Domestic Politics

Socialist Candidate To Face Almost Impossible Task Of Becoming Hungary’s Next Prime Minister

Nearly two-fifths of Hungarians would vote for current Prime Minister Viktor Orbán if a general election were held now, while Socialist strongman László Bokta would receive only 7 percent of the votes, a new poll conducted by the Nézőpont Institute shows. 

In the total sample, Orbán was backed by 37% of respondents, more than the combined total support for all other potential candidates for prime minister named in the poll. Gábor Vona, leader of radical nationalist Jobbik party, came second with 8%, just ahead of the Socialist Party’s László Botka, the current Mayor of Szeged, who was backed by 7% of respondents. Democratic Coalition (DK) leader and former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány was supported by 5% of respondents, ahead of LMP co-leader Bernadett Szél, with 3 percent, and Liberal Party leader Gábor Fodor, who received 2%. of the survey’s respondents, while Gyurcsány garnered 40% support. Nézőpont found that Botka also leads Gyurcsány among non-committed voters, with 10% as against 4%.

The Presidium of the Socialist Party decided to support László Botka’s nomination for Prime Minister a month ago. The Mayor of Szeged was asked to start negotiations with the rest of the left-wing opposition. Botka said left-wing parties should run with joint candidates and a joint nationwide electoral list, on the basis of a new left-wing policy. However, most of the Hungarian political commentators think he has slim chances of uniting the opposition:

Liberal news portal Index.hu’s Szabolcs Dull doubts Botka can win the support of other left-wing parties and become their joint candidate. The liberal columnist recalls that the Together party has rejected the idea of cooperating with the MSZP in the first place. Another minor left-liberal party, Dialogue insists that the Left should decide on their joint candidate through a preliminary election. Dull also notes that Mr Botka had said that former PM Gyurcsány should not be part of the Left’s joint list. In light of Botka’s expectations, Dull deems it unlikely that Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition would agree to support Botka’s candidacy. In conclusion, Dull suspects that Botka will fail to unite the Left behind him, and the opposition’s desperate search for a joint candidate may soon resume.

In left-wing blog Kettős MérceSzilárd István Pap welcomes Botka’s plan to return the Left to classical social democratic egalitarian principles. The alt-left pundit thinks that the Left can restore its support and challenge Fidesz only if it promises to battle inequality. Pap, nonetheless, is somewhat sceptical whether Botka can reunite the Left. He suspects that even the MSZP leadership may not be fully behind him. Pap speculates that some Socialist luminaries may have supported Botka’s candidacy in the hope that Botka would fail anyway, and thus they could rise in the party to challenge the current leaders. Thus Botka can only unite the Left behind him if he starts a country-wide campaign in order to earn the sympathy of voters and build his own base, loyal to him alone.

Left-wing Népszava‘s György Sebes agrees with Botka’s idea that ”a new left-wing policy is needed“, but he also detects further difficulties in his path. He has to agree with DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány, while in order to win he has to dissociate himself from the “pre-2010” era – when Mr Gyurcsány served as Prime Minister. Mr Botka will also have to dispel the widely shared impression that his party is an emanation of the Communist Party (MSZMP) which ruled Hungary until the transition to democracy in 1990. First of all, however, Sebes notes, Mr Botka will have to endure negative propaganda from the government side.

On conservative weekly Válasz, Barna Borbás pokes fun at “Botka’s magic weapon’ – the discovery that a new left-wing policy is needed. He recalls that Mr Botka used that very same formula over two years ago when he was elected Chairman of the MSZP National Council. Moreover, Borbás also produces links to speeches by MSZP leaders from 2008, 2009 and 2010 which made the same discovery, time and again. “An idea repeated so often by so many leaders must inevitably be a magic weapon”, he writes.

via hungarymatters.hu and budapost.eu; photo: MTI