Viktor Orbán against the world as fear spreads in Hungary

Somewhat belatedly German Chancellor Angela Merkel congratulated Viktor Orbán on his electoral victory. It was yesterday afternoon that the press director of the Prime Minister’s Office released the news to MTI, and around 4 p.m. a summary of the letter appeared on the government website. Merkel emphasized that Fidesz’s large majority carries a special responsibility to use it soberly and sensitively. “In doing so, you can continue to count on Germany as a reliable partner in Europe,” the chancellor remarked. For emphasis she added: “in this spirit, I’m glad about our continued cooperation.” I think this letter was a warning to Viktor Orbán, who has already ignored Merkel’s message. If Merkel is serious about making good German-Hungarian relations dependent on Orbán’s restraint and moderation, she can start preparing for a rocky four-year period. It looks as if Orbán has no intention of slowing down. On the contrary, on day one he decided to take on the Hungarian and international Jewish community.

Those readers who are not familiar with the background of the controversial monument commemorating the German occupation of Hungary should read my many posts that deal with the matter, starting in early January. Here it is enough to say that this monument is a distortion of Hungarian history and by extension a falsification of the Hungarian Holocaust. The question is why Orbán insists on erecting this monument despite worldwide protestation. Why is he ready to face condemnation and contempt as a result of his stubbornness? As far as I can see, there can be only two answers to this question. Either his psychological make-up simply doesn’t tolerate defeat, which is a serious problem in itself, or whitewashing Hungary’s role in the Holocaust is vitally important to him.

After three days of protest, during the police passively watched demonstrators dismantle the fence built around the future site of the monument, authorities gave the green light to the police to crack down. There were several arrests today, with most likely more to follow.

While the tug of war over the erection of the monument continues, we should talk about another topic. Fear. A day before the election, Lili Bayer, a young researcher on Hungarian politics wrote a piece on the “return of fear” in Hungary. Let me quote her:

One element missing in much of the coverage of Hungary, however, has been the rise of fear in Hungarian society. A few outspoken Hungarian journalists have come out and spoken about their experiences of being intimidated and censored, especially in the state-run media, where some topics are considered off-bounds. Some former state employees, from ex-Fidesz agriculture official József Ángyán to bureaucrats at the Central Bank have described corruption and intolerance of dissident opinion throughout the government bureaucracy. Some of the country’s most talented television hosts and policy experts have lost their jobs. Fidesz and its oligarch supporters control not only the state bureaucracy and most of the media, but also many businesses and all government contracts. Husbands, wives, and friends of opposition figures have therefore become unemployable. As a result, some Hungarians have come to fear speaking their minds.

The fear extends beyond ministries and media institutions. It is present in private corporations, in schools, and in households across the country. At its root, the fear comes from the decline of Hungary’s democratic institutions and the lack of checks on the Fidesz party’s power. Fidesz has used its two-thirds majority in parliament over the past four years to gain control over nominally independent institutions. The Media Council, which oversees both state-owned and private news outlets, is dominated by Fidesz loyalists. Justices from the country’s top court have been forced out to make way for Orbán’s appointees, thus undermining the judiciary’s ability to act as a check on the government’s actions. There is therefore no institution to protect those fired on political grounds, no one willing to start a formal inquiry into censorship.

The fear is not, of course, comparable to the fear of Chinese, Uzbeks, or Iranians, who live under the rule of much stronger and more authoritarian regimes. But the return of fear to Hungary after a two-decade absence is significant. It impacts the daily lives of millions, and has no place in a modern democratic society. The existence of this kind of fear in the European Union should ring alarm bells across the continent.

An increasing number of articles are appearing in Hungary that talk about fear, in Hungarian “egzisztenciális félelem” (fear for one’s livelihood). This fear is widespread. That’s why in the past four years the teachers’ unions could not get too many people on the streets. That’s why these same teachers cannot be enticed to strike. That’s why so many people refuse to answer the questions of public opinion firms. People notice that cameramen are hard at work at demonstrations, and they are convinced that these pictures will be used against them one day. People are afraid that their telephone conversations are no longer private. There were instances when Fidesz propaganda messages arrived on cell phones whose numbers were not public. I heard about cases where university students were threatened by their dean to stop their political activities. Naturally, these political activities were on behalf of the parties of the democratic opposition.  At opposition gatherings one can see mostly people of retirement age. We know that young people all over the world are not terribly interested in politics, but there is another reason. Younger people are worried about their jobs as civil servants, doctors, or teachers.

There is another kind of fear that affects entire communities. Take, for instance, the city of Esztergom. The city had a famously bad Fidesz mayor before 2010. Esztergom is a conservative city, but even the good burghers of Esztergom had enough of the mayor. In October 2010 with a large majority they voted for an independent newcomer to politics, a woman. The people of Esztergom thought, however, that the mayor was only a bad apple among the otherwise wonderful Fidesz local politicians and voted overwhelmingly for Fidesz candidates for the city council. Subsequently the Fidesz majority did everything in its power to prevent the new mayor from carrying out her duties. And the government decided to punish the city for voting one of their own out of office. This time Esztergom voted solidly for the Fidesz candidate. They learned that voting against Fidesz is dangerous and counterproductive.

This morning one of Hungarian Spectrum‘s commentors sent me a video. It is a recording of a ten-minute segment of the Fidesz gathering in Debrecen where Viktor Orbán made his last campaign appearance. Before his speech an elderly gentleman with a monumentally large moustache recited a poem written byRudolf Kotzián. The elderly gentleman turned out to be Zsolt Dánielfy, a member of the Csokonai Theater of Debrecen. Keep in mind that Attila Vidnyánszky, the Fidesz favored new director of the Hungarian National Theater of rightist leanings, used to be the director of the Debrecen theater.  Kotzián seems to specialize in bad nationalistic poems, some of which are available on a rather obscure site called Eugen. The poem recited here is a frightening warning of what lies ahead for those who don’t vote for Fidesz. Kotzián might be off his rocker, but the organizers of the gathering surely knew the content of his poem and gave their blessing to having it recited. What is the message? “You will be treated the way you voted.” If you vote against this regime, look around, you will see what happens to you. This message is repeated ad nauseam until the fear of God is pounded into those brave souls who stand up against this power.

Zsolt Dánielfy recites Rudolf Kotzián's poem on April 5, 2014, Debrecen

Zsolt Dánielfy recites Rudolf Kotzián’s poem on April 5, 2014, Debrecen

There is also an entirely new police force whose members with their black outfits and masks are a frightening sight. By now there are almost a thousand of them. Why Hungary needs such a force is a mystery. Officially, it is supposed to be an anti-terrorist unit, but surely the terrorist threat to Hungary is minimal. The country doesn’t need a force of a 1,000 heavily armed men against non-existent terrorists. In reality, this task force has only one purpose: the protection of Viktor Orbán. What is Viktor Orbán afraid of? The people. And what are the people afraid of? Viktor Orbán. This is where we are in April 2014.

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Member
The poem originally was written for the 2004 referendum. At this time it was recited prior to Orban taking the stage, so there is no way, he did not approve this poem that is simply a warning, a blackmail and a threat in my humble opinion. It certainly has a very special meaning now with the Kubatov list in place, the QR codes on surveys about Fidesz, etc. I think this poem actually emphasizes that Fidesz does know what you do! It is scary, and shameful at the same time, especially as Orban and Fidesz are still trying to show the world how much they try to unite Hungarians. Obviously there is noting further from the truth. (I would also like to point out that I have every right to reproduce the text in English under the Fair use or Fair dealing acts or under similar acts in other countries, as it is a major part of my criticism, not of the poem, but of the regime it supports. Since there is no English translation available, in order to provide fair criticism of the current ruling party, Fidesz, and the moral and ethical standards they live by, I must include… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Let me attempt to translate a few lines form the verse recited so emphatically at Orban’s last rally before the election.

“Ahogyan szavaztál, úgy bánjanak veled!
Úgy mondjanak neked IGEN-t, avagy NEM-et!
Úgy nyújtsanak feléd majd segítõ kezet!
Ahogyan szavaztál, úgy bánjanak veled!
Úgy mentsenek ki a lángban álló házból!
Úgy húzzanak ki a vad, dühöngõ árból!
Éhhalál küszöbén úgy kapj majd kenyeret!
Ahogyan szavaztál, úgy bánjanak veled!”

May they treat you the way you voted
May they give you an answer yes or no the way you voted
May they give you a helping hand the way you voted
May they save you from your burning house the way you voted
May they pull you from the flooding water the way you voted
May you get bread when close to death by starving the way you voted
May they treat you the way you voted

———

This is an open threat.

If you do not vote for Fidesz,
the government and its officials

will not give you a yes when you ask for help
will not save you when your house is on fire
will not pull you from the flooding water
will not give you a piece of bread when near death from starving.

I would call this the anthem of modern Fascism.

Johnny Boy
Guest

No. This poem is the reaction of the Transylvanian Magyars after Gyurcsány’s betrayal in 2004.

LON
Guest

To the Stockholm syndrome topic of yesterday. Never before have voted romas in such great numbers to Fidesz. They apparently can’t gent enough of Fidesz. I wonder how rational choice theorist explain that? After long deliberation, carefully considering policy issues romas in Hungary uniformly realized that it was in their best interest to love Fidesz (in a way this is rational, of course).

Lungo Drom (the Fidesz-loyal roma organization which is still headed by Flórián Farkas, who started his ‘roma etno-business career’ well before 1990) organized roma extremely well. Farkas is probably one of the longest serving politicians in Hungary.

The illiterate romas are incomparably better organized than the intellectual lefties of Budapest. Way to go lefties.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20140411_Kivittuk_az_Uteget_most_hordjuk_a_Motor_u

Máté
Guest

There is one more process going on. Especially in outside of Budapest places where opposition people are already quite rare (about 1/4 of all people, but in many regions 1/8, that they may not even encounter another opposition-leaning people in their day to day lives) the declining number of opposition people are subconsciously convincing themselves that Fidesz is not so bad after all, and if really so many people, about 2/3 love Fidesz and Jobbik then maybe they (the lefty voters) are wrong and the majority right and indeed the lefties are idiots and the right wingers are the noble, great people who deserve the loving attention of the voters. They slowly learn to love Big Brother, it is quite natural.

This has been confirmed by numerous studies, people want to conform, they do not have the strength to holdout as minority view people (especially as there are direct negative consequences).

An
Guest

@LON: Don’t you think there was something fishy going on with the Roma votes? HVG had an article on this but now the link doesn’t seem to work.

LON
Guest
Sure, the romas sold their votes for a pound of bread per kopf. I linked the HVG article. But it shows that (i) Fidesz can purchase votes so that nobody can prove it legally, the left is unable to for a number of reasons and (ii) it shows clearly that voting is not how it is imagined by most scholars, it is only rational in the sense that it is not completely random, but there is not much thinking involved, if you pay them 500 HUF, romas will gladly sell their votes (ie. if they trust you, as the left has no connection to rural areas it cannot just appear in a roma getto to purchase votes, romas will not trust them that the lefties can organize the deal well enough). Remember that Farkas was an MSZP man for long, but at one point Fidesz purchased him and has been owning him ever since. I wonder if Farkas was not a III/III or similar guy or was just given money or whether he smartly realized that the future was with Fidesz not the left in decline? Anyway there is not even a comparable roma organization to Lung Drom in Hungary,… Read more »
petofi
Guest

“….this task force has only one purpose: the protection of Viktor Orbán.”

I disagree.
I suggest that the task force is a warning to the regular police and army units that there is another force with arms and tanks. The force is to keep possible revolting army or police leaders in line.

petofi
Guest

As for Roma support for Orban…why would anyone be surprised?

Member
Johnny Boy : No. This poem is the reaction of the Transylvanian Magyars after Gyurcsány’s betrayal in 2004. Wrong. Can you read English Johnny Boy? Some1 : The poem originally was written for the 2004 referendum. At this time it was recited prior to Orban taking the stage, so there is no way, he did not approve this poem that is simply a warning, a blackmail and a threat in my humble opinion. Can you read Hungarian? Visit http://eugen.hupont.hu/79/ahogyan-szavaztal-koczian-rudolf “Ahogyan szavaztál… (a 2004 december 5-i népszavazásról) (kiegészítve 2005. Húsvétján) Szerzõ: Kotzián Rudolf” At this time it was about the Fidesz, and how Fidesz will punish those who will not vote for them. The 2004 referendum fall apart simply because there was not enough people who cared to vote. THe 2004 referendum was about the privatization of hospitals, and about the right to citizenship of those people who considered themselves Hungarian nationals but did not live in Hungary. Having said that my favourite verse from the same poet, from the same page form the poem, All the Same. The same robbing the country, Who drove your cattle to the co-operatives! THey put all of yours in the common. So now they… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

A policeman complained on Facebook that members of Orban’s praetorian guard TEK earn three times as much as regular policemen.

He was fired.

http://www.blikk.hu/blikk_aktualis/kirugtak-a-rendort-aki-beszolt-a-tek-eseknek-2246967

KL
Guest

I feel tappanch tries to mislead the readers who cannot understand Hungarian and thus cannot read the link. The full story is much more complex. The policeman, called Bajusz posted an angry rant against TEK, but that was in 2011 so three years ago! That matter was closed when Bajusz apologized for his outburst to the commander of TEK.

The present matter is five (5) new facebook postings that were unbecoming of a police officer. Bajusz declined to explain or defend these five postings when interviewed by the newspaper. So in truth his 2011 comments were not the reason for his 2014 firing. Aside from the fact that the two are three years apart, the article mentions five new cases. One of which was reportedly hate speech against homosexuals.

lazlo
Guest

the romas are great survivors. they know how to do it. they know power is with fidesz so they will vote for them. when they will feel that power may be with the left, they will vote for them to protect themselves, but that will not be tomorrow.

Member
KL : I feel tappanch tries to mislead the readers who cannot understand Hungarian and thus cannot read the link. The full story is much more complex. The policeman, called Bajusz posted an angry rant against TEK, but that was in 2011 so three years ago! That matter was closed when Bajusz apologized for his outburst to the commander of TEK. The present matter is five (5) new facebook postings that were unbecoming of a police officer. Bajusz declined to explain or defend these five postings when interviewed by the newspaper. So in truth his 2011 comments were not the reason for his 2014 firing. Aside from the fact that the two are three years apart, the article mentions five new cases. One of which was reportedly hate speech against homosexuals. I read the article, and I think it is you who try to mislead the readers! WHat tappanch was pointing is that systematic intimidation by the Fidesz (for the last four years also, if you will) f anyone who questions the doings or the power of any Fidesz (or their supporter’s doing. As we know Fidesz launched a full investigation against the whistleblower who first reported of the ational… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

united opposition could not turn 2 seats held by fidesz with tiny margin,

when nomadic and embassy votes are added today

bp12 & bp 15

Member
#11 The same robbing the country, Who drove your cattle to the co-operatives! THey put all of yours in the common. So now they can divide between each other while laughing. —– News Fidesz who took away the land even from those who were using it for 21 years with a legal lease from the State, and leased it now to their friends (some who had no agricultural experience whatsoever as factually reported before), started the work on a the previously biocultural land. The woman who held the 452 hectare lost her tender to her farm. There were countrywide support for the biocultural farm. Private people, organizations (and even at one point with Janos Ader’s) supported the farm, but nothing can deter Fidesz, when there is money for friends on the horizon. There is even a police investigation request against the organization that lease out the land for embezzlement, the owner also filed court papers against the decision, the Ministry of Rural Development is also on the woman’s side, but before any decision came out Fidesz allows the work to be started by their new beneficiaries. This work will likely compromise the farm’s bio status, and deter all the EU… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@Eva

“…Kunhalmi was in such a hurry to congratulate her opponent. In any normal country the loser would immediately demand a recount.”

Largely, we’re seeing what has always been a fact: that the winner co-opts the loser. This is even more so today when Fidesz as shown the Will to prosecute, attack, and economically
debilitate all opposition.

Welcome to modern subjugation, or the Kafkaesque reality of Orban’s Hungary. Fear is first, and everything else falls in place afterward. Under these conditions, opposition can not long survive; not because the Left is hapless or inadequate but because they’re deprived of the resources to carry on. From here on, in Hungary, you’re either part of the Fidesz machinery or you’re on your way to emigrating…

griff
Guest

“I saw the results and I’m stunned that Kunhalmi was in such a hurry to congratulate her opponent. In any normal country the loser would immediately demand a recount.”

Maybe she is just an intelligent woman who trusts her own party. Her own party was present with two members during the counting today. When the votes were counted today, many members of the press were also present and observed the counting, including taking picture and video. So there were many witnesses, in addition to the delegates of Kunhalmi’s MSZP party.

They counted the votes three times, so Kunhalmi knows there were a count and two recounts already. Congratulating the opponent is the decent thing to do and a must for any democratic politician in a democratic election. And this is exactly what Kunhalmi did. He congratulated her opponent, and she did it immediately. Kunhalmi should be recognized for doing the right thing. She will get far in life with this attitude and also she still got in from the Party List.

Guest

Thanks, some1 for clearing this up – KL is really annoying with his”truthiness”. Some of these Fidesz apologists are really trying to manipulate everybody – luckily there are a lot of really sharp observers on this blog. Sometimes I’m astonished about the level of info you can get, so thanks not only to Eva but to the commenters here too.

Btw, there’s an entry on the comments list:
http://hungarianspecter.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/the-effects-of-eva-baloghs-blog-on-a-commenter/
But that blog is private …

Wtf is that meant to be? Is there somebody trying to lead us somewhere?

Member
Some1 : The poem originally was written for the 2004 referendum. At this time it was recited prior to Orban taking the stage, so there is no way, he did not approve this poem that is simply a warning, a blackmail and a threat in my humble opinion. It certainly has a very special meaning now with the Kubatov list in place, the QR codes on surveys about Fidesz, etc. I think this poem actually emphasizes that Fidesz does know what you do! It is scary, and shameful at the same time, especially as Orban and Fidesz are still trying to show the world how much they try to unite Hungarians. Obviously there is noting further from the truth. (I would also like to point out that I have every right to reproduce the text in English under the Fair use or Fair dealing acts or under similar acts in other countries, as it is a major part of my criticism, not of the poem, but of the regime it supports. Since there is no English translation available, in order to provide fair criticism of the current ruling party, Fidesz, and the moral and ethical standards they live by, I… Read more »
Guest

No honest person would use a blog name infringing on “hungarianspectrum”. Don’t log in.

Christine
Guest

Of course, those who are elected to office are there to serve.

James Atkins
Guest

Does anyone know about the Hungarian cultural centre in Istanbul? It’s at on the main commercial street Istiklal but each time I walked past it the last three days it was shut and empty. Just a lonely flag standing inside. Yet a plaque tells us it was only opened in December 2013 by the prime minister.
Does anyone know why this prime piece of Istanbul real estate, presumably leased by the Hungarian government, is sitting empty?

spectator
Guest

Johnny Boy :
No. This poem is the reaction of the Transylvanian Magyars after Gyurcsány’s betrayal in 2004.

Just why don’t you elaborate of little darling, just whom Gyurcsány has betrayed and what way?
If anybody reacting this way and older as 3 years should be treated as infantile. Otherwise, in your spare time you may even look at your calendar, it will show year 2014.
Yes.
Good morning!

spectator
Guest

James Atkins :
Does anyone know about the Hungarian cultural centre in Istanbul? It’s at on the main commercial street Istiklal but each time I walked past it the last three days it was shut and empty. Just a lonely flag standing inside. Yet a plaque tells us it was only opened in December 2013 by the prime minister.
Does anyone know why this prime piece of Istanbul real estate, presumably leased by the Hungarian government, is sitting empty?

Certainly!
Because of the valuable members of the Hungarian government and the ruling party have been busy to establish their reign ad infinitum, spending some time in that mild climate could wait a few more days.
They will turn out sooner or later, don’t worry.
After all, the PM – the name Orbán – needs a new cheap backpack as we know, and as my personal experience dictates one can come by such commodity at a fairly moderate rate, so they will turn out, definitely.

Member

Jean P :
No honest person would use a blog name infringing on “hungarianspectrum”. Don’t log in.

Maybe it is like an AA group for trolls.

hongorma
Guest

As someone who visits Hungary on a regular basis, I can attest to the atmosphere of fear there. It is palpable.

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