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Hungary's socialists back László Botka as prime minister candidate

The national board of the Socialist Party gave full support to Szeged mayor László Botka to be their party's candidate for prime minister in 2018 elections. Party chairman Gyula Molnár announced that Botka would receive full powers from the party to conduct closed door negotiations in coming weeks with other left-wing parties about gaining their support as the opposition left remains fragmented with little more than a year before voters cast their ballots.

The Democratic Coalition (DK) party said it agreed with Botka on the need of a new left-wing programme for a change in government. It added, however, that it would send him its own comprehensive programme approved and published a year ago, and that the talks should focus on the issues included in that programme rather than on the technical details of cooperation between the opposition parties.

botka gyurcsany

Botka said in a short press conference that he would reveal his program, called "the New Justice", in coming days. He said the majority of voters want a change in government, and that it is the responsibility of democrats to provide the conditions for such changes.
"There is a need for a united alternative, capable of governing, and of running together in the election on a common list with 106 common candidates," he said.
Botka earlier had predicated his acceptance of a nomination on splintered opposition parties running on a common voting list with MSZP in all of Hungary's 106 constituencies, and on the strongest candidate being nominated in each single member constituency. MSZP has reportedly determined which candidates it will run in 80-90 percent of the 106 constituencies, but for the remainder, chairman Molnár has expressed a desire to hold primaries, something Botka has spoken against.
"We have only one issue with Laci Botka," chairman Molnár said a few days ago. "It is in his and our interests that several prime ministerial candidates run in a primary. This would strengthen us toward the outside. We don't have to be afraid that other parties or organizations make nominations for this post. So it must be understood that MSZP didn't nominate László Botka, but expressed a recommendation of the politics he represents to Hungary and to other partners. We are prepared that in this system which we will build together it will be decided that he or someone else will be the candidate for prime minister. We haven't stepped away from the concept of holding a primary."
The primary issue isn't only contentious within MSZP. Other opposition parties have also insisted on holding primaries, and Együtt (Together) has insisted it will run on its own party lists. Democratic Coaltion (DK) co-chair Csaba Molnár says his party agrees with Botka's statement that a new left-wing program is necessary to defeat Fidesz in the elections, but insists that DK will stick to its party program which it drew up a year ago with the help of over 300 experts and policy makers, and will send that program to Botka for review in coming days.

Left-wing daily Népszava's György Sebes agrees with Botka's idea that "a new left-wing policy is needed", but he also detects further difficulties in his path. He has to agree with DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány, while in order to win he has to dissociate himself from the "pre-2010" era – when Mr Gyurcsány served as Prime Minister. Mr Botka will also have to dispel the widely shared impression that his party is an emanation of the Communist Party (MSZMP) which ruled Hungary until the transition to democracy in 1990. First of all, however, Sebes notes, Mr Botka will have to endure negative propaganda from the government side.

On Conservative weekly Válasz, Barna Borbás pokes fun at "Botka's magic weapon' – the discovery that a new left-wing policy is needed. He recalls that Mr Botka used that very same formula over two years ago when he was elected Chairman of the MSZP National Council. Moreover, Borbás also produces links to speeches by MSZP leaders from 2008, 2009 and 2010 which made the same discovery, time and again. "An idea repeated so often by so many leaders must inevitably be a magic weapon", he writes.

Source: MTI, budapestbeacon.com, Nepszava.hu; valasz.hu

Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 17:09

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