Viktor Orbán on the campaign trail

I have to admit that Viktor Orbán is doing an excellent job at promoting the idea that “Hungary is performing better.” His efforts are especially admirable considering how badly the Hungarian economy has in fact been doing under his stewardship. How does he manage to convince people that all is well?

The state television stations (MTV and Duna Television) are key weapons in the government’s arsenal of misinformation, but by now there is a whole media empire at the disposal of Fidesz. With its change of ownership TV2 now rivals MTV in servility toward the present government. The old stand-by HírTV is always at the disposal of the government. Széles Gábor, active in the Peace Marches, has his own newspaper and television station that cater to those whose political views lie at the convergence of the two rightist parties, Fidesz and Jobbik. In addition, most of the municipalities are in Fidesz hands and practically every bigger city and town, or in the case of Budapest every district, has its own newspaper freely distributed. All of these are full of government propaganda.

A few days ago I read an article about the political mood in Pécs where apparently the opposition has a real chance of winning. Even so, an older woman told the reporter that she will vote for Fidesz because everything is going splendidly in the country. She sees Viktor Orbán opening one factory after another. In addition, she now pays less for utilities.

And here we arrive at one of the Viktor Orbán’s campaign strategies. In the last few weeks Viktor Orbán has criss-crossed the country. Everywhere he goes he is greeted by adoring crowds. No one demonstrates against him, in contrast to the regularly televised demonstrations against politicians of the opposition. The choreography is carefully crafted by the Fidesz campaign staff. Local Fidesz politicians gather a sizable crowd before the arrival of the prime minister. Whether they are paid or not, no one knows. It is possible that they are all dying to meet Viktor Orbán although we know from past experience that Fidesz is ready to pay people if need be. And why can’t we see any demonstrators? The solution is simple. While opposition candidates announce their schedules way ahead of time, Orbán’s campaign visits are kept secret until the last moment.

Orbán also makes sure that he personally cuts the ribbon on every new business or infrastructure project, even small additions to already existing structures. Some of these projects have been in the making for years, but the cascade of these events gives the impression of an economic boom. Some official “openings” border on the fraudulent. For example, the Slovak and Hungarian pipeline that was connected yesterday. The pipeline will be functional only from January 1, 2015  on, if all goes well. But both the Slovak prime minister, Robert Fico, and Viktor Orbán were only too happy to celebrate the event months in advance. After all, both countries will hold elections soon. This whole affair reminds me of stories from the Rákosi era when unfinished factories had to be opened on the date specified by the five-year plan. In order to make things look real, workers started a fire inside so that smoke would be billowing out of the chimneys.

Robert Fico and Viktor Orbán "connect" the pipeline between Slovakia and Hungary Source: Zsolt Reviczky /Népszabadság

Robert Fico and Viktor Orbán “connect” the pipeline between Slovakia and Hungary
Source: Zsolt Reviczky /Népszabadság

Then we have stories that can only warm the cockles of proud Hungarian hearts and demonstrate the great genius of Viktor Orbán himself. One of these is the acquisition (mind you, for the tidy sum of 15 million euros) of part of the Sevso/Seuso treasures, a fantastic collection of late Roman silver tableware from the fourth century. Seuso was a high Roman official in Pannonia who most likely because of the coming “barbarians” hid all or some of a set of silver dishes, which experts estimate might have consisted of more than 200 pieces. The whole story is so interesting that I am planning to write about Seuso’s treasures at a later time. Here it is enough to mention that the man who discovered the priceless silver dishes sometime in the middle of the 1970s died under mysterious circumstances. He was most likely murdered. His murderers smuggled the treasure out of the country. It ended up first in England and from there half of it went to the United States. The upshot is that all Hungarian governments, starting with József Antall’s, have been trying to get the stolen goods back. By Hungarian law they belong to the Hungarian state. Interestingly enough, it was a week before the election that the acquisition of  seven of the known fourteen pieces was announced yesterday. This was deemed such an important event that the noon news on Hungarian Radio, which masses of Hungarians listen to, was interrupted to announce the arrival of the Seuso treasures. And naturally, it was the prime minister himself who announced the great success of his government. The pieces will be exhibited in Parliament for the next two months.

And there is the opening of the new metro line. All of Budapest is excited; after all, the metro line came into existence amid great difficulties, mostly because Viktor Orbán did everything in his power to shelve the project and, once the work began, to stop it. But the closer the project got to completion the more the Orbán administration came to the conclusion that opening Metro 4 might be a useful instrument to convince the people of Budapest that this government cares about them after all. Today Viktor Orbán talked about Budapest as “the capital of the nation.” We all know that Orbán doesn’t really like Budapest because he suspects, not without reason, that the majority of its inhabitants normally support those who would like to unseat him.

Add to all this the charges of corruption against MSZP politicians, like the case of Gábor Simon, former vice-chairman of the socialist party. There are already signs that the case, which seemed straightforward at the beginning, might not be so simple. Simon might even have been framed. This wouldn’t be the first time that trumped-up charges have been brought against members of the opposition.

All in all, it is a beautifully constructed campaign. It is carefully crafted and, if we can believe the polls, it is working.

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kommentelo
Guest

“Add to all this the charges of corruption against MSZP politicians, like the case of Gábor Simon, former vice-chairman of the socialist party. There are already signs that the case, which seemed straightforward at the beginning, might not be so simple. Simon might even have been framed. ”

Can you elaborate on how Simon might have been framed? Someone opened an account in Simon’s name in Austria in 2008 during the MSZP-SZDSZ government? Knowing it would be a good corruption case in 2014 six years later? After opening the account this someone deposited over 1 million dollars in it? When Simon was only a mid tier MSZP person. Then patiently waited as Simon rose through the ranks up to second in-command?

And then Simon when realizes he was framed (in 2008) does not even say anything to defend himself just resigns all party positions including his seat in parliament candidacy in the election (which by the way grants full immunity from any prosecution) for the next 4 years.

To me the biggest problem is how Simon reacted in the initial few days his reaction was not what I would expect from someone just getting framed.

Johnny Boy
Guest

If the charges are trumped-up, why got Simon got kicked out of the party?
Because Fidesz controls MSZP too? 🙂

tappanch
Guest

New, potential Fidesz FRAUD ALERT!

The “document offices” (okmányirodák) will be open on election day, a Sunday (!), to process [fake] address change requests, in order to move voters, including ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania to election districts that are leaning against Fidesz.

http://nepszava.hu/cikk/1015438-valasztasi-ugyeskedes-a-lakcimekkel

tappanch
Guest

Today, the number of registered “cross voters” increased by 10%.

The largest numbers are in opposition-leaning districts.

Changes on a single day March 27 {March 28}

Budapest
01 (Rogan) 1983 {2218}
02 2030 {2211}
04 950 {1037}
05 1345 {1479}
07 1578 {1724}
08 (Papcsak): 1756 {1862}
09 1450 {1562}
10 1450 {1562}
11 953 {1038}

Csongrad
02 (Szeged): 918 {1098}

tappanch
Guest

Correction:
Budapest
10 1166 {1299}

Overall change:

March 25: 40,994
March 27: 49,164
March 28: 54,086

gdfxx
Guest

” In the last few weeks Viktor Orbán has criss-crossed the country. Everywhere he goes he is greeted by adoring crowds. No one demonstrates against him, in contrast to the regularly televised demonstrations against politicians of the opposition. The choreography is carefully crafted by the Fidesz campaign staff. Local Fidesz politicians gather a sizable crowd before the arrival of the prime minister. Whether they are paid or not, no one knows.”

This whole thing reminds me of Ceausescu, the last dictator of Romania. The press was full with news about him, the TV news used to show his daily trips to various industrial and agricultural facilities where he always gave priceless advice and everyone present was taking copious notes. The crowds surrounding this circus was enthusiastically yelling his name with slogans like “Ceausescu and the people”. They were kept at safe distance though, I guess to avoid what happened in December of 1989, when he was executed after a very short “trial”.

petofi
Guest

@Eva

What gives?
Did you get a Troll to sub for you in this effort?
Orban’s efforts are “admirable”?…”beautifully” constructed campaign?…carefully crafted…?

These are not words one would usually see along side one of the most despicable leaders of the last 60 years.

gergő
Guest

It’s like in Sascha Baron Cohen’s movie The Dictator. The West forces a new constitution on the African country and there are elections. Lo and behold 98% of the people vote for the former dictator, now president and now nobody can criticize him, after all people love him.

This managed democracy in Hungary, just like in Russia, is a joke.

It’s like with the new Basic Law, it formally shows separation of powers, grants freedoms so EU experts can analyze the hell out of it how democratic it is, but in reality the branches of government are occupied by relatives, party commissioners and other tested loyalists.

The actual structure of the media negates any proclamation about freedom of speech. Yeah, you can set up a blog so that 3,000 people will read it, who anyway would have never voted for Orban.

Meanwhile the mass media, now down to the last women’s interest magazine is owned/controlled by Fidesz.

The campaign of Fidesz is indeed “professional” and disciplined, just like that of Putin.

But if there is every resource at your disposal it is not too difficult to be professional.

gdfxx
Guest

One more thing: the photograph shows Fico and Orban tightening a nut and bolt on a pair of flanges of the pipe. Fico seems to use a torque wrench, usually this kind of bolts require exact torque. But he does not seem to care, just puts his entire weight on the wrench. I wouldn’t want to be around that flange after the pipe was pressurized ;-).

petofi
Guest

gdfxx :
One more thing: the photograph shows Fico and Orban tightening a nut and bolt on a pair of flanges of the pipe. Fico seems to use a torque wrench, usually this kind of bolts require exact torque. But he does not seem to care, just puts his entire weight on the wrench. I wouldn’t want to be around that flange after the pipe was pressurized ;-).

Boy, the things you can learn on this blog!
I don’t usually hang with flanges…but if someone ever gives me a torque wrench, I’ll just refuse it outright.

gg2
Guest

FIDESZ/FINKELSTEIN are fooling the faithful and the dumb ones with an overdose of deceit.

It may lead to another meltdown.

Peter Karlsson
Guest

Orbán’s campaign seems to be all about show and never getting a serious question. Check out this 4-minute report from Hír24 about reporters never coming close to the prime minister: http://m.hir24.hu/hirek/belfold/Orban-Viktor-lepattintja-az-ujsagirokat

Member

petofi :
@Eva
What gives?
Did you get a Troll to sub for you in this effort?
Orban’s efforts are “admirable”?…”beautifully” constructed campaign?…carefully crafted…?
These are not words one would usually see along side one of the most despicable leaders of the last 60 years.

It’s no different than a military historian saying Germany’s strategy in the beginning of World War II was brilliantly executed. One may wish it weren’t true, but this does not change the matter of fact.

Orban is campaigning circles around the opposition. It’s a combination of his natural political skill and the nefarious regulations he concocted to ensure his uninterrupted grip on power. And let’s not forget the plurality of Hungarian voters who fawningly lap up every lie he tells and cheer him on.

oneill
Guest

This is my fourth election here and I have to say it is the quietest so far, the country is certainly not in the grip of political fever at the moment from what I can see.

Turnout will be interesting- my own barometer (the local market Saturday morning) revealed the (admittedly unscientifically proven) fact that democrats have, to all intents and purposes,already given up, the young fascists are running rings (in an activist sense) around the geriatrics manning the Fidesz effort and the vast majority of potential voters simply don’t care. 40% not voting next week. is that possible?

It will also be interesting to see how many Orban gets on his March of the Walking Dead today.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Observations have already been made here regarding the lack of opposition activity in the streets of Pest (except for Jobbik, as usual). Better late than sorry: there was a MSzP booth this morning in front of the Rákóczi tér market (VIII.).

You read well: a MSzP booth, complete with its red colors, logo and flags. No “Összefogás” in sight. Unity isn’t an easy concept, it seems.

Guest

I also think that voter participation will be low – should we take bets on this?

I also estimate less than 60 % – if it’s higher then I’ll be pleasantly surprised!

Re Orbán’s campaign:

This really looks like a professional exercise made in the USA! Though I’ve been there only there as a tourist it reminds me strongly of the republicans hammering home their “values” and achievements against the big bad overlords – in Orbán’s case the EUSSR, in the reps’ case the evil guys in Washington DC …

Since we seem to have quite a few “Amis” (that’s how we Germans call the US citizens …) here, I’d be interested in their opinion on this.

Istvan
Guest

Wolfi the turn out rate for voting in the Presidential election in the USA in 2012 was around 58% of eligible voters see http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout_2012G.html

One of the highest rates in any national election was in 1860 when anti-slavery candidate Abraham Lincoln won the election with a voter turn out rate of 81.2%. So a turn out rate in Hungary of 60% would not be considered a low rate by contemporary standards in the USA.

Bowen
Guest

Bekemenet news!

I’ve got my usual ringside seat. It’s a hot day (24C) and there are a lot more police around than in other Peace Marches. Also, every hundred metres or so, huge piles of bottled water are being distributed free of charge.

Big stage currently being set up, which is blocking Karoly Korut. It has a sign saying ‘Éljen az orosz magyar baratsag! Éljen bölcs vezerunk Viktor!’
(Long live the Russian-Hungarian Friendship! Long live our wise leader, Viktor!)

Bowen
Guest

Well, the Peace March took exactly 20 minutes to dawdle past, from Bayer at the front to the last stragglers. Not sure if that’s a lot of people or not.

This year, there was a police escort at the front, which there wasn’t before. Also, one of the people next to Bayer at the front was carrying a German flag. What’s that about?

Oh, and the ‘Long live the Russian-Hungarian friendship’ stage was well done (I don’t know who did it). They started putting on Putin masks and blaring out Soviet music as the Peace Marchers went past. The crowd got a bit agitated sometimes.

Member

Eva, I think you left off a very important question form the poll and w/o that question the poll does not worth to much in my humble opinion.

If you could vote today, who would you vote for?

We have no idea who the voters are here and how many times they can vote. WE do not know what is their motivation and who sent them. As far as we concerned that could be a floodgate of Fidesz supporters come on this board and cast their vote to strengthen their position. WE do know for a fact that there are other Boards out there that send their people here regularly. I posted that link before. The population in your sample this way is very flawed.

Bowen
Guest

Oh, MNO are running with the ‘Provocation at Deak Ter!’ Slightly over-sensationalised …

http://mno.hu/belfold/provokacio-a-deak-teren-1218557#elsocikk

Member

Eva S. Balogh :

petofi :
@Eva
What gives?
Did you get a Troll to sub for you in this effort?
Orban’s efforts are “admirable”?…”beautifully” constructed campaign?…carefully crafted…?
These are not words one would usually see along side one of the most despicable leaders of the last 60 years.

One has to admit that Orbán’s campaign is excellent as far as his own interests are concerned. That he achieves all this by deceit is another matter.

I don’t use the adjective “excellent” (or “admirable” or “beautiful”) for deceit: Are we to have “excellent” murder too?

And I agree completely with Gergo (#8) that with complete control over the media, Fidesz’s electoral conquest is like shooting apples (sic) in a barrel (with a Kalashnikov). Easier still with an apathetic, amoral populace. No excellence. Just sociopathy. You can always accomplish more if you have no scruples…

Member

Some1 :
Eva, I think you left off a very important question form the poll and w/o that question the poll does not worth to much in my humble opinion.
If you could vote today, who would you vote for?
We have no idea who the voters are here and how many times they can vote. WE do not know what is their motivation and who sent them. As far as we concerned that could be a floodgate of Fidesz supporters come on this board and cast their vote to strengthen their position. WE do know for a fact that there are other Boards out there that send their people here regularly. I posted that link before. The population in your sample this way is very flawed.

Exactly. Would have been much more informative with a question on what will/would you vote.

But of course it will also be a magnet for Fidesz moles, who never miss an opportunity to make the party look popular or righteous.

Yes, there are signs of sociopathic American “advisors” in the Fidesz tactics. These liars-for-hire should perhaps be called electoral mercenaries…

Guest

Re voter turnout in the USA:

I think we’ve had that discussion already. I’m still astonished that participation at the voting booths is unbelievably low in the USA – many eligible for voting don’t even register! I read somewhere that is partly because being a registered voter makes you “more visible”, you might get selected for jury duty etc …
But I really don’t know if that’s (part of) the reason.

In the mayoral elections last winter in some of the big cities in the USA voter turnout was less than 25 % – of course in Europe this type of “unimportant” election also has lower turnout, typically around 50 % in Germany eg while parliamentary elections have around 70 %..

petofi
Guest

Seal Driver :

petofi :
@Eva
What gives?
Did you get a Troll to sub for you in this effort?
Orban’s efforts are “admirable”?…”beautifully” constructed campaign?…carefully crafted…?
These are not words one would usually see along side one of the most despicable leaders of the last 60 years.

It’s no different than a military historian saying Germany’s strategy in the beginning of World War II was brilliantly executed. One may wish it weren’t true, but this does not change the matter of fact.
Orban is campaigning circles around the opposition. It’s a combination of his natural political skill and the nefarious regulations he concocted to ensure his uninterrupted grip on power. And let’s not forget the plurality of Hungarian voters who fawningly lap up every lie he tells and cheer him on.

“It’s no different….”
It certainly is. But then one must have a feeling for the language…
Let us remember Keats: “Beauty is Truth, truth beauty.”

Now, how would the word ‘truth’ fit with anything Orbanesque?

HiBoM
Guest

The low turnout in the USA has always puzzled me. But thinking about it, Americans have very little expectation from the state. Hence the bizarre instinctive aversion to public health care that one finds even in people who you feel should be in favour. So in a society where people expect very little from the state, are proud of their independence from the state, not voting is at least a vaguely rational act. The huge social problem in Hungary is that people DO demand a huge amount from the state, they expect a lot from it, while at the same time are not willing to contribute (in terms of paying taxes and social security contributions etc.), or voting.

Spicoli
Guest
Eva, you wrote – “His efforts are especially admirable considering how badly the Hungarian economy has in fact been doing under his stewardship. How does he manage to convince people that all is well?” I think if you simply look at the recent financial news Hungary is doing quite well. Where are or better whom are you getting your information from? Hungary’s economy is better than many other countries in Europe at the moment. Deficit spending at 2.5% for 2013, inflation below 1% and GDP growth at 2% . Overall debt is slightly down in 2013. Unemployment is down. Consumer and business confidence are high. S&P just upgraded Hungary’s debt rating today to stable. Personal income taxes have been reduced considerably. Interest rates are way down which allow for reasonable personal and business loans in HUF. The general attitude in the city is up significantly. If you look on the streets of Budapest you will see the city improving dramatically sure it’s driven by EU money but the Socialists were so incompetent they could not even have been bothered to apply for the max EU money available. what EU money was received seemed to have went into the Socialist pockets… Read more »
petofi
Guest
Spicoli : Eva, you wrote – “His efforts are especially admirable considering how badly the Hungarian economy has in fact been doing under his stewardship. How does he manage to convince people that all is well?” I think if you simply look at the recent financial news Hungary is doing quite well. Where are or better whom are you getting your information from? Hungary’s economy is better than many other countries in Europe at the moment. Deficit spending at 2.5% for 2013, inflation below 1% and GDP growth at 2% . Overall debt is slightly down in 2013. Unemployment is down. Consumer and business confidence are high. S&P just upgraded Hungary’s debt rating today to stable. Personal income taxes have been reduced considerably. Interest rates are way down which allow for reasonable personal and business loans in HUF. The general attitude in the city is up significantly. If you look on the streets of Budapest you will see the city improving dramatically sure it’s driven by EU money but the Socialists were so incompetent they could not even have been bothered to apply for the max EU money available. what EU money was received seemed to have went into the… Read more »
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