Milla and LMP: Double curse of current Hungarian politics

A few days ago I made optimistic noises about a possible collaboration among democratic parties and anti-Fidesz civic organizations without which there can be no change of government in 2014. My optimism resulted from the joint demonstration by DK, MSZP, and Solidarity at the conclusion of the hunger strike of four DK members of parliament. Since then I have been awakened from my dream.

Only a few days after the hopeful signs of cooperation Milla, a civic organization that began on Facebook on December 22, 2010, announced that it is refusing to cooperate with another civic group, Solidarity, because the leaders of that movement want to cooperate with already existing parties. And Milla refuses to get involved in any political action that is supported by political parties. For all practical purposes, a contradiction in terms.

One of the leaders of Milla is Péter Juhász; he is the one who most often represents this civic movement in the media. He showed up on ATV back in August; he gave a couple of interviews on Klubrádió; and only a few days ago Vera Lánczos, one of the members of the Galamus Group, conducted a long interview with him.

Almost two months ago Vera Lánczos expressed her misgivings about the direction in which Milla was going under the guidance of Péter Juhász and his friends in an article entitled “The Milla: ‘Dilettantes, spare me!'”  I wrote about Milla and this article earlier. My opinion hasn’t changed since. I consider Juhász a very confused man who may end up inflicting irreparable damage on Hungarian democracy.

@conservativepress-us

The real problem is that Juhász seems to view the last twenty-two years of Hungarian politics as a steady march away from democracy. According to him, SZDSZ was and MSZP and DK still are just as undemocratic as Fidesz is. Thus he rejects any cooperation with them. In this respect he shares the opinion of the LMP politicians who are convinced that an overwhelming majority of the undecided voters reject both sides and want nothing to do with them.

But Juhász is wrong on several points. He is wrong about the composition of the currently undecided camp. There have been several studies lately that show that the majority of the undecided voters lean toward the left. These are the people who were dissatisfied with the way things were going between 2006 and 2010 and voted for Fidesz in the hope of a radical change for the better. Yes, there was radical change but not for the better. These people are still waiting, but when the chips are down they will most likely vote for one of the parties on the left. And some of them have already returned to the fold. After all, public opinion polls show a steady if slow growth in the number of MSZP voters.

Juhász is wrong on another point. In one of his interviews he emphasized that the Orbán government can be defeated only if the disappointed voters on the right can be persuaded to join forces with the civic groups. If they see that these civic groups are joined by political leaders, they will shrink from cooperating with them. I personally very much doubt that truly committed conservatives would in large numbers join Milla or some other civic group regardless of whether they refuse to cooperate with parties or not. Moreover, there are mighty few moderate conservatives on the Hungarian right.

As for the general anti-political rhetoric of Juhász, he is not very original. After all, this is exactly the position of LMP. The last twenty-two years were a total waste of time, money, and energy. All parties are rotten with the exception of LMP. It is pure and honest because its politicians were in no way responsible for the alleged sins of the past. After all, they are a new party. It seems to me that the only party Juhász would cooperate with is LMP. But there is a problem, and that is a big one. LMP was never a big party (it attracted mostly young Budapest intellectuals), and it is rapidly losing ground. According to the latest Ipsos poll LMP lost 4% of its voters in August and September. I believe the loss is due to the party’s refusal to cooperate with the other democratic parties. LMP managed to sink down to the level of the much maligned party of Ferenc Gyurcsány. Both DK and LMP have a 2% share of the electorate.

LMP needs a base, and I guess András Schiffer et al. believe that Milla will be an ideal vehicle for gathering voters around LMP.  Both organizations believe that all of the undecided voters share Milla’s skepticism about the older parties and they will vote en bloc for LMP. With a current popularity of two percent? Madness.

It doesn’t seem to matter what points Juhász’s interviewers bring up as valid arguments against his beliefs, he remains steadfast. He refuses to cooperate with Solidarity, a civic organization that is ready to join the democratic parties in their planned demonstration on October 23. He also seems to refuse to consider any demonstration against Fidesz’s attempts to limit the number of voters by introducing an absolutely unnecessary registration procedure. According to Juhász, demonstrations were useless in the past and they will be so in the future. So, let’s forget about them.

According to Juhász, Milla was silent during the summer but now its members are moving full force into organizational activities. They put, he said, a lot of energy into a website called MillaMédia. Well, I took a look at it and I agree with György Kakuk that the website is as confusing as their political views. Kakuk specifically brought up the stop sign with runic script. What do the leaders of Milla want to tell us with that? Colossal confusion everywhere.

I suspect that LMP is using Milla to its own political purposes, but the cooperation is unlikely to bear fruit. A tiny party aided by the confused leadership of a civic organization is unlikely to be able to defeat the well organized party of Viktor Orbán. There might be 99,810 “likes” on Milla’s Facebook page, but that means nothing in the harsh light of political reality.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Kingfisher
Guest

When you read a document like this: http://www.scribd.com/doc/106074761/Baloldalisag-Remeny-Er%C5%91 (for non-Hungarian readers, this is a leaked MSZP’s strategy document) you can see that Milla’s “plague on both your houses” attitude has some justification.

I do agree in general terms that it is frustrating how brainless the Hungarian opposition is. Anyone who has worked in a Hungarian workplace will know just how hard it is for Hungarians to work together and it is sad that this is no less true in politics.

Guest
London Calling! I am so depressed that civic groups like Milla still stick to principles and no pragmatism. They will learn the lesson next election when they are cast into the political wilderness. I mentioned – in another post – our ‘Liberal’ party in England who have never had power as currently constituted – and have been in the wilderness for decades – until we had our first coalition government. They came to the realisation – and the surprise – that sometimes you have to get into bed with the devil. They have just made an embarrassing apology for agreeing to introduce tuition fees – when the made a very public pledge that they wouldn’t. But they are in government for the very first time. The ‘contradiction in terms’ situation of Milla and others is just sweet sweet political innocence and naiveté that will take not just one election defeat – but several – before enlightenment hits home. The English political road is littered with hundreds of inexperienced, principled, good intentioned ‘parties’ – that never saw the light of day. Just forfeited election deposits. (In England you have to pay an election deposit which is only forfeited if you get… Read more »
An
Guest

It seems Hungary is stuck. The case of the Hungarian opposition reminds of a story by Istvan Orkeny (from the 60s):The Last Cherry Pit
http://web.mit.edu/norvin/www/somethingelse/cherrypit.html

spectator
Guest

Aiming for political changes within the rules of democracy without parties – it really could be some experience..!
Just as well if we buy a Perpetual Motion Machine from this guy!

Not to mention that slight little glitch in the logic in the statement:
“…the Orbán government can be defeated only if the disappointed voters on the right can be persuaded to join forces with the civic groups.”

Please, tell, just how the government can be defeated without politics and politicians involved? Are we already passed the possibilities of democratic solutions?
Does he expecting that Orban will run away because the civilians will so?
Having government and parliament without politics at all – how and why?

Has anyone heard something or other, how the life without politics should work in Hungary?

spectator
Guest

An :
It seems Hungary is stuck. The case of the Hungarian opposition reminds of a story by Istvan Orkeny (from the 60s):The Last Cherry Pit
http://web.mit.edu/norvin/www/somethingelse/cherrypit.html

An, this is the case of the whole Hungary, unfortunately!

Guest
London Calling! Mightily O/T – so ignore me please! Featured at the top of international radio news recently was the position of Roma Catholics in Germany. Apparently many German’s are refusing to pay their charity tax to the Roman Catholic church and therefore it is going to the Government (a strange tax feature that we don’t have in England and which was thankfully explained by our German contingent on here recently). This is a backlash to the terrible systemic sex abuse of children over many decades by the ‘celibate’ priests. (In Australia the RC church has ‘fessed’ up to 600 cases with ’70’ in the pipeline – when many people in Australia believe that it is more like 10,000. And the RC church should hand over the cases and evidence to the police. In England you are committing an offence if you know a crime I being committed but fail to call the police. Many in Australia think its damage limitation by the Cats.) Apparently too the church receives €5 billion in Germany from this tax (which I find quite staggering!). The church is fighting back (with very unchurch-like tactics) – saying you won’t receive an RC burial if you… Read more »
Guest

London Calling!

Spectator!

Don’t challenge us. We are very creative on here.

We once had a debate on ‘Anti-Semitism without the Jews’ on here!

We could easily do: ‘Politics without Politics’!!

(Mutt – Ovidu never did answer your question ‘After this deep analysis – what?’ did he?)

So don’t start!

Regards

Guest

Charlie you can read it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_tax

In a nutshell:

It’s a (ca 8 -9 %) of your income tax that you pay in addition to the standard income tax (if you’re a member of one of the involved churches) and it’s collected by the state and given to the churches – so on your tax form there is an extra field: Which church do you belong to ?

On my form that field has always been blank, although I had to go to the state registration office first (“Standesamt”, which also handles important things like marriages and birth certificates) when I left school and started to make some real money …

All churches together get around 1200 million € from this tax …

Very convenient for the churches ….

One member of my family is a real “Anti-Christ”, he likes to quote from the series of books “Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums” by Deschner. And he always emphasises that the churches in Germany also get additional money from the state for their schools etc – so how do they spend that tax ?

PS: I’m just a-religious, that’s enough for me.

Guest

London Calling!

An

Your story link is so evocative of ‘Thomas, Richard and Harold’ by Rowan Atkinson – which at the very least shows the perils of not working together!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaYXWAZmPfI

Regards

Charlie

Guest

Mutt?

The BBC report here said that the RC’s in Germany receive €5 Billion – what’s the German version of Billion in Germany – you say 12,000 million – is that €12 Billion?

Kirsten
Guest
“Has anyone heard something or other, how the life without politics should work in Hungary?” Of course it cannot. But on the other hand – given the reputation of the existing parties and of the political business in general – how do you want to motivate people to give some public involvement a try? It is certainly “unprofessional” and not helpful in replacing OV quickly but if this is an avenue how to attract people who were not related to a “movement” before, I am still willing to find something positive to it. In Germany a year ago, a “pirates party” got into the regional parliament of Berlin. People with no political background whatsoever believing in “transparency of politics” and grassroots democracy. Reality made at least a part of those people think about how the ideals fit into the political process, they learned why you need a “strategy”, a “programme”, and an organisation. (But I think they are still struggeling to make it to a proper party.) Jano wrote here some days ago that he will go to the next elections although he has only the choice between several “thieves”. If this is the general perception, what route is open… Read more »
Paul
Guest
CharlieH : London Calling! Mightily O/T – so ignore me please! Featured at the top of international radio news recently was the position of Roma Catholics in Germany. Apparently many German’s are refusing to pay their charity tax to the Roman Catholic church and therefore it is going to the Government (a strange tax feature that we don’t have in England and which was thankfully explained by our German contingent on here recently). This is a backlash to the terrible systemic sex abuse of children over many decades by the ‘celibate’ priests. (In Australia the RC church has ‘fessed’ up to 600 cases with ’70′ in the pipeline – when many people in Australia believe that it is more like 10,000. And the RC church should hand over the cases and evidence to the police. In England you are committing an offence if you know a crime I being committed but fail to call the police. Many in Australia think its damage limitation by the Cats.) Apparently too the church receives €5 billion in Germany from this tax (which I find quite staggering!). The church is fighting back (with very unchurch-like tactics) – saying you won’t receive an RC burial… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest
Kirsten
Guest

For those who do not wish to search I repeat here this:
“And as regards the role of the Church, is should not be underrated that the Papal States were largely absorbed in Italy. And it might be of interest for you that the Holy See is (I think contrasting with the position of all other churches but in that I am not entirely sure) ” a non-territorial entity with a legal personality akin to that of states”:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_status_of_the_Holy_See. Also a historical “holdover”. ”

Might be that in England this sounds totally unbelievable but not all countries went through your type of Reformation.

An
Guest

@Kirsten: For LMP and Milla, the options are

Option A:
Step 1: ally themselves with all opposition groups
Step2: get OV voted out of power
Step 3: strengthen democratic institutions and democratic practices, increase transparency
Step 4: either in government or opposition, LMP (Milla) should fight to increase transparency and to decrease corruption, because if the system is fundamentally democratic, there is a way for parties and advocacy groups to push for change

Option B:
Step 1: opposition does not unite because Milla and LMP does not want to lumped together with “thieves”
Step 2: Loose election to OV
Stet 3: Corruption further increases, as the essence of Fidesz rule is to institutionalize corruption to feed its nepotistic power structure
Because the system severely limits democratic institutions and practices, in such a system it is absolutely zero what opposition parties and advocacy groups can do to decrease corruption.

In short, if you want to get rid of the “thiefs”, you need to get rid of Fidesz first and strengthen the democratic foundations of the country. It doesn’t mean you have to stop there, but that is step 1.

Kirsten
Guest

An, I fully agree with your assessment. The problem that I see is that people in Milla etc. do not seem to see a difference between MSzP and Fidesz. And while that is perhaps in some respect comprehensible, they do not appear to see any difference between any parties whatsoever. Alright, now I see the point, Option A has to be somehow accomplished without them.

Kirsten
Guest

“Germany was a secular state whose citizens were mostly protestant.”

That is not correct. Frau Merkel faced some opposition in her Christian Democratic Party because she is protestant. Many southern areas of Germany are Catholic, and I can assure you they are even religious.

Member

The Hungarian IRS investigated the leaders of the Milla movement about their connections and taxes days before their March demonstration and they did find problems with their previous tax returns. There is no word about a follow-up.

They might be blackmailed by Orban & Co to divide the opposition since then:

http://www.stop.hu/belfold/mit-akart-az-adohivatal-a-millasoktol-megnezheti-a-jegyzokonyvben/1006274/

Daily demonstrations would limit the arbitrary power of the Fidesz – their dictatorship cannot be overthrown by only 2 demonstrations per year (March 15 and October 23). Orban feared only the unexpected crowd on January 2nd, 2012.

An
Guest

Kirstan, Option A need to be accomplished with anybody who is committed to res-establishing democracy proper (and not a pseudo-democracy) in Hungary. If MszP on board with that goal, and as much as I agree that they have proved themselves to be corrupt and inept… but they haven’t crossed the line that Fidesz have crossed. MszP is a democratic party.

The trick for Milla-LMP is to keep the anti-corruption agenda alive after OV is gone… if LMP is part in a governing coalition, than there, if it is part of the opposition, than there. It will be a long struggle, but if they keep it on the agenda and are forceful about it, that can bring change to the Hungarian political culture.

I think Hungary would also need a strong anti-corruption grass-root organization … maybe Milla could transform itself into one. If Hungarians had enough of the political corruption within parties, it’s time they do something about it… not just complain that all parties are corrupt, so who should they choose. Of course, such grass root initiative could only be successful in a democracy.

Member

I do not agree with An’s assessment. Simply because that is not stage one. Milla and LMP is just way to “holistic”, and not on a good way. They have some growing up to do before anyone who is serious in politics could take them serious. I do understand that their intentions are good, but the way they go about it spells big trouble in a future coalition. Imagine the scenario that a coalition forms “as is”, and they win the election. Can you imagine the mayhem? Can you imagine how each one of the “members” would fight for power as their translation of democracy is so different. Just reading that kind of crap that “we are young, so we are not tainted” makes my blood curl. Both Mila and LMP should comb through what really matters and scrape the virgin attitude off their platform before any party should consider to cooperate with them, or Hungarians will pay the prize while Orban will laugh his head off from Graz.

An
Guest

@Some1: Well, if they’d realize the need for uniting all opposition against OV, that could be one sign of “maturing”. I see the attitude you describe and I agree that has to go… but I don’t see a big difference in their translation of democracy.

petofi
Guest

An :
@Kirsten: For LMP and Milla, the options are
Option A:
Step 1: ally themselves with all opposition groups
Step2: get OV voted out of power
Step 3: strengthen democratic institutions and democratic practices, increase transparency
Step 4: either in government or opposition, LMP (Milla) should fight to increase transparency and to decrease corruption, because if the system is fundamentally democratic, there is a way for parties and advocacy groups to push for change
Option B:
Step 1: opposition does not unite because Milla and LMP does not want to lumped together with “thieves”
Step 2: Loose election to OV
Stet 3: Corruption further increases, as the essence of Fidesz rule is to institutionalize corruption to feed its nepotistic power structure
Because the system severely limits democratic institutions and practices, in such a system it is absolutely zero what opposition parties and advocacy groups can do to decrease corruption.
In short, if you want to get rid of the “thiefs”, you need to get rid of Fidesz first and strengthen the democratic foundations of the country. It doesn’t mean you have to stop there, but that is step 1.

You forgot option C (always a viable alternative in these Balkan countries)–be healthily paid off and join the thieves.

Paul
Guest

Fidesz-Jobbik will win the next election (and the one after that) whatever the so-called ‘opposition’ do or don’t do.

They’d be better off starting from scratch and building a movement/party/philosophy/whatever so that when Orbán’s wheels finally come off there’s somebody with a plan and the means to carry it out ready to step in and take over.

The one thing worse than Hungary under Orbán is going to be Hungary after Orbán.

Member
The good news is that Milla is not a party. They don’t fragment the votes. Their supporters will still vote against the FIDESZ in one way or another. They will vote for the LMP very likely. I still don’t understand what’s the reason for the big fear from the LMP? I don’t like their green, anti-capitalist ideas, but they do a lot of good things. Will the MSZP be leaking voters to the LMP when 2014 approaches? Or is it killing the Democratic Coalition (Gyurcsany)? Juhász definitely seems a big mouthed amateur to me. Lots of pointless blah-blah. Talk is cheap. Let’s see what they can do when the registrations come. I’m afraid their will be nothing when action will be needed and their credibility will melt very fast. His argument against the demonstrations really blows my mind. I almost believed that the guy is on Orban’s payroll. Seriously? In what way would hinder your activities if you would march together with the other groups and horribile dictu you would pledge alliance? This makes you feel that they are just a balloon waiting to be popped. Orban is definitely laughing in the background. He knows the half-asians want to follow.… Read more »
hunleonidas
Guest

Reblogged this on hungarianvirus and commented:
Eva you are right…but we have around hundred FACEBOOK groups close to 400.000 hungarian, who wants to kick put the Orban-Dictatorship. I will send you the list today. They are against both side. Milla is included, but they are soft and already trying to be politicians. But we need everybody, who can still think normal, to get out if this insanity. We need international support.

oneill
Guest

Milla is essentially a Facebook phenomenon and as such will not compete in the next elections- Orban’s re-election does not depend on what advice or opinion their leadership gives nor indeed what happens with the LMP’s vote. If the MSZP (or the democratic opposition or whoever) convinces enough of that 100,000 or so “Likes” to vote for what appears to be shaping up to a programme which reads simply “We are not Orban”, then fine. If they don’t, then that’s not the fault of Milla.

With regards “demonstrations”, they have completely lost their value now that the regime has proved it can bring similar and higher numbers (albeit the vast majority of whom were bewildered geriatrics being paid to go up to the Smoke for a jolly outing or fascists or foreigners or a mixture of all three categories).

The next step (for Milla) should have been pacifist civil resistance against the regime but they (for whatever reason) bottled it. Not so much a Hungarian Spring, more a Hungarian Bank Holiday can summarise the effect that the opposition, both in and outside parliament have had against the regime.

Member

There’s a question to which I have never received an adequate answer: If Orban is truly intent on building dictatorship along the lines of his Kadarite forebears, then what difference does it make whether the opposition unites in 2014 or not?

Orban has the power to
1) Amend the election law up to the last minute to ensure a Fidesz victory
2) Cancel the elections (probably in the name of Hungarian solidarity or some such rot)
3) Disqualify ballots cast for the opposition
4) Ignore the election results entirely

So, either Orban is a quasi-dictator who will maintain power at all costs, or he is a democrat who is willing to face the electorate. If the former is true, then what difference does Milla or Szolidaritas or LMP or MSZP or DK or Bajnai make?

Maria
Guest

Mutt :
I still don’t understand what’s the reason for the big fear from the LMP? I don’t like their green, anti-capitalist ideas, but they do a lot of good things. Will the MSZP be leaking voters to the LMP when 2014 approaches? Or is it killing the Democratic Coalition (Gyurcsany)?

The problem with LMP is
1. that they are not willing to cooperate with the other democratic parties, which – already in the last elections – led to better results for Fidesz and,
2. (and this is what I am missing in this otherwise very interesting post) that they are very willing to cooperate with Jobbik.

petofi
Guest

I wish someone would explain to me what Gyurcsany was supposed to have done to created the everlasting
enmity of LMP’s Schiffer? In that politician’s eyes,
Gyurcsany appears to be a greater danger than Orban..
I don’t get it.

wpDiscuz