Lately I've been paying some attention to how effectively Hungarian parties use the Internet. Years ago I subscribed to the newsletters of all the parties and the results were telling. SZDSZ barely existed: a few newsletters here and there; after a few weeks the whole thing expired. MSZP was better but even they must have had technical difficulties or flagging enthusiasm because not so long ago for weeks on end no newsletter arrived. First I thought that perhaps they had dropped me so I tried to resubscribe, but I was told that I was already on their list. I existed but the newsletter didn't. Then suddenly a few weeks ago I started receiving their newsletters again.
A comparison of the parties' web sites is telling. The SZDSZ homepage is poorly designed. The blue is too light, the text is barely readable, and all in all it's boring. MSZP's is better but it is also boring and low tech. But the Fidesz homepage! Well, that is something else. Webmaster and crew are busy bees. Saturday, Sunday, day or night doesn't seem to matter. Just this weekend there are seven new postings under "News." For starters, Zsolt Páva is happy to accept the nomination as Fidesz candidate for mayor of Pécs after the death of the MSZP mayor. There is a summary of a press conference by the associate spokesman for the party telling the few journalists present that the government's plans are all wrong. One can read about Pál Schmitt visiting Nagyvárad (Oradea) in Romania at the invitation of László Tőkés. To my astonishment I read the headline that József Szájer, Fidesz European Union parliamentary member, "conducted negotiations with Putin." (Well, he was a member of a delegation and the conversations were mostly held at the office of the minister in charge of energy.) Viktor Orbán spoke to László Tőkés on the phone, and the Ministry of Health is in hot water because "it lost a lawsuit" against a county that was upset over the reduction in the number of hospital beds. (As I learned later, that is not an accurate description of the situation.)
Admittedly, these news items are scarcely earth shattering, but they show a diligent crew hard at work on public relations. By contrast, MSZP had only four new items, one yesterday and three today. Considering that the parliamentary caucus got together today and gave its unanimous blessing to Ferenc Gyurcsány's stimulus package the news value of the MSZP reports was a lot higher. But sometimes quantity swamps quality.
The Fidesz homepage has a series of user-friendly tabs and pull-down menus. For instance under "Press Review" are links to articles in Magyar Nemzet, Magyar Hírlap, MTI, and some internet papers if the articles are in line with Fidesz's views at the moment. There are links to interviews with Fidesz politicians on television stations, including the far-right EchoTV. Under "Press Conferences" we find not only the recent virtually daily press conferences but an archive useful for those studying Fidesz policies. (A side note: I don't know how long András Cser-Palkovics will remain in his post as party spokesman carrying most of the burden after Péter Szijjártó's promotion to head Orbán's "cabinet," but he strikes me as a dull guy. Certainly not as colorful as Szijjártó.) The Fidesz web site also has a section in English–not always the best English but better than nothing. Fidesz's homepage keeps up with blogs whose political views coincide with those of the party. Reakció, Jobbklikk, Konzervatórium–even the names are telling, although "reakció" in Hungarian has a more sinister ring than "reaction." Jobbklikk is where Tibor Navracsics and some op-ed contributors to Magyar Nemzet publish their blogs.
MSZP has something called "Media Events" under which I found about three items: Gábor Simon appeared on ATV this morning (Reggeli Jam) and over the next two days István Újhelyi and Mónika Lamperth will be guests on the same show. That's all. No media archives from the past. Not even links to older interviews. Then there is another category dealing with the press. There the newest item is from late January.
So, all in all, Fidesz's web site is the clear winner, regardless of what I think of its contents. Maybe MSZP could browse and learn a thing or two.