Botka out as MSZP’s candidate for prime minister, blames “political mafia” in the democratic opposition

October 2, 2017

Botka out as MSZP's candidate for prime minister, blames "political mafia" in the democratic opposition
Photo: MTI

László Botka has announced he will end his campaign as the Hungarian Socialist Party’s (MSZP) candidate for prime minister at the 2018 national election.

“I came to kick out this regime, that is why I accepted the candidacy for prime minister. Unfortunately, other opposition parties and – painfully – Socialist powers do not want to put an end to [the National Cooperation System], they want to live with it. A factious and fragmented democratic opposition cannot defeat this regime,” Botka wrote in a letter circulated among the Hungarian press.

Botka’s campaign had been marred by infighting within MSZP and squabbling with other opposition parties, including, but not limited to, former prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition (DK).

Last December, Botka announced his intention to run as MSZP’s candidate for prime minister. He was backed by the party’s presidium, and in May received the unanimous support of the party at its congress.

Botka made it clear from the outset that he intended on being the entire democratic opposition’s candidate for prime minister. He urged opposition parties to launch jointly-supported candidates, to develop a shared platform, and to reject any attempt by Gyurcsány to appear on a party list.

Needless to say, MSZP’s internal conflict and the reluctance of opposition parties to accept Botka’s plans for a wider united opposition campaign all converged to strip the aspiring prime minister of his ability to establish a strong political opposition in the upcoming election.

“I had no idea about the extent to which the political mafia had enveloped the democratic opposition, including my own party,” he wrote. “No matter that I received overwhelming support at the party’s congress, no matter the hopes of the left-wing sympathizers….I had to fight against those that must be defeated at the upcoming elections within my own party.”

MSZP vice-president István Újhelyi, who also serves as the party’s MEP, announced Monday morning that he would be resigning from his leadership role within the party.

“Even though my desire for change endures, as the vice-president of MSZP I can no longer take responsibility for the future of the party and its role in the 2018 national elections,” Újhelyi wrote. “I cannot support something that allows for MSZP’s internal operations to be influenced or hindered by outside political powers. For this reason, I am resigning from my post as MSZP vice-president effective today.”

Botka and Újhelyi’s references to a “political mafia” and “outside political powers” operating within MSZP are likely allusions to what many believe to be Fidesz control over elements of the Socialist party who secretly do the bidding of the ruling powers.