Ever since Orbán came up with the idea of a referendum his party has been busily campaigning in hope of an overwhelming victory at the polls. In the last few weeks Orbán himself has entered the fray, but according to some people who are not exactly friends of him, Orbán’s campaigning usually brings the opposite of the intended result. According to these people, Orbán’s campaigning style frightens people away. This seems to be the case again–not substantially, but those who claim that they will definitely vote on March 9th has decreased in the last couple of weeks. And when the numbers go down, Orbán’s campaign becomes even more shrill and people get even more frightened. A vicious cycle apparently.
On the other side, there has been hardly any campaining for obvious reasons. The MSZP has more or less decided that the "no’s" cannot win. After all, nobody wants to pay if he has the choice of not paying for services rendered. The polls still indicate that enough people will go and vote and therefore the referendum will be valid. The MSZP’s only hope is that the polls are wrong and fewer than the necessary two some million voters will turn out. However, they cannot say that openly, and therefore the party’s top brass keeps repeating that participating in any kind of election is a democratic right and duty, though if someone decides not to go they understand. Gyurcsány himself announced that he will go and will vote with three "no’s." What else can he do? I’m sure that reporters will be sitting outside his house all day long to see whether the Gyurcsány family leaves the house to vote.
The SZDSZ’s position is different. They began campaining with a call for participation and saying no to the three propositions. Just yesterday János Kóka, head of the SZDSZ, optimistically announced that the Fidesz is going to lose. I somehow doubt that, but interestingly enough Gyurcsány also talks about failure but in a different sense. Regardless of the outcome, "this referendum will not be the failure of the left and the country, but it will be the defeat of the majority of the democratic right," he said in his opening salvo this morning.
While the Fidesz was busily campaigning, Gyurcsány was either abroad or, if he gave speeches–as he did twice in the last two weeks, he avoided the topic of the referendum. The common wisdom on the left was that since Orbán’s attacks are directed against the person of the prime minister, Gyurcsány shouldn’t get involved in the campaign. Then about a week ago I heard an MSZP official announce that Gyurcsány after all would take a leading role in in the last week of the campaign. Well, he was telling the truth. Gyurcsány is here and with a big bang.
Today there was an MSZP mass meeting where Gyurcsány and Ferenc Juhász, the man who is actually responsible for the party’s daily affairs, gave speeches. I must say that I never heard Gyurcsány attack his opponent with such vehemence. Most of Orbán’s speeches are full of frontal attacks. Gyurcsány’s style is different: biting sarcasm is his usual style. This time there was biting sarcasm plus a frontal attack. I’m pretty sure that he will be severely criticized for his strong language. The Fidesz spokesmen can dish it out but can’t take it.
Gyurcsány was already warming up a couple of days ago when he called Orbán (without mentioning his name) a circus clown (paprikajancsi). Needless to say, Orbán got offended. Today Gyurcsány called him a "Judas who is ready to sell his country for 30 pieces of silver or 300 Ft." He accused Orbán of "promising a strong Hungary without any effort. . . . He sends a message to this country that we have no work ahead of us. The only thing one has to do is to vote for the great leader, for the eternal prime minister of the nation, for the good king who will offer salvation. . . . The only thing one has to do is to say yes. Not to the country but to him." If the referendum is "successful" what will the Fidesz do? "Will they knock on the doors of all family doctors and will they say to them ‘the future is already here’? . . . Or they will knock on the doors of all university presidents? Do you need a new building? Oh, there is no such thing. Fiddlesticks!" [Here by way of partial explanation let me quote a footnote from an edition of Othello: "a fig = fiddlesticks, nonsense (contemptuous, and accompanied–as in Romeo and Juliet–by gestures very like today’s "giving the finger."] This last one was a clever play on words: fiddlesticks/fig is fityisz in Hungarian which closely resembles the party’s name. Gyurcsány liked the word play so much that he repeated it: "it is not a great political achievement to say to Hungary: be selfish, don’t pay, and say Fidesz-fityisz to everything."
Ferenc Juhász is not such a good speaker as Ferenc Gyurcsány, but he didn’t mince words either. Since September 2006 one has heard nothing else but that the prime minister and the government lie. The word "lie" is a pretty strong word in any language and it really shouldn’t be used so frequently in public discourse. However, already in 1990 Orbán introduced the word in parliament when he claimed that "the government lied." Then the Hungarian public was aghast: how can anyone speak like this? Good old days. Today every second word is "lie" or "to lie." Juhász decided to call Orbán a liar and added: "Enough Viktor Orbán!" The meeting closed with a poem (Még nem elég/It is still not enough) by Mihály Váci (1924-70) which the audience of about 700 recited in unision. A typical Hungarian way of arousing enthusiasm! I am no poet and therefore I will not try to translate the poem. Anyone interested can read it here: http://www.archer.hu/entry.html?id=31 I must say it was appropriate for the occasion. I didn’t have a chance to see the video yet, but from the reports the mood of the meeting reminds me of the mass meeting held before the elections on Heroes’ Square and Andrássy út!