Attila Mesterházy, the former president of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), has announced that he is leaving MSZP and founding a new social democratic party. He shared this news on his Facebook page on Tuesday. The Socialists responded with a statement acknowledging Mesterházy’s departure.
Mesterházy explained his decision by stating that for years he has disagreed with MSZP’s leadership strategy and no longer believes that it can be changed. He believes that
MSZP is now just a shadow of its former self, having lost its national political influence and public support,
with no efforts being made to regain either.
After careful consideration, he has decided to seek a new path and actively work for his country and the Left. He added that together with László Szakács, a former candidate for Baranya County from the Democratic Coalition (DK), they will found a new social democratic, centre-left party called Socialists and Democrats. Mesterházy believes that DK alone cannot appeal to all social democratic voters, and especially not those who have turned away from Fidesz and previously voted for MSZP. The new party’s clear goal is to win new voters with a centre-left policy, with the goal of achieving a change of government.
Mesterházy ended his post by stating that he joined MSZP 23 years ago as a simple party member, and went on to become a faction leader, party president, and candidate for prime minister. Only his party membership is changing, not his principles, he stated.
MSZP responded to Mesterházy’s departure in a statement sent to MTI on Tuesday, acknowledging his decision to leave the party. The statement said the Hungarian Socialist Party will continue to pursue social democratic politics for a free, democratic, and just Hungary, and fight for people’s interests. They will continue to work towards overcoming the current livelihood crisis, achieving real wage growth, and offsetting the consequences of the current government’s flawed economic policies.
The State of the Hungarian Left
The Hungarian left has been in a state of turmoil since the 2022 elections, which dealt a significant blow to their political standing.
This result was a continuation of the decline that MSZP had experienced for years. Since the party’s peak in the early 2000s, when they won three consecutive elections, in alliance with the Free Democrats (SZDSZ), their support has steadily eroded. The rise of the right-wing Fidesz party, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, has played a significant role in this decline. Fidesz has been able to tap into the public’s growing dissatisfaction with the establishment.
MSZP’s poor performance in the 2022 elections has led to a wave of resignations and internal conflict. Many within the party have called for a change in leadership and a new direction for the party. Some have even suggested merging with other left-wing parties to form a more unified front against Fidesz.
However, this has proven to be easier said than done. The left-wing parties in Hungary have long been divided and fragmented, with competing factions and ideologies. This has made it difficult for them to mount a credible challenge to Fidesz, which has been able to exploit these divisions and present itself as the only viable option for those seeking change.