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The leader of Left Hungary, Ferenc Gyurcsany, and Right Hungary, Viktor Orban, are political corpses. Hungary is a republic. Hungary has no owner.

László Lengyel
© Marton Szilvia
The two princes are still dueling, thereby entertaining their own voters and frightening away the enemy. But the world and Hungary's voters are thinking of the Hereafter. Who comes next? To quote Kazimierz Waliszewski, "The ascent to the throne of the first Romanov, which brought an end to the chaos, disproves the folk saying that you need a rabbit to make rabbit stew."

I learned of their deaths in September 2006. Since then, they've been laughing at me. Wasn't it Gyurcsany who said, provocatively, "If they find someone better than me, I'll leave." Better? Impossible. For Orban, it's as if losing election after election is proof of his quality and indispensability. Who else could have failed so magnificently in 2002 and 2006? And would the country be in a yet worse state without Gyurcsany?

On the right, the post-Orban era began in the local authorities. The dying king can launch his expensive and pointless referenda, sitting isolated in his palace, talking in his archaic tongue. But it's the mayors sitting at the table of power, talking the language of local authorities. Their voters, cities, and development plans are proof of their relevance. Zoltan Pokorni, Lajos Kosa, Antal Rogan and their companions are working to prove that they are ready to serve in government. If they can run a big city well, working together with voters of all stripes, running institutions and building coalitions, negotiating with foreign and domestic companies, then they can surely do the same on a national level. If they play in a team, working together and reaching compromises with the opposition, if they can compete without killing each other - then they have a chance. If they fight, attacking their left-wing constituents, handing out corrupt cash bungs, then they will fail.

Orban is not giving in without a struggle. There will be articles in Magyar Nemzet about women's affairs and former security service agents. But Pokorni has gone through this and survived. After Orban's monarchy comes a republic. Zoltan Pokorni could be the leader. Jozsef Szajer can deal with foreign affairs - he has better connections nowadays than Orban himself. Instead of the revolting Mikola, a credible and honest man like Gabor Zombor could take charge of health. And however strange it sounds, Mihaly Varga could cede his economics post to Antal Rogan, who started as a very talented economist and is now proving his abilities as mayor of the fifth district of Budapest. You say they are not popular figures like Orban? But what did he achieve in 2002 against Medgyessy and in 2006 against Gyurcsany? Fidesz's peace wing learned from the electoral defeats. Orban has learned nothing and is forgetting nothing.

Left Country has its own politicians of the second rank, like Peter Kiss and Imre Szekeres. More recently, Janos Veres has made his mark. But none of them can become leader. There was a good reason why Left Republic acquiesced after the Horn government to having one person leading the party and another leading the government. They learned in 1994 and 1995 that the Socialist Party could create outstanding party leaders who became very poor prime ministers. That's why they looked outside the party for their prime ministerial candidates. They had a go with Medgyessy and Gyurcsany. They won, and then they lost. But they must soon find someone, an economist- or lawyer-politician, who can set up an honest government, put the house in order and implement necessary reforms. The Socialist leaders could play a role in this, among them Kiss, Lendvai, Szekeres, Veres, Szili and Lampert. They could try to regain trust using people from both inside and outside government.

But the peace-wing of the right-wing party has a better chance. But Orban is a hard worker, and he could still ruin things. The peacenik Left has less of a chance. But perhaps there can come a surprise candidate. Autumn 2007 could bring mass hysteria, but also catharsis.

László Lengyel

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