The other Hungary

I decided to take a look at today's Magyar Nemzet and summarize its version of the news. It is definitely worth reading the leading right-wing paper now and again not because one can rely on its reports but because one finds an entirely different Hungary in its pages. After a brief account of today's (real) headlines, I will move on to the news items I found on the first page of the online edition of the paper. It is depressing reading and, if it's true that most Fidesz voters read only the Magyar Nemzet, it is no wonder that they think the country is on the verge of collapse.

First, the two most important news items of the day. The cabinet got together this morning and approved János Veres's proposed budget. After the meeting Veres summarized the current economic situation and gave a brief outline of the key items in next year's budget. One would think that the general provisions of next year's budget would deserve coverage by a leading daily, but no, the only thing the readers of Magyar Nemzet can learn from their favorite paper about the budget is that "according to Mihály Varga [minister of finance in the Orbán government] the budget doesn't provide answers to the real economic problems of the country." Period.

The other big item is that the government spokesman announced that József Bencze, head of the country's police force, revealed that he had received telephone calls from Ervin Demeter, former minister of national security under Viktor Orbán, and Sándor Csányi, head of OTP bank and the richest man in Hungary, who tried to convince him to stop the investigation of UD Zrt. Demeter's call took place on September 11, a day before Ibolya Dávid revealed the contents of the telephone conversation between János Tóth, co-owner of UD Zrt, and Csányi. Yet Demeter, according to Bencze's notes taken after the conversation, seemed to know that there would be revelations concerning the attempt to blacken the name of Dávid. The next day Csányi phoned Bencze complaining that the police took certain computers from UD Zrt. that belonged to OTP and therefore may contain confidential data. He wanted them back. All this sounds pretty devastating for some Fidesz politicians and for the head of OTP. Yet there's nary a word about these new developments in Magyar Nemzet. However, the paper mentioned that Fidesz members of the committee on constitutional matters walked out when the committee asked to hear what György Szilvásy had to say about this whole affair. The paper adds that they walked out because the telephone conversation and other evidence were "illegally made public."

So let's see what Magyar Nemzet found newsworthy. The very first item is that some Gypsy organizations are under investigation because they may have embezzled 140 million forints. Moreover, one of the well known Gypsy leaders, Orbán Kolompár, is among the accused. The next big item is that the IMF doesn't recommend lowering taxes without concurrently lowering expenses. Considering that the convergence plan will remain intact next year and that MSZP is fighting tooth and nail not to upset its balance sheet one wonders what Magyar Nemzet is talking about. Then there is another piece of bad news, reported all over the media, that Hungary's airline Malév that was purchased by a Russian firm is in trouble (given the high price of oil not surprisingly) and will have to let go quite a few pilots. Considering that Fidesz was against selling the airline in the first place in spite of heavy losses that had to be made up from the budget, it is not surprising that  Magyar Nemzet is happy to report this piece of news and adds maliciously: "the Hungarian government is not planning to step in." And while we are on the subject of Russia, the paper reports that Zsolt Németh, former undersecretary of foreign affairs who has been making sharply anti-Russian statements of late, announced that "the Southern Stream endagers Nabucco." As we know from other sources, Nabucco is in trouble quite independently from the Southern Stream.

Then comes another attack on the police and the way they handled the disturbances. On the whole, people praise the police for slowly but surely learning to handle street demonstrations and violence. But Magyar Nemzet must find something to criticize. Although the demonstrators can cover their faces, the policemen must have ID numbers prominently displayed. Zoltán Balog, Fidesz chairman of the parliamentary committee on human rights, began talking about "fictive numbers." First of all, we haven't read until now about any fictive numbers. However, there might be a duplication of numbers because the policemen came to Budapest from all over the country. And while they were on the topic, they decided to say something positive about the right-wing hard core. Magyar Nemzet proudly announced that no participant of Hungarian Democratic Charta was attacked by the "rabble." The word rabble was put between quotation marks, meaning of course that they don't consider them  to be such.

Péter Szijjártó had to resort to an old piece of news because it was more than a month ago that the news appeared about the price of a government home page that cost 200 million forints. Admittedly, this sounds like a very high price, but this site can be accessed by newspapermen who happen to be working outside of Budapest and it is only through this site that they can get the latest government news. Either Magyar Nemzet or Szijjártó decided to warm up this old topic and talk about "the shameless government squandering" when the country is in terrible economic shape. Another Fidesz parliamentary member, István Balsai, claims that cheap electricity goes to one of Gyurcsány's firms.

As for the UD Zrt. affair, according to Magyar Nemzet the government's "card of antisemitism and terror" didn't work and that's why they came up with this wiretapping business. The paper accuses István Hiller, minister of education and culture, of passing on billions to "circles close to him" from monies received from the European Union. And Ferenc Gyurcsány was impolite the other day when he opened another section of a super highway. The mayors of the nearby villages were not seated in front. Continuing its list of sins, the government is planning to kill the very profitable Szerencsejáték Zrt. (Hungary's state gaming company) by contemplating making online gambling legal. And if that is not bad enough, the firefighters didn't get their wages. And retail sales dropped by 2.2%. No wonder, when the pensioners will receive an increase of only 1.1%  next year. Finally, the Fidesz-leaning Nézőpont Institute (a think tank) came out with the latest. Even MSZP voters want early elections.

After that one can start crying. We know that good news is not news, but that much bad news is really unbearable. No wonder that those who read Magyar Nemzet, Magyar Hírlap, watch Echo TV or HírTV are as gloomy as they are. And this has been going on now for six years. The population of the country is hopelessly divided into two groups who see the world entirely differently.

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Jim
Guest

(Éva, you want “rabble” rather than “rubble”)

Jim
Guest

(Éva, you want “rabble” rather than “rubble”)

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Jim: “Éva, you want “rabble” rather than “rubble”)”
Indeed, thank you. Stupid mistake.