Former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány stated in a Facebook post Wednesday that his party – Democratic Coalition (DK) – favors “cooperation of the entire democratic opposition” in order to defeat Fidesz in the spring 2018 election, and he remains open to negotiations with other opposition parties. But many important segments of the political left are still unwilling to collaborate with Gyurcsány, even if it means the opposition remains fragmented.
“We in DK consider it proper for there to be cooperation of the entire democratic opposition,” Gyurcsány wrote. “Not because we think the same things about everything, but because we agree on an essential point: that we must recreate a normal European civil democracy with the replacement of [Prime Minister Viktor] Orbán.”
Gyurcsány went on to emphasize that his party stands ready to negotiate with other parties on a coalition which could feasibly defeat Fidesz, and “everyone must decide whether they want to work together with us or with others, or to continue closed up within themselves on their own path.”
Gyurcsány, who was prime minister from 2004 to 2009, is a divisive figure in Hungary’s political left, and opinion is split on whether he ought to be included at all in the formation of a potential opposition coalition. The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), Gyurcsány’s former party, adopted a resolution at a party congress in May requiring that no political figures who contributed to electoral losses in the 2010 elections be permitted to appear on the party’s election list in 2018.
That resolution’s author, MSZP candidate for prime minister László Botka, remains firm in his insistence that Gyurcsány not be allowed to appear on the party’s list of candidates in any of Hungary’s 106 constituencies.
The issue of Gyurcsány has caused internal conflict recently within MSZP. In an interview with weekly magazine 168 Óra Botka stressed that he would not tolerate “betrayal and collaboration with Fidesz” in his party – and suggested that Zsolt Molnár, a member of MSZP’s national board, was guilty of both. Molnár had vocally criticized a number of the policies adopted by MSZP at its congress in May, and maintained his belief that cooperation with Gyurcsány was essential to challenging Fidesz in the 2018 general election. Molnár even wrote in the Sztárklikk blog that MSZP “cannot argue [with the idea] that Gyurcsány’s place is in parliament.”
Botka’s statements sparked a week of verbal sparring between the two Socialist politicians, culminating with a Monday meeting between the two in Szeged, where Botka is mayor. The meeting resulted in a sudden cooling of tensions, with Botka later declaring that Molnár supports his party’s central policy “wholeheartedly.”
With Botka’s apparent victory over the issue of collaboration with Gyurcsány (Botka said he considers the topic “closed”), an MSZP-DK coalition seems less likely than ever as the Socialists stagnate in the polls. MSZP has 28 seats and DK four in the 199-seat National Assembly.