It may be time for the Hungarian opposition parties to throw in the towel

“What the opposition has been doing since the election is even worse than what it did before the vote. And that’s quite an accomplishment”… These words are from Ildikó Lendvai, former leader of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP). She appeared on ATV’s Egyenes Beszéd show alongside Károly Herényi, a former politician of the now defunct Hungarian Democratic Forum–the party that formed the first democratically elected government in 1990.

The Hungarian opposition has no excuse for its appalling behaviour over the past six weeks. Let’s take a look at just some of what they have done–in lieu of serving as an opposition to the present government.

We recently learned that Gyula Molnár, MSZP’s former chair, secretly promised Gábor Fodor’s miniscule Liberal Party 60 million forints in support annually for having one of the party’s politicians, Anett Bősz, run on the MSZP-Párbeszéd party list, without having the Liberal Party’s logo appear on the ballot. Having three parties form a joint party list would have required MSZP to pass a 15% hurdle to enter parliament, which we now know is impossibly high for the party. In other words, Mr. Molnár paid off Mr. Fodor behind the scenes. When it became clear that the post-Molnár MSZP would not honour this agreement with Mr. Fodor, Ms. Bősz pulled out of the Párbeszéd faction in parliament to sit as an independent, thus bringing the faction below the minimum number of MPs required for official representation. She claimed with a straight face that this was a principled decision. Párbeszéd simply wasn’t sufficiently liberal. Obviously, the dispute is about the secret 60 million forint pay off.

Meanwhile, Mr. Fodor went on air and demanded that his party, which polls at zero percent, be given the number three spot on a joint opposition party list for the 2019 European Union elections. This would guarantee that a politician of the Fodor party (probably Mr. Fodor himself) wins a seat in the European Parliament and enjoys a pleasant, well-funded four year pre-retirement.

Gábor Fodor / MTI Fotó: Rosta Tibor

At the same time, the situation in the Politics Can Be Different party (LMP) is no better. Ákos Hadházy, who correctly claimed that Fidesz has agents and informants in LMP who worked to torpedo cooperation with other opposition parties ahead of the April election, has been barred from holding any position in the party for two years. “In keeping with the spirit of the communist-style approach, I asked the party to change the ban from two years to four years,” responded Mr. Hadházy.

A few weeks ago, LMP MP Benedek Sallai allegedly physically assaulted Mr. Hadházy. According to reports, Mr. Sallai had to be restrained by his peers from further attacking Mr. Hadházy.

Károly Herényi, someone who is no fan of Fidesz or Mr. Orbán and who saw both his party and his political career destroyed by Mr. Orbán and his allies, had this to say on ATV:

“Hungarian voters were very wise. This is extremely difficult for me to say, but they did very well to have voted for Fidesz. What this group has been doing ever since the election? In LMP, they got into a brawl, Toroczkai is presently tearing apart Jobbik and in MSZP it is awful what Fodor and his group has been engaged in, or how Sándor Burány must now sit in the Párbeszéd faction just to save it. You can’t trust these type of people with the job of leading a country.”

For those of us who observe Hungarian politics closely, the opposition’s behaviour is simply inexcusable. They are doing a disservice to the country and to their voters. In fact, they will push even more Hungarians into apathy and disenchantment.

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