Budapest, May 31 (MTI) – The national board of the opposition Socialist Party has convened a congress to renew the party’s leadership on July 19, head of the board Laszlo Botka announced today.
The party will be steered by its national election committee, led by Botka, in the meantime.
On the sidelines of a board meeting held behind closed doors, Botka said that nominees for the new leadership will be required to have a programme on modernising the party and increasing its competitiveness.
The board voted support for the election committee’s nine members, and adopted a schedule under which local Socialist chapters will elect their own leaders as well as delegates to the national congress between June 1 and 30. Candidates running for national positions will be required to collect signatures in support from 10 percent of the membership of their local chapters.
The next six weeks are expected to mobilise not only the Socialist Party but the whole of Hungary’s Left, Botka said, adding that “we will now stop analysing the causes which led to our (election) defeat but work to rebuild the party”.
Botka declined to answer questions whether he was planning to run for the Socialist chair.
Deputy group leader Jozsef Tobias will head the Socialists’ parliamentary group until the congress in July.
The Socialist Party is “not dead and if it was in a slumber, it has now awakened,” Tobias said. He added that “difficult times” were ahead of the party, but insisted that it was possible to rebuild it as “an alternative to the current regime, a party firmly embedded in society,” by 2018.
According to information carried by the daily Nepszabadsag, Tobias made it clear at the board meeting that he was ready to run for party chair.
Istvan Hiller, Socialist deputy speaker of parliament, told reporters after the board meeting that he had no aspirations to become Socialist leader and wished to see someone at the helm who had not been leader of the party before.
Answering a question, Hiller said he thought it was “necessary and unavoidable” for parties of the Left to cooperate for the upcoming municipal elections, especially in Budapest because of a recent proposal by ruling Fidesz to change election rules.
Photo: MTI – Attila Kovács