New Socialist leader advocates left-wing cooperation for 2018 election
Budapest, June 30 (MTI) – Hungary’s leftist parties should cooperate with each other in the 2018 general election by nominating a single candidate in each constituency, Gyula Molnár, the Socialist Party’s newly-elected leader, told MTI in an interview on Thursday.
Molnár said his party is capable of winning the election in 2018, arguing that “six out of ten” voters want a new government, four of them should be won over for the Socialists and that “there are serious tensions between [ruling] Fidesz and society.”
But the opposition leftist parties will have to cooperate, he said, because “they have to offer one single path” forward to counter the programmes offered by Fidesz and the radical nationalist Jobbik party.
Molnár said leftist parties that contest the election on their own by fielding their own candidates would be seen as helping Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
He said it would be unwise to leave the selection of the 106 candidates completely up to the parties’ local chapters but added that he did not yet know what the cross-party cooperation would look like at the top.
Asked about the Socialist Party’s future candidate for prime minister, Molnár named Szeged Mayor László Botka as his preferred candidate if the party decides to nominate an “insider”. Molnar said he had asked Botka to take charge of the party’s preparations for the election campaign.
Asked about potential cooperation with Democratic Coalition leader and former Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, Molnár said Gyurcsány had become a “boogeyman” over the years, but the main question is whether they want to beat Orbán and try to “handle” Gyurcsány in order to do so.
But the new chairman warned that simply saying that Orbán needs to go would not be enough to win the election. The Socialists will have to give a clear picture about how they envision Hungary’s future.
Molnár said that over the next two years the party should seek to communicate its ideas to voters mainly outside the confines of parliament, as parliamentary business is no longer transparent and the opposition cannot function constructively. He said the Socialist parliamentary group should put together 10-15 draft laws on issues it considers important – for instance, health-care reform, education or wage hikes in public administration – so that Fidesz, too, will be forced to take a stance on those issues.
Molnár said the party’s work outside parliament would consist of organising campaign events throughout the country and establishing and maintaining relationships with civil groups and unions. The party’s job is to attract more voters than Fidesz, and in order to do that it must listen to the people, he added.
Molnár said his party was not going to apologise anymore for the past. Instead, it will simply ask voters to “trust us” and believe that the Socialist Party has learned from its mistakes.
Regarding potential changes in the party’s parliamentary group, Molnár said he wanted to see the group’s deputy leader, Bertalan Tóth, take on an influential role.