János Lázár at crossroads

A lot of people thought that János Lázár was a politician with a bright future. Even his political opponents. I remember rather distinctly when Ildikó Lendvai, former chairman of MSZP, called him a talented politician and a man to whom one should pay attention. Some analysts thought that Lázár was among the few in Fidesz who might one day occupy a very high position in the party. He even held independent views on occasion and came up with unique and progressive solutions for the integration of the Roma in his city of Hódmezővásárhely.

These are the positive opinions, but unfortunately I also remember a few occasions when Lázár was “carried away” to such an extent that one doubted the man’s fitness for higher office. One such occasion was when he delivered a speech in front of a partisan group of Fidesz supporters who gathered to protest the Gyurcsány government’s feeble attempt at the reorganization of Hungarian health care. It happened that a hopeless drunk was sent to the hospital in Hódmezővásárhely and that the doctor there refused to treat him and sent him off to another hospital in a nearby town. On the way to the second hospital the man died. Lázár announced that he was the first victim of the government’s health care reform; in the crowd a demonstrater held up a placard comparing the minister of health to Josef Menghele. I said to myself at the time: something is wrong here. This guy doesn’t know what to say when.

Arrogance was always noticeable every time he opened his mouth, but once he was chosen by Viktor Orbán to head the huge Fidesz delegation (225 men and women, mostly men) this innate arrogance was only strengthened. Being the leader of the caucus is a very important position because, after all, he is the one who speaks practically every day when parliament is in session. He is the voice of his party. All that, I think, went to the head of the thirty-six-year-old Lázár.

Yesterday I already mentioned that Lázár was always a little too greedy and that the media found out a few things about his financial dealings that couldn’t have pleased his boss, Viktor Orbán. After all, the party that for years attacked MSZP as a party of billionaires and their government as one led by bankers and capitalists must be very careful in avoiding even the appearance of financial impropriety. Orbán would love people to believe that Fidesz politicians are better than the socialists who are interested only in their own well being. Fidesz politicians, on the other hand, are there to serve the people.

And here is this business with Lázár. First I thought that it would blow over. Fidesz’s answer to such unfortunate incidents is usually silence. Or counterattack. This time they chose counterattack when Lajos Kósa, deputy chairman of Fidesz, tried to explain the whole thing away by claiming that it was a socialist forgery. Considering that the tape on which one can hear Lázár talk about poor people deserving their fate was released by kuruc.info, a far-right website, Kósa was sorely confused. Lázár himself began by attacking those who made the tape public. He claimed that it was falsified. He even threatened a law suit. But soon enough the transcript of the minutes of the whole meeting was released and it became evident that there was no falsification. He said what he said, although admittedly the words were uttered in the middle of a discussion about the salaries of politicians.

Then came the second stage of the salvaging operation. He announced that he had dropped the idea of legal action. He emphasized yesterday as well as today in parliament that although his words were misunderstood and misconstrued, he is apologizing. He didn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings.

This afternoon we arrived at a new stage in the rescue operation that might not be the final one either. This time he said on MTV that he might give up his post as mayor of Hódmezővásárhely in 2014. After all, he has won three local elections and perhaps after twelve years it is time to leave. And as an afterthought he added that he might even retire from politics altogether in 2014.

The reaction to Lázár’s tape was more vehement than I would have ever thought. People feel personally insulted. I read a comment in which the writer tells the story of his seventy-year-old mother who brought up three children. She was an elementary school teacher in a village. Her husband died and today she has a small house with only one room besides the kitchen and bath. She has about one million forints in the bank. And “according to Mr. Lázár she is a nobody.” As for Lázár’s possible retirement in 2014 the reactions are what one would expect: “Why wait so long?” or “Don’t wait so long, leave now in a hurry!”

And the possible last stage is indeed that he leaves the political scene. Perhaps it will even be demanded of him. It all depends on how much damage Lázár inflicted on his party and on Viktor Orbán’s government. Gábor Török, the political commentator, suggested that he resign from at least one of his positions. After all, running Hódmezővásárhely and a 225-person parliamentary delegation is far too much for one person. Perhaps the suggestion has already been made because in Magyar Nemzet Gergely Gulyás, who is becoming more and more important in Fidesz, announced today that Fidesz is seriously thinking of changing the law that currently allows politicians to be mayors and members of parliament at the same time.

I can only applaud that decision if it is serious. I was outraged when the MSZP-SZDSZ government of Gyula Horn with its two-thirds majority changed the law because too many MSZP and SZDSZ mayors also received mandates in parliament. If Fidesz revokes that change it will be a step in the right direction. One of course wonders whether Gulyás’s mention of this possibility is really a signal for Lázár to relinquish one of his posts or it was just a coincidence. I somehow doubt the latter.

 

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John G
Guest

Well, today in Parliament Orban patted Lazar on the back for all to see. Hmm wonder if that was for a job well done, or measuring him where to put the knife.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

“Fidesz is seriously thinking of changing the law that currently allows politicians to be mayors and members of parliament at the same time”
I’ve never understood how in several European countries, including Hungary one can hold multiple elected positions. There is a clear conflict of interest. A member of Parliament may feel that reducing municipal assistance is in the national interest, while a local mayor is clearly against it. If the two are the same person, one or even both loyalties are compromised.
If Parliament were reduced to a more managable level of say 120 memebrs without violating democratic principles, the rule could be enforced.

Kirsten
Guest

“The reaction to Lázár’s tape was more vehement than I would have ever thought. People feel personally insulted.”
People should feel insulted by the Fidesz altogether.

Ron
Guest

Sackhoes Contributor:If Parliament were reduced to a more managable level of say 120 memebrs without violating democratic principles, the rule could be enforced.
I believe the entire political system in Hungary does not work. I think elections into local communities, county level, country level should only be proportional (without a threshold).
I also believe that the majors and head of counties can be appointed by the Minister for a period of 5 years. Appointment can only be done if the candidates have some kind of experience or some education in this field.
Furthermore, rather than a Constitutional Court I would like to see a Senate (also proportional elected). A High Court or Constitutional Court should only judge court cases and Judges (hire and fire them), not based upon the Labour Code as it is currently.
Qua size Senate 75 members, Parliament 125 to 155 members, Counties 25 members, and city counsils depending on size of village, city or parish.
The current system does not work, and is too complicated and there is no compromise possible.

Member

Ron: “Constitutional Court I would like to see a Senate (also proportional elected)” I never really liked the Senate idea as in case for example when a party with a “popular” agenda gets into power, people would tend to elect the same mindsets to the Senate. Also, when the government become not so popular, then they start to vote in the opposing party. I think for Senate the qualification should be the mandate and not popularity. THe Senate should be composed from individuals who do not have strong ties to any political party, but “civilians” who can represent the people. (Impossible I know.)

Ron
Guest

someone I do not like the appointed CT, but an elected Senate is better (direct or indirect, that is a different story). And the election do not need to happen at the same time, but could change every 6 years (like the USA half of them every 3 years), rather than 4 years.
Basically, politicians need to compromise, which in my opinion is very unusual in Hungary.

Member

Right. The key with the senate’s term is timing. If they elected at the same time as the lower house that’s another 2/3 horror. It should be “out of synch” with elections of the lower house so you can balance the power by bringing in new guys instead of banging your head into the wall for 4 years. As Ron said the term should also be staggered. In the US it is 6 years in 2 year periods.

Guest

These sure are interesting ideas – but :
– Do you really think a small country like Hungary needs another “level” of political representation by people who also want some (or maybe a lot of) money ?
– With any of the parties that have been in power (MSZP and FIDESZ) – do you think they’d be willing to give up some of their power while they are at the top ?
No way …

Member

@Wolfi The communist party secretary at my first company said something similar in 1988: “Do you seriously think that the Party will relinquish power?”

Member

Appointed Senate certainly does not work. Least in Canada it doesn’t, and everyone hopes for an elected Senate.. I think an other level is not a bad idea but the size of each level should be controlled.

Odin's lost eye
Guest

Here we see the real meaning of Fidesz in Bunkovidek/Orbanistan. Its members collect Job titles (and their salaries, perks and pickings) as trophies.
As I understand the job of a mayor in this land is to be in his office running the town. How can this be done if ‘His Worship the Mayor’ is far away in parliament legislating.
How can an Honourable Member of Parliament who is supposed to be legislating, amending the wording of Bills, reading the weasel words of the ‘Parliamentary Draftsmen’ and generally looking after the affairs of his constituency be doing that if he is reading a report which tells him that to rename Main Street to ‘Orban Utca’ will cost another 10 Megaforint because all the grey lamp posts will have be replaced with new orange ones. Well the city engineer’s brother has bought a load of second hand lamp posts from Tripoli –a bit bent and battered, but since they will never be erected it will not matter-.

Ron
Guest

Here a broadcast on Proportional Representation by John Cleese.



It was actually an advertisement for SDP in the UK in the eighties, but still applicable in Hungary today.

Member

Another John Cleese classic aboutJohhny Boy:


Johnny Boy
Guest

Mutt Damon: it’s funny when a small extremist minority tries to label the majority extremist.
You too look funny trying it.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Johnny Boy:”it’s funny when a small extremist minority tries to label the majority extremist.”
So, you think that a majority can never be extremist? I could come up with several examples.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Eva S. Balogh: “So, you think that a majority can never be extremist? I could come up with several examples.”
No, I don’t think the majority could not be extremist.
But now the majority is not extremist, but you are.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt Damon: “Another John Cleese classic aboutJohhny Boy:


I enjoyed it tremendously. He is very right.

Johnny Boy
Guest

John Cleese is a moral being so the object of his performance may only be about you.

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