Socialists plan to name PM candidate next summer
The opposition Socialist Party plans to name its candidate for prime minister sometime during the summer of 2017, party leader Gyula Molnar said on Thursday.
Responding to a question at a press conference in Bekescsaba, in southeast Hungary, Molnar suggested that his party would fare better in the 2018 general election if it nominated a credible "outsider" for prime minister instead of someone from within the party. The Socialist Party is "not looking for a Viktor Orban 2.0", Molnar insisted.
If the party does end up nominating an insider, however, Laszlo Botka, Szeged's Socialist mayor, would be the only fitting candidate, even if Botka has already ruled this out, he said.
Botka told news portal Index.hu in an interview last month that he thought his candidacy for prime minister would be unrealistic, especially after being replaced as the party's board leader at the last congress.
Molnar estimated that his party had managed to retain around 700,000-800,000 voters after losing roughly the same amount over the past several years. The voters who had left the party, however, have not found any other parties to support, Molnar told MTI. The Socialist Party's most important task now is to strengthen its base and attract new voters, he said.
He underlined the need for Hungary's left-wing parties to cooperate with each other in the next election by agreeing on single candidates in each of the 106 constituencies. The Socialist Party will name its candidates for each constituency by late October, early November, he said.
He said the "democratic opposition" parties should hold primaries in the constituencies where there is more than one candidate. The primaries should be held and the final candidates selected by summer 2017, he added.
Referring to LMP co-leader Akos Hadhazy's recent rejection of the idea of a primary, Molnar said opposition parties that do not take part in the primaries and field their own candidates "will be supporting [Prime Minister] Viktor Orban".
Molnar said the leftist opposition's candidate for prime minister will have to be named by the "strongest party of the cooperation", which he said was the Socialist Party.