The proposal governing the media became law

Just as some of you already reported in the "Comments," Pál Schmitt signed the media law. He signs anything put under his nose. Mind you, I believe that if he had received instructions from above not to sign, then he wouldn't have. In my opinion there may even have been a brief telephone conversation between Orbán Viktor and the president during which the former explained why it is absolutely necessary to sign.

As usual, commentators see the event from a variety of perspectives. There are those who never for a moment doubted that he would sign, and there are those who still expected to see some rational thinking in the leadership of Fidesz. As I mentioned a few days ago, instructing Schmitt not to sign but to send the proposal back to parliament would have been a masterstroke in my opinion. Orbán would have beeen able to demonstrate that Schmitt is not after all just the brainless puppet everybody thinks he is. In addition, he could save face. After all, only a few days ago he swore up and down that he would not change a word in the law, but now he has to because of this independent-minded Schmitt. That would have given Orbán an opportunity to make amends with the European Union and the all-important ally, Germany.

He didn't choose this easy escape route. A friend of mine's answer to my proposal was that Viktor Orbán even under these circumstances can't "lose." He always has to win. If Schmitt didn't sign, perhaps he would be hailed as a man of reason who after all behaved in a statesman-like fashion. Orbán couldn't stand such an outcome.

In any case, we will see what happens if anything. One thing is sure. The German government is keeping an eye on Budapest. The Frankfurter Rundschau published an interview with Werner Hoyer, undersecretary in the Foreign Ministry, who just today expressed the German government's hope that "the Hungarian government hasn't spoken the last word on the subject." Well, it looks as if it has. From the interview it is also clear that the European Commission is investigating and that the German foreign ministry is well informed. Hoyer explained that initially Neelie Kroed, the commissioner responsible for the media, was supposed to lead the investigation, but it looks as if Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding will also be involved.

It seems that the rotating presidency is not in danger, but it is problematic to have a country leading the European Union that is in violation of democratic principles. How can a country like that preach about freedom of speech to other countries, like Belorus or Iran? Hoyer emphasized that a piece of legislation must be written in precise legal language. It should specify all the details. It is not enough to say that "we will look at the practical application of the law later to see whether it works or not. This is unacceptable!" I assume what Hoyer had in mind was Navracsics's feeble explanation concerning the details of the media law.

This morning on Hungarian public radio (MR) the Hungarian foreign minister, János Martonyi, repeated what Tibor Navracsics said about a week ago: let's wait. We'll see how the media law works in practice. However, if this answer was unacceptable from Navracsics, it will be equally unacceptable coming from Martonyi. Martonyi emphasized that he hopes that "the unofficial investigation of the European Union will be objective." The last sentence of MTI's report on Martonyi's interview puzzled me a bit. He said that "the international criticism shouldn't cast a shadow on Hungary's EU presidency beginning January 1." But the criticisms haven't stopped. Even the German Christian Democrats have raised their voices. And if that is the case, how can Hungary's presidency be effective and successful?

Gábor Török, a political analyst who has a successful blog, wrote his most recent piece on Pál Schmitt under the title "Null komma null" (zero point zero). Török prides himself on being absolutely unbiased, but most people considered him to be closer to Fidesz than to the socialist-liberal side. In the last few months, however, he has been exhibiting a decided shift away from Fidesz. His portrait of Schmitt is really devastating. Loyalty is a nice thing, says Török, but what Schmitt is doing is actually injurious to both the institution of the presidency and his reputation. He is making the office of president insignificant. As for the question of reputation, Schmitt should think of the future. What will happen when he appears in high school textbooks as a ridiculous and pitiful puppet? When people talk about him with contempt? It seems that Török is no longer trying to look "objective." He decided that what this government is doing is indefensible.

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Minusio
Guest

“Madness eerily giggles from Europe’s fringes.” Orbán’s psychiatric defects are stunning.

John G
Guest
Unfortunately I am not surprised the President ratified the “will of Parliament”. One could not expect anything less in a country where they think nothing of modifying the Constitution without a referendum. Or from a country where a law can be passed without any oversight from Parliament, a law that has so many pages it has to be delivered in sack to the Official Gazette, a law that was on the table hardly long enough to read a page or two of it before there was a vote on it. No committee vetted it. Yet this is the same country that demanded a referendum on a 300 Ft. (about $1.50) co-pay at the doctor’s. Having said all that it is quite unfair to blame everything on Orban. Had the people not wanted this sort of a government they never would have voted so massively for his Party, twice within in a few months. They cannot say they did not know what was coming. They already had a taste of it once for 4 years. They may not have been informed about the specifics of what this Party would do in government, but there were plenty of warnings and plenty of… Read more »
An
Guest

@Minusio: Yes. And one of those psychiatric defects is wanting to “win” at any cost. The other is seeing everybody who doesn’t agree with him as the enemy conspiring against him (hence the total inability to compromise).
And as he likes to be important, I am a little wary of this EU presidency, even if it’s largely a protocol function. I don’t think he will be satisfied with such a role, he will try to make it bigger… What kind of idiotic (and divisive) ideas he may come up for the EU? He is a master of turning people against each other and using that to his advantage. Hope Europeans won’t be falling for it.

John G
Guest
m
Guest

I suppose, at one point somebody will accuse Hungary of denying him the freedom of speech at the European Court of Human Rights. More important, discontent cannot be made invisible today. See the velvet revolution. Since then, there are even more means of opposition.

An
Guest
Vándorló
Guest

@ESBAlogh: “…most people considered him to be closer to Fidesz than to the socialist-liberal side…” subjective, unverifiable conjecture. Most people do not think as you and woudl say he isn’t a Gyurcsány lapdog, as others are. This doesn’t make him less obejctive. I’ve always found him refreshingly unbiased. Far more so than this blog, but you have never tried to hide your biases, nor excuse them, far from it.

Minusio
Guest

Vándorló: Why couldn’t you have just left out the last sentence, at least? How do you happen to know what “most people” think, anyway?
An aunt of mine had a special way to put down people whose improper behaviour she disliked: “Look, who’s crept out of the cheese!”

Minusio
Guest

John G.: The Süddeutsche Zeitung commented on the Q&A from the Hungarian Foreign Ministry: “Answers nobody needs.” I might add that I have rarely read such abominable English in a text provided by any European government office.
An: Indeed a telling summary, though not even complete.

NWO
Guest

This is Europe. This is the EU. Official Government spokespersons may complain and they may threaten and serious newspapers will write more damning editorials, but in the end not one country (nor the EU) will really take a stand against Hungary’s policies and leadership. Everyone will hold their breath and hope the next six months passes fast without too many problems in the EU or abroad. Then the Hungarian presidency will be over. The EU will continue on. Others will say how sad it is that Hungary is such a basket case, but nothing will change.
The only hope for change will come from the capital markets. One day Hungary will likely not be able to finance itself in the bond markets. Then there will be hell to pay (not from Governments but from private investors).

Erik the Reader
Guest

Bagoly mondja verébnek …
You all comment on the media law, but you won’t even take the time to read it.
Actually there is no such line in the law which is not present in other EU country legislation, just read the media laws of Germany: you can be fined with hundreds thousands of euro for breaking the law. And it’s not only Germany…
I recommend you to read the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung piece on the Hungarian media law containing the following ideas:
Everybody criticised the law,but nobody knows Hungarian media products ranging from pornography to nazi ideas. Also supported by the constitutional court freedom of press in Hungary is much better respected then in the West.

Erik the Reader
Guest
Von Georg Paul Hefty 22. Dezember 2010 Die EU ist eine Erfindung westeuropäischer Staaten: sie haben den Geist und die Maßstäbe festgelegt, die für alle Mitglieder gelten. Das wussten alle Staaten, die im Laufe der Jahrzehnte ihre Aufnahme in die Europäische Gemeinschaft und deren Nebeneinrichtungen wie die Euro- oder die Schengenzone beantragt und nach langem Warten bewilligt bekommen haben. Es herrscht also kein Zweifel darüber, was die Länder und ihre Regierungen zu erbringen haben. Zweifel aber sind angebracht, ob die westlichen Staaten, die Nobelklasse der EU, sich immer die Mühe machen, mit den Emporkömmlingen aus dem Osten partnerschaftlich umzugehen. Die deutsch-französische Warnung, Rumänien und Bulgarien in den Schengen-Raum aufzunehmen, mag gut begründet sein (kein Laie kann die Qualität der Vorbereitungen beurteilen), aber sie darf nicht sachlich fremde, unausgesprochene Ziele verfolgen. Das verträgt eine Partnerschaft nicht. Über Nacht in eine ähnliche Lage wie Bulgarien und Rumänien ist Ungarn geraten, seit es seine Medienordnung umgestaltet. Noch bevor das Gesetz ein einziges Mal angewendet wurde, sind sich die Warner aus dem Westen einig, dass die Pressefreiheit ausgehebelt worden sei. Dabei kennt keiner von ihnen die ungarischen Medienerzeugnisse in deren unsäglicher Bandbreite von Antisemitismus bis Pornografie. Orbán schlägt die Verachtung ganz Westeuropas entgegen Ministerpräsident… Read more »
Vándorló
Guest
@Minusio: “How do you happen to know what “most people” think, anyway?” Many thanks for underlining my point, through your misunderstanding of it. Obviously, without objective data I would clearly mark an unfounded supposition as such, namely as my opinion. Rather than invent a horde of other people through a rhetorical device in an attempt to make when I then state take on the veneer of objectivity e.g. ‘as everyone knows’, ‘the vast majority of people believe’, ‘only a fool would argue’, ‘most people understand that…’ Do you understand the point I am making now and understand that I did not attempt to portray my opinion as anything but that: “I’ve always found him refreshingly unbiased.” When I stated: “Most people do not think as you and would say he isn’t a Gyurcsány lapdog, as others are.” There are two statements I need to explain in support. The first that most people do not think as ESBalogh does. In this context, specifically relating to political bias of Török Gábor and nothing more. I think, if one were to read his blog and watch his many TV presentations over the years one would be hard pushed to find evidence of the… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

NWO: “The only hope for change will come from the capital markets. One day Hungary will likely not be able to finance itself in the bond markets.”
I can only agree. Moreover, I’m sure that the time will come. I simply cannot understand Orbán. Matolcsy proved between 2000 and 2002 that he knows nothing about economics. The great indebtedness started during his tenure as economics minister. Why did Orbán pick him again is a mystery.

Joseph Simon
Guest

This Blog is extremely biased. Consider the characterization of Schmitt Pál. The Governor General in Canada for example signs everything that the Parliament requests. Once the Parliament itself was ‘prorogued’, abolished in fact, at the governing party’s request, in order to avoid a vote of non-confidence. No one called the GG a puppet.
Also, the focus of this Blog is very narrow. As I wrote before, Hungary’s problems go well beyond Gyurcsány or Orbán. Just look at Ózd or Diósgyőr, ‘hazánk ipari fellegvára’ under Kádár. Think of North Korea, a wasteland when you look at the dreary, barren industrial districts, a legacy of decades of socialism. A tall order for any politician.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Vandorlo: “I’ve always found him refreshingly unbiased. Far more so than this blog, but you have never tried to hide your biases, nor excuse them, far from it.”
One should express his or her own opinions in a blog that is supposed to reflect the writer’s views of the world. If someone desperately tries to be “balanced” he/she becomes neither fish nor fowl. That happened to Török with whom, by the way, I am on good terms. He didn’t dare to say anything and at the end indeed he said nothing. “On the one hand, on the other hand, on the third hand!” There are times when one must raise his/her voice. This is unfortunately one of those times and it seems that Török at least he realized that.

kormos
Guest

Re; “This Blog is extremely biased.”
Yes it is. I do not want to defend this blog; however it is Ms. Balogh’s prerogative to write anything she wants in her blog. Only a few bloggers have truly identified themselves here. I respect that!! I must admit, I am not one of them.
I view this blog as an opposition tool. FIDESZ observers should analyze the message, take the usable part, learn from it and apply it.
Unfortunately character assassination and mudslinging has become the everyday norm of politics. It is a bit muted in some countries, fortified in others.
While saying good-by to 2010, I wish the best to my old Country, I wish less hardship to the People of Hungary, and I wish a successful EU presidency.
Also, I wish Happy New Year, good health and all the best for Ms. Balogh and other (liked or disliked) bloggers.
Hajrá Magyarország, Hajrá Magyarok!!

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Erik the Reader: “I recommend you to read the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung piece on the Hungarian media law containing the following ideas”
The FAZ is a conservative paper and therefore their views reflect a conservative ideology. It isn’t balanced. Indeed. Just as the Süddeutche Zeitung isn’t balanced either. No one is measuring on a precision scale–as the Hungarian law prescribes–whether something is balanced or not. Erik the Reader finds FAZ balanced. I don’t. Who will decide? The Hungarian Media Authorities’ narrow-minded ideologically committed members?
If you don’t like my biases, go somewhere else and read a blog that reflects more your own world views. This is that simple.
As for the first decisions of the Authority, I predict that its members and Annamária Szalai will make themselves the laughing stocks of the world.

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest
Mr Simon How little you know about the Governor General’s position or the powers which he/she endowed with by being in the place of the Queen of Canada. During the passage of any Bill the G.G. is consulting with the government, the opposition, those who may be affected by it and the judiciary. The G.G. is also very well aware of the various strands of public opinion in the country. G.G. (just as the Queen has) has the right to warn the government about ‘Oh nastys’ in the Bill. The G.G has the right to give the government advice and can and will act as an honest broker to arrive at a compromise for the benefit of all. This is always done ‘under the RADAR’ and in the strictest confidence so no one ‘gets hurt’. The G.G can say ‘Yes’ to the Bill and make it an Act. The G.G can delay implementation of the Bill by saying more time is needed to study it. The G.G can say outright that ‘The Queen does not advise this’- meaning take it back and think again-. In the end the when ‘push’ comes to ‘shove’ G.G can precipitate a constitutional crisis which… Read more »
Kormos
Guest

@ Odin
How did you measure Simon’s knowledge about the role of he Canadian G.G? By the way Joe is a Canadian Hungarian.
He said that the G.G. was not called a puppet, just because she had not followed the wish of opposition parties at the time.
What Joe wrote is correct. I can hardly wait for the big cry which is going to follow the new Constitution, that will give the tools to the Hungarian Head of State to “precipitate a constitutional crisis which eventually be resolved by a new General Election.”
To my knowledge, this final tool(practically an emergency brake) was never used in Canada.

John G
Guest
Thank you Odin’s Lost Eye for pointing out the Canadian G.G.’s constitutional role. One should also add that before the G.G. actually gets to see a piece of legislation it has been vetted by at least one committee of Parliament, had 3, (yes 3!) readings in the House of Commons and then sent on to the Senate, where it goes through the same procedure. The Senate has the right to send back to the Commons any law it does not like, except laws concerning the Budget, though they still get to have 3 readings on it as well. For readings please note they are public debates, recorded in Handsard for all to read who said what. It is only after a Bill has been through this process before the G.G. gets to see it. As anyone can see it, in Canada for the G.G NOT to sign a bill would obviously create a constitutional crisis, pitting the Queen against her citizens (yes Canadians are citizens and not subjects) Her Majesty Elisabeth, Queen of Canada!!! not of Great Britain. Now compare that process with that what has been happening in Hungary. To avoid committee scrutiny, and cause much public debate,the Fidesz… Read more »
Member
Erik: “You all comment on the media law, but you won’t even take the time to read it.” Guess what? I did read it, so what does that make you sir? How about you? Did you read it? Vándorló, I think you should hold your horses. You are accusing others with bias while yourself get into throwing mud around. A Blog is Blog. It is personal opinion, and if the personal opinion bias, so be it, if it is “independent” so be it. If you do not like to read what someone writes, then do not read it. Lucky for us, this blog is not under the new media law, so Eva can say her opposing and bias opinion without loosing her life savings. I am not sure if it will be the same for blogs in Hungary. Eva, and All Free Bloggers: Happy New Year! They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Hungarian president and the governor general of Canada. You can’t compare the two positions. The GG is the representatives of the Queen and the Queen of England doesn’t have really a political role to play. She signs everything they put in front of her, including her speech at the opening of the parliament.
The president of the Hungary has an entirely different role to play. His competence is limited but he is supposed to be not the representative of the government but the embodiment of the whole nation. In addition he is supposed to scrutinize the proposed bills before he signs them. If anyone interested in comparing the activities of past presidents to those of Schmitt one can go to Török’s blog: http://torokgaborelemez.blog.hu/
As for the position of the Hungarian president, go to the Hungarian constitution
http://www.lectlaw.com/files/int05.htm

John G
Guest
ESB: Thank you for your link re: the President of Hungary. As this is not the forum for it I will not argue with you regarding the role of the Canadian G.G . Just to point out to you that the Queen of England has nothing to do with Canada, except that the same person happens to be both Queen of England and Queen of Canada. Should England become a Republic Elisabeth would still remain Queen of Canada. She was elected to that position by an act of Parliament upon the death of her father. The Canadian Parliament could have voted for any other person to that position, it is NOT inherited in theory. As a Canadian I am rather touchy on that subject 🙂 My point was not so much the comparison of the two position but rather the path a bill took before either Head of State got to see the Bill placed before them. The Canadian system may be slow and tedious but at least it minimizes the possibility of passage of laws that are questionable. In times of crisis that process can be speeded up but only by general consensus of Parliament as a WHOLE. One… Read more »
John G
Guest

BUÉK!!
Tyúk kaparja be az évet, malac túrja szerencsédet,
a gázórád lassan járjon, a patikus hiába várjon,
ne költs sokat hálapénzre, ki optimista jobban bírja!
I realy like the last line:
The optimist survives best (very rough translation )

Vándorló
Guest
@someone: What on earth are you going on about? I am not ‘throwing mud around’. ESBalogh has made it perfectly clear repeatedly where she stands and that she does support both Gyurcsány and the MSZP. Rather than be waylaid into defending a position I don’t hold, I’ll return you to the point of my statement, which is a simple enough one: the assertion that Török Gábor’s blog is biased towards being sympathetic with Fidesz is arguable in the extreme. More than this, the statement that “*most people* considered him to be closer to Fidesz than to the socialist-liberal side” is completely unfounded. If you take the trouble to read ESBalogh’s later statements in response to my comment on this, there does appear to be a contradiction in what she now states about Török Gábor’s blog: “If someone desperately tries to be “balanced” he/she becomes neither fish nor fowl.” You see, the point is really that simple. It is not a statement attacking this blog, far from it. Nor is it any direct or indirect desire to nobble open debate and opinion, far from it. It is engaging with the blog and questioning some of its admitted biases and perhaps some… Read more »
Joseph Simon
Guest

‘If you don’t like my biases …’
A statement such as this sounds very arrogant, peevish, petulant and irritable,and even high-handed, the very qualities ascribed to Orbán and so vehemently critized by this Blog.
Spectrum implies ‘a broad range of ideas’ and not pathological reactions to a politician like Orbán.

An
Guest

@Joseph Simon: “Spectrum implies ‘a broad range of ideas’ and not pathological reactions to a politician like Orbán.”
What kind of reactions do you expect to his pathological politics? If you want adulation of OV, go read Magyar Nemzet. I wish that paper was available in English for the world to see what bias really is.

Paul
Guest

Hmmm. ‘Johnny’ went bananas in the end, I wonder if this is ‘Joseph’ heading in the same direcection?
None of these Fidesz trolls seems to have a long shelf-life.
An – I wish it was too. I was reading the headlines over someone’s shoulder on the train yesterday, and you didn’t need even my limited Hungarian to comprehend the incredible amount of unconditional Orbán worship printed as ‘reportage’ in that awful rag.

Guest

@John G:
Thanks a lot for that info on Canadian lawmaking!
That principle of “three readings” applies also to German lawmaking – until now I wasn’t sure that in the Hungarian parliament you really have this “quick and dirty” process that gives Hungary new laws without any real discussion – sounds crazy and very undemocratic to me …
Also the speed at which these laws are being introduced is ridiculous – this really is a kind of perversion of the whole idea of modern democracy!

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