Political situation in Hungary after the EUP elections

Antifa demo Firenzében a Fortezza da Basso előtt

The EU parliamentary elections in Hungary brought an expected landslide victory for Prime Minister Viktor Orbánʼs Fidesz-KDNP alliance, with surprisingly strong results from the liberal-leftist Democratic Coalition (DK), led by Ferenc Gyurcsány (ex-PM and ex-Chairman of Socialist Party MSZP) and the newcomers, like the Momentum Movement, but very poor results for the joint election list of MSZP and the micro-party Dialogue (Párbeszéd), as well as the far-right Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik), and the green Politics Can Be Different (LMP).

Practically, we cannot talk about opposition in Hungary, as the neoliberal capitalist economic policy of PM Orbán has been made known to neoliberal constraints by politicians who have become neoliberal; and the anti-fascist opposition tried to give the fascist response to the hysterics of the influx of Ukrainian pensioners and Ukrainian migrant workers, as well as to the fascist hatred of the government. The opposition did the same thing as Fidesz does, namely it did not want to offer either an alternative or want to confront.

Fidesz won 52 percent of the votes, resulting in 13 seats in the European Parliament, almost two thirds of Hungary`s 21 MEP seats.

Opposition voters do not care for MSZP, LMP, and Jobbik anymore, as together, they barely received 15% of the votes. The sole survivor seems to be former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, who might represent the era before 2010, but his party DK is the real surprise of this election with their 16% result securing four seats in the European Parliament. According to Gyurcsány the stake of this election was Fidesz’s two-thirds majority, which they have lost along with a million voters. Gyurcsány noted that DK’s campaign was about ”real things,” they did not walk into the trap Fidesz set by pushing the topic of migration. DK`s lead candidate was Klára Dobrev (Gyurcsány`s wife), who promised to work for a United States of Europe. She also mentioned that she will further the cause of protecting the environment, and she will focus on social issues.

Momentum participated in the EUP elections for the first time received almost 10 percent of the vote, resulting in two EUP seats. It will join the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) grouping in the new European Parliament.

The joint list of MSZP-Párbeszéd`s support crumbled down, however, with the coalition receiving 6.7 percent of the vote, resulting in just one seat. Despite the very poor performance MSZP’s leaders refuse to resign

The right-wing opposition party Jobbik with about 6.5 percent of the votes, also achieved just one seat. The party almost disappeared, but voters didn’t move to the openly racist Our Homeland Movement (Mi Hazánk Mozgalom). Jobbik has lost a tremendous amount of support in little over the year – after receiving more than a million votes in 2018, only 220 thousand people voted for them on 26 May 2019, but it is hard to tell for which party all those people traded Jobbik. Our Homeland Movement formed by dissenters leaving Jobbik about a year ago, only received 113 thousand votes (3.3 percent). Jobbik has never been strong in Budapest, but even sarcastic Two-Tailed Dog Party managed beat them in the capital. Right after the EUP election, Jobbik’s spokesman Gyögy Szilágyi told journalists that the party’s greatest success was the fact that it still alive. In the meantime Jobbik`s leaders have resigned.

Perhaps the biggest loser of the EUP elections was LMP, which fell out of the EP with little more than 2% of the votes. LMP does not plan to cede its operation, and they are ready to elect their new leaders in June. It is uncertain if the party’s now resigned leadership will enter into the contest for the available positions.

New political player in the political arena

The rise of the DK and the Momentum, the collapse of MSZP and Jobbik, and the loss of the LMP created a new political situation. The great success of Momentum is mainly due to the infinite demand for (young) “new faces”, as well as to the fact that suspicion of its collusion with the Orbán apparatus has never been touched. At the same time, it is obvious that there was nothing more than re-setting the opposition cake. Those opposition parties could gain bigger shares at the expense of others who were visible in the campaign and had a clear message in response of Fidesz about what Europe (and what Hungary) they wanted.

The situation is different as the great surprise of the election with Momentum, almost 10 percent and 2 mandates. The party has a past, but it is a blank page. The big question is what a young organization in terms of age and voting base can start with the sudden, unexpected opportunity.
Momentum led by András Fekete-Győr became a kind of ”escape party” in the EP election: many anti-government voters who were disappointed in their former party chose the party as a fresh force. It was a bit similar to the last year`s parliamentary election when many voted for Jobbik because they saw it as a possible challenger of Fidesz. By today those Jobbik voters have largely disappeared.

The Momentum might become a persistent middle party and perhaps a Fidesz challenger, if it is not only able to cut out a larger slice from the opposition cake, but also will acquire larger groups of the disillusioned, insecure, and party-free voters.

Many of them do not know much about the party`s program, its values, and being dissapointed with the Jobbik, the LMP, or even the MSZP , too might have been caught in the Momentum now. To keep theses voters may be more difficult in the long run than their acquisition.

Retaining and expanding the voting base does not go without gestures, for example, towards the advocates of green politics. It is encouraging that the party president András Győr-Fekete said to the news portal 24.hu that Momentum is more patriotic than DK and he is relying on about 15 million Hungarians (out of which 5 millions live abroad). The kind of liberalism that eventually abolished the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) is still a dead end today.

For the Momentum it is worth studying, what kind of tools had been used by Fidesz, when it felt a threat from Jobbik as a challeger. And also what the influential people of the pre-2010 left-liberal regime had done with the LMP when it refused to behave accordingly. Momentum stepped in a political arena playing now in a league where every new party and beginner politician wants to be, where the stakes are real, the rules are tough, and the opponents are ruthless.

The Momentum began to grow out of a narrow student organization two years ago, when they suddenly found the ownerless Olympics referendum initiative. The topic and the opportunity were grasped by Momentum with good situational recognition and finally Fidesz was forced to retreat. Momentum started a civil campaign, collected 266,000 signatures and Fidesz was obliged to withdraw its Olympic tender instead of holding a referendum. This entry into the Hungarian political space promised that if they did not fail, they would be able to enter the Parliament quickly after becoming a party.

The Momentum is now an urban, liberal, socially sensitive, patriotic formation, striving for a medium-term political journey.

Ex-MEP Tibor Szanyi Calls for a New Leftist Movement

Socialist Party Chair Bertalan Tóth was MSZP’s lead EUP candidate, but he would not pick up his mandate. Last Saturday at the party board meeting an overhelming majority decided that István Újhelyi one of its two MEP candidates will go to the European Parliament instead of former MEP Tibor Szanyi.

Szanyi announced on Monday, on 3rd June that he would launch a new, leftist movement in Hungary dubbed Holnapelőtt (The Day Before Tomorrow). In an open letter, Szanyi called on „anyone who believes that life on Earth can be saved” to join his movement aimed at „creating a political home for advocates of social solidarity, young people of the radical left”.

Szanyi criticised vehemently his opposition Socialist Party, which has recently won merely a single seat in the European Parliament, calling it a „degenerating, insider club”. He insisted that the Socialists no longer have political ideas, „they are scraping for the brass farthings here and there”. He added, however, that „if they need me, they will elect me chairman”.

Szanyi said the Socialist Party is referred to as a „corrupt gang”, in which „leaders are fighting for an ever-diminishing haul trodding on the membership”. The party hardly has any new members, a lot more „walking away”, he said, adding that the Socialists have also lost their former support among leftist intellectuals.

We can only agree with Tibor Szanyi that with the current opposition, it is impossible to change the ruling Fidesz government and we have to confess: it is even unnecessary. There is no need for a change of pro-capitalist government if everything remained unchanged as it was in the past, and the new one would commit the same mistakes and sins in politics, economy and society.

Our task is to build up a new left, but the first thing to do is to replace the current incompetent opposition.

Budapest, 4 May 2019

Matyas Benyik, Chairman

ATTAC Hungary Association

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