Attila Mesterházy, challenger to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and thus top candidate of the new left electoral alliance, has bared his teeth towards the ruling conservative party. Mesterházy, as chairman of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), held his “State of the nation” speech in the fully stuffed Papp László Sportaréna recently – in Hungary it is customary for the leader of the opposition to give such a speech. Although the election campaign is officially launched only this month, Mesterházy’s speech can already be regarded as an electoral effort.
The MSZP chairman stressed that his utterances could be summarised in three words: “Orbán must go!” All this in front of those parties that belong to the left alliance, led by former prime ministers Ferenc Gyurcsány (2004-2009) and Gordon Bajnai (2009-2010), and about 13,000 Socialist Party members and sympathisers. Mesterházy added right away: “ And he will go!” According to him, the government works like a “ criminal organisation… When they like something, they simply put their hands on it”.
At this point Mesterházy specifically mentioned Lőrinc Mészáros, mayor of Felcsút, the village where Orbán lives. This person had become so rich since the Orbán government gained power in 2010 that he deserved a position as a professor at the University of Economics, the MSZP leader said. In response to a shout from the audience that Mészáros deserved a rope (in Hungarian: kötél) rather than a professorship, Mesterházy responded: “Yes, I also think that in his case he will not get a position as a professor, rather the other thing mentioned in the intervention.”
This sentence was widely picked up by government politicians and the conservative media. Fidesz MP Péter Hoppál said Mesterházy’s derailment has to do with Gyurcsány joining the alliance, which would be sure to raise hate again without any limits.
An editorial in pro-government daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet opined: “In a dictatorship the head of the state might be a mass murderer, but a politician who has democratic ambitions to become a prime minister should not have killing political reflexes.”
Mesterházy tried to wash himself clean, saying on left-liberal TV channel ATV and via Facebook that he heard “prison” (in Hungarian: börtön) instead of “körtél”, although in the recordings aired by the public right-side media and pro-government news channel Hír TV “körtél” can be clearly heard.
Political scientist Zoltán Somogyi said it is not a coincidence that the pro-government media is picking up the “rope” affair so much because it is clearly in the interest of Fidesz to steer away from the real essence of Mesterházy’s speech, which was about government corruption, the hazy contract with Russia in the Paks nuclear reactor affair and the impoverishment of the country.