The Orbáns and Hungarian gentleman farmers

I just raced through Krisztina Ferenczi’s new book, Narancsbőr (Orange peel). Since I usually read her articles about the Orbán family’s dubious financial dealings, I was familiar with most of the details. Ferenczi’s earlier book was about the Orbáns’ brief encounter with viticulture in Tokaj. They got burned when it came to light that Viktor Orbán as prime minister used his influence to receive a substantial state subsidy for their newly acquired vineyard. It was only through a clever legal trick that Orbán’s skin was saved. Since then he has been super clever and has avoided any kind of business venture that may get him into a tight spot as a possible recipient of subsidies either from the European Union or from the Hungarian state. It is true that his wife, Anikó Lévai, owns some agricultural land in Felcsút, but officially at least it is leased to János Flier, the former electrician I was talking about yesterday and one of Orbán’s likely front men in Felcsút. Lévai claims that the subsidies she is entitled to actually go to Flier. When Ferenczi asked Flier about it, he replied: “You ought to ask her how it is exactly” (Tőle kellene megkérdezni, hogyan is van ez). Flier is obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

So, the Orbáns who got burned with Tokaj are now very careful. And yet the incredible wealth Orbán’s two close friends in Felcsút, Lőrinc Mészáros and János Flier, amassed made the inhabitants of the village more than suspicious. They are convinced that Viktor Orbán is an active business partner in the growing Mészáros-Flier estates. Perhaps he is the majority owner of them.

Ferenczi found many signs that this is probably the case. She talked at length with people who work on the cattle ranch owned by Mészáros, which Viktor Orbán visits frequently. It seemed obvious to them that Orbán is not just a casual visitor there. “He had something to do with the enterprise.” It also came to light that the charolais cows of Orbán’s new son-in-law are also part of the herd of 3-4,000 animals which, by the way, are kept, according to Ferenczi, under terrible conditions. I might also add here as a footnote that in the past at least the people who worked there officially received only 65,000 forints a month; the rest, 35-45,000 forints, illegally changed hands under the table.

Yesterday an article about the new stadium in Felcsút appeared in The New York Times with a picture of the half-finished stadium right next to the Orbáns’ country home. It is perhaps the best picture I have seen of the two together and leads me to believe that the modest abode the Orbáns built in 2003 will not be there for long. If the stadium is a “jewel box,” as Orbán once described it, the peasant adobe house 20 feet away is a jarring eyesore. And that leads me to the very good possibility that the Orbáns have a very much more elegant dwelling in mind: the former country house of the Hungarian Habsburgs nearby. The building was badly damaged during World War II, but it looks as if the Orbán family has plans to rebuild it in its earlier splendor. Viktor Orbán’s father, Győző, who apparently besides his quarry also has a real estate business, purchased the whole remaining estate a few years ago.

Who were the Hungarian Habsburgs? The founder of the Hungarian branch was Archduke József, the much beloved palatine (nádor) of Hungary (1776-1847), who became a patron of art and an important promoter of the development of Budapest and the country in general. It was he who acquired a large piece of land in Alcsút and built a beautiful palace there. He and his family settled in Hungary for good. The last Archduke Joseph (1872-1962) who played a role in Hungarian politics was actually born in Alcsút. By all indications some of the remnants of Archduke Joseph’s estate are in the hands of the Orbán family and, according to some information Ferenczi received on the spot, work has already begun. The site is off limits to strangers. It is guarded by security personnel as well as by a kuvasz named Nárcisz (Daffodil). Orbán admitted that the family has a ferocious dog called Nárcisz, but, he added, “it is in Felcsút.” I guess he didn’t want to say that the animal is actually guarding part of the Archduke Joseph’s estate owned by his family.

The remnant of the Habsburg Palace, Alcsútdoboz Source: Wikipedia Commons

The remnants of the Habsburg Palace, Alcsútdoboz
Source: Wikipedia Commons

As I was reading about the landholdings of Viktor Orbán and Anikó Lévai it occurred to me that this unexpected yearning to be “lord of the manor” (földesúr) is typical of Hungarians who may have achieved great wealth or fame in some other endeavor but think their life is not fulfilled without having some land and preferably a sizable and elegant palace to go with it. One of my favorite Hungarian novels is Kezdetben volt a kert (In the beginning there was the garden) by Anna Lesznai, first wife of Oszkár Jászi. The book is largely based on her own family’s story. The grandfather, a well-known Jewish doctor who amassed a fortune, feels that his life is not complete without owning land. He buys a large estate somewhere in the Uplands (today Slovakia) only to realize that this kind of life is not for him. But then comes his son who finds it very much to his liking. The assimilated well-off Jewish family becomes like their non-Jewish noble neighbors next door. Many of these Jewish gentleman farmers eventually received nobility in the second half of the nineteenth century.

I also read stories about 1956 refugees who made it in the United States or in western Europe and who after 1990 went in search of neglected manor houses and country estates in Hungary. Now they are gentleman farmers. A favorite hobby investment was viticulture. Neglected old vineyards were bought up in Tokaj, and with some state subsidies the new owners planted new vines and are currently trying their hands at producing quality Hungarian wines. A good example of this kind of 1956er is Dezső Kékessy, earlier a business partner of Viktor Orbán. He has a vineyard in Tokaj and also bought a country estate.

In her book Ferenczi recalls a film in which Anikó Lévai talked about her ardent desire to return to the soil. After all, she came from peasant stock. Her father finished only six grades. We don’t know how much land her father had, but she referred to him as a “kulák,” a rich peasant. She hoped, she said, that once her husband retires from politics, she could perhaps start “a somewhat larger organic farm.” I learned while researching this post that the Habsburg archdukes had a “model farm” (mintagazdaság) in Alcsút. Perhaps one day on the old Habsburg lands Anikó Lévai can run an organic farm.

79 comments

  1. I read somewhere that quite a lot of Fidesz MPs own land and has been amassing land for quite some time. I’m not sure how much of it is the “love of land” and how much is it is sheer speculation. Land is good business… first, there are the EU subsidies one can milk as a land-owner. Second, Fidesz was playing land into the hands of their own for peanuts, under fair market value. But even at fair market value land is fairly cheap in Hungary and many expect that the value of land will only increase, so a lot of these land purchases are speculative.

    That’s probably not the case for the Orban family. I think Orban is truly aspiring to recapture some kind of pre-war aristocratic glamour and wants to join the ranks of the old world landowner aristocracy… too bad that word doesn’t exist anymore. To some extent he and some like-minded conservatives are working on recreating it, but I think this enterprise is rather delusional.

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  2. She hoped, she said, that once her husband retires from politics, she could perhaps start “a somewhat larger organic farm.” I learned while researching this post that the Habsburg archdukes had a “model farm” (mintagazdaság) in Alcsút.

    Dream on girl. VO needs to go on. He made too many enemies. If his reign is over they will go after him. With or without Peter Polt. See what happened to Silvio Berlusconi. Although he is not in jail (yet), they do not left him alone.

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  3. small note about the dog’s name, Narcisz.
    The name of the flower is Narcissus, unfortunately the English version does not have to much to do with the original name.
    The flower’s name comes from the Greek mythology, from Narciss who fell in love with his own image reflected in a pool of water. He killed himself in desperation. The flowers supposedly originate where he died.
    “Narcissism is the pursuit of gratification from vanity, or egotistic admiration of one’s own physical or mental attributes, that derive from arrogant pride.”

    How fitting.

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  4. Ron:

    Orban will be untouchable. You are most naive if you think that any prosecution office (let alone the police) will investigate anything and the courts etc. will dare to go against him in any way.

    What you fail to understand is both Orban and his wife are clever lawyers. In fact most of the core Fidesz people are lawyers from Áder to Kövér to Lázár to Papcsák to Szájer (aka Mr. Handó) to Navracsics to Martonyi to Laszlo Trocsanyi ad nauseam, each with a circle of friends and clients in the system.

    This is the generation which is now in the top positions in the courts and the prosecution, without Polt or not. I am guessing that you have never met any living Hungarian judge or prosecutor or constitutional court judge.

    These people grew up together, many of them were there in the Bibo College and their wives and friends certainly were there.

    This is a quasi-mafia of lawyers, and in a small country. Italy is just a huge country with strong regional cultures and Berlusconi and his people could not entirely dominate the courts and the prosecution even if they wanted to. Berlusconi’s power clique was not made up of smart lawyers, they did not really get the workings of a state.

    The Orban-Levai clan understands the workings well and is in fact deeply embedded in it. There is no way anybody can dislodge this group and get their leaders convicted.

    I am guessing you cannot unlearn what you know about the the workings of a Western state. Hungary, Eastern-Europe is different and lawyer crooks are different from ordinary crooks. Very much so.

    btw a nice link about the West vs. Russia

    http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/ivan-krastev-blames-the-west-s-weak-response-in-crimea-for-empowering-russia

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  5. @Petersen

    Most of the “clever lawyers” you mentioned (Orban, Kover, Ader, Lazar) have a law degree, but never worked as lawyers.

    Orban, Kover, Ader have never worked. Period.

    THey went from school straight to politics.

    If I were a genuine lawyer, I would be offended if someone had called them “lawyers”.

    As far “cleverness” go: if you can change the rules of the game retroactively, you do not have to be clever to win.

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  6. The opposition should drive home one message today:

    The voters should not confuse two of the 10+ fake parties on the ballot sheet with them.

    The united opposition has an “EGYÜTT” party in it (Bajnai) and called themselves “ÖSSZEFOGÁS” for months.

    But the dummy parties “EGYÜTT 2014” and “ÖSSZEFOGÁS PÁRT” on the ballot sheets have NOTHING to do with the opposition!

    They can take away 2-3% of the votes by their misleading names.

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  7. Please notice that the Hungarian Treasury failed to disclose the new gross debt numbers that would include the full amount of the new loan of 3 billion dollars.

    The last time they provided the weekly debt number was 12 days ago.

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  8. A bit OT but interesting:

    Archduke József (the Palatin) not only was interested in botany but also the Gypsy folklore and the “Gypsy problem) and had ideas to solve it – how?

    At least that’s what the German wiki says about him and Alcsutdoboz:

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcs%C3%BAtdoboz

    “Über die Flora des Gutes in Alcsút und über die in Fiume durchgeführten Experimente in der Pflanzenzucht berichtete Erzherzog Joseph Karl Ludwig von Österreich in wissenschaftlichen Publikationen. Seinen Rang unter den europäischen Gelehrten erreichte er auch dadurch, dass er sich mit der Folklore und der Sprache der Zigeuner beschäftigte. Die ersten Ansätze zur Lösung der Zigeunerfrage in Ungarn sind mit seinem Namen verbunden.”

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  9. The changing numbers of the “átjelentkezők:

    Domestic voters registered to vote for their home district from another district inside Hungary:

    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
    April 03:105,126 at 11:30 PM
    April 04:120,318 at 11:15 PM
    April 05:120,552 at 9:30 AM

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  10. List of MP candidates in one district (the order of the parties is different from the party list!)

    #1 – EGYÜTT 2014 PÁRT – fake
    #3 – ÖSSZEFOGÁS PÁRT – fake
    #4 – Fidesz
    #5 – united opposition [a.k.a. ÖSSZEFOGÁS that includes Bajnai’s EGYÜTT ]
    #9 – LMP
    #10 – Jobbik

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  11. FYI, the ruins of the Hapsburg manor – at least the one indicated by the Wikipedia Commons picture is in an arboretum accessible to the public. I’ve been there several times.

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  12. “I am guessing that you have never met any living Hungarian judge or prosecutor or constitutional court judge.”

    Petersen,

    I have met quite a few in my daily work and you are, quite frankly, talking rubbish.

    Orban may have caught the of echelons of the judicial system but believe me there is a deep hatred amongst “normal” judges of the regime and its rape of the legal system.

    An understandable fear remains of Orban and his mafia but once (if?) the electorate ever does its job, then trust me 100% the majority of judges will take great delight in serving up justice to Orban and his henchmen. The keys will be thrown away, never (like the Godfather and the Fidesz mafia), to return

    “What you fail to understand is both Orban and his wife are clever lawyers”

    What you fail to understand is the difference between the word “clever” and “cheating”.

    “Lawyers” is also not appropriate terminology.
    They have no understanding whatsoever of the concept of “law” or indeed “justice”. Any two bob conman can change laws or constitutions, doesn’t make him a lawyer.

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  13. Open offices today, to handle address changes
    (not all offices are open, not at all, I find their distribution revealing)

    The large number of open offices in Hajdú-Bihar, Pest and Budapest county indicate large number of last-minute registration of Transylvanian and other voters at Hungarian addresses!!

    Budapest
    KEK KH (Központi – Central, 8AM-6PM)
    All districts 8AM-2PM

    Bács-Kiskun
    Kecskemét, Kalocsa

    Baranya
    Szigetvár, Mohács, Pécs, Siklós,

    Békés
    Békéscsaba

    Borsod:
    Cigánd, Edelény, Szendrő, Miskolc, Tokaj

    Csongrád
    Szentes, Szeged

    Fejér
    Dunaújváros, Martonvásár, Székesfehérvár

    Győr
    Győr, Sopron, Pannonhalma

    Hajdú-Bihar
    Berettyóújfalu, Komádi, Biharkeresztes, Debrecen, Derecske, Létavértes, Hajdúböszörmény, Hajdúhadház, Hajdúnánás, Polgár, Nádudvar, Nyíradony
    Vámospércs, Püspökladány

    http://www.ugyfelkozpont.hu/letoltes/megyek_oi/hajdu-bihar.xls
    Heves
    Eger

    Jász-Nagykun
    Jászfényszaru, Jászárokszállás, Szolnok,

    Komárom
    Tatabánya

    Nógrád
    Salgótarján

    Pest
    Aszód, Budakeszi, Budaörs, Cegléd, Dabas, Dunakeszi, Érd, Gödöllő,
    Gyál, Monor, Nagykáta, Nagykőrös, Pilisvörösvár, Ráckeve, Szentendre,
    Szigetszentmiklós, Szob, Vác, Vecsés

    http://www.ugyfelkozpont.hu/letoltes/megyek_oi/pest.xls

    Somogy
    Kaposvár, Nagyatád

    Szabolcs
    Nyíregyháza, Tiszavasvári

    Tolna
    Szekszárd

    Vas
    Szombathely

    Veszprém
    Balatonalmádi, Pápa, Veszprém

    Zala
    Zalaegerszeg, Nagykanizsa, Keszthely

    http://www.ugyfelkozpont.hu/hu/megyenkenti_bontas

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  14. tappanch —

    thanks for spotting so many of the issues. The level of corruption is almost unimaginable now.

    I remember the atmosphere only a couple of years ago when the gerrymandered districts were still regulated in a government decree and any government could have amended it. Obviously if there was the slightest suspicion of foul play the constitutional court (always favoring the conservative side of arguments) would have intervened, especially as Fidesz would have gone berserk. Now, the gerrymandered districts heavily favoring Fidesz are just one of dozens of tricks.

    But remember: all is legal. These are smart lawyers at Fidesz. In the world of the oh-so-democratic and rule-of-law-worshipping international/transnational organizations that is the single issue that counts. Is it legal? Or not? Because if it is, the story is over. And it is. As we have seen from the EU’s approach towards Orban’s legal shenanigans.

    The Left has no idea, they probably do not even get half of these tricks as they don’t read this blog.

    You can have all the observers of the world watching and investigating, they will arrive at one conclusion: all is legal. Case closed. The Left needs better lawyers, for starters.

    Most importantly, even if the Left loses (which is most likely) they will accept the results. Or they will dispute it for a while, the EU as usual eventually will not do a thing and then the Left will accept the results (“hazamennek”), and life will go on.

    The Left lacks the determination, commitment and aggressiveness (and the help of the media, as it has no media) of staging street demonstrations to really dispute the results and – more importantly – create a narrative of stolen elections — especially when Jobbik will be triumphant with its great results (ie. those will prove that the system was not rigged).

    I truly hope for Orban’s comeuppance, but I am afraid that we will have to wait for that.

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  15. About the Archduke Joseph. This Joseph was the son of József nádor (palatine) (1833-1905), His half brother István followed his father as palatine while he became the head of the Hungarian “honvédség” as opposed to the common or so-called k. und k. army. He learned the Gypsy language and wrote the first Gypsy dictionary.

    After his military service in the k. und k. Armée he moved to Hungary and established the model farm and arboretum.

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  16. Wolfi: The building was not destroyed during the WWII, but after the war. When I was at that location people were telling me that the Kuria was destroyed by the Communist around 1950. Btw behind that facade is a monument a horse riding school developed and build by Eiffel. I wonder if it is still there?

    OT as you may know Fidesz is open left right and center projects whether finished or not. Look at the photo gallery of NOL. http://nol.hu/galeria/Atadtak_a_Varkert_Bazart

    Especially look at the guy in blue about RA, next picture he is escorted out. Apparently, there was a lot of hired security firms, each security employee was in suit.

    Also it is nice to mention that the Varkert is not finished at all, and it will take another half year (optimistic) to complete it.

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  17. Eva S. Balogh :

    tappanch :
    Election officials have found a few hundred more nomadic voters between 11:30 last night and 9:30 this morning (the cut-off time was 4 PM yesterday afternoon).
    The new final number is 120,552
    http://www.nvi.hu/dyn/pv14/vertaj/hu/igstat.html

    I’m somewhat baffled. Why so many “nomads”? Could it indicate high voting turnout?

    No – it indicates 60,000 new citizens, mainly from Transylvania, who were registered at various, strategically determined Hungarian addresses in the last 10 days.

    These people received their “address cards” yesterday afternoon and today.

    Many of them will vote in Hajdu-Bihar county [some in Pest counties and Budapest] tomorrow. According to the Fidesz election law, if you cross the border, you can vote anywhere inside Hungary to any other district shown on your address card.

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  18. Anyone have any predictions what the voter turn out will be?

    My fear is that it will be something like 55%. On the other hand, if was to creep up to 80% there is just a chance that the result could be rather closer than expected.

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  19. This is really “weird”: for six elections the cross-voters numbered between 40-50,000 people. The number was more or less constant.

    Now, the figure is 120,000.

    Fidesz’ unparalleled get out the vote machinery is more than capable of deploying an extra 80,000 people from rural regions to battleground districts (for all this cross-registration activity, somehow people are not registering *into* surely Fidesznik districts).

    Given the stability of the 40-50k number v. the variability of voters’ participation rates during past elections, it is not plausible to conclude that any possible increase in the general activity of voters can triple the registration figure. Some increase may be explained by the changing rules etc., but I am convinced that at least 60,000 voters (3/4 of the 80,000 increase) were moved by Fidesz. This would be a non-issue for Fidesz’ machinery.
    Remember, all the new election laws had their own reasons, it is not by chance that the elections laws were made as they were.

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  20. tappanch, you mean that people be voting for a Budapest district while casting the vote on the Romanian border? Then that surely will make the vote counting incredibly difficult. Will the main voting stations have to wait for votes to arrive from six hours away?

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  21. # of “nomadic” voters tomorrow:

    Budapest: 44,149
    Pest county: 14,636

    More than 5 thousand: Győr county
    More than 4 thousand – Veszprém, Fejér, Csongrád, Borsod counties.

    So let me modify my previous suspicion – lots of new voters received their address card in Hajdu-Bihar, Pest and Budapest yesterday and today. They will cast their votes mainly in Budapest and Pest county tomorrow, for any district in the country.

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  22. Pace of processing of mailed-in and dropped-off votes

    March 31: 11,202 – accepted as valid: 75.54%
    April 01: 0
    April 02: 17,852 – accepted as valid: 81.03%
    April 03: 21,601 – accepted as valid: 80.39%
    April 04: 22,797 – accepted as valid: 80.73%
    April 05: 21,849 – accepted as valid: 81.63%

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  23. “This is really “weird”: for six elections the cross-voters numbered between 40-50,000 people. The number was more or less constant.
    Now, the figure is 120,000.
    Fidesz’ unparalleled get out the vote machinery is more than capable of deploying an extra 80,000 people from rural regions to battleground districts ”

    You are mistaken. The cross-registration does not work in this way. Even if you vote in a battleground district because you are there on election day (say you are in Budapest visiting family), you will still get a ballot for your original district! This is why you have to announce ahead of time, so the election offices can prepare you a ballot for say second Borsod district for your voting in Budapest 7. district.

    In 2010 and all previous elections it worked in the way you are thinking. Strategic voters (mainly party members and family) could just in those times say “I will be in district XY on voting day let me vote there”. And he was able to vote there thus exchanging a vote for an already decided district into a BG district.

    HiBoM :
    tappanch, you mean that people be voting for a Budapest district while casting the vote on the Romanian border? Then that surely will make the vote counting incredibly difficult. Will the main voting stations have to wait for votes to arrive from six hours away?

    Yes it means exactly this. This is what I was explaining too. While you can change your voting location you cannot change WHO you are voting for. Your personal candidate is say Agnes Kunhalmi of MSZP in your district then even if you travel to Debrecen on voting day you will STILL vote for Agnes Kunhalmi and not any of the candidates in Debrecen.

    Hope this clears it up.

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  24. The number of vote counters has not changed since 2:36 PM on April 2nd.

    This means that there will not be opposition vote counters in about 25% of the precincts.

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  25. What kommentelo describes is similar to the German system – though it’s seldom used, because it’s much easier just to drop your two voting letters (one sealed inside the other) anywhere, that’s called Briefwahl.

    The confusion (even here among knowledgeable people …) shows how terrible those new Fidesz laws were thought through, or how confusing and loonie they were meant to be.

    We haven’t watched any news for the last days – and tomorrow evening we’ll be in Germany, so I’ll have a look here for a first analysis maybe on Monday (or even tomorrow evening, I know I’ll be restless …)

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  26. tappanch :

    Eva S. Balogh :

    tappanch :
    Election officials have found a few hundred more nomadic voters between 11:30 last night and 9:30 this morning (the cut-off time was 4 PM yesterday afternoon).
    The new final number is 120,552
    http://www.nvi.hu/dyn/pv14/vertaj/hu/igstat.html

    I’m somewhat baffled. Why so many “nomads”? Could it indicate high voting turnout?

    No – it indicates 60,000 new citizens, mainly from Transylvania, who were registered at various, strategically determined Hungarian addresses in the last 10 days.
    These people received their “address cards” yesterday afternoon and today.
    Many of them will vote in Hajdu-Bihar county [some in Pest counties and Budapest] tomorrow. According to the Fidesz election law, if you cross the border, you can vote anywhere inside Hungary to any other district shown on your address card.

    I am sure that the line-up at the border for the last month with the belongings of 60,000 new residents moving to Hungary must be just awful. Did everyone see in Budapest all the moving tracks manoeuvring around in the biggest moving month of the last four years? It reminds me of Montreal, where all the leases come up May 1st, so you need to book a moving track months a head, and in the whole city is impossible to manoeuvre.
    (The above of course is sarcasm.)

    Question: In theory is it possible for some of the new residents of today to vote tomorrow while they already cast their votes couple of days ago from across the border?
    I am just saying this, as if there is not cut off time, and no “everyone votes the same day” legislation, maybe 60,000 new Hungarians already cast their vote from across the border.
    Is that possible?

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  27. One observation and one anecdote. In working across the CEE region for many years, it has always appeared to my colleagues and me that Hungarian entrepreneurs are more risk adverse than similar type people in other countries in the region. In Hungary, to over simplify just a little, when an entrepreneur reaches a level of wealth to be able to live well in Hungary with a house in Bp, a nice car or 2 and a house on the Balaton or in the wine country, that is basically enough. There is no real urgency to get bigger, build a business that expands out side of Hungary or to “really make it big”. This is different than one finds in Poland or Romania just two name two countries in the near abroad. Some may see this a lack of greed and ability to keeps life in perspective. Others may see it as a lack of ambition. Overall, it certainly holds back the development of the country economically. It is also very typical of the thinking of FIDESZ, and the FIDESZ voter.

    Last summer, my wife and I were at a dinner with 3 other couples. The common connection was that one spouse at least is a medical doctor. One of the couples there, the husband had been a former head of the University Hospital in BP and a Rector at SOTE. In the world of the Hungarian medical profession, he was a big deal. Anyway, after a very pleasant evening and chatting, though my wife had received something of a lecture for her choice earlier in her career to train after medical school in the U.S. and to now only work in the private sector, this Professor went on a bit of a riff about the glories of his property near the Balaton and his vineyard. He then asked my wife and I where was our summer house. When she explained we don’t have a house on the Balaton or anywhere else in the countryside because we prefer to go abroad and spend August generally in New England at the shore, it was too much and he immediately began to lecture us how one can’t really be Hungarian just living in the city and how it was incumbent on Hungarians of a certain “background” and educational/professional status to have property, take care of it and grow crops or raise animals. It was almost a patriotic duty. He then became quite animated and nationalist about the sacredness of the land and the duty of Hungarians to preserve it, protect it and basically (though not said this way) keep the foreigners and the capitalists off of it.
    After that, the conversation turned fortunately to the superiority of Hungarian strawberries and how best to make palinka, and never veered again towards politics or culture.

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  28. @Some1

    267. § A levélben szavazók névjegyzékéből törölni kell
    a) azt a választópolgárt, aki legkésőbb a választás napját megelőző hetedik napon magyarországi lakcímet létesített,

    This is the way to cast 3 votes.

    You live in Transylvania.
    You cast 1 vote there in mail.
    You register a Hungarian address 6,5,4,3,2 days before election day.
    You receive your address card 2,1 day before election (= yesterday or today)
    You vote anywhere in Hungary for your district of choice.

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  29. Fin tuning:
    If you want to cast your vote for your new district from elsewhere in Hungary, you also have to register your desire before 4 PM on Friday.

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  30. “Question: In theory is it possible for some of the new residents of today to vote tomorrow while they already cast their votes couple of days ago from across the border?
    I am just saying this, as if there is not cut off time, and no “everyone votes the same day” legislation, maybe 60,000 new Hungarians already cast their vote from across the border.
    Is that possible?”

    Answer yes it is possible. But the mailed in voting has a time limit: the ballot has to arrive 24 hours earlier for it to be valid. After the mailed in voting is complete, the ballots get “processed”. This means there are two envelopes, one with the name and address of the voter and authentication and one with the sealed ballot. They open all the FIRST envelopes up and check all the voter data and authentication.

    This means that by April 6th they already know if you voted by mail or not. If you voted they check your name against the voter registration rolls (also sealed two days before the election). If you are registered to vote inside Hungary somewhere and you already voted by mail, then you will only get a ballot for the individual district candidates and no ballot for the party list. Mailed in voters can only vote for the party list so that ballot you will not get even if you register yourself after mailed in voting.

    So after these databases are sealed they check them against each other to exclude the possibility of someone voting twice. The sealing of the database also means that you cannot change your address in the last two days any more you have to vote according to the address you gave two days prior.

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  31. kommentelo :
    So after these databases are sealed they check them against each other to exclude the possibility of someone voting twice.

    Correction to my own post. Preventing someone voting twice for the party list. Because almost all voters vote twice anyway once for the individual candidate and once for the party lists. But you are not allowed to vote twice for party list or twice for i. candidates of course.

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  32. tappanch :
    @kommentelo
    You can drop off your “mail-in” vote at a consulate abroad on election day too – it is still valid.

    So, then your name would not be crossed out already on voting day. How would the computer know your intentions?

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  33. kommentelo :
    “Question: In theory is it possible for some of the new residents of today to vote tomorrow while they already cast their votes couple of days ago from across the border?
    I am just saying this, as if there is not cut off time, and no “everyone votes the same day” legislation, maybe 60,000 new Hungarians already cast their vote from across the border.
    Is that possible?”
    Answer yes it is possible. But the mailed in voting has a time limit: the ballot has to arrive 24 hours earlier for it to be valid. After the mailed in voting is complete, the ballots get “processed”. This means there are two envelopes, one with the name and address of the voter and authentication and one with the sealed ballot. They open all the FIRST envelopes up and check all the voter data and authentication.
    This means that by April 6th they already know if you voted by mail or not. If you voted they check your name against the voter registration rolls (also sealed two days before the election). If you are registered to vote inside Hungary somewhere and you already voted by mail, then you will only get a ballot for the individual district candidates and no ballot for the party list. Mailed in voters can only vote for the party list so that ballot you will not get even if you register yourself after mailed in voting.
    So after these databases are sealed they check them against each other to exclude the possibility of someone voting twice. The sealing of the database also means that you cannot change your address in the last two days any more you have to vote according to the address you gave two days prior.

    “If you are registered to vote inside Hungary somewhere and you already voted by mail, then you will only get a ballot for the individual district candidates and no ballot for the party list. ”

    This is exactly what is happening.

    Ethnic Hungarians normally living in Romania, Serbia, Ukraine etc. are strategically being deployed within Hungary (by Fidesz’ GOTV machinery) to the battle ground districts so that they can vote with their local district votes too!

    How is this not fraudulent? 80,000 people living normally in Kolozsvár or Csikszereda suddenly decide to vote for a district candidate in district XIV in Budapest or Debrecen?

    It may formally be legal, but it is surely not normal that an extra 80,000 normally in Romania living ethnic Hungarian citizen suddenly obtain a permanent address in one district or another just so they could cast their local ballot too.

    But of course the Left cannot openly accuse tens of thousands of righteous ethnic Hungarians because, well, because it has a bad conscience due to the referendum on the double citizenship, so now the Left wants to make it up to them and be liked by them — of course no ethnic Hungarian who decides to cast a vote will ever vote for the “Communists”.

    The problem for the Left is that this contingent of 150,000 ethnic Hungarian Fidesz voters, many of which are being deployed to Hungary will be available again in futures elections too, probably in even higher numbers, since Fidesz’ machinery will not stop canvassing and organizing them.

    This is wholesale fraud and you yourself admitted it.

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  34. tappanch :
    @kommentelo
    You can drop off your “mail-in” vote at a consulate abroad on election day too – it is still valid.

    You are right of course, I had to look into it to get the exact info and you are right. The 24 hour time limit only applies to the voting by mail. If you personally deliver your envelope to the consulate you can throw it in election day as well. Here is the full list on how you can deliver it.

    “9. A választópolgár a válaszborítékot az alábbi módokon juttathatja el a Nemzeti Választási Irodához:
    · a válaszboríték feladható postán (Magyarországon bérmentesítés nélkül); a szavazást megelőző napon (szombat) 24 óráig kell beérkeznie a Nemzeti Választási Irodához,
    · a válaszboríték leadható bármely külképviseleten a szavazást megelőző 15 napban minden munkanapon – a nyitvatartási idő 9-16 óra, de ez meghosszabbítható,
    · a válaszboríték leadható a külképviseleten a külképviseleti szavazás időtartama alatt (általában 6-19 óra között) is,
    · a választópolgár továbbá leadhatja a válaszborítékot Magyarországon, a 97 egyéni választókerületi székhelyen is a szavazás napján 6-19 óra között.”

    http://valasztas.hu/hu/ovi/445/445_2.html

    But my original thought still applies these lists are checked against each other. There is a sealed registration list of Hungarian voters, it is sealed two days before the election day. It has in it everyone with the possibilty of turning up on election day. If you are not on this list you are not voting you can walk into any district they will not accept you.

    This list is then checked against the mailed in voting ballots and authentication from the first envelope. The larger part of the mailed in envelopes get processed before the election in the two day period when registration is already sealed. However if there are more unprocessed “mail in ballots” after the election (because you throw it in at the consulate for example as T. explained) then these ballots can only get processed after the election. These are then have to be checked against the voting rolls and if you already voted by the regular way, then your mail in has to be discarded. These two lists are always checked against each other. Otherwise people could vote multiple times for the same thing.

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  35. “It may formally be legal, but it is surely not normal that an extra 80,000 normally in Romania living ethnic Hungarian citizen suddenly obtain a permanent address in one district or another just so they could cast their local ballot too.”

    Pumukli this is a valid concern, but permanent addresses are not so easy to come by. You always need the consent of the owner of the house before you can establish an officially registered address there. For example I as owner of a house can consent to Eva S. Balogh living with me and officially registering from that address for whatever reason. I don’t have to give a reason maybe family friend maybe renting maybe I just feel like it, but if I were to accept hundreds of people to register into my house in an important battleground district that’s a quite dangerous crime that is not without risk. Opposition party people who sit on the local voting board, can check every single person voting in their precinct this means checking their name checking their addresses. They have to look out whether many people are coming from the same address especially in battleground districts.
    While this is possible in theory, it can be prevented and reported if the opposition is vigilant on election day.

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  36. kommentelo :
    “It may formally be legal, but it is surely not normal that an extra 80,000 normally in Romania living ethnic Hungarian citizen suddenly obtain a permanent address in one district or another just so they could cast their local ballot too.”
    Pumukli this is a valid concern, but permanent addresses are not so easy to come by. You always need the consent of the owner of the house before you can establish an officially registered address there. For example I as owner of a house can consent to Eva S. Balogh living with me and officially registering from that address for whatever reason. I don’t have to give a reason maybe family friend maybe renting maybe I just feel like it, but if I were to accept hundreds of people to register into my house in an important battleground district that’s a quite dangerous crime that is not without risk. Opposition party people who sit on the local voting board, can check every single person voting in their precinct this means checking their name checking their addresses. They have to look out whether many people are coming from the same address especially in battleground districts.
    While this is possible in theory, it can be prevented and reported if the opposition is vigilant on election day.

    Checking the reality of the addresses by the precint election committee in a rural community is a possibility, people know each other well, in Budapest or in bigger towns like Debrecen, Győr, Szeged, however, that is just impossible.

    The voter shows the official address card and that is it, nobody has a clue how he/she obtained that address.

    Probably it was organized by the Fidesz campaign machinery. The canvassing and organizing of the ethnic Hungarians has been carefully managed by Fidesz, I know this first hand.

    Fidesz can easily organize a 100,000 people demonstration, busing people to Budapest from all over Hungary at a whim, why is it difficult to imagine it can have a couple of thousands of die-hard Fidesznik volunteers who would allow other people to register into their apartments? They are promised that these people will de-register a couple of days after elections. I am certain that this is going on. It is not forbidden to “decide to move to Hungary even for two weeks and obtain a permanent address” so why would Fidesz refrain from doing it, if it anyway has the capability?

    According to the latest census, there are altogether 470,000 home dwellings sitting empty in Hungary anyway.

    But nobody will even notice, as we talk about the cities after all, the most rural places are slam dunks for Fidesz, it is not like precint level election committee people have clues in Budapest who lives where in reality and who may be suspicious.

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  37. @ kommentelo I am not sure if it is reasonable to assume that even 10% of new voters can be challenged by the scrutineers.

    In one of the districts of Budapest there are 700 more people registered to vote now then two months ago. Let say they try to challenge half of them. Spend two minutes with each (unreasonably little time), and that is 350 minutes or almost six hours!!!!!!!! Will they hold up the vying location until then too?

    I would like to remind you that FIdesz’ own Mate Kocsis’ father who was the Fidesz deputy mayor registered “illegal” residents in order to manipulate the election in 2010. he registered 5 new residents. The village of 90 gained 30 new residents just for the elections.
    tlatszo.hu/2013/06/17/voksturizmus-fiktiv-lakok-a-kocsis-hazban-a-valasztasok-elott/

    Take a look here about the number of voting tourists
    http://szeged.hir24.hu/itthonvilag/2014/04/02/voksturizmus-ujszentivanon/

    An other one: In Tornyospalca’s regular family home there are over 100 people were registered as resident according to the electors list. One of the opposition candidate caught this luckily, and turned to the authorities. I have no idea what the outcome is.
    http://www.napi.hu/magyar_gazdasag/beindult_a_voksturizmus_csalast_sejt_az_ellenzek.579366.html

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  38. There are 87,972 votes so far that were mailed in, or dropped off abroad and already accepted by the Election Office.

    47.78% from Romania
    34.81% from e-Landia
    11.61% from Serbia
    5.80% from all other places

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  39. Reminder.

    Last predictions for Fidesz by various pollsters before the first round of elections, April 2010.:

    Ipsos 2010. április 6. 62 %
    Nézőpont 2010. április 7. 63
    Tárki 2010. április 7. 61
    Századvég 2010. április 7. 59
    Medián 2010. április 7. 60
    Gallup 2010. április 8. 59
    Forsense 2010. április 8. 60 %

    Average pollster: 60.57%
    Reality: 2010. április 11.: 52.76%

    So the pollsters overestimated Fidesz by 8% !

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  40. Last predictions in 2014:

    Nezopont 2014.04.03: 47%
    Median. 2014.04.03: 41% [38-44%]
    Ipsos 2014.04.05: 42.5% [40-45%]

    Average pollster: 43.5%

    Discounting a similar overshooting for Fidesz:

    52.76/60.57 * 43.5 = 37.89%

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  41. Manni: “But remember: all is legal. These are smart lawyers at Fidesz. In the world of the oh-so-democratic and rule-of-law-worshipping international/transnational organizations that is the single issue that counts. Is it legal? Or not? Because if it is, the story is over. And it is. As we have seen from the EU’s approach towards Orban’s legal shenanigans.”

    Most operations in Communist countries were “legal” too, and yet Orban Viktor would probably find some points “unbearable” and in need of “correction”. So what is it all the time about how “legal” everything is what Orban does and what “superb lawyer” he is. For the record: the feeling that he is almighty is a purely Hungarian one, from outside he is not more than a politician of average intelligence who managed to dazzle people because he caught them over their own weird political ideas. One of it being that Hungarians are “so clever” that they always outsmart the rest of the world. Seen from outside it looks more like Hungarians constantly trying to outsmart each other – harming themselves the most.

    Another consequence is that you lose common standards and reference points. Then “law” and “legality” cannot be distinguished from cheating because you just do not know anymore what it means to be serious, “serious” in actual fact becomes synonymous to “simpleton”, and in the end there is no other way left of doing things than through outsmarting others. You start to believe this is perfectly “legal” (as it is the new “standard”) and a sign of outstanding talents. You can find such behaviour in other countries also, but in Hungary this has apparently already reached a stage where it is difficult for people to imagine otherwise, and where the terminology appears to be missing for situations in which you are just serious, no games about smartness and the ubiquitous “tricks”, and no interpretation as “what a naive person”.

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  42. kommentelo :
    Very interesting tappanch, what are your predictions for the other parties? MSZP, Jobbik, LMP, 2010 vs 2014 comparsion.

    My assumption was that the pollsters are exactly as bad as they were four years ago.
    We’ll see.

    So on the party list I see 37.9% for Fidesz from inside Hungary + 3.5% or 0.2 million from Transylvania etc., that will give 41.4% headline number for Fidesz on the party list.

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  43. What’s this nonsense about “smart” lawyers? Smartness has nothing to do with anything.
    You have a group that is willing to bend/break any law they wish and have the full power of the government and an evil-willed person behind them. What’s more, their welfare depends on doing the will of one person. And, being Hungarian, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to hold on to their position. Guilt, conscience, integrity have zero relevance in Hungarian society of today.

    What’s more, an un-educated, or badly educated, public is totally incapable of making a rational judgement on what’s happening around them. People cannot think. And why should they: all they hear from an early age in “Christian Hungary” is that the Church will ‘instruct’ them. Thinking? It wasn’t of any use in communists times and why should it be now?

    Hungarians! Darwin would had to have made a serious reset to his propositions if he had known them.

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  44. I was two and a half year ago in this estate, which documents one of the largest shame of hungarian history in 20th century. After sowiets occupied the area, the castle with all furniture, documents, etc. burned for days and completely destroyed by the villagers. The remains are only the fassade of the building, the chaple and the garden. Some parts are destroyed almost without any track.

    In the previous years DINPI renewed the entry building of the garden and the big artificial lake.

    I can recommend just before somebody try to build a new royal palace there.

    I found interesting infos here: http://atlatszo.hu/2012/10/25/eu-tamogatasbol-szepul-az-alcsuti-arboretum-az-orban-alapitvanynak/

    My post for remembering this place: http://azso.net/2011/12/15/hazajartunk-alcsuti-arboretum/

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  45. AZso :
    I can recommend just before somebody try to build a new royal palace there.
    I found interesting infos here: http://atlatszo.hu/2012/10/25/eu-tamogatasbol-szepul-az-alcsuti-arboretum-az-orban-alapitvanynak/
    My post for remembering this place: http://azso.net/2011/12/15/hazajartunk-alcsuti-arboretum/

    Thanks for this. Based on the article you provided between 2010 and 2012 (the article is form 2012) the Hungarian government and the EU spent over 200 million forint on the arboretum. So, while Orban and Fidesz supported COF (Peace March) was rallying against the European Union, and Orban told them off, he put his hands out for money so his “backyard” will be fixed up.
    I wonder how much EU money has been spent since 2012 and how much more will be put towards this project in order to provide he perfect home for Orban.

    What happened with the EU investigation about how the Hungarian government awards the money by the EU without following the actual EU procedures? Somehow that “investigation went quite.

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  46. AZso, I read the following in the Hungarian-language Wikipedia about the last Joseph in Hungary:

    József Ágost főherceg az 1944. október 15-ei nyilas puccs során, szélsőjobboldali magyar törzstisztek ösztökélésére a miniszterelnöktől, Lakatos Géza tábornoktól azt követelte, hogy őt nevezze ki a honvédség főparancsnokának. Lakatos ezt megtagadta azzal, hogy ez a Legfelsőbb Hadúr (azaz Horthy kormányzó) kizárólagos hatásköre. A nyilas hatalomátvétel után a főherceg hűséget esküdött Szálasinak. A budavári főhercegi palota erkélyéről üdvözölte a Szent György téren ünneplő nyilasokat. Feleségével, Auguszta főhercegnével együtt személyesen is részt vett ünnepi gyűlésükön.[5] Egy született arisztokrata, Habsburg főherceg, magyar királyi herceg, császári és királyi tábornagy, a legitim monarchia híve részéről ez a szimpátia nehezen érthető.[6] Életének ezen eseményeiről saját későbbi visszaemlékezéseiben, emlékirataiban semmilyen említést nem tett.

    http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habsburg_J%C3%B3zsef_magyar_korm%C3%A1nyz%C3%B3

    In brief: he was a supporter of Szálasi. His moral compass I think was a bit off. In 1918 he told Mihály Károlyi that he wants to join the social democratic party and wanted to change his name either to Alcsúti or Felcsúti. At least this is what Károlyi tells in his memoirs.

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  47. Now the WSJ has joined the ranks of the Guardian, Spiegel etc – are there any articles at all with a positive outlook on Orbán’s government?

    We can’t count Thorpe’s work for the BBC I think because it also has a lot of critical remarks.

    Only the comment sections of these reports are typical Fidesz apologists – is this all Fidesz’s highly paid (I presume) foreign advisors can come up with?

    Or do we just read the wrong media? What about Fox news or conservative Brits? No one in the foreign media really has a good word on Orbán?

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  48. Some1 :

    Voters turnout by 4:00PM Ottawa 72%
    in Toronto by 4:15PM 66%

    I got a report from Washington. Very large turnout. In the past a friend of mine from the DC area was often alone voting in the embassy. Now she described the scene as “zsibvásár” (flee market).

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  49. On our way to Germany we heard the news from SDR1 (the Schwab radio station in Stuttgart) at 18.00 – main points re the election in Hungary were:

    Voter participation is very low, lower than last time …

    45% of the votes will be enough for Fidesz to keep its supermajority …

    Really sad.

    PS: We arrived safely and I’ll have a look at everything if time allows!

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  50. PS: Our local newspaper belongs to the Südwestpresse (SWP) too, though its local news is not as conservative – but even the conservative Schwab SWP is very critical of Orbán!

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  51. The Left is officially over in Hungary. Forget about them, they are an urban minority, irrelevant in rural areas — in an election system that is geared towards the rural regions.

    People just don’t touch leftists and liberals, people are done with them.

    Hungarians are conservative and anti-capitalist. The left is traditionally liberal and conformist re capitalism. This is a complete no-go combination in Hungary now. As the economy will not change, people will want to have protection which apparently the left cannot give to them.

    As it was mentioned, Fidesz can go away two ways.

    Either Orban disappears due to illness/accident or a new, right wing party emerges.

    Both are very unlikely.

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  52. wolfi :

    PS: Our local newspaper belongs to the Südwestpresse (SWP) too, though its local news is not as conservative – but even the conservative Schwab SWP is very critical of Orbán!

    I went through an incredible number of German papers. They are all anti-Orbán. One of them called Orbán “der politische Raubtier.” (MDR, Leipzig).

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  53. Malna :

    The Left is officially over in Hungary. Forget about them, they are an urban minority, irrelevant in rural areas — in an election system that is geared towards the rural regions.

    People just don’t touch leftists and liberals, people are done with them.

    Hungarians are conservative and anti-capitalist. The left is traditionally liberal and conformist re capitalism. This is a complete no-go combination in Hungary now. As the economy will not change, people will want to have protection which apparently the left cannot give to them.

    As it was mentioned, Fidesz can go away two ways.

    Either Orban disappears due to illness/accident or a new, right wing party emerges.

    Both are very unlikely.

    But what about if the whole economy collapses? Not an impossibility.

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