The revolution of the clowns

I wish I knew what was going on in the heads of Fidesz leaders when they decided to launch a frontal attack on the police and other uniformed units, such as custom officials and prison guards. I don’t think that this is some sudden decision born out of the feeling of omnipotence coming with their overwhelming majority in parliament. Although Fidesz didn’t say much in its campaign program about the party’s plans, it did talk about “a new police force.” Of course, that could be interpreted as a reorganized institution that would function better than the one Fidesz would inherit. As Ferenc Krémer, an associate professor at the Police Academy, pointed out recently, the program claimed on the one hand that this old police force was “the symbol and enforcer of the rule of the state” while on the other it described the police as “weak and without means.”

Already in 2008 Csaba Hende, who became minister of defense in the Orbán government, came up with the brilliant idea that alll currently serving policemen should be fired. He didn’t get so far as to inform us what the state would do without a police force while the Fidesz policemen are being recruited and trained.

Only a few days after the swearing-in ceremony of the Fidesz government we heard the startling news that 10 billion forints will be spent immediately on a newly created so-called anti-terrorist force which, as it turned out, has only one job: the defense of Viktor Orbán and Pál Schmitt. Thus Orbán created a “praetorian guard” for himself. You may recall that the praetorian guard was an elite group of soldiers who defended the Roman emperors. What could he have in mind? Why did he need hundreds of men armed to the teeth to defend him? What is he afraid of? Was he already thinking about a future attack on the police force that might result in his regime not being able to rely on those currently serving in the police force? Of course, we are unable to answer these questions with any certainty. Only suspicions linger, especially in light of developments of late.

Let me state right at the beginning that I think that the current very lax law governing retirement age is most likely untenable. The average age of retirement in Hungary is 58 years. I don’t know how this compares to other European countries, but looking at the figure from North America it seems very low. Given Hungarian demographics some changes must be made. But not the way the Orbán government is doing it.

It would be one thing to pass a piece of legislation that would tighten the rules and regulations concerning retirement that would affect people entering the profession now or with, let’s say, ten or fifteen years to go until retirement. But Fidesz is not a democratic party and the Orbán government is not a democratic government. The law parliament is planning to pass is retroactive. Those who have been enjoying their pensions must either return to work or, if they refuse to do so, their pensions can be taken away. At least this is what the latest change in the constitution voted on yesterday is preparing. No wonder that the representatives of the trade unions negotiating with Sándor Pintér and Viktor Orbán ended the protracted negotiations. Two trade union leaders walked out already last week, the rest remained for another last meeting with Orbán, but as most people predicted their negotiations also ended in failure.

Here I would like to say a few words about the two trade union leaders who decided already last week that further negotiations were a waste of time. Both are articulate and intelligent men who seemed to have realized early in the game that these negotiations were not being taken seriously by Viktor Orbán, who had already made up his mind on the subject. Péter Kónya represents the police and Kornél Árok the firemen. For Kónya I think the last straw was Orbán’s refusal to talk to “the clowns” demonstrating in front of the Ministry of Interior. The policemen had already taken verbal abuse. They were called “Kádár hussars” by one Fidesz leader, and János Kövér talked about the cowardly policemen who “were hiding like sh…t in the grass.” Kónya had enough and decided to join Árok of the firefighters in organizing “a demonstration of clowns.” Not as trade union leaders but as private citizens who want to stage a mass demonstration of all who are worried about the state of democracy in Hungary.

 

This is a surprising development. Two trade union leaders are organizing a demonstration not for the defense of narrow interests of the people in the union they represent. Rather, as citizens they are asking people to join them in defense of democracy that in their opinion is being threatened in Hungary.

These people are angry because they were dooped. Most of the policemen, I’m sure, voted for Fidesz and now the leader of the party they voted for calls them “clowns.” And they feel like clowns because they actually voted for the “revolution in the voting booths.” The organizers of the demonstration will set up a few voting booths of their own where the “clowns” can vote “retroactively”  against the Fidesz revolution. For good measure one can read on the poster: “Everyone should bring along one more clown.” That was an old Fidesz slogan that came in handy for the organizers of the “revolution of clowns.”

The teachers’ unions already demonstrated on Sunday, the clowns will be joined by a number of trade unions on the 16th, and a week later another group of unions will be on the streets. Trade unions have been meek and mild in the past twenty years, but it seems that the present government’s measures woke them up from their slumber.

 

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Jim
Guest

For readers of Hungarian. Today’s article by Debreczeni: “autocracy” is the best word for what Orbán has established in his first year:
2010 őszére ugyanis jelentősen előrehaladt a hatalommegosztás fölszámolása, amely napjainkra a végéhez közeledik. Az állami főhatalmat birtokló pártvezér rohamos gyorsasággal terjesztette ki uralmát, illetve meghatározó befolyását minden olyan közjogi intézményre, ami egy demokráciában a főhatalom ellensúlyozására, fékezésére, moderálására, jogállami keretek között tartására szolgál (alkotmánybíróság, államfő, ügyészség, számvevőszék, választási bizottság, médiahatóság, pénzügyek állami felügyelete, versenyhivatal, monetáris tanács, költségvetési tanács, rendes bíróságok stb.).
http://nol.hu/megmondok/debreczeni_jozsef/20110607-tortenelmi_parhuzamok

Member

The problem with the “retirement crises” is that while Orban tries to make some groups go back to work after they legally retired (based on contracts and such), and “fires” others from their job (judges). There are some double standards, that even the stupid can see, and when you put two and two together you cannot think that all of this is not politically motivated. None of the new measures affect Orban’s demographics (or shall I say those who are close to the pot).
The other issue is that it is unfair to compare the retirement age to EU countries, like Switzerland, Netherlands, France, Austria, etc. without comparing the life expectancy in those countries. The average age of Hungarians are way lower than any of the countries mentioned above (and more). I have to make an assumption that when the average age of dying is lower, so is the quality of health after a certain age. If we compare two average 65 years olds in Switzerland and in Hungary the difference would be striking. I also assume that this has to do with the quality of life (stress level, healthcare, work conditions and so forth).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retirement
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

Member

Planet Hungary Circus is full session! And now the clowns …

Ivan
Guest

“Planet Hungary Circus is full session!” – Mutt Damon.
Indeed. And has anyone reported that Kover on Monday appeared to justify some form of military action against Slovakia?
Of course it’s not serious, but that such a senior official should be so careless, and yet then reiterate his comments, is unbelievable.
(off topic, I’m sorry, but pretty important I’m sure you’ll all agree – and certainly clownish, in that clowns can be both funny and disturbing)

Johnny Boy
Guest

Ivan: of course you don’t even know what Kövér said and in what context, yet you don’t refrain from making a judgment.
Kövér said that when Slovakia arbitrarily diverted the flow of the Danube, causing the borders between Slovakia and Hungary to shift, military steps from Hungary could have been easily justified.
If you happened to know anything from international law (which of course you don’t), you’d also know that Kövér is perfectly right.

Ivan
Guest

I DO know what Kover said.
And YOU got it right, for once:
Johnny Boy: “Kövér said that when Slovakia arbitrarily diverted the flow of the Danube, causing the borders between Slovakia and Hungary to shift, military steps from Hungary could have been easily justified.”
As I said, ” … that such a senior official should be so careless, and yet then reiterate his comments, is unbelievable.”
And the ‘context’, of NOW, makes such words even more reprehensible.

Ivan
Guest

And since many issues relating to this are still extant, it logically follows from Kover’s assertions that if action WAS justified … then it still IS.
I’m happy to accept, though, that the likelihood is that he can’t express himself very well – which is problematic, given his job.

Member

Just because Kover is right, he is still a moron. He reminds me on this demotivational poster:
http://bit.ly/inagiT

Kirsten
Guest

“At least this is what the latest change in the constitution voted on yesterday is preparing.”
Is this the first amendment to the not-yet-valid-new-constitution or have there already been other proposals for changes? Or is it to change the still valid constitution?
Certainly a war with Slovakia would solve many current problems. For instance through the proof of how much today’s Hungary fits into today’s Europe. Or through a further peace conference. With many Mr Kövers present I am nearly sure that the outcome for Hungary would not in the slightest be more accommodating than the previous two outcomes.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kirsten: “Is this the first amendment to the not-yet-valid-new-constitution or have there already been other proposals for changes? Or is it to change the still valid constitution?”
The old constitution, the new one will come into force only on January 1, 2012.

Ivan
Guest

WAS Kover right?
I understood that the Hague decided, by-and-large, in Slovakia’s favour?
And anyway, to talk so threateningly about one’s neighbour (and fellow EU country) is unreal.

Kirsten
Guest

Ivan, I searched it and the Slovak source says as you say, the Hungarian says the courts criticised both parties for violating the contract. In either case, a declaration of war is not the most urgent implication of it.

Upper land voice
Guest

Well, the most interesting thing Kover said was, that since Trianon was signed by Czechoslovakia and not but Slovakia , it is actually big favor of Hungary that they do not open this again with Bratislava. Generally, it is really disappointing and if things go this way, we will see deterioration of mutual relations all around central Europe. I am really worry, especially as the conomies go slow and unemployment is lasting problem with very negative preditions.
For the Hague: “the Court finds that Hungary was not entitled to suspend and subsequently abandon, in 1989, the works on the Nagymaros Project and on the part of the Gabcíkovo Project for which the 1977 Treaty and related instruments attributed responsibility to it.”
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?sum=483&code=hs&p1=3&p2=3&case=92&k=8d&p3=5

Kirsten
Guest

“it is actually big favor of Hungary that they do not open this again with Bratislava.”
But what can he mean? Trianon was not a bilateral contract between Czechoslovakia and Hungary. (Perhaps he has just missed that today is not 1 of April…)

Upper land voice
Guest

It is obvious that Slovakia is legal successor of Czechoslovakia, and if he wants to qustion trianon he may try in Lonodon and Paris, where his good intentions will be definitely welcome. joking. but opening this as an issue is really unwise and it again revitalise all the nationalism.he should know that all his words are closely observed. on the other hand, prevailing reaction of slovak governemtn so far is that hungary is trying to shift atantion from its internal problems andf international isolation and that any strong reaction would only make them happy. when im in budapest today it reminds me slovakia under Meciar decade ago, it was pretty depressing for open minded people at those times and it took some 8 years for the most supporters to wake up. on the other hand, it was time of EU enlargement proces and interantional pressure was much higher. but general problem is total desilution with politics i see in slovakia or in czech rep and generaly better and bette ground for the seeds of hate.

Member

Your daily horror:
http://napizeje.blog.hu/2011/06/08/12_havi_fizetes_es_nyugdij_is_out
Make sure you watch the whole thing.

Member

Mutt Damon’s link point to a speech by Orban where he makes the following comment (it is in English): “Then we convinced the people that they had to leave one months’ salary per year. One month’s salary is out. One month’s pension is out.”
Mutt, do you know where he said this? Is this for real? It cannot be. I am not an Orban fan, but I think maybe this is doctored.

Member

Well. I go it from the Fideszfigyelo (FIDESZ Watch) Facebook wall (http://www.facebook.com/Fideszfigyelo). According to them this is from an OECD speech and it’s real (look at the background).
The video is from a blog – “A nap izéje” (http://napizeje.blog.hu). The end of it is “doctored” for the emphasis but the footage seems to be real to me.

Member

The guy is who published it is reporter. This is his YouTube page. There is a phone number if you want to call. His name is Mihaly.
http://www.youtube.com/user/lesifotos

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kirsten: “”it is actually big favor of Hungary that they do not open this again with Bratislava.” But what can he mean? Trianon was not a bilateral contract between Czechoslovakia and Hungary. (Perhaps he has just missed that today is not 1 of April…)”
Glad you mention that. That kind of argument can be heard quite often. In case of Yugoslavia as well. Nonsense, of course, and it just shows the intelligence level of the current political crew. A bunch of ignorami.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt: “Your daily horror: http://napizeje.blog.hu/2011/06/08/12_havi_fizetes_es_nyugdij_is_out Make sure you watch the whole thing.”
Knowing something about Viktor Orbán one is not terribly surprised but at the same time I think that although he speaks English relatively well he doesn’t really get the nuances of the language. “Harsh” is a strong word and perhaps he doesn’t realize the full impact it has on native speakers or on people who know the language very well.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Ivan: I see your point. According to you, what Kövér said is the complete truth, but now the ‘context’ is not appropriate to say the truth.
It’s your typical last resort of defense when you can’t mine up any other argument.
There is NO ‘bad context’ to say the truth in. Truth is truth and that’s it.
Kövér expresses himself very accurately. He says exactly what he means and this time is no different.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“It is obvious that Slovakia is legal successor of Czechoslovakia”
It is obvious that you are completely wrong. Czechoslovakia has split into two coequal countries, none of which is the legal successor to Czechoslovakia in territorial matters. (Otherwise this would leave the other country with zero territory.)
Try to get familiar with international law before claiming such nonsense. Kövér is a jurist.

Member

According to Johnny Boy “Kövér expresses himself very accurately. He says exactly what he means and this time is no different.” “Kövér said that when Slovakia arbitrarily diverted the flow of the Danube, causing the borders between Slovakia and Hungary to shift, military steps from Hungary could have been easily justified.”
So, even according to Johhny Boy, Kover meant the threat to our neighbours. SO, why the surrounding countries do not like Hungary I wonder? Of course Kover, Orban and Johnny Boy thinks that it is a good thing. Pathetic.

Kirsten
Guest

But Johnny, if a country is split, does the international community or the neighbouring countries decide about the size of the territories of the newly established countries? Or are they perhaps still “entitled” to the territory which was accepted internationally before? And as the country was split in 1992/93, some Hungarian (I thought at that time it was conservative…) government established relations with both countries, most likely with full acceptance of the borders as they were, even with the Nagymaros conflict still unsettled, or not? Why did Mr Köver not at that time stand in Nagymaros prepared with his gun? Apparently because he would have been looked at as a mad man (which BTW he does today too).

Member

Johnny! “Easily justifiable military actions” for a hundred frogs and a few truckloads off pebble from the “diverted” river banks?? Go ahead, get your ass shot for this. What kind of warmonger are you?

Johnny Boy
Guest

someone: so, according to you, if a neighbouring country violates Hungary’s territory, it’s Hungary’s fault if we don’t like that, and we are bad for “threatening” our beloved neighbour.
Similarly, if your neighbour breaks into your house, you are bad boy for not liking that and “threatening” your neighbour with a reaction.
No comment is needed on your obvious lack of sanity.

Member

Johnny, we are down to this tiny country because guys like you and Kover kept getting us into wars for all the wrong causes. We were brother’s in arms with every scum of 20th century Europe. If you go on like this 50 years from now you’ll need a passport to go to bathroom.

Ivan
Guest

“I see your point. According to you, what Kövér said is the complete truth, but now the ‘context’ is not appropriate to say the truth … It’s your typical last resort of defense when you can’t mine up any other argument.” – Johnny Boy
Total rubbish. I said no such thing. I merely agreed that you accurately reported Kover’s words – words which were wrong, contrary to judgements made in international law (and since you are an expert in international law how do you explain the verdict made in The Hague on this matter?), bizarre, dangerous and threatening.
The context, I added, only makes things worse.
There. Do pay attention. It does help the debate along.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Ivan: you owe me the explanation on how Kövér’s words were in contrary to judgements made in international law.

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