“Viktor, if you don’t have a clue, don’t mess around”

That is what some of the demonstrators thought at the huge demonstration in front of the Hungarian parliament building. Others sent Viktor Orbán packing and on the picture below he and his two-thirds majority are shown the “red card,” which is the indication that a soccer player who committed a foul must leave the field.


The demonstration began at 2:30 p.m. but MTI reported on the event for the first time only shortly after 3:00 p.m. At that time they announced that the square was almost full and that the demonstration was staged in defense of democracy, social security, human rights, and the rights of workers.

In the same article MTI repeated an announcement from the office of the government spokesman, published earlier, in which the office reiterated that although every trade union and civil organization has the right to demonstrate, at the same time “the cabinet deeply regrets that some of the trade union leaders don’t represent the interests of the people but put their own political ambitions ahead.” For good measure the government’s position was made clear: it doesn’t matter how often these organizations demonstrate, Viktor Orbán and his cabinet will not change their minds. They will go ahead with the “renewal of the country,” and the work on the new labor code and other cardinal laws will continue.

MTI’s second report on the event was filed at 6:00 p.m. From it we learned that the organizers read a manifesto “in which among other things they demanded putting an end to the continuation of retroactive laws, the revival of social dialogue, the right to strike, and the reestablishment of the old system of early retirement for policemen, soldiers, and firefighters. What followed was a brief description of some of the speeches. The summary did mention that “at the end of the speeches the audience many times demanded the departure of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.”

According to other sources there were 50,000-60,000 people present representing more than 100 trade unions and civil organizations. The demonstration was certainly more than an ordinary trade union demonstration that usually demands better wages or better working conditions. Both the speeches and the posters sent political messages. “I admit if I make a mistake,” read one poster referring to the many unacknowledged mistakes Viktor Orbán has made. Another poster demanded “Real democracy for Hungary!”

Newspapers reported that the organizers have nine demands:

We demand a fair and equitable tax system!

We demand a halt to retroactive jurisdiction!

We demand the reestablishment of the institution of dialogue between employers, employees, and the government!

We demand that any change in the labor code should be made only after consultation with the employers and employees!

We demand the restoration of the former regulations concerning early retirement in the services!

We demand an equitable transition for changes in the laws concerning pensions. New regulations should affect only those who are now entering the workforce!

We demand that any changes affecting employees’ careers should be done only after consultation with the trade unions!

We demand the restoration of the right to strike!

We demand a stop to the violation of the rights of the trade unions!

Someone recited Gyula Illyés’s famous poem “Egy mondat a zsarnokságról,” which can be read in English as well at that link. We mustn’t forget that this poem was written during the darkest days of the Rákosi regime. On the lighter side, the organizers asked people to bring empty orange juice containers from which they built a wall which was torn down to the tune of Pink Floyd’s song “Another Brick in the Wall.”

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Among the speakers there was a university student. According to her the whole law on higher education from the first word to the last is “nonsense” which deprives tens of thousands of youngsters from attending college. Viktor Orbán finding himself with so much power “has lost his mind,” but he should face the current situation. The fact that the university student associations were represented is an important development. Until now universities and colleges were strongholds of Fidesz and these student associations provided a steady stream of young party leaders.

The pensioners were also represented because it is becoming increasingly likely that there will be changes in the laws governing pensions. The older generation is becoming fearful that their financial security is being threatened by the Orbán government. The speaker on behalf of the pensioners emphasized solidarity between the younger and older generations.

The revelation that emerged from the U.S. cables that Viktor Orbán had informed members of the diplomatic corps that they shouldn’t take too seriously what he says is doing serious damage to Orbán’s by now quite shaky reputation. One of the speakers, the leader of the firefighters, talked about the disappointment many people feel today. A year and a half ago they voted for Fidesz because they believed what Viktor Orbán said, but if they “had known that one doesn’t have to pay attention to what he says, we wouldn’t have to be here today.”

I don’t think that this demonstration will achieve anything in the short term, but the fact that more than 100 trade unions and civic organizations managed to create a Hungarian version of the Polish Solidarity movement signals that something is brewing.

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son-of-new-hungary
Guest

United in Hungary! This is a new idea.
The movement can be called Uj Magyar Egyseg – New Hungarian Unity!
A Deakian Unity!

Rigó Jancsi
Guest

Just finished my cut of the event, I even managed to get Gyurcsány on camera who took a bath in the crowd, though he was there only as citizen, I assume. He was standing underneath the trees on the east side of the square for a while, and everybody in that area turned around towards him. I guess the more people realize what Orbán really is, the more people question whether Gyurcsány was on “the dark side” at all…


Paul
Guest

Well, it’s a start, although I would have liked to see it bigger and angrier. And it’s good to see that MTI covered it – I was expecting much less coverage than that.
Now, call the next one and let’s see how many attend that. This needs to snowball if it’s going to have any effect on OV.

Kirsten
Guest

Paul, why would you have expected less coverage?
These protests need not be angry, for me it is sufficient to have people and a programme, also to make an impression on those who may not yet know what to think about it. Fidesz paints a negative enough picture of those in opposition to the current government, so to offer some positive pictures in return looks good to me.

Member

@Rigo Jancsi Great video! I loved the the flag at the end with yelling in background.

Paul
Guest
Kirsten – I wouldn’t have been surprised if there had been NO coverage. I’m still wondering why OV/Fidesz allowed as much as they did. They could easily have ignored it – and got away with it. Presumably they calculated that some coverage would mean they could ‘prove’ to the world that they weren’t controlling the media, and Hungarians were free to protest. And, of course, a demo of this size isn’t going to worry OV and Fidesz anyway. By ‘anger’ I meant more like ‘feeling’ or ‘drive’ (I posted in haste while a film was paused when my wife went to check on our little one!). It all seems too friendly and laid-back, almost a holiday atmosphere. After a year and a half and all that OV’s done, and the clear signs of what’s coming, STILL people don’t seem to understand what he’s up to and how serious it is – and is going to get. This is not normal politics, this is a dictatorship in the making, and the only way to stop that is to do it now. It’s going to be too late by the time people have got really organised and ‘angry’. This isn’t a game,… Read more »
Paul
Guest

Tonight’s BBC Europe headlines:
Bulgaria anti-Roma rally in Sofia
French woman kidnapped in Kenya
Dutch city bans ‘drug tourists’
Belgrade gay pride parade banned
Greece pushes for bailout tranche
Putin more popular, says Medvedev
Germany returns Namibian skulls
Deadly bomb blast in south Turkey
Lawyer warns Knox will flee Italy
European financial tax ‘bad idea’
Tymoshenko calls trial ‘lynching’
Denmark introduces food fat tax
Paris starts electric car rental scheme
Merkel just survives a crucial vote
Norway attacks
Markets see big quarterly falls
FirstGroup sells German bus unit
Tonga stun shambolic French
Djokovic pulls out of China Open
Highlights from the week’s sittings in Strasbourg
Raffaele Sollecito’s father fights to clear son’s name
Where the Mediterranean meets the Arctic Circle
Take a look inside London’s 2012 Olympic velodrome
Pinewood at 75 – London film studio looks back

florian
Guest

In relation to Paul’s last comment- more of the same. Mr Thorpe obviously did not think it was important enough to push the point with the Europe Editor. If anything is to change (and I doubt that it will) the demonstrations need to be hard to ignore by anyone. I mean in terms of numbers rather than actions. My pessimism stems from attending one of the anti Iraq War demonstrations in the UK in February 2003- hundreds of thousands attended and still they invaded. Still it is a start…

Gabriella
Guest

When thinking about the number of people demonstrating, we should not forget the ones, who were threatened with the loss of their job or their carrier. People were threatened with both, according to the street people of Szeged.
G.

Vándorló
Guest

@Paul and Florian: The BBC coverage of Hungary is and was laughable. Thorpe only goes for pictures and conflict. No conflict, no coverage. It wouldn’T surprise me to find out he wasn’t there anyway, as he rarely works outside ‘work hours’. WJat he needs is a riot between 09:00-17:00 on a week day and then you’ll get some pictures. The analysis will be laughable though.
@Rigó Jancsi: Great video and captures the mood well. Gyurcsány’s presence is unwelcome, though. He is a diversive symbol of unrest and always will be.
@All: You talk about this like it came out of the blue, like people haven’t been getting together in various ways for solidarity before now. That simply isn’t true and why I reacted so strongly to a certain writer’s comments and people condoning his views. Since just before Christmas last year I have seen a marked change in people’s attitudes and actions in taking direct control their own fates. As I said weeks ago, people are not and have not been passively standing by and letting this happen to them.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Gabriella: “When thinking about the number of people demonstrating, we should not forget the ones, who were threatened with the loss of their job”
That is a fact, according to the organizers.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Rigó Jancsi: “I even managed to get Gyurcsány on camera who took a bath in the crowd, though he was there only as citizen, I assume. He was standing underneath the trees on the east side of the square for a while, and everybody in that area turned around towards him.”
I understand that he was a hit.

Vándorló
Guest

Török Gábor’s slant on this is worth reading: http://torokgaborelemez.blog.hu/2011/10/01/400_peldaul_ok
Basically he states that the trade unions have taken on the role of the opposition and have proved to be far more effective than any of the opposition parties or initiatives to date.
p.s. Gyurcsány should keep doing what he has always done: try to take credit for real civil and grassroots movements e.g. the anti-racist march following the attacks on the ticket office in district XIII. And his work within MSZP is exemplary, a textbook accunt of how to destroy an opposition party from within. Anyway, he will have to act soon as he has been practically kicked out of the party now and told he can’t attempt to purloin their assets. Wonder when he will get a spine and stop leeching off others?
NB. Obviously for you ESBalogh drones, you must remember that she considers Török Gábor to be right leaning – and as you all agree, she is never wrong.

Member

Vandorlo: “Obviously for you ESBalogh drones” Now back off! You made some good points here. Why are you discrediting yourself by getting into this childish behaviour? Do not act as a six years old because then no one will take you serious, as it is very hard to take Johnny Boy seriously any longer. I can quote you many instances when Paul, An, Mutt Damon, I or others did not agree with Eva. THe difference is that we stated our case and moved on. It never became personal. This blog only gets nasty when one of the commenters start to act like a baby and thinks that winning a debate is not by facts and opinion but by name calling. If that is all the tool you have then you should visit the more fitting publications like Magyar Hirlap and alike. Eva has every right for independent Hungarian (lol) thinking, so does everyone else. THis her blog and if anyone prefers her opinion on a subject above your or Orbans’ that is their given right and do not need your nastiness.

Vándorló
Guest

@Some1: Thanks for the input, but they have and wil continue to act like seals at ocean world. Clapping in unison and bleating nonsense unless they can label and pigeon-hole you as either left or right. And then, you have to stick to their labels, no deviation allowed. Otherwise they think you are “on drugs” and send you offensive video links on teenage onanism.
An, Mutt, Eva, Kirsten, you, Paul have all been guilty of it. It is a simple undeniable fact.
Within that, it is helpful to remind people when they are wrong and to do so repeatedly. Why? Because the brain is cognitively wired with a self-affirming bias to ignore and forget facts and events that are contrary to our world view. Look up “confirmation bias”, particularly the pioneering work of Peter Wason.
Condier it a form of Socratic dialogue as Socrates intended it – emphasising our ignorance.
So I will go on repeating myself in the hope that one day, someone learns something about the scales of their ignorance.
NB. And since this is a blog, I can do what I like right up to the point when ESBalogh decides she can no longer tolerate dissent from her blogging minions.

Kirsten
Guest
Vandorlo: “as you all agree, she is never wrong.” I thought you are always faithful to logic. You realise that an “ALL” and “NEVER” sentence is falsified if there is ONE counter-example, right? And that you need the full sample of us drones here on the blog to prove your point. I think you should try to live up to your standards. But on the “true” and “wrong” question, it would be very useful to stop thinking in these “objective” categories. There is no unequivocal reality that we all perceive in the same manner (even if this “objective reality” was claimed by Marx and the like). Even if there were some objective reality, we are humans and therefore all perceive subjectively. Simply I do not see into your head, I do not know what you perceive as “reality” and vice versa. This gives rise to debates about reality. To accept that “reality” can be a relative concept is a good start in a debate. Then you will also accept that what appears to be correct to some people need not be correct to others, even if opinions are expressed decisively (which you, by the way, do too). And that to… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

“An, Mutt, Eva, Kirsten, you, Paul have all been guilty of it. It is a simple undeniable fact.”
I happen to disagree on your idea of “guilt” (who is the master who defined “guilt” in the sense you used it? Why this moral undercurrent? How do you know we agree on morals? And why should your morals be the decisive ones?). I think you should try to find out how objective or subjective your alleged values are and why exactly you should be the one who establishes “undeniable facts” and “guilt”. It is always about the same thing: how much does “reality” depend on how it appears to the human mind and why exactly my or your mind should be the one who always gets it right.

An
Guest

@Vandorlo: Ok, you are neither left or right. Got it. As a matter of fact, me neither. Why the arrogance? And labeling us is OK?

Vándorló
Guest
@Kirsten: Quite right about the logic, but in terms of the discursive role of this blog, it is not the passive expression of one person’s opinions, but an active part of colouring other people’s understanding of their world. As such, it is perfectly normal and acceptable – for too few it is also desirable – that all such assumptions and opinions be questioned. ESBalogh is a historian who one day tells us a source is to be trusted, based on her assessment, the next that it should not. No objective data or reasoning given to back up such an assertion. Those reading this, those less inclined to understand or question such things, are simply led down a merry path and remain completely blinkered to how they got thee. They literally don’t have access to their own thought processes. Is it so terrible to expose this nonsense and lack of self-insight? I’m not asking for “eternal truth”, just honesty. I know I come across as an arrogant, conceited, self-aggrandized prig, but that is half the lesson. You have to ignore the source and question everything from first principles. On the choice of words to label their concepts, I am not convinced… Read more »
An
Guest

@Vandorlo: How about if you think something is not right (labeling and pigeon-holing people), you don’t do it either? Just a suggestion.

KOMpos
Guest

Vándorló – it is true that Gyurcsany is destroying the party. He is probably more intelligent than most others in the MSZP. The MSZP will not survive. The funeral will be merry.
Orban is not the same. He mostly zig-zags, and corruptly distributes favors to his preferred friends, while harms the social and economical fabrics.
Orban’s other big crime is his support for the revenge seeking one-dimensional uber-Magyar patriots.
Did Orban study the works of Ferenc Deak, Istvan Szechenyi and Imre Nagy?
He is a student of Senator McCarthy’s anticommunist witch hunt, without putting up a real fights against the top monsters of the communist adventure.

John T
Guest

Vandorlo – the prime theme that comes across in this blog is bewilderment at what is going on in Hungary today, rather than any mass support for MSZP or Gyurcsány. I’ve said on numerous occasions that I have a pretty low opinion of the Hungarian political “elite” across all parties since 1989.
The difficulty most people have at the moment is seeing where any viable, sensible alternative to both Fidesz and MSZP is going to come from. It doesn’t appear to be LMP on current form. And Jobbik will be an absolute disaster if they get in. But ultimately, the post 2014 is a matter for the voters. If they choose Jobbik, so be it.
Its all very well saying there is opposition apart from MSZP (which has been woefully ineffective), but it boils down to small groups or the odd “feel good” march. But so far, there has been nothing effective. And yesterdays demo was pretty feeble as well to be honest.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

John T: “And yesterdays demo was pretty feeble as well to be honest.”
I like the organizers, but I have the feeling that all this joking about lessens the impact of their message. I am with Odin here.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
: Vándorló MZsP is deatroying it’s self because it contains the rump of the old hard left who will brook no arguments. Gyurcsány is trying his best but he does not cut a very charismatic figure. The average Hungarian is attracted by good looks etc. and seldom sees below the surface. The Mighty One (O.V.) and Firesz using Old Goebbels’ technique of ‘throwing enough mud’ and the Hungarians believe that an ‘accusation is in its self evidence’ has poisoned Gyurcsány name in the eyes of the electorate. As Paul shows Auntie BBC has either no interest in or it is being mislead by its local correspondent. There is a way round this which is to set ITN onto the BBC’s failings. News hounds love to find a stench on someone else’s doorstep. I have no bewilderment as to what is going on in Hungary. An arch conspirator/demagogue has power. He wants and must control everything (which he cannot). He trusts no one of ability as he fears them. He ‘shoots from the hip’ without understanding the ‘beginning, middle and end’ of anything. It is this inability to delegate and his love of ‘playing with fire’ which will be his undoing.… Read more »
Member

I think Vandorlo is just jealous. Professor Balogh has this army of followers while the only one who keeps humping Vandorlo’s leg is Johnny Boy, our pet fascist on this blog. The two misunderstood geniuses.
Vandorlo. Think about this blog or any other personal blog as a group of people sitting in a pub drinking and talking. Some of us more knowledgeable on certain subjects, some are not, we interrupt, we misunderstand, or we just listen quietly. What kind of asshole would sit down to a table like this and say “you are all ignorant, everybody is wrong”. You are welcome to sit down, take a sip. But keep these empty pontifications about truth and lie to yourself. If you want followers, you have to work for it. All it takes is real intelligence and good people skills.

Paul
Guest

Troll alert!
He writes/thinks like he’s on drugs. Ignore him, he’s just wasting our time. Especially as he clearly doesn’t read our posts.
As for the great demo – it seems to have fizzled out completely.
Ah well, it was nice to feel a little optimistic for a while. Now back on our heads.

Vándorló
Guest
@Odin’s Lost Eye: Well as Kirsten and others keep asking the question is where is the new opposition going to come from, both in the centre and on the left. As all but ESBalogh, and those that don’t live here, know the old guard are not viable candidates. For me this period feels like that just after Gyurcsány finally stood down. Lots of names were bandied about concerning possible successors. And Bajnai turned out to be ideal. He has the good sense now to remove himself from the fray, should he want to return to politics in the future. Anyway, I do think that such civil protests are the most likely platform from which we will see fresh faces and potential new leaders emerge. The fact that they are not overtly (nor hopefully covertly) tied to existing parties is central. @John T: I found the whole thing more promising than you for two reasons: 1. some of the people who took part (from people I know) where last motivated into action for the disastrous referendum – they were voting against the proposed changes and now deeply regret their actions, though don’t express it directly as such. 2. The rally way… Read more »
John T
Guest

Vandorlo In my younger days, I was an active trade unionist and during those 5 years or so, I did my fair share of marchs and union conferences. While participating, you get a great buzz and positive feeling. But the hard part comes afterwards – getting people to organise properly and to participate in campaigns. Time and time again these failed through the apathy of the wider membership, but more importantly, the infighting between various factions, each having their own agendas. From the video I saw, you had people from across the political spectrum. But I think that when the time comes to really organise for 2014 or prior to this if the social situation gets worse, these groups won’t work together. Sorry to be so negative, but I’ve seen it happen before, hence my pessimism.

Member

Vandorlo, I got it now. I thought you are acting like a child but reading the reply to me, it is clear now that you are acting like a teenager, a rebel without a cause. You want the best of all worlds without taking stance, running around screaming “the sky is falling”, but offer no alternative. You are mad because you are mad at the whole world because i does not offer you the ultimate solution, but you cannot put your fingers on what those solutions are. You are mad at Eva because she was able to do something that you cannot. You are mad at everyone who generally likes her opinion because they not clapping for yours. Call them by names, that will them right. bahahaha “Socratic dialogues” my butt. Self-esteem override without any substance is more like it. The kids wit the purple hair, nose piercing, the “rebells” that is your group. Grow up.

Vándorló
Guest
@Some1: This much I have clearly stated: the solution is not any of the existing parties, nor their discredited leaders or MPs. I would exclude Bajnai and Bokros from those, as their record speaks for itself. More than this, they do not lower themselves to petty politics. In numerous ways I have taken the trouble to outline the ways in which this blog continues to support and encourage stop-go politics and the fruitless squabbles – at the expense of ordinary people. Pretty much every article here gloats and enjoys the bitterness of old style politics. And the only solution ever promoted here is Gyurcsány. If you ever want to make any coherent statement, please don’t hold back. I’ve done my best to respond to your diatribe. It’s pretty puerile of you and the others to respond in this way when all you bleat from those doing something is that it isn’t enough, where are the riots, we want rebellion, take to the streets etc. My position on which I have stated clearly time and time again. I mean really, who are the would be rebels? I advocate the long war, the slow boring path to democracy where each individual takes… Read more »
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