Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Let me start with the IMF bailout. I have a hypothesis that the contradictory communication of the Orbán government (we want it but we don't need and reject it) is not their usual policy mess but an actual rational strategy: the prospect of an IMF bailout will avert a classic market run, while uncertainty about the possibility that Orbán might reject a bailout even in a crisis averts a speculative attack aimed at forcing the government's hands. (I first wrote about this exactly a month ago.)

Either way, the sharp economic collapse expected in some parts didn't come, and I think this is reflected in polls – check the small upticks in the fourth (job rating of the government) and fifth diagram (what direction is the country going in) in Medián's September poll report. If many supporters are content with moderate recession (-0.7% in Q1 and -1.3% in Q2 vs. the year before) and it won't get radically worse, then I don't see Fidesz's support base melting away (as hoped by many in the Green party, LMP).

Then, as things stand, with the record level of people without party preference (i.e. in practice non-voters; 46% in the above poll), the parties of the republican opposition still add up to less than Orbán's Fidesz; and then there is the far-right Jobbik, the Fidesz-biased election system and the voter suppression attempt in the form of the introduction of registration. As much as I dislike Bajnai for his IMF-faithful austerity policies, this makes me less interested in the person of an eventual joint PM candidate (and I don't think either the person of Bajnai or a campaign framing as a decision between him and Orbán could draw many current non-voters).

The republican opposition is as divided as ever. LMP still has these strategists who say hoping to attract non-voters is illusory, but I think their strategy of drawing conservatives disenchanted by Fidesz is just senseless. The Socialists (MSzP) stabilized their support, confirming my view that they won't go away as the only force with a serious grass-roots organization, and that recently leaked strategy document indicates that they still expect a bipartisan structure on the long term. I don't condone Facebook protest organizers Milla for reacting to this as they did, but I think they shouldn't have done it in the call for the protest on 23 October.

Returning to my initial theme, what I miss is a notion that the IMF will have to be confronted but differently than the way Orbán did. (In that leaked MSzP document, there is also talk about focusing the campaign on the concerns of the "little man" in the tradition of former PM Gyula Horn instead of macroeconomic arguments, but from that it is not clear what they would do.) From this follows something which should have been a central point in the rhetoric of the republican opposition: with their austerity-not-to-be-called-austerity and vilification of the poor and needy and the jobless, the Orbán government is giving us an IMF programme without the IMF.

In short, the situation is hopeless :-) Still, at worst, what the next round of protests can achieve is strengthening a sense of defiance in a minority that might at one time organise a majority.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Oct 7th, 2012 at 03:31:36 PM EST
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A booklet delivered yesterday appears to be an early indicator of the shape of things to come in the runup to 2014. Titled 'Félidőben' it is unattributed - carries no indication of the publisher. It bears the corporate logo of Budapest and has about 20 sides of colour A5 documenting the (doubtful) successes of the Tarlos mayorality. What is perhaps most noticeable is that it contains direct criticism of the MSZP and previous mayor Gabor Demszky throughout. Obviously it's going to get very nasty if the opposition look anywhere near competing next time.
by car05 on Wed Oct 10th, 2012 at 02:32:59 AM EST
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