The strange case of Ibolya Dávid and Hungarian jurisprudence

In order to understand the telephone conversation below I am providing you with a cast of characters.

Ibolya Dávid, chairman of Magyar Demokrata Fórum (MDF). Before the 1998 elections, Dávid made a deal with Fidesz that assured her party seventeen seats in parliament regardless of her party's performance. In addition, Dávid herself became minister of justice in the first Orbán government.

Sándor Csányi, president of OTP, the largest bank in Hungary. He has been a close friend of Viktor Orbán for years. His connection to UD Zrt. run by former national security guys is not clear. Allegedly, his relationship to the owners of UD Zrt. was merely that OTP was UD Zrt's biggest client. However, judging from this conversation the connection might be closer than that.

János Tóth, CEO of UD Zrt. and a former employee of the National Security Office.

József Horváth (identified in the conversation as Józsi), president of UD Zrt. Also a former employee of the National Security Office.

András Tombor, Viktor Orbán's chief adviser on foreign affairs.

István Stumpf, minister in the first Orbán government in charge of the Prime Minister's Office. After 2002 he headed the Századvég Institute, a Fidesz foundation. Stumpf today is one of the newer members of the Constitutional Court appointed by Viktor Orbán and approved by a two-thirds majority.

Kornél Almássy, a young Turk in MDF after 2003. Since November 2010 he has been employed by the City of Budapest as a director of one of the municipal companies.

* * *

On September 12 Ibolya Dávid revealed at a press conference that she had received a DVD of a telephone conversation between Sándor Csányi and János Tóth which showed that people close to Viktor Orbán were planning her removal from the chairmanship of MDF. They were supporting and financing the young Kornél Almássy to replace her in that position. And as the telephone conversation proved, Dávid said, they were ready to find "dirt" on her in order to achieve that end.

Below I will simply publish the English version of the conversation. You can all decide what in your opinion was going on.

* * *

Sándor Csányi: Hello

János Tóth: Hello Mr. President. It's János Tóth.

Cs: Hi, what's new?

T: May I disturb you for a second?

Cs: Yes, I forgot to call you back …

T: No problem. Józsi met Andris Tombor, and I got a job from him which is quite interesting, but I would like to share the story with you. Tombor would like us to work on MDF, on Ibolya Dávid. If we could find incriminating evidence against her because there is some preparation going on to change power positions within the party. Tombor says that Stumpf and his friends are behind it. They are the ones who supply the money for the change. They want to get the top position in MDF. One of the deputy chairmen is in on it. Antal or not Antal but …

Cs: Almássy.

T: Yes, yes, that's it. He will meet Józsi next week because he is the one who will be able to supply his informational needs. What he wants from us.

Cs:  Hmm! Hmm!

T: I would like to know your opinion about this. I would like to remain out of this and I will also try to talk Józsi out of it unless you ask us to do it for one reason or other.

Cs: Well, listen, Tuesday, I will think about it and talk about it Tuesday afternoon. OK?

T: Fine, fine.

Cs: They should meet in any case.

T: OK, of course he will go. I will also suggest that to him. But how afterward? Back out of it or play the stupid? Or if we do something, but for that I would have to know your opinion.

Cs: OK, OK, we will talk about it, János. Thanks, see you.

T: Bye, Mr. President, enjoy your weekend.

* * *

Great was Ibolya Dávid's surprise that no one was interested in this telephone conversation. Instead of being the accuser of certain dark forces trying to remove her from her position, she ended up being the defendant in a civil case for defamation of character of András Tombor.

Csányi in a court confrontation with Dávid denied everything. So did András Giró-Szász, the right-hand man of István Stumpf at Századvég, who claimed last Friday that he was just a friend of Kornél Almássy who was giving him political advice. István Stumpf today told the court that he knew nothing about the whole Almássy affair, but if he had known anything he would have advised Giró-Szász not to become involved. You may recall that Giró-Szász is the new government spokesman.

Why did people close to Viktor Orbán want to remove Ibolya Dávid from the chairmanship of MDF? Because Dávid after spending four years in the first Orbán government decided that she would never again get involved with Fidesz. She and the few people around her decided to brave the 2006 elections on their own. They were lucky. The party managed to receive over 5% of the votes, which qualified them to be represented in the Hungarian parliament. Viktor Orbán claimed that he and his party lost the election because MDF took almost 6% of the votes away from Fidesz. Thus, Dávid had to be destroyed. I think Ibolya Dávid is right behind Ferenc Gyurcsány on Orbán's enemy list.

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poNTIVpo
Guest

this is a troubled picture.
wire tappings?
otp involvement in crimes?
and an investigation filled with lies.
integrity and honesty have to reborn in budapest.
the many past regimes have corrupted all citizens, with a few exceptions.
somebody must invent a movement to overcome the fidesz, mszp, jobbik, kndp etc. parties and find a centrist liberal new independent moderate leadership to end this mess.

Paul
Guest

Thanks, Éva. I wish I knew more about all this.
Orbán is obviously not a man to upset.

Paul
Guest

PS – whilst you’re in the mood to answer my requests (smiley face), can I remind you, with 23 October coming up, that we’d like to hear your personal experiences of the 56 uprising? Thanks.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: PS – whilst you’re in the mood to answer my requests (smiley face), can I remind you, with 23 October coming up, that we’d like to hear your personal experiences of the 56 uprising? Thanks.”
Oh, I’m really sorry. I completely forgot. I will, promise! Meanwhile those of you know knows Hungarian, write to me because I have a fairly long Hungarian version of the story I wrote when years ago someone–who since has died–asked me to contribute something to a website he was creating to his mother’s memory.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

poNTVoo: “this is a troubled picture. wire tappings? otp involvement in crimes?”
Yes, it sounds like OTP involvement in a crime. Because otherwise why would Csányi even say that he would get together with this guy next Tuesday to talk things over?
As for the wire tappings, the National Security Office was, with the court’s blessing, listening to the telephone conversations of UD Zrt. because they suspected them of spying for Fidesz. So, the DVD that reached Ibolya Dávid most likely came from there. Dávid claims that she didn’t know the source and, perhaps I’m naive, but I believe her although she must suspect that it could come only from the National Security Office. Not necessarily from the minister in charge but some employee who wasn’t a Fidesz supporter.

Ron
Guest

I do not know what to think about this situation.
It seems to me that the entire affair has been staged to discredit Ibolya Dávid, but by whom I have no idea.
However, her reaction (holding a press conference) although understandable I believe was wrong. Especially, if the conversation as described above is all she has.
She is a lawyer, and apparently a good one, she is part of the political arena for many years and therefore, she should know what can or could happen.
There are various scenario’s possible. First who provide her with the DVD, it could be Fidesz, MszP, Szdsz, The National Security Office or a rogue employee of one of these organizations or something or somebody else.
In my opinion she should not have given a press conference, but to keep quiet about it or provide this information to members of the government, and wait to see what is going to happen.

Member

Ron: “However, her reaction (holding a press conference) although understandable I believe was wrong. Especially, if the conversation as described above is all she has.”
I believe that was her only and best solution. I believe in conspiracy when it comes to Hungary. I think to protect her own safety, she had no choice. THere are too many people with too much money, positioned way too high can be behind this.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: “I wish I knew more about all this.”
Here is some background. I wrote about it three times:
http://tiny.cc/ppf6y
http://tiny.cc/h3b0q
http://tiny.cc/vg5dp

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

To Ron. Here a few more details about Dávid’s press conference from one of my earlier postings:
“We don’t know who gave the CD to Ibolya Dávid. She claims that she herself doesn’t know. It came without a return address. Dávid, a lawyer and former minister of justice, was very careful. When she made the CD’s contents public she used only initials. However, a day or so later, HVG published the text including full names: Csányi, Stumpf, Tóth, Almássy, Tombor, et al. Moreover, Ibolya Dávid sent the CD to the prosecutor’s office asking their opinion on the matter. A few days later the prosecutor’s office returned the CD, claiming that there was nothing to investigate.”
So, as you can see, it is absolutely useless to go to the prosecutor’s office for redress in Hungary.
I think it is pretty clear who wanted to discredit Dávid. Over the years Fidesz managed to destroy MDF by enticing part of the leadership to abandon Dávid and join forces with Fidesz. Balsai is one of these people. Surely, they must have been promised all sorts of goodies.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest
Paul
Guest

Thanks for the links, Éva, very interesting (although the middle one doesn’t work).
Sounds like the Hungarian prosecutorial system is about as good as the Italian one!

Paul
Guest

As for Dávid – how is she seem in Hungary? Discredited and ‘past’ like Gy, or does she still have enough respect and support to be able to recover MDF’s fortunes?
And lastly, you describe Dávid as leader of a “moderate” conservative party in one of the links you gave (I think those were your words). This is not the impression I had of her, she seemed more like someone on the Thatcherite wing of the Tory party to me (to put it in UK terms).
I’d be interested in what you think makes her ‘moderate’. Thanks.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: “you describe Dávid as leader of a “moderate” conservative party in one of the links you gave (I think those were your words). This is not the impression I had of her, she seemed more like someone on the Thatcherite wing of the Tory party to me (to put it in UK terms). I’d be interested in what you think makes her ‘moderate’.”
In Hungary she and MDF represented the moderate conservative segment of society. The trouble is that this segment is very small. Put it that way, she and some of her people within MDF were at least democrats. People who respected the constitution and the rule of law. As opposed to you know who.
As for the revival of MDF. I very much doubt it. Some of the former MDF people joined forces with Gyurcsány and the Hungarian Democratic Charta (Bauer, Debreczeni). Gyurcsány would very much like to have these few moderates on the right to see among those who would fight the Orbán regime.

Ron
Guest

Dear Professor,
Thank you for the links. It took me some time to go through it. And it seems to me that she did all the things a good lawyer and politician should do before she made it a public case as stated as well by Some1.
I really look forward to this new website, and hopefully I can (re)search myself these previous stories.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Ron: “And it seems to me that she did all the things a good lawyer and politician should do before she made it a public case as stated as well by Some1.”
Yes, I agree with you. And by the way, leave the “professor bit” behind. Just call me Eva. Everybody does.

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