The exit of Attila Mesterházy, chairman of the Hungarian socialists

The drama was of short duration. On Tuesday Attila Mesterházy, chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party, seemed to be certain that he would remain the leader of MSZP and the whip of the party’s parliamentary group despite the disastrous showing at the EP election on May 25. He thought he could rely on the people who were considered to be his steadfast supporters and on whom he had depended throughout the last four or five years.

Mesterházy believed, and he was not alone in the party, that the secret to the revival of MSZP lay in the rejuvenation of the party. Here the word “rejuvenation” is used in its literal sense: getting rid of the older, more experienced leaders who were allegedly responsible for past mistakes and bringing in new faces. Preferably young ones. Closer to 30 than to 40. So, as far as the media was concerned, MSZP had a face lift. But cosmetic surgery was not enough. According to people whose opinion I trust, most of these new faces were only faces. Nothing substantive behind their countenances. These newly recruited people who were elevated to important positions gave the impression of mediocrity at best and total incompetence at worst.

Old hands in the party, especially lately, made it clear what they thought of Mesterházy’s new young crew. At first just quietly, but lately ever more loudly. Perhaps the most outspoken on the quality of the Mesterházy leadership was László Kovács, former chairman, foreign minister, and European Commissioner, who when asked in an interview on what basis these people were chosen, answered: “You ask the chairman of the party.” Or just lately another old-timer, Ildikó Lendvai, former chairman and very effective whip, said, alluding to Mesterjázy’s centralization of power, that “what we need is not a small Fidesz in a worse version.” After all, no one can achieve, even if he wanted to, the one-man rule of Viktor Orbán.

According to people familiar with the internal workings of MSZP, Mesterházy was very good at developing a structure within the party that served his personal ambitions. He was also good at playing political chess, which usually ended with his winning the game. He managed to organize a party list of the United Alliance which greatly favored MSZP at the expense of DK and E14-PM. As a result, the other two parties, each with four MPs, couldn’t form official caucuses, which would have greatly enhanced their own voices and would have strengthened the joint forces of the democratic opposition parties.

Mesterházy was accused by some of his colleagues in the party of playing games with the party’s by-laws. By not resigning himself but only offering the resignation of the whole presidium (elnökség), he was able to postpone an election of all the officials, which is a very long process in MSZP. That would have ensured the continuation of his chairmanship and the existence of the current leadership for months. It was at this junction that the important personages in the party decided to act. At least one well-known socialist politician apparently told the others that if they postpone the election process, card-carrying party members will join DK in hordes because they have had enough of the paralysis that the party leadership has exhibited for some time.

Perhaps it was the Budapest MSZP leadership that was most affected by the results of the EP election. Let’s face it, MSZP lost Budapest. Csaba Horváth’s candidacy for the lord mayoralty is dead; Zsolt Molnár, who headed the Budapest MSZP organization, has resigned; and here was Mesterházy who, in their eyes, was making it impossible for them to recoup in Budapest before the municipal elections. The first group in Budapest to revolt against the chairman was the XIIIth district where MSZP was always very strong. Csepel, once an MSZP stronghold, followed suit. Dissatisfaction spread, and very soon all twenty-three district centers expressed their misgivings and demanded Mesterházy’s resignation.

Some of the old-timers offered solutions on how to change the leadership without getting involved in a complicated and lengthy election of new officials. László Kovács suggested an interim governing body that would be made up of politicians who in the past had showed that they had the trust of the electorate. That is, they won elections on their own. He could think of 6-8 people who could take part in that body. In addition, he would ask László Botka, mayor of Szeged, who has been able to be elected and reelected even in the most difficult times. Kovács also suggested three former chairmen of the party: István Haller, Ildikó Lendvai, and he himself. Mesterházy’s defiant answer to Kovács’s suggestion was: “It is not Lendvai and Kovács who are the bearers of the message of the future.”

Yesterday the party leaders of Budapest were ready for compromise. If Mesterházy resigns as chairman he can still be the whip, a position very dear to his heart. At least he made a case for occupying that post regardless of the fate of the chairmanship in a television interview. But after seeing Mesterházy’s stubbornness, the Budapest leaders and others wanted to strip him even of his parliamentary position. Some MSZP politicians were in fact ready to expel him from the party if he doesn’t play ball. Under these circumstances he had no choice but to resign. Today at noon he held a press conference and announced his resignation both as chairman and as whip of MSZP’s parliamentary group. He added that at the next election of officials he will not seek any position in the party leadership.

Photo: MTI

Photo: MTI

There was a sigh of relief, I’m sure, in the inner circles of the party. However, as one party official said, “this is not the end of the road but its beginning.” The party leadership, he added, “has to eliminate the heritage of the Mesterházy era.” And that will not be easy. For example, the MSZP parliamentary delegation is “Mesterházy’s caucus.” Some people within the party leadership think that each MP who gained a mandate from the party list should offer his resignation. This is not a realistic scenario. These people cannot be forced to offer their resignation and they would be unlikely to resign willingly. The pro-Mesterházy MPs, however, might not be a genuine problem because, according to the latest rumors, even his hand-picked MPs have abandoned him.

As for a successor, many names are circulating at the moment: László Botka, József Tóbiás, István Haller, to mention just a few. I have the feeling that what most people have in mind is an interim “collective leadership” until the party can have a full-fledged congress that would officially elect a new chairman and fill the other top positions.

I think that time is of the essence if MSZP hopes to recoup for the municipal election, although I myself doubt that they will be able to substantially increase their support either in Budapest or elsewhere. On the other hand, I see a good possibility that DK and E14-PM will be able to attract new followers. Success breeds success. I heard, for instance, that DK is getting a lot of membership applications. Yet, just as Ferenc Gyurcsány emphasizes, the three parties must cooperate in the municipal elections. Otherwise, they have no chance of capturing Budapest where at the moment Fidesz is leading in spite of the relatively good showing of DK, E14-PM, MSZP, and LMP. Although the media close to Fidesz intimate that DK is out to capture former MSZP voters while E14-PM is trying to lure former LMP voters, both parties claim to stand by MSZP in its present crisis. In fact, DK politicians keep emphasizing that their interest lies in a strong MSZP. I’m sure that at the moment this is the case. Eventually, however, it is inevitable that these parties will be pitted against one another for the future leadership of the left-of-center forces in Hungary.

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45 comments

  1. “The first group in Budapest to revolt against the chairman was the XIIIth district where MSZP was always very strong. Csepel, once an MSZP stronghold, followed suit. ”

    “Red Csepel, let your voice toll,
    Vaci street [district 13.], answer to it.”

  2. Now, it is the main question, should our good friend gyurcsany stay with DK, return to MSZP, or retire completely?

    I think, retirement is the best course. Be an elder leader, like the confused Carter.

  3. Don’t forget Fidesz is still king, even in Budapest.

    More importantly, the left wing could never cross over from its traditional areas (Budapest and some provincial towns) to any of the traditionally more ‘polgári’ or right-wing/conservative areas such as Western Hungary, Bács-Kiskun, Csingrád, Hajdú-Bihar.

    While the right-wing did exactly that: it is now extremely strong in Pécs, Miskolc, and Budapest too, as well as in poor rural areas which, prior to the emergence of Jobbik, were MSZP’s.

    In April, in most Western-Hungarian districts the entire left wing combined had about 15%. In a mostly first past the post system.

    There is no way ‘Pista Hiller’ or ‘Laci Kovács’ or ‘Pista Újhelyi’ can turn this around. Success breeds success and failure breeds failure in politics.

    Just a reminder.

  4. “Success breeds success”–this must’ve been a typo. For Hungary, ‘corruption breeds success’.

  5. What a mess. I think the best thing that could happen is for MSZP to disappear in the same way the SZDSZ did as they are essentially a toxic brand and however unjust that might be, given the toxic nature of those currently running the country, it is clear that will never change.

    What is not tenable is the idea that the DK is going to take over. What does the DK stand for other than as a vehicle for keeping Gyurcsány in public life? But Gyurcsány himself is a toxic brand and that also is not going to change. So that is another dead end. The only hope is that Banjai might somehow be successful but I think he is keen to abandon public life and has no political skills (which is actually a compliment!

  6. @tappanch

    Well, it may be, but it is true.

    Western Hungary is resisting the left-wing (still seriously referred to as the “communists” as all over Hungary) like the plague.

    In Rogán’s village 90-2 was the ratio of Fidesz vs. MSZP at the EU elections, in the smallest village (also in Zala county) 10 out of 11 voted for Fidesz as one of the locals said the “communists have died out”.

    Whatever the left does, does not have much relevance (especially in the current election system) any more in Hungary, they just cannot influence the game of the big boys in Fidesz.

    Hungary is like Texas, or California, a one party state.

  7. Lantos, Fidesz lost – despite gerrymandering and other laws – 600.000 votes and Hungarians will one day awake and see their postcommunist maffiastate has become a failed state

  8. Lantos: “Hungary is like Texas, or California, a one party state.”

    You are absolutely rigth in calling Hungary a one party state, but your comaprison with Texas and California is not valid. Just because one party has governed for ages doesn’t make a one party state. It also takes unrestrained suppression and corruption.

  9. @Karl and Jean:

    They will not ‘awake’. The people under 45 who have been all socialized in the last 25 years so that they have to lough out the ‘kommers’, ‘commies’, the procrastinating left field represented by icons such as Imre Szekeres, Zsolt Molnár or Csaba Horváth who ‘due to some time warp are still here’, they will not suddenly find out that they are leftists, after all, just as a man one doesn’t realize (apart from a tiny fraction of the population) at age 50 that one is a women.

    People by and large are OK with the system.

    Just as in the village where Antal Rogan hails from people say to the reporter that they don’t care if Anti has eight Rolex watches (and vote for Fidesz 90-2 on Sunday), they will still love him and vote for Fidesz, most people do not care about Simicska or Orbán’s corruption.

    Simicska and Orban are white, non-Jewish, real Hungarian people, one of us, who like pálinka and football, they can steal, as the powerful people always do anyway, they are forgiven, because they deliver: they created a system the rules of which are very clear. Support Fidesz loyally and you’ll receive from the spoils and you get protected, be disloyal and your career is over. Compare that with the diffuse capitalism promoted by the left, where people are alone, they don’t even know whom to corrupt, because on the left field it is all diffuse and disorganized. Do you know how strongly people craved for such a system with clear rules? The left field just didn’t get it: people hate competition as it means an anxiety at every step of the way.

    This current system was built after demand, this is what people want. They like it and this is why Fidesz is popular. Get used to it, Fidesz is here to stay, for the long term. It won’t be the Hungarian left-wing which will oust them, if it will happen. That said, all these games on the left mean a nice reality show for the spectators.

  10. Fidesz announced today that they will change the way people can elect local government in Budapest, 3 months before the election!!

    The 21 thousand voters of the Fidesz-leaning district 1 will equal the 91 thousand voters of district 13.

    http://valasztas.hu/dyn/ep14/vertaj/hu/M01/v2t.html

    This makes the elections farcical.

    http://index.hu/belfold/2014/05/30/most_mar_biztos_atalakitja_a_fidesz_a_bp-i_valasztasi_rendszert/

    http://magyarinfo.blog.hu/2014/05/30/a_fidesz_eddigi_legnagyobb_valasztasi_csalasara_keszul_budapesten

  11. Fidesz announced today that they will change the way people can elect local government in Budapest, 3 months before the election!!

    The 21 thousand voters of the Fidesz-leaning district 1 will equal the 91 thousand voters of district 13.

    http://valasztas.hu/dyn/ep14/vertaj/hu/M01/v2t.html

    This makes the elections farcical.

    http://index.hu/belfold/2014/05/30/most_mar_biztos_atalakitja_a_fidesz_a_bp-i_valasztasi_rendszert/

    http://magyarinfo.blog.hu/2014/05/30/a_fidesz_eddigi_legnagyobb_valasztasi_csalasara_keszul_budapesten

  12. What is all this ‘Gyurcsany-hating’ all about? I wish someone would explain, in concrete terms,
    what he has done…

  13. Gyurcsány is a very intelligent man and a good speaker. But he was prime minister for four years and achieved nothing. He did nothing to suggest he has any abilities for running a country although he can certain talk the talk. When the Öszöd speech was leaked, he made a huge tactical mistake in not resigning which I think any politician West of Hungary would have felt compelled to do. And by soldiering on, people were unimpressed that someone who admitted to having run the country poorly for reasons of political expediency should present himself as the man fit for repairing the damage. It was a fatal miscalculation and Orbán’s two thirds majority is largely Gyurcsány’s responsibility. So lots of reasons to regard him negatively.

    He is also a very rich man based on the manipulation of party contacts and a dynastic marriage to the daughter of a woman whose wealth is the result of manipulating contacts, rather than actually DOING something. That does not make him an admirable person. And although he talks in fine terms about cracking down in MSZP corruption, he turned a blind eye when he had the power not to and his appointments of people like Veres hardly suggest his seriousness in tackling this cancer of Hungarian politics.

    He has four years in power and failed abjectly. He does not deserve another chance and the Hungarian electorate will not give him one. The fact that he is not as obnoxious as Orbán is no argument…

  14. Fidesz changes election laws again

    Fidesz announced today that they will change the way people can elect local government in Budapest, 3 months before the election!!

    The 1 vote in the Fidesz-leaning district 1 will equal almost 5 votes in district 13.

    Precise weights:
    http://valasztas.hu/dyn/ep14/vertaj/hu/M01/v2t.html

    This makes the elections farcical.

    http://index.hu/belfold/2014/05/30/most_mar_biztos_atalakitja_a_fidesz_a_bp-i_valasztasi_rendszert/

    http://magyarinfo.blog.hu/2014/05/30/a_fidesz_eddigi_legnagyobb_valasztasi_csalasara_keszul_budapesten

  15. Lantos,

    Success does not always breed success, otherwise once a party won an election it would never leave until it gave up voluntarily. Success more often breeds complacency and corruption, stasis and stagnation. Fidesz is good at winning elections, but not so good at building a stronger country. Hungarians will, sooner or later, realize the mistake they have made, and former Fidesz strongholds will vote for one of the current batch of leftish parties or maybe some currently unknown center party. The only question is when, but nobody can really know the answer to that.

  16. @googly

    Please look at the histories of Mexico or Japan or Bavaria or even Italy (especially the south).

    In all of these democratic countries and states one single party (or one political side in the case of Italy) dominated (between 80-100% of the era) the last 70 (!) years.

    Why do you think Hungary is any different?

    Just like in Southern Italy which is currently lagging Northern Italy more than any time in its history since unification or in Bavaria, people will not wake up one day and think that they are leftists.

    This is not a choice. They are conservative because they think this is how they were born, this is how life feels natural, this is tradition in the family, just like celebrating Christmas. You don’t just start celebrating Yolka or Hanukkah instead of Christmas.

    For a Western-Hungarian or Bács-Kiskun or Hajdú-Bihar person to be right-wing, conservative and hating the ‘communist’ is as natural and self-evident as speaking Hungarian or being a man or a woman. This is what we need to understand. Forget public choice theory (it only applies to self-described liberals who are a tiny minority in Hungary).

  17. The opposition parties will turn to the Constitutional Court, where almost all members are Fidesz appointees by now. That Court will approve this antidemocratic change too.

    Unless there are mass demonstrations and general strike, Fidesz will not back down.

  18. Lantos
    May 30, 2014 at 4:22 am
    @tappanch

    Well, it may be, but it is true.

    Western Hungary is resisting the left-wing (still seriously referred to as the “communists” as all over Hungary) like the plague.

    I hope Western Hungary realizes that there are more ex-communists are in Fidesz, and taking advantage of tobacco deals, land deals, contract deals) than in any other party. I hate to say this, bit of people does not know this fact, what does that tell about Western Hungary?

  19. @Lantos re Bavaria:

    It’s true that Bavaria is very conservative aka “black” and there is an old joke: The Christian Social (!) Union could nominate a black garbage can for parliament – it surely would get a majority of votes …

    On the other hand many big Bavarian cities (especially Munich) have been Social Democrat strongholds and have had SPD mayors for most of the time – right now there was a very clear left majority after the old left mayor Mr Ude retired – the right didn’t stand a chance.

    And of course there have been scandals in the CSU and several politicians had to go – unlike Fidesz where a politician can do what he pleases without any consequences …

    Of course it helps that Bavaria is only one of the German states and has to follow the rules from Bonn/Berlin …

    So Bavaria can still be called a democracy – while I’m not so sure about Hungary which wants only the money from Brussels but doesn’t want to follow the rules of the EU!

  20. HiBoM
    May 30, 2014 at 6:32 am
    Gyurcsány is a very intelligent man and a good speaker.

    So that is certainly not Orban.

    But he was prime minister for four years and achieved nothing.

    Could be Orban, but actually Orban made the country worst as far as democracy, finances, division goes.

    He did nothing to suggest he has any abilities for running a country although he can certain talk the talk. When the Öszöd speech was leaked, he made a huge tactical mistake in not resigning which I think any politician West of Hungary would have felt compelled to do. And by soldiering on, people were unimpressed that someone who admitted to having run the country poorly for reasons of political expediency should present himself as the man fit for repairing the damage.

    His peach was deliberately taken out of context by Fidesz. He did not admit to run the country poorly. Can you quote that in context? He told the truth and in fact Fidesz did rob the private retirement savings away. Fidesz did make false promises. Fidesz does have a better PR although.

    He is also a very rich man based on the manipulation of party contacts and a dynastic marriage to the daughter of a woman whose wealth is the result of manipulating contacts, rather than actually DOING something. That does not make him an admirable person.

    It certainly made Orban and admirable person that he become rich on the back of his office. Let us not forget the vinery deals, Meszaros’ wealth and so forth.

    And although he talks in fine terms about cracking down in MSZP corruption, he turned a blind eye when he had the power not to and his appointments of people like Veres hardly suggest his seriousness in tackling this cancer of Hungarian politics.

    Versus the Orban recipe that feeds into corruption. Simicska, Meszaros, etc.

    He has four years in power and failed abjectly. He does not deserve another chance and the Hungarian electorate will not give him one. The fact that he is not as obnoxious as Orbán is no argument…

    I would of said that same for Orban. Anything you accuse Gyurcsany with was a consequence of a smear campaign or blocking orchestrated by Orban.
    It is very sad to read a very eloquent comment with so much tainted and dented info.

  21. @tappanch:

    Fidesz just won an election with 50somthing percent of the votes (I mean the EU elections). Do you seriously think people will demonstrate?

    Believe me, if any party would potentially be ousting Fidesz at any time, Fidesz with its 2/3s would immediately introduce a proportionate election system just before the elections, which would prevent any new party from getting 2/3s and amending the constitution to clear the system of Fidesz.

    Fidesz has entrenched itself and this is it. It’s over for the left.

    Actually, the Hungarian Left castrated itself. And after castration, as you know, potency is gone forever.

    Remember: it was Gyula Horn who introduced (in connection with Hungary’s joining of the NATO) the very easy rules for referendums which inflicted a mortal wound on MSZP (and although the anti-co payment etc. referendum would have been valid even under the more stringent original rules, the looser rules did help because if people thought it was impossible to win or even to hold a valid referendum, they wouldn’t have gone to cast a vote in the first place).

    Second, MSZP agreed to various conservative-leaning ‘consensus’ judges in the constitutional court as well as approved the leaving of Ottó Czucz which finally entrenched the conservative majority, from them on, people like Bihari (a former MSZP member of parliament) wanted to conform and be with the winners, the game was over. Obviously once the Left lost the constitutional court (or rather it knew the court was dependably hostile) it became a lame duck (especially after Öszöd). And a lame duck leadership reinforced the perennial image of impotency of the leftists and meant that people questioned why they were in power if they can’t get anything done. Check-mate.

    The leftists just don’t get the rules of the game. They never have, and never will. They are completely clueless, and never have realized that a system of rule of law (a system which at least pays lip service to it) means lawyers are king and the legal branches must be owned. This is what Fidesz ruthlessly set out to do never compromising for a second. MSZP still does not get it, and it is too late now.

    Újhelyi? Tóbiás? Rogán or Lázár or even their young no-name minions eat these guy for breakfast. t’s over for them, and this time for good.

    Get used to the reality.

  22. Balazsi: “Get used to the reality.”

    The “reality” is an edifice of ad hoc laws designed to keep Fidesz in power. One day it will collapse like the House of Usher.

  23. The critical issue for Hungarian social-democrats isn’t changing the faces at the top with a handful of more youthful leaders, it’s a strategic orientation to the critical issues facing Hungarian youth today. About two month ago Gabor Gyori wrote a very reasoned short piece on the rise of the Jobbik by gradually building a vibrant subculture that draws mainly young people. This subculture includes a vast network of extremist webpages and a few print publications. ( see http://www.social-europe.eu/2011/08/how-the-hungarian-extreme-right-got-its-groove/ )

    If one goes to the racist and ultra-nationalist kuruc.info you can also read this critique of the situation of youth causing ever increasing immigration to other EU nations:

    “The main reason amongst young people for going abroad is a form of social existential hopelessness lack of jobs, low wages, and jobs that are often humiliating, they are experiencing housing insecurity and interrelated personal difficulties. Jobbik and the Jobbik Youth Department has several times called attention to this increasingly serious problem and has developed a number of solutions to these proposals, but one of the party’s most detailed electoral programs also provided for the area.”

    The MSZP, Demokratikus Koalíció, and E14-PM, are all effectively pro-EU organizations. In the last election cycle their focus in relation to the EU was ensuring that subsidies will be spent mostly on education, healthcare, public transportation, and the creation of new jobs instead of on “prestige projects” and football stadiums. At least the DK argued Hungary should begin negotiations to join ERM2 (Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM II), which is considered to be the first step toward entering the Eurozone.

    I just don’t see how many of Hungary’s alienated young people will be inspired by even greater EU penetration of Hungary.

  24. “Socialism is a social and economic system characterised by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system. “Social ownership” may refer to cooperative enterprises, common ownership, state ownership, citizen ownership of equity, or any combination of these”

    That is the definition (admittedly via Wikipedia).

    MSZP are not a socialist party, they are (like Fidesz) essentially a clientelist organization whose electoral success was previously built on the premise “Vote for us and you will find a few more forints, by hook or by crook, in your back pocket”.

    At this moment in time Fidesz do that particular brand of mafia-style politics better than the MSZP.

    Yes, probably 25-30% of the Hungarian electorate are hardcore racist and fascist and Orban, obviously, has no problems reaching out to that particular pondlife segment of our society when required but for the vast majority, cut their electricity bill by a grand a month and you have won their support or if not that, then at least their apathy.

    And that’s it, ladies and gentlemen, that is the present state of democracy in Hungary.

    Changing the economic system, challenging neo-liberalist capitalism, finding political reps who were actually (take a deep breathe) *working-class* seems to be a step too far for the MSZP billionaires so, yep, in my opinion, they deserve to die as a party.

    The democratic future, possibly lies in smaller individual civil society projects (e.g. keep an eye on Fidesz’s attempt to rape the Varosliget, both of their MPs in the area got their arses severely kicked at the last election) but I wouldn’t place that much hope on it, particularly if TV2 do their job for the regime and put a particularly exciting reality show on at the same time as the next protest.

  25. It’s very simple, really. Fidesz have tapped into a number of sacred, populist and widely-held ideas in Hungary – nationalism, melding of Church and state, acceptability of corruption (if you’re a high-status figure such as a doctor or a politician), conservative behaviour, distrust of anything different or foreign, anti-Europeanism, a nudge-nudge (and often more than that) xenophobia and a huge resistance to change – that any real socialist or liberal party cannot tap into without becoming Fidesz themselves. The system won’t change (and so the ruling party won’t change) until the people and society change – and that won’t happen for a few decades, in part due to the fact that these ideas are very deeply ingrained, in part due to the education system and in part due to a media that is not exactly free. The hope used to be that the many who have left would one day return, bringing with them wider vistas and positive new ideas from their time abroad. But most of those who have left will not be returning, because of the stasis and hopeless dead-end that they would be returning to. So it’s a hopeless situation. The number of the electorate who could be won over to a party representing any kind of just and pluralistic future is a tiny number. Better, perhaps, to accept this and to make every effort to hold passionately on to the twenty per cent or so who reject the current situation and to ensure that this minority is a very vociferous minority, a minority of witness and challenge.

  26. Let me remind everyone who are now convinced that Fidesz will rule forever that

    1/3 of the adult population voted for Fidesz in 2010, and only 1/4 in 2014.

    Fidesz’s absolute rule is now based on tyranny and apathy.

  27. A few odds and ends while around and about:

    @HiBom: You are referring to Gyurcsány’s first try in power, even if the yield bridged two mandate-periods.
    Orbán at the moment ruling the country at the second time, and if you pay attention you’ll notice, that he learned quite a lot, his national-sozialist line matured markedly. His performance noticeably differ from the one at the first time.
    Just why and on what basis do you think, that Gyurcsány remained the same, would act the same way next time,without the burden of the boneheaded MSZP bulls as he did at the firs time with all of those insider plots going on? He has even created a new party since then, just for your information, he isn’t in the MSZP any longer, I doubt he ever will.
    Conclusively, in my opinion the Gyurcsány of 2014 isn’t the same as the prime minister Gyurcsány was eight years ago.
    I don’t see much problem with what he has done, I rather blame him for what he hasn’t.
    First and foremost he should have get rid of the questionable characters of the MSZP, shouldn’t let his loyalty override his moral judgement, not even for the “interest of this party”, no, he shouldn’t. However, cleaning out a party ridden with rotting leftovers and greedy newcomers isn’t that easy, they were still way much stronger in defending their bounty than he anticipated it, so he left.
    Should have done it much earlier.
    By the other hand, it is like a long and failed marriage – you know, you should just quit, but there were all those years while it was good, and the responsibilities because the kids too, and anyway, it may change to the better, and so on, and the end you’ll lose a few years but there is no easy way out anyway.

    Gyurcsány is out, Gyurcsány is different, and while it may doesn’t seem to have any significance to you or many others, I certainly would think twice before striking him out from the list of contenders who eventually has the necessary spirit to change the faith of Hungary – for the better.
    Just wait and see.

  28. tappanch, of course I understand the instinct and need to hope and to see the glass as half full (or even three quarters full!) but I genuinely believe that those three quarters of the electorate who did not vote for Fidesz are in no way potential liberal or socialist voters. Rather, I see them as far more likely to vote Fidesz or Jobbik (many DID vote Jobbik, of course) if push comes to shove. Many did not vote because their redrawn seats were abnormally safe; others did not vote because the national result was clearly a foregone conclusion; yet others did not vote because they have been turned off politics forever – between a quarter and a third of the electorate will NEVER vote. Until we adopt realism and attempt to understand a society that can so happily enjoy the emperor’s parade in his new clothes we won’t get anywhere.

    Re: earlier comments, Gyurcsany did attempt to improve society during his shortish time at the helm. His solution to the various healthcare problems, for example, was both simple and elegant – during the short time it existed their was clear evidence of change both in strains on local services and in the general willingness to pay the dreadful medical bribes. But Fidesz easily organised a people’s revolution against the reforms (reforms that effectively meant paying the price of an urban bus journey to visit the doctor as opposed to regular bribes of many hundreds of such bus journeys). We really need to examine why the people were so happy to overturn such improvements or why they were so easily manipulated into doing so in such overwhelming numbers. It was obvious to most of us then that these election results would happen now. And they will continue to happen.

    There is an untapped electorate out there. For Jobbik. And this fact cannot be labelled ‘hope’. IMHO.

  29. Spoiler –
    The voters of Felcsut supported their corrupt leader in a democratic town hall ballot.

  30. Istvan: “I just don’t see how many of Hungary’s alienated young people will be inspired by even greater EU penetration of Hungary.”

    They are inspired enough to leave and search for jobs in other EU countries. And that is possible so easily only because Hungary is in the EU.

  31. Lábos: “Simicska and Orban are white, non-Jewish, real Hungarian people, one of us, who like pálinka and football, they can steal, as the powerful people always do anyway, they are forgiven, because they deliver: they created a system the rules of which are very clear. Support Fidesz loyally and you’ll receive from the spoils and you get protected, be disloyal and your career is over.”

    I really cannot decide whether the “spoils” (probably the utility prices and some public infrastructure paid by EU money) are the more important here or this “be disloyal and your career is over”. What an attractive system. And so “clear”: they can steal, and my career is over. Sounds much better than: they can steal and I could have a career and palinka and football, which was the case under Gyurcsany. What a terrible mess that was! You never know what to think. Is that good or bad?! But of course palinka may be of particular use with a spoiled career.

  32. Kirsten: you vastly underestimate people’s hatred of the European style capitalism, permanent competition in which foreigners always seem to win. People want stability, most people, the losers of capitalism, say 70-80% of the people cannot live with the anxiety and the daily failures they experience which the system entails. They chose stability and protection with Fidesz and it’s good now as it could be worse with the left (who push for ever more EU, more free trade, free competition and so on). They won’t let that happen any time soon.

  33. Some1: “His peach was deliberately taken out of context by Fidesz.”

    This is my favorite. I’m sorry but when did you guys realize that even if this was true (to some extent it is, but not as much as GYF fans would like) this doesn’t matter, not even a tiny bit. Was he able to push through his interpretation? Did it damage him badly? Did he manage not to get tainted by it? The answer is a loud no.

  34. Katayev: And what if Fidesz fails? What if they will not bring “stability” for long? What will people do if they find out Fidesz cannot pay for the “spoils” from the public purse as all has ended up in private hands…? (Please do not write: people will be happy to kill themselves with home made palinka. Even Hungarians are not THAT inconsistent: with Gyurcsany everything is bad and “insecure”, with Fidesz these same things wrapped in green-red-white mean “security”.)

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