Kim Lane Scheppele’s Testimony at the Helsinki Commission Hearing on Hungary: Full text

Testimony

U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe

Hearing on “The Trajectory of Democracy – Why Hungary Matters”

Capitol Visitor Center, Room SVC 210 (Senate Side)

March 19, 2013 at 3 pm

Kim Lane Scheppele

Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs

Director, Program in Law and Public Affairs

Princeton University

I am honored to testify before you today.   My name is Kim Lane Scheppele, and I am the Rockefeller Professor of Sociology and International Affairs, as well as the Director of the Program in Law and Public Affairs, at Princeton University.    I am also a Faculty Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Nearly twenty years ago, the US National Science Foundation gave me a grant to move to Hungary to study the Hungarian Constitutional Court, then the most impressive of the new courts in Eastern Europe.    I planned to go for one year but stayed for four, working as a researcher at the Constitutional Court and serving as an expert advisor to the constitutional drafting committee of the Hungarian Parliament in 1995-1996, a position I occupied with the assistance of a second NSF grant.   I am grateful to the NSF for having funded my research on Hungary, which documented how the new Hungarian constitution of 1989 put down roots and grew to support a vibrant Hungarian constitutional democracy.    I have followed Hungarian constitutional developments closely ever since.

I am here today because the current Hungarian government has felled the tree of democratic constitutionalism that Hungary planted in 1989.

Since its election in 2010, the Fidesz government has created a constitutional frenzy.  It won two-thirds of the seats in the Parliament in a system where a single two-thirds vote is enough to change the constitution.   Twelve times in its first year in office, it amended the constitution it inherited.  Those amendments removed most of the institutional checks that could have stopped what the government did next – which was to install a new constitution.   The new Fidesz constitution was drafted in secret, presented to the Parliament with only one month for debate, passed by the votes of only the Fidesz parliamentary bloc, and signed by a President that Fidesz had named.  Neither the opposition parties nor civil society organizations nor the general public had any influence in the constitutional process.   There was no popular ratification.    The Fidesz constitution went into effect on January 1, 2012.

While the government claims it was given a mandate to make major changes, the general Hungarian public thinks otherwise.  During the election campaign in 2010, Fidesz never said it would change the whole constitutional system.   Once the Fidesz governing program became clear after the party came to power, the popularity of Fidesz has plummeted, even more so after the government undertook to replace the constitution.

Illustration2

Figure 1:  Political Party Popularity in Hungary 2008-2013

Source:  Ipsos/Portfolio.hu.

After the April 2010 election, Fidesz’s popularity has steadily dropped.  But none of the other parties – the MSzP (Socialists), Jobbik (far-right party), LMP (Politics Can be Different, a liberal/green/youth party) or the new liberal electoral coalition Egyutt 2014 (Together 2014) – is any more popular.  Surveys show that 50% or more of Hungarian voters say that there is no political party that they support.

Even though the government pushed through a one-party constitution without support from any other political fraction, except its own party-list partner the Christian Democrats, this didn’t stop the constitutional juggernaut.  The government has amended its new constitution four times in 15 months.  Each time, the government has done so with the votes of only its own political bloc, rejecting all proposals from the political opposition or from civil society groups.   The current Hungarian constitution remains a one-party constitution.

Just last week, the Fidesz government passed a 15-page amendment to the new 45-page constitution.  László Sólyom, the conservative former president of both the Constitutional Court and the Republic of Hungary, said in a public statement last week that the “Fourth Amendment” removes the last traces of separation of powers from the Hungarian constitutional system.   Under the constitution as amended, no institution has the legal right to check many of the key powers of the one-party government.

The Fourth Amendment nullifies more than 20 years of rights-protecting case law of the Hungarian Constitutional Court that had been developed before the new constitution went into effect.  This leaves a giant gap where firm legal protection of basic rights once stood.  The Fourth Amendment specifically overturns nearly all of the decisions that the Constitutional Court made in the last year striking down controversial new laws the Fidesz government had passed.  The Fourth Amendment removes the Court’s power to evaluate on substantive grounds any new constitutional amendments, a move which allows the government to escape review by inserting any controversial new proposal directly into the constitution.  The Fourth Amendment entrenches political control of the judiciary and gives the government new tools to prevent the opposition from coming to power.  The Fourth Amendment reverses many of the concessions Hungary made last year when the European Union, the Council of Europe and the US State Department criticized fundamental aspects of that constitution.

Under cover of constitutional reform, the Fidesz government has given itself absolute power.  It now has discretion to do virtually anything it wants, even if civil society, the general public, and all other political parties are opposed.

How could Hungary have fallen so far so fast from the family of stable constitutional democracies?  The answer lies in the Achilles’ heel of the old constitutional system: a disproportionate election law combined with an easy constitutional amendment rule.

Hungary’s 1990 election law gave disproportionate numbers of seats to the winner of an election, a feature that was designed to help plurality parties form stable governments.  When Fidesz got 53% of the vote in the 2010 election, the election law converted this victory into 68% of the seats in the Parliament.   While Fidesz won this vote in a joint party list with the Christian Democrats (the KDNP), the Christian Democrats barely have an independent existence apart from Fidesz and its members vote in a bloc with Fidesz on every issue.

Illustration3

Figure 2: Composition of the Hungarian Parliament 2010

Source:  Hungarian National Election Commission

Translation: 

The Fidesz/KDNP joint party list (orange) received 52.7% of the vote, 263 of the seats and 68.1% of the Parliament.  MSzP (Socialists) (red) received 19.3% of the vote, 59 of the seats and 15.3% of the Parliament. Jobbik (far-right party) (dark green) received 16.6% of the vote, 47 of the seats and 12.2% of the Parliament and LMP (Politics Can be Different) (light green) received 7.7% of the vote, 16 of the seats and 4.1% of the Parliament.  There was one independent MP. 

Armed with its two-thirds supermajority, the Fidesz government has been able to make use of the old constitution’s amendment rule, dating to the communist constitution of 1949, which permitted the constitution to be changed with a single two-thirds vote of the Parliament.   This “magic two-thirds” has enabled Fidesz to make all of its constitutional changes in a formally legal manner.     Only one barrier remained:  In 1995, under a prior two-thirds government, the old constitution was amended to require a four-fifths vote of the Parliament before any new constitutional drafting process could begin.  One month into its term, Fidesz used its two-thirds vote to amend the constitution to remove the four-fifths requirement.

Many of the laws, including the constitution itself, many of the constitutional amendments and most of the cardinal laws, were introduced through the parliamentary procedure of a “private member’s bill,” which bypasses the stage of public consultation required of all government bills.   That, combined with the fact that the Parliament instituted a new rule through which a two-thirds vote could cut off parliamentary debate on any topic, has meant that most of these new laws have received very little public discussion.   It has not been uncommon for a constitutional amendment go from first proposal to final enactment in just a few weeks.

Taken over three years, the constitutional changes are complicated, detailed, and spread out across a new constitution, four major constitutional amendments, dozens of “cardinal” (super-majority) laws, and thousands of pages of ordinary laws that were all passed in a giant legislative blur, sometimes in the middle of the night.  I strongly suspect that most Hungarians do not understand the details of this new constitutional system.  Even Hungarian lawyers are not able to keep up with the total revolution in the law.  In what follows, I will try to explain how the new system of Hungarian government is structured, current as of March 15, 2013, taking all of this new law into account.

The primary source for my testimony is the Magyar Közlöny, the official gazette of the Hungarian government that publishes all of the laws.  From my perch in the United States, I cannot say how the laws are being carried out.  But I can say how the laws are structured and what they do and do not permit.  I will call this whole new legal structure the “Fidesz constitution” even though not everything is in the single constitutional text or its amendments.   Many elements of the system I describe are in two-thirds “cardinal” laws that are almost as entrenched as the constitution itself, which is why I don’t make the fine distinctions here except where they are crucial for understanding how the system works.  I am happy to provide detailed legal citations for all of the claims I make below if you are interested in checking more precisely what I say or precisely where in the law each of these statements can find support.

Others who are providing testimony for this hearing will address other crucial issues raised by the current Hungarian government’s actions over the last three years.  They will address the fate of civil liberties, the difficult situation for many churches in Hungary and the growing and increasingly virulent strains of anti-Semitism and anti-Roma agitation that have occurred alongside this constitutional revolution.

My remit at this hearing today is to talk about something altogether more boring, but no less important:  the system of divided and checked powers necessary for a government to remain both constitutional and democratic.   History tells us that a government that has no limits on what it can do and that concentrates all powers in a single party will soon cease to be either constitutional or democratic.

The importance of checked and limited powers was an insight very familiar to the American constitutional framers.  The Philadelphia Convention did not even include a bill of rights in the US Constitution because the framers believed that the most effective protection for rights was a government that was limited by law.   While American history has taught us that a bill of rights matters – and the ratification process of the US Constitution insisted on including one – we have also learned much from Princeton graduate James Madison, who wrote in Federalist #47:  “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”

By James Madison’s definition, Hungary is on the verge of tyranny.

In what follows, I will show that the Fidesz political party has gathered all of the powers of the Hungarian government into its own hands, without checks from any other political quarter and without any limits on what it can do.

We should start with the basics:   Hungary has a unicameral parliamentary system of government.  A unicameral Parliament has no upper house to check what the lower house does, no “Senate” to complicate life for the “House of Representatives” and vice versa.   A parliamentary system means that the most powerful executive, the prime minister, is elected by the Parliament rather than directly by the people.  As a result, the prime minister in Hungary is virtually guaranteed a majority for all of his legislative initiatives because that legislative majority put him into his job.   Not surprisingly, the legislative-executive cooperation guaranteed in Hungary’s unicameral parliamentary system dates back to the communist constitution of 1949.  (From the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries, Hungary had a bicameral parliament.)

In 1989, however, major constitutional changes in Hungary added a number of checks to this basic framework.  A Constitutional Court was created as the primary watchdog on the majoritarian dangers of a unicameral parliamentary system.  Unlike a Supreme Court which is the highest court of appeal in the legal system (something we are familiar with in the United States), a Constitutional Court is the only court that is allowed to hear and decide constitutional questions – and it does nothing else besides rule on constitutional matters.   Because the Hungarian Constitutional Court conducts the primary oversight in a system that has little formal separation of legislative and executive power, it is even more important than the Supreme Court in the American separation-of-powers system.

Given such weighty responsibility in the 1989 constitutional design, the Constitutional Court was made highly accessible to the new democratic public in Hungary.  Literally, anyone could ask the Constitutional Court to review a law for constitutionality using a so-called actio popularis petition.   As a result, virtually every law was challenged.  From the time it opened in January 1990, the active Constitutional Court kept each new government under constitutional constraint regardless of the political leanings of the government.  Opinion polls showed that the Constitutional Court was consistently the most highly respected political institution in Hungary.

The procedure for electing judges to the Constitutional Court before 2010 prevented the Court from being captured by any one political fraction.   Because each judicial nominee to the Constitutional Court had to first be approved by a majority of parliamentary parties before then being elected to the Court by a two-thirds vote of the Parliament, the Court always had a balance of different political views represented on the bench.

Other changes that were made to the constitutional system in 1989 provided more checks on Hungary’s unicameral parliamentary government.  Revamped parliamentary procedure required extensive consultation with both civil society and opposition parties before government bills could be put to a vote.   Important issues of constitutional concern required a two-thirds vote of the Parliament.   As we have seen, however, the private member’s bill procedure allowed the consultation stage for legislation to be bypassed and the two-thirds laws could cease to be a real check on power when the government had two-thirds of the parliamentary seats, something the disproportionate election law made quite likely.

Four ombudsmen added after 1989 to the system of rights protection.  Other independent institutions – the central bank, state audit office, prosecutor general’s office, national election commission and media board – provided both expertise and additional checkpoints.  For example, both the national election commission and the media board were structured to ensure representation from across the political spectrum.   An independent self-governing judiciary ensured that the laws were fairly applied.

There were so many different checks instituted after 1989 on the power of the prime minister and his parliamentary majority that the post-1989 constitutional system worked reliably to ensure that the operation of majoritarian political power didn’t ride roughshod over democratic guarantees and constitutional limitations.

By contrast with this robust system of complementary powers, the new “Fidesz constitution” removes virtually all of the checks added to the prior communist constitution after 1989.  I will detail the major reversals here.

Under the Fidesz constitution, the Constitutional Court’s power and independence have been compromised in multiple ways.   The system for electing constitutional judges was changed so that now a single two-thirds vote of the Parliament is sufficient to put a judge on the Court, abolishing the multiparty agreement that was once necessary for nomination.  The Fidesz constitution also expanded the number of judges on the Court from 11 to 15, giving the governing party four more judges to name immediately.

Between changing the process for electing judges and expanding the number of judges to be elected, Fidesz government has been able to select nine of the 15 judges on the Court in its first three years in office.   The Fidesz parliamentary bloc, voting in unison as it always does, put these judges onto the Court without multiparty support, though a few of the new judges were able to garner some votes from the far-right Jobbik party.  The new constitutional judges have almost always voted for the Fidesz government position in each case.  Some of the new judges have just voted for the government’s position without even giving reasons.

Even if the Court is in Fidesz-friendly hands, however, a powerful Court might still be dangerous to a government that shuns checks on its freedom of action.  This may explain why the jurisdiction of the Court has been cut. The Court no longer has the power to review laws based on “actio popularis” petitions, which are petitions that anyone can file.  Now, the only individuals who can challenge laws must show that they have been concretely injured by the application of a potentially unconstitutional law and that they have exhausted their remedies in the ordinary courts.  If the Constitutional Court can only hear cases that have concrete victims, it is hard for the Court to rule on matters pertaining to separation of powers and the structure of democratic institutions.  Individuals rarely get “standing” to challenge a law that creates a new system for judicial appointments or a law that gives a government agency the power to issue decrees without parliamentary oversight, both laws that have been passed since Fidesz came to power.  Some elements of “abstract review” remain with the Constitutional Court, but these, too, have been restricted.

Abstract review allows the Court to hear challenges to laws without a concrete dispute before it.  With the exception of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights (who will himself be replaced by Fidesz parliamentary majority later this year), the constitution gives the power to challenge laws abstractly only to particular offices that are currently occupied by people affiliated with Fidesz.  One might guess that Fidesz appointees do not have a strong incentive to limit the power of their own government.   While one-quarter of the Parliament is also given the power to challenge a law at the Constitutional Court, the one-third of the seats in the current Parliament that are not held by the governing party are divided between parties of the center-left and a party of the far right, who would have to agree on a challenge, something that is not very likely.   As a result, many laws have been effectively insulated from constitutional challenge by the way that abstract review power has been designed.

Even with the limitations on access to the Constitutional Court that were built into the Fidesz constitution, the system of judicial review in Hungary may seem broader than the system we have in the United States.  Therefore, the dangers of the new system in Hungary may not be apparent to an American eye.  Limiting the power to initiate judicial review only to those who have been directly injured and only to officials who owe their jobs to this government limits the ability of the Court to reach constitutional violations that it used to be able to reach.  The US Supreme Court cannot reach all constitutional violations either, but the United States has a bicameral Congress, a separately elected president, a vigilant and active civil society, and federalism, which adds state governments and state courts as additional checks on the power of temporary majorities.  Hungary has none of those checking institutions and so relies on the Constitutional Court to carry more weight in the constitutional system.   Making it difficult for this Court to reach all constitutional violations creates blind spots in which unconstrained political discretion can override constitutional values.

In addition to limiting access to the Court, the Fidesz constitution restricts the jurisdiction of the Court in other ways as well.  The Court may no longer review any law that deals with taxes or budgets when those laws are passed at a time when the national debt is more than 50% of GDP.  Under the Fourth Amendment passed last week, the Court will never have the power to review budget and tax laws that were passed under these circumstances.  As a result, if a tax law passed this year infringes an individual’s constitutionally guaranteed property rights or if such a tax is applied selectively to particular minority groups, there is nothing that the Constitutional Court can do – in perpetuity.   This opens up a space for the government to violate many personal rights without any constitutional oversight.

The Fourth Amendment has also banned the Court from reviewing constitutional amendments for substantive conflicts with constitutional principles.   As a result, if the constitution promises freedom of religion but a constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds parliamentary vote before a church is officially recognized (a provision that was added to the constitution with the Fourth Amendment), the Court can do nothing about this.  Or if the constitution says anyone may freely express her opinion but an amendment says that no one may defame the Hungarian nation (a provision that was also added to the constitution with the Fourth Amendment), there is nothing the Court can do.   These examples show that the government can now directly amend the constitution any time it thinks the Constitutional Court might strike down some policy that the government wants to enact regardless of how much these new amendments violate principles that have been guaranteed elsewhere in the constitution. In fact, the Fourth Amendment already puts back into the constitution laws that the Constitutional Court has already struck down as unconstitutional once before under the new constitution.

To make matters worse, the Fourth Amendment also nullifies all decisions made by the Constitutional Court before the new constitution took effect.   At one level, this makes sense:  old constitution, old decisions/new constitution, new decisions.   But the Constitutional Court had already worked out a sensible new rule for the constitutional transition by deciding that in those cases where the language of the old and new constitutions was substantially the same, the opinions of the prior Court would still be valid and could still be applied.  Otherwise, where the new constitution was substantially different from the old one, the previous decisions would no longer be used.  Constitutional rights are key provisions that are the same in the old and new constitutions – which means that, practically speaking, the Fourth Amendment annuls primarily the cases that defined and protected constitutional rights.    With those decisions gone, no one can say for certain whether Hungarian law protects free speech, freedom of religion, equality of all Hungarians before the law, property rights, and virtually every other right in precisely the way that everyone in Hungary had come to take for granted.

What other checks on Fidesz’s untrammeled power have now been removed in the Fidesz constitution?  The independence of the ordinary judicial system has taken a big hit.   In 2011, the Fidesz government suddenly lowered the judicial retirement age from 70 to 62, thus removing the most senior 10% of the judiciary, including 20% of the Supreme Court judges and more than half of the appeals court presidents.    Both the Hungarian Constitutional Court and the European Court of Justice found that the sudden change in the judicial retirement age was illegal.

The government’s first reaction was to defy both courts’ judgments, before finally agreeing at the end of 2012 to reinstate fired judges who wanted to return to their jobs.   In the meantime, however, all of the court leadership positions were filled with new judges, so the old judges who wanted to be reinstated were returned to much less important positions.  Through this move, the government was able to replace much of the top leadership of the judiciary in a single year.   One court leader who could not have been replaced in this manner (because he was too young) was the then-President of the Supreme Court, András Baka.  He was removed from office when the new constitution went into effect because of a new requirement, effectively immediately, that judges must have five years of judicial experience in Hungary before being named to the Supreme Court (newly renamed the Curia).  President Baka’s 16 years of experience as a judge on the European Court of Human Rights did not count.

How were the new judges named?  The new president of the Supreme Court/Curia was elected by a two-thirds vote of the Fidesz Parliament.   Beyond that, a new institution was created to oversee the appointment of all other judges as well as the administration of the judiciary: the National Judicial Office.  This office replaced a system of judicial self-government.  The president of the NJO, elected by two-thirds of the Parliament, has the power to hire, fire, promote, demote and discipline all judges in the system without any substantive oversight from any other institution.  The national President has to countersign in cases where a judge is appointed for the first time in the system, but it is not clear he could refuse to do so.   The new leadership of the ordinary courts has thus been replaced by judges who owe their careers to an official elected by the “magic two-thirds” of the Fidesz Parliament.

The Council of Europe’s Commission on Democracy through Law (the Venice Commission) sharply criticized the extraordinary powers of and general lack of legal standards governing the president of the National Judicial Office.  The US State Department has also raised questions about the independence of the judiciary under this system.   In a concession to criticism, the Fidesz government agreed to limit the powers of the president of the NJO in legislation passed in summer 2012.  But with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, those concessions are clawed back.  The constitution now entrenches the National Judicial Office (NJO), whose president has the constitutional power to “manage the central administrative affairs of the courts,” a set of responsibilities in which the judges merely “participate.”   None of the constraints that the Fidesz government agreed to under international pressure – requiring a significant role for the judges in their own self-government, establishing legal standards for the president of the NJO to use in managing the judiciary, and no longer allowing the president of the NJO to stay in office until her successor is elected – are in the constitution itself.    In fact, the concessions that the Fidesz government made to Hungary’s international critics may be unconstitutional now that the Fourth Amendment gives the sole power to manage the courts without these constraints to the president of the National Judicial Office.

In another move that has attracted universal criticism, the Fidesz government gave the president of the National Judicial Office the power to take any case in the entire court system and move it to a court different from the one to which normal procedure would assign it.   So, for example, if a political corruption case against members of the main opposition party would normally be assigned to the trial-level court in Pest, the president of the National Judicial Office can move the case to Kecskemét.   In fact, this is not a hypothetical; that very example has already happened.   The rationale given for this extraordinary power to move cases is that the courts are overcrowded and case resolution can be speeded up by moving cases to less crowded courts.

But this rationale is belied by the facts:   From public sources, I have been keeping track of the movement of these cases in the first year that the president of the NJO has had this power.   She has moved only a few dozen cases away from courts that have thousands of backlogged cases.  And she has moved the cases not to the least crowded courts in the countryside but to other courts that also have backlogs.   She has moved some of the most high-profile political cases in which the political opposition has a stake, leading the opposition to charge the government with picking the judges particularly in cases that have strong political overtones.  While my statistics cannot reveal the motivation of the government, they can show that the government is not moving a substantial enough number of cases to make a difference in waiting times and it is not moving cases from the most to the least crowded courts.   I am happy to make the data available upon request.

With the Fourth Amendment passed last week, the power of the president of the NJO to move any case to any court in the country is entrenched in the constitution itself.  And the constitution does not include the legal constraints that Hungary agreed to under pressure.  Giving power to the president of the NJO to select which court handles individual cases outside the rules of ordinary legal procedure is for many – myself included – the end of the rule of law in Hungary.

The Constitutional Court and the ordinary judiciary have suffered a severe blow under the Fidesz constitution.  Other independent institutions have fared no better.

The ombudsman system, which once comprised four independent ombudsmen with independent jurisdictions, has now been folded into one office with a much smaller staff.  The former data protection ombudsman was fired and the office has been absorbed directly into the government, something that has generated an infringement action launched by the European Commission against Hungary at the European Court of Justice because EU law requires an independent data privacy officer.

As of two weeks ago, the central bank has a new governor, who moved to that job from being minister of the economy.  He used his ministerial power to unilaterally change the rules for the central bank.  Without the need for parliamentary approval or Court review, then, György Matolcsy, as the Fidesz economics minister, gave the office of György Matolcsy, the new central bank governor, dramatically increased powers just before he moved from one job to the next.  The charter of the central bank, as it turns out, is not even a statute passed by Parliament but a document that either the bank itself or the minister of the economy can change at will.

The new media council has a chair appointed directly by the prime minister and a membership that consists exclusively of members elected by the Fidesz parliamentary two-thirds, both for nine-year terms.   The media council has draconian powers to levy bankrupting fines based on a review of the content of both public and private media, including broadcast, print and internet media. A Constitutional Court decision freed the print media from some of these constraints, but the Fidesz government could now easily amend the constitution to bring the print media back under control and the Constitutional Court could say nothing further about it.

The election commission has been revamped and now consists exclusively of members who have been elected by the Fidesz parliamentary two-thirds majority, all for terms of nine years.   While each party with a national list in the next election (scheduled for April 2014) will have a temporary member on the commission during the campaign, opposition parties will be easily outvoted by the Fidesz majority.

The legal framework for the 2014 election is still in flux.  The Fidesz parliamentary two-thirds has already enacted two election laws over vociferous protest from opposition parties, creating an even more disproportionate system than the one it replaced.  One law gerrymanders the districts for the next election in such a way that it will be very difficult for the opposition to win.  The law even fixes the exact boundaries of election districts in a cardinal law that requires a two-thirds vote of the Parliament to change.  This law also eliminates the second round of voting for single-member districts so that someone without majority support in a district can enter Parliament, which was not previously the case.

The government passed a second cardinal law on elections that instituted a system of voter registration, even though the country has conducted more than 20 years of elections with an excellent “civil list” that has never produced any complaints of irregularity.  The Constitutional Court struck down voter registration as unconstitutional, and for now the governing party seems to have given up on this idea.  But with its parliamentary two-thirds vote, the government has the power to override the Constitutional Court by simply adding voter registration to the constitution.  The government may also change other important features of the election system right up until the election takes place.   In fact, at the moment, the election framework is presently incomplete.  Among other things, no rules have yet been devised for making and verifying voter lists for ethnic Hungarians in the neighboring states who have recently become eligible for citizenship as the result of constitutional changes.

The Fourth Amendment added new electoral rules just last week.   The amendment created a constitutional ban on political advertising during the election campaign in any venue other than in the public broadcast media, which is controlled by the all-Fidesz media board.  Moreover, only parties with national party lists can advertise at all in the national media, which might exclude smaller and newer parties.   These restrictions had been previously declared unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court, so the government amended the constitution to override that decision.  And since these provisions are now in the constitution itself, the Constitutional Court cannot review them again.

But suppose that, despite all of the obstacles that the current governing party has put in the way of the political opposition, an opposition coalition manages to win the next election.   The Fidesz constitution has created a trap that can be snapped in just such a case.    The constitution creates a national budget council with the power to veto any future budget that adds to the national debt, which any foreseeable budget will do. The members of the budget council have been chosen by the Fidesz two-thirds majority for terms of 6 or 12 years and can be replaced only if two-thirds of the parliament can agree on their successors when their terms are over.   Not only does this mean that, for three elections cycles out, any future government must follow a budgetary course agreed on by a council where all of the members were elected by the Fidesz government, but this budget council has even more power than that.

The constitution requires the Parliament to pass a budget by March 31 of each year. If the Parliament fails to do so, the president of the country can dissolve the Parliament and call new elections. When this provision is put together with the powers of the budgetary council, the constraints on any future government are clear.  If a new non-Fidesz government passes a budget that adds to the debt, that budget can be vetoed by the all-Fidesz budgetary council at any time, including on the eve of the budget deadline given in the constitution.  The parliament would then miss the deadline and the president (also named by Fidesz and serving through 2017) could call new elections. And this process can be repeated until an acceptable government is voted back into power.

The Fidesz government may have created this unfortunate interaction of constitutional provisions inadvertently in an earnest attempt to create a binding mechanism to achieve budget discipline.    But it would be easy for the Fidesz government to achieve fiscal discipline without creating this anti-democratic trap.   The Fidesz government could amend the constitution to require that the budget council veto the budget by a deadline that would give the Parliament time to pass a new budget before the president gains the power to dissolve it.  I have personally suggested this to high-level members of Fidesz, but an amendment to this effect has so far not appeared.

There is more that could be said about the new Fidesz constitution.  I have only mentioned what I take to be the biggest obstacles posed to constitutionalism and democracy by this new constitutional framework.

What can be done about the Fidesz consolidation of power by the United States, the US Helsinki Commission, and by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe?

First, of course, Hungarian democracy must be created and maintained by Hungarians themselves.    But a democratic public must be an educated public and Hungarians themselves need to learn what has happened to their own constitution over the last three years.  Most have no idea, and not because they couldn’t or wouldn’t understand.

The government celebrated its new constitution with great fanfare.  They set up “constitutional tables” at every town hall where people could sign up to receive their very own copy of the constitution.  Last June, the government presented to every secondary school graduate a coffee-table book with the words of the new constitution illustrated with historic and specially commissioned paintings.  But much of what I have mentioned above is not contained in the text that government has distributed.   Many of the most worrisome provisions that I have highlighted here are in the constitutional amendments made since that time or in the cardinal laws that can only be accessed through reading the immensely difficult legalese of the Magyar Közlöny.  These laws are posted online only in PDF form, not searchable unless one goes through each individual daily issue separately.

Hungary’s friends, including the United States, could assist financially with a program to educate citizens, lawyers and judges in Hungary about the new constitutional framework in Hungary.   A public education campaign about the new constitutional structure – conducted by Hungarian constitutional experts from the government, from the opposition and from academia – may assist in giving Hungarians better information about their new constitutional system.   Such a campaign would be especially effective if it could be conducted through the broadcast media in Hungary, though since the government functionally controls the broadcast media through its Media Council, some monitoring system would have to be put in place to ensure that both the government and opposition voices are heard.  Having read thousands of petitions that ordinary Hungarians sent to the Constitutional Court in the 1990s, I am confident that Hungarians themselves will rise to the defense of both democracy and constitutionalism once they see the dangers of a flawed constitutional design.

Second, the Hungarian government vociferously claims that it is still a democracy because political parties may freely organize for the parliamentary elections next year.   But its critics are concerned that the government presently controls the media landscape, has enacted a number of legal provisions that disadvantage opposition parties, and continues to change the electoral rules.  In fact, nothing prohibits the government from changing important elements of the electoral framework at the last minute.   With the election only one year away, it is important to get the rules of the game fixed – fairly – as soon as possible.

The OSCE has expertise in monitoring elections to ensure that they are free and fair.   The OSCE should insist that the electoral rules be settled far enough ahead of the election so that all who want to contest the election have a reasonable amount of time to organize themselves accordingly.

Enough questions have been raised about the willingness of the current Hungarian government to recognize the political opposition that the OSCE/ODIHR should also fully monitor the 2014 Hungarian parliamentary elections.    This should include not just election-day or long-term monitoring missions. The comprehensively changed new constitutional framework warrants an early Needs Assessment Mission from OSCE/ODIHR, one that can fully review the effects of all the new provisions.  It should focus on the ability of political parties to organize and to get their message out, access to the media, and the fairness of the basic election framework including the creation of electoral districts and the compatibility of both the content and timing of the new electoral rules with the principles of free and fair elections.

Third, the US government should press the Hungarian government to live up to its international commitments to democracy, constitutionalism, the rule of law and robust rights protection.  The US should be vigilant in monitoring backsliding from the high level of constitutional democratic protections that Hungary had achieved after 1989 and the US should cooperate with the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly Monitoring Committee, and the European Union (for example, the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament), all of which have ongoing monitoring processes in place.

But the US government should also be aware that, under pressure, the Fidesz government has in the past promised minor changes to its comprehensive framework and then has discarded those changes when the pressure lifted.  Moreover, the changes that the Fidesz government has previously offered to make do not really address the key problems of the system.   The Fidesz constitutional framework is a highly redundant system that must be understood as a whole.  Each individual legal rule cannot be evaluated by itself because one must understand the function of that rule in the larger system.  Changing a number of small features of this constitutional order may not in fact address the most serious problem – which is the concentration of political power in the hands of one party.  In deciding whether the Hungarian government has been responsive to international and domestic criticism, Hungary’s allies need to examine whether proposed changes really alter the way this complex and integrated system works as a whole.

The US should resist entering the battle of competing checklists of constitutional features.  The Hungarian government often insists that some other European country has the same individual rule that its friends criticize.  Perhaps we should remember Frankenstein’s monster, who was stitched together from perfectly normal bits of other once-living things, but who was, nonetheless, a monster.  No other constitutional democracy in the world, let alone in Europe, has the combination of constitutional features that Hungary now has.  In evaluating Hungary for its compliance with international standards, its international friends must look at the whole constitutional system and not just at individual pieces as it assesses whether Hungary still belongs to the family of constitutional democracies.  

Finally, Hungary is a small country in Europe.  It may be hard to see why the United States should spend any of its political capital to address what former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Hungary’s backsliding from constitutional democracy.   There are two main reasons why the US should care, apart from the fact that it is painful to see any country retreat from democracy and one should always be concerned about the people adversely affected.

Hungary is a partner with the US not only in the OSCE, but also in NATO.   OSCE commits its member states to the protection of human rights as defined under the Helsinki Final Act of 1975, and long experience shows that human rights receive their best protection from the maintenance of a constitutional and democratic government, both of which are now in doubt in Hungary.   The NATO Charter creates a union of states “determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.”   But these commitments are also being challenged by the concentration of power in Hungary under its new constitutional framework.    Both the OSCE and NATO commit its member states to good behavior and good government, which these organizations should be able to monitor.

In addition, other countries in Hungary’s neighborhood are looking with great interest at what Hungary is doing.  They can see that the European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, NATO and the United States have limited influence and ability to induce a national government to change its domestic laws.   Hungary’s neighbors understand that Hungary is getting away with consolidating all political power in the hands of one party, and many find that enticing.  Troubling recent developments in Romania, Bulgaria and Slovenia show that the Hungarian problem of overly concentrated power could spread if the US and its European allies don’t stand up for their values in the Hungarian case.    The US should therefore treat constitutional problems in Hungary with a sense of urgency, both because of the speed with which this system is being locked in and because of the likelihood that the Hungarian constitutional disease could spread around the neighborhood.

In closing then, I strongly urge the United States, the US Helsinki Commission and the OSCE to take Hungary seriously, engage with the Hungarian government on matters of constitutional reform, and work toward ensuring that the channels of democratic participation remain open in Hungary so that the Hungarian people retain the capacity to determine the sort of government under which they will live.  The legal changes I have described today pose a real danger to fundamental democratic and constitutional values, and Hungary’s friends need to sound the alarm.

242 comments

  1. Saw the live testimony. Professor Scheppele did a brilliant job, and I think her very understated and factual testimony went some way toward weaning Senator Cardin from the seductive embrace of Szajer’s unctuous testimony — all ideological slogans, denial and evasion, no substance.

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  2. Ok. Fair enough. Long but fair analysis of the Constitution. BUT. 1. What about the US Constitution and parliamentary structure? Why don`t the US help African friends to become democratic? Doesn`t US involvement in Hungarian domestic affairs hurt Hungary`s sovereignty? What about Obama`s fake birth certificate, isn`t that a problem?

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  3. The sad picture is that FIDESZ accomplished the destruction of freedom in Hungary with the help of many Hungarians, who did it without any concern that soon their own freedom will be lost.
    What a nearsighted vision!

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  4. An excellent summary of the constitutional situation in Hungary, well argued and well written. Don’t be put off by its length, it’s a surprisingly easy read. And well worth reading – I thought I was pretty up to date on these issues, but I learnt a lot from this speech.

    It should be translated into Hungarian and sent to every house in Hungary.

    One of the things I hadn’t realised is how completely the new laws on the budget would constrain any future non-Fidesz government (in the unlikely event one was elected). These laws are basically nothing to do with the budgetary process or the national debt, they are entirely about ensuring that any non-Fidesz government is removed from office as quickly as possible by forcing elections. (If a government fails to pass a budget by a set date, the President can call new elections, and governments cannot, by law, pass a budget that increases the national debt – unless, of course, they are Fidesz.)

    So, all talk about the possibility of a unified opposition defeating Fidesz in 2014 is even more far-fetched than even I thought. Even if it happened, the new government wouldn’t be able to do anything, and would be kicked out within the year.

    Orbán has effectively created a situation where the only way to get rid of him is via non-democratic means. He has sown the seeds for all the problems of the future and made revolution and civil war effectively certain.

    Let’s hope that the EU/US do pay attention to Prof Scheppele’s last few paragraphs (stopping the spread of the Hungarian example), otherwise it’s either years of Orbán or (eventually) blood on the streets – and not just in Hungary.

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  5. “What about Obama`s fake birth certificate, isn`t that a problem?”

    Is the far-right so far gone that it’s still clinging to this sort of nonsense? It beggars belief.

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  6. @Stevan Harnad: “unctuous testimony” by Szajer. My impression was that Cardin was not misled at all. In answer to Cardin’s saying that leadership (i.e. Orban’s) was necessary to combat anti-Semitism, Szajer only could say that those aggrieved could seek help through the courts. Yes, Szajer was unctuous–found myself writing “SOS” on my paper. [not a request for help]

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  7. adam :
    Ok. Fair enough. Long but fair analysis of the Constitution. BUT. 1. What about the US Constitution and parliamentary structure? Why don`t the US help African friends to become democratic? Doesn`t US involvement in Hungarian domestic affairs hurt Hungary`s sovereignty? What about Obama`s fake birth certificate, isn`t that a problem?

    bahahaha This is a s good as Mutt’s youtube link about Orban and the snow storm. I will translate this to my parents for a good laugh.

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  8. is it the end? :
    The sad picture is that FIDESZ accomplished the destruction of freedom in Hungary with the help of many Hungarians, who did it without any concern that soon their own freedom will be lost.
    What a nearsighted vision!

    Many Hungarians are fighting in deed. We have at least two readers and contributors here who regularly attend the demonstrations too. Fidesz is actually started to arrest demonstrators, Kover started to call them by names, and offend their parents. Fidesz stsrted to install fear to any opposition.

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  9. Thank you Ms Scheppele. Now when Orban says next time, “point out what is the problem”, someone should put this under his nose in English. I would no trust the Hungarian translators based on the government media’s record.

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  10. adam :
    Ok. Fair enough. Doesn`t US involvement in Hungarian domestic affairs? What about Obama`s fake birth certificate, isn`t that a problem?

    Obama’s fake birth certificate? Eva, he’s not far right, he’s just stupid. And what does all this other stuff have to do with anything?

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  11. There is one hero besides our friends who attend the anti-Orban demonstrations.
    The undeterred dr. Ferenc Donath. Born in prison. He leads a small group of permanent demonstrators, to protest the rightwing terror.
    He is the soul of the Imre Nagy Society.
    Many other blind Hungarians are supporting the current regime that stole the freedom.
    Will we see a tyranny of the Jobbik, a counter-tyranny by Stalinist, and never an enlightened regime that defends the Western European style freedom?

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  12. A truly impressive evaluation. However, all is lost, the horse has long bolted, there is nothing to be done, protest will be futile; Hungary’s slide back into poverty and darkness is ensured. My Hungarian wife and her family are, I suppose, like millions of well-meaning and innocent others who hate the main alternative socialists for their heritage (moral descendants of communism) and find Jobbik absurd and the smaller parties ridiculous: they don’t want to believe what a disaster is unfolding right before their eyes. The most they admit to is “that he may have made a few mistakes, not least his lack of communication skills, but….”; the last resort is the money tap under EU control, and the threat of the loss of democracy in CEE/SEE may be enough to cause them to use it to make a stand against the loss of democracy, but I seriously doubt they have the stomach or moral fibre for it. No, I think it’s already a disaster, and that we who live here are stuck on a train which is going over a cliff, in slow motion. Sad doesn’t adequately cover it.

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  13. Dear Eva, if you become aware of a worthy Hungarian translation of her testimony, please post it or a link to it, I should like to distribute it amongst my family and friends.
    Many thanks for your excellent blog.
    Grantbg

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  14. Appeal to the Hungarian government

    We appeal to you, the members of the Hungarian government, who are responsible for the welfare of Hungary’s citizens and the security of the Hungarian nation. We cry for help on behalf of those whose voice cannot reach your high office.

    Of the Hungarian population, we speak on behalf of four million people and especially the one million living in abject poverty, including the Roma, who are also beset by racism.

    Hungary is facing a humanitarian disaster. A sizeable section of the Roma have no income whatsoever, which means they do not get heating fuel, water, lighting, clothes and proper accommodation. Many of them live without enough food; suffer from the cold and diseases. That is on top of a humiliating treatment they are often exposed to.

    In the absence of relevant surveys, we do not know the number of people who suffer from the shortage of appropriate housing, heating, clothes, food and medicine. Why are such surveys absent? Has the government given up on a third of the Hungarian population in the same way as did the other day László Bogár, an economist in the entourage of the government? Is that the covert policy of the Prime Minister and his cabinet members? Why aren’t there any established, internationally renowned social scientists and welfare experts in the mainstream media and the pro-government think tanks?

    People in the lowest income brackets, especially those eking out a bare existence on a token pension and those below the poverty line in rural Roma “ghettos” have the right to know whether or not official Hungary has given up on them. Can they count on any assistance to survival?

    The way we see it a cause of the present crisis is a mistaken workfare programme. Beneficiaries get a pittance of a monthly HUF 47 000 (EUR 163) but it costs for the treasury a gross of a monthly HUF 120 000 (EUR 410). Such a pay does not make both ends meet for a family. By the way, at present even that workfare programme is at a standstill and the next stage is unlikely before April. It means that until April this inhuman welfare policy is directly threatening the livelihood of about a 100 000 families.

    In Hungary the welfare to work programme is only available for three months – which is a negative world record.

    Data from late last year indicate that the Roma account for a quarter of the homeless, which means they are three times overrepresented in that category. In terms of food, the homeless of Budapest are thought to be better off than the jobless who live in out of way rural “ghettos”.

    Those living on the margin cannot count on either help or empathy. Solidarity – the fabric that connects the members of society – has been eroded by recent years’ public policies that have ignored the plight of the poor and of the Roma. The media convey the messages that the poor cannot blame anyone else but themselves and the Roma deserve their difficulties.

    There has been no end in incitement to spread hatred of the Roma. Stop sacrificing social peace and cohesion in the hope of winning more votes at the polls. Take resolute steps to ban racist publications.

    Enough of indifference to poverty. Stop journalists who call the Roma “animals” and who write that they “should disappear from the face of the earth”.

    We appeal to Viktor Orbán’s government. If you take your constitutional commitment to save lives seriously, we recommend that you should take the following measures.

    Steps that need to be taken immediately.

    – The government, acting in cooperation with the local authorities, should set up soup kitchens and hypothermia shelters in crisis-stricken localities. The state should ensure a hot meal for schoolchildren and their family members every day in places where schoolchildren have no access to food during classes and where they do, during the weekend.

    – The poorest should be allowed to collect wood in an organized form in state-owned forests. The private owners of woods should be requested to follow suit.

    – Local authorities and state agencies should open unused schools, gym halls, municipal offices and storage facilities for families who face hyperthermia because of the shortage of fuel.

    – Mobile medical dispensaries should regularly visit rural “ghettos” without local health service. Mothers are especially exposed to depression and panic disorder.

    Proposed steps of strategic crisis management.

    – The state should see to it that at least one member of each family should be employed. If that is impossible, and if both members of a couple are unemployed, both of them should get unemployment benefit to the tune of at least HUF 21 800 (EUR 75).

    – Companies that get Hungarian state aid or aid from some European Union fund should employ at least one person who has been chronically unemployed.

    – The state should admit and do away with instances when racial discrimination distorts the distribution of welfare relief.

    Unless measures are taken without delay, the country is facing a disaster. This appeal is not politically motivated and is not meant to undermine the prestige of the government.

    Our only purpose is to dramatize the need for solidarity with those struggling to survive.

    25 January 2013

    On behalf of the Civil Rights Movement:

    Aladár Horváth and Anikó Kiss

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  15. Paul :
    Orbán has effectively created a situation where the only way to get rid of him is via non-democratic means. He has sown the seeds for all the problems of the future and made revolution and civil war effectively certain.

    Yes, but I would not say “non-democratic means” and “civil war” – a break with legal continuity and by implication a momentary suspension of the rule of law (if you like, you can call that a revolution, and may involve things like an unlawful nationalization some of the companies that are doing the organized stealing of public money for Orban and filter it into partly private pockets and partly into Fidesz campaign funds), yes, that may be needed. But even that may, under circumstances (and in exchange for side payments) that we cannot foresee now, take the form of acts of parliament supported by some breakaway group from Fidesz (whether or not the others have a two-thirds majority). The only predictable things about how a tyranny ends is that when the cracks appear, all of a sudden there are lots of cadres from the regime who defect.

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  16. (Ok, Viktor, I’ll handle this.)

    Ms Scheppele does not comprehend. She does not understand that the Hungarian system
    is based on human characteristics, notably, greed, betrayal; and most of all, the Golden
    Rule–he who has the gold, rules. Thanks to some sharp decision-making, some savvy planning, and some international derring-do, we have come into some fortuitous lucre; and these new-found funds will oil the machinery of government for the welfare of all Hungarians way better than some archaic laws. Just watch us and be prepared to be amazed.

    Hajra Magyarok!

    Our heroic constitution for ever!!

    Victor! Victor!! VICTOR!!!!!!!!!!

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  17. Petofi has recognized the true twisted orban.
    The readers of this blog can enjoy his clear vision.
    Bartus is the other hero.
    This blog has told the story of the rise of orban, helped by violence, and theft.
    The internal social forces of Hungary are incapable to stop this train wreck.
    To stop this tragedy, we need urgent aggressive intervention by international courts and governments.

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  18. This testimony is indeed a great source of information about the new constitution, I also will direct people who want to learn more to this text. The idea of spreading information about the new constitution as suggested by Ms Scheppele should be taken seriously; this need not be done by foreign governments but by civic groups in Hungary. Certainly the distribution of a text describing how the new Constitution works cannot be considered against the law. (I know, Mutt or Petöfi, in Hungary…)

    The observations of Grantbg are to the point, my impression is also that many people still cannot believe the damage that was done by Fidesz. But this makes it all the more necessary to be prepared for the moment when the damage affects everyday lives of most people, and when it will be too obvious that the blame cannot be assigned to earlier governments and the rest of the world.

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  19. grantbg :

    Dear Eva, if you become aware of a worthy Hungarian translation of her testimony, please post it or a link to it, I should like to distribute it amongst my family and friends.
    Many thanks for your excellent blog.
    Grantbg

    I’m sure that Galamus, an excellent Internet site that finds it very important to translate material on Hungary from foreign languages, will translate it. But I will make sure that they do. I will write to the editor-in-chief immediately.

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  20. Video of the Heksinki commission hearing on Hungarian Democracy.

    Szajer’s testimony starts at 1:06.

    Kim Lane Scheppele’s testimony starts at 1:49.

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  21. I am deeply suprised that a scholar like Prof. Gábor Tóka could still, after all, believe that anybody may break away from Fidesz.

    This is naivity to the extreme.

    I mean Fidesz’ members of parliament are selected for, and selected for only loyalty. Period. They have no other function other than to vote when told to do so.

    These people could be loyal for one of many reasons. Having said that, I would certainly assume that Fidesz in all cases made a thourogh backgrond check to ascertain that the given person is (A) politically reliable (an absolute religious believer of Fidesz and Orbán in particular) and, conjunctively, (B) has issues in his past which could be used against him should he entertian thoughts of betrayal (as his disloyalty would certanly be treated as such).

    If supposedly liberal and moderate members (these adjectives are again the products of hopeless naivity, but let’s use them for the sake of argument) of Fidesz like Áder or Porkorni wholeheartedly suported every move of the regime (incldunig the new Basic Law) why would anybody think that people with lesser, weaker personalities selected for absolute, unquestioned loyalty would ever break away from Fidesz.

    It will not happen. As much as I respect Prof. Tóka, he follows a school of thought where numbers and quantities rule — but in the meantime the human factor gets ignored.

    (I – though not being a political scientst – would also think that single-parties like MSZMP or Chinese Communist Party etc. had more internal factions and debates than Fidesz has had in the last 15 years. Fidesz is the quintessential monolith party, it could be perhaps better compared to an army and certianly not to any democratic party).

    So forget cracking, Fidesz’ people will not crack (especially not until the prosecution etc. is firmly in Fidesz/Orbán’ hands, who made sure in the last couple of years to place loyal cadres in the ranks, who will be there for decades to come.)

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  22. protozoa3b, very interesting, I actually found the assessment of Gabor Toka quite correct. It is on the contrary very unfortunate that so many people believe that Fidesz is so united in all circumstances (and not because they are being allowed to do whatever they want currently, also because there is this belief of allmightiness) and that Hungary is occupied mainly be sheep that does whatever King Viktor asks them to do.

    This is a lame excuse for not doing what would be necessary to change the current situation. Very well put by JGrant some days ago: “The hard work would be proper campaigning. With clear ideas, principles which everybody can understand. Knocking on doors, talking to people, doing some real PR, which includes going amongst the people and agitating for resistance with yourself at the head of the fight. When there will be a party, or even just a group with charismatic, brave fighters, they might carry the rest of the disillusioned people with them.”

    Instead of repeating that you cannot do anything with this situation because Haungarians are just brainless sheep that has all of the sudden emerged in such quantities is just supporting exactly that what you appear to despise. That allows people to just accept the situation as what it is instead of the campaigning. But experience tells you that once such regime gets into trouble – and that is inevitable for Fidesztan – it will create disunity among even high party ranks, and all of the sudden some people will be able to recover their brains. Be prepared! If it appears so difficult to do something in “good times” of Fidesz (apparently now, where people are “sheep”), it would be at least advisable to have some plans for the situation when the tide turns.

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  23. Dear Kim Lane Scheppele,

    Having read your lengthy broodings on the constitutional situation in Hungary here are just some notes.

    ‘I am here today because the current Hungarian government has felled the tree of democratic constitutionalism that Hungary planted in 1989.–>

    How, KLS? Simply by amending the Hungarian Constitution? Look at your US constitution: it’s a patchwork of amendments. You as a US citizen will surely know how little it means to amend a constitution.

    ‘Hungary’s friends, including the United States, could assist financially with a program to educate citizens, lawyers and judges in Hungary about the new constitutional framework in Hungary’ –>

    oh certainly KLS: go on and finance umbrella organisations in Hungary that are supposed to ‘spread the word’ i.e. to install a US-friendly government in this unruly country.

    ‘the likelihood that the Hungarian constitutional disease could spread around the neighborhood.’ –>

    this is the unthinkable that must never happen: just imagine one or more of these annoying little countries escaping the firm grip of the US democrats (and their financial lobbies). These antidemocrats! How dare they think of souvereign governments representing the interests of their people rather than US interests!?

    KLS there are lots of weighty issues in the US you could address: why don’t you stop the not at all democratic practice that thrives in the US of branding other states rogue states? Why don’t you stop the US from bombing alleged rogue states into oblivion? Why don’t you sit down with the people of your own country first and explain them what the aim of your US government is (i.e. spread US power worldwide under the disguise of tolerance, democracy and cultural diversity)?

    Why don’t you, KLS, harness your immense mental capacities to curb the destructive power of your home country i.e. the US?

    If your US politicians in power where only half as ‘democratic’ (oh my god what an elusive term!) as those in Hungary this world would be a more peaceful place.

    KLS your patronizing style foreshadows an interference in Hungarian inner political affairs of an unprecedented scale. I can only hope that we shall not come to see this happen.

    The again if Hungary continues to play the naughty boy just bomb it into submission. Who cares, the power of defining democracy lies in the hand of your grand, god-like country’s government …

    The Happy Chappy

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  24. A truly impressive piece of work, one that should be sent to the cowards controlling the European Union post-haste. At this moment in time, there is one form of leverage over Orban and that is a financial one. How much worse does it have to get before the EUcrats decide to employ the one thing he and his oligarchs are frightened of and that is the immediate suspension of all EU funding for his regime??

    In years to come, when the origins of the Orban dictatorship are examined, there will be very few people who will come out of this dark period with any credit- Professor Kim Lane Scheppele will be one of the few.

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  25. Kirsten,

    I don’t see any mention of the idea that we should not do anything.

    The comment was simply about any misguided idea (hope) that Fidesz will break apart. They will not.

    Fidesz is not a party like those you have seen in other countries.

    They are literally an army with a commander where disobedience is swiftly reacted upon.

    Fidesz MPs have no individual function, they are there not to think or act, they are there to serve Orbán.

    The opposition should by all means organise, work tirelessly but never assume for a second that it could attract any Fidesz politicians (may I remind you that it was only L. Sólyom who was against the 4th amendment, we did not hear a single peep from a real Fidesz member, let alone politcian).

    I also think (contrary to Bajnai’s people) that unfortunately there may not be other way than to enact a new constitution that would disrupt the legal continuity for a moment. “We had to take it, because noone would ever give it to us.”

    But never assume that Fidesz will give up or that they would retreat and break up. They will not. Until the curent generation of Fidesz seniors from Orbán to Szájer to Áder to Handó to Polt etc. retire they will be with us, fighting as agressively as they do now. They will not crack like the old communists who retired and were humiliated, Fidesz cannot be humiliated because they don’t care.

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  26. @ Happy Chappy: You aren’t so Happy. Are you Chappy?
    Why oh, why does it bother you that someone takes interest in the well being of Hungarians? Why are you taking a number in the line of “there are worst examples then Hungary” or the “you should fix your problems”. THe denial of Fidesz Troopers, like yourself of the current Hungarian moral crises is staggering. Do you truly understand that what you supporting by supporting Fidesz is the reincarnation of communists who you actually think you want to fight against? Do you truly get it that Hungary is moving toward a one-party system, and that Orban, Kover and his “brothers” are actually the ones who did take great advantage of the “Kadar Regime”? Did you know that Kover did not even had to try to get into university at his time as his father’s greatest communist medal assured his son acceptance to get in? Did you know that in the opposition is less so called ex-communist, then in Fidesz? I am not into this “she was a communist”, “he was a communist” game, but it is a game that actually YOU are buying into, a game that Fidesz plays successfully to a crowd that seem to be way to dumb to sit down and look at the facts, and the only thing they are good about is complete denial.

    We should be grateful to people, like Ms. Scheppele, as while many Hungarians given up on trying to change the system, there are still people who lobby in the name of those who cannot speak up.

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  27. petofi :
    (Ok, Viktor, I’ll handle this.)
    Ms Scheppele does not comprehend. She does not understand that the Hungarian system
    is based on human characteristics, notably, greed, betrayal; and most of all, the Golden
    Rule–he who has the gold, rules. Thanks to some sharp decision-making, some savvy planning, and some international derring-do, we have come into some fortuitous lucre; and these new-found funds will oil the machinery of government for the welfare of all Hungarians way better than some archaic laws. Just watch us and be prepared to be amazed.
    Hajra Magyarok!
    Our heroic constitution for ever!!
    Victor! Victor!! VICTOR!!!!!!!!!!

    I am nots ure why are you saying Ms Schepple does not understand… I thinks she does understand very well, but she is not the army, or the conscience of Hungarians.
    You are always her to tell us how inapt everyone is but you never-ever replied to my question about what are you doing yourself to help in the changes. We have three contributors at Ground Zero who regularly attend various events. WHat are you doing Mr. petofi? (same question goes to your fan club) I would really love to know.

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  28. “oh certainly KLS: go on and finance umbrella organisations in Hungary that are supposed to ‘spread the word’ i.e. to install a US-friendly government in this unruly country.”

    This is a statement that can only come from a committed part/full time national security person. Of course, why would not they be reading this blog?

    Remember, it was also Putin’s mania in Russia to root out “umbrella organisations, which we all know are front companies for American spies”, whoooa.

    This line of thought is not even present in the curent political media of the extreme right.

    Although one can be critical of the US, as one should, this hatred/contempt lurking in the arguments of Chappy invoke in me the kind of paranoia which is necessary to internalise if you want to be a real nat. sec. community member.

    Also, note the time-honored “interfering in our internal affairs” argument. This is again not an argument one hears these days at all, hence its conspicuousness. I guess even China use it very sparingly.

    So we either have an old-school state employee in our midst or a young talent who could nicely internalise these cold-war inspired arguments.

    Knowing Orbán’s paranoia, I am pretty sure it was not only Dr. Szájer who was preparing for this hearing.

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  29. @Some1

    I applaud your activity. I don’t think it’s useful but all power to you.
    I prefer to wield the axe of sarcasm, which, sadly, travelled two lanes over from your own understanding of the above.
    Seriously, KLS did a learned, lucid job…not that that will have an affect on most Hungarians. Take a look at ‘Happy Chappy’s’ soiled leavings. These Trolls like HC must read the same ill-informed nonsense about the US constitution. They have no idea how much work and debate goes into each amendment of which, in the 230 years of the constitution there are fewer amendments than what Fidesz has ground out in two years. Notice that Hungarian amendments are ‘private member’s bill’–which is ridiculous since it’s supposed to be a piece of major, governmental legislation. Of course, that tactic is uses to limit debate. That, basically, is what Orban’s government is about–tactics.

    Of course, Hungary has become the laughing stock of the international community as this nutcase in a dunce cap goes around telling European leaders, ‘you don’t understand’. He has the diplomatic finesse of a barn-hand. And Hungarians cheer him on for ‘szabadsag harc’! It’s no longer a case of the inhabitants running the crazy house: its the monkeys feeding the baboons. Mix metaphors, smash and crash–logic has left the room and all we have left is twirling mustachios who pride their little ribbon while the country goes silently, but ever assuredly, on to the rocks.

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  30. Gabor Toka :

    Paul :
    Orbán has effectively created a situation where the only way to get rid of him is via non-democratic means. He has sown the seeds for all the problems of the future and made revolution and civil war effectively certain.

    Yes, but I would not say “non-democratic means” and “civil war” – a break with legal continuity and by implication a momentary suspension of the rule of law (if you like, you can call that a revolution, and may involve things like an unlawful nationalization some of the companies that are doing the organized stealing of public money for Orban and filter it into partly private pockets and partly into Fidesz campaign funds), yes, that may be needed. But even that may, under circumstances (and in exchange for side payments) that we cannot foresee now, take the form of acts of parliament supported by some breakaway group from Fidesz (whether or not the others have a two-thirds majority). The only predictable things about how a tyranny ends is that when the cracks appear, all of a sudden there are lots of cadres from the regime who defect.

    Sorry, Gabor, but you (unfortunately, like so many others) are fighting a battle that has already been lost.

    Orbán has won the first phase, he has established a one-party autocracy, which cannot be removed by democratic means – nor by non-violent popular action.

    Now we need to forget the rights and wrongs of the past and move on to the second phase – how is Orbán to be removed now he has established total power?

    I can only see two possible answers:

    1) external pressure forcing him to reestablish democracy, freedon of the media, etc, and to undo all his one-party legislation, so that failr elections can return a government that can put Hungary back on the tracks

    2) revolution/civil war – call it what you will, but basically what’s going on in Syria now.

    Personally, I can’t see either happening. The EU/US don’t yet see how serious this situation is, and have bigger things to worry about, and the Hungarian people don’t appear to have what it takes to kick out Orbán.

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  31. Paul, the incompetence that has reigned now for some years and that cannot but increase problems in the future will develop dynamics that we cannot envisage properly now. THIS will challenge Fidesz, and it will also be its stumbling block. I am very sceptical of the idea that Fidesz will find any workable solutions for the problem of declining living standards, and this is what is often stated here as the main worry of Hungarians. Perhaps the authoritarian approach to politics may not worry most Hungarians, but Fidesz will be unable to deliver anything substantial for the incomes. People with shovels replacing machines is the best example of the average labour productivity attainable by Fidesz’ methods. EU money will not suffice to make up for the missing income from domestic sources. And at some point people WILL realise who exactly has got rich in Fidesztan. I still believe that this waking up – SHOULD a workable, democratic political alternative emerge – can happen without a civil war. A “revolution” it will certainly be.

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    1. you are dumb f..k. you cannot figure out that a president with a fake birth certificate is an illegitimate person to hold power. Other questions, US/Israel do not help Africa because they need African raw resources. They care about Hungary because they want Hungary to become the new Israel.

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  32. grantbg :
    A truly impressive evaluation. However, all is lost, the horse has long bolted, there is nothing to be done, protest will be futile; Hungary’s slide back into poverty and darkness is ensured. My Hungarian wife and her family are, I suppose, like millions of well-meaning and innocent others who hate the main alternative socialists for their heritage (moral descendants of communism) and find Jobbik absurd and the smaller parties ridiculous: they don’t want to believe what a disaster is unfolding right before their eyes. The most they admit to is “that he may have made a few mistakes, not least his lack of communication skills, but….”; the last resort is the money tap under EU control, and the threat of the loss of democracy in CEE/SEE may be enough to cause them to use it to make a stand against the loss of democracy, but I seriously doubt they have the stomach or moral fibre for it. No, I think it’s already a disaster, and that we who live here are stuck on a train which is going over a cliff, in slow motion. Sad doesn’t adequately cover it.

    Grantbg: Sadly, I find myself in total agreement with you. I have been amazed at the number of people I know, otherwise perfectly intelligent, who rationalize Orban’s megalomaniacism away, or who seem to be deluding themselves that ‘it isn’t that bad’…The people I know who see things clearly have left, are making preparations to leave, or have already sunk into a kind of internal exile. I can only see Hungary climbing out of this deep hole within the next generation if enough people growing up now are disgusted enough by what they see around them. Obviously the state propaganda intended to dull their thoughts is having the desired effect, just as the increased level of public intolerance for minorities and any kind of dissent is driving a good many people out of the country (already much more than 200 000 have left, apparently.)

    As one Hungarian friend of mine put it: ‘Why would someone deliberately want to wreck a country?’ Because that is what is going on right now, make no mistake. It’s worse than 1848 and much worse than the Soviet tanks of 1956 because the very heart and soul of a small but great nation, one that has always punched well above its weight in the sciences and the arts, is being pithed. Personally, I feel despair.

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  33. There is really no “constitutional” problems with Hungary. Hungary actually have had the former constitution created in the stalinist era in 1949. In 1989 they created no new constitution, but modified this old one. There has been need for a new constitution for 2 decades since 1989, but no parties had political power to accomplish it. In 2010 Fidesz acquired the votes enough to create a new one. According to the rules of Hungarian democracy, they became authorized to create a new constitution, and they did it. What’s the problem with that for anybody? Like it or not, they are authorized by the voters.

    Another essential problem in Hungary is about the parties. MSZP (formerly MSZMP, the only, ruler party in the socialist era) has basically betrayed the country several times. They managed to increase the public debt from 8 to 13 trillion forints between 2006 and 2010. Egyutt2014 and DK are basically spin-offs of MSZP. Fidesz, at least rhetorically, strongly represents the country’s interests, that’s why they acquired this majority of mandates. However, they caused major disappointment with their politics of serious economical cuts – which were vital, after not any of the goverments since 1989 (MDF-MSZP-FIDESZ-MSZP) was brave enough, to change the live-out-of-debt policy of economics (the aforementioned MSZP also insanely increased the debt). Jobbik and LMP are basically new parties with no govermental history. LMP recently broke apart to two parties.

    So in Hungary, the common question in politics is not what ideology, right or left wing, and what economics, right or left wing style is the better. The question is much more basic: what party won’t betray me, the country and the nation? Many politicians have proven they are not reliable (e.g. Ferenc Gyurcsany former prime minister himself admitted in a leaked recording that they had been “lying around the clock” from 2004-2006), all big parties have proven that they are corrupt (the new ones, Jobbik and LMP had no real chance for that yet). That’s why majority of people are disenchanted of politics, and won’t vote at all.

    Furthermore, influence of financial and economical powers, and international lobbies on politics is very high in case of Hungary. If Hungary rehabilitate a Hungarian writer (Jozsef Nyiro), foreign press cry about it and call him nazi. If Hungary gives an award to a journalist (Ferenc Szaniszlo) with controversial works, Israel complains, moreover, INSTRUCTS Hungary to return it. If Hungary try to put some financial burden on banks and big businesses to contribute the country’s way out of debt, EU complains and instructs Hungary not to do so.

    In Hungary, for the Hungarians, there are much more basic problems than the “constitutional” bullshit. This is just another aspect to complain about, and another front to offend Hungary.

    Let me ask: why is Hungary so important? Why do the world bother how do we live in our own country? Why this article?

    Why don’t all the world just leave us alone?

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  34. But at the same time I want to thank Prof. Balogh for this blog and Prof. Scheppele for all the work she has done. We can’t give up–that would be giving the loathsome Fidesz crew the victory they desire.

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  35. Dear ManHungarian: No. If I lend you my car, I authorize you to drive it. I give you full control, but this doesn’t mean I authorized you to run over a pedestrian and leave them bleeding on the scene. Fidesz won the election with about 52.7% of the popular vote,
    which was amplified by the electoral system to 68%. The original 52.7% is by no means a mandate for a new constitution, which is generally built on very broad consensus.

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  36. Hungarians (especially Fideszers) remind me of that famous painting, “The Blind leading the Blind”.

    Man Hungaria wants to be left alone, but when the roof falls in he’ll be the first to shout, “Why didn’t you warn us! Why didn’t you help us??” Well, MH, beat the clock and ask yourself these
    questions NOW.

    I can’t believe how blind people are. If nothing else, are they not capable of determining when someone is ill-willed; that he’s performing well below his capacity…and if he is, than WHY?
    Orban is not stupid. Matolcsy is stupid. Kover, Szajer, Pinter are stupid. Orban is not. But he does surround himself with morons. Why have all his intelligent backers and advisers left him? Because they ‘see’: something doesn’t add up. We got a bull in a china shop who is willingly wrecking, and we have no idea why.

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  37. Man Hungarian :
    Let me ask: why is Hungary so important? Why do the world bother how do we live in our own country? Why this article?
    Why don’t all the world just leave us alone?

    My Man …

    It’s not Hungary. There is nothing wrong with the Hungarians. This has been explained a gazillion times on this blog and other places.

    The problem is the Orban government. A mediocre, anti-democratic bunch that terrorizes the country since 2010. The economic and social damages they are causing. The mindless power grab and the total disregard of the European democratic norms.

    The country should be saved from them.

    By the way what makes you think that putting a prominent arrow cross member (Nyiro) into the national curriculum is applauded by the majority of the country? Because the Fidesz has two thirds majority in the parliament?

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  38. Admirable clarity. I wonder how many hours of poring over legalese went into each paragraph? I hope this gets translated into Hungarian and spread about!

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  39. Győr Calling!

    (Yes I’m still here – surviving the machinations of the aptly named ‘Catastrophe Agency’!)

    What nobody – except the ridiculous Happy Chappy – has picked up is one vital phrase in Kim’s analysis.

    The “Hungarian constitutional disease……”

    For me this is the key phrase which describes the sclerotic Hungarian ‘democracy’ – which the repulsive Szajer had so much pleasure in defending (why was he given this propaganda triumph?).

    The Hungarian constitutional disease – which has resulted in the sort of society so poignantly described in the appeal from Aladár Horváth and Anikó Kiss.

    However misplaced some may think the appeal on here is – it just narrates what many of us have been suspecting on HS for some time

    A deeply divided and unfair society.

    Shame on you Fidesz; Orban; and the elders of Hungarian society.

    It would be too much to hope that the US/EU et al can do anything substantive.

    Regards

    Charlie

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  40. Kirsten :
    Paul, the incompetence that has reigned now for some years and that cannot but increase problems in the future will develop dynamics that we cannot envisage properly now. THIS will challenge Fidesz, and it will also be its stumbling block. I am very sceptical of the idea that Fidesz will find any workable solutions for the problem of declining living standards, and this is what is often stated here as the main worry of Hungarians. Perhaps the authoritarian approach to politics may not worry most Hungarians, but Fidesz will be unable to deliver anything substantial for the incomes. People with shovels replacing machines is the best example of the average labour productivity attainable by Fidesz’ methods. EU money will not suffice to make up for the missing income from domestic sources. And at some point people WILL realise who exactly has got rich in Fidesztan. I still believe that this waking up – SHOULD a workable, democratic political alternative emerge – can happen without a civil war. A “revolution” it will certainly be.

    Kirsten – I hope you are right.

    But I suspect the reality will be the similar to the apocryphal frog in the cooking pot where the water is slowly heated up. The process is so gradual that the frog never feels at any one point that the situation is serious enough to do anything – until it’s too late and he can no longer help himself.

    Things are actually already pretty bad for the average Hungarian, a great many are seriously struggling to make ends meet, and many are only just surviving. I know several families who were comfortably off just 4 or 5 years ago who have now been hit hard by Orbán’s mad policies and are having to stop using their car, turn the heating down, shower less often, etc, simply because they no longer have enough income to live a normal life – at least one of our friends have been forced to move abroad . And yet, do these people do anything? They don’t even openly voice their concerns or blame the government, let alone protest on the streets.

    Orbán has already shown how adept he is at pulling economic rabbits out of the hat when needed, and he will continue to do so. Hungary will get progressively poorer and it’s people will gradually be ground down, but the temperature will never be allowed to rise suddenly enough to make them realise what’s happening.

    Remember, Fidesz support went up substantially recently after the heating subsidies were announced. These are not a people ready to take to the streets – or even the ballot box.

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  41. “They care about Hungary because they want Hungary to become the new Israel.”

    How can one simple sentence of just 13 words contain so much that is wrong, mad, or just simply weird? How does any halfway sane person actually believe this stuff?

    What does it even mean? That they want Hungary to be taken over by Jews? I think if I was planning the mass Jewish takeover of a country I would pick somewhere more promising than Hungary (somewhere with wealth and natural resources would be nice, or maybe somewhere where it isn’t so bloody cold in the winter…)

    Or maybe they believe that Hungary is being prepared as the new home for the Israelis? Once the US and Israel have finished doing whatever dastardly deeds these nutters believe them to be up to, Hungary will be evacuated and all the people of Israel will be transported to their new home in the Carpathian Basin. Apart from the sheer insanity of this (never mind the mind-blowing logistics), why on earth would Israel give up the land it has fought so hard to hang on to. Do these crazies really think the Israelis would exchange Jerusalem for Budapest?!

    This level of insanity actually makes the belief that Obama faked his birth certificate (just because he’s half black or slightly liberal, or because he wanted poor Americans to have decent health care) sound almost rational.

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  42. A further thought, prompted by Oplam’s comment on another thread that the main Fidesz people all trained as lawyers:

    I had always assumed (because of the way Orbán comes over as a bit thick, the vaporous content of his speeches, and the incompetence of his government) that he had only concentrated on gaining power, he hadn’t spent too much time thinking ahead about what he was going to do once he had it.

    But reading Kim Lane Scheppele’s speech made me realise just how much thought and planning had gone into this coup. They didn’t just plan on taking power, that was just the first objective, the major target was ensuring that they retained power once they had got it – and that they retained it whatever the opposition (or anyone else) did.

    Watching the Orbán government in action over the last three years, the overall impression was one of incompetents completely out of their depths, stumbling from one mess to another. The rushed creation of the new constitution and it’s constant amendment was a classic example of this. But now, having seen how Kim analyses what they’ve done, it is clear that they knew exactly what they were doing from day one. They had clearly planned this for a long time, and in detail.

    We have been the victim of a lawyers’ coup. Even if, as tappanch suggests, none of them ever actually practised as lawyers, the key is that they trained as lawyers. The were trained to study and understand the detail of laws and arguments. They understood that detail was what mattered. They studied the constitution and understood exactly how it worked – and exactly how it could be changed to work for them.

    And while we ranted and railed about loss of democracy, the attack on the churches, Orbán’s speeches in Europe, Matolcsy’s bizarre handling of the economy, and the attempted silencing of Klubrádió, they were quietly and methodically creating a constitutional and legal structure that would keep them in power indefinitely.

    How Orbán must have laughed at us and our ranting at his sideshows, when he knew all along what the main plan was and how well it was going.

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  43. HONGORMA: It’s worse than 1848 and much worse than the Soviet tanks of 1956 because the very heart and soul of a small but great nation, one that has always punched well above its weight in the sciences and the arts, is being pithed. Personally, I feel despair.

    Do I hear crying?
    Do I hear dying?
    =
    Do many Hungarians, and their football hooligans support big time crooks?
    =
    There is no room for passivity.
    All others must act.

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  44. Dear People!

    The negotiations of the opposition parties have revealed that not only the governing parties but the ENTIRE POLITICAL ELITE have betrayed the people, betrayed the nation! There was a reason why the opposition parties let Fidesz to write a new constitution unconstitutionally. There is a reason why they accept the fundamental law that creates dictatorship from 01.january, 2012. The negotiations of the opposition parties have proved that the opposition have the same view about power that the governing parties have. They agree that the power is not the right of the people but the right of the political representatives.

    They agree with Fidesz that the people have been deprived of their power by Fidesz lawfully. The representatives, the political elite allied against the people to maintain a common dictatorship.

    This is treason, the betrayal of the people. The opposition is not building strategy against the unconstitutional status, neither do they prepare for this with the elections. Therefore the people are losing their capability to abolish the unconstitutionally Fidesz-made dictatorship in a democratic way. The dictatorship is not only a Fidesz dictatorship anymore that the people can abolish by supporting the opposition but a dictatorship of the political elite against the people which can only be overthrown by a revolution.

    This was the responsibility of the opposition and this is the aftermath of their treason. Without stating that the current situation is unconstitutional and without restoring the consitutional order they have turned the Fidesz dictatorship into a dictatorship of the political elite.

    In this case for us, for freedom-loving people, there is only one way left: According to the 800 years old constitutional right for resistance, according to our Constitution, article 2, point 3, and also according Fundamental Law, article 2, point 2, we announce lawful and constitutional resistance against the political elite that have usurped the power unconstitutionally.

    We are calling the average citizens and the Hungarian intellectuals, the elite of public service of state, elite of economics, law, science and culture to join us. Join us and to serve with their knowledge and activity to the people and not the dictatorship of the political elite.

    Our intent to terminate the political elit’s dictatorship, to restore popular sovereignty and to validate in a Constitution what the people made. We declare, that Hungary’s Fundamental Law is not the people’s constitution and according to the public law what was in force when the Fundamental Law is made, the ’Hungary’s Fundamental Law’ is a void law. Also the ’Hungary” named puppet-state – created by the dictatorship, without territory, population and supreme state power ( namely every criterion of state being) is not the hungarian people’s state, and we acknowledge and keep their law just like how the local population acknowledge and keep a law of an occupyed state.

    Regarding of the above we call the leader’s and representatives of the ’Hungary’ named state, that to order of peacefull breakdown of the dictatorship, to smooth handover of power, to ensure continuous functionality of the country, that they do not make any international agreements, do not make any law to ensure or any law to confirmatory their power and cooperate with the representative leaders of the hungarian people civil resistance.

    We call the international organization’s, the EU leaders, the member state leaders and the surrounding countrys leaders and citizens attention, that our resistance just directed to sell off the dictatorship of the political elit who betrayed their country and their people, and we ask them, that support the hungarian people’s democratic endeavor.

    The hungarian people’s new state, what is based on popular sovereignty, we would like to create not just with part of citizens of hungarian nation, but together with citizens with any nationality who live in territory of Hungarian Republic with state-building’s law and cooperate and with agreement to hungarian nationality who live outside of Hungary, with the neighbour people and states.

    We warn the ’Hungary’ named puppet-state’s – elected by no one, himself nominated prime minister Viktor Orban to resign immediately and we asking the replacing manager prime-minister Tibor Navrasics, that he attend in the spirit of above and start the preparation of negotiations immediately.

    Egységfront Egyesület – United Front Association

    Tamas Mate – president Tibor Geri – vice-president Edina Nyari – vice-president

    Budapest, 15, march, 2013

    International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, G.A. res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force Mar. 23, 1976.

    PART I

    Article I

    1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

    The Constitution of the Republic of Hungary 1989
    In order to facilitate a peaceful political transition to a constitutional state, establish a multi-party system, parliamentary democracy and a social market economy, the Parliament of the Republic of Hungary hereby establishes the following text as the Constitution of the Republic of Hungary, until the country’s new Constitution is adopted.
    Chapter I.
    General Provisions,
    Article 2.
    (2) In the Republic of Hungary supreme power is vested in the people, who exercise their sovereign rights directly and through elected representatives.
    Article 3.
    (2) Political parties shall participate in the development and expression of the popular will.

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  45. Paul, not that I remember much from “revolution theory” (I went to a class in the early 1990s) but I do remember that “revolutions” are more likely not when people suffer most but if they feel that improvements are possible, ie when there is some idea around how this could actually be achieved. “Hungary” currently appears quite unimaginative about what exactly could be better than Fidesz and its “national survival”; MSzP suggests a return to the years they were in power, the way forward suggested by Jobbik still appears “too much”, and “Europe” appears to have lost its appeal. This has to be sorted out, only then more people might start to be more active, and openly demand better lives than in Fidesz’ revival of the 1930s. I also do believe that emigration of the more active can be beneficial – if these people will be better able then to agree on a more modern programme for Hungary and return at some point. (I know that you will find this still rather optimistic, perhaps, but it is still something that is worth being worked for.)

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  46. Very useful testimony, and thanks a lot, Éva for putting it up here.
    I think it would be very important to “translate/transform” this into Hungarian, maybe into a Q and A form and disseminate as a booklet to every household in Hungary. A project the cost of which would be peanuts for the EU, the US, OSCE etc., while the rewards would be great: people would hopefully understand where is Hungary heading for and what values are at stake.

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  47. petofi :
    @Some1
    I applaud your activity. I don’t think it’s useful but all power to you.

    I am not active at all. I am just yapping on this forum, just like you do, but I do appreciate and value and recognize the involvement of those who’s input does help to possibly bring changes to Hungary. My only contribution is to hopefully able to support and encourage their work, versus telling them how not to do it and what not to do.

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  48. Izsák :
    Very useful testimony, and thanks a lot, Éva for putting it up here.
    I think it would be very important to “translate/transform” this into Hungarian, maybe into a Q and A form and disseminate as a booklet to every household in Hungary. A project the cost of which would be peanuts for the EU, the US, OSCE etc., while the rewards would be great: people would hopefully understand where is Hungary heading for and what values are at stake.

    Unfortunately, I fear that the people who would most need such a booklet would view an effort like this as “liberal” propaganda. I agree with Kirsten, the people themselves have to go through some sort of transformation. The fact is that many many people really did choose Fidesz, and it is not clear to me that they are quite disenchanted…disappointed maybe, but not disenchanted…No amount of evidence will move them until they move themselves.

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  49. @Paul: They may have planned the takeover of power and the “lawyer’s coup” on how to hold on to it, but they have no skills to govern. OV surrounds himself with a bunch of incompetents and idiots, and no amount of legal machinations will save them from the blunders and mistakes that will eventually ruin them (unfortunately, the country too).

    The real problem is how to undo the damage to the democratic institutions once they are gone. With the current setup, Fidesz could paralyze the working of any future governments.

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  50. An :
    @Paul: They may have planned the takeover of power and the “lawyer’s coup” on how to hold on to it, but they have no skills to govern. OV surrounds himself with a bunch of incompetents and idiots, and no amount of legal machinations will save them from the blunders and mistakes that will eventually ruin them (unfortunately, the country too).
    The real problem is how to undo the damage to the democratic institutions once they are gone. With the current setup, Fidesz could paralyze the working of any future governments.

    I think a further analysis should be extended on how many of those so called law students get into the law school under the “dreaded communist Kadar regime” (as themselves call it). Some further investigation could also go into what it took to many of these “educated” Fidesz leaders to obtain their diplomas.

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  51. Fidesz, like all good lawyers, think at least 3-4 steps ahead. They have plans for a lot of contingencies way into the future (they already laid down the tracks for those, mind you). MSZP and Bajnai and the people around them simply have NO idea. For them, it’s like talking about colors to a blind person. With lawyers like Fidesz, you just can’t compete. Ironically, the only person who really understand them is Prof. Scheppele. It takes one to know one, and she is a superb lawyer and scholar.

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  52. grantbg :
    A truly impressive evaluation. However, all is lost, the horse has long bolted, there is nothing to be done, protest will be futile; Hungary’s slide back into poverty and darkness is ensured. My Hungarian wife and her family are, I suppose, like millions of well-meaning and innocent others who hate the main alternative socialists for their heritage (moral descendants of communism) and find Jobbik absurd and the smaller parties ridiculous: they don’t want to believe what a disaster is unfolding right before their eyes. The most they admit to is “that he may have made a few mistakes, not least his lack of communication skills, but….”; the last resort is the money tap under EU control, and the threat of the loss of democracy in CEE/SEE may be enough to cause them to use it to make a stand against the loss of democracy, but I seriously doubt they have the stomach or moral fibre for it. No, I think it’s already a disaster, and that we who live here are stuck on a train which is going over a cliff, in slow motion. Sad doesn’t adequately cover it.

    This. Absolutely this. They all good people with a deep and genuine love of their country, their history and their culture and for the reasons you have detailed find themselves supporting the current regime. It will come as no pleasure when such people, my Hungarian wife included, realise that they have been duped by FIDESZ.

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  53. Kim Lane Scheppele’s testimony is grossly inaccurate, full of logical distortions and frankly, laughable. To suggest that 68.1% of the parliment does not represent the will of the vast majority of Hungarian voters is the height of hubris. This is not American politics where money leaves political career’s unscathed. This is Europe where parties are swept out of office at a moments notice at the hint of betraying voter confidence. Scheppele is another academic opportunist looking to carve a notch in her “publications” belt. That she and her liberal collegues would condemn an honest attempt to change a constitution which was approved by the Communists prior to 1989 and again after 1989 by the same communists, who now call themselves socialists, is I will say again, Laughable!

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  54. To Sandor Kovacs. I’m just wondering: Are you a constitutional legal expert to be able to judge whether Professor Scheppele’s testimony is grossly inaccurate and illogical? Do you know that the 68.1% parliamentary seats didn’t mean that 68.1% of the voters voted for Fidesz? It was more like 53%. At the moment the supporters of Fidesz constitute about 20% of those eligible to vote. Nothing to brag about and act as if the party still had the majority of the voters behind it.

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  55. Kovacs Sandor :
    Kim Lane Scheppele’s testimony is grossly inaccurate, full of logical distortions and frankly, laughable. To suggest that 68.1% of the parliment does not represent the will of the vast majority of Hungarian voters is the height of hubris. This is not American politics where money leaves political career’s unscathed. This is Europe where parties are swept out of office at a moments notice at the hint of betraying voter confidence. Scheppele is another academic opportunist looking to carve a notch in her “publications” belt. That she and her liberal collegues would condemn an honest attempt to change a constitution which was approved by the Communists prior to 1989 and again after 1989 by the same communists, who now call themselves socialists, is I will say again, Laughable!

    Your logic is the one that drives Fidesz. The logic that facts are outlandish distractions.
    THe whole Fidesz politics is based on deception, the telling of half truths, and the withholding the truth when it interfere with party politics. I for one congratulate you to be able to buy into this nonsense, but please spare us who are more enlightened of your own half-truths.
    Example: there are more members and supporters of the prior 1988 communist party in Fidesz than in the party that call itself socialist (as you would say). So, in essence, you are fighting for the old communists’ ideas who now call themselves Fidesz members to restore the values prior to 1989. THe MSZP, LMP, 2004 on the other hand tries to stop the ex-communist (who call themselves Fidesz) to go back to the values of failed political strategies (communism, nazism, etc). So, who are you with Kovacs, so we truly understand where are you coming from?
    a. Fidesz with more ex-communist members (Orban, leader of Young Communist chapter, Kover, who gained entry to university because of his father party decoration, etc.)
    b. Other parties who have less ex-communist members. The parties who try to stop Fidesz to bring Hungary back at least thirty years.
    a or b?

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  56. Which constitutional legal experts do you prefer? Those who work for the democratically elected administration or those who represent other interests? It is clear that you are shocked that those who are elected actually make decisions for their electorate as well as those who did not vote for them. That is democracy. But you are shocked that the ruling party is actually ruling and point an accusing finger, yelling, “they are doing something I don’t like.” Scheppele judges us from her perspective, it is a perspective that I do not share. If you are ignorant of her motives and world view, say so and we can go on from there. You have not advanced the discusion.

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  57. Kovacs Sandor, I see if you are in the majority in parliament you can enact laws that are unconstitutional. This seems to be your position. In democratic countries that is not an acceptable viewpoint.

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  58. To Some1

    Which constitutional legal experts do you prefer? Those who work for the democratically elected administration or those who represent other interests? It is clear that you are shocked that those who are elected actually make decisions for their electorate as well as those who did not vote for them. That is democracy. But you are shocked that the ruling party is actually ruling and point an accusing finger, yelling, “they are doing something I don’t like.” Scheppele judges us from her perspective, it is a perspective that I do not share. If you are ignorant of her motives and world view, say so and we can go on from there. You have not advanced the discusion.

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  59. Kovacs Sandor :
    Kim Lane Scheppele’s testimony is grossly inaccurate, full of logical distortions and frankly, laughable. To suggest that 68.1% of the parliment does not represent the will of the vast majority of Hungarian voters is the height of hubris.

    Would mind explaining why the 2/3 of the seats in the parliament mean they speak for their constituents? What’s the relation? In you dreams. Even the right wing pollsters show way less then 40% support and it was continuously declining since the elections because the tsunami of lies from government.

    I hate to repeat this like a parrot, but you need to comment on the substance. If you just barge in and call a PhD scholar incompetent, that makes you look very stupid.

    You see, when you say dumb things you are the only one who’s laughing.

    PS:
    The Fidesz is full of ex-communists. Did you know that? They just don’t call themselves socialists. They fooled you, right?

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  60. Kovacs Sandor :
    Which constitutional legal experts do you prefer? Those who work for the democratically elected administration or those who represent other interests?

    It maybe news for you but the countries interest is what’s important not the administration’s.
    Buddy, we get it. You have the majority – you do whatever you want for one more year.
    But explain it please! Why are those laws by the Fidesz good? Comment on the 4th amendment?

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  61. TO Eva S. Balogh

    You have not argued that the laws the Fidesz party have passed are unconstitutional, rather you have argued against their strategy that you find offencive. Scheppele does the same thing. Her so-called “testimony” is not a legal opinion, she is a sociologist that specializes in, well, who knows? To call it a testimony is to mislead into thinking that she is relting observable ‘facts.’ She complains about the way Fidesz went about passing a new constitution. If I were a betting man, I would bet that the brunt of her anger is toward the declaration that Hungary is a christian nation.

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  62. Kovacs Sandor :
    That is democracy. But you are shocked that the ruling party is actually ruling and point an accusing finger, yelling, “they are doing something I don’t like.”

    Duh! People are yelling with government when they disagree … You have a really good stand-up comic vein.

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  63. @ Kovacs Sandor, Would you be kind enough to answer my question regarding your comment that in your opinion the socialists are ex-commuists, while I am factually stating that Fidesz has more ex-communists in their ranks as the socialist party. My full question can be read #18. I was also saying that Fidesz’s tactics are half truths and to withheld the truth when i is inconveniences them. By not answering actually you are proving my point. So, A or B?

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  64. Kovacs Sandor :
    I would bet that the brunt of her anger is toward the declaration that Hungary is a christian nation.

    … and your anger is explained by the fact that your mother was a hamster.

    Do you realize that with these “quality” posts you are working for us not against.

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  65. To Mutt,

    I said, “But you are shocked that the ruling party is actually ruling and point an accusing finger, yelling, “they are doing something I don’t like.” because it seems to be all that I am hearing. Too many Hungarians think that democracy means that the elected administration is required to get everything right all the time on the first try. No law or constitution is perfect and certainly not everyone will be happy with them. Hungary has a real opportunity here to move ahead for the first time in a long time. I don’t believe Hungary wants to go back to the Gurscany days, ever again. Miscalculations, cronyism, and all that comes with politics will always be there. But, I would like to keep the discussion on the article. This so-called legal expert has no warrant to judge us any more than Hillary clinton has to lecture Orban on Hungarian soil.

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  66. To Mutt

    Regarding:
    If you just barge in and call a PhD scholar incompetent, that makes you look very stupid. I I don’t recall her incompetent. I wanted to draw attention to her perspective and world view that prejudices her analysis of the direction away from democracy she thinks Hungary is taking.

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  67. @Kovacs Sandor: “If I were a betting man, I would bet that the brunt of her anger is toward the declaration that Hungary is a christian nation.”

    It’s wise of you not being a “betting man”. You’d lose.

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  68. To Some1, Eva and Mutt:

    I am new to this board and very much wanted to have a discussion on the merits of the article we are commenting on. I have no doubt that we are of differing opinions on the politics of the Fidesz party. I have yet to hear from any of you on the specifics or even on the general tone of the article. I have read many (some over the top) very positive reviews on the new Hungarian consitiution. So there are other experts who disagree with the writer of the present article.

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  69. Kovacs Sandor :
    I am new to this board and very much wanted to have a discussion on the merits of the article we are commenting on

    … but you came in and claimed that professor Scheppele is just a laughable ant-Christian. What kind of discussion is this?

    I have a suggestion to professor Scheppele. She should put a few pictures in her next testimony to hold the attention of the critics a few minutes longer. Something colorful, pretty. Then they can say we read it for the articles not the pictures.

    Ok, Sandor. Want to discuss? Here is one topic for ya. Destruction of the Constitutional Court. First by packing then taking their rights away. How is that that good for the country? What’s that got to do with Gyurcsany?

    If you successfully argue this Im sure Zoltan Balog will nominate you for the Anal Order Of The Turul With The Chocolate Cross (A Turul Valagrend Csokikereszttel Diszitett Fokozata).

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  70. An :

    @Kovacs Sandor: “If I were a betting man, I would bet that the brunt of her anger is toward the declaration that Hungary is a christian nation.”

    It’s wise of you not being a “betting man”. You’d lose.

    Is that coded “zsidózás”? Because if it is you will not be on “this board,” my fellow.

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  71. To Mutt:

    Mutt, but you did not address my criticism of the article or provide reasons as to why you disagree. It is impossible to keep a discussion board on topic, it seems. You and I, I am sure, agree on many things and will disagree on others. But I wanted to have a discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of the article. Thanks anyway.

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  72. Kovacs Sandor :
    To Mutt:
    Mutt, but you did not address my criticism of the article or provide reasons as to why you disagree. It is impossible to keep a discussion board on topic, it seems. You and I, I am sure, agree on many things and will disagree on others. But I wanted to have a discussion on the strengths and weaknesses of the article. Thanks anyway.

    Well, the offer stands. We can go paragraph by paragraph. It’s up to you. Put your money where your mouth is.

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  73. To Eva:

    No, it is not. I see form your ‘about’ page that you went to Yale. I too am an Yale grad school alumnus. I think I am looking for a differnt forum, though. Good luck on your board. Your contributors seem very passionate.

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  74. Kovacs Sandor :

    To Eva:

    No, it is not. I see form your ‘about’ page that you went to Yale. I too am an Yale grad school alumnus. I think I am looking for a differnt forum, though. Good luck on your board. Your contributors seem very passionate.

    With this name you were never at Yale.

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  75. Kovacs Sandor :
    To Some1, Eva and Mutt:
    I am new to this board and very much wanted to have a discussion on the merits of the article we are commenting on. I have no doubt that we are of differing opinions on the politics of the Fidesz party. I have yet to hear from any of you on the specifics or even on the general tone of the article. I have read many (some over the top) very positive reviews on the new Hungarian consitiution. So there are other experts who disagree with the writer of the present article.

    Sandor, you yourself stated that Ms Scheppelle’s article is “grossly inaccurate”, your reasoning was that “68.1% of the parliament […] represent the will of the vast majority of Hungarian voters “. You also stated “[Ms. Scheppele] and her liberal collegues would condemn an honest attempt to change a constitution which was approved by the Communists prior to 1989 and again after 1989 by the same communists, who now call themselves socialists”.
    All of these point you made were refuted.
    Let me not repeat everything, but the 68.1% parliaments seat does not represent most Hungarians as you state. THis is a FACT!
    THere are more ex-communist in FIDESZ, then in the current socialist party, so those same communist you are referring to are in FIDESZ. FACT!
    You still not telling us if you prefer the more ex-communist of Fidesz, or the less ex-commuinst other parties. In essence are you supporting the more ex-commuist changes?

    So, Sandor, we in fact we replied and discussed your points, but you keep repeating what you originally said, and you do not putting up a counter argument against anything we brought up. WE cannot discuss something if you do not bring more facts to to the table.

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  76. Kovacs Sandor :
    I think I am looking for a differnt forum, though. Good luck on your board. Your contributors seem very passionate.

    I suggest kuruc.info. Most likely it will reflect what you would like to see in a forum.

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  77. to gdfxx:

    I meant my last post to be the one to Eva. I went to the forum you suggested. Although my Hungarian is not very good, I can understand enough to know that its position is 180 degrees from the Fidesz philosphy. I am disappointed (and offended) that twice this afternoon the suggestion has been made that I fall into this camp. I simply cannot understand how we can learn from one another, allow other’s views to challenge us to self-criticism, and come out better and stronger for it, while we carry on with such tom-foolery.

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  78. Kovacs Sandor :
    to gdfxx:
    I meant my last post to be the one to Eva. I went to the forum you suggested. Although my Hungarian is not very good, I can understand enough to know that its position is 180 degrees from the Fidesz philosphy. I am disappointed (and offended) that twice this afternoon the suggestion has been made that I fall into this camp. I simply cannot understand how we can learn from one another, allow other’s views to challenge us to self-criticism, and come out better and stronger for it, while we carry on with such tom-foolery.

    Sandor, I am still awaiting for your answer to my questions!!!! I am sure you are not ignoring it, as you must have clear understanding what I am saying. YOU said the MSZP is made up form ex-communists, I said that in fact Fidesz has more ex-communist than the MSZP. What is your take on that. kurucinfo and Fidesz philosphy by the way is not 180 degrees away from each other. Please take a look on who the Fidesz has decorated with national awards. Also, please take a look who are the ones who Fidesz appoints to very important positions (Ujszinhaz for example). You can avoid the facts, but then do not come here attacking Ms. Scheppele and Eva, and go on about how everyone misunderstand what you are saying.

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  79. You know, what is really sad that FIDESZ just increased its political support with 9%(!) in last month based on Ipsos’ result (the same pollster quoted by Scheppele). We haven’t seen any such high increase in the last 20 years by any party in Hungary. This is mainly because FIDESZ as a “good old” manipulator made a parliamentary debate on the very same day on decreasing households’ overheads when they accepted the Fourth Amendment. People don’t understand the constitutional changes but understand that they need to pay less for gas, electricity, water, etc. they simply don’t understand that the end they will pay with much more when losing democracy…

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  80. Mrs. Kim Lane Scheppele,

    could you please give a link to the picture ‘Figure 2: Composition of the Hungarian Parliament 2010’ on the website of Hungarian National Election Commission! Because I didn’t find this picture. There is a similar one, but there are huge visual differencies.

    http://www.valasztas.hu/dyn/pv10/outroot/vdin2/hu/l50.htm

    Every colored cube in the pictures represents one seat. The proportions are fudged. It visually suggests that the presence of Fidesz is much larger than the actual.

    Or the other one showing the real rate of 2/3:

    http://www.valasztas.hu/dyn/pv10/outroot/vdin2/hu/l22.htm

    So, someone misled you, or it is your mistake, or you are a “good old manipulator”. Choose one of this options! But if you “so attantive” in picking up proofs how could anyone believe you?

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  81. To R Pinter:

    Well, politics will be politics, and those in charge will do their utmost to ram their ideas and programs through parliment. Yes, Fidesz are smart and cunning, but that does not automatically mean that their ideas need to be rejected outright or that their motives need to be questioned. Polls are polls and unfortunately reflect the no more than the fickle majority. The administration has the monumental task of saving the country from the fate of Greece and Cyprus. Mistakes will be made and some good decisions will be made. Polarization is a Hungarian pass time. It is black or white or nothing at all. I do not share this world view and this is the reason I decided to coment on the article by Scheppele. Hungary needs no interference from people like her. She is an academic who parlayed her interdisciplinary “studies” into being “somebody.” Is she a sociologist? Legal scholar? International relations expert? Neither, it seems. See the top of the article. Interdisciplinary studies weere all the rage back then. Alot of people learning a little about a lot. No one really takes them seriously any more. Someone paid her TAs to put the facts together. Someone paid for her ticket, hotel and meals. I have a pretty good idea who they were. She is no saint on a crusade to help Hungary. Look, I am not trying to rag on this poorly constructed article because I have an ax to grind. wheather we agree or disagree with her conclusions, Hungary deserves better than this. Democracy is all the rage right now. If you want to attack a country (militarily or ideologically) you do it in the name of democracy. Democracy is not in danger in Hungary, but it is in the States and many other countries. Scheppele’s article is a bought and paid for hatchet job.

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  82. @Sandor Kovacs: And who is paying you to troll on this blog pretending to want an honest dialogue when you do nothing else but badmouth the author. You still haven’t provided any names and links to those “scholars” who praise the Hungarian constitution.

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  83. tomtyi :
    Mrs. Kim Lane Scheppele,
    could you please give a link to the picture ‘Figure 2: Composition of the Hungarian Parliament 2010′ on the website of Hungarian National Election Commission! Because I didn’t find this picture. There is a similar one, but there are huge visual differencies.
    http://www.valasztas.hu/dyn/pv10/outroot/vdin2/hu/l50.htm
    Every colored cube in the pictures represents one seat. The proportions are fudged. It visually suggests that the presence of Fidesz is much larger than the actual.
    Or the other one showing the real rate of 2/3:
    http://www.valasztas.hu/dyn/pv10/outroot/vdin2/hu/l22.htm
    So, someone misled you, or it is your mistake, or you are a “good old manipulator”. Choose one of this options! But if you “so attantive” in picking up proofs how could anyone believe you?

    Bad illustration from MS Scheppele (for those who just love to look at illustrations, but ignore data), right numbers, great article, fantastic analysis. So beside you not liking the illustration, what do you have to say for the rest.
    a, you are mislead by Fidesz and believe what they are trying to do is beneficial for all Hungary
    b, all the above and you also believe that the ex-communist trying to take back the country (like Kovacs suggested)
    c, Fidesz has the most ex-commnist, they accuse others for being communist, and they try to do everything to establish a one-party management. http://tinyurl.com/bqrfngh

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  84. @Sandor Kovacs

    “Scheppele’s article is a bought and paid for hatchet job”.

    Your comment has all the ingredients of a Fidesz commenter.
    Cynical, sidetracking, deflecting and character assassination.
    The good news is…we all know…and it doesn’t work anymore. Not within the international context that is. And that right now….is where it counts. Ask Ferenc Kumin. He knows.

    “She is an academic who parlayed her interdisciplinary “studies” into being “somebody.”

    And you Kovacs are simply a nobody.

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  85. tomtyi :
    Mrs. Kim Lane Scheppele,
    could you please give a link to the picture ‘Figure 2: Composition of the Hungarian Parliament 2010′ on the website of Hungarian National Election Commission! Because I didn’t find this picture. There is a similar one, but there are huge visual differencies.
    http://www.valasztas.hu/dyn/pv10/outroot/vdin2/hu/l50.htm
    Every colored cube in the pictures represents one seat. The proportions are fudged. It visually suggests that the presence of Fidesz is much larger than the actual.
    Or the other one showing the real rate of 2/3:
    http://www.valasztas.hu/dyn/pv10/outroot/vdin2/hu/l22.htm
    So, someone misled you, or it is your mistake, or you are a “good old manipulator”. Choose one of this options! But if you “so attantive” in picking up proofs how could anyone believe you?

    It’s from the Heti Valasz, you moron. From your own Fidesz rag!

    Before your attempt to look smart again, let me educate you. Go to the Goggle Images page. Then save the image from this blog and upload it back to the search page. Google can search an actual image by pixel information. Vala! You are a retard!

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  86. @Sandor Kovacs
    “Scheppele’s article is a bought and paid for hatchet job”.
    Oh…and I forgot. Good to know you apparently feel yourself in a corner.

    (oh sigh, I used to be a nice guy, before I met Fidesz.)

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  87. Sandor Kovacs :
    To R Pinter:
    The administration has the monumental task of saving the country from the fate of Greece and Cyprus. Mistakes will be made and some good decisions will be made. Polarization is a Hungarian pass time. It is black or white or nothing at all. I do not share this world view and this is the reason I decided to coment on the article by Scheppele. Hungary needs no interference from people like her.

    I hope Mr Pinter doesn’t mind if I chime in …

    Tell me a few good decisions because I didn’t see any from this government. What do you have in mind?

    Hungary does need help from anybody. Now more than ever when it’s own government is destroying the democracy in the country. Who are you rooting for? The Orban government or Hungary? To me it seems your world view is all white.

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  88. Prepare for similar trolls like “Sándor Kovács” in the future as we get nearer to the elections.

    Fidesz will get desperate like a cornered rat and they will send out their troll army to sow doubt, stir up things, obfuscate, spread lies, force engagement (and thereby tire the other side) and the like.

    From the money they threw on the US lobby efforts (Friends of Hungary and others), I am sure some will be spent on local (US-based) or quasi-local trolls as well. It’s a kind of political PR service and with the first amendment behind them, Fidesz mercenaries will be active.

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  89. Mutt :

    tomtyi :
    Mrs. Kim Lane Scheppele,
    could you please give a link to the picture ‘Figure 2……
    someone misled you, or it is your mistake, or you are a “good old manipulator”. Choose one of this options! But if you “so attantive” in picking up proofs how could anyone believe you?

    It’s from the Heti Valasz, you moron. From your own Fidesz rag!

    SO, I guess tomtyi was right after all “someone mislead Ms Scheppele. She should of known by now that she cannot rely on Fidesz publications. Obviously the Fidesz Troopers tried to make Fidesz look bigger then really is. You should not believe them either tomtyi. I must bow how smart you are.

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  90. tomtyi :

    Every colored cube in the pictures represents one seat. The proportions are fudged. It visually suggests that the presence of Fidesz is much larger than the actual.

    Or the other one showing the real rate of 2/3:

    http://www.valasztas.hu/dyn/pv10/outroot/vdin2/hu/l22.htm

    So, someone misled you, or it is your mistake, or you are a “good old manipulator”. Choose one of this options! But if you “so attantive” in picking up proofs how could anyone believe you?

    Let me answer this instead of Professor Scheppele who has better things to do than answer your provocative questions and insolent accusations. The picture shown by Professor Scheppele is the one that appeared on the Election Committee’s website right after the elections. But then the new government changed the personnel of the election committee and also changed this particular picture as well. They manipulated it so that the overwhelming presence of Fidesz-KDNP wouldn’t be so scary.

    People interested in the actually sitting arrangement in Parliament should visit

    http://www.parlament.hu/internet/plsql/ogy_egyeb.patko_xml

    The light blue seats in the middle of the Fidesz caucus are occupied by KDNP (Christian Democrats) who are the same as Fidesz. All the grey ones are independent MPs: DK, PM (Párbeszéd Magyarországért), LMP and some people from Jobbik. And there are seat at the far right corner reserved for Hungarian members of the European Union.

    One cannot manipulate this one with the only exception that KDNP was allowed to form a separate delegation when actually it doesn’t exist as a separate party and polls can’t even measure its support.

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  91. Mutt :

    “Dear” Mutt,
    welcome to the leftliberal real world of tolerant conversasion!
    Who cares where the picture really came from? Mrs. Scheppele stated it was from the website of Hungarian National Election Commission. But it was NOT.

    @Some1
    Most ex-communist? So in your opinion a secretary of a basic KISZ-group or a simple member of the communist party equals to a leader of this communist party? Or blackmailed informers equal to support officers of the secret services? Or a simple journalist equals to the chief censor? Funny.
    About Kövér:
    http://ezekmennek.info/droidok-trollok-a-baloldalon-is-vannak-nem-is-kevesen/
    But if you look at the picture of the card you can see that Kövér’s picture is not from 1989, but much later. So this card and picture also FAKE. Not mentioned the name of the institute. Do you have more “arguments”?

    I was the member of the KISZ, but only from 1987, in the army. Because the alternative program of the KISZ-assembly was chemical defense exercise. So was I communist?

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  92. tomtyi :
    @Some1
    Just look at the seal: “Áldokumentum – Örülünk Vincent”

    You are right, the photo is fake, but the facts are true. THe letters written to Kover are true too. …and he is in fact was a member of KISZ, MISZOT, MSZP and all. So, what did you think about the Hetivalasz problem on your questioned photo?

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  93. Am I the only one who thinks that we get much more attention from Fidesz folks than, say, 2 months ago? It certainly seems so.

    I think what happened was that Fidesz started to make huge efforts to defend itself abroad, seeing the unanimous negative foreign opions. But they will never change political course (unless direct and unequivocal power is applied against them) so they will rather use their unlimited funds and religious followers to slowly undermine foreign opinions by sowing the seeds of doubt.

    Their goal is of course not to argue (although they will seem to do so) but simply to spread their ideas, so that when someone comes to this blog, say, 50% of the comments would be by Fidesz-leaning people.

    Also, as part of these PR effors, Fidesz realised that this blog is well-written and is thus influential so Fidesz and his legion of PR (well, propaganda, to use a somewhat older terminology, but one with which Fidesz’ helpers are intimately familiar with) people will try to cause confusion and stir up the usual ways of communication (trolling has a science in a sense, ie. how to influence ongoing discussions with what kind of likely results). we should be vigilant.

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  94. @Some1
    Don’t you feel the letters written to Kövér also funny? Your gang cries about the freedom of press. And anyone can write these style and kind of shit whithout any threat of punishment. Isn’t there any controversy here?

    Le style, c’est l’homme.

    Krasztev:
    https://www.facebook.com/peter.krasztev
    http://www.ektf.hu/ujweb/index.php?page=577

    Konok:
    http://www.pluszminusz.hu/2012/12/16/hat-viktor-bocsi-de-baromira-nem-ertettuk-meg-egymast/?utm_source=mandiner&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=mandiner_201303

    And obviously a mere coincidence that the two have the same address on their Facebook-sites.

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  95. @Brummadza
    More attention? Sorry, I was looking for the video and from some link i suddenly found myself here. Don’t think yourself too important.

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  96. Kovacs Sandor :
    to gdfxx:
    I meant my last post to be the one to Eva. I went to the forum you suggested. Although my Hungarian is not very good, I can understand enough to know that its position is 180 degrees from the Fidesz philosphy.

    I assume this means that it’s aligned with it (at least geometrically that is what it means). The facts do show that there is no difference between them, especially when one considers the positions of such illustrious members as Zsolt Bayer, the favorite of both the Prime Minister and the President of the Parliament.

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  97. tomtyi :
    @Brummadza
    More attention? Sorry, I was looking for the video and from some link i suddenly found myself here. Don’t think yourself too important.

    I think it is you who thinks you are very important. WHy do you assume that Brummadza referred to you? You are not the only Fidesz Trooper here, and frankly not so important.

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  98. Sandor Kovacs :
    To R Pinter:
    …Someone paid her [Scheppele’s] TAs to put the facts together. Someone paid for her ticket, hotel and meals. I have a pretty good idea who they were.

    Well, why don’t you share your pretty good idea with this blog? I would be curious to know who do you think they were…

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  99. Sandor Kovacs :
    Someone paid for her ticket, hotel and meals. I have a pretty good idea who they were

    Let me help you genius. Next time I pay for her trip myself if she needs it. How do you explain this?

    By the way I’m still waiting for the good decisions from this government. You made me really curious.

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  100. To Sandor Kovacs: Certainly someone paid for the ticket, hotels and meals of Prof. Scheppele. And hopefully she indeed has some paid people around at Princeton university who help to put the facts together. This is exactly what I expect of a functioning democratic process (in this case: the U.S. Helsinki Commission, gathering information for several government institutions) and a productive research and education system, that is capable of providing the government with information on matters that it finds relevant. Hopefully at one day, also in Hungary, the government will pay people adequately for providing services to the government, and the research institutions and universities will be of a standard that it indeed can help inform the government. You know, the idea that people have to serve the “nation” for free (while those who rule get nearly everything “for free”) sounds so noble, but it might be more noble to reward people decently – and not only if they belong to the inner circle of the ruling party.

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  101. Mutt :

    Sandor Kovacs :
    Someone paid for her ticket, hotel and meals. I have a pretty good idea who they were

    Let me help you genius. Next time I pay for her trip myself if she needs it. How do you explain this?

    By the way I’m still waiting for the good decisions from this government. You made me really curious.

    Good for you, Mutt. What an idiot this good Christian is.

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  102. A TASTE OF WIKIPEDIA

    Warning

    Your recent editing history shows that you are currently engaged in an edit war. Being involved in an edit war can result in your being blocked from editing—especially if you violate the three-revert rule, which states that an editor must not perform more than three reverts on a single page within a 24-hour period. Undoing another editor’s work—whether in whole or in part, whether involving the same or different material each time—counts as a revert. Also keep in mind that while violating the three-revert rule often leads to a block, you can still be blocked for edit warring—even if you don’t violate the three-revert rule—should your behavior indicate that you intend to continue reverting repeatedly.

    To avoid being blocked, instead of reverting please consider using the article’s talk page to work toward making a version that represents consensus among editors. See BRD for how this is done. You can post a request for help at a relevant noticeboard or seek dispute resolution. In some cases, you may wish to request temporary page protection.

    Harnad: It is not clear who sent the above warning: The notification seems to come from User:Biruitorul but the warning is unsigned. Also not clear why I am being warned, since I have added text and Biruitorul (and others) have deleted it rather than first discussing it with me in the talk page, as per WP policy. I have several times either modified or reverted what Biruitorul and others have deleted, so it is not at all evident why I am being warned about edit warring… (In any case, before receiving this warning, I had already initiated dispute resolution request. Not sure what to do next… –Stevan Harnad 19:04, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

    Biruitorul: I wrote a balanced summary of the recent amendment to the Hungarian constitution: one paragraph of description, one of criticism.

    Harnad: The summary is unfortunately far from balanced. It states the Hungarian government’s point of view and allows that there were some points of controversy. The substance and evidence behind the points of controversy is left out. Those missing substantive points are exactly the ones Professor Scheppele made — most recently at the Washington Helsinki Commission Hearing in Washington last week[1]. And those are the points Biruitorul keeps deleting, even though, word for word, they are no longer than his pro-governnment summary. I first posted the points as a direct quote. Then the objection was against long direct quotes instead of summaries, so I replaced them by a light paraphrase. Then that was deleted too.

    Biruitorul: Given the size of the rest of the article, I think this is an appropriate dimension. Also, this is not that significant of an event – yes, it’s important, but it isn’t, as Harnad claims, an “important, ongoing historic event… gaining more and more attention and weight worldwide”. With all due respect, the last time anyone really cared about internal developments in Hungary was the Ajka alumina plant accident.

    Harnad: I think the daily growing international press attention, EU and US governmental attention and academic attention to the new Hungarian constitution is ample evidence that there is indeed worldwide concern about internal developments in Hungary.

    Biruitorul: I vociferously object to the inclusion of the blog post in question. For one, no matter how many times Harnad repeats the phrase “International constitutional scholar and Hungary specialist, Professor Kim Lane Scheppele”, that does not automatically mean we should be quoting her. And it’s slightly misleading to say the comments appeared on “Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman’s New York Times Blog”; there is Paul-Krugman-as-economist, and there is Paul Krugman-as-politically-opinionated-individual, and it’s the latter who mainly runs the blog. The comments are partisan in tone, they are on a blog (i.e., not peer reviewed), they are editorial content – in short, they are not relevant to the topic.

    Harnad: Professor Scheppele’s analysis has also been presented to Senator Cardin’s Committee (last week) and is now published in the record of the US Helsinki Commision[2] (Critiques by others have also been published in the official working documents of the European Parliament[3][4][5][6] and by the Venice Commission on Hungary[7].)

    Biruitorul: And I’d like to point out that Harnad has spread around the exact same blog quote at Second Cabinet of Viktor Orbán, Politics of Hungary, Constitutional Court of Hungary, Fidesz, Viktor Orbán and, most ludicrously, given that it covers 2000 years, History of Hungary.

    Harnad: I don’t know what WP policy is about information that is pertinent to multiple articles. Cross-referring might be a solution, but I think the passages are short enough so it is more useful and informative to include them at the appropriate point of each of these articles. (And, yes, I would say that the Hungarian constitutional controversy is pertinent to the history of Hungary too. It would be good to hear other views on that, though. Please let’s keep the question of whether the critiques of the new Hungarian Constitution should appear in the article about the new Hungarian Constitution separate from the question of what other articles they should also appear in.)

    Biruitorul: Does Kim Lane Scheppele (note the red link) really have to be mentioned in all those articles? I happen to care about the article on the Constitution the most because I wrote it (and no, I’m not claiming I own it, but it’s natural I should care), but this should be addressed. Harnad’s strong feelings on the topic shouldn’t be making a soapbox out of a whole spectrum of articles. – Biruitorul Talk 16:17, 24 March 2013 (UTC)

    Harnad: Biruitorul may have written most of the Constitution of Hungary article, but a new Hungarian Constitution has been written recently, and an internationally controversial one. And, yes, Professor Scheppele [8] [9] [10] [11] is probably today’s foremost expert on international constitutional law and the new Hungarian Constitution. Why on earth should the summary of the main points of her critique — now being consulted and discussed worldwide — be deleted from the WP article about the Constitution of Hungary? –Stevan Harnad 01:11, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

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  103. tomtyi :
    @Some1
    Don’t you feel the letters written to Kövér also funny? Your gang cries about the freedom of press. And anyone can write these style and kind of shit whithout any threat of punishment. Isn’t there any controversy here?
    Le style, c’est l’homme.
    Krasztev:
    https://www.facebook.com/peter.krasztev
    http://www.ektf.hu/ujweb/index.php?page=577
    Konok:
    http://www.pluszminusz.hu/2012/12/16/hat-viktor-bocsi-de-baromira-nem-ertettuk-meg-egymast/?utm_source=mandiner&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=mandiner_201303
    And obviously a mere coincidence that the two have the same address on their Facebook-sites.

    Nice language. Sh*t? I could do better, but my upbringing does not allow to use that word with so casually. If you excuse me, I will not follow your silly facebook references. Even if those letters were made up, they perfectly reflect the sentiments of many. So, you do not have a problem with Kover’s background, only how, and who wrote what they wrote? You think that Kover was not a Young Communist member, his grandfather did not receive the medal, and so forth? I bet all of this is also a Jewish conspiracy. lol

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  104. “the OSCE/ODIHR should also fully monitor the 2014 Hungarian parliamentary elections.”
    I have a question: where were Mrs. Scheppele at the elections in 2006? She probably had sore throat or rheumatoid arthritis in her hand, ‘cos I didn’t hear her voice or watched her writings in the media.

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  105. tomtyi :
    “the OSCE/ODIHR should also fully monitor the 2014 Hungarian parliamentary elections.”
    I have a question: where were Mrs. Scheppele at the elections in 2006? She probably had sore throat or rheumatoid arthritis in her hand, ‘cos I didn’t hear her voice or watched her writings in the media.

    What she did or didn’t do in 2006 has nothing to do with her testimony at THESE hearings. Try a little harder!

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  106. @Stevan Harnad
    “And, yes, Professor Scheppele [8] [9] [10] [11] is probably today’s foremost expert on international constitutional law and the new Hungarian Constitution.”
    Do you think so? Self-definition:
    “Valószínűleg igaz, hogy én vagyok a vezető nem magyar származású amerikai szakértője a magyar alkotmányos rendszernek” “Összehasonlító alkotmányjogot tanítok, és ugyan a magyar rendszer az, amit a leginkább ismerek, foglalkoztam a német, a francia, a kanadai és a dél-afrikai joggal is.”

    But some more “color”:
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/19/the-new-hungarian-secret-police/

    And the reflection of TASZ (Társaság a szabadságjogokért):
    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20120421_tasz_scheppele_tek

    Where were Mrs. Scheppele when the romas were killed with effective assistance of the military intelligence during the reign of Gyurcsány? She was completely silent.

    It could minimally stated that she is NOT an expert in Hungarian circumstances, it is even possible she is strongly biased in one direction. And I do not want to formulate stronger.

    @Some1
    So, this is again the leftliberal style: if you don’t have arguments, attack the other side, tell lies, and do it very loudly. You know nothing about me. So congratulations!

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  107. gdfxx :

    tomtyi :
    “the OSCE/ODIHR should also fully monitor the 2014 Hungarian parliamentary elections.”
    I have a question: where were Mrs. Scheppele at the elections in 2006? She probably had sore throat or rheumatoid arthritis in her hand, ‘cos I didn’t hear her voice or watched her writings in the media.

    What she did or didn’t do in 2006 has nothing to do with her testimony at THESE hearings. Try a little harder!

    You didn’t understand, right? I don’t care what and when she tells or speaks. I care about the balance. Especially if she is so sensitive to this. If there is no balance in her judgments, she’s point of view becomes weightless.
    Of course not in your eyes besause all of you are biased.

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  108. To Paul Wal:

    Why does the international context count? That, after all, was my main objection to the article. Hungary needs no one to interfere in its business, especially someone who is accusing the current administration of subverting the will of the voters who elected them. I have been waiting for a blog contributor to discuss this, but to avail. I have not questioned the motives of other contributors as seems to be the prevailing methodology of getting ones point accros. There seems to be no willingness to have a dialogue on this what I believe to be a very important issue.

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  109. The trolls are getting really desperate!

    If it weren’t so sad it would be really funny …

    They must be monitoring this site really close to search for any inaccuracy like that stupid graph – though the numbers are ok there …

    And then we have the other kind who insinuates things like “you know who’s paying for her expenses …”

    PS:

    On pol.hu you also find similar trolls – but they’re even more aggressive and then of course there are the outright Nazis.

    PPS and OT:

    I’m writing this from the lobby of our hotel in Harkany, far away from the sordid reality of Budapest – it’s snowing outside and the internet connection isn’t so fast.

    But I’ll be back with you!

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  110. sandor kovacs :

    To Paul Wal:

    Why does the international context count? That, after all, was my main objection to the article. Hungary needs no one to interfere in its business, especially someone who is accusing the current administration of subverting the will of the voters who elected them. I have been waiting for a blog contributor to discuss this, but to avail. I have not questioned the motives of other contributors as seems to be the prevailing methodology of getting ones point accros. There seems to be no willingness to have a dialogue on this what I believe to be a very important issue.

    For the simple reason that Hungary is a member of the European Union and the Union’s laws overwrite the Hungarian ones. That’s why.

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  111. To Eva:

    “Good for you, Mutt. What an idiot this good Christian is.”

    Eva, I thought that your toleration of the personal attacks was from graciousness on your part. I see now that you set the tone for this blog. That is OK, as it is your blog. However, I simply cannot understand why a debate, discussion on the interference into Hungary’s affairs from outsiders is so difficult to achieve. I just can’t see how attacking another contributor’s motives, usually impossible to know and only guessed at, contributes to the overall understanding of the issue. I know that you agree with her conclusions, I do not. But, I have yet to hear supporting reasons, from you or anyone else why Scheppele’s article is positive for Hungary. An interdisciplinary approach to criticising Hunagry is dubious at best.

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  112. To P Wal:

    Helsinki and Brussels matter but Kim Lane Scheppele is an american from Princeton Univesity and she does not, and should not contribute the discussions Hungary is currently engaged in within the EU. The debate centers on wheather the Hungarian Constitution and its ammendments reflects the core values of a European democracy. The discussions Hungary is having with the EU should stay within the EU. It is easy to judge Hungary from the outside [of the EU} and Scheppele’s approach is especially very offensive to me. Her concentration on the methodology of the Fidesz party [in adopting the consitiution] was grossly over the top and frankly has no place in a serious discussion about Hungary’s consitution and ammendments. Her suggestion that the administration deliberatly subverted the will of the electorate in order to establish some kind of democratic dictatorship should be severely criticized.

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  113. sandor kovacs :

    To P Wal:

    Helsinki and Brussels matter but Kim Lane Scheppele is an american from Princeton Univesity and she does not, and should not contribute the discussions Hungary is currently engaged in within the EU. The debate centers on wheather the Hungarian Constitution and its ammendments reflects the core values of a European democracy. The discussions Hungary is having with the EU should stay within the EU. It is easy to judge Hungary from the outside [of the EU} and Scheppele’s approach is especially very offensive to me. Her concentration on the methodology of the Fidesz party [in adopting the consitiution] was grossly over the top and frankly has no place in a serious discussion about Hungary’s consitution and ammendments. Her suggestion that the administration deliberatly subverted the will of the electorate in order to establish some kind of democratic dictatorship should be severely criticized.

    So glad that you feel empowered who can say what and when. It’s a good thing that people’s participation in legal discussions doesn’t depend on you and your like.

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  114. Stevan Harnad :
    A TASTE OF WIKIPEDIA….

    TASTE-2:

    Biruitorul: Just a minute, please: much of what you’ve said distorts or misinterprets my statements. The optimal sort of references are readily identified at WP:RS – “articles, books, monographs, or research papers that have been vetted by the scholarly community” (it’s probably a little too early for those) or “news reporting from well-established news outlets” (of those there have been plenty, and the article touches on them). The problem with Krugman’s blog is not that he is a liberal (I would object as strongly to citing, say, the blog of conservative laureate Mario Vargas Llosa); it’s that it is a blog, with all that WP:BLOGS has to say about that, and his prize doesn’t wave away that issue. In theory, I don’t object to reporting what Scheppele has to say, provided it’s in in an appropriate venue, say this one. But as far as criticisms worth mentioning go, those have been made, in descending order of relevance, by opposition Hungarian politicians, by European-level ones, and by American law professors. I’m not saying the last are completely unworthy of mentioning, but the focus really should be on what Hungarians themselves have to say, given that that has been given most weight by available news coverage. Attila Mesterházy and Gordon Bajnai may not be legal experts, but they are where the attention of reliable sources has been focused. – Biruitorul Talk 06:04, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

    Harnad:One of the core problems at issue in the critiques of the Hungarian Constitution is the freedom of the Hungarian press and media. The international criticisms of the Constitution are barely covered by the Hungarian press [9], precisely because of the threat of fines (or worse) owing to the Media Law under dispute. Hungarian press coverage is extremely unbalanced, by WP standards. I also find it very puzzling that you would find a Budapest trade newspaper a more reliable source about the views expressed in the US Helsinki Commision than the official records of the Commission itself. (It would also mean a lot less coverage of important current events in WP if they had to wait for published peer-reviewed learned-journal articles to be cited before they could be described…) –Stevan Harnad 11:06, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

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  115. To Eva:

    “So glad that you feel empowered who can say what and when. It’s a good thing that people’s participation in legal discussions doesn’t depend on you and your like.”

    I am not trying to limit any discussion, rather I am trying to get it going on the issue wheather Hungarians should accept at face value Scheppele’s report. Apparently, there are no takers. you never address the issue. Why?

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  116. Perhaps in a firm, time-tested Western democracy a 2/3 supermajority with constitution-changing power would not be such a risk, but in the Balkan Backwater that Hungary is alas repeatedly proving itself to be, unable to shake off the dregs of the Dark Ages, supermajority power, conferred by a bare majority of a minority of voters (53% of about 33%, reportedly, and based on gerrymandered proportionalities — and since sunk to only about 25%) can, as we are now witnessing, become the royal road to ruin.

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  117. To Sandor Kovacs:

    In deed everyone’s opinion matter. Saying that the opinion of someone who has worked in Hungary and worked with Hungarians to restore the country after communism doesn’t matter is full ignorance. THis ignorance was already portrayed several times by Fidesz. Why you accuse Eva setting “a tone”, let me remind you the tone that the Hungarian MPs set in their own country. Deutsch famous “Who the f*ck is Thomas Melia?” will go down in history with Janos Lazar’s “Who has nothing is worth nothing.” opinion. Kover’s usage of “communists” for everyone who opposes him, and the other MPS lovely comments about where are the places of women, certainly worth preservation from anyone else who woule ver use an other “put down”.
    While Scheppele’s opinion is well researched and important, it is your opinion that is irrelevant, simply because you cannot quote facts, just use the same theoretics as Fidesz uses “nobody understands us from the outside”. THe problem is that it seems that it is only Hungary who noone understands, and other countries closer to the “Balcan thinking” get more compassion then Hungary. Why don’t you or Fidesz tries to amend relations with others? Are you support the Jewish conspiracy theory that became more politically correct in Hungary by Orban and Kover calling it “Foreign attacks”? WHy only Hungary is so important? Why only Hungary is the centre of the foreign attacks?
    THe truth is that opposite to what you want others to believe, not everyone in Hungary are happy with the changes Fidesz is doing. For that matter even Fidesz is unhappy, otherwise why would they change their own “rock solid” Basic Law four times. At the time that ePaper was written Fidesz showed the same arrogance as now, telling everyone how perfect it is. Well, I guess it was not so perfect, so why is it that when Hungarian people say that it is not OK Fidesz simply ignores them?
    Let me pick one simple example from the new constitution written in Twenty-first Century:
    – Defines family narrowly as that founded on marriage between a man and a woman or as a parent-child relationship. (In December 2012, the Constitutional Court had struck down on this.)
    – Limit religious freedom by giving parliament the sole right to decide which religious organizations are considered ‘churches’ for the purpose of domestic legislation.( In February 2013, the Constitutional Court struck down on this.)
    – Let’s not forget about the pro-life approach, that it more has to do with what the church wants than what women wants. THis will also endanger the life of many women.

    I also would like you to know that EU membership is voluntary and comes with respecting and obeying International norms. Hungary can quit from the EU, just like Kover could of left the Communist Party. You cannot have it both ways. You cannot receive all the benefits of the EU (and there are plenty, opposite to Fidesz’ October campaign), wanting to be member of the EU, but decide not to follow the norms of the EU. The USA has a great relationship with the EU and wit hits members, and the EU actually welcomes the input from the USA. Now contrary to Hungary, the USA relies on the opinion of real experts (like those with real phd.), and thank goodness MS. Scheppele has all the qualifications (on field experience, academical background, writing skills) that most Fidesz “experts” lack, in order to provide a valuable opinion that the USA bases its input. The USA also bases its input on other opinions, something that the current Hungarian government also learn from.

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  118. @Sandor Kovacs: “I am not trying to limit any discussion, rather I am trying to get it going on the issue wheather Hungarians should accept at face value Scheppele’s report. Apparently, there are no takers. you never address the issue. Why?”

    Yes, you are so sincere in trying to have a discussion that you still haven’t gotten back to us with the names of those experts who you claimed had a good opinion about the Hungarian constitution. You just kept ignoring such requests.

    Your real purpose is not having a discussion, as you claim, your real purpose is to cast doubt on Professor Scheppele’s credibility, without offering a piece of evidence on your part.

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  119. To Janos Nagy:

    I simply do not understand how or why every response to my comments are met with an attempt to deflect the issue from Scheppele to either me or an attack on the Fidesz party. Her report should stand on its own, if it does not it would seem to be of little importance how many others, more qualified than she, disagree with her. She and the report she submitted is the issue. Not me, the Fidesz or others who have criticized her. You say, “your real purpose is to cast doubt on Professor Scheppele’s credibility, without offering a piece of evidence on your part.” To say that I want to cast doubt on her credibility is an understatement. I think that is obvious. The opinions of others, that you ask me for, is not “evidence” as you say. I think that the quality of her report is ample evidence. If a discussion on the veracity and character of her report is of any interest to you, then lets talk about it. If not, and I think you can tell by now, I will not be bullied into changing the subject. I cant believe how difficult it is to keep an issue on track.

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  120. Some1:

    You said: Let me pick one simple example from the new constitution written in Twenty-first Century:
    – Defines family narrowly as that founded on marriage between a man and a woman or as a parent-child relationship. (In December 2012, the Constitutional Court had struck down on this.)
    – Limit religious freedom by giving parliament the sole right to decide which religious organizations are considered ‘churches’ for the purpose of domestic legislation.( In February 2013, the Constitutional Court struck down on this.)
    – Let’s not forget about the pro-life approach, that it more has to do with what the church wants than what women wants. THis will also endanger the life of many women.

    Some1, you have just cleared up a point I made early on, specifically, that Scheppele’s problem is that the Consitution declares that Hungary is a Christian nation. Need I say more?

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  121. tomtyi :

    gdfxx :

    tomtyi :
    “the OSCE/ODIHR should also fully monitor the 2014 Hungarian parliamentary elections.”
    I have a question: where were Mrs. Scheppele at the elections in 2006? She probably had sore throat or rheumatoid arthritis in her hand, ‘cos I didn’t hear her voice or watched her writings in the media.

    What she did or didn’t do in 2006 has nothing to do with her testimony at THESE hearings. Try a little harder!

    You didn’t understand, right? I don’t care what and when she tells or speaks. I care about the balance. Especially if she is so sensitive to this. If there is no balance in her judgments, she’s point of view becomes weightless.
    Of course not in your eyes besause all of you are biased.

    Balance? Between what? A well reasoned, properly supported presentation and a constitution written by one person and then continuously amended by a small group of gangsters?

    You bet I am biased.

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  122. @sandor kovacs

    “Helsinki and Brussels matter but Kim Lane Scheppele is an american from Princeton Univesity and she does not, and should not contribute the discussions Hungary is currently engaged in within the EU”.

    I just asked my wife, she has the Hungarian nationality, she says it is okay (smile) so don’t worry. She welcomes the contribution of Professor Kim Lane Scheppele, from Princeton Univesity very much.
    You see, unlike you she stands up for democracy. Now read…Trias Politica
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_powers and learn!
    And it seems dear Eva successfully replied to the rest of your deep worries, so be happy. Stop wasting those precious bits and bytes.

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  123. No one is 100% right. To discuss the merits of her report is perfectly within the purview of this blog, I believe. No one has addressed any of the issues I have raised regarding the character, slant, and methodology of her report, including Eva. Why is that?

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  124. sandor kovacs :
    Some1, you have just cleared up a point I made early on, specifically, that Scheppele’s problem is that the Consitution declares that Hungary is a Christian nation. Need I say more?

    Well, then a couple of million people in the Western democracies also must be anti-Christian. If that is all you understood from Professor Scheppeles’ testimony, then no, you don’t need to say more. We got you.

    Let me ask you a question. It’s not about the actual post. Why are you here on this blog? What effect do you think you are making and on whom? Because saying that Professor Scheppele is an anti-Christen sounds good in the Magyar Hirlap or Magyar Nemzet (right wing papers in Hungary) but here, on this blog? The style and the substance of your comments are actually working against you, considering the readership of this blog. The readership here is not the average Hungarian Joe who does a backflip when Orban tell’s him his heating costs will go down 10% independent of the weather. Seriously, what do you get out of this bullying?

    I’m pretty sure you are one of those guys who show up packs in Krugman’s blog in the New Your Times every time when Professor Scheppele publishes an article. It fascinating to me that you and your buddies don’t see that with those comments you are actually helping Professor Scheppele. The readers look at your posts and go “Oh, yes. I f these are the guys the article is talking about, then it is very likely true …” Do you actually think that saying things like “laughable” about an accomplished Professors’ article will sway anybody?

    By the way in what discipline have you received your PhD? I know, it’s personal, but I’m curious.

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  125. sandor kovacs :
    No one is 100% right. To discuss the merits of her report is perfectly within the purview of this blog, I believe. No one has addressed any of the issues I have raised regarding the character, slant, and methodology of her report, including Eva. Why is that?

    Because we would rather focus on the actual statements in the testimony not the perceived “slant” or methodology. Stop being a crybaby.

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  126. Mutt;

    “By the way in what discipline have you received your PhD? I know, it’s personal, but I’m curious.”

    Everything seems to be peronal on this blog. Just can’t seem to understand why it is that name calling, insults and references about my mother takes precedence over taliking about the issues. I have my opinion about the article in question and stated what I believe to be deficiencies. Others have their’s. I don’t respond to comments that seek to derail the issue and lead into personal issues. Scheppele has taken a very public stance and I am within my rights to publically express the shortcomings of her publication. I thought that this forum might be one way to do that.

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  127. Mutt:

    “Because we would rather focus on the actual statements in the testimony not the perceived “slant” or methodology.”

    No, Mutt, you have not focused, discussed any actual statments in her report.

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  128. @ sandor kovacs

    “No one is 100% right. To discuss the merits of her report is perfectly within the purview of this blog, I believe. No one has addressed any of the issues I have raised regarding the character, slant, and methodology of her report, including Eva. Why is that?”.

    Why is that?….It is because you are lying right now and making yourself immortally ridiculous. Eva DID reply, many people DID reply, I replied, you are just ignoring the answers you silly…..but again, you are Fidesz,
    And Fidesz supporter comments ( in general) have all the ingredients of moral bankruptcy.
    Cynical, sidetracking, deflecting and character assassination.
    The good news is…we all know…and it doesn’t work anymore. Not within
    the international context that is. And that right now….is where it
    counts. Ask Ferenc Kumin. He knows.

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  129. sandor kovacs :
    Some1:
    You said: Let me pick one simple example from the new constitution written in Twenty-first Century:
    – Defines family narrowly as that founded on marriage between a man and a woman or as a parent-child relationship. (In December 2012, the Constitutional Court had struck down on this.)
    – Limit religious freedom by giving parliament the sole right to decide which religious organizations are considered ‘churches’ for the purpose of domestic legislation.( In February 2013, the Constitutional Court struck down on this.)
    – Let’s not forget about the pro-life approach, that it more has to do with what the church wants than what women wants. THis will also endanger the life of many women.
    Some1, you have just cleared up a point I made early on, specifically, that Scheppele’s problem is that the Consitution declares that Hungary is a Christian nation. Need I say more?

    I do not get it, sorry. (Sorry it started as one sample, but evolved.)
    Maybe I have a problem with your so called Christian nation values. It is more so that we can see where you coming from, and I thank you for clarifying that. You are obviously a deep routed Christian who feels that progress has nothing to do with the church, and everyone who does not follow the Bible should rot in hell. Christianity is not the only religion! Even hard cord Jews are pro-life, and I do not agree wit them either, and I am sure MS Scheppele would be against it. I also know many Christians in Canada and in Hungary who do support same sex marriages. I do know many Christians who do not support early retirement for judges either (and I am not really sure what that has to do with Christian nation). Progressive thinking is what the church need to stay relevant, and get its flock back to the churches. So, how far do you suggest we go back in following the bible to remain a true Christian nation? Should we close the stores on Sunday and lift that into the Constitution.
    Are you suggesting to replace the Constitution with the Bible. Yes, why would we need constitution when we could just use the bible. For real, it does have all the answer to all the questions, so why not? I guess Hungary just have to put up its borders, and hang out a sign that everyone inside must follow the new testament.
    I also find it funny that you support the Christian nation as presented from a man who not long ago regularly made fun of the church and of the members of KDNP. I gues times are changing, and interests are changing. Maybe you should take it to heart what Matthew said: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

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  130. Some1, Paul Wal, Mutt, When will you realise that “Sándor Kovács” is loughing at you?

    S. K. is a paid troll and you cannot continue a conversation because he cannot be persuaded in any rational argument.

    He is here only and exclusively to fill up the space with his ideas and play with you suckers in the meantime.

    Why do you feel that you have to answer to any idiotism these people spread? He knows that liberals and intellectuals always want to be the smareter therefore he/she can provoke you easily and play you like a piano. Try to be a bit self-reflective and stop being so naive. But I guess this is the curse of the liberals. Sorry for being blunt.

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  131. @Klambo: The only reason to engage him in a conversation is to make him show his true self… the more he writes, the more obvious his agenda is, and the more idiotic his arguments become…

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  132. Klambo :
    Some1, Paul Wal, Mutt, When will you realise that “Sándor Kovács” is loughing at you?
    S. K. is a paid troll and you cannot continue a conversation because he cannot be persuaded in any rational argument.

    Oh, no, we did realize it. Right at his first post …

    Our replies are some kind of “mental stretching” to use the gym terminology. It prepares you to situations with normal people who disagree with you.

    As I mentioned earlier they are actually working against their own cause. Because the fog machine, the BUNK-O-MATIC (c) Mutt 2010, sets up a bunch of red flags among the readers.

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  133. sandor kovacs :
    Mutt:
    “Because we would rather focus on the actual statements in the testimony not the perceived “slant” or methodology.”
    No, Mutt, you have not focused, discussed any actual statments in her report.

    Kovacs, this isn’t a kindergarten …

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  134. I think, Mutt, we’d really need to be a little more understanding with these trolls… it’s hard work, trying to defend the indefensible.. and I’m sure the pay is not that good :-)

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  135. Klambo :
    Some1, Paul Wal, Mutt, When will you realise that “Sándor Kovács” is loughing at you?
    Why do you feel that you have to answer to any idiotism these people spread?

    I do realize that. At the same time he provide a wonderful opportunity for us to further examine the lies and contradictions by Fidesz. Klambo, do not forget that what you read here from the Fidesz Troopers are the same arguments that Fidesz puts out to Hungarians, in Hungarian. Discussing this in English provides a great opportunity for the world to see what is really happening behind closed doors.
    The biggest problem of the left in Hungary at this point that they do NOTHING about similar propaganda that Kovacs does here. THey assume that everyone knows the truth. I have news for all, most people do not know the truth, and they certainly do not learn the truth from the liberal sources either, as they disregard all the lies.

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  136. Mutt
    Mutt:
    “Because we would rather focus on the actual statements in the testimony not the perceived “slant” or methodology.”
    No, Mutt, you have not focused, discussed any actual statments in her report.

    Kovacs, this isn’t a kindergarten …

    Name one! Just one response that addressed the issues I brought up. Name one!

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  137. Some1:

    I simply made the comment that Scheppele doesn’t like it [christian nation]. Thanks for agreeing with me. However, my pointing that out does not lead to the conclusions you have drawn.

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  138. @Kovach Sandor: “Name one! Just one response that addressed the issues I brought up. Name one!”

    How about this one (that you keep ignoring)

    March 23, 2013 at 9:36 am | #31 Quote
    To Some1, Eva and Mutt:
    I am new to this board and very much wanted to have a discussion on the merits of the article we are commenting on. I have no doubt that we are of differing opinions on the politics of the Fidesz party. I have yet to hear from any of you on the specifics or even on the general tone of the article. I have read many (some over the top) very positive reviews on the new Hungarian consitiution. So there are other experts who disagree with the writer of the present article.

    An
    March 23, 2013 at 9:38 am | #32 Quote
    @Kovacs Sandor: Links to these “over the top” reviews? And names of these alleged experts?

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  139. sandor kovacs :
    Some1:
    I simply made the comment that Scheppele doesn’t like it [christian nation]. Thanks for agreeing with me.

    Again.. This isn’t kindergarten. There is nobody here who thinks Some1 agreed to such anti-Semitic statement. Let it go.

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  140. Paul Wal

    No one has addressed any of the issues I have raised regarding the character, slant, and methodology of her report, including Eva. Why is that?”.

    Why is that?….

    Paul you said: Eva DID reply, many people DID reply, I replied,

    No one addressed the issues I mention above. No one! So, name one! Just one response that addressed the issues I brought up. Name one!

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  141. Sandor K. I totally agree with your principle that nobody has the right to interfere in Hungary’s domestic affairs. Hungary is a sovereign nation, and has the right to self determination. But:

    Hungary is also a member of a club called the E.U. The E.U. is a collection of countries that believe in democratic rights. The current Hungarian government seems either to not understand the true meaning of democracy, or is simply ignoring it in an attempt to entrench its own power. The E.U. does have the right to consider whether Hungary should still be a member of the club under these circumstances.

    And the US does have the right to consider the status of its friendship with Hungary.

    Interesting that pro Fidesz supporters suddenly care about what us foreigners think. I remember before the 2010 election, the Budapest Times invited the leaders of all the main parties to be interviewed. Fidesz was the only party that could not be bothered to send anyone to be interviewed. The inference seemed to be that since the readers of Budapest Times do not have a vote, then who cares what they know or think.

    Seems there has been a change of heart at HQ. Why?

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  142. I just did.. still waiting for the name of experts you said you read. Would love to read them myself and see how they compare to what Professor Scheppele said.

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  143. sandor kovacs :
    Some1:
    I simply made the comment that Scheppele doesn’t like it [christian nation]. Thanks for agreeing with me. However, my pointing that out does not lead to the conclusions you have drawn.

    You are a liar. Nice Christian liar!
    I never agreed, and I never said that! For a fact I even said that what I quoted are not Christian values only but other religions (orthodox) embraces the same ideas, and that I am sure the Ms. Scheppele does not agree wit that either. Get over yourself, Christianity is NOT the only religion, but Christians do lie, and avoid the real issues, as You clearly doing right now. You avoided every single questions I provided to you, and going on and on how no one is engaging in a conversation. Conversations, or discussions are not monologues, Kovacs.

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  144. Nick,

    I agree. Where I have heartburn is that the issue has been blown way out of proportion to the level that would make some think that it rises to the level that would actually change the status of US Hungary relations. I does not in my opinion. What makes the hysteria even worse and contributes to the misunderstanding are reports like Scheppele’s that skewed the reality of the whole situation by focusing so much on the methods of the Fidesz to bring about the constitutional changes. Nothing could be further from the truth that the Fidesz deliberately set out the subvert the will of the electorate. Her implication that they did is offensive. Thanks for the rely. By the way, I moved to Hungary just 6 months ago and am new to Hungarian politics. I am shocked at the level of anger on this blog. Thanks for your reply. Refreshing.

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  145. sandor kovacs :
    Paul Wal
    No one addressed the issues I mention above. No one! So, name one! Just one response that addressed the issues I brought up. Name one!

    I addressed many of your issue and you came back with lies, and came back with no answers. Can you anawer to many of the questions I asked from you, from you, from you. (I like how you love repetition.)
    But you know what? It is not even important any more.

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  146. Some1 :

    Klambo :Some1, Paul Wal, Mutt, When will you realise that “Sándor Kovács” is loughing at you?Why do you feel that you have to answer to any idiotism these people spread?

    I do realize that. At the same time he provide a wonderful opportunity for us to further examine the lies and contradictions by Fidesz. Klambo, do not forget that what you read here from the Fidesz Troopers are the same arguments that Fidesz puts out to Hungarians, in Hungarian. Discussing this in English provides a great opportunity for the world to see what is really happening behind closed doors.The biggest problem of the left in Hungary at this point that they do NOTHING about similar propaganda that Kovacs does here. THey assume that everyone knows the truth. I have news for all, most people do not know the truth, and they certainly do not learn the truth from the liberal sources either, as they disregard all the lies.

    Some1. Thanks, but you are wrong, I am afraid. And this is because of the power of the ‘discourse’ (again let us refer to Foucault; interestingly, even more sophisticated PR handbooks, written for average spokespeople, refer to him). Only a few people will read each an every comment and make up his/her mind as a rational deliberator, like a judge without prejudice (if such exists) would do. No. Most people would read the post and read through the comments quickly, superficially (as we all are). Now, the more you argue with a troll, some things will follow. The very fact that you engage with him means that he is legitimate (i.e. deserves your attention and reply) and it confers power on him, the more often you do it, the more important he/she will be. As more text is produced on the page (through your discourse), there will be even more opportunity for others to react as they cannot stand idle (and cannot resist the provocation), which soon results in an overwhelming chaos in which other comments (even the original post) effectively disappear. (Also, the more you argue, the more likely you will make a mistake, which, you being a fair person, will acknowledge, but which of course means that your power on the blog will diminish over time; as they say “choose your battles carefully”). But, most importantly, if someone arrives at this blog, he/she will only see that about half of the comments defend and argue for Fidesz, in effect the blog will be transformed into a Fidesz-blog (circa 50%). Such reader will be an outsider and will have little energy to make up his/her mind. Such reader will read into this and that and soon some seeds of the ideas and messages of Fidesz will be planted in such reader. Your debate with the troll will be a case of he said/she said (the reader can’t decide, you both could be right). And this is enough for Fidesz.

    For Fidesz’ goal is twofold: (A) cast doubt on the original statements (yeah, after all, there is something to Fidesz’ point, isn’t there?, a very important mechanism, let us refer only to the standard “beyond a reasonable doubt”) and (B) to expose and spread Fidesz’ ideas to as many people as possible (effectively using the blog as if it was, say, a 50% Magyar Nemzet or HírTV), so that when you encounter those ideas again, they will be familiar and not foreign and thus not be susceptible to quick rejection (you may not agree with them, but these ideas will be legitimate ideas, just because you have heard about them before), which is the first step in their efforts to convert others. A big enough exposure means a certain number of new converts (not you but some of the readers). Thus, the only way to deal with trolls, is to not reply to them, to resist the temptation to enter into a conversation with them (as it is not a real conversation, it only seems to be a conversation to you and unsuspecting readers). Otherwise you will simply be a means in their hands to spread their ideas. And ideas, as we know, are bulletproof. “What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.”

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  147. Some1. Thanks, but you are wrong, I am afraid. And this is because of the power of the ‘discourse’ (again let us refer to Foucault; interestingly, even more sophisticated PR handbooks, written for average spokespeople, refer to him). Only a few people will read each an every comment and make up his/her mind as a rational deliberator, like a judge without prejudice (if such exists) would do. No. Most people would read the post and read through the comments quickly, superficially (as we all are). Now, the more you argue with a troll, some things will follow. The very fact that you engage with him means that he is legitimate (i.e. deserves your attention and reply) and it confers power on him, the more often you do it, the more important he/she will be. As more text is produced on the page (through your discourse), there will be even more opportunity for others to react as they cannot stand idle (and cannot resist the provocation), which soon results in an overwhelming chaos in which other comments (even the original post) effectively disappear. (Also, the more you argue, the more likely you will make a mistake, which, you being a fair person, will acknowledge, but which of course means that your power on the blog will diminish over time; as they say “choose your battles carefully”). But, most importantly, if someone arrives at this blog, he/she will only see that about half of the comments defend and argue for Fidesz, in effect the blog will be transformed into a Fidesz-blog (circa 50%). Such reader will be an outsider and will have little energy to make up his/her mind. Such reader will read into this and that and soon some seeds of the ideas and messages of Fidesz will be planted in such reader. Your debate with the troll will be a case of he said/she said (the reader can’t decide, you both could be right). And this is enough for Fidesz.

    For Fidesz’ goal is twofold: (A) cast doubt on the original statements (yeah, after all, there is something to Fidesz’ point, isn’t there?, a very important mechanism, let us refer only to the standard “beyond a reasonable doubt”) and (B) to expose and spread Fidesz’ ideas to as many people as possible (effectively using the blog as if it was, say, a 50% Magyar Nemzet or HírTV), so that when you encounter those ideas again, they will be familiar and not foreign and thus not be susceptible to quick rejection (you may not agree with them, but these ideas will be legitimate ideas, just because you have heard about them before), which is the first step in their efforts to convert others. A big enough exposure means a certain number of new converts (not you but some of the readers). Thus, the only way to deal with trolls, is to not reply to them, to resist the temptation to enter into a conversation with them (as it is not a real conversation, it only seems to be a conversation to you and unsuspecting readers). Otherwise you will simply be a means in their hands to spread their ideas. And ideas, as we know, are bulletproof. “What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient… highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed – fully understood – that sticks; right in there somewhere.”

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  148. “The biggest problem of the left in Hungary at this point that they do NOTHING about similar propaganda that Kovacs does here.”

    The Orban regime has the resources to flood comments zones and indeed slip a few euros-pounds-dollars into the backpockets of journalists prepared to write on their behalf.

    British readers will know or be able to guess who is the main beneficiary of this (although to be fair to Fidesz Nick, it is probably more to case of his wife putting the pressure on) but in the last 12 months we have also seen, for example, a hack on The Scotsman (!!!) suddenly take an interest in defending the Orban Revolution. He has subsequently gone back to more weighty topics such as the history of the Glasgow soup kitchens.

    If you read anything on the Economist website, Fidesz apologists surely follow as night follows day. But apologists with a very good grasp of English and not such a good grasp of the specifics of Hungarian history or politics. It’s pretty clear the regime is now seeing benefit from the taxpayers’ money it has spent on PR companies in the UK and elsewhere.

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  149. Kisklambo

    I don’t recall espousing any Fidesz views or trying to convert anyone. I do not belong to the Fidesz party. I write this as I believe you are referring to me. I just wanted to talk about the place Scheppele’s report should have in the debate over the constitution. I do not believe it should have a significant role for reason I have mentioned more than once. What do you think?

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  150. @Kisklambo: I partially agree with you, but not entirely. When a troll poses as a naive contributor who happens to have a differing opinion, and his manipulative comment (lie, distortion) is left alone without any reply, it is just as damaging. If left unanswered, it will be the last of the comments (and you are right, most people won’t read through the comments carefully but may read the last one). I think it is not necessarily a bad idea to expose the troll with a brief fact check… because if you do not address a lie, it is still hanging out there.
    I think it is pointless to engage in a long debate. K. Zs’s example shows what happens if you try to argue with them.. they just pick and choose what they reply to, parrot their own propaganda, and try to pose as a victim of a vicious attack on the blog. So, long-winded replies, carefully crafted arguments are a waste of effort. But brief fact checks that expose the lie and the troll for what he is may not be totally useless.

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  151. @Kisklambo

    “Thus, the only way to deal with trolls, is to not reply to them, to resist the temptation to enter into a conversation with them (as it is not a real conversation, it only seems to be a conversation to you and unsuspecting readers)”.

    Impressive comment….I read it and learned. Thanks. A lot!!!

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  152. Oniell,

    –The biggest problem of the left in Hungary at this point that they do NOTHING about similar propaganda that Kovacs does here.—

    What propoganda are you referring to that I do here? I don’t recall propogating any political views other than those directed at Scheppele’s report. Many have wrongly intuited that I am a Fidesz apologist, or some sort of shill or troll. I am not familiar enough with Fidesz policies ot defend them. I am familiar, however, with scholarship and academics, and find Scheppele’s report to be lacking in intellectual honesty and integrity. No one has stepped up with reasons to defend her report. Attacking me is not the same thing as addressing the issues I raised regarding her report. I simply can’t believe the level of anger on this blog.

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  153. some1;

    You said: “You are a liar. Nice Christian liar!”

    I never said I was a christian. I said that Scheppele has a problem with the consitiution stating that Hungary is a Christian nation, and you agreed that she does. What’s wrong with that?

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  154. oneill :
    “The biggest problem of the left in Hungary at this point that they do NOTHING about similar propaganda that Kovacs does here.”
    The Orban regime has the resources to flood comments zones and indeed slip a few euros-pounds-dollars into the backpockets of journalists prepared to write on their behalf.
    British readers will know or be able to guess who is the main beneficiary of this (although to be fair to Fidesz Nick, it is probably more to case of his wife putting the pressure on) but in the last 12 months we have also seen, for example, a hack on The Scotsman (!!!) suddenly take an interest in defending the Orban Revolution. He has subsequently gone back to more weighty topics such as the history of the Glasgow soup kitchens.
    If you read anything on the Economist website, Fidesz apologists surely follow as night follows day. But apologists with a very good grasp of English and not such a good grasp of the specifics of Hungarian history or politics. It’s pretty clear the regime is now seeing benefit from the taxpayers’ money it has spent on PR companies in the UK and elsewhere.

    Not sure what I said to be given the title “Fidesz Nick!” But I can assure you that I am no supporter of Fidesz. Sorry if I gave that impression.

    I believe that the only party in Hungary worth voting for at the moment is the Democratic Coalicion (DK)!.

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  155. Nick,

    I sympathise with you. And I am not sure what I said that tagged me a Fidesz troll. I just can’t understand why it is so difficult to carry on a discussion without name calling, derogatory labeling and the like. I will look into the DK. Thanks.

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  156. sandor kovacs :
    Nick,
    I agree. Where I have heartburn is that the issue has been blown way out of proportion to the level that would make some think that it rises to the level that would actually change the status of US Hungary relations.

    The US State Department seems to agree with the fact that it may change the US-Hungary relations. Just read the State Department’s representative’s statement at the hearings.

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  157. Ain’t that funny? They are always the victims at the end. Sometimes they sound like those fake Louis Vuitton spams, that make a general remark on the blog.

    The PR firms very likely suggested that they should rev up the propaganda abroad. I just don’t see what are their chances. On this blog it is certainly zero. Whoever comes to this blog doesn’t care about fake emotional outbursts from self awarded PhDs. They want discussions about facts and having a hamster mother or plain tickets paid by the devil himself are not facts.

    But they maybe paid by the line. In the 70s Hungarian programmers were paid by the line. That had a very spectacular effect on the amount of commenting in the computer code.

    Abroad you don’t talk to people like that woman who was recently interviewed about the most recent signup for the Kubatov list Fidesz social questionnaire. She said her heating bill went down to 6800 from 10000 in the Spring, so Orban Viktor gave her a lot more than the promised 10%. I don’t know what’s next? Orban the rainmaker?

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  158. Nick, O’Neill wasn’t talking about you but Nick Thorpe, BBC’s correspondent in Budapest who comes out with entirely one-sided stories about Fidesz. Apparently, his Hungarian wife or girlfriend is a great supporter of Fidesz.

    By the way, I agree with you about DK. One day people will realize that it is the only truly democratic and western-type party in Hungary.

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  159. Undeniable fact that your eternal hymn is: “A múltat végképp eltörölni”, but of course allways only the recent past. Just a bit modified form of Harvey Keitel’s sentence from Pulp Fiction:
    “Well, just start sucking each other’s dicks.”

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  160. “Not sure what I said to be given the title “Fidesz Nick!” But I can assure you that I am no supporter of Fidesz. Sorry if I gave that impression”

    Sorry, Nick. No it was the BBC’s esteemed Man in Eastern Europe that I was referring to.
    The one regularly seen in the more upmarket eateries of Andrassy being fed (along with v expensive Tokaj) the latest line from our Dear Leader.

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  161. tomtyi :

    Undeniable fact that your eternal hymn is: “A múltat végképp eltörölni”, but of course allways only the recent past. Just a bit modified form of Harvey Keitel’s sentence from Pulp Fiction:
    “Well, just start sucking each other’s dicks.”

    Watch your language Pulp Fiction or no Pulp Fiction

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  162. Eva–
    I will look into the DK. Thanks.
    Waste of your time. Not your cup of tea.

    How would you know? You have no idea who I am or anything else about me. Incidentally, why haven’t you responded to the comments I made about the mistake of using an interdisciplinarian approach to the question of democracy in Hungary? How can that be considered an expert opinion when the word itself belies the opposite? Why is that?

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  163. sandor kovacs :
    I made about the mistake of using an interdisciplinarian approach to the question of democracy in Hungary?

    What disciplines you had in mind, Yale Boy? What’s your favorite ology? Longer the better?
    Coleopterology? Mi side hurts …

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  164. Győr Calling!

    You know ‘Kovacs’ style and rhetoric – including not positing a view on anything, including the arrogance – reminds me of our (thankfully) long gone Louise Kovach……

    ……I wonder?

    Regards

    Charlie

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  165. Mutt:

    Scheppele used an inderdisciplarian approach to her report, which I criticised as a wrong approach to the issue of democracy in Hungary. She is no expert in anything. This is a legitimate criticism of her report, but no responses on this either. I think Eva should respond.

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  166. @sandor kovacs

    Apparently you believe in mantras. Me too. You will read this a lot in the future. Just copy and paste.

    Your ilk, Fidesz supporters ( in general) and especially your, have all the ingredients of moral bankruptcy.
    Cynical, sidetracking, deflecting and character assassination.
    The good news is…we all know…and it doesn’t work any more. Not within
    the international context that is. And that right now….is where it
    counts.

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  167. Just got internet connection again – now this Kovacs guy is really unbelievable, can’t read all of that crap (I’ve just had dinner and don’t want to throw up …)

    Couldn’t you just leave him to discuss his ideas with the other troll aka tomtyi ?

    Preferably on some other site!

    Eva,

    please just block or delete these idiots!

    I don’t want (and probably all here would agree with me …) your (!) good site to turn into something like pol.hu, where these trolls run rampant …

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  168. @wolfi
    You think about someone who does not think the same as you the s/he is troll. This is the your real tolerance. Block or delete. Pathetic hypocrites you are! You even kill us, don’t you?

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  169. Stop the rock, stop the rock
    Stop the rock, stop the rock
    Stop the rock, can’t stop the rock
    You can’t stop the rock, stop the rock
    Stop the rock, can’t stop the rock
    You can’s stop the rock, can’t stop the rock (Apollo 440)

    Wolfi, Paul, you guys are just unbeliavable.

    These tomty, Kovács Sándor guys/girls are paid Fidesz trolls.

    I know you can’t imagine them, becuase you don’t know any. But you might as well argue with a computer. Have you seen little Britain? The computer says: no? These are not people who want to argue, they are using you. Suckers.

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  170. To tomtyi

    I can’t undedrstand it either. Why all the anger and suspicion at those who wnat to discuss an issue. It is almost as though this blog is no more than a cheering club for Fidesz bashers. I can’t get a simple reply to a fairly straight forward criticism that I made about Scheppele. Specifically, that being that she used an inderdisciplarian approach to her report. She is a sociologist, no legal expert or international relations expert. She is no expert in anything. I simply stated that this was a wrong approach to the issue of democracy in Hungary. This is a legitimate criticism of her report, but no responses on this either. Eva will not respond. She grew strangely silent when I let her know that I attended Yale and after I brought up the ‘interdisciplinary’ issue. She did for good reason! Some of her contributors should ask why and demand that she come clean about her ‘time’ at Yale.

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  171. Go away Sandor. You are an idiot and your contribution to the debate on this blog is not welcomed by any of the other participants. You think you are being smart, but actually you are just making an idiot of yourself.

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  172. Sandor Kovacs, you are either a simpleton or indeed you’re working for someone. Don’t you understand? It is not us who have to give you answers but it is you. You claimed that Kim Scheppele is not qualified to analyze and criticize the new Hungarian constitution because currently she leads an interdisciplinary program at Princeton. (Mind you, earlier, she taught comparative constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania.) It is now your turn to tell us why you think she is wrong. Sit down nicely and refute all her claims. To keep repeating that she is biased because she considers Hungary a Christian nation is simply not good enough. Do you understand that?

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  173. Nick,

    Name calling, insults and Fidesz bashing are not debate. I know that you and others have asked me to respond to your comments that were not directly related to the issue I raised, specifically that Scheppele’s report did a disservice to the issue of democracy in Hungary because of the way it was presented. I have not responded to many of those comments as they do not address that issue. If you want to debate on other issues, that is OK, but I will not respond at this time, but maybe later. I do not have an ax to grind and I believe in testing our ideas in a forum such as this. It is how we grow and advance in our understanding and conviction of our ideas. So, I want to stay focused on Scheppele’s report as I believe it is important to analyse its significance. Frankly, I am not sure if there is anyone here interested in this, and that is OK also. But, it is rather unfair to want somone to leave the blog for that reason. Why not just ignore an issue you are not interested in and go on to other things. I have not answered anyone rudely and have not repaid those who show intolerance with put-downs or insults. I simply cannot believe the level of anger on this blog.

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  174. @ Oregano
    “Suckers”????…..Apart from the apparent insult to me….please do not insult Wolfi!
    You are cynical, I prefer to be not.
    BTW: Any answer to the obvious attempt of Fidesz paid trolls to occupy as much space as possible over here? (Since you consider yourself so smart, maybe you have.)

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  175. Eva,

    You are very selective in your responses. Why do you call people names? How does that advance a discussion? How does that give dignity and respect to your blog? Attacking ideas are one thing, attacking people is quite another and does a disservice to the Hungarian community. I will wait for an answer to this question and I would think others will as well. I believe most contributors would like to see the civility level raised a bit higher.

    As for Scheppele’s approach to the subject of democracy in Hungary:

    I have made the point that she attacks two issues simultaneously and that this is a mistake. The two being the provisions of the constitution and the political process surrounding its adoption. Anyone who has read her “testimony” knows that the report relies heavily on her perception [and criticism] of the Fidesz’s methodolgy [the political machinations of its adoption] than it does on the provisions of the constitution. Her slant is that, rather than the consitiution itself, the far greater threat to democracy in Hungary is an administration that manipulates the system and undermines the will of the people. We may agree or disagree with this assessment. I find it difficult to believe that the current administration sets out to subvert the electorate. But, that is obviously her opinion, and I disagree with it. I also think it is sour grapes, but I am open to discussion. Her report would have been stronger and more effective, I believe, had she not relied on her belligerent analysis of the politcial process to achieve a clarion call to arms against the threat of democracy in Hungary. This is a bit over the top!

    Her two pronged approach, one that purports to be a high sounding legal opinion [which it is not] and one of a ‘sociologist’ who analyses the human [political] elements involved in its adoption, weakens her arguement. Either there are legal problems with the constitution or there are not, and if so they need to be addressed without resorting tactics that skew the facts with unneccessary verbage about how the consitution was adopted in the first place.

    All in all her report was not up to a standard that I would have liked to see about this topic. A lot of noble ideas, but unconvincing.

    I am very troubled that few are interested in discussing the merits of the report. To me, it is a worthy enterprise to examine the importance of the information that we rely on to form our beliefs.

    View Comment
  176. @ sandor kovacs

    Your ilk, Fidesz supporters ( in general) and especially you, have all the ingredients of moral bankruptcy.
    Cynical, sidetracking, deflecting and character assassination.
    The good news is…we all know…and it doesn’t work any more. Not within
    the international context that is. And that right now….is where it
    counts.
    How much do they pay you?

    View Comment
  177. I believe in mantras too!
    So again

    @ sandor kovacs

    Your ilk, Fidesz supporters ( in general) and especially you, have all the ingredients of moral bankruptcy.
    Cynical, sidetracking, deflecting and character assassination.
    The good news is…we all know…and it doesn’t work any more. Not within
    the international context that is. And that right now….is where it
    counts.
    How much do they pay you?

    View Comment
  178. And just to fill in as much space as you!

    @ sandor kovacs

    Your ilk, Fidesz supporters ( in general) and especially you, have all the ingredients of moral bankruptcy.
    Cynical, sidetracking, deflecting and character assassination.
    The good news is…we all know…and it doesn’t work any more. Not within
    the international context that is. And that right now….is where it
    counts.
    How much do they pay you?

    View Comment
  179. Sorry to get back to this, but I am reminded about an article which was published a couple of weeks ago in NYTimes about a professor of physics (aged close to 70) who seriously thought that he was online-dating (emailing with) a porn-actress/model (aged twentysomething). They emailed back and forth and the prof. eventually travelled to Argentina to meet “her” in person for the first time. Obviously his colleagues thought he went nuts, but he seriously believed that the person he was emailing (never talking on the phone) was really this young lady. The adventures were “great”, I do recommend the article (through google you can find it). The reason why this article came up was the troll situation. I don’t know the regular commenters of this blog personally, but they strike me as thoughtful, considered people. Thus all the more surprising that they cannot keep silent and have no self discipline to stay quiet (like I don’t have it and needed to write this).

    It is a bit like when you travel on the subway and there is a crazy person shouting, talking to himself, calling names, provoking others. Sometimes these sentences seem to make sense so some people feel compelled to answer or react to them. Perhaps out of compassion, but they engage in a conversation. Soon it turns out even more obviously that the person is crazy and the situation escalates as the a crazy person is capable of doing anything, so – as most people knew it from the beginning – there is no resolution. The other passengers meanwhile keep silent because they just want to travel in quiet and of course are angry that some smart-ass person seriously thought he would be the one who will persuade an insane person. I kinda feel like one of those passengers.

    The discussion of trolling in online communities is a standard subject material for media studies (at least in the US). Thus, it is absolutely standard that those reminding others of trolling (like myself) will get into conflicts with those who were engaging with the trolls. This is the goal of the troll. Provocation and the creation of distrust. Apart from the goals mentioned in KisKlambo’s post yesterday.

    This blog reached a certain level popularity and this means that those opposing the views expressed here are also becoming more active. In addition, as we near the election Fidesz-supporters are becoming more active (which is natural, political activity increases as we get closer to the elections). These trolls will be active here because they don’t have to flip Fidesz supporters, they anyway support Fidesz (like a Republican will not campaign in Texas, they anyway own Texas). So only on left-leaning sites can they be any effective, where they can succeed in flipping some readers, suppress conversation, incite distrust, tire out commenters, drive away regular readers (who don’t want to follow meaningless pseudo-arguments which add zero value) and so on.

    Fidesz has literally unlimited funds for media issues, both legally and as well as part of the slush funds created from Simicska/Nyerges monies. Also, they are very adept at using the media. Moreover, they have religious followers. All in all, they have fantastic resources with which to accomplish any media goal they want (such as to degrade and lessen the influence of this blog).

    I would like to call everyone to remain disciplined and resist the temptation to answer each and every stupid comment from right wing nuts. It is not easy, I know. But we have to do it. They are here and will not go away. The only solution (apart from deleting their comments, which is a legitimate option, especially if they use this blog simply to disseminate their views and make trouble) is to ignore them.

    View Comment
  180. Right. So our troll finally came up with an argument: “Either there are legal problems with the constitution or there are not, and if so they need to be addressed without resorting tactics that skew the facts with unneccessary verbage about how the consitution was adopted in the first place.”

    Well, the Communist Hungary also had a Constitution, and there were no legal problems with it… in fact, Hungary even had elections (oh, you could only vote for one candidate, but that was legal too)!

    Sorry, folks, I promise this is the last one from me, no matter what idiotic reply I get to this one :-)

    View Comment
  181. To KisKlambiobio:

    It is impossible on an internet blog to defend against the accusation that one is a troll. It is easy throw this label at others. Ideas are more difficult to attack and defend. I have taken the high road and have chosen the latter.

    View Comment
  182. @ sandor kovacs

    “I have taken the high road and have chosen the latter”.
    Yes funny. And not credible. About Fidesz core business however:

    Your ilk, Fidesz supporters ( in general) and especially you, have all the ingredients of moral bankruptcy.
    Cynical, sidetracking, deflecting and character assassination.
    The good news is…we all know…and it doesn’t work any more. Not within
    the international context that is. And that right now….is where it
    counts.
    How much do they pay you?

    View Comment
  183. Some1

    Why is it that when one believes that Hungarians should retain ownership of their own political agenda, and refuse to cede control of their own constitution to special interests and outside ‘experts’, that one is shouted down?

    View Comment
  184. To Mutt:

    –I believe Professor Balogh will ban these monkeys next time.–

    That’s no very democratic. I don’t believe Ms Scheppele would approve.

    View Comment
  185. @ sandor kovacs

    How to how to extinguish a fire?
    Well easy:
    Your ilk, Fidesz supporters ( in general) and especially you, have all the ingredients of moral bankruptcy.
    Cynical, sidetracking, deflecting and character assassination.
    The good news is…we all know…and it doesn’t work any more. Not within
    the international context that is. And that right now….is where it
    counts.
    How much do they pay you?

    View Comment
  186. Győr Calling!

    @ sandor kovacs

    How to how to extinguish a fire?

    Well easy:

    Your ilk, Fidesz supporters ( in general) and especially you, have all the ingredients of moral bankruptcy.

    Cynical, sidetracking, deflecting and character assassination.

    The good news is…we all know…and it doesn’t work any more. Not within
    the international context that is. And that right now….is where it
    counts.

    How much do they pay you?

    Regards

    Charlie

    View Comment
  187. @ CharlieH
    Thanks for your comment saying (smile):

    @ sandor kovacs
    How to how to extinguish a fire?
    Well easy:
    Your ilk, Fidesz supporters ( in general) and especially you, have all the ingredients of moral bankruptcy.
    Cynical, sidetracking, deflecting and character assassination.
    The good news is…we all know…and it doesn’t work any more. Not within
    the international context that is. And that right now….is where it
    counts.
    How much do they pay you?

    View Comment
  188. Lévay Atilla :
    People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!
    I would respectfully recommend that Ms. Kim Lane Scheppele, and many other American politicians should watch the video below and read the book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown.

    So they should leave Orban and the Fidesz alone because of the massacred native Amricans at Little Bighorn in the 19th century? This logic doesn’t make sense to me.

    This is like saying you should shut up too because your ancestors took the land of Svatopluk in the 9th century. See how stupid is this?

    View Comment
    1. Did you watch the video before you replied?
      “A brief and crucial history of the United States”
      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30620.htm#idc-cover

      …and, if you read the letters below, you will see, that there is no need to go back to the end os the 19th. Century. There are some recent examples as well.

      —– Original Message —–
      From: Lévay Atilla
      To: president@whitehouse.gov ; vice_president@whitehouse.gov ; comments@whitehouse.gov
      Cc: webmaster@septembereleventh.org ; Washington Times ; Washington Post ; Time ; The Nation Magazine ; TCSM News Service ; Online Journal ; Noam Chomsky ; M.Heaton Cleveland Plain Dealer ; John_Kerry_opalc@cp20.com ; International Herald Tribune ; infoOAC@oneamericacommittee.com ; David Shipley ; David Horowitz ; CSIS ; Chicago Sun Times ; democraticparty@democrats.org
      Sent: Friday, September 28, 2007 11:42 AM
      Subject: Fw: Letters to President Bush

      For the attention of President Bush, members of the present American Government and their willing, not so willing, or outright reluctant Allies.

      Mr. President,

      In view of the United States’ sorrowful performance in Iraq, during the last four years, did it ever occur to you and members of your Government, at the moment the leaders of the only Super Power in the World, that the time might come, when you may end up like the leaders of the once mighty Third Reich, and Nuremberg type of trials will take place, perhaps in New York, or Washington, where you Mr. President, members of your Government and the leaders of your willing, not so willing, or outright reluctant Allies will be sitting in the Dock!
      Sic transit gloria mundi.
      Or, perhaps you hope that the degree of United States’ defeat and humiliation didn’t reach that of the Third Reich as yet.
      Atilla Levay
      Zsambek, 2072, Hungary Tel.-3623342198

      —– Original Message —–
      From: Lévay Attila
      To: president white house
      Cc: Washington Post ; U.S. Infrmation ; Pifer, Karolyn F ; OpEd ; NYTimes (Kay) D.Shipley ; David Shipley
      Sent: Sunday, May 09, 2004 5:12 AM
      Subject: Fw: Iraq War

      Mr.President,

      What can you, the President of the United States, or for that matter anyone else say now? Surely you don’t expect anybody to believe that these brutal atrocities could have taken place in secret, without anyone else apart from the perpetrators and victims knowing about them.
      Is there still any doubt in your mind, as to who is going to be the loser in the end in this war of attrition?

      Perhaps you should recall what Talleyrand said in a somewhat similar situation, to Napoleon about 200 years ago:
      “Sire! It was more than a crime, it was a mistake.”

      —– Original Message —–
      From: Lévay Attila
      To: OpEd
      Cc: president white house
      Sent: Thursday, May 13, 2004 6:01 AM
      Subject: Fw:

      Sir,
      We are on the slippery slope cascading towards a world ruled mostly by brutal insanity and nothing else. Surely the powers that be in the United States and Great Britain must have known about the atrocities performed by their military personnel and the likely, even more brutal response that these atrocities will elicit from the other side. It seems to me that we will all be soon hankering back to the halcyon days of the “Cold War”. Perhaps we should be bracing ourselves for the surprises still to come.
      Yours faithfully,

      Atilla Levay
      Zsambek 2072, Hungary. Tel.Fax.–36-23-342198

      View Comment
  189. Mutt :

    Lévay Atilla :
    People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!
    I would respectfully recommend that Ms. Kim Lane Scheppele, and many other American politicians should watch the video below and read the book “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee” by Dee Brown.

    So they should leave Orban and the Fidesz alone because of the massacred native Amricans at Little Bighorn in the 19th century? This logic doesn’t make sense to me.
    This is like saying you should shut up too because your ancestors took the land of Svatopluk in the 9th century. See how stupid is this?

    I think what Levay Attila from Zsambek, 2072, Hungary Tel.-3623342198 is saying, that he does not want to take any medications or use the Internet from now on, as he only wants to be involved wit things that are 100% Hungarian. To bad that he will not read this as I am sure he disposed his computer by now. In my knowledge there are still no Hungarian computer manufacturers, even though Janos Neumann (who was chased away from Hungary because he was a Jew) was involved with it.
    Not so OT: Did you know that Janos Neumann went to the same school as Janos Harsanyi (Nobel Prize for economy), and (Jeno) Eugene Paul “E. P.” Wigner (Nobel Prize for physics). Beside that all went to the same school, called Budapest-Fasori Evangélikus Gimnázium, but they all faced the same fate because of the indifference of the world protecting them. Wouldn’t Levay Attila wish to turn back time that all three would win a Nobel Prize for Hungary versus to other countries?
    I hope that the world will interfere and does not allow Hungary to go down the road that keeps returning too.

    View Comment
  190. Governments get letters from loonies like this all the time – I knew someone who worked in Downing Street (Residence of the Prime Minister of England) – and they received loads!

    But, of course, they had to be politely responded to.

    Regards

    Charlie

    View Comment
  191. Lévay Atilla :
    …and, if you read the letters below, you will see, that there is no need to go back to the end os the 19th. Century. There are some recent examples as well.

    Attila, do you realize what you are saying? You, the Average f*ing Joe, from Zsambek, Planet Hungary, the Land Of The Goulash, is trying to tell a US citizen, professor Scheppele, that she has no right to give her expert opinion to her own government about the state of the democracy in Hungary because you have problems with the US foreign policy? Are you high? Who do you think you are?

    Look! If you disagree with her, that’s is completely normal. Let’s take it paragraph by paragraph. Bring it on.

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  192. This seems to be epidemic here … But this guy also misspelled his own name in his own email: it is Attila not Atilla.

    Is the Fidesz employing now foreign mercenaries? Bummer. The English is OK, but your Hungarian suck. Guys! Pay attention!

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  193. Levay Attila, Did you read comment #30 before you replied? Hungary’s history protecting its rightful citizens is a shame and a shamble. Can you tell us how do you feel about the Hungarian Jews who were sent to die by Hungarians? If the Allies wouldn’t came in time there would of been one left today. Maybe you should worry a little more about the Hungarians and their rights being protected in Hungary, than Iraq. (I am not saying that Iraq is not important, I just do not understand what is Iraq has to do on this thread.) How do you feel about the current humanitarian issues in Hungary?

    View Comment
  194. London via Győr (still!) Calling!

    Apparently Zsambek has a ‘lamp’ museum! (Lampamuszeum?)

    It should shed more light on the subject than At(t)illa has!

    (Still – ‘spose it’s not as boring as our ‘Pencil’ museum!)

    Regards

    Charlie

    View Comment

Comments are closed.