Lajos Bokros claims that he is a “right-winger”

Lajos Bokros sent an email to all members of the European Parlaiment as discussed here to call attention to his remarks in yesterday’s debate. Bokros, who refused to speak in Hungarian on the floor, noted that his remarks were “factual and without emotion. It is coming from the right, not the left.”  The claim of Bokros belonging to the “right” have already raised some eyebrows. As a fellow MEP notes, Bokros was a member of MSZMP, a member of MSZP, an MP for MSZP and a member of the MSZP-SZDSZ government, all on the left. Bokros later also “misremembered” (or – as some say- lied) about being a registered member of the MSZP party. Bokros is also mentioned in the infamous Őszöd Speech of Ferenc Gyurcsány as an important person around MSZP:

With whoever influential opinion-shaper around the Hungarian Socialist Party in macroeconomy-related matters, from Kornai to Bokros, from Békesi to Surányi, from Vértes to heaven-knows-who, we have discussed, suffered, yelled it through. 

But is it possible that Bokros has changed his mind and really moved to the right after all of that?  In 2006 Bokros was also elected as the honorary president of the MSZP platform “Reason and responsibility”.  In 2009 after Gyurcsany’s resignation, Bokros immediately said that he wants to be prime minister in an MSZP-SZDSZ-MDF coalition government (MSZP held 190 seats at the time SZDSZ and MDF both had under 20).  Bokros completely abandoned the party that got him elected into the EP. The relationship turned so sour that they are suing Bokros for 280 million forints ($1.2 million or £767,000). Apparently the old leadership of MDF took on a huge pile of debt and signed unfavourable contracts to get Bokros elected. The party alleges that he defrauded them and their supporters by cutting all ties with them once in the EP. Bokros asked for the suit to be thrown out but wasn’t successful.

But that was all in the past, maybe Bokros means that he became right-wing more recently? Well, that’s not exactly the case:

former MSZP PM Gyurcsany with Bokros and Békesi in 2012 January

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7 Responses to Lajos Bokros claims that he is a “right-winger”

  1. Budapest Libertarian says:

    Is this the same Bokros that Dan Hannan waxes lyrical over?:

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danielhannan/100130630/the-eu-unintentionally-bolsters-hungarian-authoritarianism/

    Do your reseach on Hannan and come back to me about how much a socialist he is.

  2. Expat says:

    Unfortunately in Hungary the political spectrum is all messed up. People call Fidesz right-wing and conservative, whereas it is socialist and reactionary party (not in name, but in policies and outlook) with its love for an all-power Hungarian state providing for people from cradle to grave.

    MSzP is a much more market-friendly Blairite party (although the Blairite element seems to have left to join DK). So, yes, Bokros is from the right, and is much more so than the currently Fidesz socialists in power right now (please note small “s”). He was elected on MDF’s list, and MDF was the only genuinely conservative party in the last parliament.

    (If this confuses you, please note I am ignoring the names of the parties and the popular classification of the parties – I am just analysing them on their history, policies and actions over the 6 years I have lived in Hungary.)

    Just because all the liberals and left-wingers oppose them, it doesn’t mean Fidesz are right (pun intended). It just means Fidesz are clumsy and unpopular.

  3. Expat, so you assert that MSZP itself is of the right and Fidesz of the left? But then how do you explain the fact that the European Socialist party supports MSZP (and has them as a member) whereas the European Peoples Party supports Fidesz (and has them as a member)

    Why does Bokros “misremember” his membership in MSZP and ministership under Horn (hope you won’t accuse Horn of being left-wing next)

    Why does Hannah not mention that Bokros was a finance minister of which government? He just says “successful former finance minister”. If the readers of Hannah were allowed to learn that Bokros was an MSZP-SZDSZ finance minister in 1995 maybe they would raise some questions. The 1995 MSZP just five years earlier was the communist party, MSZMP, and SZDSZ is an ultra-liberal party who hated anything right-wing for a long time.

  4. Expat says:

    The Bokros package was basically the only sensible reform completed by Hungary since the change of system, and the most “from the right”. Yes it was done for the MSzP, but that just illustrates my point about Hungary’s confused political spectrum. I would class the Gyúrcsány government as centrist and I could class Fidesz as statist.

    My guess is that Hannan didn’t mention Bokros’s party, because he was focusing on policies and outcomes and not labels.

    As you are aware, the anglosphere right and left are different from the continental right and left. In many ways Blair, (of the European Socialist Party) was easily more right than Chirac, and Merkel and other EPP leaders at the time.

    The right-left spectrum is fairly broken, even more so in Hungary, and my point is not that Bokros is definitely rght and Fidesz is definitely left. It depends on definitions and meanings, but Bokros has a strong claim to being the most economically rationalist and market-friendly of Hungary’s significant politicians since the change of system, and therefore many (including I) would class him of the right.

  5. cktravel says:

    I’d rather say that there’s a partial role reversal on the Hungarian political spectrum: sure, on many social questions Fidesz DOES belong to the right whereas MSZP to the left. But when it comes to actual economical measures, Fidesz has turned out to be MUCH more communist than THE actual successor party of MSZMP is. I mean the MSZP wanted to introduce tuition fees and (at least partially) commercialize the healthcare. Fidesz’ response? A “social referendum” supported by nonsense such as “health can’t become a business” and the likes. The result? The libertarian measures of MSZP have failed in favor of the more socialist trend proposed by Fidesz. And even since 2010 it’s the same: Fidesz has managed to tax the banks (anyone remembers the Communists’ caricatures of the stereotypical banker with a big belly and a cylinder?) and introduce a “mall building moratorium” (in English: investors who want to build a mall have to pay a hefty sum to the appropriate ministry first). Even this newest anti-smoking legislation is pretty much aimed against big (mostly international) corporations: the law essentially delegates tobacco distribution to small and medium businesses. All of this is REALLY in line with marxists’ allegations of oppression of the “common people” by the “corporate bastards”. So all in all Fidesz’ policies/measures DO place it (economic policy-wise) to the left. The reason Fidesz is in the EPP whereas MSZP’s in MEP is that non-Hungarians generally don’t understand this role reversal. According to them Fidesz is a right-wing party, whereas MSZP is a leftist one. Problem solved. Unfortunately things are a bit more complicated than that.

    Bokros is mostly an economist (he’s even teaching at the Corvinus University) and his views in economy are close to what’s usually associated with right-wing politicians (and can be mostly summarized by the term “libertarianism”). Unfortunately in Hungary the most prominent supporter of this view is Gyurcsány and his supporters. I know it doesn’t make sense, but political orientation in Hungary rarely does (e.g. why does a right extremist party called Jobbik call for close cooperation with Moscow).

  6. Pingback: Hungary vs. IMF: definitely not a David and Goliath fight | Hungarian Digest

  7. Pingback: The debate about Bokros continues | Hungarian Digest

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