Budapest, January 8 (MTI) – The Socialist party will give the prime minister candidate for the alliance with E-PM under an agreement sealed on Wednesday, Gordon Bajnai, leader of the electoral alliance E-PM, told a press conference.
The candidate is likely to be Socialist leader Attila Mesterhazy, who had been put forward as a candidate earlier, Bajnai said, adding that E-PM would accept Mesterhazy as a candidate.
A [Socialist party] congress is needed to confirm the candidacy, Mesterhazy told the joint press conference.
The main opposition Socialists and the E-PM electoral alliance agreed on Wednesday to put forward a joint list for the parliamentary election this spring, Mesterhazy said.
A proposal will be made to the Democratic Coalition (DK) to join the list, he added. Mesterhazy said he did not think it likely that they could not reach agreement with Ferenc Gyurcsany’s [DK] party.
Bajnai added that the proposal would be a fair one which DK has a fundamental responsibility to accept, given that they had long advocated the joint list and candidacy.
No details were revealed on the actual names on the list or how the renewed agreement would influence the distribution of constituencies, as this would depend on talks with DK, too. Notably, it is not yet decided how many of the 106 constituencies would go to a DK candidate and at which party’s expense. Mesterhazy only said that he was preparing for fast talks with the DK. He also declined to comment on whether Gyurcsany himself would be on the joint list.
Asked whether he would contact Gabor Fodor’s Liberal Party or the Social Democratic Party led by Andor Schmuck, Mesterhazy said he would move one step at a time, and after talking to the DK it should be considered whether “further efforts were needed to secure the success of this political formation”. However he added that among the parties mentioned only DK had “actual voter support”.
Bajnai said he had goals rather than ambitions and now he put his ambitions for premiership behind the goal of changing the government “to return Hungary to the camp of normal, prospering European countries”. He added that he had asked nothing in return for this decision. He denied speculations about a third prime minister candidate put forward by E-PM at talks. “There was no casting,” he said.
In late August, the Socialists and E-PM agreed to field joint candidates but separate party lists in the spring election. They said they would not have a joint prime minister candidate. This agreement had been sharply criticised by the DK ever since.
Mesterhazy said when talks were restarted earlier this week, at Bajnai’s initiative, it was agreed that a joint list was the best way to strengthen cooperation between the Socialists and the alliance.
Bajnai said that the highest chance for an electoral victory in the spring was if the vote became a “referendum on [Viktor] Orban’s government”. Today the opposition has no majority support among the populace, but this should change with the unification of the opposition forces, which could return faith in changing the government, he said.
Gyurcsany welcomed the agreement in a statement on Wednesday and said DK was ready to start three-way talks immediately. He said on hearing the news he made arrangements to return from a trip abroad.
Fidesz spokeswoman Gabriella Selmeczi called the left-wing party list “completely irrelevant” for the election, because “they are all the same old people, with no new face among them”. “They are the same people who have already ruined Hungary once,” she said. Selmeczi said before the Socialist-E-PM press conference that the left were for scrapping the current pro-family tax system and raising taxes, including advocating plans to hike the personal income tax from the current 16 percent to 40 percent. They want to put the money taken from Hungarian taxpayers’ pockets into foreign companies’ pockets, she said.
The radical nationalist Jobbik said the agreement between the Socialists and E-PM demonstrated the “rebirth of the coalition of lies.” In the current situation, Hungarian voters can only choose between the politicians who destroyed Hungary in the past 24 years or Jobbik that will bring a change, spokeswoman Dora Duro said. When replacing Orban’s government, Jobbik will not bring Gyurcsany back to power, she added.
The opposition LMP party will not enter any electoral alliance with political forces that used to be in power, LMP co-leader Andras Schiffer said on Wednesday. Should LMP come to power, it will get rid of both the left-wing and the right-wing political elite, he said. Schiffer said that LMP insists on its original strategy and offers an alternative to those who wished the Gyurcsany-Bajnai governments “would go to hell” in 2010 and also to those who are now fed up with the “regime of national cynicism.”
Photo: MTI- Tamás Kovács