The “ethics” of a car accident

Today’s topic, a car accident, is not the usual fare of this blog. Admittedly, one of the people injured in the accident was the Hungarian minister of defense, Csaba Hende, but that wouldn’t be sufficient reason to blog about it. (Fortunately no one died and the minister’s Audi wasn’t even a total loss.) I decided to write about it because I think it reveals more about Hungary and Hungarians than most scientific analyses of social conditions in the country. It offers anecdotal evidence of Hungarians’ general disregard of the law. It also says something about the arrogance of Hungarian politicians.

Csaba Hende, along with an adviser, was traveling to a meeting with local inhabitants where he was supposed to tell his audience about the blessings of lowering utility prices. Of course, the first question is: What on earth is a minister of defense doing at such a function? The short answer is that in Orbán’s Hungary all members of the cabinet are expected to spread Fidesz propaganda. Several ministers and undersecretaries have already spoken at such propaganda meetings. Viktor Orbán obviously considers lowering utility rates a key point in his election campaign and has enlisted members of his government to sing its praises and thus win over voters.

Hende was heading toward Szécsény, a smallish town near the Slovak-Hungarian border between Balassagyarmat and Salgótarján. Although according to reports the minister’s car didn’t exceed the speed limit, it is likely that they were in a hurry because instead of taking the better road the driver, who also acts as Hende’s bodyguard, chose a sparsely traveled secondary road that shortened their travel time. It is a twisting, winding road. As it turned out, this road is a favorite of race car drivers who don’t have much opportunity to test their cars before rallies. The driver brings along two of his friends who act as flagmen. They ask other drivers to wait a bit until the practice is over. Naturally these guys don’t pay attention to speed limits. The driver of that particular race car was executing a serpentine curve at a speed of 100 km or 62 miles an hour. This practice is illegal but, as I found out from several articles I read on the subject, it is a common practice without much interference from the police.

strong manBut let’s not assume that the driver of Hende’s car was any more law abiding. He traveled with his emergency siren on and the blue light on the top of his vehicle flashing. Under normal circumstances the use of the siren and light is strictly forbidden. They can be used only in emergency situations. And surely going to a meeting to sell the idea of lowering utility prices is not one of those.

As for the events prior to the accident, they are not at all clear. According to some descriptions, the driver of Hende’s car simply ignored the flagman. According to others, he did exchange a few words with him but refused to wait until the race driver finished his run. In any case, a second later there was a fairly serious accident in which five people were injured.

Both sides disregarded the law. I was actually surprised to hear that Hende and his companion had used their seat belts. Not like Viktor Orbán who in the March snowstorm could be seen on the video ignoring the seat belt law that was supposed to be strictly enforced.

But that’s not all. There are also the reporters who offered up all sorts of fanciful explanations for why the driver of the minister’s car actually did the right thing when he ignored the flagman. Here is perhaps the most interesting one: “Origo learned from non-official sources that there was no physical barricade that could be construed as a road closure. Moreover, the driver of a person under special protection according to protocol cannot just stop because a person on the roadside waves at him.” Another “expert” advanced the following explanation: “Obviously the driver [of Hende’s car] had to suspect a trap and surely must have wondered what this man wanted.” Whatever the experts say, if a flagman warns of danger ahead, it’s a good idea to stop and inquire about the details. Or, as most people do, simply stop until your car is waved through.

Why didn’t the driver stop? Was he really afraid that on a secondary road in the middle of nowhere someone wanted to set a trap for that very important personage? Or is it perhaps the case that “those idiots on top,”  as a commenter described Hungarian politicians the other day, simply ignore ordinary mortals? I suspect it was the latter. After all, the driver had the blue light, the siren, and the almighty minister. These trump some guy waving on the roadside. The minister’s car will proceed. Unfortunately, hubris doesn’t always pay. In fact, it seldom pays, a lesson the Orbán government has yet to learn.

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Minusio
Guest

Absolutely hilarious!

BTW and OT: Putin just changed the legal foundations of the Russian Academy of Sciences (almost 300 years old) according to the Orbán model. There must be some osmosis of stinky fluids both ways.

Guest

Some years ago there was an accident on the old road No 7 south of the Balaton (before the construction of the M7 was finished) when some politician destroyed a Trabant and killed the young couple in it – he was also disregarding the traffic laws because he had his blue light flashing.

I told all my friends (and everybody in Germany I have the chance to talk with about Hungary) that they should be very wary of black Audis etc here because these people drive like mad.

I tell them that the driver/passenger of a lack Audi or similar car is probably a Mafioso, a rich businessman, a politician – or all of the above!

Paul
Guest

When does a politician ever have to get somewhere urgently enough to justify a blue light and a siren?

Minusio
Guest

@Paul. As far as I know: almost everywhere and anytime! You should read some of the stories of near-to-criminal behaviour of German ministers (those who don’t have a helicopter at their disposal) whose drivers (and convois) virtually blast away other drivers from the fast lane of German autobahns as a matter of routine. And German motorways allow for unlimited speed (300 kmh or more) on long stretches anyway. But they use it where there are restrictions to, say, 120 kmh or to pulverise a tailback – leaving shock and anger in their wake.

tappanch
Guest
Something is fishy about the results of the local by-election in Baja. In 2010, 888 people voted. There were 523 Fidesz votes (58,90%), 202 MSzP votes (22,75%) and 163 independent votes (18,36%) in district #3. Since the turnout was 31.65%, the number of eligible voters must have been 2806. http://baja.hu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2493&Itemid=586 Today, Fidesz first reported the result as follows: Fidesz 334, MSzP 269, Jobbik 82, LMP 41. http://baja. hu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8903&Itemid=553 THen there was a change in the numbers. The vote counters found an additional 133 Fidesz votes, 137 MSzP votes, 0 Jobbik and 0 LMP votes. Since the turnout is reported to be 34% (996 people), there must have been 2929 eligible voters in the district – and the boundaries are still unchanged. So district #3 of Baja is a PECULIAR district in the country. It is peculiar, since the number of eligible voters have increased in the last three years. [The population of Hungary went down overall] 1. Is it possible that Fidesz registered 100 to 200 new people as inhabitants in the last month? 2. Could they be ethnic Hungarians living in Serbia? The border is just 20 kilometers away. They can be bussed in for the day. 3. Will… Read more »
tappanch
Guest
Something is fishy about the results of the local by-election in Baja. In 2010, 888 people voted. There were 523 Fidesz votes (58,90%), 202 MSzP votes (22,75%) and 163 independent votes (18,36%) in district #3. Since the turnout was 31.65%, the number of eligible voters must have been 2806. http://baja.hu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2493&Itemid=586 Today, Fidesz first reported the result as follows: Fidesz 334, MSzP 269, Jobbik 82, LMP 41. baja. hu/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8903&Itemid=553 THen there was a change in the numbers. The vote counters found an additional 133 Fidesz votes, 137 MSzP votes, 0 Jobbik and 0 LMP votes. Since the turnout is reported to be 34% (996 people), there must have been 2929 eligible voters in the district – and the boundaries are still unchanged. So district #3 of Baja is a PECULIAR district in the country. It is peculiar, since the number of eligible voters have increased in the last three years. [The population of Hungary went down overall] 1. Is it possible that Fidesz registered 100 to 200 new people as inhabitants in the last month? 2. Could they be ethnic Hungarians living in Serbia? The border is just 20 kilometers away. They can be bussed in for the day. 3. Will… Read more »
andy
Guest
I am neither pro or against the etical issue involved. Instead I am for a fair examination of the circumstances. 1. The rally driver and his cohorts on either end of his self-dined racing track were totally illegal in what they were doing, however you wish to examine the question. If they had not been doing the illegal stunt, nothing would have provoked the accident. That is for the legal issue per se. Case closed, I could go into details about the use of the blue light upon instruction of the minister to the driver, because it is at the minister’s discretion. Additionally a minister of defense is a potential target (never imagine Hungary does not have enemies) for ex. we are potentially targets by Afghani indigenous fighters and their friends or by enemies of the Azeiri a country that Hungary has befriended in highly controversial ways and possibly others. As a consequence it is taught to bodyguards and drivers of the diplomatic community (and I was a member) to avoid stopping at ad-hoc roadstops if at all possible. It is likely he was traveling in an armored bullet-proof car (you wont see the difference from the outside). I make… Read more »
Fregoli
Guest

Tappanch: good point. It is very highly probable. The interest is there, the means are there, Fidesz is known to be ‘smart’ about election logistics, so it certainly sounds very plausible.

I guess we will find it out soon, if that is the case.

Actually, I expect a national trend: Fidesz will use the new Hungarian citizens all over Hungary to settle them formally (jut on paper) for a couple of month in battle ground districts so that they could vote for the district representatives. I am sure it will be all legal.

tappanch
Guest

The brazenness of the race car driver, who had the public road blocked might go back to his good Fidesz connections. His younger sister’s husband was the police chief of Nograd county between 1996 and 2004, then became a Fidesz representative in Szecseny town.

The brother-in-law said after the accident that “we cannot choose our relatives.”

http://index.hu/belfold/2013/09/22/megyei_forendor_volt_a_ralis_rokona/

tappanch
Guest

Dear Eva,

Thank you for correcting me.

But if turnout := (valid + invalid votes)/ (eligible voters),
how many invalid votes did we have yesterday?

So it is still possible that the # of eligible voters has increased since 2010.

In the meantime, 444.hu identified the precinct where the irregularities occurred:

http://444.hu/2013/09/23/igy-nyert-bajan-a-fidesz/

dvdmar
Guest

It is very impressive probable. The interest is there, the means are there, Fidesz is known to be ‘smart’ about election logistics, so it certainly sounds very plausible.

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