The Crisis of the Hungarian Socialist Party

2009-02-02

Conflicts within the MSZP

 

  • Following the European Parliamentary elections  (in which the socialists gained only the 17.37 percent of the votes, while main oppositional party Fidesz gained 56.36% and non-parliamentary far-right party Jobbik strengthened significantly, having 14.77%), smouldering conflicts within the Socialist Party came into view, but inner revolution could be avoided, or at least delayed.
  • In the last few weeks, tensions within the MSZP seemed to endanger the stability of both the government and the party, but voting for the tax bill showed that the socialists keep on backing the Bajnai-administration, and are to avoid early elections. The combating groups agreed to delay the elections of the party leaders and the naming of the prime minister nominee for elections due in 2010 (the action was previously expected to take place on the 4th July party congress).
  • There is a generation conflict within the party along with a renewed ideological debate, while competition for the future (surely fewer) parliamentary mandates is intense, too. The main characters are the incumbent top leaders of the party (although they represent different platforms within the party): Ildikó LENDVAI, party chairwoman, former leader of the parliamentary faction, Péter KISS, vice president, Minister for Social Policy, former Minister heading the Prime Minister’s Office, and Imre SZEKERES, deputy president, Minister of Defence. The challenging group within the party consists of considerably younger politicians who entered the political arena in the last few (maximum ten) years, and also hold important political positions: Miklós HAGYÓ, deputy mayor of capital Budapest, László BOTKA, mayor of city Szeged (his name unofficially emerged as a potential prime minister nominee, but he refused the nomination), and István UJHELYI, state secretary in Prime Minister’s Office.

 

Stability of the government

 

  • Ever since Ferenc Gyurcsány stepped down in April, early elections have been on topic; however, following Monday’s parliamentary vote, this possibility seems less likely than any time in the last three months. If the government had not been able to gain the support, PM Bajnai would have probably resigned, but the tax bill is paving the way for assembling the 2010 budget. The greatest threat has been eliminated, so the next milestone can be the parliamentary debate and the vote about the budget in late autumn. Its failure is very unlikely, and an early election called in November could be held only a few months earlier than the originally assessed one due in April or May 2010.

 

Future Troubles within the MSZP

 

  • The inner conflicts seem to be swept under the carpet, new party leaders are expected to be elected only after passing the 2010 budget, until then provisional peace is expected.
  • The party has to mark the future political direction: the government’s crisis management policy is backed by the parliamentary faction, but the MSZP intends to differ from it. However, even the most left-winged MPs voted for the tax bill, which makes it even harder to show the left wing character of the party.
  • Along with the building of the new strategy the roles within the party must be cleared by autumn; furthermore, the party has to name the prime minister nominee, too. It was announced that the socialists did not plan to do so before November, information is expected to be leaked out earlier.

 

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