MSZP endorses PM co-chair Gergely Karácsony’s candidacy for prime minister in 2018

December 13, 2017

Hungarian Socialist Party chairman Gyula Molnár (L) and Dialogue for Hungary co-chair Gergely Karácsony | Photo: MTI/Tibor Illyés

The presidium of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) formally backed the candidacy of Zuglo mayor and Dialogue for Hungary co-chair Gergely Karácsony for prime minister, reports

MSZP deputy chairman Zoltán Gőgös told state news agency MTI that at a meeting of the party presidium Monday evening an overwhelming majority voted to accept Karácsony’s offer to head a joint list of opposition candidates in the general election scheduled for April 2018.

According to the Socialist politician, Karácsony will accompany MSZP MP and campaign manager Ágnes Kunhalmi on a tour of the country beginning in Miskolc on Monday.

At a party assembly on Saturday MSZP chairman Gyula Molnár said it was necessary for the opposition to close ranks in the interest of defending Hungarian democracy.  To this Karácsony reportedly asked MSZP supporters in attendance to decide what role he was to play, saying that “if you need me, I will come” and promising to do everything in his power.

Karácsony first entered Hungarian politics in the 2010 general election. Tapped by liberal/green party Politics Can Be Different (LMP) to serve as campaign manager, Karácsony was one of 16 LMP politicians elected to parliament from the party’s national list that year. Karácsony left LMP at the end of 2012 with seven other MPs to found Dialogue for Hungary (PM), which he co-chairs with former LMP MP Ágnes Szabó. Despite his party’s poor showing in the 2014 general election as part of a coalition of leftist opposition parties, Karácsony successfully ran for mayor of Budapest District 14 (Zugló) in municipal elections later that year.

This year it was reported that Karácsony was in talks with MSZP politicians about replacing Szeged mayor László Botka as joint opposition candidate for prime minister. MSZP has been in disarray since Botka withdrew his candidacy in early October, accusing elements within the party of doing the bidding of ruling party Fidesz.

The decision on the part of the largest of the democratic opposition parties to endorse the candidacy of the co-chair of a relatively small, liberal party is likely to facilitate running a joint list of candidates in next year’s general election.