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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09BUDAPEST870 2009-12-04 16:17:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Budapest
Cable title:  

HUNGARIAN SOCIALIST PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE

Tags:   PGOV HU 
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VZCZCXYZ0000
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHUP #0870/01 3381617
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 041617Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY BUDAPEST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4726
INFO RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
					C O N F I D E N T I A L BUDAPEST 000870 

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/CE JAMIE MOORE. PLEASE PASS TO JEFF
HOVENIER AT THE NSC.

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/03/2014
TAGS: PGOV HU
SUBJECT: HUNGARIAN SOCIALIST PRIME MINISTER CANDIDATE

Classified By: Political Officer Jon Martinson, reasons 1.4 (b,d)



1. (SBU) Summary. The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP)
selected thirty-five year old parliamentary faction leader
Attila Mesterhazy as its Prime Minster candidate for the 2010
national elections. A party member since 2002, Mesterhazy
previously served as a State Secretary in the Ministry of
Children, Youth and Sports, but has relatively few major
accomplishments to his name. Literally cleaning up his act
since the announcement, shaving his unique and slightly
devilish goatee, he faces a tough up-hill climb to rescue
MSZP from a humiliating defeat in the national elections.
Whether he will be the Party's sacrificial lamb or savior in
the long term remains to be seen. End summary.



2. (SBU) The Hungarian Socialist Party's (MSZP) executive
council announced November 30 that Attila Mesterhazy will be
the Party's Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2010 National
elections. Thirty-five years old, Mesterhazy is clearly no
newcomer to politics. A member of MSZP since 2000 and a
member of Parliament since 2004, he currently heads the
Party's parliamentary faction. Right-wing commentators
contend, perhaps maliciously, the Mesterhazy knocked on
several party doors in 1997 following his university
graduation, but only the MSZP was willing to engage hm.
None the less, he soon established himself in the Prime
Minster's cabinet, working on European integration and
economic issues, even for a few months under Viktor Orban's
1998-2002 Fidesz-led administration.



3. (SBU) When MSZP re-took the reigns of government in 2002,
Mesterhazy returned as State Secretary in the Ministry of
Children, Youth, and Sports Affairs. In this position,
Mesterhazy's relationship with now former Prime Minister
Ferenc Gyurcsany solidified, during Gyurcsany's time as
Minister. Although the Ministry no longer exists due to
government restructuring, it is associated with what is
likely MSZP's biggest corruption case involving an
embezzlement scandal. While not implicated, Mesterhazy was
recently called to testify on several occasions, which the
right-wing media has been only to happy to highlight.



4. (SBU) Interestingly, despite his age, Mesterhazy is not
mentioned by political observers as an ideologically
progressive member of MSZP. He is, as one Socialist MP
pointed out, one of those young people who has "aged to the
party, but never managed to help renew it." Following his
selection as the Party's Prime Minister candidate, pundits
pointed out that few in the MSZP would be able to list any of
Mesterhazy's achievements. The question for the future is
whether Mesterhazy's sleek new look, and the assistance of an
enthusiastic campaign team, will net MSZP enough votes to
save them for a very humiliating defeat come April 2010.



5. (C) Comment. Mesterhazy's nomination reflects a internal
struggle among the Socialists as to who will lead the Party
into the future. Mesterhazy's selection firmly anchors the
Party's generational shift, which began with Gyurcsany.
Mesterhazy's top competition has been 71 year old Laszlo
Kovacs, Hungary's former European Commissioner, who is likely
to be second on the Socialist list. Senior MFA State
Secretary Vilmos Szabo confirmed this in a conversation with
an EmbOff December 1, stating that "Mesterhazy's nomination
was the best possible choice for the MSZP under the given
circumstances." Szabo bitterly remarked that "there were no
volunteers for the loser's role anyway except Laszlo Kovacs."
He added that "Mesterhazy at least represents the future as
opposed to Kovacs, whose communist past could be a negative
factor in the election campaign." According to Szabo,
Mesterhazy is determined to wage a vigorous campaign and,
even if ending up on the losing side as every poll predicts,
"he could be a winner if the MSZP gets considerably more
support than the current 12-13 percent predicated by current
polling."



6. (C) Comment continued. Szabo explained that the Prime
Minster's' current Chief of Cabinet, Viktor Szigetvari, will
direct Mesterhazy's campaign. Szabo noted that Szigetvari
was the mastermind behind former Prime Minister Gyurcsany's
election success in 2006 and "Szigetvari could guarantee a
real professional election campaign" in 2010. Szabo firmly
dismissed observers' comments that Mesterhazy is not
charismatic enough, pointing out that "Bajnai proved to be a
top-notch crisis management Prime Minister without any
charisma." As for Mesterhazy's reported close connection to
Gyurcsany, Szabo confirmed that the Gyurcsany-Mesterhazy
relationship "is far from being cloudless." Szabo commented
that Gyurcsany actually wanted to torpedo Mesterhazy's
nomination, and his failure to stop Mesterhazy's nomination
"reflects Gyurcsany's current diminished influence within the
MSZP for the time being." End comment.
LEVINE