A new subcommittee: criminal politicians and the sovereign debt?

First I would like to call attention to a video available on YouTube. Klára Ungár (formerly SZDSZ) organized a conversation with Ágnes Heller. The reason for my mentioning this is because Kata was inquiring whether Heller was ever critical of the socialist governments and my answer was that I remember that in fact she was. On this video Heller repeats some of her objections, among them her conviction that Ferenc Gyurcsány should have resigned after the Balatonőszöd speech became public. The video has five parts. The last two segments are devoted to questions and answers. I found it interesting. Here is the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/tiprodaide

I mentioned earlier that I began a database of political events almost a year ago and one of my topics was "political retribution." That category turned out to be far too wide and therefore lately I made several subcategories by type of case. Yesterday I had to add a new one: "Political retribution–Sovereign debt."

It has become clear to everybody who is following events in Hungary that the present government is bent on sending politicians active in the last eight years to jail. They began with a subcommittee on the events of September and October 2006 which was supposed to prove that Ferenc Gyurcsány, the prime minister at the time, intervened with the work of the police for political reasons. That attempt failed. At the same time Gyula Budai, the chief inquisitor, was sent to look into the case of a land swap between an Israeli-Hungarian businessman and the Hungarian state. Again, they wanted to prove that in this case not only Gyurcsány but also his successor Gordon Bajnai and Bajnai's minister of finance Péter Oszkó were guilty of fraud. But from the Orbán government's point of view this case is not going well. Therefore they came out with a new scheme.

Yesterday it was announced that a press conference would be held this morning dealing with this topic: "an investigation of the greatest political sin will begin." Naturally, an unusually large number of journalists gathered to hear Péter Szijjártó, who didn't disappoint them. He announced that a parliamentary subcommittee has been formed under the aegis of the finance committee that is supposed to investigate  "whether private interests played any role in making the country debt ridden." Szijjártó emphasized that this time he was speaking not in the name of Viktor Orbán but as the vice-chairman of the parliamentary committee on state audit (számvevőszéki bizottság). Surely, Orbán doesn't want to look like the initiator of a new witch hunt against his predecessor and greatest political foe. Because there is no question that the creation of a subcommittee on indebtedness in the last eight years–which Szijjártó generously labelled as eight years of the Gyurcsány era although Gyurcsány was prime minister for only five years out of the eight–aims at finding Gyurcsány criminally liable for the country's indebtedness.

Interestingly enough Péter Medgyessy's name wasn't mentioned although he was really the chief culprit in this indebtedness story when in 2002 and 2003 he raised the salaries of state employees (including those of teachers and doctors) by fifty percent, a move that could be financed only by borrowing. Perhaps in view of Medgyessy's unseemly attacks on his successor his sins have been forgiven by Orbán. However, Ferenc Gyurcsány, János Veres, his minister of finance, and Tibor Draskovics, who served both Medgyessy and for a while Gyurcsány as minister of finance, were mentioned by name.

The chairman of the subcommittee will be József Dancsó, a member of of parliament since 1998, but until now unknown to me. And who will be the vice-chairman? Surprise! Péter Szijjártó himself. And since Szijjártó is Orbán's alter ego it is as if Orbán himself sat on the committee. Szijjártó announced that if the subcommittee finds that any of the socialist politicians were guilty of fraud in connection with the country's indebtedness they will have to face criminal charges. If the current laws don't allow this, they will consider a change in the laws. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

From MSZP it was Ildikó Lendvai who answered Péter Szijjártó. Yes, the socialist governments are mostly responsible for the large national debt, but the borrowed money was spent on social services and infrastructure, especially superhighways. However, she added that the indebtedness of the country kept growing in the last nine months mostly because of the weakening of the Hungarian currency caused by irresponsible utterances of government officials and by the dubious economic policies of the Matolcsy-Orbán team. In any case, Lendvai said that she could write the script of the future proceedings of the subcommittee although the Fidesz politicians know very well where the borrowed money went.

One more piece of news from today that says a lot about the personality of Hungary's prime minister. Viktor Orbán loves changing offices. During his first term he got it into his head that he would use a room that was originally created to be the prime minister's office at the turn of the twentieth century. Millions and millions were spent on total reconstruction and furnishings. Of course, what was once a fine office is no longer functional in the twenty-first century. Among other things, it was so small that only four people could fit in at any one time.

Medgyessy immediately moved out of Orbán's reconstructed office and as far as I know all his successors were quite satisfied with the room he picked. Not so Orbán. He decided that he needed a bigger office and he picked one all right, the Nándorfehérvári Terem, a huge conference room that is 180m² or 1937 ft². Just to give you an idea of the size of the room, the American president's Oval Office is only 75m² or 816 ft²! I have a vague recollection that this room was often used for state dinners. Szijjártó refused to reveal how much it cost to make this conference room suitable to serve as the office of the prime minister.

 

 

 

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Member

“He decided that he needed a bigger office and he picked one all right, the Nándorfehérvári Terem, a huge conference room that is 180m² or 1937 ft². Just to give you an idea of the size of the room, the American president’s Oval Office is only 75m² or 816 ft²!” I am still not sure if his ego would fit in.

Member

In Hungarian it’s the “Prime Ministers Audience Room”. I think they will put in a throne for the dude.
All rise! The King Of The Republic!

Odin's lost eye
Guest
He has got to have his show trials hasn’t he? His great teacher Raczoi had them to eliminate any possible competition, so has he! I suppose that he has not thought about impeachment. With his majority and his complete disregard of European law he could do it here in ‘Orbanistan’. As to his new office I think he has seen the Great Dictator (Charles Chaplin). I can see in my mind’s eye this silly little man sitting at a huge desk in one corner of the room in front of a 4 meter high portrait of himself. In the portrait he will be standing on a low hillock against a golden landscape of the new Hungary. Hovering above him will be Guardian Angels (like those at the Hero’s Gate in Seged). Kneeling at his feet are the adoring Magyars. On the left very much in the background is a low grey windowless building with rows of black figures entering it by a black door. The picture is unsigned but bears the mark © Orban Victor. Postcard copies will be sold for 1,000Ft (2,500Ft with gilt edge). I suppose he will have to commission one of his cronies to buy the… Read more »
kis fiu
Guest

@ Eva: “If the current laws don’t allow this, they will consider a change in the laws.”
So now he wants to put people in jail by passing laws retroactively? Or am I misreading this? I know this happened with some taxes already, but it seems too extreme even for Orban.
At what point does he give up the last shred of dignity? It is amazing how self-deluded these thugs can be. Brings to mind Qaddafi calling the revolutionaries drug-addled supporters of Al-Qaeda!

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kis fiu: “So now he wants to put people in jail by passing laws retroactively? Or am I misreading this?”
No, you’re not misreading it. If one takes Szijjartó seriously that is exactly what he is implying.

Kirsten
Guest
Éva: For me that all becomes very bizarre. Is Fidesz speaking of fraud in general that occurred during the socialist government or do they speak of the increases in salaries in 2002? I had the impression that the Hungarian contributors to the discussions here generally have not doubted that the police/courts do take such accusations seriously and that these investigations and verdicts can be largely trusted. For me “fraud” cannot mean the increase in salaries of teachers (Fidesz did not take it back when they assumed power). Construction of highways is more likely to be accompanied by some fraud but for that there is the police/courts. So can these investigations be trusted or not? It applies equally to the house in Moscow and to all other cases that are currently spoken of. For me it has not yet become clear whether the problem is systematic (as I would have expected, i.e. many people, not necessarily related to one party only, are involved, but it is difficult to prove their guilt because they are so well “connected”) or whether this is only sort of “excitement” or both. Eva, you said already (and I think others too) that this could be only… Read more »
An
Guest

@Kirsten: The show is to create distraction from the fact that they indeed have to implement austerity measures, which are coming, and a lot of people will feel the pinch. By heightening up the rhetoric about the debt and by making the socialists solely responsible for that (and criminalize them for that) is to direct public anger toward MSzP and not standing up for the fact that Fidesz misled people about the necessity of austerity measures.
Or in plain words, if they can’t give bread to the people, they’ll give circus.

Kirsten
Guest

@An, my worry is that some accusations could be correct (on both “sides”) but that such a circus (as it suggests that this is the problem of only one party) creates the impression that this could be solved by supporting one party (Fidesz) while the society in my impression is divided along different lines (those that are involved and those that are not involved in it).

An
Guest

@Kirsten: Exactly. That’s why Fidesz is doing this. This is not an honest attempt to fight corruption; if it was, they would go after their own corrupted people as well. Fidesz just want to discredit and criminalize their political opponents.

Member

When austerity measures must be taken, and it is opposite to what Fidesz lobbied with for votes, there are noting else left then to tell people “We wouldn’t of done it, but the MSZP robbed us blind, and now we have to do this drastic measures because of them.” For this big announcement they need some big production. If they would held their own people responsible, then they would have to admit that maybe both parties did some mismanagement, and they would have to share the guilt. That is something that Orban will not do.

Paul
Guest
It’s another one of these corners OV has painted himself into. One of the main planks of Fidesz’s black propaganda over the last few years has been to paint the MSzP as criminals and solely responsible for just about everything wrong with Hungary today (not just the debt, they were also selling Hungary to the Jews). This propaganda was very effective, not just among Fidesz supporters, but it was so relentless that it has assumed a form of truth to many people, an unquestioned assumption that the last lot were more than just bad politicians, that something more sinister was going on. But, in order to differentiate this from the usual party politics and spin – i.e. it was ‘criminal’ activity, not just political – they obviously had to promise to bring the criminals to justice, once they were in power. One of the problems with OV and Fidesz is that they start to believe their own fictions (e.g. with their claim that the previous government had falsified the economic figures) and they sailed into goverment quite convinced that it would be a relatively easy matter to put GF and his mates behind bars. Once cold reality struck and it… Read more »
Kata
Guest

Thanks for calling the attention to the Agnes Heller videos , Eva. Great stuff. She is, indeed, critical of GYF as a politician but it is retrospective. I wonder whether there are documents from “then and there”. But even if there are she might not have been one of GYF’s advisors. It’s a shame that Hungary has such brilliant minds and thinkers, and is seemingly not able to profit from them. I can only hope that the terrible sounding international press that the country has at the moment will help Hungary in the long run!

John T
Guest

If there has been criminal wrongdoing, then it should be left to the Police and the Courts to deal with, not these stupid committees. Absolutely pathetic!

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