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Candidate’s Exit Sends Hungary’s Left into Disarray

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party on course to dominate elections next spring.

4 October 2017

The candidate for prime minister of Hungary’s largest liberal opposition party, the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), pulled out of the race on Monday, in a further blow to the chances of left-center parties in next spring’s elections, Reuters reports.

 

Fidesz looks set to retain power ahead of the 2018 elections. Image: BRFBlake via Wikimedia Commons

 

Laszlo Botka had been in the role only since January. In a statement published by HVG, Botka said it was unfortunate that the liberal parties couldn’t effectively cooperate to unseat Prime Minister Viktor Orban and blamed a “political mafia” that had infiltrated the left-liberal parties.

 

His exit from the race came a week after pollster Median released an opinion survey showing that MSZP’s support had dipped to less than 10 percent among the active voting population, its lowest in 25 years, reports HVG.

 

The coalition of Orban’s Fidesz and the Christian Democratic People's Party remains the most popular political force by far, with 36 percent of the active voting population who would “definitely” vote for them in the next election. Sixteen percent of respondents said they would “definitely” vote for Jobbik, the radical nationalist party that has broadened its support by strategically toning down its rhetoric against immigrants and the Roma minority.

 

Despite early hopes Botka, the popular mayor of Szeged, one of Hungary’s largest cities, would be able to unite the liberal opposition to mount a serious challenge to the entrenched Orban, Botka’s departure has left the liberal opposition parties in disarray.

A spokesman for Jobbik told reporters, “not only the Socialists but the entire left-wing imploded today. The only force to unseat the government is Jobbik,” Reuters says.

The next national elections will be held in April.

 

 

  • After a disastrous loss to Orban and Fidesz in 2010, a faction split from MSZP to form the Democratic Coalition (DK), headed by controversial former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany. Botka tried to rally the left of center parties around his idea apportion parliamentary seats among them on the condition they work with MSZP on a common policy platform, but insisted Gyurcsany not be part of the coalition.

 

  • Earlier this year, nine opposition parties, including MSZP, DK, and Jobbik, agreed on a common plan for long-term healthcare policy, according to Hungarian Spectrum. Fidesz has been widely criticized for its healthcare policy, which remains a hot-button issue, sparking nationwide protests in 2015, as reported by The Budapest Beacon.

Compiled by Kate Syme-Lamont

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