The Socialists are scraping all-time lows in the polls after a
whirlwind of reform legislation that allows doctors and hospitals to
charge patients fees and universities to charge students for
tuition. The measures, which include partially privatising the
country’s health insurance system, aim to change the public’s
attitudes towards the provision of services, attitudes which have
been entrenched after 40 years of communist rule.
The big question facing the Socialists is whether to tackle
head-on the opposition’s campaign leading up to the referendum on
the fees to be held in July 2008 or instead to concentrate all its
forces on explaining to voters the reforms already implemented and
selling future reforms, such as the tax changes now being debated.
The party has hired the services of Viktor Szigetvari, whose
political consultancy helped the Socialists under Prime Minister
Ferenc Gyurcsany win a second consecutive election in April 2006.
Szigetvari will co-ordinate the party’s strategy in the first half
of next year, a period which will be defined by the Fidesz