Most opposition parties reject MSZP offer for election cooperation

September 27, 2017

Most opposition parties reject MSZP offer for election cooperation
Photo: Index.hu/István Huszti

The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and its prime ministerial candidate László Botka are getting lukewarm reactions to a “generous offer” for cooperation they extended to six opposition parties on Monday, reports Magyar Nemzet

MSZP offered to run common candidates with the parties – Politics Can Be Different (LMP), Together (Együtt), Democratic Coalition (DK), Momentum, Dialogue for Hungary (PM) and the Hungarian Liberal Party – in each of Hungary’s 106 electoral districts in 2018 elections. They also offered to allot roughly half the spaces on a common list to the parties to be divided among them, and guaranteed favorable spots on the list to ensure parliamentary representation for some of the smaller parties.

The Socialists encouraged the parties to take their time and carefully consider the offer.

But the next day, all but the two smallest parties had indicated they would reject MSZP’s offer. Democratic Coalition (DK) told Magyar Nemzet that it was ready to negotiate on the cooperation of other opposition parties, but continued to firmly reject any conditions for cooperation that included the exclusion of their party’s leader, former Socialist prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány – something Botka has insisted on. (DK held an internal party vote this month where party members overwhelmingly decided to reject any offers for cooperation that were conditional on Gyurcsány’s exclusion.)

Együtt chairman Péter Juhász said Botka’s offer was nothing new, and emphasized his party’s strategy of creating a “New Pole” in politics consisting of all the democratic opposition parties that did not exist before 2010 when Fidesz returned to power (Együtt, LMP, PM, and Momentum.) Juhász said the mobilization of new voters is essential in defeating Fidesz, and for that, running separate party lists is necessary.

LMP said their board would discuss MSZP’s offer but was likely to reject it. Spokesman Máté Kanász-Nagy said Botka had already made a “generous offer” to their party, which they had also rejected because, according to the party’s clear position, “[Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán cannot be defeated with the characters and parties of the past which had the responsibility of governance in the past 30 years.”

Momentum also rejected the offer, and emphasized they would not cooperate with the Socialists in any way. Momentum has also rejected Péter Juhász’s offer to participate in his “New Pole” concept, insisting that such an idea is barely distinguishable from Botka’s offer.

Micro-parties PM and the Liberal Party alone reacted favorably to MSZP’s offer. PM co-chair and Zugló mayor Gergely Karácsony told Magyar Nemzet that his party stood ready for negotiations with MSZP. Liberal party chairman Gábor Fodor said he thought Botka had “set up a good basis for negotiations.”