The opposition liberal-green party LMP re-elected founding member András Schiffer as its parliamentary group leader on Monday, having failed to decide during a nine-hour session three days earlier. His predecessor Benedek Jávor resigned at a fractious general assembly the previous week, where members voted 84 to 77 against Jávor’s motion that the party should join forces with former PM Gordon Bajnai’s new opposition movement Together 2014.
Tearing itself apart
Jávor’s two deputies, Tímea Szabó and Gergely Karácsony, also resigned over the LMP’s narrow backing of the more-militant Schiffer’s insistence on the party keeping its distance from Bajnai and the Socialist Party that installed him in power as interim prime minister in the year to the last elections in 2010.
Another key figure in the LMP’s liberal camp, Katalin Ertsey, reacted by suspending her party membership on Tuesday. One of the LMP’s 16 lawmakers in the 386-strong national assembly, Ertsey announced her decision by writing in an open letter of “dirty political deals” behind the election of a new caucus leader.
Another blow for the party was the resignation of economist Péter Róna, who quit as co-chair of the LMP, also on Tuesday. In a scathing resignation letter, Róna – who had initially supported cooperation with Bajnai’s proposed rainbow alliance of centrist political groups – said he “regretted that I thought conceivable for even one moment any co-operation with this cunning, cynical and violent gang”.
Róna said the last straw was when Bajnai refused to acknowledge the folly of foreign-currency mortgages and loans that were promoted by banks under the previous Socialist-backed administrations. “Hundreds of thousands of lives have been ruined beyond repair, demand crushed for a very long time, the banking system has become unworkable, tens of thousands of SMEs have folded, hundreds of thousands of jobs lost and the National Bank has lost influence over monetary processes thanks to this dishonest, phoney ‘product’,” Róna wrote.
He could not bear the idea that the people responsible now present themselves as “great defenders of the rule of law” and are able to force the LMP to the brink of destruction. It was only because of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his “two years of madness” that Róna had clung to the hope he could effect change through a compromise within the LMP, he wrote.
Ousting Orbán is MSZP goal
Despite the party having ruled out cooperation with the MSZP at the next election, slated for 2014, MSZP chairman Attila Mesterházy said on Saturday that he remained open to working with the Greens. “We want to cooperate with any democratic party or movement that seeks to oust the Orbán government,” he told reporters.
On Wednesday the MSZP reached out to opposition parties, Together 2014 – comprising Bajnai’s Homeland and Progress Foundation, the Facebook protest group Milla and the union-based opposition group Hungarian Solidarity – and other civil opposition movements. It presented a list of 20 policy areas where it thinks cooperation might be possible.
Bajnai welcomed the MSZP’s openness to negotiation but Schiffer criticised the Socialists in an interview with hvg.hu posted on Wednesday, calling on them to exercise some self-criticism. He said that, as things stand, the LMP remains open to cooperation only within Parliament and on specific issues.