It is important to state that the basic pillars of Ferenc Gyurcsány’s policy, as well as his ideas about governance and the conduct of public affairs, became clear even before 2010, during the years of the socialist-liberal government’s reign, so the Gyurcsány alternative can be accurately outlined regardless of the functioning of the shadow government. During the period in question,
Hungarians do not really like Gyurcsány’s shadow government
After the left’s electoral defeat in April, the leader of the Demokratikus Koalíció, Ferenc Gyurcsány, kept saying for months that his party was “getting ready”, and then in September Klára Dobrev announced that she would form a shadow government. The fundamental aim of a shadow government, which has neither substantive political traditions nor foundations of public law in Hungary, would be to offer voters an acceptable alternative to the reigning government and to demonstrate the governing capacity of the politicians involved in the body. An October opinion poll by Századvég assessed what Hungarians think about the shadow government of Klára Dobrev and Ferenc Gyurcsány's party.
Gyurcsány would reinvigorate the failed pre-2010 socialist policy
leftist politics – as an earlier analysis by Századvég pointed out – led to significant economic downturn, massive unemployment, an increase in taxes and contributions, and the withdrawal of the 13th month pension and salary.
Although Gyurcsány announced a five-year tax reduction program in 2005 (which was confirmed by the 2006 election program of his then party, MSZP), the left-liberal forces nevertheless:
- abolished the family tax allowance in the case of families with one and two children,
- introduced a doctor-visit fee, hospital day fee, and tuition for higher education,
- implemented a dramatic increase in VAT,
- reduced the level of sick pay and froze family allowances.
It is clear that Gyurcsány's visions of welfare measures and boosting the economy is followed by severe public austerity measures, the withdrawal of benefits, tax increases and the introduction of new public burdens – in case the left comes to power. It is also worrisome that
Klára Dobrev and Ferenc Gyurcsány ensured personal continuity during the establishment of the shadow government, giving “shadow positions” to several politicians who were emblematic figures of the failed left-wing politics before 2010.
Ágnes Vadai, László Varju, Lajos Oláh and Gergely Arató are not just the ministers of the shadow government, but in the position of state secretary during Ferenc Gyurcsány’s term of office as prime minister they also implemented the political will of the current DK leader.
Without voter support, Demokratikus Koalíció would “shadow govern”
We must emphasize that on 3 April, the six-party left-wing alliance, whose unquestioned leading force was the Demokratikus Koalíció, suffered a heavy electoral defeat, with an overwhelming majority of Hungarians saying 'no' to the political offer of the left-liberal bloc. It is likely that, in addition to the intention of expanding the left-wing voter base, the former prime minister also wanted to send a message to the allied left-liberal parties by forming a shadow government.
Ferenc Gyurcsány deliberately left his former election partners out of the body, thus making it clear that the Demokratikus Koalíció now openly claims the right of initiative on the left.
At the same time, it can be stated that the voters' perception of politics hallmarked by Gyurcsány's name has not changed in recent months, and the establishment of a shadow government has not brought any breakthrough. According to a survey conducted by Századvég in October,
nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of Hungarians expressed a rather unfavourable opinion about the shadow government of Klára Dobrev and Ferenc Gyurcsány,
while the proportion of those who expressed a positive view about the body was estimated at 22 percent.
In view of this, it can be concluded that the formation of a shadow government is a political failure: Klára Dobrev and Ferenc Gyurcsány were unable to convince the vast majority of Hungarians either of the credibility of the political alternative they offered, or of their ability to govern. In other words,
the left-wing shadow government lacks not only the formal authorization of the voters but also the sympathy and trust of the population.
CATI method, n=1000, among the politically active adult Hungarian population, data collection: October 2022