Hungarian disunity a barrier to a political solution

Yesterday I indicated that Milla, originally a Facebook group that worried about media freedom, at last decided to demonstrate together with another civic group, Szolidaritás, on October 23. I also mentioned that Gordon Bajnai, former prime minister in Hungary (2009-2010), will speak at the gathering.

This joint demonstration is significant (even if marginally so) because Viktor Orbán and his party can be defeated in 2014 only by a united front. It is clear to everybody who can add and subtract that the opposition parties cannot be individually represented in the next elections. If each party proceeded on its own, Fidesz would easily win again. In fact,Viktor Orbán most likely would once again have his magic two-thirds majority in parliament. Thus, the only chance for the present left-liberal-moderate conservative forces to unseat Viktor Orbán is to unite under some kind of umbrella organization. Let’s call it “Egyesült Ellenzék” (United Opposition).

Not everyone who argues for unity agrees on the urgency of the matter. One camp believes that it is a truly urgent matter. The election campaign season will be here soon enough and one must act. There are others, however, who think that one can leave the joining of forces to fairly late in the game. I heard some commentators go so far as to say that even the fall of 2013 is not too late.

Disunity as pretext
spectrummagazine.org

I happen to think that the earlier the parties set aside their egos and abandon their rivalry for unattainable individual glory the better. That seems to be the opinion of people around DK, but my feeling is that the people who are regular listeners of György Bolgár’s talk show also think the same way. Or at least this has been my impression listening to the program for years. Among the faithful Klubrádió listeners are MSZP supporters, many of whom express their disappointment that the party leaders are dragging their feet. This seems to be the case especially lately, after the party won two local by-elections, in Dunaföldvár and Sopron. Attila Mesterházy, the party chairman, doesn’t reject cooperation outright, but deep down he hopes that perhaps MSZP can defeat Fidesz singlehandedly. József Tóbiás, deputy whip of the MSZP parliamentary delegation, made no secret of his party’s ambition to go it alone. When Olga Kálmán of ATV called his attention to the electoral law, according to which a candidate can win with, let’s say, only 35% of the votes because the votes for the candidates of the other three or four parties are hopelessly divided (e.g., 25%, 15%, 15%, 10%), Tobiás fired back: “But in Sopron we won when there were many parties running against us.” So, there are people who feel that way in MSZP and we don’t know whether they are in the majority or not.

There is no question that MSZP must be the leading force in the fight against the Orbán regime. It is MSZP that has the most extensive political network in the country. There are party cells in all cities, towns, and villages. Although MSZP lost a lot of voters, the skeleton of its organization is intact. Thus, MSZP has to play a vital role in my proposed “United Opposition.” However, at the moment I don’t foresee any MSZP willingness to negotiate with the other parties.

LMP is even smugger than MSZP and with much less justification. In the last three months the party lost about a third of those who earlier would have definitely voted for LMP. At the moment its support stands at 2%. I suspect that LMP’s unfriendly attitude toward other democratic parties has something to do with its loss of popularity. The party leadership seems to be divided on the issue, but it seems that those who refuse any cooperation are still in the majority.

The other small democratic party, DK, is the only one that is ready without any preconditions to support the formation of an umbrella organization. The party chairman, Ferenc Gyurcsány, announced that the party will not have a candidate for the premiership. In fact, Gyurcsány admitted that he is fully aware that his candidacy is out of the question. He also told his followers that DK would support any candidate the other democratic parties agreed on. If it is Attila Mesterházy DK will support him. However, he added that it is Gordon Bajnai whose political views are the closest to those of DK.

And now we come to the planned demonstration for October 23. The Milla group under the guidance of Péter Juhász refuses to cooperate with any political party. Although in the past Milla managed to organize large demonstrations, as someone said not too long ago it is not enough to repeat that “we don’t like the regime.” It is not enough to say that we hate all politicians because they are all crooks. First of all, it is not true and, second, without parties there is no parliamentary democracy. Moreover, equating the sins of the last twenty years with the undemocratic regime that Viktor Orbán managed to build leads us nowhere. No, the Third Republic and the Regime of National Unity cannot be compared. And this is exactly what Péter Juhász is doing. In this respect he resembles András Schiffer of LMP. Both men would like to see themselves somewhere in the middle, but as a witty blogger wrote, “there is no middle ground between Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf.”

I am not going to repeat all my objections about Milla and LMP. I wrote about both of them lately. I entitled the second one “Milla and LMP: Double curse of current Hungarian politics.” So, let’s move to the heart of the matter as it stands now.

The debate between Szolidaritás and Milla centered on their attitudes toward parties. Szolidaritás started as a civic organization that grew out of the trade union movement. They would like to work with all parties, and accordingly they invited them to their demonstration. But Milla refused to join them as long as party logos or flags could be seen anywhere. Eventually, they worked out a compromise, although the details change not only every day but practically every hour. The last I heard is that the Szolidaritás people will meet at the Adam Clark Square, party logos and all, and march to the bridgehead of Elizabeth Bridge, hopefully filling up the whole Free Press Road (Szabad Sajtó út). What they will do with the party logos once they get there I have no idea. Neither does Péter Kónya of Szolidaritás.

Ferenc Gyurcsány has a very low opinion of both Milla and Péter Juhász because he is convinced that Juhász  is a populist who is strengthening Hungarians’ distrust of politics and politicians. Given the current political lethargy in Hungary, such antagonism toward politics is outright harmful. Gyurcsány expressed his very pointed opposition to Milla on ATV a few days ago. Most of the DK people refuse to join the demonstration organized by Milla. They will hold their own. Today LMP announced that they will also boycott the demonstration.

And finally came the announcement by Péter Juhász yesterday morning on ATV that Gordon Bajnai accepted their invitation to speak at the Milla demonstration. Ferenc Gyurcsány apparently talked to Bajnai earlier and advised him against it, but to no avail. I also think that it is a mistake to “come out” politically at a demonstration organized by a fiercely anti-political, anti-politician group. But who knows what will happen between now and the 23rd? Only yesterday we heard that one of the several speakers will be Gáspár Miklós Tamás (TGM). He is a brilliant fellow but his political views are, mildly put, erratic. TGM was a fierce anti-communist in the 80s, one of the founding members of the liberal SZDSZ, then he said “good-bye to the left” and pronounced himself a conservative. The conservative phase didn’t last long and now he is back with some kind of Utopian communism. Well, as soon as TGM heard that Bajnai will be announcing his return to politics at the demonstration he said that he was bowing out because he will not help Bajnai further his political career. After all, in his opinion, Bajnai conducted a neo-conservative economic policy that he despises because it makes the people poor and powerless. But then, only a couple of hours ago, TGM changed his mind and said that he would speak at the demonstration after all. So, here we go.

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Member

I have read somewhere that the reason Juhasz gave for starting Milla against Orban’s rule was that he had been denied the usual tax rebate for his new-born child, since he is not married to the mother.

Member

I think it is a huge mistake on the part of MSzP not to organize their own demonstration. Their leader said on television that he is going to take off the day to spend time with his family. What???
Mr M simply does not have the qualities to lead the largest opposition party.

Personally, I plan to go to the Solidarity meeting point and then join the Milla demonstration.
As a personal protest, I would like to go to the Parliament building with a sign in English,
“Tyrant, Resign”. Of course, only Orban supporters will be permitted by police to demonstrate in front of the Parliament. Someday, Orban will face his Ceausescu moment – the moment when his supposedly friendly crowd turns hostile.

Paul
Guest

“Someday, Orban will face his Ceausescu moment – the moment when his supposedly friendly crowd turns hostile.”

Don’t hold your breath.

Member

Have you ever played the bullshit bingo in your office? This is a game like Bingo. You put a bunch of meaningless buzzwords on cards and in a meeting or during an important sounding speech you tick them off. When somebody has say 5 in a row they yell bingo and they win.

We should play the Hungarian opposition bullshit bingo. When 3 groups say the same thing we yell Bingo! I’m afraid it will take years to win.

Petofi1
Guest

Hungarians as Politicians–now there’s a real laugher; more like Prima Donnas!

They all want to be leadoff batters, and none of them have the specific gravity to bat cleanup.
Shame, really.

The MSZP and naive Mesterhazy, leading the Thieves-in-Hiding, can smell another kick at the can. Join with others? And have another ‘useless’ 4 years like under Gyurcsany when they weren’t given free rein?–Anything but that!

Member

TGM, Schiffer, Gyurcsany – they all have too big egos. They should concentrate on the goal: the abdication of Orban & his 9-year appointees, then a new election with the old, democratic rules.

spectator
Guest

But we’re talking about Hungarians, right?

Just when in time during our history we managed to hold onto ‘unity’ longer than it takes to march along the Andrássy street?

When the edge of the knife really on our jugular, we grab for each other for a minute or two, but at the moment when the ‘clear and present danger’ eased away we turn on each other gladly again.

Actually this is one of the Hungarian characteristic what Orban using masterfully – projecting a threat, an ‘attack on the nation’ herding the humble sheep into a flock, – and it’s working, as long as the ‘country is in danger’.

Sadly, before the people en masse realize that it’s time to wake up, because pretty soon there is nothing left of democracy as we knew it, nothing going to happen regarding unity.

Whit jokers like LMP in play hoping that the democratic opposition would take a pragmatic step for the future of the Democratic Hungary, is nothing more but a dream.
– And I wish I dreaming this too – wake me up, please!

petofi
Guest

The hard hedge of the Hungarian hreality.

bernard de raadt
Guest

you harvest what you plant… not more not less

Member

The trick is actually not uniting. It is uniting under the same flag. That is choosing a leader and unconditionally follow. This is where the Hungarian problem is. On one hand taking the lead on the other giving up yourself and support the leader. Nobody is good enough to be the leader but everybody is better than any leader. Vitam Et Sanguinem, right?

Ms KKA
Guest

I have it on very good authority that the negotiations to bring this event off were absolutely harrowing, and have been going on for a very long time. But, the moment when Juhász, Kónya, and Bajnai stand together on that stage should be pretty electrifying. I have it on the same very good authority that Kónya’s speech promises to be really hard-hitting…should be fun to watch. I believe the event is being streamed live on UStream.
A bit OT, but was I the only one you could have knocked flat with a feather when the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize today “…for promoting peace, democracy and human rights…” – apparently they don’t check the member states’ current activities too closely!!

Lutra lutra
Guest

The Nobel Peace Prize for the EU, I think, was entirely deserved and should act as an inspiration for politicians in Hungary and elsewhere. Yes, the states bicker among themselves and seem more interested in talking about rather than acting on important issues but they are united by common values – including the fact that Europe is a force for good and the member states have more in common than divisions. Compare this to the tribalism of Hungarian politics and Orbán’s disdain for reasoned debate and it’s hard not to see who are the good guys.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Éva this is brilliant: “Only yesterday we heard that one of the several speakers will be Gáspár Miklós Tamás (TGM). He is a brilliant fellow but his political views are, mildly put, erratic.”
You are really very mild.
TGM is a solipsist. This explains his frequent change of opinion. He is like a watch that stopped to function, but twice in 24 hours indicates the right time.

petofi
Guest

Lutra lutra :
The Nobel Peace Prize for the EU, I think, was entirely deserved and should act as an inspiration for politicians in Hungary and elsewhere. Yes, the states bicker among themselves and seem more interested in talking about rather than acting on important issues but they are united by common values – including the fact that Europe is a force for good and the member states have more in common than divisions. Compare this to the tribalism of Hungarian politics and Orbán’s disdain for reasoned debate and it’s hard not to see who are the good guys.

Well said.

Mark in CA
Guest

I think Spectator has it right. You can’t put three Hungarians in a room and expect them not to be at each other throats after an hour (and several palinkas).

M. Riedl
Guest

Why is Gyurcsany always exempted from criticism here? Sure he’s not the only one; but his role is still destructive. Not long ago the wish was expressed here that Bajnai comes out as the leader of a joint opposition. Now that he does, he does it all wrong, just because the beloved Gyurcsany says so? Isn’t it exactly the right moment put an end to the anti-political attitude of Milla, as Bajnai apparently plans? On the other hand, Gyurcsany is boycotting the joint Oct 23 demonstration and this finds your approval? (I also approve of it. In this way he at least will not compromise them.) I know from friends how much affection people could feel for Gyurcsany, But the time has come to get over it.

hunleonidas
Guest

Reblogged this on hungarianvirus.

pink walnut
Guest

“the Szolidaritás people will meet at the Adam Clark Square, party logos and all, and march to the bridgehead of Elizabeth Bridge”

During the last protest on 15 March 2012 a line of policemen blocked entrance to the bridge from the Buda side, and prevented people from joining the protest on the Pest side of the bridge.

Since the Kadar period, this was the first time I personally faced politically motivated, forceful obstruction of the free movement of citizens, which was shocking but typical of the Orban government’s underhanded ways. On my asking the reasons, the policemen seemed uncomfortable and said they acted on orders from above and could not reveal more.

I could not find any media coverage of this at the time but that could just be my failure.

I have taken a photo which I will try to email Eva.
(Eva if you do not receive it please send me an email contact.)

Revolution101
Guest

Pledge that you stop smearing and generalizing old enemies.
The old Hungarian community of New Brunswickl, NJ is a good study. From a meeting with them, I came away pretty depressed.
Instead of a happy constructive community life, the individuals are full of anger.
I can not understand that second and third generations carry on holding to old grievances.
The hope can be reignited by a psychological turnaround.
Release your anger, discard your mistrust, and make peace with the world.

Member

New topic: agricultural land

Sources:
http://nol.hu/belfold/kulfoldiek_foldszerzese__be_van_fejezve__nincs__nem_lesz_
http://www.kielegyenafold.hu/a-k69.html

Orban plans to take away the remaining plots of the former cooperatives and give them to a few hundred political friends who will make up the new landlord class of the country.

Back to the feudalism, except most of these new landlords will sell their newly received land
to foreigners at more than 10-fold prices after May 2014, when the EU moratorium to sell land to foreigners is terminated.

Quick money to Orban’s buddies.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

Hungary badly needs an opposition party to balance Fidesz. As of now, the remnants of the previous regime are figting over the meager leftovers, instead of fighting Fidesz.

I think Bajnai has a chance to revitatilze all those who are disillusioned by Fidesz, as well as the old opposition. For him to be successfull, the old party hags must get out of his way. Gyurcsany, by his mere presence on the Hungarian political stage, guarantees a large block of voters to Fidesz. Why can’t he pack up his billions and take a long rest on an island somewhere? It would really help.

For me Bajnai is the only credible candidate to face Orban in 2014. I’d like to see him have a real shot at it, without interference from the left.

petofi
Guest
Sackhoes Contributor : Hungary badly needs an opposition party to balance Fidesz. As of now, the remnants of the previous regime are figting over the meager leftovers, instead of fighting Fidesz. I think Bajnai has a chance to revitatilze all those who are disillusioned by Fidesz, as well as the old opposition. For him to be successfull, the old party hags must get out of his way. Gyurcsany, by his mere presence on the Hungarian political stage, guarantees a large block of voters to Fidesz. Why can’t he pack up his billions and take a long rest on an island somewhere? It would really help. For me Bajnai is the only credible candidate to face Orban in 2014. I’d like to see him have a real shot at it, without interference from the left. I confess to not knowing enough about Gyurcsany. The only thing I have against him was playing footsie with the Russians back in 2008. That aside, he seems an honorable, credible, human being that was successfully marginalized by elements within his own party in cahoots with Orban. Bajnai is not only a logical choice, but the country is damned lucky to have him as a viable… Read more »
Christopher Adam
Guest

I read–with a smile–Éva’s characterization of TGM’s changing and sometimes erratic political views. He’s certainly a thinker and a colourful political philosopher, but he was incredibly exhausting last night on ATV’s Egyenes Beszéd. Kálmán Olga’s tone and facial expression said it all.

petofi
Guest
Eva S. Balogh : I have been closely watching Hungarian politics in the last twenty years and therefore I remember only too well the Russian-Hungarian relations in 2008. What happened was that Orbán managed to exaggerate the Hungarian government’s very close ties to Russia and that resonated in Washington. The US ambassador at the time, April Foley, was very close to János Martonyi and Viktor Orbán while she hated Gyurcsány. Mind you, I think it was mutual dislike because Foley apparently was trying to give orders to the Hungarian prime minister which naturally the latter resented. In any case, the cold warriors in Washington lapped up the Fidesz stories when the only thing that happened was that Gyurcsány felt that Hungary’s energy needs require more than the one source the Americans were pushing: Nabucco. Nabucco is still nowhere and I’m not at all sure whether anything will come of the project. So, Gyurcsány decided to negotiate with the Russians about joining the Southern Stream project. I should also point out that Orbán who had considered Gyurcsány’s move practically treason and selling out to the Russians in 2008 after he became prime minister immediately started negotiations with the Russians concerning the… Read more »
Member

Meanwhile on Planet “Hungry” …

Orban is partying.

http://mandiner.hu/cikk/20121013_igy_bulizik_orban_viktor

The song goes: “Good morning. The hussars of Fehervar arrived. They screwed a lot of young girls …”

spectator
Guest

bernard de raadt :
you harvest what you plant… not more not less

– Hmmm.
You aren’t much into gardening, are you?
The general idea of planting anything is to have more off the stuff – otherwise there is no point, whatsoever.

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