Opposition Reshuffled? – Hungarian Press Reactions To Schiffer’s Exit And Vona’s Re-Election
Tamás Székely 2016.06.01.
After the Jobbik Congress re-elected Gábor Vona as leader of the radical nationalist party on Sunday and green party LMP founder András Schiffer announced his resignation from politics on Monday, political commentators across the Hungarian media ponder the implications of the moves on the future of the Hungarian opposition forces, press reviewer budapost.eu reported. However, the question remains: who will challenge Viktor Orbán’s ruling Fidesz party in 2018?
András Schiffer has acknowledged defeat and realized that he could not break the glass ceiling and make the LMP a stronger party, András Stumpf comments on right-wing Mandiner. The conservative columnist recalls that in private discussions after the 2014 election, Schiffer hinted that he was considering stepping down as the LMP could not create a strong base under his leadership. Stumpf suspects that Schiffer’s resignation from office is a serious blow for the LMP. Without its iconic founding leader, The party is unlikely to meet the 5 percent threshold at the next Parliamentary election, Stumpf predicts.
In left-wing HVG, Gáspár Miklós Tamás finds Schiffer’s resignation sad and disappointing. The Marxist philosopher admits that he did not fully agree with Schiffer’s vision, but he nonetheless appreciated his efforts to keep his party’s independence both from Left and Right. Schiffer followed a consistent left-wing anti-globalist economic path while at the same time advocating human rights, Tamás remarks. He adds that Schiffer rejected neoliberal dogmas as well as ethnic nationalism, and also firmly refused to co-operate with the current mainstream left which would have meant the end of LMP’s ideological and institutional independence. In conclusion, Tamás writes that Schiffer’s resignation suggests that transcending the ever increasing polarization in Hungary is a hopeless task.
As for Gábor Vona’s re-election as Jobbik leader, left-wing daily Népszabadság suggests in a front page editorial that the Hungarian radicals may split sooner or later. Vona, despite being the only candidate for party leadership only got 80 percent of the votes, which shows that the radical wing is still strong, and may at some point blow up the party, the leading left-wing daily suspects.
A more moderate Jobbik can cause PM Orbán a headache, Péter Somfai comments in Népszava. The leftist pundit thinks that as Fidesz becomes increasingly radical in its rhetoric, Vona wants to steer his party towards centre stage in order to connect with more moderate voters dissatisfied with the current government. Somfai thinks that unless PM Orbán tones down his party’s combatant radical messages, Vona may eventually convince the public that Jobbik is a more moderate party than Fidesz.
Gábor Vona is copying PM Orbán, Szabolcs Dull writes on liberal Index.hu. Following the example of PM Orbán in restructuring Fidesz, Vona’s aim is to increase his own power within the party by marginalizing his critics and possible future challengers, Dull notes.