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Simon quits SMK to be an independent MP

THE PARLIAMENTARY caucus of the opposition Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) lost a deputy after Zsolt Simon announced that he had quit the party. One of Simon’s main reasons for resigning was that he was forbidden from participating in carrying out the party’s programme, the TASR newswire reported.

THE PARLIAMENTARY caucus of the opposition Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) lost a deputy after Zsolt Simon announced that he had quit the party. One of Simon’s main reasons for resigning was that he was forbidden from participating in carrying out the party’s programme, the TASR newswire reported.

“SMK chairman Pál Csáky has turned to the [SMK’s] Republic Ethics Committee because I told the truth about him, his practices and tactics within the SMK,” Simon told a press conference. “I’ve expressed my opinion and I still stand by it: that under the leadership of Pál Csáky, lies have become a working method.”

According to Simon, Csáky's economic interests are more important within the SMK than the interests of voters. He also believes the SMK has been set on a divisive path that is decreasing the party’s popularity.

Simon continued with his criticism of the SMK, saying that the party carries out virtual rather than real politics and fails to deal with unemployment in regions where SMK voters live. He also added that the party is not interested in the development of infrastructure and improving living standard in these regions, the SITA newswire reported.

The conflict between Simon and Csáky has been going on for over a year now, since Simon criticised Csáky for having asked Prime Minister Robert Fico for a subvention for the Madách Posonium publishing house which later published Csáky’s book, the Sme daily reported.

The SMK’s caucus leader Gyula Bárdos accepted Simon’s decision to terminate his membership in the party. Bárdos said the MP’s departure was not a big surprise to him, noting that Simon had warned several times that such a decision was imminent.

Simon and former party leader Béla Bugár, who was SMK chairman for nine years until April 2007, are the sharpest critics of the party’s leadership under Csáky. They have not made it a secret they dislike the political style that Csáky and the other new leaders are pursuing.

Bugár blamed the MP’s decision to quit on the party leadership and the political practices it has pursued since it was elected last year.

Bugár said that Simon's decision is sad since he is the first-ever lawmaker to leave the SMK caucus. He fears more MPs might follow his example.

Political scientist Grigorij Mesežnikov said Simon is the first SMK deputy to quit the deputy’s caucus without giving up his mandate. In April 2007, László Gyurovszky left the SMK; however, he was replaced by Gyorgy Juhász and his departure did not weaken the party, SITA wrote.

“Simon is the first case of weakening of the SMK deputy caucus,” Mesežnikov said.

He does not rule out that several party members will agree with Simon’s decision. But he also does not expect Simon to inspire his other party colleagues in parliament.

According to Mesežnikov, despite its problems the SMK has had the image of a party with a strong internal structure, which has not faced any weakening.

“It is not a good signal for SMK since disputes between the party leadership and some party members have become so serious that they cannot be settled within the party,” SITA quoted Mesežnikov as saying.

The departure of Simon may strengthen the faction of those SMK members loyal to the former leader Bugár, he said.

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