Is it really a “sad day for democracy” in Hungary? Perhaps not

Many members of the opposition parties spoke of today as a “sad day for democracy.” Is it really? Yes and no. What happened inside the walls of parliament was indeed sad but outside we saw the beginnings of an energized common cause.

Inside the Fidesz-Christian Democratic members of parliament voted mindlessly on so many new laws that one could hardly follow what was going on. Hungary has a new electoral law, a new law on the family, a new law on the status of the Hungarian National Bank, and the present disastrous taxation system was practically made permanent since its repeal requires a two-thirds majority in the House. And that’s not all. Thirteen different important laws were passed amid loud protestation coming from LMP, MSZP, and DK. That is, from those who were not at the police station.

You may recall that there were two cardinal laws José Manuel Barroso especially objected to. As we learned last night from Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian government refused to consider the request of the European Commission to postpone their enactment. After all, Barroso has “neither the right nor the authority” to demand such a thing.

Currently, the Commission is “examining in detail” (tüzetesen) Viktor Orbán’s reply to Barroso according to Dennis Abbott, the spokesman on duty for the Commission. The topics brought up by Barroso, Olli Rehn, and Viviane Redding are so important that the Hungarian prime minister’s answers require “extensive study.” It is possible that after this extensive study of the matter the European Commission will not give the IMF the go-ahead to begin negotiations with the Hungarian government for a loan that Orbán, despite his protestations to the contrary, badly needs.

The laws that were voted on today reflect the undemocratic nature of the Orbán regime. And by now Ferenc Gyurcsány is no longer alone in saying that participation in the parliamentary process is not only superfluous but politically unwise. The two other democratic parties have also come to the same conclusion.

It was three days ago that Gergely Karácsony, deputy leader of the small LMP caucus, announced that he and some of his colleagues were planning a demonstration for December 23 in front of the parliament building. Somewhat naively Karácsony announced that by staging this demonstration they will attempt to appeal to the conscience of the Fidesz members of parliament. Perhaps they will understand that voting for these undemocratic measures is unconscionable. He mentioned the electoral law and the law on economic stability as especially unacceptable.

I didn’t think that LMP would be able to organize a major demonstration a couple of days before Christmas and only a day after a rather large demonstration yesterday for the freedom of the press. Indeed, there were mighty few people there. A few LMP activists and LMP members of parliament. András Schiffer wasn’t among them, which I find noteworthy. The young LMP MPs chained themselves to a gate to the couple of parking lots reserved for members of parliament.

 

Virág Kaufer (LMP)

The stop sign reads: “It was enough!” Well, it seems that it was also enough for the government. Soon enough a large number of policemen arrived on the scene. They unchained the MPs and arrested them.

 

Gábor Vágó (LMP)

I think I should mention that Gábor Vágó, pictured above, wasn’t only dragged away by the police. His fellow MP László Varga (KDNP), who is also a Calvinist minister, hit Vágó on the head with his brief case. I am going to post this “gentleman’s” picture here for the whole world to see what kind of people are running the show in Hungary.

Eleg volt, Varga

At this point a number of MPs from the Demokratikus Koalíció, including Ferenc Gyurcsány, came out of the building to see what was going on. They were planning to talk to the policeman in charge. They were also promptly arrested. Soon enough the same thing happened to a number of MSZP MPs as well, including Attila Mesterházy and Ildikó Lendvai. Ildikó Lendvai gave an interview to Klubrádió as she was being transported to the police station. Once there the whole crew, MPs and activists, in the final count 43 of them, stood for an hour in a corridor. Apparently there were no chairs available. They were told that they would have to go for a medical examination. I guess this examination was intended to prove that the police didn’t rough them up. But in the end there was no medical examination and the MPs were let go. Not so the activists who stayed behind for a while.

I must say that this government is not too smart. Whoever gave the order to arrest a former prime minister didn’t realize that this is not ordinary news. And indeed, within a couple of hours BBC, CNN, and Fox News reported in detail about the events.

Ferenc Gyurcsány is led away

What happened later in the afternoon was truly significant. LMP originally planned two demonstrations, one in the morning and a second one at 4 o’clock. Since only a few dozen people showed up for the morning demonstration it initially seemed unlikely that the afternoon demonstration would be much bigger. However, the morning police action did the trick: thousands of people showed up.

It looks as if the diverse oppositional groups are finally joining forces against the Orbán regime. The civic groups which wanted nothing to do with political parties suddenly are suggesting the formation of a new Round Table where all groups and democratic opposition parties could hammer out a common strategy and the ways and means of getting rid of Viktor Orbán and Fidesz.

Even before the afternoon demonstration Ferenc Gyurcsány in an interview shortly after his release from the police station talked about the “Gyorskocsi utcai koalíció.” Gyorskocsi utca is the location of the police station. I might add that it was here that Imre Nagy was executed. During their stay in that corridor LMP, MSZP and DK members and their supporters came to realize that it is time to unite and to act. Life looks a little brighter after December 23.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Ron
Guest

VO was right.
comment image

Ron
Guest

During their stay in that corridor LMP, MSZP and DK members and their supporters came to realize that it is time to unite and to act.
Was about time. Well better late than never.

Paul
Guest

“VO was right.”
Any chance of a translation? Can’t cut and paste from a photo and I haven’t got the energy to type all that into Google translate!

Ron
Guest

Paul: Rough translation: Do not ever be a prime minister of Hungary who can easily declare: Apart from him there is no alternative.
Anyone who claims not to govern but
wants to rule.

Kirsten
Guest

‘Even before the afternoon demonstration Ferenc Gyurcsány in an interview shortly after his release from the police station talked about the “Gyorskocsi utcai koalíció.”‘
Did the other parties also speak about such coalition? I read also that Ferenc Gyurcsany, through his presence, has ‘spoiled’ this protest. That sounded as if the ‘old reflexes’ were still alive.

Member

Hungary shall never have again a Prime Minister who calmly states: Besides him, there is no alternative.
That’s that claim of those who do not want to govern but to rule.
(Magyar Nemzet, April 9, 1988)

Member

ooops someone already translated it. Sorry Ron.
Obviously it was from a statement by Orban from 1988. Times have changed.
I hope that all the clowns today in the parliament will be held responsible for one the saddest day in Hungary’s last 30 year history. It always made me wonder, how did Hungary got the nerve in WWII to declare war on USA and on the Soviets. It is very clear to me now that Hungary was run by the same kind of idiots that they are doing the damage today. I think we should collect some money and hire some artist to add an other piece to the illustrations that the government ordered.

Member
Why did they arrest Gyurcsany puzzles me. Was it the decision of the officers on site? It goes against any logic – it was a really dumb PR move. I can imagine that somebody above (“above” said with a mysterious tone) wanted to send a message to the world. It gets even more bizarre if you consider that he was around for at least an hour just walking and talking to people. After he was released from the Gyorskocsi detention facility, he emphasized in an impromptu interview to reporters that this all was organized by the LMP. I think this is very important to mention – I don’t think he “spoiled” the protests. Schiffer’s speech was very good IMHO. Very professional, very mature, good eye contact, stopping at the right times to let the crowd chant, all was in place. Do we have our own green/red Danny? Could he and the LMP lead the charge? I don’t like greens (except Kermit), but they are doing something. Schiffer mentioned a referendum in 2012. Well, yes a pipe dream to believe that the election committee will support it from tax payer’s money. Even if they would, say out from arrogance, believing that… Read more »
Ron
Guest

Some1: ooops someone already translated it. Sorry Ron.
Don’t be sorry. I believe your translation is the more accurate one. However, the statement is disgusting, if you know who made it, and what he is doing now.

Member

2012 referendum would have no results if the press and media is throttled. It seems that everyone makes the assumption that all the way from Szentgothar tp Lenti people will receive the proper information from the State governed media or from their local Fidesz mayor to be able to cast and informed vote on any issues. Well, not so, and I think it is very important that people do not stop advocating for free media and against State controlled news alterations. Only when the news become reliable again we can hope for that Hungarians wake up and will be able to act with informed decision.

Member

I was thinking volunteers. A door to door campaign. Billboards and advertisement if the donations cover it.

Paul
Guest

Thanks Ron and Some1

Member

Mutt Damon, Billboards do not fit all that it needs to be said.
Give me the press, and I will win for any party in Hungary. My grandmother-in-law (97 years old, educated and mentally sharp, and she still can repaint her own rooms!) often says “I read it in the news.” THis is about any story. If it is in the news it must be true. Trust me, whatever is in the news, in the press in Hungary, that is what will win.

Pete H.
Guest

Earlier today it was reported that the some MP’s had been charged with a felony. Was that a reliable report?

Member

@Some1 Funny. My mother-in-law said exactly the same thing: “It’s true. It’s in the paper!”
Ok. No billboards. Then volunteers to make calls and distribute fliers. The press is gone. The radios are gone. Sheer manpower is all what’s left.

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest
Mutt Damon and Some 1 – in the year 2010 the Hungarian people gave a crushing defeat to the forces of law, justice and the democratic principles. They were ‘conned’ into giving a landslide victory to Fidesz and Orban Viktor. The Mighty Viktator will be ‘Ruler for Life’. He will start a New Feudal Dynasty which like the one started some time ago to the North and in Korea is destined to last for 1,000 years. The Hungarians are so naive and stubborn that they will never admit they were conned. As such they will never change the ’New Order’. Since the Hungarians made a free choice the rest of the democratic world will just isolate Hungary. My suggestion is for everyone is go home and eat cabbage. Whilst you still have any. I think all I can do is to parody that great English poem was originally called either “the Work House” or “the Factory” and was written by that prolific and greatly respected poet ‘Anon’. I was Christmas day in the nation And the leaders work was done And Matolcsy and Szijjártó lay basking in the sun. Then came the Great Viktator past those grimy walls Quoth he… Read more »
Ron
Guest
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kirsten: “I read also that Ferenc Gyurcsany, through his presence, has ‘spoiled’ this protest”
In LMP Schiffer is the big Gyurcsány hater. But there are other problems with both Schiffer and LMP.
My feeling is that LMP leaders somehow think that this demonstration showed THEIR strength, but it has very little to do with them as a party. People came because of what happened the morning to members of all the opposition parties. I know that DK sent out e-mails to their supporters to attend. MSZP even brought people from other cities by the busloads. So, it was a joint effort and it should remain such.

Gábor
Guest
Kirsten: Did the other parties also speak about such coalition? I read also that Ferenc Gyurcsany, through his presence, has ‘spoiled’ this protest. That sounded as if the ‘old reflexes’ were still alive. The first pair of LMP MPs released (Katalin Ertsey and Péter Szilágyi) gave a statement to the press and Szilágyi explicitely mentioned the necessity of a broad opposition cooperation in order to defeat Orbán. Something denied by Schiffer even a month ago when he was criticizing the bill on the electoral law and he stated that the safest way to dismantle Orbán’s regime is to give the people as much options at an election as possible. Actually there is rumor that Schiffer was voted down regarding the morning demonstration (which I think – contrary to Éva’s presumption – was not intended to be a mass one), that’s why he was making his ordinary rethoric duel with Bence Rétvári while his fellow MPs were threatend by arrest. But in the afternoon he was not bad. He should learn to redress his vocabulary and avoid using specific phrases and expressions of a human rights activist attacking the government at the court, but the structure, the build up was well… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

For a less enthusiastic appraisal of Schiffer can be found here:
http://www.gepnarancs.hu/2011/12/a-schifferizmus-bukasa-es-a-gyorskocsi-utcai-koalicio/

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Ron: “What if Barroso wanted to have a negative reaction from VO?”
I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if politicians in Brussels would like to get rid of this guy.

Ron
Guest

Eva: I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if politicians in Brussels would like to get rid of this guy.
Me neither, but what would be the next step for these guys to get rid of him? First to let Hungary to go bankrupt and may be some of the Austrian banks? Or they worked out some kind of strategy?
And Merry Christmas to all.

Member

Gyurcsany did not spoil anything. At this point, the more the merrier, and more of the different political forces can stand up, more attention the country and the world will give to what is going on. Anyone, who tries to undermine the importance of unity and any and all available legal means to end the Orban era should be dismissed as they are not there for the “greater good” but to advertise themselves.
Please, do not forget that Clinton and W. Bush did “tour” the country and the world together on few occasions in order to show the unity of all Americans.

Paul
Guest

I don’t trust Schiffer, he feels like a modern-day Orbán to me – far more interested in his personal rise to power and fame than in Hungary’s welfare.
LMP is just his vehicle to power, as Fidesz was for Orbán. It will be shaped and changed and used to Schiffer’s own ends.
He hates Gyurcsány for the same reason as Orbán does – he knows he is his only serious political opposition.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Here is another opinion about Schiffer I also share from Zsófia Mihancsik of Galamus:
http://galamus.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=109166:kakan-is-csomot&catid=71:a-napi-apro&Itemid=109

Member

These two articles are the typical Hungarian sour grape. In less than 24 hours after the demo, that gave a little spark of hope that the country hasn’t drowned in apathy yet, some people are already explaining why the whole thing wasn’t a big deal. Why didn’t you do it? Glory without work? No can do, fellows …
But cheer up! One they we’ll get out of the workhouse and the dictatorship of the cabbage patch (khm … stuffed) kids will be over and we all will look like these gentlemen on this pre-Python sketch (with Marty Feldman !):



Happy christmas y’all!

Wondercat
Guest

Raiffeisen’s Hungarian arm books an E320Mio loss in 2011: http://kurier.at/wirtschaft/unternehmen/4478937-rbi-kapitalspritze-fuer-ungarn-bank.php
This, as the BBC broadcasts TOSCA. I like my melodrama restricted to the stage.

Member

Well this is shameful, but good news. Raiffeisen’s blinked. Too bad for the more than 300 layed off employees.
Secrets of the Google translator from this article:
German to Hungarian translation
“dieser Kosten tragen” -> “medve ezeket a költségeket”
… beacuse the German to English translation is
“dieser Kosten tragen” -> “bear these costs”
(The English word bear is medve in Hungarian [ursus]. They translated it into English first, then to Hungarian).

Guest

Well, the Austrian Raiffeisenbank has signs everywhere (in Austria and here in Hungary) in Hungarian (!) that they have Hungarian-speaking personnel and are waiting for Hungarian customers to bring their money to Austria – maybe that’s why they’re still active in Hungary …
On the other hand there are a lot of Austrians who have bought houses here in the West of Hungary (just like me) and need a Hungarian bank account – for them it seems logical to stay with RBI …
And now, completely OT:
Merry Xmas everybody – and best wishes for the New Year, it can only get better …

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt Damon: “These two articles are the typical Hungarian sour grape”
I didn’t get that impression. Rather that these people dislike Schiffer. And, believe me Mutt, not without reason.

wpDiscuz