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The Hungarian Democratic Forum's (MDF) biggest problem is that the elections are approaching, and the party's aspiration to preserve its own independence seems ever less plausible. But the Christian Democrats are not in the least bit disturbed by the fact that Fidesz long ago undermined the idea of blazing an independent trail.

They were happy to accept a common party list and common candidates. But who does Orbán need more at the elections? Zsolt Semjén's Christian Democratic People's Party (KDNP), regarded as undependable in Fidesz's inner circles, or Péter Harrach's Hungarian Christian Democratic Alliance, which obeys Orbán's every order?

The answer is not straightforward. Especially now that István Csurka's far-right MIÉP party and the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) have joined to form the Third Way party, which hopes to ride into parliament on the back of a strongly nationalist, anti-communist, extreme-right programme. If the party leaders' statements are to be believed, the final straw that led to this new formation was Fidesz's parliamentary vote in favour of Romania's accession to the EU. This has created a new situation on the right. Back in 2002, Csurka's party took 4% of the votes, but by failing to make it into parliament, they prevented Orbán from holding on to power. The support of Semjén's KDNP could be a solution to this problem. Provided the KDNP continues to compete with the Third Way for control of the far-right of the spectrum.

This would seem to be Semjén's plan - look at his statements on abortion, his denial of alternative sexualities, his promise to have church weddings recognised in law. He would seem an ideal figure to soothe the nerves of Catholic church leaders. What else are we to make of Harrach's comment that the KDNP faithfully served the will of the bishops? A reasonable script would envisage Fidesz using a faithful KDNP to catch the far right's votes.

That is, for the time being for Orbán, real Christian Democrats are those who convince public opinion that they stand to the right of Fidesz without having a name that would upset delicate European sensibilities. Such a party would do better than Csurka and his friends, and they could provide a way out for some MDF supporters as well.

The author is a journalist.

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