Budapest (MTI) – The head of the Socialist Party’s local chapter in Dunaujvaros, central Hungary, on Monday branded party leader József Tóbiás “hypocritical” for calling on him to resign after losing a by-election at the weekend.
Sunday’s by-election in Dunaujvaros was held for the mandate of Fidesz local councillor Roland Gál, who had resigned. It was won by Fidesz candidate Fruzsina Lassingleitner, who received 422 votes.
The Socialist Party had chosen to contest the election alone instead of cooperating with other left-wing opposition parties and uniting behind a joint candidate. The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) finished second with 243 votes, ahead of the radical nationalist Jobbik party in third and the fourth-placed Socialist Party.
Attila Pintér said Tóbias’ call for his resignation was “strange” because the party leader, citing a private opinion poll three weeks prior to the election, said it would be “an excellent decision” to run their own candidate and turn down cooperation with DK. Pintér said the poll had indicated the Socialists had had the most electable candidate.
Tbiás said his party had made an “organisational error” by allowing its Dunaújváros chapter to dictate the election strategy. The Socialist Party had to support their decision, but it ultimately turned out to be the wrong one from the electorate’s point of view, Tóbiás said. But he stressed that the party must take responsibility for the loss, and requested that Pintér step down as local leader.
Pintér said he had planned to resign even without Tóbiás prodding him. He noted that he had been re-elected as the party’s local leader three weeks ago. He now pledged to call a general assembly meeting for Wednesday and initiate a vote of confidence in his leadership.
Pintér confirmed that it was the Dunaújváros chapter that had made the call to contest the election alone. He said the party had worked hard to achieve a strong result, but this was all they were capable of. “We will take responsibility for it,” he said.
He added, however, that attitudes like the one taken by Tóbiás on this matter had lately cost the Socialists a lot of members and sympathisers. Instead of conducting its business in the media, the party should have discussed its strategy privately, he said.
Pintér said Tóbiás should concentrate on his party leadership campaign.
The Socialist Party is scheduled to hold its congress on June 25.