Szabolcs Kerék-Bárczy has left the Democratic Coalition, a center-left opposition party led by former Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány. A statement thanking Kerék-Barczy for his work was posted to DK’s website on September 1st, shortly after an opinion piece authored by the politician appeared in the Hungarian weekly 168 Óra.
In his opinion piece, Kerék-Bárczy criticized Hungary’s opposition, including the Democratic Coalition, for its inane squabbling instead of coming together for the sole purpose of defeating the Orbán government in the 2018 national elections.
According to Kerék-Bárczy, left-wing parties are preoccupied with taking votes away from each other instead of reaching out to moderate centrist voters, including conservatives. This ongoing strategy by Hungary’s democratic opposition, he wrote, only serves to prolong the status quo and will inevitably result in a repeat of the 2014 national elections.
Kerék-Bárczy called the Democratic Coalition’s current strategy a “failure” and accused a handful of the party’s leading politicians of being more concerned with having a job after the next elections than actually defeating Fidesz in 2018.
“Every democratic party and their leaders must in the coming months turn their energy to figuring out how to make the deep-rooted change within themselves and within their own camps,” he wrote. “Only when this is done should they explore how to collaborate with other parties and organizations, to prepare the conditions for collaboration and then execute. Before carrying out the most minute political stunt or most complex strategic plan, democratic leaders must ask themselves whether and how the action would serve the objective of bringing about a change of government in 2018. If the act would not serve this goal, it must be discarded. No energy should be wasted, no resource misallocated.”
Without getting into specifics, Kerék-Bárczy also accused certain figures in the democratic opposition of having a vested interest in maintaining the status quo for reasons ranging from personal financial gain to blackmail.
Needless to say, DK’s leading politicians were not all that happy with his piece and criticism of the party. Later that day, after the opinion piece was published in 168 Óra, Kerék-Bárczy was asked to resign from the party’s presidium and the party itself.
Prior to joining the Democratic Coalition (and serving on the party’s executive board), his political career revolved primarily around the country’s center-right political scene. He served under the first Orbán government (1998-2002) as the chief of staff for then-Minister of the Chancellory (now Constitutional Court justice) István Stumpf, and as senior advisor for then Minister of Foreign Affairs János Martonyi before being tapped to serve as the Consulate General for the Hungarian consulate in Los Angeles, California. He later became the spokesperson for MDF (Hungarian Democratic Forum), and eventually served as an advisor for Lajos Bokros following the 2009 European Parliament elections. A split within MDF after the 2009 EP election resulted in the collapse of the center-right MDF. Lajos Bokros’ Movement For A Modern Hungary has stepped into the resulting political vacuum.
It was after the 2010 elections during the second Orbán government that Kerék-Barczy joined the newly-formed Democratic Coalition (DK) led by Gyurcsány. Kerék-Barczy ran, albeit unsuccessfully, against Fidesz’s Antal Rogán in the 2014 national elections. In the autumn of that year the DK politician was elected Budapest District 5 assemblyman.