The media and the current political situation

It is rather depressing to read the papers nowadays or to listen to political discussions on radio and TV. Hungarian journalism tends toward sensationalism in general, but lately article after article is based on nothing but rumor. And political commentators (called political scientists in Hungary), depending on their political sympathies, engage in fortune telling. I might add that the spokesmen of political parties are no better. Károly Herényi (MDF), for example, is predicting that there will be elections in September. On what basis? And why in September?  Why not in November? Or in August?

Once something like Herényi's "prediction" hits the airwaves, the on-line papers report the same story but with headlines like "The elections in September." Or "Bajnai's government will fail by September." Tibor Navracsics, of course, joined in the wake for the Bajnai government. A few hours later he gave an interview in which he took it for granted that, signatures or no signatures, MSZP members will most likely not vote for the austerity program. Thus, Bajnai will throw in the towel just as he promised. And today I saw an article according to which MDF is sure that SZDSZ (again despite their votes) will not support the Bajnai government because they have a poster in which they promise to support "a government of experts" and, after all, Bajnai's government is not a government of experts. I guess SZDSZ is just pulling Bajnai's leg. What can I say? Nonsense and I'm getting very tired of it. I used to enjoy reading the papers in the morning but by now it's becoming an annoying chore.

The other favorite game in the media is drawing far-reaching conclusions–usually in the form of conspiracy theories–based on very little evidence. I am really a stickler for facts. I can't help it. After all, that is what is demanded of students of history. Yet I notice time and again that most people seem to confuse opinions and facts. I have an old acquaintance whom I haven't met or talked to in forty years. Over the course of time he has turned into a person who, for example, welcomed the establishment of the Hungarian Guard all the while calling himself a centrist. Well, this fellow loves history and keeps writing me letters asking me what I think, for example, about X's opinion on the origins of World War II. When I complain that there are no documents for this or that, the answer is: "Oh, well, Eva, you are so conservative. You reject all revisionist interpretations." No I don't, but theory must be supported by facts even though by its very nature it always goes beyond the facts. Unfortunately we really don't have facts at our fingertips when we deal with very recent history. We have bits and pieces of gossip.

And talking about revisionism. One can write "revisionist histories" of very recent events as well. I have followed the political events of the last three weeks or so with keen interest and therefore on the basis of daily happenings and some knowledge of the background I came up with what I consider a plausible history of Ferenc Gyurcsány's resignation. Once MDF and SZDSZ stood behind the austerity program of the Reform Alliance he realized that the game was up. These two parties would not support his program, and therefore it would fail in parliament. Most likely he also felt that his "package" was no longer enough and that a tougher program must be adopted. But for this new program a new man was needed who would be supported by SZDSZ and MDF as well. After all, MSZP, being a minority party, doesn't have enough votes to pass legislation on its own. That's my take on the resignation. However lately there appeared a "revisionist" interpretation of Gyurcsány's resignation. He resigned because the MSZP caucus didn't support him. First of all, with the exception of a few left wingers' statements (I think here of Tibor Szanyi and Katalin Szili) we have no proof whatsoever of a rebellion within the MSZP. On the contrary, we know that despite sometimes significant ideological differences, the MSZP members dutifully voted for everything the government put in front of them. So I'm sticking with my interpretation on this score.

As for stargazing and fortune telling, I would rather refrain from that. I don't know whether the MSZP members will revolt by September, but I doubt that they would want to commit political suicide by having elections now when according to the latest poll (Marketing Centrum) among those who certainly would vote this Sunday Fidesz leads 61 to 25. Moreover, political interest has increased: more people would go and vote today than a month ago. Fidesz's voting bloc has also grown by seven percent. So, all in all, to hold elections now or in the near future would be suicidal for MSZP. Moreover, MDF and SZDSZ wouldn't even manage to get into parliament, but Jobbik would. What a perfect time to have a little MSZP revolt against Bajnai!