The vindictive Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán

It is not a good idea to run afoul of Viktor Orbán. He is not a nice guy and if he feels threatened, humiliated, or even just plain criticized he hits back. Since this vindictive, mean-spirited man became the “lord of the manor” with practically unlimited power, when he hits back he hits back hard. Especially against people who are in no position to retaliate.

He is most likely terribly frustrated that he is the prime minister of a country that belongs to the European Union and thus vis-à-vis Brussels he is forced to submit. I’m sure he often thinks of the good old days between 1998 and 2002 when he didn’t have to bother with the European Union’s bureaucrats. Mind you, then he didn’t have a two-thirds majority behind him. Can you imagine what he could have achieved if he had? But then, Hungary would never have become a member of the European Union in the first place because Orbán’s Hungary wouldn’t have been considered to be a democracy by EU standards.

Here I would like to bring up a couple of examples of the petty mean-spiritedness of Viktor Orbán and his close associates. One is the planned introduction of a new set of rules governing the functioning of the National Assembly, or parliament. The other, the fate of Gábor Iványi’s church and his prize.

Orban fiatal es most

Not just a question of age: Viktor Orbán in 1990 and in 2011

One of Viktor Orbán’s burning desires is to see Ferenc Gyurcsány, his political nemesis, utterly ruined. Perhaps even behind bars. The two men have known each other for a long time. They encountered one another already in 1988-89 during the heady days of transition from dictatorship to democracy. Orbán was one of the leaders of the new independent student organization, Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége (Fidesz) while Gyurcsány was trying to save and transform KISZ (Kommunista Ifjúsági Szövetség). As Gyurcsány later admitted, in those days Orbán was on the right side of history. Orbán, as we know from an old video, had a rather low opinion of the KISZ leaders with two exceptions: Ferenc Gyurcsány and György Szilvásy, later a member of the second Gyurcsány government. Orbán has been working for at least three years to destroy Szilvásy, and there is a distinct possibility that Szilvásy will end up in jail on trumped-up charges sooner or later.

It is unnecesssary to recall the character assassination of Ferenc Gyurcsány that was very effectively executed between 2006 and 2010. Gyurcsány’s sins are numerous as far as Orbán is concerned. For starters, he made Orbán look ridiculous in the television debate a few days before the elections of 2006 and then Gyurcsány beat him at the polls. There is also the strong possibility that Orbán recognizes Gyurcsány’s superior intellect, which only adds to his hatred of his adversary.

On October 22, 2011, Gyurcsány and nine other members of MSZP left the socialists and formed a new political party called Demokratikus Koalíció (DK). The parliamentary committee on constitutional issues decided that the new formation would be able to form a caucus in six months’ time as laid down in the house rules. The six months will be up in April.

László Kövér, the speaker of the house, shortly after the establishment of DK indicated that he would like to change the house rules to include a new rule: no new caucus could be formed by members of parliament who received their mandates as members of another party. I’m no expert on house rules, but those who are claim that such a rule would go against the spirit of parliamentary democracy because the right of free decision is vested in individual members. Between November and March Kövér and his legal advisers have been working on a new house rule that will be a great deal stricter than the existing one. It would prohibit the formation of new parliamentary caucuses between elections. That would mean that DK members who left MSZP in the belief that in six months at the latest they would be able to form a distinct political caucus no longer could do so. All that one month before the deadline.

Kover2

László Kövér thinks that he can do practically anything, and he’s right

No final decision has been made yet, but DK has already launched a complaint with the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The pettiness of this particular incident is staggering. What are they afraid of? Ferenc Gyurcsány and his nine DK members? After all, right now DK is a very small party that doesn’t warrant such precautionary measures.

The other example is the case of Gábor Iványi, the pastor of the Evangelical Brotherhood of Hungary, a Methodist group that was established as a separate church in 1981. Problems within the Magyarországi Methodista Egyház (MME) began in the 1970s when leaders of the church had too cozy a relationship with the communist dictatorship. Those who opposed the official line were forced to leave the church, and it took nine years before the authorities allowed the establishment of another one. They were forbidden to use the word “methodist.” Therefore they picked the name Magyarországi Evangéliumi Testvérközösség or MET, emphasizing their adherence to Methodism with this acronym.

Gábor Iványi doesn’t like the Fidesz government and Viktor Orbán certainly doesn’t like Gábor Iványi. Although his church runs several kindergartens, elementary schools, a college, old folks homes, and homeless shelters, the Fidesz government refuses to recognize MET as a church and thus MET most likely will not be able to continue its educational and social activities with the underprivileged, the Roma, and the homeless.

But that is not enough. In today’s Népszabadság there was an article about the Sándor Scheiber Prize which is given yearly to Hungarian citizens or Hungarians living abroad who distinguish themselves in the study of Hebraic studies, in the history of Jewish religion and culture, or whose activities facilitate dialogue between Jews and non-Jews. Three people were nominated this year: Shaul Shaked, professor emeritus from Hebrew University, Károly Kecskeméti, a historian, and Gábor Iványi. The prize normally is awarded on March 3, the day of Rabbi Schreiber’s death. March 3 came and went, but the ministry responsible for awarding the prize was late. As it turned out, they were busy getting rid of Iványi from the list of three. As a result Professor Shaked was the only one who accepted the prize. Kecskeméti refused it in solidarity with Iványi. The attacks go on and on. Total victory is the aim and no effective opposition is allowed.

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GDF
Guest

First a correction (maybe) and then a question:
According to the link above (which leads to a Wikipedia page on the Sandor Schreiber Prize), March 3 is the anniversary of Schreiber’s death, not his birthday.
The article states that the prize is awarded by the minister of culture. But the article says nothing about how the nomination process goes. Does anyone know how that works?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

To GDF, Thank you for the correction. I will fix it shortly.
As for the “minister of culture.” The position no longer exists, but I assume that Géza Szőcs, originally from Cluj/Kolozsvár, who is undersecretary in the oddly named ministry called Ministry of National Resources, is in charge now. One could ask him what he had in mind.

Member

VIKTOR’S VENDETTAS
Let’s not forget another one: Orban’s press harassment and smear campaign against the critical philosophers that presumed to speak less than well of him (“the Heller Gang”). Orban also deployed his hit-man, Bela Gyulai, to try to dig up some dirt with which to pin some peccadillo on the errant dons in the disbursement of their peer-reviewed research grants. Unsuccessful, but never admitted to have been nothing but FUD all along:
http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2011/02/hungarian-academicians-blast-government.html

Kingfisher
Guest

Curiously, Iványi christened one of Orbán’s children …

An
Guest

Yes, and we could add to the list… for example, the case of the Foldrajzi-Nev Bizottsag, a committee that was responsible for naming public facilities. They were not 100% supportive of Orban’s idea of renaming the airport from Ferihegy to Liszt Ferenc Repter (they suggested a version that would have also kept the old name along with the new)… well, they got disbanded right after they had expressed their divergent opinion.

Paul
Guest

OT (apologies, but I think this deserves a wider audience):
Anyone who doubts the extent of anti-Semitism in Hungary should read this – http://www.portfolio.hu/en/economy/anti-semitic_attitudes_are_off_the_charts_in_hungary_adl.23980.html
It’s quite long, but you’ll get the message loud and clear if you skip the article and just look at the graphs at the end – truly frightening.
And before any of our pet trolls pick up on the references to the UK – again, check the graphs.

GDF
Guest

Paul: “Anyone who doubts the extent of anti-Semitism in Hungary should read this – http://www.portfolio.hu/en/economy/anti-semitic_attitudes_are_off_the_charts_in_hungary_adl.23980.html“.
Unfortunately the numbers reflecting the situation before 2009 are not that heartwarming either.
And the expected reaction of those in the high percentages: Well, isn’t that typical, that an online financial magazine deals with this issue?

Member

@ Paul regarding anti-semitism… I find it shocking that people believe that “Jews are more loyal to Israel than to this country”. I mean most Jews haven’t even stepped on the soil in Israel, so how can they be loyal to it. Even the sentence disturbs me, because it is very ambiguous. WHt did it really wanted to say or more so what people think it wanted to say? I think the sentence should read ” “Jews are more loyal to their religion than to this country”. Even that would not be true, but I think what the anti-jewish sentiment is that Jews put their loyalty to their religion and to other Jews. What I find actually more interesting is the question that Orban or Kover would put their religious interest above Hungary or not? Clearly they would, as they already do. So here is an other hypocrisy of the nationalists.

Paul
Guest

The ‘did the Jews kill Christ’ question is a bit odd.
Whatever the arguments on this, Christ was a Jew, so the Jewish authorities killing (or being responsible for the death of) one of their own citizens is hardly of great historical matter.
To them he was just a troublemaker, someone whose preachings and actions threatened the state (and, more importantly, their power and wealth). They weren’t setting out to kill the head of a new religion.
And, anyway, Christ is supposed to have foretold his death, so surely his killers were simply carrying out the will of God – they had no choice.
I find it utterly bewildering that, in the 21st century, such a bizarre question is even being considered, let alone asked.

steve
Guest

The primitive theology of the ordinary Christian clerics is a continuing scandal.
The corrections to their views can be read in the works of Geza Vermes.
The next Vermes book will review the first 300 years of Christianity.
It is a good path to becoming an atheist.

Petofi
Guest

@Some 1…”..jews are more loyal to Israel..”
It’s hard to get a grip on Hungarian double-speak. The ‘meaning’ hits glancingly. Thus, the above phrase hints (falsely, about jewish loyalty to Israel) but the intent is to suggest that jews are, as a group, a fifth column within the country.

Petofi
Guest

@ ‘jews killed Jesus..”
I have a standard comeback for this: “What’s the big deal, anyway?
He was just a ‘used’ rabbi.

Member

@kingfisher “Curiously, Iványi christened one of Orbán’s children …”
Actually his first 2 children. But not only that. He was also the pastor who officiated Orban’s wedding.

GDF
Guest

Mutt Damon:”Actually his first 2 children. But not only that. He was also the pastor who officiated Orban’s wedding.”
That was that Orban. Now we have this Orban. Just look at the two photographs in this blog-posting, they speak for themselves.
A strange encounter soon after the regime change keeps popping up in my memory. I was flying from New York to Budapest and on the flight I met a FIDESZ member (I think he was returning from some kind of training). We had a relatively banal conversation.
At some point I mentioned my attraction to the SZDSZ’s political positions and I also expressed my feeling that the FIDESZ was close to those positions (which at that time was true, I thought). His body language immediately expressed disagreement with this assumption and he also made some remarks that made me believe that either this guy wasn’t a liberal or that my understanding of the FIDESZ politics was completely wrong. I guess the second option was the truth.

riviera1
Guest

Kover is laughable: has no idea of what a Parliamentary
Speaker’s role is. But, a Hungarian always knows better: he
goes to far away places and makes political statements.
The Brits must surely roll their eyes when they hear of him.
But Fidesz in Parliament is a joke: Lazar would’ve been condemned for what he said to Schiffer. There’s no courtesy or decorum. And now, Kover, in his wide-ranging wisdom, will be setting up a Parliamentary ‘police’ to bodily remove
difficult members. A Parliament for Huns.

SQZ
Guest

You are all full of Lo Fasz.

LwiiH
Guest

@Eva, did you see reports that the flashlight police are harassing those trying to collect signatures for DK? I read one some where (need to dig up link) where by even with all of the proper documentation in place, public safety officers effectively shut down a signature collection booth in downtown Budapest (Vaci ut area???) by harassing them for a good portion of the time they were trying to collect signatures.

Member

The correct spelling is Scheiber.

riviera1
Guest

A story:
In my bridge club in Toronto there are a number of Hungarian jews. One of them has belonged to the club since the late 40s. His memories of Hungary are so negative that he refuses to speak the language. He had told me that once, some years back, a Hungarian had come to the club. He spoke little or no English. He seemed like a nice fellow and was dying to speak to him (the old member) but, as he told me, he just couldn’t bring himself to speak the language.
Another story:
Some years ago, my wife and I were walking the streets of ujlipotvaros. We made the acquaintance of a very old lady who
spoke faultless French. She told us she no longer speaks Hungarian. She was in her nineties. Her name was
Mrs. Radnoti Miklos.

riviera1
Guest

@SQZ….”You are all full of Lo Fasz.”
Something for you to further digest, Mr.SQZ:
A geneticist, a recent prizewinner, slyly let slip that 70% of Hungarian Nobel Prize winners were Jewish. Present population of jews in Hungary–34,000.
1993–Rabbi Landeszman’s reply to that genius of Hungarian literature, Istvan Csurka, (who had attacked jews in the country) that without jews, Hungarian culture was nothing more than baggy pants and a whistling peach (sic).
Now here’s something quite typical of Hungary: when told of the rabbi’s statement, Goncz Arpad was outraged (ie. at the rabbi, NOT at Csurka…)

enuff
Guest

anti-Semitism
The following are my husband’s experiences in the subject :-
1) His group of students in the military are openly anti-Jew and often express their opinions on the subject in class.
2) Once during a language exam. (oral), the examinee was talking about her family and named her children, and the examiner interrupted the examinee by asking “so, are you Jewish?” of which the woman answered “yes”. Then no further questions from the examiner.
The second situation might not be anti-jew but at that moment, my husband as the co-examiner felt so uncomfortable and thought his colleague was out of line.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt Damon: “But not only that. He was also the pastor who officiated Orban’s wedding.”
You should add: “belated wedding.” Because these two “good Christians” didn’t feel the necessity either to have a church wedding or baptize their children. This kind of people make me sick.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

LwiH: “did you see reports that the flashlight police are harassing those trying to collect signatures for DK?”
Not yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Csoda. Kegy
Guest

Paul “Christ was a Jew”
Unfortunately not long ago there were priests who taught the opposite in Hungarian schools. A very old heresy. 25 years ago to my knowledge, but quite possible it continues today

Kirsten
Guest
The question of the loyalty of people of Jewish faith with Israel is an interesting question given the difficulties that official Hungary has with magyars in the neighbouring countries who are in many respects loyal to their country. Specifically I speak of people in Most-Hid in Slovakia. Such fear of disloyalty can only mean that magyars should never be loyal to any other country no matter where they live. The logic behind this question also assumes that loyalty towards one country automatically means disloyalty to another. It is apparently necessary to repeat that the EU, with all its flaws, has been a project that tries to raise the importance of cooperation and reduce that of “power politics” (where Hungary, I am sorry to say, has not really excelled). So there might be a gain in losing fear of disloyalty, both of people of non-Christian faith in Hungary (writing that, what assures that Hungarians of Christian faith will always be loyal to the Hungarian government…??? In a modern democratic state we are not the possession of the state, on the contrary, we are under the protection of our country, the policies of which we are asked to help shape. Perhaps this… Read more »
LwiiH
Guest

OT.
The AKK has announced that is may float FX bonds before the IMF deal. Analysis suggest that no one is happy because that suggests that an IMF is now where near close and if successful may reduce the motivation to pursue the IMF deal. That will increase the longer term risks.
So, this is a change in rhetoric.
@Eva, my mistake, it’s LMP that was being harassed. http://www.politics.hu/20120322/local-authorities-try-to-hamper-lmp-referendum-signature-drive/

Member

Eva: Do you mean to say that the Orbans have sinned and had two children out of wedlock? Cannot be, didn’t you read that the the whole EU should not pass any judgement on Orban because he is such a great Christian? My goodness apparently now we would have to take Cohn Bendit’s word against Orban, as according to the church Cohn Bendit sinned. Orban and Cohn Bendit and the liberals after all have lots of in common (except the hypocrisy).
@ Kirsten, I just want you to know that I am reading your previous comments addressed to me, and I fully agree. I did not have anything to add to them, so I just left it. At the same time, I was just thinking, how rude is from me not even acknowledge them. Thank you.

Kingfisher
Guest

The Orbán marriage is the stuff of tabloids. I don’t know what he is up to know but in the late 90s, he openly spent Sunday’s with another lady.

Gedeon Spilett
Guest

@ eva s. balogh
géza szőcs is currently secretary of state for culture

riviera1
Guest

@l loyalty of Hungarians in other countries…
I can understand the discomfort of governments in Slovakia, Romania, and Serbia at Hungary’s aggressive promotion of its citizenship in foreign lands. I’ve never quite understood why the EU tolerates political aggressions by one country in a purely cultural matter–Hungarians can still be ethnically/culturally Hungarian no matter where they are. Why it should be important for them to gain Hungarian citizenship, unless you’re preparing the ground for a future Sudetenland-type action, is beyond me. Moreover, you’re creating the completely anomalous situation of having non-taxpayers voting in Hungarian elections. What would the original Boston
tea-partyers have said about that? (Wouldn’t it be nice if the Fidesz government members had an inkling of world history?)

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