Land lease scandal in Felcsút

It was in March that I first read about the land lease scandal in Felcsút. I don’t think that I have to remind too many readers of Hungarian Spectrum that Felcsút is the small village near Székesfehérvár where the young Viktor Orbán spent his childhood. He must have fond memories of the place because he and his family purchased land there, established a soccer academy, and built a house right next to one of the several soccer fields laid out there in the last few years. So, the prime minister doesn’t have to go far to play his favorite game. The opportunity is right in his backyard.

Felcsút received an awful lot of goodies from the central government. Its favorite son, prime minister between 1998 and 2002, made sure of that. Yet, there was an unpleasant surprise awaiting Viktor Orbán in October 2010 when local elections took place and in Felcsút of all places an “independent” was elected mayor instead of the official Fidesz-KDNP candidate. The difference between the independent György Varga and the Fidesz Mrs. János Flier was only ten votes: 454 to 444.

I remember that the opposition papers made fun of Viktor Orbán’s failure in Felcsút when it became known that the Fidesz candidate for mayor lost. Orbán put on a good face  and muttered something about democracy. However, a couple of weeks later the local Fidesz contingent decided that the independent György Varga could not remain the mayor of Orbán’s hometown. They “discovered” that Varga owed a few thousand forints in taxes and therefore he could be stripped of his office.

New elections were held and, behold, this time one of the town council’s Fidesz members, Lőrinc Mészáros, won. The extended Mészáros family must be a large one or else its members must be very politically minded. Out of the six-member council three carry the Mészáros name.

Now, a year and a half later, Lőrinc Mészáros’s name appeared in the news again. It turned out that the Mészáros family members already owned a sizable parcel of land in Felcsút, but now thanks to a land leasing program of the Orbán government, they received more than 600 hectars in Kajászó, a village about 20 kilometers from Felcsút. Farmers in Kajászó got nothing, although they were initially encouraged by the government’s announcement that local claimants would get preferential treatment.

 

There is still a lot of agricultural land in state hands. The long-term leasing of these lands has been going on for some time. Prior to the elections of 2010 individuals applying for these long-term leases had to turn in bids. The highest bids normally won the leases. The Orbán government changed the rules of the game. Lease rates were fixed–and low. The state actually lost a considerable source of revenue by scrapping the bidding process.

The transactions are now being handled by a special government structure called the Organization of National Land Base. Just to give you an idea of how much land can be acquired for relatively little money if one is well situated: 35,000 hectares are up for grab this year. For these parcels of land the government office received 3,800 requests. The details of the requests are not publicly available, and no one knows on what basis decisions were and are being made.

Who is Lőrinc Mészáros, currently mayor of Felcsút? Well, he also happens to be the president of the Ferenc Puskás Soccer Academy. In addition, he and his wife are the owners of a construction company called Mészáros & Mészáros. The company received 50 hectares in Kajászó, and in other parts of Fejér County another 420 hectares. In addition, Beatrix Mészáros, wife of Lőrinc, received in her own name 94 acres, also in Kajászó. János Mészáros, brother of the mayor, got 140 hectares in Vál, thirteen kilometers from Felcsút.

The small farmers of Kajászó were mighty upset. From the available land not a square meter was available to the locals. The extended Mészáros family, on the other hand, will be able to farm the land for twenty years. The local farmers were especially upset because they are full-time farmers unlike the Mészáros clan who is in the construction business. They did buy some agricultural land in Felcsút, but only a year ago. The locals discovered that there were parcels of land in Kajászó where, even before the winner was declared, the Mészároses had already started working.

According to the act on agricultural lands, an individual family farm cannot receive more than 300 hectares from the Land Base on a long-term lease. Most likely the Mészároses can explain it away by pointing out that three different persons are the beneficiaries of the land grants. In any case, by early April, the Mészáros family of Felcsút could farm 946 hectares of state land for twenty years.

Another family from Felcsút, the Fliers, also received a sizable amount of agriculture land all over Fejér County. You may recall that it was Mrs. János Flier (Fidesz-KDNP) who lost the mayoral election to the independent György Varga. The Flier family is also one of the main supporters of the Soccer Academy of Felcsút.

The charges of corruption raised by LMP and MSZP received support from József Ángyán, who was undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture until January 2012. He resigned in disgust because, as Thomas Eccritt summarized his position in The Economist, it was “a coalition of greedy, exploitative economic interest groups, even ‘mafia families’, speculator ‘oligarchs’ and former collective farm heads, and landowning ‘green barons’ who managed to swipe state farms away from everyone else at their privatisation.” The country’s agricultural wealth is being fleeced by Fidesz party faithfuls and personal friends of the Orbán family.

To the victors belong the spoils; the government’s friends get land, contracts, and other lucrative perks. The “people” remain plebs.

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Member

To Viktor belong the spoils!
Great! He’s introducing feudalism in Hungary. His majesty, Orban the 5th, picked his tenants-in-chief and in exchange they will provide mounted warriors to support the King in the crusades against Brussels.

petofi1
Guest

It would be interesting to find out the hereditary roots of the Meszaros and Flier clans. I’d hazard a guess that there are strong Roma roots there.
To those of you familiar with the films of Kusturica, I imagine that if they–the gypsies in the film–got into the seats of power, they would behave toward the Law…much the way Mr. Orban does: I have a man in Washington past the age of retirement? Let’s pass a special law. We have land to disburse according to a special procedure? Let’s just forget about it.
Someone of ours lost an election? Let’s get something on the winner; and in the new election….let’s do a better job at counting the votes. After all, us old Magyars remember the lesson of papa Stalin: in a democracy, the important thing is who counts the votes.

Kingfisher
Guest

Rather sorry to see the anti-Gypsy reflexes live and kicking, even in otherwise sensible posters.
OT but I see Inforadio is having to reapply for its frequency and lo and behold, the authorities want to dilute THEM with music. I know Inforadio tends to be regarded as pro-Fidesz but in the years I’ve heard it (and I’ve never been a regular listener), it always struck me as being reasonable balanced. Certainly, it deserves to exist in its current form. So I hope those who protested about Klubradio’s fate (and they were right to protest) do likewise for Inforadio.

Member

@Kingfisher I’m sure the 400,000+ peace marchers will be more then willing to protest for a good cause …

petofi1
Guest
@Kingfisher You’re probably a nice fellow and probably young enough to be the victim of knee-jerk political correctness. My bias is homebred: aside from knowing the problems that supposed gypsy ‘refugees’ have caused in Canada…I employed a couple of gypsies to help with my renovation. Well, the old truism came true: give em an inch and they’ll take your arm. Here’s what happened: I hired two of these young fellows–one about 22 the other about 30 something. They were good workers. I told them to come every morning at 7:30. I paid them daily, and , as was the custom in our family, I also fed them lunch at my expense. Well, after a few days, they asked if they could sleep in the apartment. I said yes. To further help them, I got other tenants to agree to redo the balustrade on which they could work in the evenings until 8. Now they asked if their wives could come, too. I said yes. So the wives showed up; they helped with the work in the balustrade. When they were done, I collected the money and paid them. Now, one of them said that he wanted to go home. So… Read more »
GDF
Guest

To petofi1: your experience with two gypsies does not entitle you to conclusions on the whole ethnic group. The same could have happened with two [place here any ethnic group’s name] workers. I will go further: even if this happend to you with all gypsies except one, you should still not generalize because you are then denigrating the one.

Lutra lutra
Guest

Is Orbán Europe’s equivalent of Robert Mugabe?

LwiiH
Guest

The pillaging continues….

Odin's Lost eye
Guest
The Fidesz land grab you ain’t seen nothing yet. Knowing the way in which the Viktator’s mob works there will be a ‘reallocation’ of lands previously leased to others. I am fairly certain of this as a friend of my late wife recently died. He was a farmer and all the land he and his wife had leased (for 20 years) some 10 years ago was seized back by the Land Authority. They also seized part of his holdings which were registered in his own name. This seizure also included the standing crops which were later harvested by the new owner, who should have compensated the old owner for it. The lady went to court but the ‘new owners’ had gone bankrupt so she got nothing. The leases were given to another company which was the prime creditor. The owners of this firm included those folk who had owned the bankrupt firm. The next trick will be to automatically change the ‘selected’ leases from 20 years to say 51 years for simplification of the system and then change all leases over 50 years from leasehold to freehold for a small fee paid to a firm of ‘government commissioners’ (well there… Read more »
Wondercat
Guest

@petofi1, @GDF: Of course “data” is not the plural of “anecdote”. But — just as true is that the burnt child dreads the fire, and is not eager to learn if the next pile of red and glowing coals into which it might put its hand is cold rather than hot. Sometimes anecdote is more than enough to guide our actions.
The race may not always be to the swift, nor the battle to the strong… but that’s the way to bet.

LwiiH
Guest

OT, IMF has slammed the mortgage restructuring scheme as being too one sided against banks and targeted only wealthy households.

Member

@petofi1, I can tell you some “great” stories about “real” Hungarians in Canada, but why bother? I would never say all Hungarians are scums and cheaters because of my experience with them upon arriving to Canada 25 years ago or ever since. The only Hungarians I regularly keep in touch with is the Hungarian butcher, for good reason.
Eva (and all), I am afraid that the land-deals and such is not even the worst. The long lasting effect what is being implemented to the Hungarian culture and eduction, in order to provide jobs for friends and servants, and in order to make dummies out of Hungarians.
THe Media Council, the Uj Szinhaz and the possible removal of Attila Jozsef’s statue are the most publicized issues, but how about the country theaters, like the Gardony Geza theatre in Eger? How about the Highschool in Szigetszentmiklos? And there are many more stories about how people who are close to the Fidesz one way or another receive preferential treatment at he expense of Hungary’s cultural and educational scene.
http://tinyurl.com/cqh5gzs
http://tinyurl.com/d6g9v96

petofi1
Guest

@GDF & Wondercat,
Oy vay! The point of the anecdote was to show a specific situation. There have been other instances, of course. The point is that there is some truth to generalizations. For example, in Toronto, a huge proportion of drug trafficking in a certain sector of that far-reaching city was conducted by
Jamaicans (Men, of course; the Jamaican women are the salt of the earth). But G*d forbid that anyone should mention their origin in print; or that they were black. Political correctness nonsense. Sure, not all Jamaican men but a great number so that any % comparison with other races put them off the charts. Valuable? I’d say, especially if I was an immigration officer working in the carribean.

petofi1
Guest

@ ‘szabadsag harc’
I’ve been trying to make sense of the efficacy of this ‘freedom fight’ of Orban’s. My nearest experience, I suppose, was the War Measures Act of 1970 invoked when two government personnel were kidnapped by members of Quebecs’ FLQ (and one of them was murdered, too).
It appears to me that Orban is using his ‘freedom fight’ to send the message that the country is on a type of war setting. The effect is to signal that the country is to rally behind him and Fidesz; that criticism should be muted; that loyal Hungarians should follow the leader unquestioningly.
In other words, he seems to be ruling as if a war measures act has been instituted without actually having done so.
Neat trick by the little gypsy.

Member

@petofi “Neat trick by the little gypsy.”
Do you refer the US president as “the black guy”?
By the way what was your problem with these gipsies? They worked for you – then they left. Now your problem is that the cheap immigrant laborers are gone. That’s annoying … try a Canadian. Too expensive?

Member

Meanwhile on Planet Hungary …
Little tidbit about the Hungarian economic miracle … There was a shortage of eggs in Hungary just before Easter. No shit Sherlock the egg consumption went up for a few days. So the price of the eggs almost doubled then it went down again thanks to the eggs imported from Turkey and the Unites States (!). No kidding.
There’s gotta be a international conspiracy. I demand a parliamentary committee. The left liberal press confused our chickens and they stopped laying eggs. We lost another freedom fight against our chickens.
How the hell can you blame the EU for our economic perils when our farmers are so lazy that they lose revenue on eggs even at Easter?

Member

Meanwhile on Planet Hungary …
The director of the state (ie. FIDESZ) run Hungarian News Agency, Csaba Belénessy, banned employes posting “political” comments on the internet.
If you criticize the government you lose your job. Welcome back tovarish Kadar.
Does the new constitution allow this?

petofi1
Guest
@Mutt I need explain, I see. The problem was that I had told them there was about another two weeks worth of work. They had begged me for work. They needed money for their families. So, I had gone out of my way not only to employ them daily, but to allow, first, them to sleep in the apartment; then their wives to join them and daily go to market and trade and sell; and for all this, at the first opportunity, they up and left with nary a good-bye. My problem is this: no matter what I did for them–and I paid them above the going rate, not to mention the daily free lunch–it meant nothing as far as THEY owing me the obligation of behaving properly; that is, to finish the work. In other words, what I did for them, in their eyes, was because I ‘fell’ for their stories. I was a sap, and nothing more. So, please keep your Marxist nonsense about ‘cheap labour’ among your university files.. As for Obama, I was pro for quite a while until he did his “I’m just-one-of-the-guys” number by going on Leno and Oprah. Quite unseemly and I would’ve… Read more »
Member

@Petofi Exactly. They is nothing “gipsy” in your story.
If I hire cheap Mexicans I know the rules. No complaino. No Marxismo.

Guest

Eggs are still expensive here. We just agreed to pay our neighbours 40 Forint instead of 30 (their costs are also going up) – the Spar and Tesco ask between 50 and 70 (for Bio-eggs …).
But of course that price of 40 Forint gives us really good tasting products – my wife just had two “tükör tojás” for lunch and I had “Hortobagyi palacsinta” made from the pörkölt leftovers …
OT:
Does anyone remember how last year the price of sugar exploded all over Eastern Europe (not just Hungary) to more than 350 Forint ?
Now it’s back to 270/275 …
Can anyone explain that ?

petofi1
Guest

@Mutt & GDF & Wondercat…
Another thing: the situation in Hungary has left us older Hungarians way past a pleasant discursive stage. We’re red-hot angry at seeing Hungary turn into a wild, lawless, fear-encrusted pariah of Europe. Those of us who were Hungarian born but grew up elsewhere are way less than appreciative of being plucked like chickens of RIGHTS that are the norm in civilized societies in which we grew up (In my case, Canada.)
But worse still, we hate to see what is happening before our eyes presently; and what we, with a lifetime of life-experience, see as to the probable, horrid, future this country is heading toward. And, Age being what it is, Anger is one of our few weapons left….

Odin's Lost eye
Guest

Petofi1 I watch the majority of the folk of this country being ‘ripped off’, their businesses looted/taken over, their land filched, their wages only being partially paid and their employers pocketing the rest. I am sickened by the toggers and ‘scunners’ amongst the youth using physical force to get the rest of the young to comply with the demands of rabid nationalism and join Jobbik. The graft which is reaching into every corner of public life is in the becoming legendary.
But then I think “No the people chose to vote Fidesz, so they brought it on themselves” we total foreigners should not interfere except in those areas where Hungary has promised to do so by treaty.
It is only the Hungarians who can topple these coves. You know how to do it.

petofi1
Guest

@ Odin’s Lost Eye,
I, as in ‘of the People’, voted for Fidesz. It was a reaction to the thieving MSZP. I never thought I was giving my OK to the deconstruction of Democracy in the country! However, I was warned: a knowledgeable, young, lawyer-friend of mine said that it was very dangerous for Fidesz to win a 2/3 majority.
Not many had her foresight. I’m sure that given a vote again, Fidesz would be voted out. Those ‘uncertain’ voters would come down against what has happened in the last two years.
Problem is, the only viable alternative–Bajnai–has no party.
While the opposition is busily fighting each other.

An
Guest

@Petofi
Sorry, you had to learn the hard way. Your friend was right, and really, Fidesz was maybe more moderate (they lacked the power of the 2/3 majority), but in essence was the same when first was in office.
Kerek-Barczy Szabolcs’s piece from those times (who used to work in the first OV government), is worth reading.
http://nol.hu/belfold/20100724-mi_lett_veled__istvan_
“Sokkoló volt, hogy amikor még kinevezésünk előtt, 1998. június 17-én Bártfai Béla leendő miniszterelnökségi közigazgatási államtitkárral, annak kocsijával Stumpf lakására hajtottunk, Bártfai jelentőségteljesen közölte velem, hogy most az a feladatunk, hogy anyagi értelemben is behozzuk azt a hátrányt, amit a kommunisták negyvenéves regnálása során elszenvedtünk.
Hasonló megjegyzéseket Istvántól és a Fidesz számos ma is prominens vezetőitől hallottam akkoriban, ám hajlamos voltam ezt a friss kormányzati hevület számlájára írni. Néhány hónap alatt azonban kénytelen voltam belátni, hogy illúziót kergettem: Orbán kormányzásának alapvető célja és lényege volt a jogszabályokkal és az adófizetők pénzével való gátlástalan, „kreatív” gazdálkodás. Ebben a miniszterelnök minden részletre kiterjedő irányító, kancelláriaminisztere pedig kezdeményező és csúcsvégrehajtó szerepet játszott.”

petofi1
Guest

@Oversight committee in Parliament with stringent penalties including jail time…
@ OVERISGHT COMMITTEE FOR PARLIAMENT
It is worthy to note that neither Fidesz nor MSZP, or any other party, HAS EVER SUGGESTED that a special committee be set up that monitors how government contracts are given out; as well as stringently checking on conflict of interest and possible
parliamentary kickbacks and the like.
Shouldn’t that be the first order of business of any new government? WOULDN’T IT BE NICE IF A PARTY RAN ON THE PRIMARY PLATFORM OF ENDING GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION?

Member

I have just read in Index that there will be new stadiums built for country’s most popular team, Ferencvaros; its most recently successful, Debrecen and… for, naturally, a village in the arse-end of nowhere, Felcsut. Their stadium will, of course be slightly more modest, containing only 3,500 covered seats for the village’s 2000 residents- plenty of room there even for the more rotund of Mr Orban’s local devotees.
As Professor Balogh points out:
“To the victors belong the spoils; the government’s friends get land, contracts, and other lucrative perks. The “people” remain plebs”.
But the truth is that people only remain plebs because they refuse to get off their knees and challenge the political/economic mafia which is raping the country.
Orban knows the sheep will continue to baa quietly no matter what he gets up.

Guest

OT: On the page for the Ferenc Puskas Football Academy it shows the motto of the place as “Whatsoever a man soweth so shall he reap.” Very apt for this blog. http://www.pfla.hu/?q=en#siprit

Guest

I meant the topic of this particular blog, not Dr. Balough’s blog in general.

Kirsten
Guest

Mutt, Wolfi, as regards the eggs, I think that the reasons for the egg shortage will have been similar as in the Czech Republic, where this was a hot topic, too. The EU has, already some time ago, demanded that chickens have to be kept in more spacious cages from this year on. The farms in all member states had enough time to prepare for these new rules by installing more spacious cages. But there were some member states where preparations were delayed (too costly!), among them the Czech R and apparently also Hungary, which then reduced the available space for keeping chicken and supply of eggs. Prosaic, and Hungary cannot even claim to be unique :-).

Member

So they couldn’t spend on cages to have more revenue .. it is indeed sounds like a chicken and egg problem. This chicken home footage is probably the only EU law we haven’t broken.

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