Leaders of six opposition parties, attending a recent public debate, agreed that the incumbent Fidesz-Christian Democrat government can be replaced after the April 8 general election.
LMP leader Bernadett Szél said that if the opposition wins the ballot, a more just, democratic election should be called as soon as possible. Leaders of the Socialist-Párbeszéd electoral alliance, the Democratic Coalition (DK), LMP, Együtt and Momentum, in turn, said they would rather favour to see a coalition government, based on compromises.
The debate, held in Budapest late on Wednesday, was organised by the Válasszunk! 2018 (Let’s vote! 2018 – V18) group. Former foreign minister and EU commissioner Péter Balázs, who is heading the group, said ruling Fidesz and radical nationalist Jobbik had not accepted their invitation.
Gergely Karácsony, the Socialist-Párbeszéd PM candidate, said it would have been more fortunate if the debate had taken place a year ago, and the “democratic opposition” could now face Fidesz in unity.
“We should have made a joint offer to the nation,” he said.
Szél, LMP’s PM candidate, said Fidesz had failed, with a majority of Hungarian voters wishing to see a change in government. She said LMP had sought full-scale cooperation on the opposition side but met with harsh resistance.
DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány said that most voters “had become familiar with the nature of the current electoral system”. Now it is up to the opposition parties to enforce the majority’s will to replace the government, he said.
Együtt board leader Viktor Szigetvári said the general mood favours “a change in regime”, and welcomed recent shifts towards broader cooperation on the opposition side.
Momentum leader András Fekete-Győr said their party had been born from a general dissatisfaction with the corrupt government and the squabbling opposition.
“By now, however, we have become ready for compromises because our generation cannot live for another four years under the current regime,” he said.
They agreed that the incumbent government has neglected education and health care, and pledged to significantly increase central spending on both areas including wage hikes.
The opposition leaders agreed that poverty has increased over the past eight years of Fidesz’s rule and pledged to reverse the trend by creating jobs, redesigning the fostered work scheme and significantly hiking family allowances.
They also agreed on the need to investigate and prosecute corruption cases “linked to the government”. Karácsony repeated Socialist-Párbeszéd’s pledge to set up an anti-corruption prosecutor’s office, whereas Gyurcsány called for removing the chief public prosecutor from his office. Szigetvári vowed “to nationalise the private assets” of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and businessman Lőrinc Mészáros linked to him.
Szél said the only party “standing clean” of any support by an oligarch was LMP.
She pledged to clear cases and punish perpetrators under a government that is elected in “a truly democratic method”.
“Power must not be thrown away just like a hot potato”, Karácsony said, adding that if elected to power, he would pursue as prime minister a policy seeking consensus.
“We are destined to work in coalition”, Gyurcsány said, adding that if the opposition wins the election, coalition talks must be led by the political force receiving the largest number of votes.
Gyurcsány stressed the need to refrain from charges concerning oligarchs standing behind the opposition parties as this attitude “is eroding public trust in us”.
Szigetvári also rejected the charge. He said that the democratic opposition could gain majority even without Jobbik.
featured image: MTI