Actually we would call these events “town meetings.” Usually a politician organizes a “lakossági fórum” which only the party faithful attend. Gergely Gulyás, one of the framers of the new constitution, began a series of town meetings, which he calls “national consultations.” Naturally, it doesn’t matter what you call these gatherings. Only those who are fundamentally in agreement with the party involved will show up.
This is what happened in Miskolc on Saturday evening when about 20-25 mostly elderly men gathered to “discuss” the important points of the new constitution. Gulyás was accompanied by a rookie member of parliament representing Miskolc, Katalin Csöbör (Fidesz), who at least seems to have some knowledge of the outside world. She spent a few years in France.
Gulyás gave a short introduction and then came the questions and observations from the audience. Some of the remarks were truly amazing. They testified to the total ignorance of democratic principles in Hungary. It must have been an eye opener for Gulyás himself when time and again he had to give lessons in the most elementary tenets of democracy.
The first man who rose to speak was the principal of a local school. It is not clear whether he was the principal of an elementary school or a high school. Let’s hope the former, but even then it shows the depth of the problems with Hungarian education. He thought that the new constitution was “too liberal.” He and his friends expected something “stricter.” First of all, he would demand at least an eighth-grade education for someone to be able to vote. It is a disgrace that people who cannot read or write decide the fate of the country. In his opinion, not even eighteen-year-olds are mature enough to vote. He would raise the voting age. He also complained about the independence of the judges “who make mistakes right and left.” And finally he complained about the severity of the law on gun control. “People must be able to defend themselves,” he said.
Then an older man got up and demanded a defense of the dignity of the president. “Even in the cabarets they’re making fun of him.” I guess he had something like the inviolability of the ruler in mind. Like it was during the monarchy. Anyone who makes fun of the president’s spelling errors should go directly to jail. He also complained about “the traitors within.” Good Hungarians must be defended against their slanders. “We don’t have our own Siberia where we can send them, but they should go back to their country of origin, let’s say, India.” He brought up as an example Ágnes Heller who has the gall to call attention to Hungarian anti-Semitism. This guy’s intelligence can perhaps best be gauged by his remark that to call the Supreme Court Kúria is a very bad idea because it reminds people of Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speech at Balatonőszöd, where he talked about “elkúrtuk.” Well, Gyurcsány was talking about “f…ing up” while kúria comes from the Latin “curia” which was originally the meeting place of the senate in Rome. In Hungary, first the royal court was called kúria and later, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the name was transferred to the courts that were acting on behalf of the king, i.e. the royal court. He also didn’t understand why the new constitution changed the “megyék” (counties) to “vármegyék” when there are no longer “várak,” meaning fortresses. So, the level of the “national consultation” was that high. Or that low.
Gulyás, whom I don’t consider a model democrat, had to explain time and again that one must obey the law in a democratic state. That there are certain principles that cannot be discarded. He kept stressing that after all in 1989-90 a constitutional democracy was established in Hungary, and he even added that the democracy flourished in the last twenty years. This is definitely an improvement over what László Kövér had to say about the last twenty years, which according to him was no more than a dictatorship.
A comparison of Gulyás’s remarks and László Kövér’s speech in parliament on Monday shows that Fidesz is not an ideologically homogeneous party. Kövér in my opinion is close to Jobbik as far as ideology is concerned. Gulyás is most of the time a reasonable man of right-of-center, conservative views. Mind you, Gulyás will certainly not express his misgivings, if he has any, about the opinions uttered by Kövér. In fact, yesterday he defended Kövér’s speech and “agreed with every word of it.” But having listened to Gulyás explain the principles of democracy to the ignorami of the “national consultation,” I cannot believe that he is telling us the truth. Because for a democrat Kövér’s speech was unacceptable. This speech, by the way, was transcribed in its entirety from the MTV video by Galamus.
Because MSZP and LMP aren’t participating in the discussion on the new constitution and because not even Fidesz-KDNP members are there in droves, the parliamentary chamber looks deserted. One of the Jobbik members noted that every time a Fidesz MP gets up to speak, his fellow members move from their assigned seats and sit down next to him or behind him. They know that the camera is on the man and they hope that in this way it will not be so obvious to those who are watching the proceedings on television that the House is practically empty. Naturally, Tibor Navracsics denied that there was any such scheme. Members can sit wherever they want except when voting is going on.
And finally, according Tárki, since December Fidesz-KDNP has lost one-third of its voters, but they moved over to the bloc of undecided voters. Something is very wrong in MSZP.