President of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party (MSZDP), Andor Schmuck, visited New York earlier this month. The main purpose of his visit was to speak at the UN, where he chairs the Working Group on Aging. He was accompanied by György “Georges” Suha, Secretary General of the party. In addition to official business they took time to visit the 9/11 memorial and museum, and they took time out to meet with our Co-Chair Craig Miller.
The Hungarian SD is a small party with ties back to the anti-Communist Social Democrats who were prominent after WWII. Their website features a picture of Willy Brandt which should give any European social democratic party instant credibility. While they hold seats in various regions of Hungary, including industrial parts of Budapest, the party has consistently received less than the 5% minimum vote to gain seats in Parliament. Like the situation in the US, faction fighting within competing left parties has hurt them badly during the past 20 years. And audit reports have demonstrated the party has been mismanaged from inside, in violation of legal requirements. Schmuck and Suha have taken on the task of trying the rebuild the party. One of the goals in coming to NY was to meet with expat Hungarians who have the right to vote in Hungarian elections. Schmuck believes the MSZDP message will resonate with these voters. Schmuck is popular with senior citizens back home due to his long standing support for pensions. By demonstrating a real constituency— both home and abroad, getting their organization back in legal order, and obtaining recognition from other European social democrats, Schmuck and Suha believe they can bring life back to the Hungarian SD. Their mission is important, even critical, as right wing nationalist groups gain popularity in Hungary. These parties are often racist and anti-Semitic, and any efforts to push back against the right wing extremists deserve our support.
The US visit was covered in a number of Hungarian periodicals including this article in the Hungarian political blog, kormanyvaltas. (if you open this link in Chrome it should automatically ask you if you want to translate to English). The article references the meeting between Hungarian SD leaders and SDUSA.