Mon Oct 17th, 2005 at 03:52:39 PM EST
Elections will only be held about May 2006, but last weekend, three of the four parties in parliament held conventions in campaign mode. Now, before I tell something about it, consider:
Argument against middle-of-the-road centrism in the USA
If one party says the sky is blue, the other says it is green, where is the truth?
Argument against partisanship too in Central-Eastern Europe
If one party says the sky is green, the other says it is red, where is the truth?
Argument against politics in Hungary
If one party says it'll paint the sky green using red paint, and the other says it was their idea stolen by the others, then add that it will cause the sky to fall down, will you care?...
Actually, the main campaign themes were spookily like it should have been in a 'normal' Western democracy:
At the convention of the nominally centre-left MSzP (if you need an introducion to Hungarian politics, see second part of this earlier post), PM Ferenc Gyurcsány declared that they want to eradicate poverty.
At the convention of the nominally centre-right Fidesz, ex-and-probably-next-PM Viktor Orbán announced plans to reduce taxes and bureaucracy (and, true to the modern spin-age ideal - Berlusconi, Bliar, Bush - of one nonsensical catch-on phrase for every speech, the number of politicians).
Sounds all great, except:
The MSzP is in practice a pro-business party with a naive base sometimes appeased (with a supporting business circle in large part, but not completely, being ex-cadres-in-the-ancien-regime). Beyond own interests, they always tried to please Western (elitist) observers too, and their few and between social policy ideas rarely went beyond some deficit spending on wage raises and symbolic micro-programs.
The new wider-reaching promises don't sound convincing with the backdrop of a huge budget deficit, which they also promise to reduce so that the Euro can be introduced in 2010. (The deficit problem has some parallels to stuff we discussed regarding the US economy: Hungarian governments practiced some creative bookkeeping, holding spending on highway construction outside the budget. Now the EU declared this invalid - and lo', the deficit jumped from 3% to 6% of GDP.)
And Fidesz has tried just about every possible rhetoric and policy from the far left to the far right; before last weekend, they were all social conscious and blasted the government for the high budget deficit. (Cure the budget deficit with tax cuts - that'll work, sure... yet, half the voters follow them.)
Funnily enough, just last week, the positions were inverted: Fidesz called for a definite end of privatisation, while the governing coalition held against - grotesquely, with the liberal junior partners saying let's go on, and the Socialists claiming it's over anyway in practice. Considering how things went in 1998-2002 (and, in institutions they staffed, even later), I'd expect Fidesz just wants to turn remaining state companies into their own private fiefdoms.
Meanwhile, a pollster released a poll on what groups of citizens people think police should check more often - and declared in the press release that the 60% who think Gypsies should be one such group are not racist...
...what fun can you tell me about for a change?