The campaign silence and other nonsense

I’m happy to announce (for those who think I report only one side) that there was a incident in which an MSZP activist got into trouble during the campaign. According to news reports a Fidesz activist was putting up posters where allegedly he wasn’t supposed to and a fight broke out between the Fidesz activist and another man who happened to be the younger brother of the town’s MSZP deputy mayor. In order to balance things out, Fidesz now seems to be making further phoney automated telephone calls. This time in the name of Médián. Médián has already announced that they are not collecting data at the moment.

As of midnight comes the campaign silence. For anyone who is interested in politics the silence is deafening. The newspapers are dull as dishwater and the television stations specialize in soap operas. As late as 2006 polls couldn’t be published for a whole week before elections. By now at least this practice has changed. The pollsters now only have to observe the campaign silence. As far as the polls are concerned the predictions are all over the place. Szonda Ipsos predicted that 48% of all eligible voters will vote but this number is based on polls taken in January. Médián is talking about 46%, Gallup 54%, Marketing Central 33% and Publicus, whoever they are, 68%. (At every election we have, I suspect, a bogus polling company. This time it seems to be called Publicus. I have an idea whose brainchild this was.) As for Gallup, Gallup of Hungary is usually so far off that it is not worth taking them seriously. It’s a shame that Hungarian Gallup is tarnishing the name of this oldest American polling company.

SZDSZ urged people to vote and say "no." MSZP was ambivalent: they couldn’t decide what would be the more advantageous from the party’s point of view–for its supporters to stay at home or go and vote "no." In the last few days it has become clearer that the latter tactic is the better one from the government’s point of view and therefore the MSZP’s strategy has changed. By now the MSZP is sending precorded telephone messages: Gyurcsány himself urges people to go and vote "no." My feeling is that the number of "no’s" will increase due to the last minute recognition on the part of MSZP supporters that strategically it is best to reduce the percentage of "yes" votes in a perhaps already small pool. I personally know several people who originally wanted to stay away but in the last two days have changed their minds.

I’m no fan of this campaign silence not just because it makes for dull reading but because after elections hundreds of complaints are launched that X or Y broke the campaign silence and therefore the election must be repeated. Investigations follow, precious time and money are spent, usually for no good reason whatsoever. I’m also baffled by the notion that parties cannot accumulate databases of their followers. I don’t know whether the MSZP has illegally stashed away names and addresses of their followers, but I know for sure that the Fidesz did. I don’t blame them. A modern and effective campaign cannot be conducted without such a database. This morning I heard a man (on György Bolgár’s program, Klub Rádió) who complained bitterly that he had an elderly relative who died in 2002 at the ripe age of 96 and a couple of days ago she received Fidesz campaign literature addressed to her. Six years earlier she had supported a Fidesz candidate when he was collecting signatures certifying his eligibility to run for office. These supporting tickets are called "kopogtató cédulák" (literally "knocking tickets") because the candidate has to knock on doors to collect them. According to the existing law these tickets or more precisely the information they contain must be destroyed. Surely, said the relative, the Fidesz must still have this information because otherwise how could they have addressed the campaign literature to somebody who died six years ago. The whole thing seems ridiculous to me. Why not just say: yes, keep lists of your followers and try to approach them during the campaign. That seems normal to me and the Hungarian practice unworkable.

Another observation about campaign silence. The extreme right has already announced that they are planning to demonstrate Saturday morning in front of the Parliament. So the cordon is going back, the police must stand there and wait. Nice little silence it will be if these demonstrations actually take place. Let’s forget about the whole thing!

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Viking
Guest

The reason that the parties are not allowed to store data on people who are for or against the Party is the registration of dissidents before 1990. I know people who collects these “knocking tickets” and of course they keep a record who is for this or that party.
During collection time collectors from different parties even trade with each other, “if you give me 3 MIEP I give you 5 Fidesz”-type.
The guys who go for the smaller/odd parties, like MIEP/Jobbik, sometimes present themselves as collecting for MSZP in typical MSZP-areas, BUT try to get the people to sign an empty paper.
I even know cases where Jobbik-people traded tickets with MSZP/SZDSZ-people. I also know cases where they destroyed those tickets to stop collectors from the other parties to get the tickets. A person can only sign one ticket and must not sign another one when the “correct” ticket collector shows up.
Some weeks ago my sources in the extreme right-wing stated that they would have some riots on the evening of March 9, but later the Police came out with a statement that they expected a calm Sunday. I believe it will be fairly muted.

Csabus
Guest

I think you would not break the campaign silence:) or any law if you revealed whom you think is standing behind Publicus.:)
Actually Orban seems to have become more cautious about the turnout and said in a recent interview he deducted 15% from the pollsters’ numbers to get a sense on a what was to be expected.
A week ago I attended a meeting with Orban. He was astonished when I reminded him that the referendum was a double-edged sword for him. I reminded him of the referendum on dual citizenship and hospital privatisation when a mere 37% of the electors bothered to turn up.

Csabus
Guest

Re: Orbán. Yes, he is a very shrewd politician.
The meeting was held for international journalists and they agreed with Orbán that the referendum could only have negative consequences for the Premier. Then I told both the journalists and Orbán that I was amazed by their point of view and there could be a nasty surprise in terms of outturn.

Csabus
Guest

Sure.
Nevertheless, I feel that he has indeed become more cautious in the final week when communicating the outcome of the referendum.

Csabus
Guest

Sometimes he reminds of South American populists, like Juan Perón.
In case of a two-thirds majority, he allegedly wants to amend the Constitution, enhance the powers of the office of President, similar to France, and become President.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
I was interested to learn that it is illegal to store information about the political opinions of people in this country. There is a European directive 95/46/EC on Data protection. Article 8, Paragraph 1 of the directive states that “Member States shall prohibit the processing of personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade-union membership, and the processing of data concerning health or sex life”. How on earth do political parties keep track of ‘subscribing, card carrying party members’? In the UK the ‘electoral role’ is a matter of public record. It is available in all public libraries and citizens are supposed to go and check their entries by the end of March each year. As the registers are in the public domain any one can buy a copy. There are companies who do exactly this, and input them into a computer and will sell you the disks. Mind you the Post office does the same with the postcode data. It is also compulsory to register to vote each year (on penalty of £1200). This is because the ‘electoral role’ is used for ‘pricking’ or conscripting people for ‘Jury service’. The returning officer punches… Read more »
Peter Crow
Guest

Don’t compare Orban with Peron, please. Peron never lost an election…

Csabus
Guest
Peter, Indeed, Perón won the 1946 and 1973 Presidential elections. To add to the differences, Orbán had not spent 16 years in exile (1955-1971)between two of his elections… But if you compare the ideology, you do find similarities: The Twenty Truths of the Perónist Justicialism From a speech of 17th October 1950 made at the Plaza de Mayo. 1., True democracy is the system where the Government carries out the will of the people defending a single objective: the interests of the people. 2. Perónism is an eminently popular movement. Every political clique is opposed to the popular interests and, therefore, it cannot be a Perónist organization. 3. A Perónist must be at the service of the cause. He who invoking the name of this cause is really at the service of a political clique or a “caudillo” (local political leader) is only a Perónist by name. 4. There is only one class of men for the Perónist cause: the workers. 5. In the New Argentina, work is a right which dignifies man and a duty, because it is only fair that each one should produce at least what he consumes. 6. There can be nothing better for a Perónist… Read more »
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