Viktor Orbán is planning to stay: The new electoral law

Although the final vote hasn’t taken place yet, the shape of the electoral bill is becoming clearer by the day. Yesterday a number of new amendments were approved by the Fidesz-KDNP super majority.

The original bill already severely restricted the number of  likely voters through the newly required registration procedure, although Fidesz politicians insisted during the first parliamentary debate on the bill that registration would in no way affect the number of voters. In fact, Lajos Kósa, one of the three Fidesz politicians who submitted the bill, defended registration by insisting that it in fact increases participation. Kósa made that claim even though only five days earlier Ipsos came out with a poll showing that every fourth potential voter would be kept away from the polling stations as a result of  registration. Ipsos also maintained, however, that the loss of voters would affect all parties equally. If Fidesz thought that registration would be sufficient to keep only the opposition parties away from the polls, they were wrong.

So, the inevitable happened last week. Out of the blue 227 Fidesz-KDNP amendments surfaced. The amendments alone took up 65 pages. Then a day or two later five more amendments were added to the list. All these amendments attempt to limit the effectiveness of  campaigning. The population will barely notice that a campaign is going on. Perhaps, Fidesz strategists think, this would affect the participation of the opposition forces.

From Fidesz’s point of view this strategy certainly makes sense. Among the WikiLeaks documents there is one in which Viktor Orbán explains to the U.S. Ambassador that a high voter turnout is a disadvantage for his party. The fewer voters the better for Fidesz. Prior to 2010 the campaign season started 75 days before the first day of voting. About a year ago Fidesz shortened that to 60, and now it’s down to 50 days. Campaign ads can appear only in nationwide daily and weekly papers. Television ads can be placed only with the four public television stations and three radio stations.  Ads cannot appear on the Internet, and it is forbidden to run short ads in movie theaters.

Interestingly enough, one cannot find a single word regarding posters and billboards in public places. In order to understand the significance of this, one must keep in mind that Lajos Simicska, the financial brain behind Fidesz, years ago figured out the importance of owning  public places for advertising and bought up practically all the available spots in larger cities. Simicska owns Mahir, Cityposter, Pupblimont, Euro Publicity, A-Plakat Kft., and naturally he can tell the opposition parties that he has no free surfaces left. Moreover, even if he offers them some space, he could charge the opposition parties more and Fidesz less or nothing. It is one of the many worrisome aspects of this new arrangement.

The public media will provide slots for party ads free of charge, but the total advertising time for all parties will be 10 hours. Although originally Fidesz wanted to get rid of the campaign silence law, the latest version of the bill specifies that two days before election day no political ads can be shown or published. So, for 48 days a total of 12.5 minutes a day can be spent on political ads, spread over four television and three radio stations. These 12.5 minutes must serve all parties. This restriction clearly shows what kind of campaign is shaping up in Hungary. I might as well add here that Fidesz-KDNP is so concerned about the election campaign disturbing peace-loving citizens that, if a citizen so requests, he can be completely spared from having activists bothering him.

And finally, although there was a lot of talk about the possibility of registration by mail, that option was nixed. So, while Hungarian citizens living abroad can register via mail, the bona fide inhabitants of the country cannot. Registration can be done only at a “notary’s office”  in person or through the Internet, but only if  he has permission to use a website that enables individuals to gain access to various kinds of governmental services. The problem is that in order to gain access to this “Internet government gate” (internetes ügyfélkapu), one has to go in person and get registered first.

The aim is to restrict the dissemination of campaign information and to limit registration to the truly committed. Next week, this horrendous bill with its amendments will sail through parliament. Most of the Fidesz-KDNP caucus who will vote yea most likely didn’t even bother to read the 227 amendments. And since the bill has been altered so many times, there is a real fear that even this is not the end of the story. If within a few months Fidesz discovers a loophole that wasn’t covered by their earlier version, they will not hesitate to come up with a new version of the electoral bill.

If Viktor Orbán and his men and women are not stopped, the Hungarian elections of 2014 will be a sham.

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Guest
London Calling! The elections in Belarus “had been determined from the start” – and Lukashenko hasn’t held a fair election since 1994 – according to Western observers. I believe Hungary sent some ‘observers’ to Belarus to oversee the elections – and as far as I can tell they gave Alexander a clean bill of health. Maybe they passed on a few tips to Orban? The region is beginning to fester……..as the EU watches. ******************************************************************************* On another note re the IMF. The IMF is as loggerheads with the EC about how the funds should be used – while Greece slowly and resolutely disappears down the tubes, while they bicker. Christine Lagarde is resolute in defending the IMF funds which include BRICS contributors – and whether they should be used so comprehensively in the EC. She is a straight talking person – and will have no truck with Orban’s ‘peacock’ dancing. If Orban applies for funds – with a creditable reason they will look at the application. If not – not. It is not a matter of ‘sitting it out’ – if he simply doesn’t ask – he won’t get. There are too many calls on the funds to shilly-shally with a… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Years ago, my wife and I travelled through Greece to Turkey. The country was awash in cash. The women worked; the men complained and washed their new cars. They deserve to sink. So, too, the Magyars.

petofi
Guest

There is a New Yorker cartoon I’d love to send to Orban, Kover and Kosas: it shows an old western town with a couple about to enter the bank. The sheriff says to them: “Bank’s closed today, folks. It’s Yom Kippur.”

Member

petofi :
Years ago, my wife and I travelled through Greece to Turkey. The country was awash in cash. The women worked; the men complained and washed their new cars. They deserve to sink. So, too, the Magyars.

Maybe I am missing here something, but because women are working and people buy new cars, why do they deserve to sink? WHy do you feel that Hungarians deserve to sink?

Guest

“The 227 amendments” in how many days ?

I’m not going to compare this number with say the (you probably can guess what I mean) …

This is so ridiculous – I don”t know what to say. Will the EU react to this “Law of Laws” ?

Ivan
Guest

Could anyone please enlighten me as to how this affects non-Hungarian E.U. pemanent legal residents of Hungary in terms of their rights to vote in local and European elections in Hungarian constituencies?

petofi
Guest
Some1 : petofi : Years ago, my wife and I travelled through Greece to Turkey. The country was awash in cash. The women worked; the men complained and washed their new cars. They deserve to sink. So, too, the Magyars. Maybe I am missing here something, but because women are working and people buy new cars, why do they deserve to sink? WHy do you feel that Hungarians deserve to sink? Oh, oh, Some1, your Hungarianism is showing. First, in typical, shall I say, Fidesz, style, you misrepresented what I wrote; deftly, I must admit. My sentence suggested that wives worked while their husbands complained. To distance the notion of couples, you said ‘women’, and then ‘people’–tricky. As to why they deserve to sink…well, if you seen many of my posts I’ve detailed quite a few arguments having to do with Laziness, Greed, Envy, Lack of Integrity or Decency and the like. The fact that neither the general populace nor the supposedly learned priesthood of Hungary find anything objectionable about the constant use of ‘Christian Hungary’…is revolting in its aversion to all other peoples. Let’s not even get into the third-rate education wherein the universities are rife with cheating and… Read more »
Jano
Guest

Petőfi: So you’re saying Hungarians are Hungarianist, they are lazy, greedy, envious, lacking integrity and indecent? Oh, and for this we deserve to sink? I’m sorry, but if you say Fidesz style, then you’re post remind me of Jobbik style, just the word Gipsy replaced with Hungarian.

Member
petofi : Some1 : petofi : Years ago, my wife and I travelled through Greece to Turkey. The country was awash in cash. The women worked; the men complained and washed their new cars. They deserve to sink. So, too, the Magyars. Maybe I am missing here something, but because women are working and people buy new cars, why do they deserve to sink? WHy do you feel that Hungarians deserve to sink? Oh, oh, Some1, your Hungarianism is showing. First, in typical, shall I say, Fidesz, style, you misrepresented what I wrote; deftly, I must admit. My sentence suggested that wives worked while their husbands complained. To distance the notion of couples, you said ‘women’, and then ‘people’–tricky. As to why they deserve to sink…well, if you seen many of my posts I’ve detailed quite a few arguments having to do with Laziness, Greed, Envy, Lack of Integrity or Decency and the like. The fact that neither the general populace nor the supposedly learned priesthood of Hungary find anything objectionable about the constant use of ‘Christian Hungary’…is revolting in its aversion to all other peoples. Let’s not even get into the third-rate education wherein the universities are rife with… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Jano :
Petőfi: So you’re saying Hungarians are Hungarianist, they are lazy, greedy, envious, lacking integrity and indecent? Oh, and for this we deserve to sink? I’m sorry, but if you say Fidesz style, then you’re post remind me of Jobbik style, just the word Gipsy replaced with Hungarian.

So, I suppose there’s nothing wrong with ramming “Christian Hungary” down people’s throats day in and day out. Or allowing Csatary to roam without
due justice. Justice? What am I saying? Anyone see the remnants of a legal society hereabouts?

So, Mr, Jano, please try to understand the difference: I promote legal, proper, respectful activity. Does that sound like Jobbik to you? Or, are you just a little hot under the collar because no one should call into question the qualities of saintly Hungary?

Jano
Guest

Petőfi: Down the throats of whom? The lazy, greedy, envious, indecent Hungarians? Why do you care then?

“Or allowing Csatary to roam without due justice.”

Update me if needed, but he is under house arrest awaiting trial, like it or not, that’s “the legal, proper” way. Or would you like to see him lynched on the street? Would that give you satisfaction? Would that make Hungarians not deserving to sink? Can we do that with anybody obviously guilty of horrible crimes without a trial? Is that what you are going for here?

” I promote legal, proper, respectful activity.”

No, you promote generalization and that’s unacceptable and that does sound like Jobbik. Again, replace Hungarian with Gipsy in what you write and you are immediately Kuruc-compatible.

There is no saintly Hungary. Some of us are lazy, greedy and indecent some of us are not. There are a good number of Hungarians who doesn’t deserve to be called lazy, greedy or indecent in general and certainly doesn’t deserve to sink. I don’t know why I have to explain this to somebody who objects so violently against other forms of generalization in other cases.

petofi
Guest
Jano : Petőfi: Down the throats of whom? The lazy, greedy, envious, indecent Hungarians? Why do you care then? “Or allowing Csatary to roam without due justice.” Update me if needed, but he is under house arrest awaiting trial, like it or not, that’s “the legal, proper” way. Or would you like to see him lynched on the street? Would that give you satisfaction? Would that make Hungarians not deserving to sink? Can we do that with anybody obviously guilty of horrible crimes without a trial? Is that what you are going for here? ” I promote legal, proper, respectful activity.” No, you promote generalization and that’s unacceptable and that does sound like Jobbik. Again, replace Hungarian with Gipsy in what you write and you are immediately Kuruc-compatible. There is no saintly Hungary. Some of us are lazy, greedy and indecent some of us are not. There are a good number of Hungarians who doesn’t deserve to be called lazy, greedy or indecent in general and certainly doesn’t deserve to sink. I don’t know why I have to explain this to somebody who objects so violently against other forms of generalization in other cases. No, Jano, down the throats of… Read more »
mark mandelbaum
Guest

I am an American Jew whose parents survived the Concentration Camps. I lived and worked in Budapest and I will say the people I worked with were some of the most honest, hard-working (and fun-loving) people I ever met. However, due to the years of Communism they still do not understand freedom and democracy, and the tremendous responsibilities that go with it. It will take time. It hurts me to see what is going on in Hungary now. But if the people will not rise up and take control, they will have the government that they deserve.

Econ
Guest
The election law is subject to further changes in light of further political developments. This law reflects the current state of political situation only. Note also that Orbán would not be disappointed to lose with at least 33%. He would continue to exercise veto (i.e. without him the constitution could not be amended and without amendments governance is simply not possible in the current setup) plus he would quickly unleash its relentlessly agressive politics using – among others – all the pseudo civil organisation which are currently mute (like the association of university students etc.) and utilize his personal control over the public and private media (though the control works differently in the different segments). Any new government (especially a coalition government with continuous internal disputes) would be quickly killed as it would have to introduce unpopular moves, but would not be able to carry out those. There would only be public uproar and the resultiong legislation would be diluted to the point that it would be unpopular but no result could come from it. Orbán had this strategy with the MSZP: Fidesz was always targeting MSZP MPs (and not so much the top politicians) so that these MPS were… Read more »
petofi
Guest

mark mandelbaum :
I am an American Jew whose parents survived the Concentration Camps. I lived and worked in Budapest and I will say the people I worked with were some of the most honest, hard-working (and fun-loving) people I ever met. However, due to the years of Communism they still do not understand freedom and democracy, and the tremendous responsibilities that go with it. It will take time. It hurts me to see what is going on in Hungary now. But if the people will not rise up and take control, they will have the government that they deserve.

Please send copious copies of Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” to Hungary…

petofi
Guest
Some1 : petofi : Some1 : petofi : Years ago, my wife and I travelled through Greece to Turkey. The country was awash in cash. The women worked; the men complained and washed their new cars. They deserve to sink. So, too, the Magyars. Maybe I am missing here something, but because women are working and people buy new cars, why do they deserve to sink? WHy do you feel that Hungarians deserve to sink? Oh, oh, Some1, your Hungarianism is showing. First, in typical, shall I say, Fidesz, style, you misrepresented what I wrote; deftly, I must admit. My sentence suggested that wives worked while their husbands complained. To distance the notion of couples, you said ‘women’, and then ‘people’–tricky. As to why they deserve to sink…well, if you seen many of my posts I’ve detailed quite a few arguments having to do with Laziness, Greed, Envy, Lack of Integrity or Decency and the like. The fact that neither the general populace nor the supposedly learned priesthood of Hungary find anything objectionable about the constant use of ‘Christian Hungary’…is revolting in its aversion to all other peoples. Let’s not even get into the third-rate education wherein the universities are… Read more »
Member
mark mandelbaum : I am an American Jew whose parents survived the Concentration Camps. I lived and worked in Budapest and I will say the people I worked with were some of the most honest, hard-working (and fun-loving) people I ever met. However, due to the years of Communism they still do not understand freedom and democracy, and the tremendous responsibilities that go with it. It will take time. It hurts me to see what is going on in Hungary now. But if the people will not rise up and take control, they will have the government that they deserve. @ Mark, I can only partially agree with you. As Eva’s blog entry attests the problem is that information that is going out to the “general population” is filtered and altered. The news and even the “advertising” is chocked to death by the current government, and the options for voting is only made easy to those who likely will vote for Fidesz (new Hungarians from across the border). Let’s put it this way, if all the toothpaste, but Colgate is removed from the shelves and put into the stockroom (for customers to ask for it), if all the advertisement on… Read more »
mark mandelbaum
Guest

So what is the answer? My friend Attila suggests that there be a campaign to boycott the elections, which will show the world, or at least those who care about Hungary, the general dissatisfaction with the current regime.

Guest

London Calling!

Surely now is the time for ‘Radio Free-Hungary’?

If not now, when?

The opposition could communicate with the people and tell it like it is?

Someone needs to ask Hillary.

Regards

Charlie

Member

petofi :For instance: when will Hungarians stop teaching their children to be good “Magyarok” and instead, to be “Good People”. Allowing the government to dictate who is a good Hungarian and to set the terms for it, is one of the central problems of todays Hungary.

I agree wit that Petofi. Although being good Hungarian should not have a pejoritve meaning. Unfortunately Fidesz and Jobbik coined the “good Magyar” phrase, so I understand where you coming from. Still, I cannot agree with you on the “let them sink”. I think those who created this mass should be held responsible and with all fairness, the most of the money they acquired by “criminal” ways should be taken from them.
Interesting article by the way that the local farmers rise up against a non-local Fidesz buddy, who acquired a land via the government land-lease, that is way larger than even the Fidesz’ law allows, and the person not only non local but does not have any agricultural background (prerequisite according to Fidesz law). On the other hand the person has great connections to Fidesz. THere were no local farmers who got any land from the leasing. All power to the farmers!

Guest

London Calling!

mark mandelbaur

We discussed an opposition boycott here – you can see the comments if you Google Eva’s blog using the top right ‘Google’ button.

Many of us believe that Orban will be seriously embarrassed if he gets 95% of the vote on a very small turnout.

I believe many in the opposition parties are considering boycotting the registration process as a protest. Which might be effective in highlighting the ‘dictatorship’.

But we all agree it will not remove Orban.

For a parallel, Belarus has just had an election – which was boycotted by the two main opposition parties and Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko is back in power. And he has consolidated his power since 1994.

His elections were ‘overseen’ by many in the world community – including Hungary – and many gave him a clean bill of health, even if he has put many of his opposition in prison – and has an appalling human rights record.

Their diplomats just ‘parry’ the criticism! – And he blames foreign governments for undermining him! (Sound familiar?).

Keep Calm and Carry On Boycotting!

Regards

Charlie

Member

mark mandelbaum :
So what is the answer? My friend Attila suggests that there be a campaign to boycott the elections, which will show the world, or at least those who care about Hungary, the general dissatisfaction with the current regime.

Unfortunately most of the world does not care about Hungary. Maybe I should say, they do not care enough that they will look at the turnout numbers. An other landslide victory, as Fidesz would surely advertise it would serve no good, and will not benefit the country. The only chance Hungary gets is to make sure that some form of democracy will be restored prior to the election, and the election law will not be a sham. In its current form HUngary should be removed from the EU as far as I am concerned, because before that happens, many Hungarians will not understand the benefits the membership mean.

Member

This is good.
The election law of the Fidesz is mathematically impossible.
No matter how you draw the boundaries of the new electoral districts,
[and Fidesz redrew the new boundaries (again!) two days ago to further optimize their
chances of winning]
you cannot fulfill the other requirements of the law.

http://econ.core.hu/file/download/mtdp/MTDP1227.pdf

Member

“Abstract
One of the aims of the new electoral law of Hungary has been to define a fairer apportionment into voting districts. This is ensured by a set of rules slightly more premissive than those laid out in the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters of the Venice Commission. These rules fix the average size of the voting districts, require voting districts not to split smaller towns and villages and not to cross county borders. We show that such an apportionment is mathematically impossible.”

Jano
Guest

Petőfi: ““Generalizations” are NOT unacceptable. They are to thinking what Chinese painting is to art–a kind of short-hand, when used properly.”

You attach a funny meaning to properly. FYI it is not a synonym to “whenever it fits my views, and I’m not offended by it”.

Jano
Guest

Tappacnch: That’s really funny, I guess the election experts of Fidesz don’t care any more about math and reality than Matolcsy does.

I think somebody has said it before, but I’ll love to see this backfire. The cities will turn into bright orange and Viktor’s portrait will look down on the people from every second building in the company of portraits of happy Hungary. As the colloquialism goes, swiss-knives will start opening in a lot of pockets.

Louis Kovach
Guest

Please let me know where to send the putty (gitt).
Regards.

pistefka
Guest

The likely outcome of a successful boycott would be to make the government look bad – foolish, undemocratic, whatever. But what happens next? Orbán throws up his hands and says “my bad”?

At the risk of generalising, few Hungarians these days (especially “good Hungarians”) are adept at admitting they were wrong. Even fewer will do the honourable thing to put things right. Even apologising for making a mistake seems to not to occur to many people (especially waiters!) I say “these days” as if you look back 50 years or so many ministers and prime ministers in Hungary felt that suicide was the only way out after a scandal or obvious failure.

You can be sure Pál Schmitt’s resignation did not stem from deeply felt remorse – he was pushed, as it was realised that he was expendable. I can’t see Orbán ever voluntarily stepping down – in fact I would be surprised if he even blushed.

My other objection to a boycott is that it rather smacks of Fidesz’s tactic in opposition of walking out of the parliament whenever Gyurcsány spoke. Petulant and unconstructive – “biting off your nose to spite your face” as they say.

An
Guest

According to Index one possible candidate for President of the National Bank (who’d take over after the current president’s term is over in March) that Orban is seriously considering….. Matolcsy. What a great choice that would be! (sarcastic).

http://index.hu/gazdasag/2012/11/14/matolcsy_mnb-elnoki_kinevezeserol_suttognak/

If that’s serious, that would be the total economic Apocalypse in Hungary.

Bowen
Guest

An :
According to Index one possible candidate for President of the National Bank (who’d take over after the current president’s term is over in March) that Orban is seriously considering….. Matolcsy. What a great choice that would be! (sarcastic).
http://index.hu/gazdasag/2012/11/14/matolcsy_mnb-elnoki_kinevezeserol_suttognak/
If that’s serious, that would be the total economic Apocalypse in Hungary.

Does it really matter whether it’s Matolcsy or not who will become President of the National Bank? Either way, it will be a Fidesz puppet.

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