New left-wing movement emerges which aims to replace Botka

September 29, 2017

New left-wing movement emerged that aims to replace Botka
Photo: Index.hu/István Huszti

Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) adviser Péter Tarjányi and international lawyer Tamás Lattmann (pictured) have started a movement to persuade left-wing parties to form an electoral alliance and remove László Botka as the Socialist Party’s candidate for prime minister, reports Index.hu.

The prelude to this announcement started on Tuesday when Lattmann revealed on ATV that last autumn he had met with MSZP president Gyula Molnár, leader of MSZP’s parliamentary group Bertalan Tóth, chairman of MSZP’s board István Hiller and Democratic Coalition (DK) politicians to discuss his possible nomination as a joint prime ministerial candidate of the left-wing opposition parties. However, according to Lattmann, the whole concept was swept off the table when Szeged mayor László Botka was officially nominated as MSZP’s candidate.

Soon after Lattmann’s Tuesday revelation, a war of words broke out. Molnár quickly refuted Lattmann’s claim, saying: “It is a serious misunderstanding if one thinks that if they negotiate with a party president and talk about cooperation, then they will be immediately asked to be a prime ministerial candidate.” Molnár also issued a joint statement with Tóth and Hiller, in which the MSZP politicians stressed that Lattmann had never been their party’s prime ministerial candidate.

At the same time DK also confirmed that there was indeed a negotiation and the party had been open for Lattmann’s nomination, however MSZP eventually chose Botka, so there were no further negotiations.

Although in an interview with the Hungarian-language edition of The Budapest Beacon Lattmann insisted that he never stated he had been “asked” to be the prime ministerial candidate, and that the whole Hungarian media had misinterpreted his words, it was still questionable why he revealed the meetings in the first place nine months after Botka’s nomination.

The real motivation behind Lattmann’s evocation of last autumn’s meetings came to light on Thursday when yet another opposition movement, the Hungarian Progressive Movement, introduced itself.  The movement was introduced by three lesser-known faces in politics:

  • Péter Tarjányi, security policy expert and adviser to the National Security Committee’s MSZP chair Zsolt Molnár, and owner of the recently launched news site zoom.hu.
  • Zoltán Bodnár, lawyer and former Liberal party politician and the party’s 2014 nominee for Mayor of Budapest
  • International lawyer Tamás Lattmann

At the introductory event, Tarjányi said the movement is not planning to organize mass events and protests and does not even want to become a party. Their aim as a team of intelligentsia is to organize opposition parties into a cooperation and provide them a platform. Bodnár was more straightforward, saying their aim is to “keep left-wing parties under pressure to sit down and cooperate.”

According to the movement, Botka is no longer capable of uniting the left. At one point Lattmann called on Botka to withdraw outright:

“Botka is not working, we would like him to withdraw.”

Lattmann later said that Botka is a capable candidate but he had “caused trouble for himself,” and his strategy is not working. The international lawyer also said he decided to step in after Botka’s offer of giving 49% of a possible joint party list to six opposition parties met with rather lukewarm reactions from the smaller parties. Lattmann argued that something had to be done to point out that this strategy leads to a joint downfall.

In an interview with HírTV, Lattmann also revealed that before contacting the press about the meetings of last autumn, he warned MSZP, namely Zsolt Molnár who had previously been called a traitor by Botka, that he was going to leak the information. Members of the movement stressed that they do not want to become “kingmakers” and they do not have a specific name in mind for a prime ministerial candidate. This, they argued, is the duty of the parties. Their aim is to speed up this process.

The movement’s appearance and demand for Botka’s withdrawal seem to be rather counter-productive less than a year before the general election. However, given the hopeless divisions between the opposition parties and Botka’s apparent failure to please them and therefore unite the left, the movement’s aim to bring in an outsider candidate who has higher acceptance among the opposition than Botka is reasonable. Whatever the outcome of their effort will be, without a convincing electoral alliance, not to mention a program, opposition parties’ chances of removing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán from power in spring 2018 decrease by the day.