On the 14th of February, Népszabadság published an article titled EP Resolution: The condemnation of Hungary depends on the divided Left (EP-határozat: a megosztott baloldalon múlhat Magyarország elítélése), referring to the proposed resolutions in the European Parliament.
Népszabadság is the paper of the Hungarian Socialist Party, not just in the sense that it supports them, but 27% of the company is actually owned by the party. They didn’t get to 27% by any big acquisition, rather that is the amount they decided to keep and it was the rest of the shares that they sold. The MSZP party used to own all of Népszabadság, because they inherited it as a legal successor to MSZMP, the ruling communist party, which founded Népszabadság in 1956.
So after Népszabadság described the EP resolution in such a prominent way as being “against Hungary”, what did the Hungarian Socialist Party do? Did they vote against the resolution because they didn’t want to be seen as being against their own country and participating in its condemnation? Or did they vote for it but asked a correction from Népszabadság explaining that the resolution is after all in the interest of Hungary? Nope, not the case. They not only voted for the resolution but actively participated in drafting it. Csaba Tabajdi and Kinga Göncz were even mentioned as people who had their name attached to the resolution.
The Hungarian Socialists asked for a correction too, just not from Népszabadság, the paper which broke the story and partially owned by the party itself. They asked for a correction from hirado.hu for repeating the claims of Népszabadság about the resolution being a “condemnation of Hungary”. Instead, the Socialists argued that the resolution is only against the Government and not Hungary itself, as Népszabadság and others claimed. Of course a correction was denied and the original Népszabadság article was even mentioned in the reply. So all in all this seems to be a communications disaster for the Socialists and personally for Csaba Tabajdi because the resolution actually passed.
Only 315 MPs out of 736, about 42% percent of the total have supported the resolution (it’s interesting that things can pass in the EP with such low support). Supporting groups included liberals, greens, socialists, and communists. In Hungary a resolution supported in part by the far-left is already tough enough to sell, but now Tabajdi and other Hungarian Socialists have to explain why did they support and help draft a resolution that’s against Hungary according to their own paper, Népszabadság. The resolutions references to “article seven”, raising the possibility of severe economic harm to ordinary Hungarians, will gather few fans within Hungary as well.
Emotions ran extremely high on Hungarian discussion forums and blogs, with intense debate about the role of Hungarian Socialist in the matter. The T word was even thrown around some. In any case the Socialists will have a very tough time explaining why they did what they did. What will likely follow from this is a mild decrease in their popularity and a modest increase for Fidesz or even anti-EU Jobbik.
The European Peoples Party pretty much opposed the resolution, they even issued a statement talking about “an authoritarian method which is against European values.” referring to the fact that the resolution came before the discussion of Hungary with the European Commission was finished. This referenced an accusation of a show trial where the verdict is already made before hearing the case. The EPP added that: “The adoption of this premature and groundless Resolution, is undermining Hungarian people’s trust in the European Union and the credibility of the European Parliament”