Budapest, December 23 (MTI) – The Socialist Party’s steering board is ready to support Szeged Mayor László Botka as the “democratic opposition’s” candidate for prime minister in 2018, the party said in a statement on Friday.
Socialist Party leader Gyula Molnár has asked Botka to discuss the party’s plans and programme for the 2018 election at the party’s next board meeting, with the aim of unseating the Fidesz government, the statement said.
The party said it was preparing a left-wing programme that would “offer a future to the four million people living in poverty and nearly five million living day to day”, to counter the “hopelessness offered by the Fidesz government”.
They noted that earlier this week Botka said he would be willing to stand as Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s challenger, and this announcement had given further momentum to the party’s election programme.
The Socialists said that in talks held with other opposition parties over the past six months on a possible joint election campaign, the party had consistently represented Botka’s stance that the opposition should unite around a new left-wing platform and nominate a joint candidate in each constituency in 2018.
Commenting on the Socialist Party’s statement, Fidesz parliamentary group leader Lajos Kósa said the left’s “ongoing casting” of a candidate for prime minister was a sign of “complete helplessness”. Speaking to public Kossuth Radio, Kósa said Botka’s nomination was “not even certain on the left”, arguing that the Szeged mayor “could not even keep his position” on the Socialist Party’s national board, which he said had weakened Botka’s position even locally. He said a complete “coming together” of opposition parties would spell “disaster” for Hungary, arguing that the Socialists, Jobbik, LMP and the “left-liberal micro parties” could not even find common ground on the most fundamental issues.
The leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said the Socialists’ backing of a potential Botka candidacy went against their earlier proposal to hold a preselection process to determine the opposition’s joint candidate for prime minister. DK added, however, that it was still open to running a joint election campaign with the “democratic opposition parties” and said it awaits the Socialist Party’s final proposal on the selection of opposition candidates for 2018.