Election 2018 – Szél: Opposition parties ‘should at least be on speaking terms’
From now on, at the very least, the opposition parties should be on speaking terms, Bernadett Szél, co-leader and PM candidate of green LMP, said on the topic of electoral cooperation between Hungary’s opposition parties on Saturday.
“We’re not asking for a community of values with anyone, but we see that we have a common fate,” Szél told a press conference. She asked the other opposition parties to follow LMP’s example and “get out of their comfort zones”, because they can only unseat the government if they cooperate in some capacity.
Szél said that in his Thursday speech marking the March 15 national holiday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had given “permission to shoot” at opposition politicians and voters. She said the prime minister’s manifesto included no plan for resolving what she called Hungary’s health-care crisis, modernising the education system, resolving “the wage crisis” or tackling corruption. Instead, she said, Orbán had “declared vengeance on the opposition and their voters”.
Orbán’s “threat” of making “moral, political and legal amends” after the election meant that instead of creating order in Hungary with the help of the independent judiciary, “the prime minister wants to abuse all of his existing powers.”
“We don’t want to colonise the press, we don’t want to invade the independent judiciary and we don’t plan to use the State Audit Office as hand of vengeance after the election,” Szél said. “We want there to be order in the country, which means that Hungarians shouldn’t speak out against each other and that the branches of power are actually independent and democracy and the rule of law apply.”
She said that if Orbán remained in power “anything can happen”. Going by Orbán’s Thursday speech, “opposition parties can expect to face persecution,” she said. Or they could also cease to exist, Szél speculated, arguing that the state auditor could levy fines on them with which they could be “kicked off” the political scene.
“Just as LMP was fined 9 million forints (EUR 28,900), that would just seem like small change if I get nine years in prison because Orbán says so,” Szél said.
Asked about negotiations among opposition parties on cooperating in the April election, Szel said that by Monday she intends to “do everything to organise talks between the opposition”. She said she will meet DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány and Gergely Karácsony, PM candidate of the Socialist-Párbeszéd election alliance, on Sunday and Jobbik leader Gábor Vona on Monday.