Hungarian opposition groups: LMP, 4K, and Milla

If it depended on me alone, the Hungarian opposition to the Orbán regime would be solidly unified by now, but such a favorable development can happen only in one’s imagination. Or perhaps only if one thinks with the head of a non-politician. It doesn’t seem to matter how often political analysts call for unity, there are still opposition politicians or quasi-politicians who think they can do it on their own.

Here I will deal with three of the opposition groups: LMP (Lehet Más a Politika = politics can be different); 4K, a new party of little consequence; and Milla, an amorphous Facebook crowd that was capable of organizing large demonstrations in the past.

The most extreme position is taken by LMP. We could start with the misguided name of their party. Misguided because  politics cannot be different, at least not fundamentally. It can be cleaner and more civil, but parties in a parliamentary democracy behave according to the rules of the political game. The party’s name is, however, the least of its problems.  LMP is comprised for the most part of  politically naive people who adhere to a distinctly leftist platform that opposes modern capitalism. If they could implement their ideas, Hungary would be in real trouble. But fortunately the likelihood of such a development verges on zero. At the moment 6% of active voters would vote for LMP and only 3% among eligible voters. LMP’s support is about the same as that of Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Demokratikus Koalíció. The difference is that DK has no delusions of grandeur.

Yet the LMP leadership is the loudest in its refusal to cooperate with others. Well, perhaps not with all others. Lately some of the LMP leaders have been negotiating with 4K, a new party that barely exists. 4K, by the way, stands for Fourth Republic. Currently the 4K website proudly exhibits the LMP logo. Voter support for 4K cannot even be measured, so I can’t see how LMP will benefit significantly from joining forces with 4K.

In addition to LMP’s inherent weakness there also seems to be a deep division within the leadership over strategy. The intransigent elements led by András Schiffer believe that LMP could win the elections on its very own. However, there is another group inside the party that is less antagonistic toward cooperation, but for the time being they are sticking to the official line that was adopted by a majority of one vote.

Earlier I wrote a number of times about Péter Róna, an American and British trained economist and lawyer who is currently a visiting research scholar at Oxford’s Blackfriars Hall, a Permanent Private Hall specializing in philosophy, theology, and faith-based studies. According to the Blackfriars website, Róna is interested in the “restoration of value judgement and moral sentiment in economic theory.”

Péter Róna moved back to Hungary in the early 1990s and in the last four or five years he became an economics guru who says some very clever things and some not so clever things. One problem with Róna is that he seems to be following in the footsteps of the Hungarian narodniks who believed in a third road for their country, something between capitalism and socialism. He also believes that foreign companies that settled in Hungary after 1990 are detrimental to the healthy development of the country. Hungary would be much better off relying on its own capitalist class. In addition, he has some unrealistic ideas about Hungary as an “agricultural country.” All this is not terribly far from the ideas of Fidesz politicians or from LMP’s flirtation with socialism. So it’s no wonder that LMP has embraced him. In fact, some LMP folks have even suggested Róna as a candidate for prime minister. If you want to learn more about Róna’s ideas and his opinion of Gordon Bajnai, check out his latest interview with György Bolgár and the critique of his theories by László Békesi, former finance minister, in the same program.

As Milla sees itself and the two large parties

The closest companion to LMP and 4K is Milla, except that Milla doesn’t have any positive notions about what it really wants. They seem to know only what they don’t want. Or at least what Péter Juhász doesn’t want. Well, that’s not quite right. He does have one huge “want”: to discard the last twenty-two years of Hungarian attempts at establishing a stable democracy. That includes, as far as I can ascertain, the 1989 constitution, the round-table discussions, and the subsequent democratically elected governments. Out the window because during those years everything that took place led to the two-thirds majority of Fidesz, although Juhász himself contributed with his vote to that landslide victory. The new regime, if you wish, the Fourth Republic, must be different. How different and in what way we have no idea, and I don’t think that Juhász knows it either. But he hates the socialists and Gyurcsány as much as Schiffer does, and his debate with Ágnes Vadai, former socialist and now DK, and Tibor Szanyi (MSZP MP), left no doubt that he has no intention of cooperating with MSZP or DK. I’m pretty sure he would gladly cooperate with LMP if LMP talked to anyone except 4K. And I’m confident that he’ll get his wish, that soon enough these two groups will see eye to eye because their rejection of the last twenty-two years will bring them together.

I will leave the discussion of the other political formations for tomorrow. And on Tuesday we’ll see what happens in Budapest.

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7 comments

  1. it somehow sad and disappointing to see – to watch, actually, from a distance – that the Hungarian politicians still sticking to delusional ideas instead of reality, petty pissing contests instead of pragmatical and progressive cooperation – one tend to think, that there indeed must be some ‘Turanian Nemesis’ which hinder us from acting together for common benefit, even if our history shows clearly, what the result of such behavior could be.
    We never learn, obviously.

  2. Certainly, it could look “better” if programmes were around and had support that lead directly to a stable democracy. But I would not discard the interpretation of Milla, 4K! about exactly what type of political society Hungary was before 2010 so easily. Democracy works only if people identify with it and support it. MSzP did return to the government very quickly and many positions have not been transferred to others for many years. Yes, there were in some cases people with a “modern outlook” – but also technocrats and people who certainly did not wish to lose their own good positions that they owed to their earlier career during the late Kadar years. There was certainly too little effort by the MSzP to “make democracy work better” from a grassroots perspective, while there was too much effort to distribute money to friends or run towns and villages as fiefs. You may say: people have not asked for more transparency or participation. That is true also, but that is why the efforts that you see now, with narodniki ideas or socialist ideas, seem still more valuable than staying at home and nodding to whatever old MSzP calls “democracy”. Political ideas too evolve with experience, but people must get the chance to make these experiences without being led by either Fidesz or MSzP (old and “new”).

  3. At the moment my girlfriend’s group (“The old Chickens”) are contemplating to do a campaign to just inform people how to register to vote. There are only two ways to do this which are both quite complicated for most people and take a lot of time. I doubt if they will succeed.

    As for the opposition, Orbán has already bagged the next election if there is any, or will take Jobbik on board if necessary, which is actually also his creation, if I’m not mistaken. It all began with some debating circles he organised.

  4. JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE BETRAYED….Lessons for the Hungarian Media

    Why is it so easy to drop important, anti-government, investigations?

    1–Just because Orban says so, do the media have to listen and stop investigating the shady dealings of Szijjarto & Orban regarding the freeing of the Azeri?

    2–Chatary has been MIA for some months now. Just because Biszku has been given house arrest, are we to forget that Chatary is still under ‘investigation’?

  5. Thanks, Éva, very interesting. And VERY impressive crowds. If only we could see even half that many protesting against the latest oppressive government.

  6. Please, Eva mention the 15o+2 other oposition FACEBOOK groups, as they are totally independent and massive crowd. The Milla is the one, of course, but there is groups with 1o-2o.ooo thosands members too. They will be there, but tehy will not supporting any current political parties from the selection. Hope we will have the courage to follow the Hungarian revolution traditions.

    “Other 15o+2 FACEBOOK groups are also organizing their 5oo.ooo followers to be in the streets of Budapest to try to persuade the ORBAN DICTATORSHIP to step down! They gave a deadline to the prime minister till today midnight! ” http://hungarianvirus.wordpress.com/

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