Együtt (Together) has withdrawn its candidates in 11 electoral districts in favor of candidates of the Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue (MSZP-P) and Democratic Coalition (DK) parties. In exchange, MSZP-P and DK will endorse Együtt’s candidates in two districts in Budapest and one in Orosháza, leaders of the three parties announced Wednesday afternoon.
Better later than never
After long months of public squabbling and infighting among the opposition, Együtt president Péter Juhász’s calls for cooperation between the opposition were finally heard Tuesday evening. Juhász (pictured at front) announced in Budapest on Wednesday his party’s 11 withdrawals just four days before the general election on Sunday, April 8.
In exchange, MSZP-P withdrew their candidate in Budapest’s 17th electoral district. The running of MSZP board member Ildikó Bangó-Borbély in the district had been widely criticized by Együtt whose candidate managed to beat Fidesz vice-president Szilárd Németh in 2014.
In Budapest’s 13th electoral district, DK withdrew Gábor Nemes in favor of Együtt’s Zoltán Vajda. In Békés county’s 4th electoral district, MSZP-P and DK promised to withdraw their candidate in favor of Tamás Bod. However, the decision is not final as local politicians will have to reach an agreement.
Juhász stressed during his announcement that Együtt could have come to an agreement in October 2017 but added that “it is better later than never.” According to the Együtt president, with this agreement the opposition was moving one step closer to a change of government. With this latest series of withdrawals, Együtt is down to 30 candidates, he noted.
“Parties that are not present right now carry a huge responsibility on their backs,” he said. “LMP has 103, Momentum has 90 candidates still standing.” By not withdrawing any candidates, the two parties were just further increasing Fidesz’s chance of re-election for a third consecutive four-year term in power. Therefore, given that they had not been able to reach an agreement with the rest of the opposition, Juhász called on LMP (Politics Can Be Different) and Momentum Movement to withdraw some candidates unilaterally.
An unexpected winner
Following Juhász’s announcement, MSZP-P’s candidate in Budapest’s symbolic 1st electoral district, Márta V. Naszályi, announced her withdrawal in favor of LMP’s Antal Csárdi. Even though she could have won the district, V. Naszályi said, she asked her supporters to vote for Csárdi in order to oust Fidesz. At the same time, V. Naszályi asked LMP to return her gesture and withdraw some of its candidates in winnable districts.
“V. Naszályi’s symbolic gesture puts a huge burden on decision-makers of LMP,” MSZP-P prime ministerial candidate Gergely Karácsony commented.
V. Naszályi’s announcement is somewhat surprising after a poll that the since-withdrawn Momentum president András Fekete-Győr commissioned last week to find out who is the strongest opposition candidate in the district. The poll suggested that out of the three candidates left standing after Juhász had withdrawn earlier, V. Naszályi was the strongest contender against Fidesz’s István Hollik.
DK president Ferenc Gyurcsány thanked all candidates who had withdrawn regardless of party affiliation and he hinted that further withdrawals might follow.
LMP gives in
Not long after the announcement of the three parties, LMP spokesman Máté Kanász-Nagy announced that LMP has withdrawn its candidate in Budapest’s 17th electoral district in favor of Szabolcs Szabó, making him the single democratic opposition contender there. This means that Fidesz’s Németh must face the candidate who already defeated him once in 2014.
Regarding possible further withdrawals before Sunday, the LMP spokesman said “we are still open for correct agreements.”