Another Magyar Nemzet fiasco

The latest Magyar Nemzet sensation didn’t even last a day. As suspected, the government was not spying on Viktor Orbán, Lajos Simicska, and István Kalmár in December 2002. But at least this time it was the Magyar Nemzet and not Viktor Orbán who goofed, or lied. Orbán was simply "not surprised." After all, with these communists anything is possible.

Magyar Nemzet decided to reveal some of its secrets, naming the person and the private detective agency who were involved. The man who ordered the "manhunt" was László Kapolyi, MSZP parliamentary member and president of the Hungarian Social Democratic party. In addition, he is one of the richest men in Hungary. A few years ago, on Magyar Hírlap’s list of the top hundred richest people in Hungary, Kapolyi ranked number thirty-four. His business dealings involve energy and electricity. His company, System International, already in 2001 had 20 billion forints’ worth of business. The private detective agency’s name was Finder.

Kapolyi admits that System International had a contract with Finder (signed on December 18, 2002), but it was a general contract (keretszerződés) without specifying any person. Finder’s job was apparently to keep an eye on the different companies belonging to System International "in order to ensure their integrity." Kapolyi emphasized today in a formal statement that "in the contract the question of politics or names of politicians were not mentioned." Finder apparently turned in a bill for 55 million forints plus sales tax. The accounting firm working for Finder subsequently asked System International to return the bill so it could check on some of the details. For whatever reason, neither Kapolyi nor his firms ever paid a penny for Finder’s so-called services. So the latest pseudo scandal just died. Or at least it seems to have died. Knowing Magyar Nemzet, it may have another life. Or the paper might have to come up with a new salacious scoop.

As for Fidesz’s sad financial state I found an excellent cartoon in today’s Népszava.

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On the table there is a broken piggy bank. The caption reads: "We must have early elections. Not only the country is broke!"

Indeed, if Fidesz were in power, getting money would be a cinch. However, through the local governments, mostly in Fidesz hands, maybe the party could get hold of some money from the European Union subsidies. It wouldn’t take much in terms of percentage points to do the trick. Perhaps they could even fill up the coffers again. It seems that even MSZP’s occasionally naive members are waking up to this possibility.

Lajos Kósa’s and Ervin Demeter’s reactions were outright hysterical. Their latest is that they will go to the trusted members of the Constitutional Court. However, Péter Boross, former minister in charge of national security affairs, announced this morning on Napkelte (the morning political program on MTV) that this is nonsense. There is nothing unconstitutional about the government’s plans. He blamed the brouhaha on ignorance on the part of the mayors and hasty action on the part of the government. The government should have known that mayors are ignorant. Boross, who is well versed in Hungarian political, legal, and constitutional history, likes to call all people younger than himself (and he is close to 80) ignorant. Someone I don’t think that ignorance is the problem this time.