General government retreat in Hungary? I doubt it

A couple of interesting political developments surfaced this morning, but I think it is too early to draw any meaningful conclusions about their import. The first is that parliament will not discuss an amendment to the electoral law. About a week ago a Fidesz backbencher, Árpád János Potápi, submitted the amendment that should have been debated today. However, Magyar Nemzet learned (they always manage to learn things from government sources) that the amendment will not be on today’s agenda.

What was this amendment that Potápi, it seems, withdrew? According to his amendment, statistical details about the new citizens residing abroad must be kept “secret” for national security reasons. We wouldn’t even know how many people are eligible to vote from the neighboring countries and therefore wouldn’t be able to check whether the final results that the government releases are accurate or not.

This plot has been on the drawing board for a very long time because, let’s face it, granting citizenship to Hungarian nationals in the neighboring countries serves only the governing party’s interests. An incredible amount of time and money were  spent registering as many new citizens as possible. There  was a bit of a problem in Slovakia, a country that responded to the Hungarian attempt at dual citizenship for about half a million Slovak citizens with a counterattack. No dual citizenship is allowed in Slovakia with the exception of Czech-Slovak citizens. Ukraine forbids dual citizenship, period. Most Hungarians in Serbia became Hungarian citizens not so much for voting rights but for a Hungarian passport that allows them to move to western European countries where they are, as Hungarian citizens, permitted to work. The bulk of the new citizens come from Romania, where Fidesz politicians think Fidesz has a significant edge over MSZP or other left-wing parties.

Csangos (ceangăi/ csángók), a Catholic group numbering 3,000  living in Moldavia  receive their Hungarian citizenship / HVG Photo Gergely Túry

Csangos (ceangăi/ csángók), a Catholic group numbering 3,000 living in Moldavia, receive their Hungarian citizenship / HVG Photo Gergely Túry

In January of this year HVG asked the government for the statistics it had gathered on voters residing abroad, but its request was denied. HVG promptly sued the Ministry of Administration and Justice. The case is still pending. Not much was heard about the case until  March 12 when Petápi’s amendment showed up on the Hungarian parliament’s website. The government, it seems, was answering HVG‘s suit with a change in the law. By now this is a customary ploy of the Orbán government. If they don’t want to do something, they simply change the law.

Although the reaction of the opposition was slow in coming, by March 19 all groups joined in the outcry, including Jobbik.  Discussion on the amendment began in the middle of the night, as normally happens when the topic is important and/or sensitive. The government’s justification of the move was that countries like Slovakia might harass or even expel Hungarian nationals if they find out that their citizens, after all, took out Hungarian citizenship. But, of course, this is not the reason. In fact, eligible voters abroad will be notified by mail that they are on the election list. So, one way or the other the Slovak government will know who became a Hungarian citizen. Moreover, Viktor Orbán already sent out 60,000 letters to Hungarian nationals in Romania urging them to vote at the next election. The story is circulating in Romania that Romanian authorities scan all letters coming from Orbán and therefore they already have a nice long list of 60,000 names.

The list of eligible voters living in Hungary is available. Everybody can go to city or town hall and check whether he/she is on the list. We know exactly the number of eligible voters and thus we know what percentage of them actually voted and who they were. But if such details in the case of voters from the neighboring countries are not revealed, we have absolutely no way of determining the veracity of the statistics the government releases after the election. The Demokratikus Koalíció (DK) rightly cried foul and reminded people of the so-called “blue slip” election of 1947 which the communists rigged by insisting that people could vote anywhere in the country as long as they had a blue slip in hand. Naturally, many voters had several blue slips in their pockets. I actually knew someone who as a young communist enthusiast participated in this fraud and was carried by truck from city to city to vote many times over.

The Orbán government was all set and ready to vote on the amendment. Less than a week later, however, they changed their minds. Perhaps someone in the high party leadership came to the conclusion that if that amendment is tacked onto the electoral law the rest of the democratic world will question of very validity of the 2014 election and with it the legitimacy of  a new elected Orbán government. Perhaps someone remembered that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, when she was in Budapest in June 2011, emphasized during her meeting with the opposition leaders that one cannot speak of democracy if the election is not free and unfettered. That’s why, she added, one must pay attention to the election law the Orbán government was working on at the time. In brief, if there is any question about the validity of the election, the consequences might be dire for the Orbán government.

The other development is also noteworthy. Magyar Hírlap learned from unnamed sources that “there will be modifications” to the Law on Religions. As of this afternoon I read nothing about the nature of the modifications. But there seems to be a retreat on the part of the Orbán government. Knowing how this government operates, however, one must not let one’s guard down. They will try to find some other way to achieve their original goals. We can only hope that the European Union and the United States will not be fooled.

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Member

Dear Eva,

Not only did Ader sign the infamous mega-amendment today, but the Fidesz party appointed a new judge to the Constitutional Court, who is close to Jobbik and does not even have the necessary qualifications.

kkokkkomo
Guest

It is useful to re-read Masha Gessen’s article about Putin. http://www.newrepublic.com/tags/motherland-party

She, being of a Russian origin obviously saw Putin as he was from the very beginning. Also, a lot of European media as well, but the US media including the NYT, WSJ, LA Times was apparently taken by complete surprise and effectively ate all the stupid lies which P. – with his professional colleagues – spread. It took about 10 years to realise the situation for the Amercians. Eastern Europeans are great at saying what the West wants to hear and meanhwile doing theor dirty business as the West really does not care.

Member

Quote from the fourth amendment of the next constitution of Hungary:
(sorry for the abscence of an English translation)

A Fidesz, KDNP és “kiszolgálásukra létrehozott egyéb politikai szervezetek bûnözõ
szervezetek voltak, amelyek vezetõi el nem évülõ felelõsséggel tartoznak

a) az elnyomó rendszer fenntartásáért, irányításáért, az elkövetett jogsértésekért és a nemzet elárulásáért;”

b) az 1990-t “követõ esztendõk többpártrendszerre épülõ demokratikus kísérletének” Jobbik és Fradi huligán “segítséggel történõ felszámolásáért;

c) a kizárólagos hatalomgyakorlásra és törvénytelenségre épülõ jogrend kiépítéséért;”

[the words between the quotation marks were taken verbatim from the mega-amendment]

Member

Sorry for my abscense, I meant absence

Member

Children. You’ve been good. I’ll let you watch a movie … make sure the captions are on (CC). Subs by me.

Gyorgy Matolcsy – Our Savior – The new president of the Hungarian Central Bank:

http://youtu.be/1MefH57jhpI

enuff
Guest

Re : Mutt’s video

Joking aside..
Before this I’ve only seen GM on Richard Quests. Other than that just news on him. So, this the first time I watch GM speaks publicly. An 8-year old could perform better.
How can anyone appoint this man as the governor of central bank? Omg, it is not funny at all! This man doesn’t know head or tail of things.he has not a clue.

Hunroro
Guest
From a profile on István Stumpf (in todays’s origo.hu): “Stumpf hálátlansága azóta visszatérő téma kormánytagok és pártvezetők informális beszélgetésein, illetve a Fidesz elnökségi ülésein is – állították az [origo]-nak a pártban, a frakcióban és a kormányban különböző tisztségeket betöltő fideszesek, akik mindannyian közel húsz éve ismerik az egykori kollégiumalapítót, és egybehangzóan úgy látják, hogy Stumpf durván megszegte a közösséghez tartozás szabályait.” This is clear indication that in Fidesz to have an opinion that diverges from that of Orbán (and thus by extension of Kövér, Szájer etc.) means that you “breach the norms or the community”, that is the in-breeding community of top-echelon Fidesz people who have been together for more than 30 years now. Dissent is not tolarated, a dissenter is simply a traitor. That is the approach and this principle is so internalised by these Fidesz politicians and the new generation was selected for the acceptance of such principle, that a foreign politician and burocrat in Brussels has a hard time understanding, it’s simply not a world with he/she is familiar. And Stumpf is not a traitor of Fidesz, mind you. That is a myth and I am certain he is happy about as this provides a goodwill among… Read more »
Gabor Toka
Guest

Thanks very much, this is indeed a very good summary of the story re the Potapi proposal. One caveat: the opposition was not passive (i.e. your “though the reaction of the opposition was slow in coming” may be a bit misleading) on this issue, I think they just let non-partisan actors (like HVG and others) to raise the issue. But it was Egyutt 2014 who first discovered, I believe, that the election procedure law proposal debated in parliament last year (this is the one that introduced voter registration for residents in Hungary but was then annulled by the constitutional court) did not establish any obligation on the part of the authorities to publish these figures. Then they went on alerting whoever they could that this may well be abused the way you describe.

being free at last
Guest

Wake up call.
The “atkos” Kadar system was cronyism, nothing else.
The patriotically whipped up hate-filled population is supporting a repeat performance.
The Orban hooligan-supported regime is again a big time cronyism, just like all other failed Hungarian regimes in the past 1000+ years.
The exceptions are few: Ferenc Deak, King Matyas, and probably nobody else, and too many Hungarian grandparents still look into the eyes of their grandchildren without feeling shame.

Member

Hunroro :
……..
…… in Fidesz to have an opinion that diverges from that of Orbán (and thus by extension of Kövér, Szájer etc.) means that you “breach the norms or the community”, that is the in-breeding community of top-echelon Fidesz people who have been together for more than 30 years now. Dissent is not tolarated, a dissenter is simply a traitor.
That is the approach and this principle is so internalised by these Fidesz politicians and

I hate to say, but this is a behaviour they learned and brought from home. Do not forget where Kover and Orban came from. Their families were hard core communist party members, functionaries and supporters. Only with the kind of attitude could you take it so far in the party. Dissent prior to the sixties were hardly tolerated. It is a well known fact, how Orban’s father kept little Victor in line. Most Fidesz members do not know any better.

petofi
Guest

How should I put this…?
There are ‘systemic’, long-term, problems with having any Hungarian as leader of the country.

So, herein, the saviour of Hungary: MARTTI AHTISAARI

Give him carte blanche for 10 years–let him set up his own cabinet–give him power to establish control over the police and secret services….and most of all, give him power
(in extraordinary situations) to seek help–military if need be–from the EU.

Short of that, I can’t see any saving this hapless country. It has become, and will continue to develop, as a kleptocracy in the mold of Russia.

petofi
Guest

By the way, Ahtisaari comes from the same language group and he also has a blue spot on his ass….

Member

Fidesz are petty cheaters!!

March 11, 2013 – Fidesz parliament votes for the mega-amendment.
Ader’s deadline to sign it was on March 21.

He signed it on March 25 according to the official website parlament,hu, so the amendment can be referred to the Constitutional Court on this technicality. (The court cannot rule on substance from now on)

But on March 26, they corrected the date of signing to March 20. This way they try to prevent the amendment from going to the Constitutional Court.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130326_Ader_Kover_alairas_alkotmany

petofi
Guest

tappanch :
Fidesz are petty cheaters!!
March 11, 2013 – Fidesz parliament votes for the mega-amendment.
Ader’s deadline to sign it was on March 21.
He signed it on March 25 according to the official website parlament,hu, so the amendment can be referred to the Constitutional Court on this technicality. (The court cannot rule on substance from now on)
But on March 26, they corrected the date of signing to March 20. This way they try to prevent the amendment from going to the Constitutional Court.
http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130326_Ader_Kover_alairas_alkotmany

Fidesz politicians: children playing at the game of parliamenteriuzmus.

Paul Wal
Guest

@ tappanch

“March 11, 2013 – Fidesz parliament votes for the mega-amendment.
Ader’s deadline to sign it was on March 21.
He signed it on March 25 according to the official website parlament,hu, so the amendment can be referred to the Constitutional Court on this technicality. (The court cannot rule on substance from now on)
But on March 26, they corrected the date of signing to March 20. This way they try to prevent the amendment from going to the Constitutional Court.
http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130326_Ader_Kover_alairas_alkotmany
“But on March 26, they corrected the date of signing to March 20. This way they try to prevent the amendment from going to the Constitutional Court.”

Shouldn’t there be a serious journalistic investigation about this issue? And where can they publish?

BTW: For example, a weekly conversation with a PM is the custom by now everywhere within the EU. But it is always done by serious INDEPENDENT journalists, asking critical questions, unlike in Hungary.
They could pose some questions there.

Guest

Győr Calling!

Completely O/T! (or Eggstraneous!)

Student from Sopron has redesigned the egg box! Very clever!

Regards

Charlie H

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130319-updating-the-humble-eggbox-design

Member

CharlieH :
Győr Calling!
Completely O/T! (or Eggstraneous!)Student from Sopron has redesigned the egg box! Very clever!
Regards
Charlie H
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130319-updating-the-humble-eggbox-design

..and an other student too
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/otilia-andrea-erdelyi-redesigned-egg-carton_n_1747547.html

Member

tappanch :
Fidesz are petty cheaters!!
March 11, 2013 – Fidesz parliament votes for the mega-amendment.
Ader’s deadline to sign it was on March 21.
He signed it on March 25 according to the official website parlament,hu, so the amendment can be referred to the Constitutional Court on this technicality. (The court cannot rule on substance from now on)
But on March 26, they corrected the date of signing to March 20. This way they try to prevent the amendment from going to the Constitutional Court.
http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130326_Ader_Kover_alairas_alkotmany

Speaker Kover learned from journalists that he and Ader missed the deadline.

They had not read their own constitution obvously. They thought they had 2*5 workdays, i.e. 2*7 days to sign. But the “basic law” states unambiguously that they had 2*5 days.

http://atv.hu/belfold/20130326_kover_ezt_szeretnek_elhitetni_ervenytelen_a_negyedik_alaptorveny_modositas

They altered the date of signing on parlament.hu later to comply with their own regulation.

I would call this a constitutional fraud.

Guest

Győr Calling!

This ‘fraud’ with the dates is a legal nightmare – indicative of bar room lawyers.

It sets dangerous precedents as any lawyer will tell you. If they can re-write even minor elements then there is no telling what they might do with substantive elements. We have already seen Szajer’s interpretations, wearing his ‘old-communist’ hat.

This ‘The-Law-Is-What-I-Say-It-Is’ attitude even negates the many years’ of case law (which the new constitution does anyway!) but makes legal interpretation a moveable feast.

Amateur lawyers – unprofessional and naive whatever their ‘legal’ qualifications.

Hungary in safe hands? – Definitely not.

Regards

Charlie

Member
tappanch : Speaker Kover learned from journalists that he and Ader missed the deadline. They had not read their own constitution obvously. They thought they had 2*5 workdays, i.e. 2*7 days to sign. But the “basic law” states unambiguously that they had 2*5 days. http://atv.hu/belfold/20130326_kover_ezt_szeretnek_elhitetni_ervenytelen_a_negyedik_alaptorveny_modositas They altered the date of signing on parlament.hu later to comply with their own regulation. I would call this a constitutional fraud. Just a reminder that when Klubradio was served with an “unlawful resolution by courier at half past four p.m. on Friday, 19 December 2012, once again questioning the validity of Klubrádió’s bid for the 95.3 MHz frequency, although the application for the tender had already been declared valid by the High Court of Appeal in its final and binding decision of 14 March 2012.” they received “15 calendar days subject to forfeiture”. THat was Christmas time, living 4 workdays for Klubradio to prepare and file their petition. So it is very obvious that government dealings should mean calendar days. Now, what I find more interesting is that how these, so called lawyers are trying to massage the facts, and present unlawful decisions as being lawful. In a more decent country a Speaker of… Read more »
Member

An other FIDESZ gem. A Fidesz politician, who happens to be the mayor of the “Rozsadomd” District (wealthiest) neighbourhood of Budapest), happen to purchase and start to build a nice little mansion in his district. Coincidentally his mother was also able to purchase the next door government own parcel without any tender or auction. OK there are some reasons why the government needed to auction off the property. So, it happens that Lang is able to spend way more money to purchase and build then he earns. According to his explanation, it is from inheritance and help from the family. His family must have lots money if his mother was able to buy the land next door too beside helping out his son. But the story does not end there. The general contractor of the house Lang is building coincidentally is the company that just last week won the tender to build a huge soccer stadium (courtesy of Viktor Orban) for FTC. THe CEO of the company told to the news outlet that “so far we only built family homes and cottages for bank CEOs and real estate investors.”
http://index.hu/belfold/2013/03/27/lang_zsolt_allami_telket_is_vett/

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