Opposition voters demand unity

I still can’t quite collect myself after seeing what happened this afternoon at the large street demonstration that was rather reluctantly organized to include all opposition groups. It was only yesterday that E14-PM and MSZP officially signed their exclusive agreement to jointly represent the united opposition. Originally, they planned to sign the document today, on the anniversary of the October Revolution of 1956, but in the last minute there was a change of plans. Indeed, it would have been jarring if the agreement that excluded the other opposition parties and groups had been signed on the very day that solidarity among all the democratic forces was supposed to be on display.

Admittedly, if it had depended on E14-PM and MSZP, there would have been separate demonstrations once again, but Ferenc Gyurcsány upset the apple cart by writing to Gordon Bajnai and Attila Mesterházy suggesting common action. A whole week went by and no answer came. When a reporter asked Gyurcsány whether he had received a response he told him that he hadn’t but that he is a patient man. Eventually the E14-MSZP group obviously felt that they had to say yes. Rebuffing Gyurcsány’s initiative might have had negative consequences.

At this point E14-MSZP tried “to hide Gyurcsány,” as commentators noted, by inviting eight groups in all. Each group’s representative was allotted only five minutes to address the crowd. With such a tight schedule, it was hoped that Gyurcsány wouldn’t have the opportunity to show off his considerable oratorical skills.

Moreover, even though the organizers gave a nod to the notion of inclusiveness, they carefully avoided portraying the opposition parties and groups as one big happy family. For instance, the eight speakers were never together on the stage.

Observers charged that Bajnai and Mesterházy are as afraid of Gyurcsány as they are of Orbán, if not more so. I would describe the situation slightly differently. The MSZP leadership may be afraid of Gyurcsány, but–more critically–they loathe him. One cannot be terribly surprised at their reaction because, after all, it was Gyurcsány who, after failing to “reform” his party, left MSZP and took along with him nine other men and women, including some former ministers and undersecretaries. It was thus that DK came into being.

E14-PM has more reason to be afraid of him because while Bajnai’s party is steadily losing voters, DK is steadily gaining. According to the latest Századvég poll, the two parties are neck to neck, each with a projected 5% of the votes. And while this 5% would be enough for DK to become a parliamentary party, E14-PM is a “party alliance” (pártszövetség) that needs 10% to qualify. A few days ago there was some vague talk about changing their status, with PM joining E14, but in the last moment PM decided that the ideological divide was simply too great. Indeed, PM is a left-wing green party while E14 is trying to move closer to the center.

It was under these circumstances that the mass demonstration took place today. Considering that the opposition parties and groups don’t have the kind of money Fidesz has at its disposal and therefore cannot pay their “supporters” to come from as far as Transylvania and the Voivodina, the crowd was still impressive. There were thousands of red MSZP flags, a few Együtt14-PM signs, and many DK signs. Some people came from the provinces on their own money since there were no buses bringing them to the capital as was the case for the enormous Fidesz crowd that gathered on Heroes’ Square.

And now I will jump ahead a bit and backtrack later. What stunned me was that the crowd almost prevented Attila Mesterházy, the last speaker, from even beginning his speech. Eventually he managed to read his prepared text, but what he said was often difficult to decipher because all through the speech the crowd chanted “Unity! Unity!”–sometimes drowning him out. It was a clear indication that the voters on the left reject the Bajnai-Mesterházy agreement. If I had been Mesterházy, I would have thrown out the speech, called all the leaders of the opposition who were present to the stage, held their hands high and said, “Yes, we understand what you want! Let’s go together. One party list, one candidate for prime minister, and then we will really win. We will work it out.”

But it seems that this is not the course that either Mesterházy or the party leadership is ready to embrace. They blame the opposition leaders, specifically Gábor Kuncze (Szabadelvű Polgári Egyesület, formerly chairman of SZDSZ) , Gábor Fodor (Magyar Liberális Párt, formerly SZDSZ chairman), Lajos Bokros (Magyarország Mozgalom, formerly MDF), and Ferenc Gyurcsány (Magyar Demokratikus Koalíció) for delivering speeches that urged unity. I heard and read comments to the effect that “Ferenc Gyurcsány hacked the demonstration.” As if it was Ferenc Gyurcsány who hired the crowd to silence Mesterházy in the name of unity.

2013 oktober 23

Source: Népszabadság / Photo by Árpád Kurucz

I’m almost certain that there was no such plan. I happen to receive all the material DK sends out to its members and supporters. Ferenc Gyurcsány urged his followers to come in great numbers, to bring DK signs, and if they come from other parts of the country to bring along signs indicating where they are from. That was all. There were lots of red MSZP flags too, and it looked to me as if many of the people holding them were also demanding unity. It wasn’t an exclusively DK lot that “hacked” Mesterházy’s speech. And if the MSZP leaders want to convince themselves of the opposite they are doing themselves a disfavor.

In the last half hour or so I received the texts of Gábor Kuncze’s and Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speeches, which I will translate tonight and post for you. I also liked Lajos Bokros’s speech very much. Even Gábor Fodor, who wasn’t my favorite in the dying days of SZDSZ, did a good job. The common theme was indeed unity as it should have been. Without unity there really is no hope against Viktor Orbán, who is already working on his “battle array” and whose soldiers stand in readiness, as he indicated in his speech. Note that Gábor Kuncze is ready to join the opposition forces without any precondition. The situation is the same with Lajos Bokros. Ferenc Gyurcsány’s story is different, but he has an ever stronger party behind him who certainly would like to have a piece of the pie.

I really wonder whether, despite all the MSZP protestations to the contrary, cooler heads will eventually prevail and the self-defeating arrangement signed yesterday will be scrapped.

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Bowen
Guest

Here’s the video of Mesterhazy’s speech.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5tyW4NRrt4

Orban can sleep well tonight.

András
Guest
It’s really sad that the opposition barely managed to achieve anything since last year. They claim to be a democratic force that promotes trasnparency, fairness and lawfulness, yet they try to exclude some prominent people. The feelings towards Gyurcsány are somewhat justified, but he mentioned it several times that he would step aside if that’s what needed. The fact that the members of the opposition are seemingly trying to position themselves so much, doesn’t inspire trust. I have no idea about the underlying reality behind this cheerful gathering, so unfortunately, the truth is probably darker than we’d like it to be, and Orbán’s complete overthrow wouldn’t bring us paradise either. For the average voter it seems meaningless to argue about politics now, and PM’s decision of staying independent based on ideology is plain retarded. It seems like it’s clear for everyone, except for the opposition what they should do: 1. Choose a neutral prime minister candidate (I personally think that Bajnai would be the best man for the job, but I can be convinced that the fight for the chair is not just about power) 2. Assign everyone to what they do best. Gyurcsány makes fiery speaches and he can… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Mesterházy is not willing to negotiate with Gyurcsany.

http://www.168ora.hu/itthon/mesterhazy-interju-119903.html

tappanch
Guest

Roll down to read the numerous comments from the very people who shouted “unity” in the crowd.

Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

The more I read about the opposition and their leading candidates, the more convinced I become that the only sane party in the Two-tailed Dog’s Party. They at least provide a daily chuckle, the rest just depresses me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hungarian_Two-tailed_Dog_Party

Jano
Guest

I may not have a very high opinion of Gyurcsány’s governing skills, but I see why he would be considered part of the unity. But Fodor and Kuncze? Seriously, what if I found a party of one, give it a fancy left-liberal name, can I speak and demand that people unite with me and thereby make me somebody?

As Eva points out, all these other speakers were invited to dilute Gyurcsány. Of course they are not risking anything so they can say whatever they want, but this also shows how much this whole thing lacks seriousness.

Maybe it’s just me being picky, but something was painfully lacking from these speeches. Once again that is a coherent vision of an alternative future that would be different from Orbán’s neopopulosocialnationalistic distopia.

On top of this MSZP now declared open warfare on Gyurcsány (see Tibor Szanyi’s new freakpiece). So me as a voter should have faith that these guys could actually govern a country responsibly. Nice.

(I apologize for being the pessimistic one all the time, I’m still for a government change, but as it is, I’m for it with blocking my nose, and that doesn’t help my enthusiasm levels.)

Peter
Guest

I was there at the opposition demonstration yesterday. My impression was that it was indeed a group of DK supporters who started chanting ‘Unity!’ when Mesterhazy started his speech. But then the whole large crowd joined in (myself included).

Andrei Stavilă
Guest

And this is, as usual, my photo report on the three rallies: http://stavilaandrei.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/my-budapest-38-the-three-rallies-2013-edition/

Johnny Boy
Guest

So me as a voter should have faith that these guys could actually govern a country responsibly. Nice.

Such faith has never been of any significance for left-liberals. There are 2 things they want:
1. Power
2. Orbán out of it.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Andrei Stavilă :
And this is, as usual, my photo report on the three rallies: http://stavilaandrei.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/my-budapest-38-the-three-rallies-2013-edition/

Nicely not even one crowd picture of Békemenet, the pro-Fidesz march, with many times (at least tenfold) more people than at all other rallies combined.

Andrei Stavilă
Guest

@Johnny Boy: I have explained in my post that I first attended the opposition rally (which started at 2:00 PM) on the Műegyetem rakpart. The pro-Fidesz March started at the same time/hour in Bem tér, so I couldn’t be in two different places at the same time 🙁 After I left the opposition rally, I went to Deak Ferenc ter for the Jobbik rally (that was the normal decision), then I continued on Andrassy to the Heroes Square (government’s rally). But at the time I got to Andrassy, people where already at the Heroes’ Square – it was to late for me to take a picture of the huge crowd. Please believe me I didn’t like that, I really wanted to take some pictures with the big pro-government crowd. And by the way: if you have anything to say to the government, please ask them to let all the people with a camera in their hand to take photos. I don’t understand the need for ‘accreditation’ to climb on some stage for photographers in order to take a photo…

tappanch
Guest

“ask them to let all the people with a camera in their hand to take photos. I don’t understand the need for ‘accreditation’ to climb on some stage for photographers in order to take a photo…”

Because their crowd, as usual, was not as big as they claimed it to be.

Look at the empty spaces on Hosok tere.

http://nepszava.hu/galeria/341-orban-es-a-bekemenet-a-hosok-teren—kepek—kepgaleria

tappanch
Guest

@Andrei
“ask them to let all the people with a camera in their hand to take photos. I don’t understand the need for ‘accreditation’ ”

Look at the substantial amount of empty space on Hosok tere:

http://nepszava.hu/galeria/341-orban-es-a-bekemenet-a-hosok-teren—kepek—kepgaleria

Guest

Thanks, Andrei!

I really like your pictures and I copied this text of yours to politics.hu (including the link to your post of course) – hope you don’t mind.

“Yes, 200,000 old people brought to Budapest from all over the country and from other states as well (Slovakia, Romania, Serbia, I even saw a bus with an Ukrainian plate). And of course, why shouldn’t they come to see once again Budapest, as long as the government pays their transportation? ”

Hey Johnnychild, why weren’t you there and took some pictures for us if you don’t like Andrei’s ?
Ever heard of freedom of expression – or does everyone in Hungary now have to pay tribute to King Viktor ?

FreeHUUUU
Guest

A bad dream.
Every anniversary is divisive.
Since Deak, no one could unite the Hungarians.
His moral and legal accomplishments have never been repeated.
The 1956 uprising was a clash of opposing Hungarian sides, and not a real revolution.
Imre Nagy tried to steer Hungary to freedom from the Soviet control.
He was not prepared to crush the fascist forces in Hungary incited by Radio Free Europe, and the extremist emigrant circles.
The nation was not yet cleansed from the WWII crimes, was still divided by multiple loyalties:
Christians, Englightened intellectuals, Communists, Pagans, Nazi forces clashed.
Peppered by chronic poverty and huge educational gaps.

All the civil associations of Hungary can not mobilize a traumatized nation into a modern democracy.

I can cry for Hungary, but the various factions are still on a collision course.

Mesterhazy and the rest is so amateurish, so underqualified that they must be replaced immediately.

HiBoM
Guest
What a situation Hungary finds itself in. After three years of unpleasantly aggressive government coupled with total incompetence and corruption, one would expect there to have evolved a coherent and credible opposition. And what do we find? The most impressive figure is Gyurcsány, who lest one forget, was prime minister for over four years during the course of which he achieved pretty much nothing, proved incapable of implementing reforms, turned a blind eye to corruption in his own party and had no qualms about running the country into the ground economically for reasons of political expediency (and the Öszöd mea culpa does not excuse him.) And this is the best the opposition can muster! Why are failed politicians like Kuncze and Fodor even still in public life? And as Eva says, Mesterházy just proved he is as ineffective as everyone deep down knows he is. And while I’m ranting, it annoys the hell out of me that this blog affects to include the MSZP in its definition of the “democratic opposition” when it is still inhabited by populist thugs like Szanyi Tibor. And Puch is still out and about and on the MSZP’s electoral list). I would exempt Bokros from… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Third trial to post; to Andrei

Look at the empty space on Hosok tere on October 23!

http://nepszava.hu/galeria/341-orban-es-a-bekemenet-a-hosok-teren—kepek—kepgaleria

tappanch
Guest
Andrei Stavilă
Guest

@wolfi: thank you so much for your kind words!

petofi
Guest

@HiBoM

“I’m going out to dig the garden.”

A good solution, if you ask me.
Sorry, HighBottom, there is no solution for Hungary and Hungarians. “You reap what you sow.” This has come home to roost–the twisted Catholicism, in league with the many years of mis-education, have created a society fearful, sheepish, monstrously envious, and incapable to think for itself (–that is, the ‘members’ of the society. As my old English teacher would’ve said, ‘Societies do not think.”)

If all the above was not enough, the tradition of the quick payoff is endemic. As I’ve said elsewhere, I believe that Mesterhazy is in Orban’s pocket; so seen from that perspective,
his mis-doings are not as incompetent as the respected members of this blog believe…

spectator
Guest

Peter :
I was there at the opposition demonstration yesterday. My impression was that it was indeed a group of DK supporters who started chanting ‘Unity!’ when Mesterhazy started his speech. But then the whole large crowd joined in (myself included).

Apparently once again the interesting question is, that who started the chanting, but not, what has been chanted and the least interesting if they expressed a valid opinion or not?

Did I get this right?

So, the “unity” as is totally out of the picture, they who demanding it only disturbing the merry harmony among “the chosen ones”?

Actually it seems pretty much to me, that even when the building ablaze, the most important still is what soccer-team the firemen supporting…
Well done!

spectator
Guest

Johnny Boy :

Andrei Stavilă :
And this is, as usual, my photo report on the three rallies: http://stavilaandrei.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/my-budapest-38-the-three-rallies-2013-edition/

Nicely not even one crowd picture of Békemenet, the pro-Fidesz march, with many times (at least tenfold) more people than at all other rallies combined.

You know, photography needs light, hence the name…

spectator
Guest
I wandering, how well it came down to the cheering audience at the Heroes Square, that Orbán held his speech front of rows soldiers with bayonets on their rifles – or whatever that guns called – on a National Holiday. Particularly, when one considering what this part of the speech dealt with – roughly, anyway: “We also know that all of this could have happened, because the government power was in the hands of those, who have unscrupulously used the armed bodies of the State against their own people. We know very well, should have no doubt about it, that just as well they would shot at us today – in better case with rubber bullets – and once again would send the armed forces of the State against us.” (“Azt is tudjuk, hogy mindez azért történhetett, mert azok kezében volt a kormányzati hatalom, akik gátlás nélkül felhasználhatták az állam fegyveres testületeit saját népük ellen. Tudjuk jól, ne legyen kétségünk felőle, ma ismét közénk lövetnének – jó esetben gumilövedékkel –, és megint ránk vezényelnék az állam erőszakszervezeteit. “) Apart from the dramatic principle of Chekov’s gun, do we really need to be reminded, just in who’s hand are those guns… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

András: “It seems like it’s clear for everyone, except for the opposition what they should do:”

Really? Is that so clear? I had the impression that most people sceptical of OV remain passive observers of the situation, and consider “digging the garden” more rewarding that approaching whatever of the parties that were present at the meeting, or contributing own ideas and energy to ending Orban’s rule. Those opposition groups indeed could work harder on overcoming their differences, but as I understand they reflect how diverse the ideas of those people are that do not support Orban. (Jano’s vision, so to speak.)

As regards the fact that people of DK apparently started this “unity” shouting. If that were true, I would think how seriously Gyurcsany’s promise to take a back seat should be taken. Apparently at least his people will just not let him do that (assuming he is capable of such restraint). Gyurcsany is “the best orator”, has “the strongest party”, “the best programme”, I wonder how cooperation on an equal and respectful basis should like with such approach.

Andrei Stavilă
Guest

OK, I propose an opposition coalition with János Kis as the single candidate for the PM office. Raise the bet!

freeHUUUUU
Guest

The big question is the state of mind who still march for Orban.
Is such blindness bought or available free of charge?
These acts will go down as shame to the family history.

casinoer
Guest
To HiBOM: It’s not unique at all that despite the most corrupt and incompetent governance there is no credible opposition. In fact it is expected that the two actually often coincide in less democratic places, since the most important part of the strategy of any governing political party is neutralize its opposition. By making sure that potential discontents and entrants to politics fear for their jobs, by taking over the media (with a long-term view), rewriting the election laws so that entry into politics would be very difficult (a party needs a nationwide network from the get go, for example). Also, given the size of the new Parliament under the new rules a small party which receives 5-6% can expect to send exactly two (2) MPs to the Parliament. So a party leadership would essentially have to set up a national organization and make a nation-wide network work so that its two leaders get a job, while the rest of the activists will have no return whatsoever. And of course 2 people have little relevance in a 200 member Parliament. It is so easy. People do respond to incentives after all, maybe rational choice theory has something in it. Teachers… Read more »
casinoer
Guest
It’s not unique at all that despite the most corrupt and incompetent governance there is no credible opposition. In fact it is expected that the two actually often coincide in less democratic places, since the most important part of the strategy of any governing political party is neutralize its opposition. By making sure that potential discontents and entrants to politics fear for their jobs, by taking over the media (with a long-term view), rewriting the election laws so that entry into politics would be very difficult (a party needs a nationwide network from the get go, for example). Also, given the size of the new Parliament under the new rules a small party which receives 5-6% can expect to send exactly two (2) MPs to the Parliament. So a party leadership would essentially have to set up a national organization and make a nation-wide network work so that its two leaders get a job, while the rest of the activists will have no return whatsoever. And of course 2 people have little relevance in a 200 member Parliament. It is so easy. People do respond to incentives after all, maybe rational choice theory has something in it. Teachers are so… Read more »
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