Is Viktor Orbán a coward?

As I was writing yesterday’s post on Viktor Orbán’s March 15th speech and came to the part where he talked about bravery as an essential ingredient of a nation’s success, my mind wandered to one manifestation of his own lack of bravery (admittedly, most likely wise risk management on his part). It was in 2006 that he made the mistake of agreeing to have a television debate with Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, who headed the MSZP ticket. Score (being charitable): Gyurcsány 1, Orbán 0. Since then he has systematically avoided head-to-head encounters with his opponents.

Prior to 2006 Orbán had two public debates, one in 1998 with Gyula Horn and another with Péter Medgyessy in 2002. The first debate was a clear win for Orbán, who at that point, following U.S. practice, thought pre-election debates were a capital idea. Gyula Horn, who had had a long political and diplomatic career in the Kádár regime, was no match for the young and more dynamic Viktor Orbán. Although Horn is considered by many the best prime minister of Hungary since 1990, on that occasion he looked unprepared and tired. In a major miscalculation, I don’t think he took the debate seriously.

After the first debate, I’m sure Viktor Orbán was looking forward to taking on Péter Medgyessy in 2002. Medgyessy was not known for his eloquence; in fact, people made jokes about his difficulty with long Hungarian tongue twisters. Orbán was dynamic, Medgyessy very low-key. Moreover, according to all the polls, it looked like easy sailing for Fidesz at the election. Orbán had nothing to lose. But in the debate Orbán looked and sounded like a bully while Medgyessy came across as a modest everyman with whom people could sympathize. As it was, the Hungarian electorate had had enough of the incessant government attacks on everyone who didn’t support them. Orbán lost the election, a result he never quite accepted.

Then came the debate of 2006 with Ferenc Gurcsány. It is something Orbán will never forget or forgive. I’m convinced that his hatred of Gyurcsány dates from that day. I watched the debate and immediately proclaimed it a rout. (The debate is available on YouTube.) Orbán was demolished. Interestingly enough, some people in our group who were exchanging e-mails during the debate were not as sure as I was. Later polls confirmed my first impression. Even Fidesz supporters had to admit that Orbán had lost the debate. Since then Orbán has been trying to pay Gyurcsány back for his humiliation. If it depended on him, he would send Gyurcsány to jail for life. Orbán may be on top of the world right now, but he still considers Ferenc Gyurcsány a threat. Moreover, it seems that after 2006 he got permanently cold feet when it comes to public debates.

He refused to debate Attila Mesterházy in 2010 and it looks as if he has no intention of debating this year either. There are different excuses each time. Four years ago he claimed that there were too many candidates. This year he listed several reasons for refusing to debate. First was that “to this day we don’t know who the real leader of the opposition is: Ferenc Gyurcsány, Attila Mesterházy, or Gordon Bajnai.” Well, this sounds like a lame excuse to me. After all, the united opposition’s candidate for premiership is Attila Mesterházy. Mesterházy called on Orbán to debate several times; in his blog he even dubbed Orbán a coward for refusing to measure the Fidesz program against the opposition’s. Of course, the fact is that Fidesz has no party program unless one considers the decrease in utility prices a program. That is why the following “manifesto” that appeared on the Internet is so apt. In 1848 Sándor Petőfi and his young friends had a list of twelve demands, including freedom of the press, an annual national assembly in Pest, national army, civil and religious equality before the law, equal distribution of tax burdens, and abolition of socage. Viktor Orbán had the gall to compare his lowering of utility prices to the abolition of socage and serjeanty, feudal dues. As you can see, Orbán’s 12 points in this “Orbán” version of the twelve demands are all the same: “utility decreases, utility decreases” twelve times over. Thus it would be rather difficult to have a debate on party programs.

rezsicsokkentes

A take-off on the Hungarian nation’s demands in 1848

It would be uncomfortable to answer questions about the Putin-Orbán agreement on Paks or the incredible corruption. If Mesterházy were well prepared, he could demolish Orbán’s economic figures. And what about the ever larger national debt? All in all, Orbán will not debate because it is not to his advantage. Moreover, his admirers don’t even demand any program. They seem to be perfectly happy with the government’s performance in the last four years and look forward to four or even eight more years of the same.

Another reason that Orbán gave for his refusal to debate is that in his opinion there is no political formation today outside of Fidesz-KDNP that is fit to govern (kormányzóképes). Such labeling in a democracy is unacceptable. It just shows what kind of democracy we are talking about in Hungary.

András Schiffer of LMP would like to have a debate with Orbán, Mesterházy, and Vona (Jobbik). As you know, Schiffer is not one of my favorites, but he is a good debater and could score extra points if given the opportunity. I’m sure that Orbán will not be game, and I understand that Mesterházy will agree only if Orbán also participates. So, we can be pretty sure that there will be no debate in 2014. The opposition will remain invisible.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Member

Answer to title question: YES
(Haven’t read the post yet.)

Member

Seal Driver :
Answer to title question: YES
(Haven’t read the post yet.)

I wanted to give the same answer, but I got behind as I read the the post. LOL

Maybe it is time for the opposition to print some more posters: Orban is scared, refuses debate. What is the program of Fidesz for the next four years beside decreasing utility cost?
They should call out to people who support Fidesz. They should understand that there is no magic here

petofi
Guest

Here’s a good poster: “ORBAN ONLY TALKS TO RUSSIANS”

Jano
Guest

I don’t think it’s just a matter of being a coward, it’s also cold calculation. What does Fidesz have to gain by it? They are perfectly happy with how the electorate’s preference is, why would they take an unnecessary unpredictable risk when they don’t have to. Another reason is that his image is built on being above everybody else in a certain sense and he would automatically put himself to the same level as his opponents whom Fidesz campaign try to depict as little kids fighting in the sandbox. I think if Fidesz needed to convince swinging voters he would do the debate.

It’s an entirely different question that in a normal democracy this should be such a travesty that he would never dare not to have a debate.

tappanch
Guest

atlatszo.hu has created a nice map showing the places one can vote outside Hungary.

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/viewer?mid=zs4xZPcT0ROU.kgkN401zBgzY

steve397
Guest

I believe that Fidesz is streets ahead of the opposition, so why should he debate?

Mesz
Guest
“András Schiffer of LMP would like to have a debate with Orbán, Mesterházy, and Vona (Jobbik). As you know, Schiffer is not one of my favorites, but he is a good debater and could score extra points if given the opportunity. I’m sure that Orbán will not be game, and I understand that Mesterházy will agree only if Orbán also participates. So, we can be pretty sure that there will be no debate in 2014. The opposition will remain invisible.” It would be a huge problem if the opposition remains invisible. Mesterházy must accept the debate as this will provide good visibility. Not only would opposition TVs probably cover it even if they do not, it can be put on youtube and spread on the internet. The only risk is that Vona and Schiffer crush Mesterházy in the debate but that is a personal risk he should be willing to take. But this debate would provide increased visibility to MSZP especially when it is needed the most. Also if Mesterházy refuses to debate the other parties it will hand them a a powerful campaign weapon. The other parties leaders will campaign by saying that both Orban and Mesterházy are afraid… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Here is an interesting argument from DK.

There are several fake parties with fake signatures of recommendation.

The Fidesz election law encourages fraudsters to do so for financial reward from the treasury.

The Fidesz-dominated electoral authorities are not willing to examine whether
fraud was committed BEFORE the election.

DK party thinks that

if Fidesz wins, the recommendation lists will be destroyed,

but if Fidesz loses, the lists will be examined and found fraudulent, and

the election would be declared invalid.

http://www.168ora.hu/itthon/dk-mostani-valasztasi-torveny-mellett-csak-nem-csal-aki-nem-akar-124736.html

Member

tappanch :
The Fidesz-dominated electoral authorities are not willing to examine whether
fraud was committed BEFORE the election.
DK party thinks that
if Fidesz wins, the recommendation lists will be destroyed,
but if Fidesz loses, the lists will be examined and found fraudulent, and
the election would be declared invalid.
http://www.168ora.hu/itthon/dk-mostani-valasztasi-torveny-mellett-csak-nem-csal-aki-nem-akar-124736.html

Now, that is an interesting twist!

Cavalli
Guest
Sorry, to post it to this thread. Szigetvari is a jackass. There is simply no other non-Hungarian in the entire West, who would so thoroughly understand Orban and his system than Kim Scheppele. Period. I am also sure Szigetvari is not too good at English, so for him it is just tiresome to read Kim Scheppele’s (or any English-language) articles. In additon, I think Szigetvari, as many of Együtt’s legal guys try to be very ‘balanced’ (eg, that they have no theoretic problem with first-past-the-post system and they do not necessarily want a proportionate system). Firstly, this is a natural approach of any kind of Left — to try to seem generous and understanding of the right and give credit to them, so as to look less partizan. Secondly, this approach has been there right from the beginning at Együtt, when it wanted to open to the middle/moderate right wingers. At the bottom is, however, the realization, perhaps subconscious, that Szigetvari cannot be really tough, cannot demand the opposite of what Fidesz set up (the opposite of the very heavily fist-past-the-post system) because Szigetvari’s position in general is hopeless. Therefore Szigetvari tries to occupy a position that is more understanding… Read more »
The Donald
Guest
Mesz : “András Schiffer of LMP would like to have a debate with Orbán, Mesterházy, and Vona (Jobbik). As you know, Schiffer is not one of my favorites, but he is a good debater and could score extra points if given the opportunity. I’m sure that Orbán will not be game, and I understand that Mesterházy will agree only if Orbán also participates. So, we can be pretty sure that there will be no debate in 2014. The opposition will remain invisible.” It would be a huge problem if the opposition remains invisible. Mesterházy must accept the debate as this will provide good visibility. Not only would opposition TVs probably cover it even if they do not, it can be put on youtube and spread on the internet. The only risk is that Vona and Schiffer crush Mesterházy in the debate but that is a personal risk he should be willing to take. But this debate would provide increased visibility to MSZP especially when it is needed the most. Also if Mesterházy refuses to debate the other parties it will hand them a a powerful campaign weapon. The other parties leaders will campaign by saying that both Orban and Mesterházy… Read more »
petofi
Guest

“Therefore Szigetvari tries to occupy a position that is more understanding towards Fidesz.”

Let’s face it, the whole political game in Hungary is rigged by Fidesz and MSZP. They’re all going through the motions. Fidesz will win and MSZP will remain with substantial support, by hook or by crook. Orban may find himself at the ridiculous situation of having to alter the results so that MSZP is shown to have more support than it actually has.

Nobody wants to change the game with the exception of Gyurcsany and Bajnai and, as I predicted before, have been hoisted on their own petard by Mesterhazy who is a half-hearted partner at best.

While politics may be a dirty game in most countries, Hungarians bring it to a stomach-churning, disgusting new low…and the citizenry, now and forever, will get the hindmost.

whoever
Guest

@petofi – this is spot-on. Go and have a look at the MSZP HQ in Jokai utca and note how it is covered in Hungarian tricolors. Not one, but half a dozen, all the way along the building. Watch ATV news from this morning, and see Attila Mesterhazy dressed up in a black 1848 tunic, a strange contrast with his bling-like thick gold chain that hangs round his neck. Effectively, MSZP has become Fidesz’ gimp – I’m sure it’s compromised now, on a number of levels. The MSZP dance to Orban’s music. It’s better they voluntarily dissolve after April 6th.

Many people have made criticisms of the opposition co-operation, but perhaps the biggie is this: if we go back to 2011, it seemed that between them, DK, Milla/Szolidaritas and LMP were set to carve the MSZP vote down to its rump (Kobanya Nyugdijasok). The electoral changes made by Fidesz have ensured the MSZP’s survival, together with the ‘co-ordination’ of the official opposition co-operation, which is so much *less* than the sum of its parts. Maybe there was no conspiracy, maybe it’s all just cock-up, but it all seems remarkably as though Orban has become the architect of the opposition!

Ovidiu
Guest

In this particular situation he is not a coward.Courage is about taking risks for a purpose, for gaining something, but here Orban stands to gain little if he wins and, on the other hand, to lose a lot if he fails.It is a case of pragmatic calculation.
At most one can say that he is immoral since no matter who wins the debate the Hungarian nation stands only to gain from such a high-level confrontational debate where the usual spinning and manipulation won’t work because both sides are good at it.

But is Orban a coward in general ? The answer is yes.Much of his ‘daring’ behavior resembles that of a bully not that of a noble man whose principles oblige him make a stand despite risks.Orban’s strength is his ability to exploit other people cowardice, he has good understanding/apprehension of the social reality, of the risks involved for others in confronting him, and he keeps playing upon them.
But he backs down and runs if met resolutely by people who are principled and don’t allow to be intimidated.As such Orban can be classified as risk-adverse type, as a bully not as a hero.

zapor joska
Guest
whoever – Orban loves MSZP. This has been written about many times here, he just loves MSZP as his opposition. He chose them. He cannot hope for a better one. Seriously. Orban did a lot of things to keep MSZP alive. He is also on the record saying that a two-party system is the best one (ie. ones assumes as in Texas and California, which effectively means a one party system). MSZP can be incentivized not to say controlled so many ways, it’s fantastic. Orban could control them even from opposition. The lefties can be bought (would kill to get some cut from the usual big cakes after these lean years), they can be threatened by legal procedures (Fidesz owns the prosecution and the judiciary), but the best is that they more often than not just do not get the issue at hand (Fidesz is a party of savvy lawyers, at MSZP they are mostly third-rate business administrators, economists, teachers who just do not get how a constitutional system really works). Plus, the left by its nature is very naive and timid and overcompensating, even if the lefties could understand what is going on. But they don’t. Also, the lefties… Read more »
Eskild Nielsen
Guest
I write in danish. Hej Eva Her er en YouTube playlist med 10 videoer jeg har optaget på Ungarns Nationaldag 2014. En andenslags dokumentation end den etablerede pressses. Min kone ,der som du er 56-er, har ferielejlighed http://www.rekabudapest.dk 5 minutters gang fra Nationalmuseet. Orbanadministrationen er meget dygtige og desværre også totalt uden etik og skam i deres manipulationer og propaganda. Desværre er Orban ikke en idealist, der bænder for Ungarns velfærd. Nej, han er egoist til fordel for egne og venners personlige vinding og redde sig selv fra retsvæsenets og folkets dom. Desværre har oppositionen mange dårlige sager. Så der går meget lang tid før der kommer en regering i Ungarn, der opfører sig ordentligt og demokratisk. Videoerne i slow-motion er portrætter af Fidesz og Jobbiks vælgere. Normalt kan man ikke på gaden se, hvem der er det ene eller andet. Tak for dine beskrivelser og analyser, som jeg læser næsten hver dag. Med venlig hilsen Eskild Nielsen ESKILD TV has shared a video playlist with you on YouTube 10 videos UNGARNS NATIONALDAG 2014 PLAYLIST by ESKILD TV Help center • Email options • Report spam ©2014 YouTube, LLC 901 Cherry Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066 Ingen virus fundet i… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Mr Nielsen,
You seem to be a realtor in Budapest and your link is an ad…

Member

As far as I understand from Mr Nielsen’s message (on the basis of my school Swedish), he is not trying to sell anything but just convincing us of his dislike of Orbán’s government and informing us of his videos of the national holiday, shot from his wife’s (who is a 56-er) apartment (?) and giving a close and slow-motion view of Fidesz and Jobbik supporters.

And as for Orbán’s cowardice, the “Milla” FB site had a nice comment to this, with a quotation from Monty Python’s Holy Grail.

“He was not at all afraid to be killed in nasty ways, brave, brave, brave Sir Victor…”

whoever
Guest
@zapor joska – Such a dependent relationship has been a feature of Hungarian politics for a while to be honest, it’s not as if it’s been kept totally secret. It’s just that this idea of the MSZP as the gimp in Orban’s basement is becoming pervasive. The way that FM radio frequencies were divided up – leading to the end of the old, massively popular, Slager FM – gave a big clue. And of course the MSZP-backed radio station stumbled and fell a year or two later. In the eyes of many, not only are the MSZP almost as crooked as Fidesz, they are *rubbish* crooks. So why bother? Why not go for the real crooks who know how to keep the crooked trains on time? (We know why not, but still…) The thing is that there are still many people in and around MSZP who are honest and well-meaning. In three weeks time, the ball will effectively be in their court, as to what should happen next. Whilst the party survived the Gyurcsany faction leaving, I’m not sure it would survive the detachment of further lumps, especially if it meant losing MEPs and MPs in what is left of… Read more »
NgN
Guest

whoever, as maestro Finkelstein aptly said, between the corrupt and the stupid, people choose the corrupt (the smart corrupt). People anyway think that politicians are corrupt, they choose the smart ones who don’t get arrested all the time.

Guest
Eskild Nielsen : I write in danish. Hej Eva Her er en YouTube playlist med 10 videoer jeg har optaget på Ungarns Nationaldag 2014. En andenslags dokumentation end den etablerede pressses. Min kone ,der som du er 56-er, har ferielejlighed http://www.rekabudapest.dk 5 minutters gang fra Nationalmuseet. Orbanadministrationen er meget dygtige og desværre også totalt uden etik og skam i deres manipulationer og propaganda. Desværre er Orban ikke en idealist, der bænder for Ungarns velfærd. Nej, han er egoist til fordel for egne og venners personlige vinding og redde sig selv fra retsvæsenets og folkets dom. Desværre har oppositionen mange dårlige sager. Så der går meget lang tid før der kommer en regering i Ungarn, der opfører sig ordentligt og demokratisk. Videoerne i slow-motion er portrætter af Fidesz og Jobbiks vælgere. Normalt kan man ikke på gaden se, hvem der er det ene eller andet. Tak for dine beskrivelser og analyser, som jeg læser næsten hver dag. Med venlig hilsen Eskild Nielsen ESKILD TV has shared a video playlist with you on YouTube @tappanch, just check the ESKILD TV channel on YouTube, you’ll see different videos showing people in the streets of Budapest on 15 March. As for Eskild Nielsen’s message,… Read more »
petofi
Guest

If Szigetvari critisized Scheppele then he’s doing Orban’s bidding, and can be considered a ‘purchased’ item.

Bajnai seems too clean to be hobnobbing with such black souls.

A real opposition will take years and should start with a new party made up of: Bajnai, Gyurcsany, Bokros and Bekesi. Perhaps it should be called, “People First Democratic Union”.

petofi
Guest

@zapor joska

“…the literal elephant in the room will be Jobbik…”

Don’t be misled: Jobbik is a straw dog. The blueprint is by Russia where Putin created the 2nd party to suck opposition support and confuse the people. So Jobbik. When the time comes, Jobbik will be dealt with like the Brown Shirts were in Nazi Germany…

Guest

OT: The Putin Doctrine
If invited by a central or local authority of a bordering country and if Russia deems the inviting authority legal, Russia has the right to annex that bordering country or part thereof.

Ugly times ahead for Russia’s neighbours.

Zoe
Guest

Jean P: The Russians have the nukes, so they can do whatever they want. Dreamers should wake up.

And the world still needs their oil, gas, nickel and the like

The Russians could not care less if they sell energy to Germans, Hungarians, Italians or to Chinese, Indians, Japanese etc., there will always be enough buyers, no trade sanction can possibly hurt them.

HiBoM
Guest

Perhaps Éva will expand on this dispute with Szigetvári in a subsequent post but from what I can tell so far, all that has happened is that Szigetvári has tweeted that in his view, Kim Scheppele’s account is not as accurate as someone else’s. Eva Balogh disagrees. And now Sizgetvári is being accused of of having been “bought out” by Orbán. Éva’s final word in the twitter-storm is something along the lines of “you should not be allowed anywhere near an election campaign.” A true assertion perhaps but a hysterical response in its context (although happy to be hear the other side).

Are we saying that Scheppele can’t be criticised, however mildly? And given the utterly abysmal way that Hungarian law is written, I think it is entirely possible for two decent people to interpret the same piece of legal text differentially (which is the implication of the Szigetvári tweet, surely). Has the Hungarian western thinking side of the political spectrum sunk so low (to the levels of Orbán and Jobbik) that it now demands its own “orthodox” opinions from its followers that can’t be questioned for fear of rocking the boat? What sort of world are you fighting to create?

HiBoM
Guest

Apologies for earlier typos – it should read “legal text differently” of course. The others are self explanatory (pity we can’t edit our own posts!)

I should perhaps have ended by post with the following rhetorical flourish to make it more “on topic” – Aren’t we the cowards?

Guest

OT:

And now for something totally crazy – also on wordpress, so you can see the breadth of this:
http://heavenawaits.wordpress.com/are-american-jews-as-a-group-hopelessly-stupid/

Be warned! This is a “Christian” site, as anti-Obama, anti-Jewish and generally crazy as can be!

Don’t ask me how I stumbled on it – it was a really funny coincidence …

Member

Zoe :
Jean P: The Russians have the nukes, so they can do whatever they want. Dreamers should wake up.
And the world still needs their oil, gas, nickel and the like
The Russians could not care less if they sell energy to Germans, Hungarians, Italians or to Chinese, Indians, Japanese etc., there will always be enough buyers, no trade sanction can possibly hurt them.

I hope you all know that the pipelines into the heart of Europe are crossing through Ukraine? Russia just raised the price of gas for the Ukraine (removed the discount), cut off the Crime region. If Europe does not interfere, guess what will happen. THere are extremists on both sides.

wpDiscuz