Growing troubles in opposition circles

It was only a few days ago that the democratic opposition’s mass rally ended with a protest from the crowd itself–a demand for unity and the resultant quasi demonstration against Attila Mesterházy, chairman of MSZP.

What followed was almost inevitable. The two parties that had signed an exclusive political arrangement which effectively shut out the other opposition parties and groups placed the blame for the protest on Ferenc Gyurcsány, former prime minister and head of DK, a party with sizable support. It didn’t seem to matter that the other speakers’ message was the same as Gyurcsány’s; he was the only one who was accused of flaunting an alleged agreement that speakers would in no way criticize the deal between MSZP and E14-PM. Opposition leaders deny the existence of any such agreement.

Then came the accusation that it was actually Ferenc Gyurcsány himself who organized the demonstration against Mesterházy. His people were the only ones who kept demanding “unity.” I looked at several videos of the event taken from different angles, and in my opinion just as many people holding MSZP red flags shouted slogans that for a while kept Mesterházy from speaking. Some overzealous MSZP politicians like Tibor Szanyi claimed to have seen Ferenc Gyurcsány leaving the gathering in a great hurry even before Mesterházy finished his speech. The implication naturally being that after he created the disturbance Gyurcsány quickly left the scene of the crime. Szanyi turned out to be wrong. Gyurcsány, his wife, and Ágnes Vadai were present to the very end of Mesterházy’s speech. According to Gyurcsány, he even applauded Mesterházy.

Gordon Bajnai joined the MSZP politicians in forcefully asserting that the deal that was signed will in no way ever be changed. This is the best arrangement even if all the other speakers and it seems the overwhelming majority of the voters on the left don’t think so. Of course, politicians can ignore popular demand, except they do so at their own peril. My hunch is that this unbending attitude cannot be maintained for long.

mistakesBut that was not the only problem the opposition had to face. Péter Juhász, who represents Milla, a group formed on Facebook, has caused a lot of trouble in the past, and he struck again. Juhász is not a politician. He worked as an activist even before 2010 and by and large has a devastating opinion of both politicians and parties, left or right. Therefore he often talks about the “past eight years” exactly the way Fidesz politicians do. I assume that within E14-PM his colleagues try to temper his outbursts, but it seems that he cannot help himself. Shortly after the October 23 gathering Juhász was the guest of Olga Kálmán on ATV where he announced that he would never want to stand on the same platform with Gábor Kuncze or Ferenc Gyurcsány. Moreover, he claimed that Kuncze wasn’t invited to participate. I guess Kuncze just appeared on the scene. Crashed the party, so to speak.

These unfortunate remarks were not without consequence. A number of well-known people, like Attila Ara-Kovács, László C. Kálmán, Mária Ludassy, and Ádám Csillag withdrew their support for E14. Most of them added that this Juhász incident was just the last straw. They had had their problems with E14 even before. Gordon Bajnai seems to be adrift, without a firm idea of his party’s goals. And E14’s floundering is reflected in its poll numbers. A year ago support for E14 was about 12%; now it hovers around 5%.

But that wasn’t the only blow to the democratic side. Shortly before he retired from politics Gábor Kuncze was asked by Klubrádió to be the moderator of a political show once a week. Although Kuncze’s program was popular, the owner of Klubrádió, András Arató, decided that since Kuncze agreed to make a speech at the opposition rally he should be dismissed. The result? A fair number of loyal listeners who have been generously contributing toward the maintenance of Klubrádió are angry. Some have gone so far as to stop contributing to the station, which is strapped for money due to the Orbán government’s illegal manipulation of the air waves. They argue that Klubrádió knew about Kuncze’s plans to attend and that Arató should have warned him about the possible consequences. These people figure that the speedy and unexpected dismissal was due to a “friendly” telephone call from MSZP headquarters. The station denies that they have ever yielded to political pressure and claim that no such call came.

Finally, there is the case of a sympathy demonstration organized in Budapest demanding territorial autonomy for the Hungarian-speaking Szeklers who live in a solid mass in three counties in the middle of Transylvania. Since I’m planning to write something about the autonomy question, I’m not going into the details here. It’s enough to say that the views of the Hungarian political leaders in these parts are close to Jobbik. The most important Hungarian party in Romania is a center-right party called RMDSZ, but Fidesz feels more comfortable with the Szeklers.

The sympathy demonstration was organized by CÖF (Civil Összefogás Fórum), the Szekler National Council (Székely Nemzeti Tanács), and Fidesz. CÖF is the “civic” forum, actually financed by the government, that organized the two peace marches against the “colonizers” and that was also responsible for gathering the supporters of Fidesz for the mass rally on October 23. Well-known anti-Semites like Zsolt Bayer, Gábor Széles (owner of Magyar Hírlap and Echo TV), and András Bencsik have prominent roles in CÖF. The Goy Bikers also made an appearance at this demonstration.

Both MSZP and E14-PM decided to support the march as well as Szekler autonomy. They argued that after all RMDSZ also gave its cautious approval to the march that concurrently took place in Romania. RMDSZ’s position, of course, is very different from that of MSZP and E14. After all, RMDSZ needs the Szeklers’ vote; MSZP and E14 don’t. Or, more accurately, supporting their demands will not prompt the Szeklers to vote for these two leftist parties at the next election. Those who vote will vote for Fidesz.

MSZP was satisfied with verbal support, but E14 politicians actually marched along with all the right-wingers and Goy Bikers! And with that move E14 lost even more supporters.

If the opposition is to stand any chance at the next election it can’t keep alienating potential voters. And it shouldn’t act like an exclusive club open only to the MSZP-E14 “founding members.” Politics is a numbers game, and numbers rise with inclusiveness. And with unity.

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Johnny Boy
Guest

“Both MSZP and E14-PM decided to support the march as well as Szekler autonomy.”

Even though this move by these parties is motivated exclusively by not wanting to lose voters because of opposing an obviously democratic and, true to the meaning of the word, liberal (yes) movement of the Székely people who fight for their basic human rights they are currently deprived of, this may sign the beginning of laying down the foundation to some common agreement on national standards that has been completely missing from the left-lib side until today.
If this continues to go on, this naturally correct response, despite having been learned very slowly by the uncomprehending left, may actually become a real attitude during the years to come. And then the few lunatic Hungarophobic extremists like Gyurcsány’s fans will be completely marginalized.

Tojás
Guest
It has been mentioned a few times here that the liberals cannot be trusted to have the necessary discipline. They want to remain independent, hence the named intellectuals who now distance themselves from Együtt. Liberals care about their own – as perceived by themselves – reputation much more than about a party or the future of Hungary. That is what is called individualism, bu they are liberals so that is ok. This would never happen on the right as conservatives know that it does not matter if people lough at them or look down on them, they will support Orbán anyway, no matter what. In fact you still cannot name one conservative intellectual who would have renounced his/her Fidesz-leaning position — that is after these disastrous three years. No one. The Együtt supporters leave after a couple of months. It’s a joke. Conservatives know that only through loyalty and unity – especially against the hated liberals – can they prevail and prevail they will. Moreover, the Baja election video is now blamed on MSZP in the media. Whatever the truth, it is now widely accepted as an amateur try by MSZP to incriminate Fidesz, which blew up in the hands… Read more »
Andrew Anecdote
Guest

“Growing troubles in opposition circles” ……as well as a host of opposition groups going round and round each other in circles. Viktor Orban began his campaign for the 2014 election the day after FIDESZ won the last election. Yet here we are, approaching the next election very quickly, with a hopelessly divided opposition. While those who follow the dwarf groups of the opposition might know something of what each one of them is about, that inscrutable factor — the “floating voter” — has not got a clue with regard to their respective policies.
There is nothing like disunity for frightening off the mass of the voters and thus, at the moment, we are almost certainly faced with another 4-year cycle of FIDESZ. And with VO’s variety of “democratic centralism” this will also mean FIDESZ getting a tighter hold than it already has on the central and local organs of governmental power. And that means Hungary will, by default, effectively have a one-party state for a good few years to come.

The above is not defeatism and I hope I’m wrong but, looking at the details, Hungary cannot win the World Cup in Brazil next year.

Guest

Johnny Boy: “…the Székely people who fight for their basic human rights they are currently deprived of….”

In that case they should not look to Hungary. In Hungary Fidesz supporters have superhuman rights. Minorities and those in opposition have rights on paper.

Surferdude
Guest

This is like watching a car crash in slow motion. The fact is that the political differences across opposition groups are small and smaller than what you find within each group. The fact is that the majority of the voters wants Orban to go. The fact is that if Orban wins in 2014, it will be entirely the fault of the opposition.

I know that Eva is sympathizes with DK, so do I. But what I do not understand is why Gyurcsany and his faithful followers do not understand that he is a failed politician. He truly is and not just because Fidesz says so. He failed not because of his Oszod speech, but because he failed in almost every great plan he set out to accomplish. Some of those plans were good, a few were awful, it is beside the point. He was ineffective. When politicians fail, they take time out and reinvent themselves. Gyurcsany did not do that and he is about to win a second election for Orban.

Tyrker
Guest

Johnny Boy :

this may sign the beginning of laying down the foundation to some common agreement on national standards that has been completely missing from the left-lib side until today.

Very well said. Even though the sympathy demonstration in Hungary was small compared to the 53km long Székely march in Transylvania, it was still very important. Székely autonomy is both a liberal and a national cause. It is heart-warming to see right-wingers support a liberal cause and leftists back a national cause. That a couple of “hystero-liberal intellectuals,” as András Schiffer calls them, have freaked out upon seeing this rare example of national unity is not important. Együtt et al may have lost a handful of voters, but it’s great to see they have been able to get past short-term vote maximisation and stand behind something grander.

Dieter666
Guest

A bit OT, but not too much:

Has anyone seen this short digital book (70 pages) by the political scientist Jan-Werner Müller in Princeton (though he has a German name …) which appeared this summer?

http://europaeuslaw.blogspot.hu/2013/02/book-announcement-jan-werner-muller-wo.html

Wo Europa endet – Ungarn, Brüssel und das Schicksal der liberalen Demokratie

Loosely translated: Where Europe ends – Hungary, Brussels and the destiny of liberal democracy.

He asks for a commission in Brussels to analyze anti-democratic developments in the member states. The author also proposes stronger measures against the Orbán government – mainly financial …

Johnny Boy
Guest

Jean P :
Minorities and those in opposition have rights on paper.

Please elaborate.

qaz
Guest

Why is it that everyone on this blog appears so upset at Mr. Orban’s most likely win at the next elections?
Wouldn’t it be the best outcome? Consider the following three reasons:
1. Because the opposition is most likely incapable of decently governing and will be prevented in any event from doing so;
2. Even if the opposition were competent and could govern, the country and the economy are in such state of disarray that they are bound to fail; so isn’t it better to let the current administration sleep in the bed they made, which will be very uncomfortable for 4 more years?
3. Maybe in four years a team of decent, competent and non corrupt leaders would have emerged. If not, then maybe this country is beyond redemption.

freeHUUuuUU
Guest

The picture is sick.
The social democratic leaders (the liberal parties from MSZP to E14…) are incompetent.
The supporters of Fidesz are even more sick.
The Fidesz rulers are really evil. They rule by incitement against the weak layers of Hungary to cover up their criminal looting.
Some intellectuals are scary.
See the Krisztian Ungvary fake historians:
http://www.galamuscsoport.hu/tartalom/cikk/336260_die_welt_valasz_az_ungvary_interjura_az_ember_ugy
Good that we have Eva Baloghs, Laszlo Bitos, Feri Gyurcsanys, Gabor Kunczes…. who may rescue us.

Guest

I have to agree with qaz – a win by a weak opposition against a strong Fidesz in this economic situation would lead to a disaster!

Bowen
Guest
qaz : Why is it that everyone on this blog appears so upset at Mr. Orban’s most likely win at the next elections? Wouldn’t it be the best outcome? Consider the following three reasons: 1. Because the opposition is most likely incapable of decently governing and will be prevented in any event from doing so; 2. Even if the opposition were competent and could govern, the country and the economy are in such state of disarray that they are bound to fail; so isn’t it better to let the current administration sleep in the bed they made, which will be very uncomfortable for 4 more years? 3. Maybe in four years a team of decent, competent and non corrupt leaders would have emerged. If not, then maybe this country is beyond redemption. I can sort of understand if the opposition were asking “What’s in it for me?” However, this is hardly the right attitude. If the opposition doesn’t bother trying, then Fidesz will only get an inflated share of those who bother to vote. This will give Orban the opportunity to go around boasting for the next four years of what percentage he got, and how this proves that Hungarians… Read more »
Jano
Guest

qaz: “Maybe in four years a team of decent, competent and non corrupt leaders would have emerged. If not, then maybe this country is beyond redemption.”

The system is designed to corrupt everybody who goes into politics. First of all the electoral system puts a huge pressure on any “newcommers” to cooperate with the old folks around. Secondly, the stake of every election is avoiding apocalypse therefore if you plan to take your time and build your movement instead of dwelling into a “who gets what district” negotiations tragicomedy with the establishment parties then you are ostracized as a traitor for the cause. Thirdly, every new political formation in the past turned out to be a letdown and therefore voters are extremely distrustful. So yeah, good luck.

An
Guest

@Bowen: “If the opposition doesn’t bother trying, then Fidesz will only get an inflated share of those who bother to vote. This will give Orban the opportunity to go around boasting for the next four years of what percentage he got, and how this proves that Hungarians approve all the things he has been doing.”

Well-said. And not only that, but it does matter how strongly Orban emerges from the elections, even if he wins. An opposition that can seriously challenge him would be good news, and would make his life a little harder, even if he wins.

dvhr
Guest
DH
Guest
As always, mr. Orbán should not do anything against its rivals, whilst the rivals are doing a big favour for him (and for free). A few questions/issues from the perspective of a person who (lets imagine) simply followed the events in the news passively. 1. What is the reason that following 23 October the entire opposition is talking about that the crowd was manipulated. How could anyone (even if he is Gyurcsány) manipulate several thousands of people to shout the same? Some say it is “mass psychology”…well, I am not a phsychologist, but if I do not agree with something, I do not shout it, even if 10, 50 or 100 people starts to shout something. What is the reason that neither Bajnai nor Mesterházy has considered the simplest and evident cause: that those people who were there, want unity. I do not understand what they have expected, since they organised the event and probably knew that this will not be an MSZP event or an E14 event…It may not absurd to assume that most of the people, who were there in the crowd are supporters of either the liberals or DK etc., and the MSZP and E14 supporters, who… Read more »
An
Guest

@DH: MSZP did deny any involvement in the Baja video, see the last paragraph in the linked article. Maybe the fact that you didn’t hear about it only illustrates how well Fidesz controls the Hungarian media.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20131028_Aljas_modon_csobe_huzott_minket_az_MSZP_

tappanch
Guest

@DH

I think the second Baja affair was a Fidesz plot. The “key witness” (is there any proof that he was in the room to start with?) was either a Fidesz/secret service agent or was turned
while under police guard.

Fidesz uses this pretext to criminalize any whistle-blowing by changing the Penal Code.

tappanch
Guest

Here is the bill to further restrict freedom of speech:

http://www.parlament.hu/irom39/12865/12865.pdf

If someone publishes taped material that is false, falsified or contains false statements s/he can be jailed up to 3 years.

tappanch
Guest

Let me correct my previous summary.

If you know that the material is not true, the jail time is 3 years
If you do not know whether it is true and broadcast it, the jail time is 1 year.

tappanch
Guest

This bill is the death of whistle-blowing and investigative journalism in Hungary.

James Atkins
Guest

It might also put national media companies at risk if interviewing politicians.

HiBoM
Guest

Tappanch, are you saying that whistle-blowing and investigative journalism in Hungary is always accompanied by faked videos?

tappanch
Guest

@HiBoM

Say, I am a journalist. I receive a video about a possible Fidesz fraud. I have neither the manpower nor the legal right to investigate the validity of the video. Due to this bill, I dare not share with the public the info I received, even if it is true.

HiBoM
Guest

tappanch, it is a clear case of journalistic ethics. If you don’t know a video is valid, you don’t publish it. That is what is taught in every journalism school in the civilised world. You don’t publish on the off-chance that it might be true.

I’m not defending the latest proposed legislation which is utterly unnecessary. But your line of argument seems highly questionable

Matt_L
Guest

Eva, I read this site a lot, but have rarely commented since Mark passed away. I think the problem in Hungarian politics is very simple. The Hungarians have the most mediocre political class in Europe. They have no talent and this is the fault of the Hungarian voter. They are parochial and have no civic pride.

There is not one Hungarian politician, not Orban, Gyurcsanyi, Meszterhazy, Szili or the rest, that could win an election to become mayor of a major US city like Los Angeles, New York or Chicago. Even if elected they could not actually do the job of running the city. They might be able to win election from some crappy rural congressional district like Michelle Bachman. But they would be lucky to win a seat in a state house (which usually only requires a pulse).

They don’t have the skill to do the jobs they’ve been elected to.

spectator
Guest
qaz : Why is it that everyone on this blog appears so upset at Mr. Orban’s most likely win at the next elections? Wouldn’t it be the best outcome? Consider the following three reasons: 1. Because the opposition is most likely incapable of decently governing and will be prevented in any event from doing so; 2. Even if the opposition were competent and could govern, the country and the economy are in such state of disarray that they are bound to fail; so isn’t it better to let the current administration sleep in the bed they made, which will be very uncomfortable for 4 more years? 3. Maybe in four years a team of decent, competent and non corrupt leaders would have emerged. If not, then maybe this country is beyond redemption. Did I got it right, that since – in your opinion:“…the opposition is most likely incapable of decently governing…” we should just as well leave the present nepotist, corrupt and pseudo-national-socialist government in place, because they can govern – as opposed to the candidates of the opposition..? – That we should wait four more years and watch, how even the last pieces of democratic rights carefully stripped off,… Read more »
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