can always post a reply to put our point of view.
    The value of this blog is not that it says things we agree with but that it exists. It not only keeps us informed of a point of view on Hungary that we would otherwise rarely find, but it gives us a chance to air our thoughts and views to Éva’s audience. Where else would we get that opportunity?
    Every view is valuable, perhaps even vital, in this discussion, even the wildly oppositional such as JB’s (if nothing else, his abuse and rants help us to keep our feet on the ground). This blog is not only part of the opposition to OV, but it is also, and perhaps more importantly, part of the preparation for the future that comes after OV.
    If you care about that, you need to stay involved in it.

  10. Peter: I would ask you to reconsider of not posting. I do not agree with everything Paul posts, and I do not agree with everything Eva posts as well as I do not agree with you all the time. We have the right to post our point of view, and that will provide a better conversation. Imagine if every person who post on this board would have the same ideas, same thoughts, same education and same background., what kind of conversation threads would that make?
    I am not really familiar with Schiffer, so I do not feel comfortable to post my comment here. I can only hope that Hungary will wake up, and do not vote for a leader but for a platform. When I say platform I hope that parties should follow what they promise and if not, then they could be hold reliable.
    I am not sure what is the third alternative. If there is one, it certainly lacks the literature. There are variations for two. THird State is like communism. Communism is the perfect society that does not consider greed, pride, wrath and laziness. The first three is very well featured by Orban himself.

  11. It is very clear from Eva’s two excellent posts that LMP is not a party which has a more or less coherent view on what should be done, they only know whom they want to fight against and try find some arguments supporting it. This does not lead anywhere, in fact, it is very dangerous. I guess, many people voted for them only because they could not find any (not better, any) alternative.

  12. @Paul “I’m afraid it’s not, it’s about SA’s ego and his desire for power. He is OV’s younger brother. LMP(2011) = Fidesz(1991).”
    Interesting that you say that… I’ve been pondering about that myself for a while. I am kind of reluctant to rush to this conclusion, though, simply because I just don’t know Schiffer enough to be sure.

  13. I used to like LMP, I really did. I really hoped that they’d be some kind of alternative to the current political elite. But some of their latest moves…for example, the very latest one, Schiffer suggesting the revision of privatization deals (even going back 20 years if necessary), I can’t help but see as cheap populist moves, that fit in Fidesz’s rhetoric, and actually help Fidesz in abusing the rule of law in Hungary.
    Yes, I see the appeal of going after privatization; it appeals to the general feeling of fairness.. don’t let these people get away, who through political positions and connections, profited from the privatization deals. But really, in 2011, is this the biggest problem in the country? Seriously???
    Why not go after those scandals and abuses of government position that are taking place now? Why not fight for legislation that fights corruption and crony deals that are going on now and work on a legislation that will make it more difficult for people in government to use their power for financial gains? This should be on their agenda, not the privatization deals from 20 years ago.
    Here is the link to SA’s suggestion on the privatization deals n Index (in Hungarian):

  14. An: “the very latest one, Schiffer suggesting the revision of privatization deals (even going back 20 years if necessary),” Well that is again one of those non-sense moves that will cost a lot of money to the taxpayers without them knowing. Cost would never be disclosed, exceptions to the rule will be set (to protect friends and contributors), idea will be fluffed up to the ying yang, so people will see that the politicians are doing so much… I am sorry to say this but apparently these kind of circuses that makes Hungarians vote for a party, so they are on the right track to win an election, get their well-paid appointment and on the wrong track to benefit the country.

  15. Some1: “An: “the very latest one, Schiffer suggesting the revision of privatization deals (even going back 20 years if necessary),” Well that is again one of those non-sense moves that will cost a lot of money to the taxpayers
    That’s not the main problem. The real danger is the creation of further insecurity in the business world. Such a probe would involve purchases of state properties by domestic and international firms. Chaos would follow. Multinational companies would not expand in Hungary or even close factories.
    Schiffer’s LMP is anti-market which is about the worst thing one can be under the present circumstances.

  16. You should not be to harsh on LMP and its representatives – it is still a young party!
    I remember the chaos at the German Greens’ meetings and discussions years ago – and now we have a Green “elder statesman” in Stuttgart as prime minister of the state of Baden-Württemberg. Who would have thought that – especially there, where Porsches and Mercedeses are built by conservative Schwab workers and Bosch and many other famous companies were founded …
    “The old guard” just has to give way – I’ve said it several times before: Everyone who started his/her career before 1989 is somehow suspect and should leave politics as soon as possible …

  17. Well, there is a third way .. drum rolls .. honesty and hard work. Gotcha!
    When it comes to greens I stick with Kermit the Frog. The LMP’s naive anti-market, anti-corporation, anti-god-knows-what and globalization views are are just outright scary. They could actually cause more damage to the economy then the present FIDESZ government, which is luckily at east lazy ..
    Regarding distribution of the wealth. Bill Gates, who gave us the worlds most annoying operating system (and probably responsible for 5% of the hair loss in the developed countries), distributes himself, say 5 million a year for personal expenses (wild guess, I know, don’t yell at me for facts). I say Peter’s right! Let’s give the half of it to the employees of Microsoft! The company has 90k employees … yesss, ka-ching, 27 dollars a year before taxes! Yeeepeee! Free beer to everyone!
    Peter, you should invest your profit instead of distributing to your employees. Wink!
    We should try the right way, not third way. Ah, I see the light … go lemmings, go. Ok, I fade away.

  18. Paul: “This blog is not only part of the opposition to OV, but it is also, and perhaps more importantly, part of the preparation for the future that comes after OV.”
    This is conceptually wrong. Very wrong. This site is so extremist that it is by its inherent nature marginalized, and will stay so. There is no chance that such extremist and distorted points of view can ever get mainstream acceptance.
    Even Jobbik on the other side is far more acceptable for the general public than the opinions expressed on this site.

  19. JB, I’ve long suspected that you don’t actually understand politics and the subtleties of its discussion – now you prove me right.
    The one thing this site isn’t is extremist. Only someone who completely fails to grasp the meaning of the word would even begin to think so. Do you actually read the posts?
    We don’t even share the same political opinions. You have the full range on here, from Odin’s Old Tory views, through Mutt’s centre-right outlook and Éva’s liberal conservatism, all the way to my utopian liberal/socialist take. And that doesn’t include posters like David, An and Kirsten, whose political views are difficult to categorise.
    The only things that really unite us are a concern for Hungary and a horror of what OV and his ilk are doing to the country.
    And, of all the posters on here, I am the ONLY one ever to suggest extreme action. But even I am only advocating mass, non-violent resistance and civil disobedience, not violence.
    If that’s ‘extreme’ then I can only conclude that the definition of that word is yet another thing beyond your comprehension.
    Your last para is probably quite correct, but this says a lot more about Hungary under Orbán than it does about this site.

  20. A little out of date, I know, but the rerun of this election resulted in a Fidesz landslide. And this is at least the second recent election that has gone this way.
    Now, obviously there might be local peculiarities in both these areas, resulting in greater Fidesz support than nationally, but still these results appear to be surprisingly good for Fidesz.
    How does this tie up with the constant reports we hear that Fidesz is rapidly losing support, that Fidesz are doing worse and worse in opinion polls?
    Are the polls accurate? Is Fidesz really losing that much support, or, when the chips are down, are people – whatever they might like to tell pollsters – still voting for Orbán?

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