The usual political mess in Hungary with some help from the media

Originally I wanted to write about a lately much discussed article that appeared in Élet és Irodalom last week. The author is Anna Szilágyi and the title: "A félelemkeltés nyelve" (in English "The Language of Fear"). However, today I don’t seem to have enough time to summarize this rather sophisticated study of language as used by Fidesz and its leaders. Perhaps sometime during the weekend.

So instead I’m taking the easy road and giving vent to my frustration at the ineptness and irresponsibility of Hungarian politicians and journalists. In the mornings I usually read the two papers, Népszabadság and Népszava. If I hear that something interesting appeared in Magyar Nemzet, for example, an interview with Viktor Orbán, I will certainly read that in the original, but Magyar Nemzet is rather stingy with its online services. Most articles become available only several days after they appeared in print. If a really horrendous opinion piece appears in Magyar Hírlap, like Zsolt Bayer’s antisemitic harangue, I will take a look, but only after I hear about it in other publications. I usually multitask with Napkelte on MTV. My bias here is evident, and it extends to the American news media, where I read The New York Times and the Washington Post and listen to the NPR (National Public Radio) morning news and PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) evening news.

Well, in Hungary the day began with a news item in Népszabadság about the weakened position of Ildikó Lendvai as head of the MSZP parliamentary caucus. The reporters seem to have known already who Lendvai’s successor(s) will be: Tibor Szanyi or Attila Mesterházy, currently deputy to Lendvai. Szanyi belongs to the left wing of MSZP and is a rather undiplomatic critic of Gyurcsány. The whole thing was presented as if there were a revolt in the MSZP delegation against Lendvai. The Budapest media was energized. György Bolgár chose it as one of his topics for today’s discussion and even managed to call on Tibor Szanyi. Basically Szanyi seems to be a self-promoter without grass roots support. On the active internet forum attached to Bolgár’s program there was one shrill response: "Szanyi? Na, neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

By the afternoon I found out from a TV interview that there is no revolt in the delegation against Ildikó Lendvai. According to the rules and regulations the appointment is for two years and Lendvai’s appointment is coming to an end. Of course, she will run again. It is possible that there will be other hopefuls, but according to the best guess of László Varju, one of the important men in the delegation, Lendvai will most likely easily be reelected.

Then in the evening news Gábor Fodor announced on HírTV that SZDSZ will not be able to vote for the budget. Mind you, the budget debate usually takes place in December, but isn’t it wonderful to worry everyone, or at least the supporters of MSZP and Gyurcsány, ahead of time? A day before Fodor talked about some possibilities: a new coalition (with himself as his party’s head, of course). He also darkly hinted, in general, of personnel change and trustworthiness (his favorite word). It wasn’t clear whether he was talking about his inclusion or whether he also would demand Gyurcsány’s exclusion. If Fodor thinks that he, as the new party leader of SZDSZ, can demand the resignation of Gyurcsány for the sake of a coalition, I think he is mistaken. This strikes me as non-starter. And if this weren’t enough he added that early elections would be preferable to a minority government. Brilliant political strategy from a man who wants to head a party whose popularity at the moment is one percent! By now we are really in Lalaland.

And, in this context, I should mention Gábor Horn’s performance in this morning’s Napkelte. He had the gall to blame the MSZP for the unpopularity of SZDSZ ministers and politicians. In fact, he argued, Gyurcsány and the MSZP are fulfilling the original Fidesz program. After all, they gave in on health care and now they are talking about aid to people who show some willingness to work.

And then there was Ibolya Dávid, increasingly the Steve Forbes of Hungary. She outlined the neighboring countries’ economic success as opposed to Hungary’s failure. For her the remedy is the introduction of a flat tax. In rather simplistic terms she kept talking about Slovakia’s ten percent growth as the direct result of the country’s introduction of a flat tax. In fact, Slovakia’s success is due to the Dzurinda’s government reforms as the result of which Dzurinda lost the elections. It seems that this is what some people demand from Gyurcsány. Offer himself and his party as a sacrifice on the altar of the nation. Fine, go ahead, lose every bit of popularity, but the nation will be saved. Oh yes, this sounds like a noble idea but there is only one small problem. I was listening to István Stumpf, former chief minister of Viktor Orbán, who unequivocally announced that the Third Republic is dead and that the foundations of the Fourth Republic must be laid by the next government by reorganizing the whole structure and by changing the Constitution. I suspect this is exactly why Gyurcsány is not willing to sacrifice himself and his party for the country.

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New World Order
Eva- There are a lot of small things to chew over in your piece today. (1) I have no idea about Lendvai’s position, but it seems reasonable to me that there would be a challenge to her authority. She has pretty much carried the PM’s water, and does not come across as the most popular person. She is also by the low standards of MSZP representatives, pretty smart. That alone should be enough to make her position somewhat uncertain. (2) Fodor needs to distinguish his policies from the failed Koka/Horn/Kuncze policies. Don’t you think there must be a constiuency within SZDSZ that would like to see some more confrontation with MSZP? The Government has now decided to scrap the existing efforts at health care reform. In this context, what does SZDSZ have to show for 6 yrs in power? (3) If SZDSZ was really willing to go forward with bringing down the government if the PM were to remain, do you really believe that MSZP would not change him out? Of course they would. A large minority or even a majority of the Party are ready in principle to get rid of the PM now, but are waiting as a… Read more »
Odin's lost eye
I do not know much of the ‘personae dramaticae’ concerned or their history. I have seen Mr Olban in TV in ‘full flow’. I do not know what the said but his body language is that of a demagogue and a person who believes that he and he alone can rule this land (and perhaps the world). I have had enough of such people for my lifetime and I do not want to have to deal with any more! This land needs reform. 1. Reform of its tax system. It is lunatic and was part of the old communist idea to ensure that the ‘government’ got its share of the wealth produced. Nationalised industries were mainly run for the benefit of their management and not the ‘shareholders’ (the government) . 2. Reform of its huge bureaucracy 3. Reform of its ideas that government can and must control every thing. 4. Reform the government financial systems so that the politico’s and their parties cannot get their fingers in the honey pot or till. 5. Reform of its ‘Get rich quick’ business ideas. This encourages cheats and swindlers. There seems to be a tax doge, which limits the life of a company… Read more »