Analysis: Opposition left-wing and liberal leaders agree on joint list for general election
Budapest, January 14 (MTI) – Hungary’s left-wing opposition parties agreed to submit a joint list for the spring general election, party leaders announced on Tuesday.
The list will be headed by Socialist leader Attila Mesterhazy, who is the left alliance’s candidate for prime minister. Mesterhazy is followed by E-PM leader Gordon Bajnai and Democratic Coalition (DK) leader Ferenc Gyurcsany as third on the list.
Liberal Party leader Gabor Fodor will be entered at fourth place and co-leader of the E-PM alliance and the Dialogue for Hungary (PM) Timea Szabo at fifth place on the joint list of the Socialists, E-PM, DK and Liberals.
The next ten places will be occupied by Socialist politicians. The E-PM will have the 16th and 36th places on the joint list and five additional places between the 40th and 60th.
DK can name five more politicians in addition to Gyurcsany among the first 60 on the list. Under the agreement, the Socialists can field candidates in 71 individual constituencies, the E-PM 22 and DK altogether 13.
Mesterhazy said after the announcement that the talks had been “intense, fast and effective”, and had focused on drafting a programme to build a “new republic” by resolving Hungary’s social, economic and democratic deficiencies. The Socialist leader said he believed the opposition agreement had brought about “a structure in which each participant can trust each other”. The deal did not mean that any party would be forced to give up its political identity, he said. Rather, it set the conditions for the parties to act together in the interest of shared goals, he added.
Bajnai said that forming an electoral alliance was crucial to changing the government. He argued that “all democrats” had been “forced to act together” due to Hungary’s new election rules.
Gyurcsany said: “We have come to a good agreement … the goals of which we can and should work to meet with all our strength.” He interpreted the agreement as one signed by the whole democratic opposition rather than by just three parties. Gyurcsany said he believed Mesterhazy would be “an excellent leader” of the joint list and a good prime minister. He added that signatories to the agreement would “retain their political positions but subordinate their views to the goal of replacing the government”.
Responding to a question, Bajnai admitted that there had been disputes as to whether Gyurcsany should be included on the list, but he insisted that those disputes were not of a personal nature. “Changing the government is more important than any personnel issue,” Bajnai said.
Gyurcsany said he was aware that both the Socialists and E-PM had a different position concerning some issues such as dual citizenship or a police attack on anti-government protesters in 2006, and said that his party would not raise those issues during the election campaign.
Antal Rogan, group leader of ruling Fidesz, told a press conference in response that a “new Gyurcsany coalition”, heralding the start of a “new Gyurcsany era”.
What transpires from the agreement of the Socialists, E-PM and DK is that the Hungarian left has been unable to nominate “a real prime minister candidate” or “present any new face,” said Antal Rogan. “The Hungarian left has failed in its efforts to protect Hungary from Ferenc Gyurcsany,” he said. Rogan said that it is now the job of voters to protect Hungary in the spring election from Gyurcsany’s return to power.
If anyone, it is Gyurcsany who has achieved all he had hoped for over the past several months in the “bargaining” on the political left. He is the one “who has been clearly writing the script … since October 2012, and who has managed to make a comeback into mainstream Hungarian politics,” said Rogan, in reaction to Tuesday’s agreement.
The deal between the three political forces in and of itself will not lead to a solution to the problems of the left wing, political analysts told MTI. Indeed, as a result, the votes of the undecided may be diverted to other parties, analysts of Szazadveg and Political Capital said.
Tamas Lanczi, chief analyst of the Szazadveg Foundation, said that the outcome of the negotiations had clearly gone in Gyurcsany’s favour. He said that whereas Mesterhazy and Bajnai had kept the leader of the DK at arm’s length for a long time, in the end Gyurcsany had prevailed. He added that Gyurcsany was believed to be the driving force of the left wing, and had marshalled an intellectual elite to put pressure on the Socialists and E-PM. Bajnai, he said, was the biggest loser of the deal and had had to give up his ambitions to become prime minister.
Attila Juhasz of Political Capital said that the election strategy of the Socialists and E-PM had been put into doubt due to the fact that the DK’s poll ratings had crept up to equal those of E-PM at between 4 and 6 percent. Meanwhile, the disputes between the parties had prevented them from launching their election campaign, he said.
Photo: MTI – Szilárd Koszticsák