Who leaked Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speech in Balatonőszöd?

Yesterday I received Christmas presents from my relatives in Hungary and as usual I got books. I was looking forward to reading all of them, but József Debreczeni’s book on the riots of September-October 2006 especially interested me since I have been fascinated by the way in which the history of a series of events can be rewritten. One needs only a communication avalanche supporting a slice of the whole and magnifying it beyond recognition.

Debreczeni’s book has been #1 on the Hungarian bestseller list ever since it appeared a few weeks ago. So it seems that I’m not the only one who wants to read a minute-by-minute account of those days.

There are three narratives of the events as summarized by Debreczeni. The first is the right-wing version where Good does battle with Evil. The event is described as a spontaneous democratic protest against a government that came into power by lying and that was answered by brutal police terror. The second is the left-wing version that describes the riots as being fueled by Viktor Orbán who couldn’t make peace with losing two elections in a row. According to this version, the events were directed by politicians who hoped for a coup d’état that would remove the Gyurcsány government from power. The third version is that of the civil rights activists: TASZ (the Hungarian version of the American Civil Liberties Union), the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, and Védegylet, an environmental group in which András Schiffer and László Sólyom were active. These groups were aided by such Internet papers as Origo, HVG, and Index that tried “to find their place somewhere between the warring political factions.” In Debreczeni’s opinion these groups belittled the danger the rioters posed to society.

Naturally, Debreczeni has to deal with the immediate cause of the riots of September 17 and October 23-24: Ferenc Gyurcsány’s leaked speech before the MSZP parliamentary caucus on May 26. Here I would like to summarize briefly Debreczeni’s description of how it ended up in the hands of Viktor Orbán.

The quality of the audiotape was too good to have been done by an amateur. It had to have been copied from one of the two official tapes of the speech. One went to the prime minister’s office where it was placed in a safe. The other ended up in the headquarters of MSZP where it was lying about on an open shelf in a room that many people had access to. Thus, whoever stole and copied the original audio tape most likely got it from the party’s headquarters.

And now comes brand new information straight from Ferenc Gyurcsány who obviously shared his suspicions with Debreczeni. In July 2011, when the relationship between MSZP and Gyurcsány was sorely strained, Gyurcsány wrote a letter to Attila Mesterházy in which he told the party chairman that he was fairly certain about the identities of the three people who leaked the speech to Viktor Orbán. Gyurcsány told Mesterházy that he had no hard proof and therefore could not demand a police investigation. Mesterházy refused to open the letter and shredded it unread in public.

What was in the letter? Among other things, that sometime in the summer of 2010 a well known public figure visited Gyurcsány and claimed to know the name of the man who leaked the speech at Balatonőszöd. His son worked in a law office where one of his colleagues kept repeating that he knew who the man was but refused to reveal his secret. Then came a drunken party when he slipped. He named X.

A few months later Gyurcsány was talking to an influential journalist who revealed that on September 18, 2006, a day after the content of the speech became known publicly, a leading MSZP politician asked to meet him. During the encounter the MSZP politician tried to convince the journalist that it was actually Gyurcsány who had leaked the audio. That leading MSZP politician was X himself.

Then in the summer of 2011 Gyurcsány received a message from an MSZP member who doesn’t live in Budapest. According to his story, sometime in the summer of 2006, way before the audio became public, a leading member of MSZP played the tape of the speech for him, adding that “Gyurcsány is in my hands, I can do anything I want with him.” Who was this leading MSZP member? Not but a very close associate and friend of his. The two families spend their holidays together. Let’s call him Y.

And finally, shortly before Gyurcsány wrote the letter to Mesterházy another MSZP member called him with the information that a few months earlier among a small circle of friends revealed that his close associate Z, one of the leaders of MSZP, was the one who had actually smuggled the tape out of the party’s headquarters. 

Imre Szekeres who was named by Ferenc Gyurcsány minister of defense in 2006

Imre Szekeres, who was named minister of defense by Ferenc Gyurcsány in 2006

That was what Gyurcsány knew in July 2011, but since then he learned something else from another person who is ready to testify if necessary. The informer implicated Imre Szekeres who in July 2006 in Székesfehérvár, only a couple of months after the stunning MSZP victory, told county leaders that the party will have to prepare for the post-Gyurcsány period. The informer even asked Szekeres how such an idea could come up at that time. Szekeres answered that in politics one must be prepared for all eventualities. The person apparently sent a message to Gyurcsány about Szekeres’s odd remark,  but  Gyurcsány didn’t attach any significance to it at the time and soon enough forgot about the whole thing.

Péter Niedermüller wrote a four-part series on the “Őszöd speech” (Az őszödi beszéd)  in which he dealt at length with the possible reactions to Gyurcsány’s announcement of the austerity program. There were some party leaders who realized that the promised reforms would adversely affect their political influence and might endanger their positions, financial and otherwise, within the party. When he read these articles in August 2011 Debreczeni immediately thought of Imre Szekeres and László Puch. Just an immediate gut reaction. It was a year later that he found out from Ferenc Gyurcsány what the former prime minister knew about the affair, which seemed to implicate Szekeres and two close associates of his.

These three men obviously had no intention of wreaking havoc on the party’s national standing. They just hoped that they could get rid of Gyurcsány with all his liberal ideas and reforms that rattled the top leadership of MSZP. The party paid dearly for their ill-conceived political power play.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Guest

London Calling!

Machiavelli out-machiavellied.

Goodness – as you sow – so shall you reap.

******************************************************

(Back from a cold cold Győr – and still so many want to leave.)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to all who celebrate it. And a happy restful time for all too.

Regards

Charlie & Aniko

http://funstufftosee.com/merrychristmas.html

Member

If not these guys, then somebody else would have stolen the tape. So I think this actually doesn’t matter – unless this information is part of another power play … God, we are good at power plays.

The real question for me is why Gyurcsany gave the speech in the first place. I understand the intentions – coming clean, but I don’t think he did not anticipate the leak. What was he thinking??

Member

Mutt :
If not these guys, then somebody else would have stolen the tape. So I think this actually doesn’t matter – unless this information is part of another power play … God, we are good at power plays.
The real question for me is why Gyurcsany gave the speech in the first place. I understand the intentions – coming clean, but I don’t think he did not anticipate the leak. What was he thinking??

I agree with you that it does not matter who leaked the speech.
I do not agree with “coming clean”. I truly believe that he was referring to a general problem of how various parties in general but at his case his party tries to manipulate the general public in order to win the election. THe funny thing is that Gyurcsany was generalizing while Orban flatly dos lies every day and non of his believers care.

An
Guest

“The party paid dearly for their ill-conceived political power play.”

I would add that not only MSzP, but the country paid dearly as well.

Member

This speech was given in front of cca 200 people. It was only question of time to leak it.

Mr Gyurcsány wanted to brush up the minds of the caucus – other question is the style of expression his good intentions. (Maybe a little bit more than necessary wine – no problem!, Gyurány Ferenc was always temperanmental person, anyway).

More interesting is that FIDESZ probably new about these developments months before its “official release” and reacted with a well developped campaign immediately, seriously and intentionally misiterpreting the words in it, in order to assasinate the character of both MszP and Mr. Gyurcsány.

Guest

A bit OT but on the spot regarding “lies”:

AFAIK Orbán has introduced a lot of measures (like tuition fees – though it seems no one knows exactly how that’ll be managed) that Fidesz vehemently opposed when they were in opposition.

Shouldn’t that be used against him/them by hammering on it incessantly:

Look what they said four years ago – now they want the opposite!

Kövér and his quote about policemen’s and teachers’ salary also comes to mind.

Member

The vulgarity of his language and not the admission that he had lied about the state of economy (politicians always lie if they can get away with it) caused the complete loss of respect for Gyurcsany – in my humble opinion.

Gyurcsany should have apologized to the people for the vulgar language he used in that speech, and should have resigned in 2007 instead of 2009

transform now
Guest

It would be great to pledge to refrain from vulgarity. In Hungary and in USA.
Gyurcsany has been intellectual all his life.
Why not to adopt a no-vulgarity policy?

He made an honest effort to change the course of the Hungarian governing.

The country and his party was unable to follow him.

I would have expected to find 4-5 smart people to create a transformational team, to create good public relations, explanations and arguments for ongoing reforms, that could have ended the old era and finished the democratic transformation. To start the era of honesty and no-corruption.

Has he ever found energy to correct the errors of the privatization, reorganization of the Hungarian economy, and the redistribution of the burden of the material realignment?

The generation of Gyurcsany has more or less failed the people of Hungary, and Gyurcsany was less guilty than many others.

Let us see if a Dorottya Karsay can do better? Just an example.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gj2bGRCSlIs (the video stops around 35 minutes…..)

Guest

Totally OT, but relevant maybe:

The Forint started a free fall today, losing badly against the €. From 289 it went to 293 HUF/€.

What is behind this – speculation ?
http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=EUR&to=HUF&view=1W

PS:

Happy Holidays for everybody here!

buddy
Guest

Is it possible that Gyurcsány himself actually did leak the tape, as initially suspected by many at first, or are we absolutely certain now that that did not happen?

Jano
Guest
Buddy: I suspected that initially. It made some sense at least. After the promise-zunami in the campaign (performed hand-in-hand with Fidesz), he had to make a 180 turn. If he had been able to sold his interpretation of the speech he could have come off as the big reformer of the party/the country, an interpretation the author of this blog shares for instance. He is a pretty big power player himself (otherwise how do you manage to stay in power for years in a hostile party after this cataclysmic loss of face and support?), maybe he wanted to make a ballsy move. However, developments since then suggest that this scenario is highly unlikely. What I’m sure about though is that he already knew about the leak when it happened. He was ready when the reporters got to him and his answer was very well prepared. I have no doubts that somebody warned him beforehand. Not that it matters. I don’t think he should have resigned because of the vulgarity of the speech. Politicians swear sometimes just like everyone else, oh my. The reason he would have had to resign is that he wasn’t able to govern. He indeed was in… Read more »
Jano
Guest

“As for the vulgarity, come on!” – If I didn’t make it clear, I totally agree you on that one. Picking on the vulgarity is highly hypocritical and mostly pointless. I wouldn’t give a flying frisbee if our PM spoke like a sailor as long as his governing good. Having said that, if I have the choice I’d prefer a proper style of course.

Petofi1
Guest

Szekeres’ eyes remind me of a line in the movie, Get Carter: Carter tells Ian Hendry,
“You’re eyes remind me of piss-holes in the snow.”

Member

Interestingly even the most rabid Gyurcsany haters fall short to explain why did he do it? They won the elections after all. I heard lame explanations like “he wanted to make himself bumped out because he didn’t want to be the PM”. So Eva is very likely right. It was amateurism and he just got carried away.

Either way it doesn’t matter who leaked it and why he said what he said. My trouble is with the speech is that it awfully sounds like admission of guilt. But actually this is why I would give him a second chance.

What is worth to explore is the attempted coup d’état by the Fidesz. How the events of the 2006 demonstrations unfolded and how it was distorted in the Fidesz propaganda machine.

buddy
Guest
Jano : “As for the vulgarity, come on!” – If I didn’t make it clear, I totally agree you on that one. Picking on the vulgarity is highly hypocritical and mostly pointless. I wouldn’t give a flying frisbee if our PM spoke like a sailor as long as his governing good. Having said that, if I have the choice I’d prefer a proper style of course. Well I’m going to have to disagree with you two to some extent. It wasn’t just Gyurcsány’s vulgarity but the context in which it was used – for example the well-known “we f***d up” and “this f***ing country”, come across to me as unstatesmanlike given what they were referring to. That said, a conversation given in a private setting is a very different matter than public statements, and I think comments like this one by a politician, given in the public sphere, to be much more troubling: https://twitter.com/dajcstomi/status/96254891823071232 It’s not the only time he has used such language on Twitter, either. I guess it doesn’t bother anybody else. It’s commonly acknowledged that Hungarian society seems to be more vulgar these days. I hear it every day in stores and on the street. But I… Read more »
Member

Mutt :
What is worth to explore is the attempted coup d’état by the Fidesz. How the events of the 2006 demonstrations unfolded and how it was distorted in the Fidesz propaganda machine.

I have my doubts about a Fidesz coup d’etat. I think it was an Orban and inner circle try. Yes, I think it was planned, but I am sure that not everyone was in the know. We learned that Fidesz politicians actually were dissatisfied with the fact that the police did not fire into the crowd. If they would of been aware that the events were blessed by Orban behind the scenes, they wouldn’t of want the police to fire. Of course if the whole idea was to provoke the police, so “there will be blood”, the consequences would of benefited Fidesz.

buddy
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :
Someone told me that in Sweden the informal form of address became compulsory from the king down to the cleaning lady. Perhaps that would be a solution especially since the formal in Hungarian is extremely cumbersome for the simple reason that there was no such distinction originally in Hungarian.

Very interesting. I guess it was something Hungarians adopted after they arrived in the Carpathian Basin and decided they wanted to model their language after certain Western European ones?

Perhaps the Hungarian formal register is an anachronism and serves little purpose in today’s day and age, but I admit having a certain fondness for it nonetheless. It does lead to awkward situations sometimes though. Funny story: my wife has two aunts, who are sisters. She’s very close with both of them, but she uses formal speech with one and informal with the other! When I asked her why she does this, she said she didn’t know and in fact wasn’t even aware of it.

spectator
Guest
Happy Holidays to everyone! Thanks for the summary, Eva! I certainly look forward to buy an e-book version, as soon as it surfaces. A few thoughts about the discussion above: – The Öszöd-speech were intended to persuade the ‘old boys’, that it’s time for a badly needed change. It’s an open secret, that he couldn’t get the necessary support, they were much stronger than anticipated. – It must have been a really upsetting, emotionally loaded experience, hence the heated style and the ‘vulgar’ vocabulary – but then again, they were among themselves, the speech were never intended to be released – to me it sounded straight and frank, but this is a rather subjective assessment. – As I know, Gyurcsány hasn’t calculated with the leak – after all, they were on the same side – and for awhile he even hoped that the disclosure, – when it happened, – will open the eyes of his opponents within the party..! (- and Santa coming through the chimney…) He was dead wrong, of course. – Orbán & Co been preparing the events for quite some time – The Infallible Leader has spoken already sometimes in the summer on some open air jamboree,… Read more »
Guest
London Calling! In England we no longer have any sort of formality such as you have in Hungary. In a class-ridden society that England was – I think it is arguably a recognition that we are all equal now. Hungarians, like the French with their ‘tu’ and ‘vous’, seem to have problems in regarding fellow man as their equals. We are such a cosmopolitan society in England that any other form of address would imply inferiority, or superiority between races – not to mention confusion. The only circumstance where we would have to be formal is if we are being presented to the Queen – possibly. I would address Prince Charles as ‘Charles’. I do not recognise that I am a ‘subject’ of the Queen – as a republican – and neither think she is superior or inferior to me. So I would never get the chance, least of all to address her as ‘Elizabeth’. As I have mentioned before – ALL the checkout operators in supermarkets have name badges with only their first names. And whenever you speak to someone on the phone – and ask their name – they always give their first name. Only one Supermarket chain… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

I think it is one thing to use vulgar language as a prime minister, and a completely different issue whether you use a familiar “te” in addressing fellow citizens who you do not know. Charlie, certainly you are aware of that English knew a “thou”, which is the equivalent of the “te”, and then switched completely to “you”. I come from a normal, middle-class background, do not have any monarchical leanings, and yet believe that addressing every person with its first name is a very odd way how to approach people. Why could we not keep a public space in which it is possible to address people without the need to be “free with everybody”? Or are you using the first name, while keeping your distance? Then my question would be: why then approaching people with their first name in the first place? Being polite does not mean being unequal.

Guest
London Calling! Kirsten! “…….addressing every person with its first name is a very odd way how to approach people……” is even ‘odder’! (The use of ‘its’ is a mistake?) I’m afraid it says more about you than my explanation does me. I know you are not impolite – your contributions are the epitome of politeness – and you allow us – complete strangers – to address you as ‘Kirsten’! The word ‘thou’ and ‘thy’ has NEVER been used in England in my lifetime! It is archaic to say the least. My only experience of it is in the King James translation of the bible which many people here think adds to the charm of the narrative. I always address people – and yes older people too – by their first names and they are used to it in England now. Most older people, in my experience, insist on their first names. I certainly think that NOT using first names immediately places a barrier between people. And thank goodness we don’t have the ‘te’ or ‘Ön’ (or ‘Maga’) dilemma in English discourse. I certainly detest the requirement of youngsters in Hungary to address their elders with the salutary ‘Csókolom’ (I kiss… Read more »
Guest

London Calling!

Eva – our blog entries crossed.

What you say chimes exactly with my partner’s experience. She had similar dilemmas in her work as a Healthcare visitor with some of her elderly clients here in England – but soon realised that first name terms was ok – and friendlier!

Regards

Charlie

wpDiscuz