Botka to begin formal negotiations with opposition leaders this week, but compromise seems distant

February 13, 2017

Photo: nyugat.hu

Szeged mayor László Botka, the presumptive Hungarian Socialist Party(MSZP) nominee for prime minister, will officially begin negotiations this week with other opposition party leaders on the possible formation of a political alliance going into 2018 elections, reports index.hu. Botka told the daily online that his first meeting will be with leaders of the green party Politics Can Be Different (LMP), which conspicuously remained outside of the Együtt (Together) party alliance in 2014 elections, choosing instead to run as an independent party. LMP’s potential collaboration with Botka and MSZP could signal the beginning of a more cohesive opposition movement than has been seen in recent years.

However, LMP has already declared that it will run on its own election lists in 2018, a contradiction of one of Botka’s conditions for running. So far, no left-opposition party has agreed to run on a common list as Botka has insisted, and while party leaders have conducted informal negotiations with Botka, no official cooperation has yet been settled upon.

LMP co-chair Ákos Hadházy told Index that it has always been the position of LMP that opposition leaders must come together for negotiations in the interest of unseating the Fidesz government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, in power since 2010. However, an unnamed LMP politician told hvg.hu that Botka’s announcement to the press that he would begin negotiations with the party was a form of political pressure meant to force their hand, and that no political cooperation seemed likely.

“Two of our party congresses decided that we would run independently in the elections, and that we will run an individual candidate in all areas,” the LMP politician told hvg. “This issue has not been reopened.”

Whether Botka will be able to court the cooperation of any of the opposition parties remains to be seen, but it is certain that the Democratic Coalition (DK) led by former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány will not be involved in negotiations. Botka has openly stated that any coalition involving Gyurcsány would not be attractive to the majority of voters, while Gyurcsány angrily attacked opposition parties in his State of the Nation address last week, criticizing them for holding secret negotiations that deliberately excluded him and his party.