A few days ago I finished one of my blogs by saying that if a referendum were held on Gyurcsány’s (then) seven points concerning political corruption and transparency, the prime minister would the hero of the day. I might have added that the Fidesz is most likely very much afraid of such a referendum. Now we have survey results from Médián, a usually reliable company among the many pollsters in Hungary. The numbers Médián presented are impressive–from 88% to 73%. The most popular (88%) is the question concerning the salaries and expenses of parliamentary members. The strict laws regarding conflict of interest are not much behind (86%). Checking the financial situation of civil servants received 83%. Shorter campaigns and stricter laws concerning financing of parties got 82%. To ban parliamentary members from holding other positions, 81%. That only those civic organizations may receive money from the central government that are free of party influence, 79%. To put an end to the ambiguous financial situation of the youth organizations of different parties, 73%. I don’t think that Gyurcsány and the MSZP have anything to fear from a referendum posing these questions. That is, if the electoral committee approves them.
However, Hungarians are less sanguine when the question was posed whether the proposed reforms of Gyurcsány and the MSZP can be realized. Here the "yes" answers were all under 50% (46% to 39%). It only shows the public’s skepticism concerning intentions and their translation into reality.
Another interesting, although statistically invalid, poll was taken by the on-line Index, which is not a liberal paper. After the paper received 20,000 votes the editors closed the polling. Altogether the Index posted 3 + 8 Fidesz and 20 MSZP questions, without mentioning the party’s name; the questions were listed in random order. The Fidesz’s questions didn’t fare well. Abolishment of the hospital fee received 71.18%, co-payment 43.44%, and tuition 44.66%. Most of the MSZP questions received close to 100% positive votes. Only the Fidesz’s suggestion concerning the yearly financial statements of members of government received 90.4% (but the MSZP actually adopted this one suggestion from the Fidesz’s list of eight points).
The Népszava also polled its readers, but one must keep in mind that they are by and large supporters of the government. Less than half indicated that they would actually vote at a referendum concerning tuition, hospital fee, and co-pay. Of these 40% would vote against co-payment, 38% against tuition, and 50% against the hospital fee.
Meanwhile the Fidesz began collecting the signatures necessary to hold a referendum that can be held perhaps in mid-March if the institutions move with extra speed every step of the way. The signature collecting campaign officially started at 2 p.m. yesterday with a clock ticking in the background. However, callers to György Bolgár already reported yesterday morning that Fidesz activists were hard at work collecting signatures a day before. In Békéscsaba there was a bit of an upheaval when a grade school teacher reported that some overactive Fidesz political activists collected signatures in the teachers’ room. Nothing like putting a little pressure on the teachers.
The other side was not entirely blameless. An outraged citizen who is surely not a Fidesz sympathizer went up to a man who was collecting signatures, tore the list out of his hands and ripped it into bits and pieces. Apparently 70 signatures bit the dust.
Meanwhile the police are getting ready. The horses are being readied, the water cannon (brand new) is getting a final look, the policemen all have their identity numbers attached to their hats and to both the chest and the arm of their uniforms. So citizens will not be able to complain that the identity numbers were not on or that they were not visible. So, all is ready for the onslaught. After all, 123 demonstrations will certainly keep everybody on his toes. Meanwhile one cannot get a room in any of the hotels and wellness centers outside of Budapest. Everything is full.