The political bickering has begun

The disappointment among sympathizers of the democratic opposition forces is indescribable. But reasonable barometers of the mood in this circle are the call-in shows on Klubrádió and ATV, which by now are the only opposition electronic media in Hungary. Of course, among the callers there are always those who believe that, if they had been in a position to decide, they would have done much better than the Bajnai-Mesterházy-Gyurcsány trio and who offer their pearls of political wisdom. But a lot of the callers simply describe their utter shock when they heard that Fidesz would most likely win again with a two-thirds majority.

Not that these people ever thought that the Unity Alliance would win the election, but the size of the Fidesz victory made them despair. Many students are ready to leave the country at the earliest opportunity because they don’t want to live in Orbán’s Hungary. Even before the election every third person in the younger generation was planning to leave the country. I suspect that the emigration will only accelerate in the future because I very much doubt that the Hungarian economy will improve any time soon, especially if Orbán and Matolcsy continue their unorthodox economic policies. It is also unlikely that the Orbán regime will change political course. No, they will continue their aggressive war against all the foreign and domestic “enemies” of their regime. It’s enough to note that immediately after the election Orbán gave the go ahead to erect the controversial monument to the German invasion of March 19, 1944.

Yet the democratic opposition must continue to fight the good fight because its electoral results were not as bad as they appeared at first sight. As Árpád W. Tóta said in his last opinion piece, if 1,200,000 voters stuck it out with this two-left-handed Unity Alliance, not everything is lost. The opposition simply has to do a little better, which shouldn’t be that difficult.

The Unity Alliance before the election

The Unity Alliance before the election

The disheartened sympathizers will bounce back. Soon enough, especially if the democratic opposition finds someone who can actually lead the anti-Orbán forces effectively, they will once again gather around the liberals and socialists. I am not worried about them. I am, however, very concerned about the politicians and the so-called political scientists who are now engaged in a blame game.

The finger pointing has already started. Attila Mesterházy blames everybody except himself. He doesn’t think he should resign from the chairmanship of his party. Too bad he doesn’t listen to the callers on Klubrádió. I don’t know what his colleagues in MSZP think (perhaps we will see in May), but László Botka, mayor of Szeged, announced that “continuing in the same way and with the same set-up is not worth doing.”

Or there is Gordon Bajnai, who once it became clear that he would not be the candidate for prime minister succumbed to Weltschmerz. After a fleeting appearance in politics he has already had enough. He is throwing in the towel. He just announced that he will not take his parliamentary seat. And the PM people will all resign after the European parliamentary election. That would be fine if there were a second tier of politicians behind them. But there isn’t.

According to the politicians of Együtt2014-PM and MSZP, the whole Unity Alliance was a mistake. Mesterházy apparently announced right after the election that “we could have done that well alone.” Bajnai declared on Sunday night that they will “never again agree to any unprincipled political compromise.” These politicians are reinforced by the talking heads who also suddenly discovered that the whole alliance was a huge mistake. It was a forced and unnatural political amalgam of diverse political groups. Yes it was, but it was Viktor Orbán’s devilishly clever electoral law that forced that straight jacket on them. The great minds who ex post facto condemn the joint action don’t ask what would have happened if three or four opposition politicians ran against a single Fidesz candidate. In that case, surely, not one district would have been won by the democratic opposition.

Given the mood of  the Bajnai and the Mesterházy groups, it seems there won’t be a united parliamentary delegation either. Both Együtt2014-PM and DK have only four parliamentary representatives, not enough to form a caucus. Only parties with a minimum of five members can have a caucus. That doesn’t seem to bother Együtt2014, whose politicians already announced that no meaningful political activity can be conducted in a parliament in which one party holds a two-thirds majority. They will conduct most of their activities on the streets. Unfortunately, the last two years showed how difficult it is to convince sympathizers of the democratic opposition to take an active part in street demonstrations. MSZP has its own caucus and therefore could care less what the Bajnai group does.

DK politicians haven’t said much, but from the little I heard from Ferenc Gyurcsány it looks as if he is in favor of joint action and a joint caucus.  This solution now seems close to impossible. Gyurcsány did mention that DK might approach Gábor Fodor, the lone “representative” of the Hungarian Liberal party, to join them. After all, it was Gyurcsány who convinced Együtt2014-PM and MSZP to put Fodor high enough up on the party list to assure him of a seat in parliament. Yesterday Fodor said on ATV that no such request had come from DK. Today, however, in the early afternoon Fodor announced that DK did approach him and that “the leadership” of his party had decided against it. DK’s spokesman denies that they approached Fodor with such an offer.

Otherwise, DK has already begun its campaign for the forthcoming European parliamentary election. They are collecting signatures. It was decided some time ago that the three parties would try their luck individually at the EP election. Of the three parties, only MSZP has a chance of actually sending representatives to Brussels. But since people can vote only for a party list in the EP election, Együtt2014-PM and DK can use this election to get a rough sense of their relative strength among the electorate.

So, this is where we stand. Not a happy picture.

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Guest
April 9, 2014 3:57 pm

From far, far away Germany:

What Orbán didn’t manage the “left” opposition now is working on:

Destructing itself!

A sad show …

nwo
Guest
nwo
April 9, 2014 4:00 pm

I completely agree. Now is the time to be unified. I know there are many people shocked that FIDESZ mangaged the 2/3 rds majority with 45% of the vote, and with such a significant drop in absolute support. This is the time to be vocal and on the street and loudly proclaim the results as illegitimate. The truth is that in terms of true popular support and a real mandate, FIDESZ should be deeply disappointed The level of international coverage of the election has been relatively high, with many in Western press concluding the nature of the FIDESZ victory by seats as compared to votes raises the question of whether this is a democracy (see, Bloomberg for just one example of this). The opportunity to make noise and keep the issue alive is now. With no one speaking up and challenging the meaning of this election, this will all be forgotten in two weeks. But instead of acting, the opposition is wallowing in self pity and fighting among themselves. Given the quality of the main opposition and given the Government, is it a surprise that some people look even to Jobbik as an alternative?

Member
April 9, 2014 4:21 pm
FIDESZ FAITHFUL TRY TO IMAGE-MANAGE THE WORLD FREE PRESS The collapse of the opposition alliance is yet another symptom of what I would not (with Eva) dub Orban’s “devilish cleverness” but his demoniac con-artistry: Anyone free of conscience and scruples could have been just as “clever.” Below is just a little taste of what Fidesz vigilantes are now doing all over the map. It happened to turn out well, because the Economist moderator gave it some thought. I urge you: if there is an attempt to suppress courteous, temperate comment in the free press worldwide, challenge it, otherwise Fidesz image-control stretches even beyond the Hungarian media they have bought up and co-opted. A word to the wise… SH PS What follows below is in reverse chronological order ———- Forwarded message ———- From: Comments Moderator Date: Wed, Apr 9, 2014 at 11:40 AM Subject: Re: Stevan Harnad’s comment to The Economist online To: Stevan Harnad Dear Stevan Your comment has been restored. It was removed because someone reported it but I can’t see a good reason for it not to appear. Best wishes Ananyo (Community editor) >>> From: Stevan Harnad 07/04/2014 14:47 >>> Dear Comments Moderator, Could you please let me… Read more »
jonty
Guest
jonty
April 9, 2014 4:42 pm
What a pathetic rabble. This really does emphasize why there is a need for a totally new opposition movement to be formed from the genuine democratic forces in Hungary, with people who actually have the ability to campaign effectively against both Fidesz and Jobbik. The new organisation must be competent, transparent and well organised. It needs to be able to attract people with clear, sensible messages that win over hearts and minds. And they must campaign actively everywhere from now until the election. No waiting, the campaign has to start now. But none of this miserable shower, including Ferenc Gyurcsány (has talent but is clearly damaged goods) should be involved in any way. I really do fear that 2018 is the last chance to rescue Hungary. And, if the European project unravels (which is potentially a growing worry given the increasing anti EU sentiment) I do actually fear for the future of the nation, if things disintegrate and there is a free for all amoung the former EU members. Hungary has no real friends in Europe now and Russia will only offer support while it suits its interests. What it will have though will be real enemies if things go… Read more »
idiotic trolling
Guest
idiotic trolling
April 9, 2014 5:31 pm

@Harnad

There is not a place in the world where comments get auto-removed because someone “reports” them. A moderator has to approve the removal. Your idiotic trolling could have been removed for many reasons including being off topic. It seems you have a narcissistic tendency to post off topic comments like you did in this discussion. Your comments have nothing to do with the topic of this blog post and only serves to derail, hinder and harass the discussion and try to refocus it on your own person.

In the above example one moderator ruled your post trolling another uninformed moderator then restored it. I wouldn’t be so proud in your case if 50% of moderators consider you a troll.

Maybe the first moderator also put the few first lines of your “posting” into google and saw that this copy-pasted content was already posted countless times in different palces, instead of being a comment written for the Economist forum. This tactic is also identical to what spammers do. Next time please try to think before you take up valuable space on this blog with your own personal issues that only serve to derail valuable discussions here.

Kirsten
Guest
Kirsten
April 9, 2014 5:44 pm
Jonty, this “totally new opposition movement” is clearly lacking, but the fact that it has not emerged during the past four years, combined with the wide-spread scepticism about politics in general, makes it unlikely that it will emerge now. “People with clear, sensible messages that win over hearts and minds” sounds like a miracle healing for Hungary. Instead of believing in miracles, people who wish for a European Hungary, have to clarify a number of points. Very pressing is the issue of cooperation, compromise, and mutual respect. If the rather small groups in the current opposition are unable to cooperate and to put the Hungarian future above their own egos, nothing can change. In some way, the will have to be very pragmatic. The example is the Spanish transition, and this means that a lot of the past has to be “forgotten” and “accommodated” for a number of decades in the interest of a democratic future – and that has to have absolute priority. Which is why Hungarians need an idea of how Hungary should look like. And that includes that people must be willing to accept that “you cannot have all at the same time”, that people have to… Read more »
Jano
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Jano
April 9, 2014 5:56 pm

Eva: ” The great minds who ex post facto condemn the joint action don’t ask what would have happened if three or four opposition politicians ran against a single Fidesz candidate. In that case, surely, not one district would have been won by the democratic opposition.”

Joint candidates in the district wasn’t a bad idea, the joint party list was in my opinion. They narrowed the possible voter base to the intersection instead of going for a union. It would have made sense for joint campaigning, but that ended up doing virtually nothing together.

Also just looking at this chaos I can’t help thinking what I’ve been thinking for quite some time. What would they have done with each other on government when position, power and money also come into the picture??

petofi
Guest
petofi
April 9, 2014 6:00 pm
@idiotic trolling You smack of ‘paid services’. Wassa matter, couldn’t you get a decent job in New York or Chicago? Have you got a Hungarian parent who connected you with the Orban mob? Probably. Professor Harnad’s points are spot on. The list is comprehensive and correct. Nice try at trying to blacken it but people with a western education aren’t as easy to fool and manipulate as mentally-challenged followers of Orban. All you’ve done is revealed yourself to be a (paid) hack, or why would anyone want to so bleakly give his name to falsity and nonsense? The fact of the matter is that Westerners cannot fathom what transpires in Hungary today because it is contrary to our learning and experience of the post war years. What Orban has done is beyond the modern mind’s capacity to understand. One example–the latest–will do: what politician in the West would lie through his teeth (re the German monument and discussion with the jewish community) and then completely disregard his own words and act as if they didn’t exist? Not possible in a sane, western, modern, society. And that sane society, a free and independent fifth estate (journalists) leading the way, would incessantly… Read more »
Idiotic Trolling counter-reply
Guest
Idiotic Trolling counter-reply
April 9, 2014 6:14 pm

@Harnad

I enjoyed reading your list. It is welcome to see this information summarized in one comment. I would like to see your full list. It has been my experience that OT comments are welcomed on HS and have often generated interesting discussions.

Member
April 9, 2014 6:34 pm
Oh dear, oh dear! An anonymous (but busy) Fidesz troll under the name of idiotic trolling seems to be doing some idiotic-trolling! “There is not a place in the world where comments get auto-removed because someone “reports” them. A moderator has to approve the removal. Your idiotic trolling could have been removed for many reasons including being off topic. It seems you have a narcissistic tendency to post off topic comments like you did in this discussion. Your comments have nothing to do with the topic of this blog post and only serves to derail, hinder and harass the discussion and try to refocus it on your own person. “In the above example one moderator ruled your post trolling another uninformed moderator then restored it. I wouldn’t be so proud in your case if 50% of moderators consider you a troll. “Maybe the first moderator also put the few first lines of your “posting” into google and saw that this copy-pasted content was already posted countless times in different palces, instead of being a comment written for the Economist forum. This tactic is also identical to what spammers do. Next time please try to think before you take up valuable… Read more »
latefor
Guest
latefor
April 9, 2014 7:06 pm

The truth is that the opposition parties failed to convince the majority of the Hungarian voters that they can look after their economic and national interests. Also, people don’t like KAOS, they like unity and stability…. And there is the Internet, people are better informed…. Now, it’s time for all politicians (left or right), to be responsible and look at the best interest of the country and save it from disappearing entirely (economic migration). Stop the blaming game and get on with the hard task ahead. UNITE! The “country cannot be in opposition.” Amen

spectator
Guest
spectator
April 9, 2014 7:17 pm

latefor :
Stop the blaming game and get on with the hard task ahead. UNITE! The “country cannot be in opposition.” Amen

Right!
And nonetheless learn how to communicate about all what you do!
Unity by itself doesn’t really solve the problem, if aunt Bessy in Lower Dumbfux has no idea what it means and why this is going to help her – if anything ever will, anyway.
Communication the key to success, time to recognise it!

Mutt
Guest
Mutt
April 9, 2014 8:40 pm

@idiotic trolling

Gosh I have to chime in … such a slam dunk. Look buddy. The comment is back on the Economist and that’s what matters. What does it mean? Millions of potential readers. In your face! Kim-Jong Un would have blown off your head for this. Get yo shit together!

Footballer Joe
Guest
Footballer Joe
April 9, 2014 9:40 pm
In the past at the municipality elections which came after the general elections, unless there was an Öszöd-speech in between, the winning party of the general elections won again. Also, in any poll made after the general elections the winner gained immediately. People do move towards the winner, it becomes even more popular. Thus it is likely that at the EU elections the leftist parties will fare worse than they did on Sunday. And this is true I thunk even though small parties tend to fare better at the EU elections than at general elections. However this “small parties tend to win” rule really meant non-mainstream parties when compared to the major blocks (like Greens in Germany or Ukip in the UK). That system is now upset in Hungary as Jobbik is almost as strong as the entire united Left flied (without LMP). I think Jobbik will fare better and even Fidesz too, and MSZP worse, and DK and Együtt will just be below 5%. I agree that Bajnai was Szigetvari’s brainchild, in the sense that Bajnai did not have any plans to re-enter politics, Szigetvari convinced him that he was needed and had a real chance. I think Bajnai… Read more »
Member
April 9, 2014 11:08 pm

Way to go Stevan Harnad! Your points are valid, and proven.

As far “Idiotic Trolling” (how fitting that name)… In fact there are many-many media outlets where you can Flag a message, and it does show up as “message flagged”. THe poster is being notified, and they have the right to dispute. It seems you have no idea about this. Check out IMD comments for example. There a thousands of comments each day on IMDB, and hundreds are being flagged. Do you think IMDB has like hundreds of moderators stand-by?

whoever
Guest
whoever
April 9, 2014 11:59 pm

Just to be clear, Bajnai is not walking away from politics or Együtt (or its successor). He doesn’t see himself as achieving much in Parliament, so is working outside.

Whether or not we agree with his politics, he is, at least, a decent communicator who gives an idea of what’s at stake, in a clear and understandable way. The ideal resolution IMO is a ‘reverse takeover’ of the MSZP, whereby a merger of the Osszefogas parties would provide a leadership composed largely of the PM team and some of the younger MSZP leadership. It’unlikely, but it would be the best outcome for tge MSZP in the long-run.

This would give us a potentially strong bourgeois party which might get a majority in Budapest, but those areas of the countryside and poorer towns in the north east would require something else entirely, nothing less than a socialist/self-defence party which would tackle Jobbik head-on… probably not far off from Andor Schmuck’s conception of social democracy, for example. Such an organisation might provoke a lot of nose-wrinkling among the readers of this blog, and would test the empathy of the bourgeois left…!

oneill
Guest
oneill
April 10, 2014 2:16 am
The bickering is a complete sideshow which has zero squared relevance or interest to 99% of the population. Orban now has at least another 4 years, the fascists combined control a frightening majority of the parliament and the electorate has rejected the Left. That is where we are and whether it was the MSZP’s, Gyurcsany’s, Bajnai’s fault is neither here nor there. “Where to next”? is the question. Can Orban and his mafia be beaten through the parliamentary system as it presently exists? No. He controls the electoral system, the media and upper echelons of judiciary. Will international criticism temper his dictatorship? No. He couldn’t care less for the opinions of the EU (which is a paper pussycat anyway when it comes to getting its hands dirty with dictators), the US, Hungarian Jewry, the OCSE, the international media, Amnesty and a whole lot of other organisations the opinions of which we obsess on here. So… as I see it there are only alternatives for the democrats. First is to start doing exactly what Fidesz and Jobbik activists have done in the countryside villages and the towns. No, not abusing the Jews and the Roma but providing a daily service for… Read more »
whoever
Guest
whoever
April 10, 2014 5:01 am

oneill – you’re absolutely right and it’s what the MSZP needs to do – but this is much more like the kind of hard graft that Botka’s team has done in Cegled, than anything Mesterhazy has done up until now. It’s notable that there is a special meeting of the MSZP on Saturday, where the possibility of a fresh set of leadership elections may arise. The resignation of the PM leadership seems as much a suggestion, as anything else… maybe Mesterhazy’s position isn’t quite as sewn-up as people imagine.

Dubious
Guest
Dubious
April 10, 2014 5:52 am

How many of the people here (and on other more democrtic forums) are saying MSZP, or Egyutt or DK need to work harder, and aren’t volunteering to help? Even if all the elected representatives worked 24/7 for the next 4 years, there is simply not enough of them to make a difference. There is not some army of paid helpers to do this. Nor are there enough volunteers. So, for those people who care, and think that there needs to be hard work done, I encourage you all to contact the local political grouping of their choice, and offer to help organise and do the work which they believe needs to be done. This is not directed at anyone in particular, at all.

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 10, 2014 6:05 am

I am happy to report that they added a further 14,169 “Transylvanian” votes to the total.

I hope election officials will be rewarded magnanimously to come up with a new record:

96.62% of the new votes went to Fidesz!!

Kirsten
Guest
Kirsten
April 10, 2014 6:18 am

Tappanch, nowhere in Europe are people so united :).

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 10, 2014 6:36 am

The morning is not over:

Another 19,643 “Transylvanian” votes for Fidesz!

Guys, you have made it!

An extra seat to Fidesz and 2/3 again.

Noe
Guest
Noe
April 10, 2014 6:51 am

Kirsten :
Tappanch, nowhere in Europe are people so united :).

This is real, I believe. Anybody who signed up to vote in Translyvania or Serbia did at Fidesz’ behest as part of Fidesz’ campaign machinery.

Those people are well organized. And they hate “communists” and are taking revenge. At the next elections you can count with at least 300,000 votes for sure.

These will decide the future for elections to come.

whoever
Guest
whoever
April 10, 2014 6:55 am

Dubious – I’d hazard a guess that the main way that Eva’s blog readership could help would be financial – other than LMP Mark 1, Hungarian politics hasn’t done much recently to elicit a culture of small donations. This is also about leadership across a number of different spheres.

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 10, 2014 6:58 am

@Noe

The only problem is that Jobbik was also active in Transylvania.

They eliminated Jobbik at the opening of outer envelopes:

Officials threw away 20% of the arrived ballots without checking the contents of the inner envelopes to come up with the unbelievable percentages of

Fidesz 95.35%
Jobbik: 2.24%
MSzP+4: 1.27%
LMP: 0.48%

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 10, 2014 7:05 am

There is no way of knowing who actually cast the 159,316 mail-in/drop-off “Transylvanian” votes.

Somebody with a name, mother’s name, date of birth and naturalization number
(and Fidesz is in the know) could

1. give a mere e-mail address, not a real address for notification (more than 1/3 did so)
2. name a consulate for pick-up
2. drop off the ballot at this or other consulate

Bowen
Guest
Bowen
April 10, 2014 7:10 am

Another view of Szabadsag Ter. Went there this morning with my toddler, who likes the little play fountain and the playground with a little train and some swings.

In front of the fountain, now, of course, is the Nazi era ‘memorial’. And a dozen or so protestors, just peacefully there. There are a lot of police, and police vans near the TV building. Also, there were about 10 other people in uniform (TEK, presumably), actively videoing the protestors. And as well as that, quite a few ‘heavies’ in black jackets and sunglasses dotted around watching things.

Maybe they’re hoping things might turn ‘violent’ so they can report on the news that ‘extremists’ have threatened the peace of Szabadsag Ter?

Anyway, it’s suddenly a horrible, nasty place to take a kid. Not that this would enter into the head of a Fidesz politician.

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 10, 2014 7:16 am

@Bowen

The regime will show more of its dictatorial nature after the election, in which it fraudulently recreated the 2/3 majority, i.e. absolute & unchecked power.

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 10, 2014 7:31 am

About the <=120,000 "nomadic" votes that will be added on April 12.

One precinct at each Budapest district and at each town and village was an entry point of these votes – several thousand altogether.

Their validity could be compromised during the April 6 to April 12 period

1. on the way to the Central Election Office from the designated precinct,
2. at the Central Election Office,
3. on the way to the 106 districts where they will be counted on April 12.

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
April 10, 2014 8:08 am

Here comes another 20,000 Fidesz vote…

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