Is Viktor Orbán afraid? Yes, although he doesn’t have much to fear now

Yesterday a very pessimistic article appeared in Élet és Irodalom by András Bruck, who back in November had written an equally pessimistic piece entitled “No, Viktor Will Not Leave.” You may recall that Gáspár Miklós Tamás gently asked Viktor Orbán at the October 23rd demonstration to leave before it is too late.

This time Bruck is mourning the death of the protest movements. In “Hungary Is Quiet Again” he lists the aborted attempts of the students as well as the opposition politicians to come together and form a common platform. The students were effectively divided by the government while the opposition politicians simply cannot come to an understanding. All is lost, claims Bruck.

Demonstration in front of Fidesz headquarters / HVG Photo by István Fazekas

Demonstration in front of Fidesz headquarters / HVG Photo by István Fazekas

Indeed, the prospects are grim, but all is not lost. It is true that the “official” student representatives caved and sided with the government instead of fighting for the free movement of Hungarian students. They missed a real opportunity: the ruling powers feared the student masses when HÖOK and HaHa managed to demonstrate jointly on the streets. For the leaders of HÖOK, however, their positions in the hierarchy and the very substantial money these student associations receive from the government were more important than serving as the representatives of their fellow students. And yet there still remains a glimmer of hope. The last time around there were only about 70 students at Fidesz headquarters, today there were as many as 1,000, although serious pressure was brought against the student leaders. Heavy fines for high school students and harassment of the university students. Yet they didn’t give up. That is a good sign.

I must say that the behavior of the opposition politicians is less understandable than that of the opportunistic student leaders of HÖOK. After all, the student leaders are part of the power structure; they receive substantial benefits from the government. But the opposition leaders? Even those who have seats in parliament have nothing to lose. If they remain fragmented it can easily happen that not a single one of them will be able to continue in politics. Hungary will become a one-party system after a democratic election due to the electoral system introduced by the Orbán government.

The opposition, both the students and the politicians, should be heartened by the fact that the government party remains paranoid. Otherwise, it is difficult to imagine that such an important event as Fidesz’s twenty-fifth birthday would have been celebrated yesterday under the cloak of secrecy. Not even the reporter of the servile MTI was allowed inside party headquarters. Moreover, the party’s real birthday is March 30, 1988; it should have been celebrated today. The deterrent was most likely the announcement of the demonstration for today.

In the past the birthday party was a much publicized event that included spouses (mostly wives) and children. There were many photo opportunities. It seemed that not a year went by without a picture of Viktor Orbán chatting amiably with the anti-Semitic Zsolt Bayer. Now silence. Only a short press release. Péter Földes (fsp) suggested on his blog that the founders of Fidesz were either afraid or ashamed of their present selves. Several comments stressed that these guys don’t even know the meaning of the word “shame.”

Journalists were having a heyday collecting earlier quotations from Fidesz politicians, starting with András Bozóki who joined Fidesz two months after its establishment. In October 1988 he stressed that Fidesz is “not a political party but a youth organization that it is not interested in political power but wants to widen the forces of democracy among students.” The series of quotations ends with Tamás Deutsch’s claim (February 18, 2013) that “Fidesz came into being as a political organization in the western mold and it is still the same today.”

Meanwhile the present government keeps putting pressure on its youthful political opponents. In the dead of night the police raided and changed locks on a favorite cultural center for young people maintained by a Jewish youth organization because it was alleged that the occupation of Fidesz headquarters was organized there. The Hungarian police, not known for their smarts, forgot that there were other entrances. The next day students barricaded themselves inside. Then came the heavy-handed response from the City of Budapest, announcing that the organization had lost its right to the place. The servile MAZSIHISZ, which represents the Hungarian Jewry, didn’t defend the youth organization. It simply begged the city not to close the center until after Passover. The city generously obliged.

Meanwhile three students of HaHa were arrested without a warrant. Együtt 2014 called the methods employed by the police “reminiscent of the darkest days of the Kádár regime.” The name of János Kádár came up in another article. According to its author, even János Kádár was braver after the crushed revolution than Viktor Orbán is now. After all, Kádár had the guts to get half a million people on the streets on May 1, 1957 while Orbán and the co-founders of Fidesz hid from a small group of peaceful demonstrators. Kádár’s name was mentioned even in front of Fidesz headquarters. One of the speakers recalled Kádár’s political demise as an example for Orbán, indicating that his mismanagement of the country’s affairs might end in his being dropped by his own party.

Yes, all is not lost but it will be a difficult fight to get rid of the present rulers of Hungary. As long as the opposition parties don’t unite, opponents of the regime don’t believe that it is worth even going to the polls. There was hope after October 23, 2012, after Gordon Bajnai’s call for action. But since then not much has happened and the electorate has become discouraged. Without a united front of all forces there is no way to get rid of this government.

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Paul
Guest

Éva – the reality of our situation is rather ironically well summed up in your final paragraph, which begins:”Yes, all is not lost…”, but ends “…there is no way to get rid of this government.”

Surely it is time to accept that Orbán has won this phase, and to move on to discussing how we might get rid of him in that new reality?

As long as we continue to ignore the reality that he has effectively made it impossible to remove him using conventional democratic means, he has, indeed, nothing to fear.

chris
Guest

Just out of curiosity, may I ask why you consider Mazsihisz servile? Their people are often quoted by the press, which doesn’t mean you’re wrong but it made me think they are a legitimate voice. While they do compliment Fidesz at times they’ve also criticised the party.

gdfxx
Guest

Paul :
Surely it is time to accept that Orbán has won this phase, and to move on to discussing how we might get rid of him in that new reality?
As long as we continue to ignore the reality that he has effectively made it impossible to remove him using conventional democratic means, he has, indeed, nothing to fear.

Dictators are almost full of fear. You just pointed out the main reason for it: “it is impossible to remove them using conventional democratic means”. What’s left is what most dictators suffer of (eventually): removal by hanging, by being shot or something similar…

bla bla bla
Guest

All clowns.
Clowns are running the country, and steal all blind.
MAZSIHISZ is corrupt and servile.
Like the rest.
Most people are dying a slow death.

gdfxx
Guest

Sorry, I meant to say always instead of almost.

petofi
Guest

THE ORBAN EFFECT

The country is now subject to a new phenomenon: the Orban Effect. This means that any competition will be tilted against
Hungary simply because the country deserves no ‘victories’.
Exhibit A: the boxing decision against Erdei Saturday night.
It was brutal because the fighter had been undefeated and he clearly won the fight. Now artists, actors, writers, sportsmen…can expect decisions, when crucial, will go against them.

Member

At the celebration, Orban is seated between Minister Balog and #5 Card Carrying Member Bayer, two people ideologically close to Jobbik.

http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151563799386093.1073741831.298090296092&type=1

Member

Read the sycophant comments too.

gdfxx
Guest

tappanch :
At the celebration, Orban is seated between Minister Balog and #5 Card Carrying Member Bayer, two people ideologically close to Jobbik.
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151563799386093.1073741831.298090296092&type=1

I didn’t realize that Hungarian Spectrum had this man readers ;-)). Apparently Facebook has crashed…

Istvan Foldesi
Guest

Mr. Bajnai might be on the wrong track to attract followers: he tries to convince the supposed center and right of center voters about the necessity of sacking Orban and the viability of his program. Due to FIDESZ extremely devious and highly successful ad hominem campaign against him he does not appear to be credible to these voters, but at the same he is rapidly alienating people left of center and losing ground at a menacing speed. I trust that his talented advisers notice it and find the necessary means to remedy the situation.

do do do
Guest

KIKA has broadcasted an “orban the clown” show.
Let us enjoy it.
Hungary needed orban to enjoy a 15 minute fame.

Guest

I showed that “Orbán the Clown” Video yesterday to my wife and the young ones – so we had at least something to laugh …

Otherwise the situation in Hungary is dreadful, not only political but also weather-wise:

Zero degrees and a continuous mixture of snow, ice and rain … We’re lucky that I prepared enough wood for our “kandaló”.

Nevertheless: Happy Easter, Passover or whatever to everybody – or just a good day for us atheists/non-believers!

petofi
Guest

Prediction:

It’s only a matter of days before Fidesz/Jobbik and the rednecks of Hungary claim that Bob Arum and the Jews of New York stole Erdei’s boxing victory from him.

Kirsten
Guest

To Mr Foldesi, do you have some idea why a campaign against Gordon Bajnai is believed while Fidesz-reality is considered some kind of success?

Istvan Foldesi
Guest

To Kirsten:

1. The campaign financed by tax payers’ money is widely distributed via state controlled media. 2. Other opinions do not find their way to the public. 3. MTV, HirTV and MTI screen the news which can be broadcast or printed. Prime example of it is how they covered the March 18 Senate hearing. 4. Bajnai is simply deprived of access to a wider audience, whenever he is mentioned they try to demonize him.

petofi
Guest

Kirsten :
To Mr Foldesi, do you have some idea why a campaign against Gordon Bajnai is believed while Fidesz-reality is considered some kind of success?

I’m going to weigh in on this…

Fidesz understands the Hungarian mindset: tell them what they want to hear. Hence,
“All is fine; we as a people are superior but all are against us; still, we will triumph; only Bajnai and the communists naysayers against us can hold us back.”

Cookies for children…but it works–

petofi
Guest

addendum @ Kirsten:

Please note that Hitler and the Nazis worked this gig already. People who read history
would have an inkling of where this ends up…

Kavé
Guest
The Siraly situation is sad, but predictable. It was, essentially, a squat on the site of the former Communist era Hungarian book club building. It was a great use of an abandoned property, became an important theater center for the avante-garde scene, but it was a squat nonetheless. The Siraly came out of the Neolog Jewish youth group MAROM, which used to have a headquarters at Garay ter in the outer 7th district. About ten years ago MAROM wanted to have its own Hanukah celebration and asked Mazsihisz for funding. Mazsihisz said it would grant funds but only if it could dictate who would speak and who would be the entertainment (Mazsihisz is run by Zoltai Gusztáv, a former Communist Party cadre who was Party overseer for Budapest Theater life. A true “piece of work.” ) MAROM refused this, organized its own program, and the resulting celebration attracted over a thousand attendees. In response, Mazsihisz closed the MAROM headquarters and expelled the rabbinical student who performed the candle blessings from the Neolog Yeshiva. Nice guys. Mazsihisz is essentially run as a business more than a religious organization, and has rather contentious relationships with all of the other organized Jewish communities,… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Eva S. Balogh :
As far as this Erdei’s loss is concerned. I just read in Heti Válasz that he actually won but the the referee gave the win undeserved to the Russian.

Just a taste of things to come for Hungarian competitors competing in Europe…

Gábor
Guest
petofi : Kirsten : To Mr Foldesi, do you have some idea why a campaign against Gordon Bajnai is believed while Fidesz-reality is considered some kind of success? I’m going to weigh in on this… Fidesz understands the Hungarian mindset: tell them what they want to hear. Hence, “All is fine; we as a people are superior but all are against us; still, we will triumph; only Bajnai and the communists naysayers against us can hold us back.” Cookies for children…but it works– If I may intervene, I’m not sure whether these should necessarily be accepted simultaneously. Actually I became a bit suspicious of the success story of the cut of public utility prices reflected in Fidesz’s popularity gains as it was so clean, neat explanation that hardly exist in the world. At least psephologist tend to advise people not to believe in such monocausal realtionships. But how the whole narrative emerged is quite instructive and worth to look at in detail, especially as it allows for a hypothesis regarding why Fidesz gained supporters recently. As for the popularity gains it is important to note that Medián already registered a huge swing towards Fidesz in December, well before lower public… Read more »
An
Guest

@Gabor: “But it also means that people do not necessarily accept the positive portrayal of Hungary’s situation, they are mobilized through antagonisms instilled in them in years.”

Unfortunately, this may very well be true. And if the smear campaign was so successful, we can only expect it to get stronger as the election draws nearer. Bajnai and the opposition groups have a tough problem to solve: how to reach the people and how to diffuse the effects of Fidesz’s black propaganda?

Member
Istvan Foldesi : To Kirsten: 1. The campaign financed by tax payers’ money is widely distributed via state controlled media. 2. Other opinions do not find their way to the public. 3. MTV, HirTV and MTI screen the news which can be broadcast or printed. Prime example of it is how they covered the March 18 Senate hearing. 4. Bajnai is simply deprived of access to a wider audience, whenever he is mentioned they try to demonize him. Fidesz was popular even before they had their hands on state controlled media. I have to go back what I suggested a few days ago, they are simply a “generation pill”. THey are like a rock band who for their fan club can do no bad. Their current relationship with their fan club is based on nostalgia. THey are forgiven as the old rock musicians are forgiven forgiven for their sins. I love the Rolling Stones and I have attended two concerts of theirs, and I will attend a third one, does not matter how old they are, how drugged they were. I would pay twice the money for their concerts than for any newer band, even for WIlco (which I travelled… Read more »
Member
Baseness in the Carpathian Basin The insightful March 8 essay on Hungary’s Self-Destructive Demons by poet/journalist Thomas Orszag-Land described the complex and sinister relationship between the stunning success of Viktor Orban’s opportunistic megalomania and his unscrupulous exploitation of the unreconstructed cultural affinity of the Hungarian populace for the ugliest and most vicious forms of denial, scapegoating and xenophobia. Apart from a couple of points on which it (forgiveably) goes a bit over the top (about the potential for kingship and the triple “junk” quote), Orszag-Land’s March 8 essay is temperate, timely and telling, and has since been not so much overtaken as confirmed by events, with the self-ratification, by Orban’s supermajority, of the constitutional amendment self-indemnifyng Orban’s new constitution from oversight by the constitutional court. Orszag-Land raises the interesting hypothesis that although Orban has successfully used his supermajority (as well as the pork-barreling of the electorate, party faithful and oligarchs) to entrench his power far beyond the possibility of reversal even under any ordinary electoral majority defeat by the (shamefully and self-destructively divided) democratic opposition, he may yet be undone by having profoundly alienated the only forces that can sustain the dictator of a small, poor country in modern times:… Read more »
Member

apologies for boldface! my closing apparently did not work!

Member

closing v strong -v I meant. (The blog software would benefit from an edit/view buffer!)

Member

PS I think @Some1’s Trudeau analysis and analogy is way off, but it would be too Off-Topic to go over all that in this Forum: Bref, no similarity whatsoever between Trudeau and Orban; if anything, in Quebec, Orban would have been playing the irredentist card, and coddling the kidnappers (and later murderers) of the minister, rather than invoking the War Powers Act to prevent more of the same. (And Trudeau Jr. has little merit, little following, and little hope.)

Deak Ferenc
Guest

I’d always bank on Orban’s propensity to overreach himself, overkill, and generally make himself obnoxious when he doesn’t have to just because he’s constitutionally unable to bear checks to his power. I reckon the opposition can’t screw up as badly as he will. Expect to see nutty little demonstrations of personal whimsy, comparable to Mao’s public swimming demonstrations or instructions to starving peasants to plant their seeds closer together. Eventually he’ll make himself unelectable – the question is how soon.

oneill
Guest
“The opposition, both the students and the politicians, should be heartened by the fact that the government party remains paranoid” I think they and in particular, Orban are suffering from a high state of paranoia although lord alone knows why as I think he is at the very height of his powers at the moment. It is also a rather pathetic and true comment on the present state of affairs that the opposition see that paranoia as their main hopeful sign. The next election is Fidesz’s to lose and the way things are going at the moment I can’t see that happening; even if it were in danger of happening, we can be sure that the dirty tricks department would prevent a free and fair election from taking place. If by some freak chance he is defeated at the balletbox, he is in control of all state apparatus for at least the next 5 years. True, his and thugs like Bayer and Kover’s natural instinct would be now to finish the job and remove all remaining democratic restraints preventing them for setting up the kind of totalitarian state we see in only one other place in Europe, Belarus. But he… Read more »
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