Kálmán Mikszáth, one of the great prose writers of Hungarian literature (1847-1910), wrote a novel entitled Two Elections in Hungary in which he painted an unfortunately all too realistic picture of electoral fraud in Hungarian elections during the period of the Dual Monarchy. The title of the summary of MDF's difficulties in obtaining permission to run in the coming election is a take-off on Mikszáth's novel, indicating that not much has changed in Hungary in the last hundred years or so. Fraud is still present in Hungarian political life, admittedly of a different kind from the older variety. Here a certain party by illegal means was trying to prevent another from running. Let's not beat around the bush. Almost everybody is certain that the guilty party is Fidesz.
To tell you the truth I don't even understand Fidesz's thinking on this score. After all, given the singularly bad relationship between Fidesz and MDF in the last few years it is unlikely that potential MDF voters would have voted for Fidesz if MDF had been knocked off the playing field. They most likely would have voted for MSZP or perhaps LMP. So I think that Fidesz propagandists went to a lot of trouble for nothing. First of all, MDF managed to run in most regions, including the most important place, Budapest, and second, the trials and tribulations of the party might actually attract more voters for MDF than would have been the case without the events of the last two weeks or so. One thing is sure. It was a close call. About a week before the elections MDF's fate was still up in the air.
The summary of events was written up by József Kajdi, who is the legal representative of the party. I received a copy of it in a Word document from an MDF politician, but a few days later it appeared in galamus.hu. It is a long, detailed description of what happened before the final word was uttered: the road is clear for MDF to run. I can't describe every trick mentioned in it but will concentrate on some of the most outrageous ones. For me the following story was perhaps the most dramatic. The MDF candidate in Székesfehérvár, István Göblyös, received a telephone call from a person unknown to him. The caller claimed that he was an acquaintance of another MDF candidate from Budapest and asked for a meeting. At the meeting the man from Budapest handed Göblyös 10 blank endorsement slips. After the man left Göblyös, who was suspicious, put the ten blank endorsement slips in an envelope and deposited them in a safe in front of witnesses. The same night HírTV showed a video taken with a hidden camera of the ten blank slips being handed to Göblyös and called the event a crime. The local election committee initiated a criminal investigation. Only an appeal to the National Election Committee annulled that decision. Keep in mind that HirTV is really Fidesz's mouthpiece.
In other places the local election committees tried to prevent MDF delegates from running even if they had all the necessary number of endorsements. Reasons were not given. That is what happened in Csongrád County. In other districts endorsements were invalidated, rendering the candidate ineligible to run. Gábor Slosár (Budapest,18th district) collected 957 endorsement out of which the local election committee rejected 310. On appeal the Capital City Election Committee ruled that 866 of the 957 slips were valid. The same thing happened to Zoltán Király (Budapest 4th district) who turned in 900 endorsements and the local election committee found 299 invalid. Again, the case was appealed and the Capital Election Committee, miracle of miracles, found 229 out of the 299 perfectly valid.
One could continue the account of attempts to stop MDF from even entering the race but it would take too long. Moreover, the legal wrangling around the the Budapest list is so complicated that I'm sure that most readers would get lost in the details. However, tomorrow I will report on some last minute efforts on the part of MDF's enemies that were used after all legal attempts failed. One thing is sure: this is a disgusting story and one that shakes what's left of trust in Hungarian politics.