Gergely Karácsony, co-leader of the small liberal Párbeszéd (Dialogue) party, has said he would only stay on as the left’s joint PM candidate if the left-wing parties draw up a common national list for next spring’s general election.
Speaking at a press event on Monday, Karácsony said he had not come up with a “back-up plan” for the election, because he expects the leftist parties to join forces by February. He added that he was willing to wait for the Ferenc Gyurcsány-led Democratic Coalition (DK) to join the leftist opposition campaign “until the last minute”.
Karácsony said that
recently certain opposition parties had begun to “let the 2018 election go”.
For these parties, the primary concern is not whether the opposition could turn the election around, Karacsony said. Neither are they interested in the potential size of Fidesz’s majority if the ruling party remains in power, he added. Instead, these parties have started thinking about who among them “can get back up again” after yet another election defeat, he said.
Karácsony, the mayor of Budapest’s 14th district, said his party, on the other hand, believes that it is wrong to give up on 2018. He argued that there were so many undecided voters that opposition might even have a shot at winning and advised against declaring the election a lost cause.
The Párbeszéd co-leader voiced disagreement with the opposition parties settling for coordinating their candidates in individual constituencies. If the opposition opts for this strategy, there would be six leftist opposition party lists, of which three or four would not clear the 5 percent threshold for parliamentary representation, he said. As a result, many votes for party lists would go to waste and the opposition would also lose many individual constituencies, he argued.
Cooperation between the opposition parties does not guarantee victory, but it is necessary, he said.
The opposition Socialist Party, Párbeszéd and the Liberal Party support drawing up a common national list but DK and Együtt do not, he noted.
But since candidates do not officially have to be nominated until February, the parties do not make a decision on this at this time, he said.
Karácsony said DK had a political interest in running a stand-alone party list, arguing that the party considered the election a “qualifying session”. But at the same time, their voters are the strongest supporters of a joint opposition list, so the matter is not yet settled, he added. Karacsony said the opposition parties should wait “until the last minute” for DK, arguing that if the party feels that it is in its political interest to join the cooperation, it will.
Karacsony said he was also hopeful of Együtt joining the other parties, adding, however, that he believed they were less likely to join than DK.
If the leftist opposition parties fail to join forces, then they have to rethink the entire election,
“I will only be a candidate for prime minister if [we] run a common national list,” he said. “I’m not needed for a list that says ‘Hungarian Socialist Party’.”
But if the opposition corrects its election strategy, then the election can be won, Karácsony said.
He said Jobbik’s slide in the polls was a key opportunity for the left. If the polling is close, leftists are prone to voting for Jobbik, but the opposite is also true, Karácsony said.
The opposition’s voter block is changing, Karácsony said, arguing that party loyalty was taking a back seat to the objective of defeating Fidesz.