Fidesz reaction to political setback: Continued falsehoods

The standard reference book of Hungarian sayings and proverbs contains dozens of examples related to lies and lying. I would like to single out two that apply to daily politics in today’s Hungary.

The first is an assessment of the fate of a liar. According to the Hungarian proverb, “it is easier to catch a liar than a lame dog.” The second claims that “a man who comes from afar can easily be believed.” As far as the first saying goes, if folk wisdom centuries ago thought that liars cannot fool people for very long this is especially true today after the communication revolution we have witnessed in the last twenty years or so. As for the second, it is less and less true that a person from faraway places can tell tall tales without being found out.

Fidesz politicians, however, are behind the times and keep repeating lies. Lies about the world, about the Hungarian economic situation, about their own earlier statements, and about Hungary’s future prospects. Despite the repeated unveiling of their lies, the lying goes on. I guess they believe that repeated lies stick. Hungarian society is so polarized that the majority of Fidesz voters would never think of reading newspapers or visiting Internet sites that are critical of the government. Repeated lies, as another Hungarian saying asserts, eventually become truth (at least for the party faithful).

In the old days it was fairly cumbersome to fact-check statements about events that happened, let’s say, ten years ago. Today this task is a great deal easier, although in my opinion Internet papers could further assist researchers by expanding their archival search functions. But let’s not complain, because what we have is already splendid in comparison to what we used to have at our disposal.

And now on to the real topic of  today’s post: Antal Rogán’s latest performance. On January 4 Rogán was a guest on Olga Kálmán’s Egyenes beszéd. Kálmán began with a question: how is it that within a few days he changed his mind on the government’s response to the question of voter registration? After all, on December 28, right after the Constitutional Court’s decision that found the so-called “temporary provisions” unconstitutional, he and József Szájer, the “author” of the new constitution, confidently announced their plans to put the “temporary provisions” into the main body of the constitution. That would certainly solve the problem. And now, Kálmán continued, there is a 180° turnabout. Fidesz decided not to circumvent the decision of the court. What is the explanation, she wanted to know.

Rogán didn’t flinch. He outright denied that any such words left his or Szájer’s mouth. No gentle prodding by Kálmán could move him from this position. “This is not what I said. What I said was that we respect the decision of the court and since the objections were only formal objections we  will move the ‘temporary provisions’ into the main body of the constitution.” As for the law on the election procedure, Rogán claimed that he refused to comment on a law that was still under consideration by the court.  Here is an excerpt from the Rogán interview. The complete version can be viewed on ATV’s website.

Well, checking the accuracy of Antal Rogán’s contention was easy enough. YouTube already had the video of the ten-minute Rogán-Szájer press conference online. Szájer used most of the press conference to explain the “historic reasons” for not including the “temporary provisions” in the constitution proper and to outline how the parliament will vote on a bill that will move these provisions into the constitution. That should satisfy the court. And naturally, the law on electoral procedures was one of these “temporary provisions.” At the end of the press conference a reporter asked Rogán about the electoral law. Rogán repeated Szájer’s opinion that they have to address only the court’s formal objections, which can be remedied by incorporating the law into the main body of the constitution. He added that parliament doesn’t have to revisit this law because the objections were formal. Not a word about not wanting to comment on the law that is still under consideration by the court. You can see on the video of the press conference of December 28, 2012.

This particular lie was easy to detect. Another one, I must admit, I didn’t catch, most likely because I have been following Hungarian politics only since 1994-95 and Rogán’s second lie touched on something before that date. It was Zsuzsa Kerekes, a lawyer, who called attention to that lie in Galamus. Rogán called Olga Kálmán’s attention to a grave unconstitutional act by the MSZP-SZDSZ government in 1994 when the government, using its two-thirds majority, put into the constitution a provision that deprived Hungarian citizens of their voting right if they happened to be abroad on the day of the election although the Constitutional Court found this part of the election law to be unconstitutional in March of 1990.

MemoryAs it turned out, the whole story is a typical Fidesz fabrication. In October 1989  the last parliament of the Kádár regime did vote on the electoral law, including this particular provision. The Constitutional Court that was established in October 1989 indeed found in March 1990 that this particular article in the law was unconstitutional. But it wasn’t the MSZP-SZDSZ dominated parliament that put this provision into the constitution but the parliament of the Németh government on March 9, 1990.

Zsuzsa Kerekes found it unfortunate that Olga Kálmán didn’t remember this particular detail. As a result, “as with so many other Fidesz lies it remained unquestioned and uncorrected.” I have to come to Olga Kálmán’s defense. I also occasionally feel that I could have brought up events or points that contradict the “recollections” of Fidesz politicians that were missed by the reporter. But it is one thing to watch a conversation from the outside and something else to be able to react very quickly under pressure. Moreover, unfortunately, we can’t remember everything even under normal circumstances. And since I started with proverbs here is another Hungarian saying: “A fejem nem káptalan” (My head is not a chapter). What can this possibly mean? Help me out!

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Member
Some1
January 6, 2013 7:44 pm

@ Eva Átvitt értelemben, régies, elavult: Ismeretek tárháza.
Az okos gyereknek káptalan a feje. A jó iskola a hasznos ismeretek káptalanja.
Eredet: [káptalan < latin: capitulum (fejezet) < caput (fej)]
Megjegyzés: az elnevezés abból ered, hogy a káptalan gyűlésein a szentírás egy fejezetét olvasták fel.
Kifejezések: Nem káptalan a feje – (nem tudhat mindent, nem tarthat mindent észben).
http://wikiszotar.hu/wiki/magyar_ertelmezo_szotar/Káptalan

Vándorló
Guest
January 6, 2013 8:11 pm

“I’m not a walking encyclopedia”

gdfxx
Guest
gdfxx
January 6, 2013 8:19 pm

Káptalan does not mean chapter, according to the Magyar Ertelmezo” Szo’ta’r (Akademiai Konyvkiado, Budapest 1987) but it is a religious term meaning: “puspokseg, szekesegyhaz stb. mellett mukodo tanacsado papi testulet” or in English a consulting group of priests for a high religious office (such as bishopry).

Minusio
Guest
Minusio
January 6, 2013 8:28 pm

Are we speaking about “lying” – which still has some ethical disapproval attached to it – or “newspeak”? If it is newspeak, we are, not surprisingly, on the way to thought control.

But perhaps it’s only a lunatic asylum where strange speech and hallucinations are common occurrences. Recently I mentioned something about Orbán’s suspected bipolar disorder. Perhaps there is a connection.

free free free
Guest
free free free
January 6, 2013 9:04 pm

Stalin has murdered Kirov, Trocky, Kamenyev and countless others to stay in power.
The idiots in the Communits leadership danced to the tunes of the murderous Stalin.
The lying and terrorizing Orban can do the same with Hungary, while calls himself the true Hungarian, the true Christian, and the true Conservative…
How will this chapter end?
How long will the political leaders, the nation, and the world tolerate the Orban terror?

Sandor
Guest
January 6, 2013 9:28 pm

I would also like to attempt an explanation to the “kaptalan.”
In its first iteration it means not “chapter,” but chapter house. That is, the building, or institution where the bishopric’s offices, possibly a school, and most of all, it’s records are kept. Indeed a depository of a great deal of knowledge.
Beyond this, however, following the reestablishment of the Habsburg House and government in Hungary, there were local tax, royalties and accounting offices established in every county as well, which were called the county accounts office that is to say the “kaptalan.” David Angyal, a nineteenth century historian of the economics and governance of the Habsburg monarchy writes extensively about these offices, their activities and calls them consistently “Kaptalan.”

Member
January 7, 2013 3:34 am

I wanted to see the press release video on Friday. It was not available on MTV1 homepage. I i thoght that it was my fault that I could not reach it. Now it is not available from here either. Interesting….

Member
January 7, 2013 3:36 am

Sorry, it was on Saturday.

Ron
Guest
Ron
January 7, 2013 7:22 am

O/T My wife is angry as she found out that the only program that she likes on MTV1 Maradj Talpan is cancelled. http://comment.blog.hu/2013/01/07/megszunik_a_maradj_talpon

In the same article it is mentioned that also the DTK show was cancelled, as DTK resigned.
http://index.hu/kultur/media/2013/01/05/felmondott_d._toth_kriszta/

Apparently, the censorship at MTVA is very thorough.

Furthermore, I wanted to know about the figures for the various TV Channels, but apparently the Hungarian Media watchdog do not keep or published the latest figures. And Nielsen does not cover everything, at least I could not find the cable channels.

Rog
Guest
Rog
January 7, 2013 7:40 am
I recommend G. Demszky’s recent auto-biography. Not a big thing, but readable and a rare type of book in Hungary. Apparently, one of Demszky’s realisation now is that Fidesz was doing anything to support Demszky’s leave as head of the national security commitee of the Parliament (as Demszky was elected the first mayor of Budapest) and to allow László Kövér to lead it. At that point he did not give it too much thought, even though Orbán was always sowing oppositions, conflicts, never compromised and was never helpful in anything. In other words, Orbán and Kövér already in 1990, from the very beginning, wanted to set up their secret services aided power system which they could use both for information (even now the old contacts can be utilized) and of course blackmail. I think, even in the current Constitutiiona Court, if you check people’ resumes, you may figure what they did, and how could they do it unless they were, as Martonyi, helping the system from III/whatever. But Pál Schmitt’ backgrond was also very shady, tghough he is out of power (the blogger of Véleményvezer actually twitted before Schmitt’s leave that he heard three rumours and if any one was… Read more »
Kingfisher
Guest
Kingfisher
January 7, 2013 9:51 am

I’ve just got back home after a two week visit to Hungary. Got a chance to talk to my old contacts. General impression is that the poverty and corruption is increasingly visible, on almost every street corner. No one said a single positive thing about Fidesz, either in the capital or the far flung reaches of Eastern Hungary. By the same token, people still recall the MSZP with a fairly general sense of disgust. So not a very happy situation.

Talking about MTV, my contact there told me hair raising things. Apparently, upper management don’t even sign contracts. All the business deals are being done “out of sight”, and in her estimation, fifty percent of programme budgets for big shows (like the ones recently cancelled) are going straight to Simiscka, who “owns” MTVA. It is embezzlement of state money on an extraordinary scale.

petofi
Guest
petofi
January 7, 2013 10:01 am

Kingfisher :
I’ve just got back home after a two week visit to Hungary. Got a chance to talk to my old contacts. General impression is that the poverty and corruption is increasingly visible, on almost every street corner. No one said a single positive thing about Fidesz, either in the capital or the far flung reaches of Eastern Hungary. By the same token, people still recall the MSZP with a fairly general sense of disgust. So not a very happy situation.
Talking about MTV, my contact there told me hair raising things. Apparently, upper management don’t even sign contracts. All the business deals are being done “out of sight”, and in her estimation, fifty percent of programme budgets for big shows (like the ones recently cancelled) are going straight to Simiscka, who “owns” MTVA. It is embezzlement of state money on an extraordinary scale.

Ask me if I’m surprised…

By the way, don’t be misled by this Simiscka thing: it’s Orban who rules and calls the shots. Simischka, too, is a front, no matter how elaborate a one.

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
January 7, 2013 10:05 am

Real estate deals were created at “hiteles helyek” in the Middle Ages.
The parties stated their oral agreement at these places, and a written document
was issued later.

A “káptalan” was mentioned as a “hiteles hely” already in 1458.

The saying “nem káptalan a fejem” was first recorded in 1790, meaning my head is not a depository of old documents.

Source: Etimologiai szotar, edited by Fabor Zaicz, 2006, p. 378

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
January 7, 2013 10:15 am

Correction : Fabor = Gábor

There was also a pun intended, a second meaning – “my head is not a head”

Vándorló
Guest
January 7, 2013 10:27 am

The best explanation I’ve found is from “szólások és közmondások” Szemerkényi Ágnes (2009, Osiris) p. 717.. Although it does refer to the advisory body to the bishopric, it indirectly refers to the library of archival material that was consulted in order to clarify various issues. Only those materials that were particularly helpful in throwing light on an ecclestistical issue were deamed worthy enough to be housed in such a library. As such the keeper of the library was able to give guidance on many issues. Such a librarian was particularly praised, if there were able to recite from memory the interpretation held in the capitulum documents.

It reminds me of the medieval Latin quote: “Quod non est in actis, non est in mundo” (roughly, ‘if it is not in the ledger, it does not exist’). Their belief being that all of known human knowledge was held in such libraries, and as such a thing could not exist were there not a record of it.

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
January 7, 2013 11:21 am

Eva S. Balogh :
Thank you for the title of Gábor Zaich’s dictionary. I didn’t know about it. I will look around whether it is still available or not. I’m terribly interested in such things.

ISBN 963 7094 01 6, Publisher: Tinta kiado.

Guest
January 7, 2013 11:42 am

OT–I just tried to get Klubradio on my computer–nothing. The other stations were loud and clear. Does anybody know anything?

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
January 7, 2013 11:51 am

Gretchen :
OT–I just tried to get Klubradio on my computer–nothing. The other stations were loud and clear. Does anybody know anything?

Situation at 8:49 AM ET:
Android: –
Windows: –
Radio FM: +

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
January 7, 2013 11:52 am

Correction: at 10:49 AM

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
January 7, 2013 11:55 am

Dear Eva, I just noticed that your blog still stamps the daylight saving time.

Guest
January 7, 2013 12:14 pm

@tappanch: Thanks! When you say “Radio FM: +” I assume you can get KlubRadio this way–is it shortwave?

petofi
Guest
petofi
January 7, 2013 12:16 pm

Gretchen :
OT–I just tried to get Klubradio on my computer–nothing. The other stations were loud and clear. Does anybody know anything?

Ahh, the genius of the twisted Hungarian mind! Chalk me up as a victim. I don’t know about online, but Klubradio has now been attacked in the most surreptitious manner: a new station–Danko Radio–has been placed on the dial a fraction past the Klub frequency. Since Danko plays operetta/slager, nostalgic favorites with no commercials, it’s hard to hit
a romantic ‘memory’… and go back to finding the Klub station. I have succumbed: Georgy Bolgar will henceforth get fewer visits from me.

Member
January 7, 2013 12:23 pm

tappanch :
Situation at 8:49 AM ET:
Android: –
Windows: –
Radio FM: +

With TuneIn on my iPhone it worked the whole morning (EST). I was listening to it in my car. I’m not sure what the url for the stream is, but TuneIn has a web site (tunein.com).

Guest
January 7, 2013 11:26 am

It (KlubRadio) finally came in on my Mac after ‘connecting’ for a few minutes. Much relieved!

gdfxx
Guest
gdfxx
January 7, 2013 11:29 am

tappanch :

Gretchen :
OT–I just tried to get Klubradio on my computer–nothing. The other stations were loud and clear. Does anybody know anything?

Situation at 8:49 AM ET:
Android: –
Windows: –
Radio FM: +

On Windows Media Player a message about the server may not be available appears. My Internet radio cannot connect either.

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