Gordon Bajnai versus Attila Mesterházy: Two views, two strategies

Although the democratic opposition is in disarray, the Fidesz government is already preparing the ground for a possible return of Gordon Bajnai as leader of the opposition that hopes to regain power after the 2014 elections.

A sure sign that Viktor Orbán is somewhat worried about Bajnai’s candidacy is that Kehi (Kormányzati Ellenőrzési Hivatal/Government Control Office) just made the decision to initiate a formal investigation in connection with the sale of Dataplex Kft back in 2005. The accused are not mentioned by name, but the suspicion is that the real targets are Gordon Bajnai and János Kóka (SZDSZ), minister of economics and transportation between 2004 and 2008. Indeed, today’s Heti Válasz claims that the paper has absolute proof of the guilt of these two men. Anyone who’s interested in the complicated story of  Dataplex Kft. can find plenty of material in Magyar Nemzet and Heti Válasz in 2009 and 2010. In brief, the charge is that in three months Kóka and Bajnai made 3 billion forints on the sale of Dataplex Kft., originally a state-owned firm. They bought it on the cheap and sold it for a handsome profit to Magyar Telekom.

Heti Válasz, which began investigating the case in 2007, is overjoyed. At last, after all the cases that Budai investigated came to naught, here is one that is rock solid. Or at least this is what the   pro-Fidesz organ claims. Well, we will see. After all, it is also in today’s news that Gyula Budai, who was sued by Ferenc Gyurcsány and Gordon Bajnai because he had accused them of perjury, was found guilty today. He is obliged to pay 300,000 forints to each man and must publicly apologize for falsely accusing them of a very serious crime.

So, why this sudden interest in Bajnai’s candidacy and how serious is it? First, yesterday Ferenc Gyurcsány wrote a short note on Facebook in which he summarized the current political situation as he sees it. According to him, many people think that the chaos among the different groups that oppose the current government makes the situation hopeless. But he is more upbeat. From the study by the Homeland and Progress Foundation, established by Gordon Bajnai, everyone knows that without cooperation there is no way of removing Viktor Orbán from power. LMP refuses to cooperate with any other political party. MSZP doesn’t exclude the possibility of cooperation, but Mesterházy and his circle believe in the possibility of winning the elections on their own. After praising Mesterházy as the chairman of the party, Gyurcsány pretty well declares that Mesterházy is not a good candidate for the job of prime minister. He likens the situation to the 1998-2002 period when, although László Kovács managed to build up MSZP, he was wise enough to allow Péter Medgyessy to be the official candidate for prime minister. “He stepped back and his party won.”

From here it’s but a short step to naming Bajnai as an acceptable candidate of the joint effort to dislodge Viktor Orbán. “The key is in Gordon Bajnai’s hand.” DK is not putting up anyone for the post, so it is up to LMP and MSZP to shape what happens. If they refuse to cooperate with all other forces Viktor Orbán will remain and “the voters will punish them. Rightly….”

An article that appeared yesterday in HVG deals with the same topic. Gábor Gavra and Ferenc M. László claim that “Bajnai already decided but MSZP is unwilling.” The authors seem to know that negotiations are going on between the staff of Bajnai and the MSZP leadership, but it seems that Mesterházy and his friends within the party believe that they don’t need anyone from the outside to win the elections. Within the party only Péter Kiss and Ildikó Lendvai are pushing for cooperation, not only with other parties but also with civic groups like Milla, 4K, and Szolidaritás.

According to the information these two reporters received, Mesterházy is against any kind of coalition/cooperation with the other parties. Working out a common platform with LMP is almost impossible because MSZP would have to make too many compromises. As for DK, he is certain that the current supporters of Gyurcsány’s party will eventually return to the fold.

There seems to be another consideration within the leadership of MSZP. According to the current MSZP strategy that surfaced a few days ago, MSZP wants to return to the traditional left-wing policies that made the socialists popular in the past. The proponents of this return to old-fashioned socialism accuse Gyurcsány and others of infecting MSZP with the virus of liberalism. Liberalism might appeal to intellectuals, but MSZP doesn’t even want to be popular with that segment of MSZP supporters. The eggheads should follow the party’s leadership, not the other way around.

Mesterházy apparently also believes that if Gordon Bajnai headed the ticket it would serve Fidesz well. Fidesz would come up with Bajnai’s austerity package and a “bad deal with the IMF.”

So, apparently this is where we stand. I don’t know why Ferenc Gyurcsány is optimistic.

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Jano
Guest
One thing is for sure, the only person who has showed ability to govern without any allures. I wouldn’t care too much about the scandals of the Gyurcsány government if his governance had been fruitful and good at least. Along the same lines I don’t really know anything about the Dataplex case (but the timing makes it very plausible at least that Fidesz has realized the threat), Bajnai might be dirty or not, but at this point all I care about is that I don’t see any other viable candidates who has a chance of avoiding total political chaos in the after Orbán world and who has at least some non-zero credibility in the public eye. MSZP is not learning at all. The “program” Kingfisher linked here multiple time is unbelievably opportunistic, cynical, dumb, shortsighted and thus scary in the current situation. If this is the best we have as an alternative, we might as well stay in the Viktorian era… Haven’t we had enough populism already? I think Gyurcsány is right about Mesterházy and I don’t see any reason for his optimism either. My speculative feeling is that MSZP might not even want to win in 2014. I think… Read more »
Jano
Guest

Sorry, the first sentence was meant to end with “was Bajnai”

petofi
Guest

Jano :
Sorry, the first sentence was meant to end with “was Bajnai”

Bajnai is not only logical but a surprising ‘find’ under the circumstances. I also agree that MSZP–as criminal as you can be outside of Fidesz–wants nothing to do with him because he might establish a standard of clean government that’ll be, a) hard to match and, b) in which
there will be little chance for thievery. Actually,
a Bajnai government’s success might establish a new party and a hierarchy of successors that would well-nigh obliterate the MSZP….and good riddance to them, too.

Paul
Guest

A post-Orbán ‘trechnocrat’ Bajnai government is the first idea I’ve seen since April 2010 that I think could actually be the answer (or at least an answer).

But is it at all likely to happen?

Leaving aside the question of getting rid of Orbán for a moment, would Bajnai take the job? Would people accept him? Are there enough uncontaminated, talented people around for him to be able to form a workable government?

Paul
Guest

“MSZP wants to return to the traditional left-wing policies that made the socialists popular in the past.”

When exactly was this?!

Jano
Guest

Paul: Bajnai is only going to take the job if he feels he’ll be able to do something. Unlike Gyurcsány and Orbán he seems to hate spotlight, he prefers work over theater and seems pretty disinterested in power just for the hell of it. I don’t see behind the curtains so I don’t know what are the chances of this happening, but I have to agree with Eva, I’m rather pessimistic.

Without him, I can only paraphrase you, the only thing I’m worried about more than Orbán continuing is what comes after his demise.

Jano
Guest

Paul again: Kingfisher posted their leaked political tactics plan for the next two years:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/106074761/Baloldalisag-Remeny-Er%C5%91

petofi
Guest

Have absolutely no faith in MSZP. If DK gets up to 10% watch out. Presently, they’re the only ones who gained at the last poll taken. Gyurcsany knows enough to put Bajnai in charge.

petofi
Guest

I have to weigh in on another topic here…the judge who commented praising the act of throwing paint in Horthy’s statue.
Yes, it’s odd that while fining the deed he also praised it, but one has to respect the judges courage. These are horrible times and he just wanted to say that Horthy statues ought not to be. Good for him. And shame on the superior court judges who upbraided him for it. The judge knew well that what he did was ‘extra-legal’
but he stood up for what he thought needed to be said. Would
that more Hungarians had his courage!

Member
There is a great Hungarian movie with Karoly Eperjes, the Eldorado. The director was Geza Beremenyi so you know it’s good stuff. It’s depressing but great fun to watch. The movie is about the life between the end of WWII and 1956. About a guy, a great survivor and excellent businessman. There is a part (watch the YouTube video below) where the Communist Party rep visits him in his booth in the flea market and talks him into buying apples from the Party. He’s reluctant first but agrees. A few days later the same communist guy shows up with two thugs. “Hey, we have a problem …” “What problem?” “You are selling the apples for 3 Ft per kilo.” “So? It’s my business.” “… but you bought it from us for 50 fillers a kilo. You are stealing from us …” “What? We have contracts …” “Shut up! Buy it back for 2.90, then you can sell it!” This Datalex fuckery from the Orbanites reminds me on this scene from the movie. The Wallis holding, where Bajnai was the CEO, bought Dataplex Ltd. for 10 million dollars when it was bleeding money big time. Then they took over the management… Read more »
Kingfisher
Guest

@petofi, I’m sorry, I strongly disagree. At a time when institutions are crumbling in Hungary, the last thing it needs is politicising judges. The whole point of the judiciary is that they don’t make the law, they uphold and administer it.

An
Guest

@Mutt: “You know, if they do it with Simicska somebody else must have done it too.” Yes, this is the essence of the Fidesz propaganda machine… whatever they (Fidesz) do, they accuse the political opponents with it. Whether it’s true or not, doesn’t really matter, as long as it is damaging the opponent and serves as a distraction from what they (Fidesz) are doing. As illustrated by a cartoon Eva linked to one her posts a while ago:

comment image

An
Guest

Oh , the cartoon reads: “Look grandma, there they are taking the thief!”

Member

@ Matt. Eldorado…when Eperjes was still a great, respected actor.

Petofi1
Guest

Kingfisher :
@petofi, I’m sorry, I strongly disagree. At a time when institutions are crumbling in Hungary, the last thing it needs is politicising judges. The whole point of the judiciary is that they don’t make the law, they uphold and administer it.

Right in principle, but wrong in practice…that is, in the Hungary of today.
When the laws enacted are mindless and havoc-creating, a judge–first and last, the guard
of propriety–is right to declare the true state of affairs. If not he, than who?

Jano
Guest

Petőfi: ” If not he, than who?”

This is a more complicated issue, I think. First of all, I find the overall Hungarian attitude to politics, that is, to keep it as far away from every non-politics related professional life and schools, etc. pretty harmful here. Judges should be able to voice their concerns about the laws they have to apply independently from applying it in there rulings faithfully. In this sense the judge conducted the trial faithful to his profession’s requirements.

I agree with Kingfisher though that particular rulings in particular cases are not the most fortunate time for that. The reason is that it’s highly subjective. Think about a reverse situation if somebody had painted some Károlyi statue red during the previous government and then the judge had given the same. I don’t think anybody in this blog would praise the judge for his bravery for speaking up (and rightly so) while there’s no objective difference between the two. Do you see where I’m going with this?

petofi
Guest
Jano : Petőfi: ” If not he, than who?” This is a more complicated issue, I think. First of all, I find the overall Hungarian attitude to politics, that is, to keep it as far away from every non-politics related professional life and schools, etc. pretty harmful here. Judges should be able to voice their concerns about the laws they have to apply independently from applying it in there rulings faithfully. In this sense the judge conducted the trial faithful to his profession’s requirements. I agree with Kingfisher though that particular rulings in particular cases are not the most fortunate time for that. The reason is that it’s highly subjective. Think about a reverse situation if somebody had painted some Károlyi statue red during the previous government and then the judge had given the same. I don’t think anybody in this blog would praise the judge for his bravery for speaking up (and rightly so) while there’s no objective difference between the two. Do you see where I’m going with this? Jano : Petőfi: ” If not he, than who?” This is a more complicated issue, I think. First of all, I find the overall Hungarian attitude to politics, that… Read more »
Ron
Guest

Jano:
This is a more complicated issue, I think. First of all, I find the overall Hungarian attitude to politics, that is, to keep it as far away from every non-politics related professional life and schools, etc. pretty harmful here. Judges should be able to voice their concerns about the laws they have to apply independently from applying it in there rulings faithfully. In this sense the judge conducted the trial faithful to his profession’s requirements.

Unfortunately, even follow the rules and you will be penalized. For example the case of one of my hang outs Caledonia. Closed for two months, because they cook with whiskey and had two bottle open at the same time on the bar. I am pissed off.

http://www.pestiside.hu/20120926/caledonia-closure-may-stink-but-lingering-stench-of-cheese-shop-shut-down-even-worse/

http://index.hu/belfold/2012/09/27/caledonia/

LwiiH
Guest

Kingfisher :
@petofi, I’m sorry, I strongly disagree. At a time when institutions are crumbling in Hungary, the last thing it needs is politicising judges. The whole point of the judiciary is that they don’t make the law, they uphold and administer it.

I disagree.. one role of an independent judiciary is to counter bad legislation.. and in doing so they are “making the law”.

Rettegő Iván
Guest

Gordon versus Mesterházy
Dumb versus Dumber

petofi
Guest

Rettegő Iván :
Gordon versus Mesterházy
Dumb versus Dumber

Rettegő Iván :
Gordon versus Mesterházy
Dumb versus Dumber

To call Bajnai dumb is just plain ill will of which there is a surfeit in Hungary. In fact, if you could bottle ‘ill will’, the country would be running a monster surplus.

Ivan, your statement is asinine. Bajnai has been recognized by
numerous awards by universities across Europe. Real universities, not like that arm of Fidesz called Debrecen U.

Member

Rettegő Iván :
Gordon versus Mesterházy
Dumb versus Dumber

And that sums up the whole Fidesz fan club’s attitude and disposition. Show them a qualified contender, and they sum up all what hey have to say in an eloquent, factual way like Rettego Ivan did. THis is why it is hard to show the Fidesz lovers that “something is rotten” in Hungary, as they simply cover their ears, close their eyes, and refuse to speak (least intelligently). What do you expect when they put a fraud up as a President of the country, a failed soccer star with high nostalgia for his lost opportunity as Prime Minister, a sex magazine publisher to mind the morals of the media as the Head of the Media Authority? What do you expect from these people when Fidesz nationalizes their pension, puts a flat tax across that punishes the poor, offend International players, releases ax-murderers from prison that puts other’s countries peace at risk, tenders out Hungarian lands for friends versus farmers, awards out government tenders without contracts? What do you expect when a worthy opponent shows up? They call him “dumb” Sums it all up.

Rettegő Iván
Guest

petofi :

Rettegő Iván :
Gordon versus Mesterházy
Dumb versus Dumber

Rettegő Iván :
Gordon versus Mesterházy
Dumb versus Dumber

To call Bajnai dumb is just plain ill will of which there is a surfeit in Hungary. In fact, if you could bottle ‘ill will’, the country would be running a monster surplus.
Ivan, your statement is asinine. Bajnai has been recognized by
numerous awards by universities across Europe. Real universities, not like that arm of Fidesz called Debrecen U.

Rettegő Iván
Guest

I don’t care which university did what to Mr. Bajnai. I see that people usually needs certainity/ standards. In the past there was God: God approved sg good, therefor it was good. Nowadays it’s the ISO-system, or the universities or the US. Buy now, we have quality, ISO proves it. It is democracy, the US. proves it etc. It is not very enlightened referring always to some “authority”. I rely on my own experience: he is dumb.

I tried to find Mr. Bajnai’s scientific works – google has not found anything. I am bored when I see these efforts to build up a “counter-Orbán”. Mr Orbán is acknowledged by foreign Universities as well. So what?

petofi
Guest
Some1 : Rettegő Iván : Gordon versus Mesterházy Dumb versus Dumber And that sums up the whole Fidesz fan club’s attitude and disposition. Show them a qualified contender, and they sum up all what hey have to say in an eloquent, factual way like Rettego Ivan did. THis is why it is hard to show the Fidesz lovers that “something is rotten” in Hungary, as they simply cover their ears, close their eyes, and refuse to speak (least intelligently). What do you expect when they put a fraud up as a President of the country, a failed soccer star with high nostalgia for his lost opportunity as Prime Minister, a sex magazine publisher to mind the morals of the media as the Head of the Media Authority? What do you expect from these people when Fidesz nationalizes their pension, puts a flat tax across that punishes the poor, offend International players, releases ax-murderers from prison that puts other’s countries peace at risk, tenders out Hungarian lands for friends versus farmers, awards out government tenders without contracts? What do you expect when a worthy opponent shows up? They call him “dumb” Sums it all up. Poor, hapless, saps these Fideszers; all… Read more »
Rettegő Iván
Guest
Some1 : Rettegő Iván : Gordon versus Mesterházy Dumb versus Dumber And that sums up the whole Fidesz fan club’s attitude and disposition. Show them a qualified contender, and they sum up all what hey have to say in an eloquent, factual way like Rettego Ivan did. THis is why it is hard to show the Fidesz lovers that “something is rotten” in Hungary, as they simply cover their ears, close their eyes, and refuse to speak (least intelligently). What do you expect when they put a fraud up as a President of the country, a failed soccer star with high nostalgia for his lost opportunity as Prime Minister, a sex magazine publisher to mind the morals of the media as the Head of the Media Authority? What do you expect from these people when Fidesz nationalizes their pension, puts a flat tax across that punishes the poor, offend International players, releases ax-murderers from prison that puts other’s countries peace at risk, tenders out Hungarian lands for friends versus farmers, awards out government tenders without contracts? What do you expect when a worthy opponent shows up? They call him “dumb” Sums it all up. qualified contender? 🙂 Politics are the… Read more »
petofi
Guest
Rettegő Iván : I don’t care which university did what to Mr. Bajnai. I see that people usually needs certainity/ standards. In the past there was God: God approved sg good, therefor it was good. Nowadays it’s the ISO-system, or the universities or the US. Buy now, we have quality, ISO proves it. It is democracy, the US. proves it etc. It is not very enlightened referring always to some “authority”. I rely on my own experience: he is dumb. I tried to find Mr. Bajnai’s scientific works – google has not found anything. I am bored when I see these efforts to build up a “counter-Orbán”. Mr Orbán is acknowledged by foreign Universities as well. So what? Ahh, Retego, did you just step out of the 13th century? I’ve read a book like you, called “Simplicimus”, try and find it. In the 21st century, and for a few hundred years now, we have books which, if well chosen and well read, afford you the experience of others without the pain and hardship. I recommend you visit a place called a library. If you want to know about Democracy, perhaps you ought to read de Tocqueville; government? Hay, Hamilton, Jefferson;… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@ Rettego Ivan

“..how Orban could win 2/3…”

Well, I for one, voted for him/them because MSZP were totally discredited. But I must say, I was forewarned by a knowledgeable Hungarian about the dangers of Orban.
But I never suspected THIS. I didn’t think that you could deconstruct a democratic country so thoroughly and so quickly.

You’re right about MSZP, though..while being totally wrong about Bajnai–which is what I found interesting. I mean, hasn’t Bajnai
proved himself in that year he was responsible for the country?
I read nothing but approving commentary on Bajna from The Economist and other respected organs around Europe.

Why doesn’t that count for you, Rettego?

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