Monthly Archives: April 2010

Shaping a “revolutionary” new government

In his victory speech Viktor Orbán said quite a few things that are difficult to interpret or, if one is less charitable, are nonsensical. Among these is the assertion that a revolution took place at the polls. Nothing of the sort happened. A democratic election was held that resulted in a very large victory for one of the parties. Some people consider this reference to a "revolution" a gesture to those Hungarians who either voted for Jobbik or who voted for Fidesz but sympathize with the far right.

However, once one mentions the … Read the rest

Politics and the media

I don't think one can overemphasize the role of the media in disseminating the messages of political parties. Viktor Orbán in a conversation with József Debreczeni in 2002, a few weeks after Fidesz lost the elections, talked about the necessity for a party to have robust media support. He said that József Antall inherited a media that was openly sympathetic to either MSZP or SZDSZ and that he had never managed to have even one newspaper that would look at the world through the government's glasses. Thus, when Orbán became prime minister he immediately … Read the rest

The first signs of financial trouble

József Szájer, head of the Fidesz delegation to the European Parliament, only yesterday boasted about Hungary's arrival after eight years in the wilderness "at the High Street  (Fő utca) of Europe." I don't use "Main Street" as a translation because that has acquired a special meaning in English linked to provincialism and the ordinary citizen; it is often contrasted with Wall Street. What Szájer and other Fidesz politicians mean is something very different. In their heads "Fő utca" is just the opposite of Main Street. It suggests a meaning close to "forefront." Viktor Orbán … Read the rest

The first day of the “new country”

Viktor Orbán promised that all those Hungarians who live within the borders of the Hungarian Republic will wake up in a new country on April 26. Such campaign slogans of course cannot be taken too seriously but in some ways Viktor Orbán was right. Topics that had been shelved for years suddenly cropped up.

The first piece of news this morning was that the Christian Democrats, who again want to have their own parliamentary delegation although they don't have a party, announced a warmed-up demand: all supermarkets and shopping centers must … Read the rest

Election results in brief

For the past week or so it was evident that the run-off elections weren't exciting too many people in Hungary. Most people were convinced that Fidesz would receive its desired two-thirds majority. Indeed, only 46.61% of the eligible voters went to the polls. There were only three electoral districts where there was any suspense about the outcome: in two Budapest districts where MSZP politicians, Tibor Szanyi and József Tóth, had a fair chance of winning and in the electoral district encompassing the town of Edelény in the country of Borsod-Abauj-Zemplén where three right-wing candidates battled for … Read the rest

Too much self-confidence and the inevitable political mistakes

At first I thought I would write about the uselessness of the Hungarian practice of campaign silence. It was unnecessary twenty years ago but in the age of the Internet it is truly ridiculous. Every Hungarian political site starts off saying: "Campaign silence: For older news, click here!" You click and a second later every bit of political news concerning the campaign that was written before midnight of April 23 is at your fingertips.

However, campaign silence is good for one thing, at least from my vantage point: at last I have a little … Read the rest

A few quotations from the past

It is always amusing to read quotations from politicians a few years apart, especially if circumstances have changed radically in the meantime. Lately the Hungarian media has dredged up interesting quotations from people like László Kövér and Viktor Orbán during the summer of 1994 when Gyula Horn asked SZDSZ to form a coalition government although MSZP already had a comfortable majority of parliamentary seats. SZDSZ, encouraged by several polls that indicated the party's electorate supported such a coalition, agreed. Thus, MSZP and SZDSZ had a 72% majority in the House.

It was during the spring … Read the rest