Notes on a confused pre-election analysis of Hungarian politics

Four years ago, shortly before the election, I wrote two articles about Péter Tölgyessy, one in Hungarian and the other in English. One is not the translation of the other, but in both I was critical of his assessment of Hungarian politics at the time. I criticized him with perhaps more vehemence than it is my wont because it irritated me to no end that Hungarian liberals looked upon the man as the most reliable source of political analysis. If Tölgyessy says something, well, it must be true.

Why is he considered to be a real guru? I guess that his substantial contribution, alongside László Sólyom, to the new democratic constitution of 1989 is one of the reasons. Second, it was his “pact” with the new prime minister, József Antall, that established the stability of all Hungarian governments between 1990 and 2010. The deal entailed the introduction of several “cardinal laws,” which needed two-thirds majorities. It also included an agreement that a member of SZDSZ, Árpád Göncz, would become the president of the Republic of Hungary despite Antall’s right-of-center coalition government.

Perhaps another reason for his somewhat exaggerated reputation is that he speaks or writes so rarely. His rather unusual political career included eight years in parliament as a member of the Fidesz caucus during which he never spoke once. He occasionally comes out with books about politics, but his name rarely appears in the daily press. It seems, however, that he finds it practically compulsory to say something about Hungarian politics every four years.

Péter Tölgyessy

Péter Tölgyessy

His contribution for 2014 is long. It was published in three parts in HVG. In preparation for today’s post I spent a considerable amount of time reading and taking notes on it. And the more I read the more I came to the conclusion that Tölgyessy’s analysis is off the wall.

I’m sure that all of you are familiar with those political analysts who can’t refrain from predicting the future but do so in a way that pretty well includes all possibilities. At the very beginning of his treatise Tölgyessy announces that Fidesz can receive 70% of the votes (similar to the situation in Belarus) but that “one cannot exclude the possibility that the opposition will win with a small margin.” He finally settles for a Fidesz win “in the neighborhood of two-thirds.”

Although Tölgyessy foresees the possibility of a national tragedy as a result of Viktor Orbán’s policies, he seems to take this year’s election lightly. In his opinion, both sides exaggerate. Orbán claims that their inability to continue in office would bring disaster to the nation while the opposition charges that another four years of the present government would eliminate even the few remaining vestiges of democracy.

In reality, the cleavage between the two sides is greater than ever, yet Tölgyessy doesn’t see major differences between the two. This is what happens when an analyst pretends to be impartial. Whatever we think of the Hungarian left or the liberals, in comparison they still seem to be a great deal better than those currently in power. Moreover, within the essay it becomes evident that Tölgyessy is not politically neutral: he is now a supporter of András Schiffer’s LMP. He wishes, I’m sure, that LMP would be strong enough to win the election and get rid of all the current politicians. This, to his mind, would allow Hungary to become a truly European country.

In the second part of the essay Tölgyessy turns to the Hungarian left. The real problem, according to Tölgyessy, is the “political civil war” that exists between the two political sides. So far so good, but what can one do with the following statement: “Fidesz now with the help of the two-thirds majority, limited parliamentary system, and the elimination of true democratic election system,  is trying to step outside of  the warlike vortex of the last twenty years.” Oh, I see. Whatever Viktor Orbán did in the last four years was all for the good of Hungarian political life. He was simply trying to put an end to political division in the country and introduce peace and tranquility. Yet a few lines later we read that since everything works in the interest of extending Fidesz rule “the opposing forces might be directed against the whole system” and not just the Orbán government. I would say that we have already reached that stage.

Or what can we do with sentences like this: “because of the centralization of power, with one single electoral loss we can return to the confused world of the past.” Almost as if Tölgyessy himself believed the Orbán propaganda about the disorderly and incoherent past. Tölgyessy seems to like LMP because in his opinion András Schiffer’s party wants to “break the logic of the two-bloc political system.” Well, what I see is that Schiffer and his friends hate both the left and the right, and I don’t know why three warring groups would be preferable to two.

After this Tölgyessy takes on the opposition parties and finds something wrong with all of them. MSZP today might be a different party than before, but now the problem is that Attila Mesterházy is trying to imitate Viktor Orbán. This party “overpowers the opposition as never before.” A dubious claim at best. An ugly dig is put in for emphasis: “the MSZP activists have no life outside the Party.” The capitalized letter in “party” is a reminder of the Rákosi and Kádár days. Why? Is there life outside of Fidesz for people like Orbán, Lázár, or Rogán? He claims that MSZP politicians “have less feeling of responsibility toward society than Rezső Nyers and Gyula Horn.” Both are old leaders of the MSZMP of the Kádár period. On what basis does he make such an accusation?

As for Gordon Bajnai, he has no political talent whatsoever; moreover, his own past made him a hopeless candidate. After all, he was a member of the Gyurcsány cabinet, and his company’s involvement in the bankruptcy case of a poultry processing plant made him a thoroughly unsuitable candidate. Not a word about Bajnai’s record as prime minister. And finally, Tölgyessy echoes the Fidesz accusation that with the return of Ferenc Gyurcsány to the fold “the old left symbolically returned to its pre-2010 self.”

If we can believe that Tölgyessy is an outspoken supporter of capitalist development and would like to see Hungary adjust to the requirements of the global economy, why does he not notice that Frenc Gyurcsány’s DK is practically the only party in Hungary that embraces modern capitalism wholeheartedly? I guess he can’t come to that conclusion because he views Gyurcsány as a political adventurer with no sense of responsibility.

Finally, Tölgyessy thinks that the cleavage between left and right was caused primarily by MSZP. In his opinion, it is this party that “introduced eastern types of methods that were alien to the other new democratic parties” because its leaders were fearful of losing their old financial security. Honest to goodness, I don’t know what Tölgyessy is talking about. First of all, all the party leaders in 1989-1990 grew up in the Kádár regime. If one can characterize those methods as eastern, then the whole lot of them were students of eastern methods.

The second section of this long essay ends with the following words: “There is far less difference between the two blocs than their enthusiastic supporters think or their leaders try to convince the population of the country. Both are trying to solve the whole mess in their own way without much success. Fidesz, however, with its desire to win and put an end to this warlike opposition went too far and overstepped more limits than at any time before.” It was at this point that I threw up my hands. Others can plow through the section three.

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Caprice Goldberg
Guest

“Orbán claims that their inability to continue in office would bring disaster to the nation while the opposition charges that another four years of the present government would eliminate even the few remaining vestiges of democracy.”

While it may seem flippant and I am certainly opening myself to attacks from several newfangled trolls (well paid PR professionals in America, I am fully convinced), I really must ask: which are the vestiges of democracy which he dares to claim remain? I honestly can’t think of any offhand…

tappanch
Guest

Government semi-official daily Magyar Nemzet lied about the SImon case, claims the French retail chain “Auchan”.

http://index.hu/belfold/2014/04/02/az_nni_leallitotta_a_nyomozast_a_simon-vagyon_magyar_nemzet_altal_sejtett_forrasanal/

tappanch
Guest

Fidesz leader Rogan’s net income was 116 million forints in the last 15 years combined – and he could not have purchased real estate for several hundred million forints.

http://index.hu/belfold/2014/04/02/turkaljon_velunk_rogan_zsebeben/

tappanch
Guest

Lots of enthusiastic voters cannot sleep.

In the last few hours, after 5 PM, more than 10,000 additional voters registered to vote outside of their home districts.

March 25: 40,994
March 27: 49,164
March 28: 54,086
March 29: 62,095, corrected to 62,096 on March 30, corrected to 62,108 on March 31
March 31: 71,495
April 02: 80 570
April 03: 91,204 at 0:30, just after midnight

This rapidly growing number is already 60% higher than the 2010 final number.

Member

tappanch :
Fidesz leader Rogan’s net income was 116 million forints in the last 15 years combined – and he could not have purchased real estate for several hundred million forints.
http://index.hu/belfold/2014/04/02/turkaljon_velunk_rogan_zsebeben/

According to Fidesz / Orban own spokesperson who has been charged before for steeling from a grocery store, made it clear today that Rogan is innocent, he only wrote wrong info on the tax return, and this is all an attempt by the opposition to take away the attention from the SImon affair.
Lazar (Fidesz) also made it clear that Rogan can show how he legally obtained everything he has. I hope he will show us before election day.

Member

In case anyone missed an other Fidesz / Orban minister also had to correct his tax returns.

tappanch
Guest

On April 1, 2014 a new Excel table showed up on the homepage of the National Bank, MNB.

It is like a Holy Grail.
It contains some pieces that I would have needed to get the full picture in my economic note a few weeks ago.

I am now able to calculate the net Maastricht criteria numbers that include the nationalized private retirement funds for 2011,2012 and 2013.

THis gives the best numbers about the overspending of the Orban government and the previous government. (I did not add the net EU support to this number to make it less horrifying)

total government := central + local + social security

Thus
(change in the NET total government debt + spent MaNyuP)/(GDP at current prices)=

2009: 6.21%
2010: 4.04%
2011: 7.40%
2012: 9.94%
2013: 5.43%

If we disregard the government obligations to future retirees, i.e. the spent MaNyuP, then

(change in the NET total government debt)/(GDP at current prices)=

2009: 6.21%
2010: 4.04%
2011:-6.00%
2012: 8.68%
2013: 4.24%

tappanch
Guest

Orban’s debt achievement 2013-12-31 vs 2010-06-30:

(by the way, Treasury failed to disclose the last gross debt number, I guess
they are not allowed to horrify the public before the election)

Growth of NET debt
1.
without counting the MaNyuP (nationalized private retirement funds)

1.1
Growth of net liabilities of the government in HUF

central : 22.15%
total: 14.48%

1.2
Growth of net liabilities of the government in EUR, using MNB official rates on the days.

central: 17.85%
total: 4.54%

with counting 2,555.9 billion HUF of MaNyuP
2.1
Growth of net liabilities of the government in HUF

central : 37.98%
total: 30.39%

2.2
Growth of net liabilities of the government in EUR, using MNB official rates on the days.
evaluated MaNyuP to 2555.9/296.91 = 8.608 billion euros.

central: 33.12%
total: 25.80%

LwiiH
Guest

Mean while is anyone talking about the Elephant in the room? How Fidesz hijacked the constitution and what anyone might do about it?

tappanch
Guest

Updated election numbers:
———————————

1.
Overnight, the number of registered “cross voters” shot up from 80,570 to 91,204.

2.
The number of “Gypsy” list voters has decreased by 5,651 since its peak on March 25.

March 25: 19,922
April 03: 14,271, at 10 AM, backdated to April 02

The number of ethnic German voters has decreased by only 222 at the same time.

March 25: 15,431
April 03: 15,209, at 10 AM, backdated to April 02

3.
The number of eligible domestic voters is no longer available.

original: 8 067 706
March 25: 8 028 310
April 02: 8 020 376

4.
Accepted voting applications from new citizens with no Hungarian addresses:

April 03: 195,338 at 10 AM

Received votes at the consulates or at the Election Office

April 02: 5PM: 97,320= 32310+43608+21402;

Processed votes (opened outer envelop)

April 03, 10:30 AM: 50,655

Accepted votes

April 03, 10:30 AM: 40,292, 79.54%

tappanch
Guest

Pace of processing of mailed-in votes

March 31: 11,202
April 01: 0
April 02: 14,466
April 03: 17,364

tappanch
Guest

Between 10:30 and 10:50, they posted another
33,548 dropped off votes at Hungarian consulates and embassies from Hungarians without Hungarian address.

These new ballots have not arrived at the Election Office in Hungary yet.

tappanch
Guest

Correction: there are still 33,548 ballots at Hungarian consulates and embassies.

The NEW votes that arrived at these locations in the last half an hour is 12,146.

tappanch
Guest

The international election observers should post, or rather should have posted observers at the consulates in Transylvania, Carpatho-Ukraine and Voivodina:

Are there lines trying to hand over their votes?

Or individuals just drop off the votes by the thousands and there are absolutely no lines?
(I suspect the latter case)

Pensioner, wo had no job
Guest
Pensioner, wo had no job

Please Surrender! The resistance is meaningless!

tappanch
Guest

Poll by Median, taken between March 21 and 25, sample size= 1200

Fidesz 36%
Jobbik 15%

LMP 2%
United Opposition 18%

other parties 7%
uncertain 22%

Estimated votes for party lists at the election:

Fidesz 38-44%
United Opposition: 26-32%
Jobbik 21-25%
LMP 3-5%

http://hvg.hu/itthon/201414_rejt_a_palya

Guest

Pensioner, you should at least try to get the correct quote:

“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borg_%28Star_Trek%29

On the other hand, comparing Orbán’s regime to the Borg is a nice idea …

tappanch
Guest

In the same poll:

Do you want a change of government?

Yes: 49%
No: 41%
don’t know: 10%

tappanch
Guest

Net “immigration” in selected districts between February 1 and March 30.

Source: Gergely Karacsony, from the Election Office
comment image
http://nepszava.hu/cikk/1015927-last-minute-szavazokkal-csalhatnak

Election district

Budapest
1.: 657 (Rogan), +1.0% [probably larger % of the voters]
2.: 988, +1.4% [district 11.]
6. : 339, +0.5% [district 8.]
7.: 613, +0.8% [district 13.]
8.: 706 (Papcsak), +0.9%
9.: 745, +0.9% [district 10]
10: 378, +0.5% [district 3]
11: 323, +0.4% [district 4]

Change in the number of eligible voters in the entire country through April 2:

– 47,330, – 0.6%

tappanch
Guest

Source: Gergely Karacsony, using data obtained from the Election Office

Member

@ Pensioner, wo had no job: It is always nice to know what is my tax dollars being spent on, and how Fidesz / Orban again and again lies. Nice to know that the free bussing to the Fides party rally worked out for them, but the money would be better spent on other things, mainly ob legal things! It is not nice to see that you are supporting illegal doings of the government but then again those who are just like you dragged this country down, and empower the dismantling of democracy by any means.

tappanch
Guest

I would like to emphasize that the heaviest address change drive is happening this week,

in the March 31 through April 6 period.

Nádas
Guest

The fatal flaw in the Hungarian constitution – which apparently Mr. Tölgyessy and the other framers failed to foresee – is the provision that allows it to be amended and even completely rewritten (and renamed!) with only a two-thirds majority vote in the single chamber-parliament. No ratification by the voters or any other national or regional or local body is required.

Presumably, if Orbán thought his re-election were in doubt, he could use his majority to change even that clause. This would ensure “his” constitution survives well into the future. And if he retains his super majority, he could easily change it back, or even suspend it altogether.

Member

tappanch :
The international election observers should post, or rather should have posted observers at the consulates in Transylvania, Carpatho-Ukraine and Voivodina:
Are there lines trying to hand over their votes?
Or individuals just drop off the votes by the thousands and there are absolutely no lines?
(I suspect the latter case)

I m not sure if you know, but the process of having election observers is simple, they must be invited by the government. Contrary to popular belief, election observers do not just show up, and they do not just go wherever they please. It is the government that invites them to observe the election, and gives them the support (example: passes to voting locations, “passes” to interviews, etc.). When, where and if the Orban government invites the observers they would go. There are long term observers who are likely in the country already, but their job is not visiting the locations at voting time, as that is what the short term observers do, based o the addresses provided to them indirectly by the government.

Member

tappanch :
I would like to emphasize that the heaviest address change drive is happening this week,
in the March 31 through April 6 period.

They needed to process the addresses of the Peace March participants, and based on it likely they are moving some addresses around.

tappanch
Guest

The local “okmanyiroda”s are instructed to have extraordinary hours when they process address changes and IDs only

April 4, Friday: 12- 4PM
April 5, Saturday: 8 AM – 2 PM
April 6, Sunday: 7 AM – 7 PM (in Budakeszi, 6 AM – 7 PM)

tappanch
Guest

Extraordinary hours in the Budapest “okmanyiroda”s, which do not belong to the local governments any longer, but are units of the central government:

http://www.kormanyhivatal.hu/download/6/cb/11000/V%C3%A1laszt%C3%A1s_%C3%9Cgyf%C3%A9lfogad%C3%A1si%20rend_%C3%B6sszes%C3%ADtett%200328%20%C3%BAj%20aktualiz%C3%A1lt%20honlapra.xls

tappanch
Guest

THere should be an observer at each of the 27 Budapest offices where address changes are processed on election day.

There should also be international observers also at each of the 2000+ precincts where the opposition will not have vote counters

Unfortunately, there are only 22 international observers for the entire country.

tappanch is lying
Guest

Why do we permit someone to spread misinformation and lie to us, like tappanch does?

Tappanch wrote

“Look up Heroes square on Google map. The rectangle of the square between Dózsa út and the archangel sculpture is 150 m x 100 m = 15,000 m^2, not 100,000 m^2 as you claimed.

If there are 4 people / m^2 (a generously squeezed if), the rectangle can contain no more than 60,000 people.”

But Tappanch only achieves this by simply lying about numbers. Does he think we are idiots who do not know what numbers mean? Does he think we cannot use google?

A google search reveals all from the ultra-liberal 444.hu who are violently against Fidesz:

http://444.hu/2013/10/23/elfer-egymillio-ember-a-hosok-teren-es-kornyeken/

The Heroes Square is 28 000 square meters, while with addition of nearby streets the space is around 72 360 square meters.

Reality: 72 360 Tappanch number : 15 000

Can we not see the difference? We need to open our eyes and stop believing in lies or there will be a disaster when the moment of truth comes.

Not everyone is so easy to confuse. Not everyone is so easy to mislead. Stop this I beg of you, it will only lead to disaster.

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