Democratic Coalition (Hungary)

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Democratic Coalition
Leader Ferenc Gyurcsány
Founded 22 October 2011
Split from Hungarian Socialist Party
Ideology Social democracy[1]
Progressivism
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation none
European affiliation none
European Parliament group TBA
National Assembly
4 / 199
European Parliament
2 / 21
Website
www.dkp.hu
Politics of Hungary
Political parties
Elections

The Democratic Coalition (Hungarian: Demokratikus Koalíció, DK) is a centre-left political party in Hungary led by former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány. Founded in 2010 as a faction within the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), the party split from the MSZP on 22 October 2011 and became a separate party. It has four MPs in the National Assembly and two representatives in the European Parliament.

Within the Socialist Party[edit]

logo of the MSZP party faction (2010)

On 5 October 2010 Gyurcsány announced to the party executive that he is founding a platform named the Democratic Coalition within the party. He said he will organise “a broad, open social community for 1989 democrats”, and a political representation for them. The mood at the meeting was calm, but several party officials expressed disagreement with him.[2] The Democratic Coalition held its inaugural meeting at 2 p.m. in the Szent István Park in the 13th District on 22 October 2010. Meanwhile, Socialist deputy chairman András Balogh told Népszava in an interview that the party performed poorly at the elections because Gyurcsány's cabinet made mistakes while in government, abandoned left-wing values and became complacent, and because of corruption.[3] The former Prime Minister's group became the Hungarian Socialist party's seventh platform.

Platforms within the Socialist Party in May 2011 held a debate on whether the party should be developed as a cooperation between left-wing groups or a collective party welcoming non-leftist groups or politicians – a broader alternative to ruling party Fidesz. The latter idea was only supported by the Democratic Coalition Platform. All seven platforms of the party agreed that the Socialists do not need a "chieftain", an “Orbán of the Left” but a team leader, István Hiller, the head of the Social Democratic Platform, told reporters during a break of the meeting. He dismissed Gyurcsány’s idea of embracing liberal and conservative trends. Gyurcsány’s model would make the party dysfunctional, he said.[4]

New party[edit]

On 22 October 2011, Gyurcsány announced he was leaving the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and would set up a new parliamentary group after succeeding in persuading the necessary number of lawmakers to join him. The new Democratic Coalition party is to be a “Western, Left-wing” formation with ten lawmakers. Gyurcsány announced on the first anniversary that its forerunner, the Democratic Coalition Platform, was set up. He said the reason why he had decided to leave the MSZP was that the party had failed in its efforts to transform itself. Socialist representatives strongly condemned Gyurcsány, who had only last week signed a pledge to stay on in the party. Gyurcsány in his speech branded the new constitution as “illegitimate”, and insisted that members and heads of the independent branches of state such as the constitutional court and the public prosecutor “exclusively serve Viktor Orbán”.[5]

The formerly existing Democratic Party (Demokrata Párt) changed its name to Democratic Coalition (DK) and elected Gyurcsány its leader on 6 November 2011. At a press conference, Gyurcsány also announced that the renewed party had elected Tamás Bauer, József Debreczeni, Csaba Molnár and Péter Niedermüller deputy chairmen. DK will be Hungary’s “most democratic party” with all the members electing its officials directly at the party congress, Gyurcsány said, adding that the authority of each member in the party’s 12-strong presidium and the chairman itself will be virtually the same.

The new formation, an offspring of Gyurcsány’s former Democratic Coalition Platform within the MSZP, initially received over 3,800 membership applications.[6]

The Democratic Coalition could not have been allowed to form a new party faction until the spring after leaving the MSZP faction, parliament’s Constitutional and Procedural Committee decided on 7 November 2011. According to the parliamentary rules, any parliamentarian that leaves or is expelled from a party faction must sit as an independent candidate for six months before joining another faction.[7] However, in April 2012, the ruling party Fidesz approved a new House rules under which DK may not form a parliamentary group. The change states that 12 MPs affiliated with a party that fielded a national list at the previous elections and won seats in Parliament – rather than the present ten – are required to form a fraction. Gyurcsány described "the change in the House rules as petty revenge on the part of the prime minister." Csaba Molnár said they might take the matter to the Constitutional Court and European forums.[8]

Cooperation negotiations[edit]

In September 2013, the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) declined to sign an election deal with DK and Gábor Fodor’s Hungarian Liberal Party because both parties presented excessive expectations compared to their electoral support. Attila Mesterházy told a forum held at the party headquarters, broadcast by commercial news channel ATV, that in order to win next year’s election, the MSZP need to win over uncertain voters. The party board decided that running with Gyurcsány would keep uncertain voters away, he added. Gyurcsány said the MSZP had proposed cooperation in four instead of nine constituencies, all of which were impossible to win. In addition they offered every 25th place on their party list and would have banned Gyurcsány himself from running either individually or on a list. Another request was that DK should not present a platform of its own. The party could not accept these conditions, the politician said.[9]

On 14 January 2014, centre-left opposition parties agreed to submit a joint list for the spring 2014 general election, party leaders announced. The list was headed by MSZP leader Attila Mesterházy, who is the centre-left alliance’s candidate for Prime Minister. Mesterházy is followed by Gordon Bajnai (Together 2014) as second and Ferenc Gyurcsány as third on the list. Liberals leader Gábor Fodor will be entered at fourth place and co-leader of the E14-PM alliance and the Dialogue for Hungary (PM) Tímea Szabó at fifth place on the joint list of the MSZP, E2014-PM, DK and Liberals. The Hungarian Liberal Party also received two additional places (56th and 58th) on the list.[10] Antal Rogán, leader of the Fidesz parliamentary group, said the result of the agreement is that the Hungarian centre-left has been unable to nominate "a real prime ministerial candidate" or "present any new face," according to MTI.[11]

In the 2014 European election, DK received 9.76% percent of the vote,[12] and had 2 MEPs returned. On 26 May 2014 Csaba Molnar announced that DK had applied to join the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.[13]

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