“This is just the beginning”: An even larger demonstration against the regime today

Today an enormous crowd gathered on József nádor tér. It eventually swelled to the point that the beginning of the demonstration was already at the Clark Ádám tér on the Buda side at the Lánchíd while the last demonstrators were still at the Astoria Hotel, a good mile away from the Pest side of the Erzsébet híd. And while on Sunday only a handful of people gathered in Pécs, Miskolc, and Veszprém, this time there were much larger demonstrations, including one in Szeged. In Pécs the speaker was Tamás Mellár, a conservative economist at the University of Pécs who has been a harsh critic of the Orbán government’s economic policies. It is not a coincidence that larger crowds gathered in university towns. After all, young people and students would be most affected by the proposed internet tax.

Apparently the original proposal was so poorly prepared that, had it become law, an average computer user would have had to pay 65,000 forints a month just in taxes. Surely, this was total nonsense, but if the government does not consult with the leaders of the industry such a result is predictable. Then came the inevitable amendments when the Fidesz lawmakers try to fix the botched up proposals. At the end most people who went through the amended proposal still didn’t know how big a burden this new tax will be if it’s introduced. According to calculations, an average user will have to pay 10,000 forints in taxes–and that’s over and above  the 27% VAT they already pay, the highest in the world. Ten thousand forints or $42.00 is a lot of money even for an American internet subscriber, but it is a serious financial burden for most middle-class Hungarians. Also, it is not clear whether this tax would be levied per household, per subscription to a service provider (internet and smart phone), or per electronic device.

But it is not really the size of the tax, although of course that is part of it. For the demonstrators it is a question of principle: the net is free. This is their lifeline to the larger world. It is part of a social network that, for example, made these last two demonstrations possible. It is there where within a few days the organizers received 210,000 likes, more than Fidesz has collected in who knows how many years. It’s not known whose brainchild this tax was, but it was a colossal political mistake. Rumor has it that it was the Great Leader himself who came up with the idea. But, people argue, how could Viktor Orbán make such a mistake? After all, his political instincts are impeccable, at least as far as knowing what moves the Hungarian Everyman.

Source:Reuters/László Balogh

Source:Reuters/László Balogh

What could have accounted for this political misstep, whoever made it? I talked about one possible explanation already yesterday: the Fidesz boys got old too fast. I think they aged prematurely because they are basically an intolerant, opinionated bunch. They lack an openness to anything new or different. They are bound by tradition. All that stuff about folk costumes, folk dances, folk motifs, the virtues of the Hungarian peasantry. They are a backward looking lot. I saw an interview with a man who most likely never sat in front of a computer who announced that he is in favor of the tax because “these people use it too much. The internet should be restricted. Above a prescribed  level, it should not be accessible because it is not good for them.”

The tax is controversial even in Fidesz circles, but I doubt that anyone will dare tell Orbán that he is making a huge mistake. According to rumors, he is currently in Switzerland, insulated from the tense atmosphere in Hungary. These demonstrations will not stop. As the crowds chanted: “This is just the beginning!” This is not just against the tax but against the whole rotten system. They called the prime minister a traitor who sold his country to Putin and said that they don’t want anything to do with the Russians. They chanted: “Filthy Fidesz, filthy Fidesz!” They demanded democracy, a free country, and a free internet. And they want to belong to the European Union, from which László Kövér wouldn’t mind backing out slowly.

But this is only the political side of the controversy. What about the economic impact of the move? According to a recent article that appeared in The New York Times, only so-called developing countries impose damagingly high taxes on top of VAT or sales tax. As a report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation pointed out, “increasing taxes on information and communication technologies provides a significant drag on economic growth, and the losses accrue quickly over time.” Perhaps sanity will return and Viktor Orbán will see the light. Mind you, not too many people believe that. Klub Radio asked whether Orbán will retreat on the issue or not: only 20% of the callers answered in the affirmative. By now Hungarians know their prime minister.

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tappanch
Guest

Friends of the government & Orban can rent museum exhibits to be displayed in their private houses.

The monthly rental fee for pieces of art worth a million dollar is …. $50

http://english.atlatszo.hu/2014/10/28/atlatszo-hu-digs-into-the-renting-out-of-museum-exhibits-to-friends-of-the-government/

steve397
Guest

I have just two questions: (1) Do you think that Mr Orban cares about demonstrations and how the country is going towards bankruptcy? (2) If indeed there is such a popular opposition by the people, how comes that Fidesz has their 2/3 majority for the second time?

Paul
Guest

So, Hungarians wake up at last?

Interestingly, today, for the first time ever, my mother-in-law actually criticised the Fidesz government over this tax.

Her take is that it is a good idea but it’s been implemented badly and in a rush. It was intended (apparently) as a tax on the “big corporations”, not the ordinary people, but it has been publicised badly so people have got the wrong end of the stick.

From anyone else, this would sound like a typical Fideznik making the most of a bungle, but from my mother-in-law, this is close to the Pope saying God got it wrong…

mydailydiarysite
Guest

So Paul…. Need to live on Hungary & u can feel well from peoples talking now in my country. From outliving nobody can see well these situations.

tappanch
Guest

@steve397

Fidesz changed the election rules numerous times before the election.

43.7% of the 61.1% domestic turnout = 26.7% of the eligible voters voted for the Fidesz party in April 2014.

The self-tailored election rules made it possible for them to obtain 67% of the seats in Parliament.

An
Guest

@steve397: By fudging the election rules. Without fudging the election rules, Fidesz wouldn’t have 2/3, and just recently at the municipal elections, they wouldn’t have won the mayoral seat in Budapest.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Fideszlogic never gets old. Gábor G. Fodor from Századvég argues the U.S.A. are considering overthrowing the Hungarian Government. And in a moment of rhetorical genius (?) ends up aligning Budapest with Bagdad, Cairo and Kyiv. Doesn’t that place Viktor Orbán in the company of Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak and Victor Yanukovych?

http://gfg.blog.hu/2014/10/27/gfg_a_centralis_eroterben_12_amerikai_historia

http://444.hu/2014/10/28/g-fodor-gabor-tulzott-igyekezeteben-egy-tomeggyilkoshoz-hasonlitotta-orbant/

Minusio
Guest

Ever a pessimist about Hungary (after 1998), I am really surprised that an Internet tax which I never heard of in any other country could perhaps topple the government. Pester Lloyd already had some psychograms and scenarios of inner frictions. Well, I believe it when I see it.

But those are interesting developments!

sunyilo12
Guest

Steve397:
While the manipulations of the elections laws have quite a bit to do with it as the commenters ahead of me pointed out. The other – and I believe, major,- part is to do with Hungarians’ comfort with someone else telling them how to live, what to like, what to hate, etc. In such a world, politics is simply reduced to the question: who is the better player I can rout for – just as in a soccer match. Truly enough, Orban’s opposition showed very little to be worth of routing for. The average citizen is just now awakening that this is much more than a sport match that they watch from the sideline, and regardless what the opposition does, they need to protect their values and their interests.

Let’s hope this experience will be transformative of how the average citizen behaves. If it is then that’s it for the Orban government. If not, then still “dog years” (Hundejahre) are to come.

Istvan
Guest

Ok so I read Gábor G. Fodor’s article from October 27 and I really couldn’t make myself read the second article. It seems that the far right and Fidesz have grown paranoid of being overthrown by a devious CIA plot. I think this guy watches too much Russia Today, it will effect your mind after a while.

If the USA was going to forcibly over throw the elected government of Hungary to prevent Hungary from falling into Putin’s orbit this is not how it would be done. There is no evidence that such a course of action is being considered. The USA is not destabilizing the Fidesz government, it is destabilizing itself through its post election policy decisions and internal contradictions.

tinshed (@tinshed)
Guest

On of most telling aspects of this tax is just, as Eva pointed out, that it was so poorly thought out. It is sheer incompetence. Why is this so? The answer is of course the absence of any democratic processes to define, and refine policy. Power has been concentrated in so few hands that policy is made by these very few without any input from anyone else. Diversity of opinion is neither sought nor can the current “illiberal” system provide that thought. In normal democracies there are many different groups that provide inputs into policy making: the Executive, Parliament, the bureaucracy, the Courts, civil society groups, lobbyists and many, many more. As a result policy making is usually pretty pluralistic and better for it. But not so in Hungary. The few decide and surprise, surprise, they get it wrong. Badly wrong in this case. Ill-thought out policy, rushed through is a recipe for bad policy and bad consequences. Liberal democracies know this and built and encourage systems to promote good policy making. Not so in Hungary. As the circle of those who make decisions gets smaller, expect more incompetence. Such is an illiberal democracy.

Member

Tinshed: exactly. Hasty decisions rushed through without listening to reason or consulting experts. (As the once-talented extreme-right-wing author István Csurka put it: “Referring to expertise is an old Bolshevist trick.”)

Speaking of expertise: Just saw that the OTKA, the state organ for funding science and research, will cease to exist in the end of this year, as announced on OTKA’s homepage. A new law has simply abolished it and transferred its functions to a new institution, the National [“Nemzeti”, of course] Office for Research, Development and Innovation. The old OTKA, at least in the fields I know something of, had real expertise and a normal peer-reviewing process (normal by international standards, that is) for the allocation of research funding. I haven’t heard anything about the political planning behind this new institution but I don’t believe it has been preceded by careful consideration and consultation with experts…

LwwiH
Guest

Now it gets interesting because it provides an opportunity for someone other than the old tired faces to emerge.

Quote from Bruce Love. “No one gets rich in the public service. If anyone is getting rich in the public service there is definitely something wrong”.

tappanch
Guest

The organizers of the protest just made a crucial mistake. They trusted Fidesz’s word that the final vote on the tax package will take place only in 3 weeks – therefore they scheduled the next demonstration just before the promised date.

This leaves 3 weeks of breathing space for Orban.

Wieland
Guest
The reason it was not thought out because it was a gumicsont (rubber bone) to chew on to forget about the American visa issue and the corruption it implied. I haven’t checked it but I read somewhere that this internet tax bill to the Parliament didn’t even have a formal submitter, who would’ve signed the document. Apparently it’s anonymous, which is really strange, normally even the most unpopular bills are properly signed as they should be. In a way the trick was successful, nobody talks about the corruption and visas any more or it’s not a hotter topic than it was about two months ago. Ildiko Vida from the tax authority will start working after her well-earned vacation next week and life will go on. Orban will come home from his vacation?, talks with Russian advisors?, medical chekups? reenergized. Or maybe not. The rule of unintended consequences intervened and caused a bigger trouble than there was before. Arpi Habony would rather tend to media matters (like purchasing TV2) and not to politics, his heart is not in it any more. The problem for the fideszniks is that without getting financially suicidal no way the government can regain popularity and start… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Fidesz official: We will not backtrack on the internet tax.

http://nepszava.hu/cikk/1037886-breking-nem-hatral-a-kormany-nem-vonja-vissza-a-netadot

Ron
Guest

“tappanch October 29, 2014 at 3:34 am
The organizers of the protest just made a crucial mistake. They trusted Fidesz’s word that the final vote on the tax package will take place only in 3 weeks – therefore they scheduled the next demonstration just before the promised date.

This leaves 3 weeks of breathing space for Orban.”

This is so typical Hungary today. They do not learn, do they? Look what happened to the student movement. They trusted VO and got f….d big time.

Zebra Charlie
Guest

tappanch: No, the mistake is that Fidesz will push through the bill quicker, so that pulling people together could be difficult with such short notice. And by the time they want to seek the proper usage of the public place with the police, it will be too late because it will turn out that lo and behold for that particular day the Peacmearch already sought permission for Kossuth Square.

tappanch
Guest

@Wieland

“this internet tax bill to the Parliament didn’t even have a formal submitter”

The formal submitter is the “government (minister of national economy)”, i.e. M Varga.

tappanch
Guest

@Ron, Zebra Charlie

Yes. Rallies should be held three times a week: this might change Orban’s mind.

Guest

I find it interesting regarding the timing and apparent tolerance of abuse. For example a 27% (far too excessive) VAT was tolerated then the move to take cigarette sales and a subsequent 20% increase in prices to loyal Fidez friends was tolerated, even the proposed identical plan to take alcohol sales didn’t meet with this response. But a tax on the internet (which I am assuming only affects those who can afford internet at all which is likely a minority) is met with heavy resistance. Even the football stadium and training center and I hear a new airport as well are not meeting with this resistance. But taken all together along with all the rest of the mishmash of corrupt politics seems to be having a snowball effect. This I find puzzling. Was it just too much and the straw that broke the camel’s back? In the Constitution of Hungary what legal recourse do the voters have to remove a sitting and recently re-elected government between elections? Just curious and I can’t seem to find anyone who knows exactly given all the changes to the Constitution.

trackback

[…] Click here to view original web page at hungarianspectrum.org […]

tappanch
Guest

@Amerikai Szkeptikus

“the Constitution of Hungary what legal recourse do the voters have to remove a sitting and recently re-elected government between elections?”

1.
The Constitution was abolished as of January 1, 2012.
2.
In the unilateral Fidesz-written “basic law”, there is no recourse.

Before 2010, it was easy to have referendums. The new, Fidesz rules make them almost impossible. (To start with, they have to be approved by the Election Commission, where Fidesz appointees have 3/4 majority)

Sky Wanderer
Guest
Am unaware of the precise reason why Orban tried to tax the internet users but my best guess: his decision is indeed driven by his goal to protect Hungary’s citizens from the vast deceit-campaign led by the pro-EU/US imperialist forces. Watch out guys, these “exciting developments” are evidently the beginning of the Ukraine sort of fatal scenario. The democratic and peace-oriented elected legitimate government (Orban’s) is under fire by forces staged and financed by the hostile and warmonger Western leaders. If you don’t pay attention, the next regime that will rule over you will be a violent and real fascist one, supported and heavily financed by the EU/US, just like the one in Ukraine. A fact that hardly anyone knows: the very same Western lead who keep lamenting about anti-semitism even where there isn’t any, is financing violent anti-semitic militant fascist groups in Ukraine. I am certain that none of you would want a status in Hungary as in Ukraine, not even those who feel bribed enough by the Western international alliance of deceivers. I do recommend to watch this documentary on Youtube:”Welcome to Nulandistan Propaganda and the Crisis in Ukraine” That film gives a precise account on what is… Read more »
Guest

@Sky
I am of the same opinion (more or less). The timing and degree are out of sync and indicate a sophisticated response which requires planning and money. We have seen this before and I was warning about it last week. Watch for the color revolution. An ironically comical post you might enjoy: http://counterpsyops.com/tag/color-revolution/

Sky Wanderer
Guest

@Amerikai Szkeptikus

Thanks a lot for your reply and a hint. The referenced blog indeed makes a lot of sense. Not that I enjoy it though. I honestly see the looming WW3 not as an alarmist but as a realist. Have been trying to wake up folks for ages now but majority still don’t understand: even WW2 was crafted by the West, Hitler was helped to power by the predecessors of current Western war-mongers, it is the present Western lead – EU/US – that staged ISIS in order to kill millions of civilians in Mid East upon staged enemies and false flags. Unless we realise and finally admit that NWO conspiracy is real and unless we urgently start acting against it, the innocent majority in all countries remain in fatal danger.

Guest
@ Sky I think we are in complete agreement. I also am not Russian either although my wife is originally but then she lived in the US 20 years before we decided to retire to Hungary. Her family doesn’t consider her Russian any more for example so it is a stretch to say we are pro-Russian. Rather we are anti-NWO neocon planned BS as established in the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Nuland’s husband Robert Kagan was the co-author and is currently on Hillary Clinton’s election planning committee. So we can see the beginnings of this again but here in Hungary for being recalcitrant and pro-Russian. No one should be fooled into thinking otherwise. Any resistance to the “plan” will be met with strong response. When McCain visited here (now 3 times since January) I warned that this wa a harbinger of disaster. During my 40+ years in the US military, I had an alternate AOC of PSYOPS (now known as MISO) and I wrote the OPLAN for the PSYOP campaign against Germany in 1988 subsequently partially used during the US campaign in 1989 to reunify Germany. I have seen this stuff over my career and even though… Read more »
Sky Wanderer
Guest

@Amerikai Szkeptikus

Again, I do apologise for the mistake. I misread a comment that showed your name as well which caused the misunderstanding. : )

Yes we do agree on all the essential points – and as I can tell, you do see the actual big picture accurately. The details you mentioned here do reflect the main axis of history and of present world politics. I would be more than glad to continue the dialog elsewhere as this blog seems to be overtaken by trolls.

Bowen
Guest

@ Wieland “In a way the trick was successful, nobody talks about the corruption and visas any more ”

You’re wrong. If you’d been at the protest last night, you’d have seen many signs, and heard a lot of chants directed not specifically at the internet, but at the “Maffia Kormany” and general discontent towards Orban and Fidesz. The international coverage this story is getting is also linking the internet tax to the broader issues of corruption, authoritarianism, and the influence of Moscow.

Guest

@tappanch

Thanks for your answer. It is the same in the US. We “can” remove a sitting President or actually any governmental employee through an impeachment process but you have to have both sides of Congress in agreement which is why Obama (or Holder, Sibelius, et. al. ) hasn’t been impeached as Congress is split (maybe it will change next month but the impetus to go through the process isn’t there with only 2 years left of Obama’s Presidency. It also requires a trial on top of the articles of impeachment which is never going to happen. Orban wasn’t actually elected though if I understand it correctly. He was elected by Parliament or the majority party? Can that same party fire him?

tappanch
Guest

@Sky Wanderer, dear Russian friend

Ukraine != Hungary

Orban & Fidesz & Jobbik = Timoshenko & Yatsenko & Yanukovich & Praviy Sector

The US administration might support groups with Nazi ideology in Ukraine (I do not know),
but here the Russian government supports them.

timothy
Guest

Having referendums was almost impossible after the fall of the Communist dictatorship in 1989-90. Then, the Hungarian Socialist party fudged the referendum rules because they were afraid NATO membership will fail if the original rules are in place. Turns out they were right only 30-something percent voted for NATO membership, while the old rules required 50%+, for the referendum to be valid.

But even with the fudged rules it was close to impossible and took years to get something put up for referendum. For example in 2006 Fidesz promised a referendum, and it took two years until 2008 to get the referendum to happen. And of course even in 2008 there were those SZDSZ fanatics and others who said that referendums should never be allowed.

In any case there never was a referendum to remove a government in the history of Hungary. The old constitution never allowed it.

tappanch
Guest

@timothy

“For example in 2006 Fidesz promised a referendum, and it took two years until 2008 to get the referendum to happen”

October 24, 2007 – Fidesz submitted the signatures for the referendum against the 300 forint [1 euro] co-payment to visit your doctor (the fee had been introduced on February 15, 2007) and the proposed university tuition.

March 9, 2008 – the referendum takes place

Webber
Guest

Amerikai szkeptikus – Allow me to explain: In 2010 Hungary was on the verge of bankruptcy because of brutal mismanagement by the previous government. People understood that money had to be raised. Moreover, new governments always have a period when the public is patient. When the VAT was raised – I assure you nobody liked it -, a flat income tax was simultaneously introduced (some people benefited, some did not). Patience has now run out.

Sky Wanderer
Guest
@tappanch My dear friend, let’s sort this out first: I am not Russian. I have made my point regarding Ukraine as well as on the analogous Hungary-related dangers, which I won’t repeat here. In reply to your point: “The US administration might support groups with Nazi ideology in Ukraine” Yes it does, in order to foster developing a basis for starting WARS and for continuing the ongoing globalist/colonalist expansion, in order to take over the targeted countries’ lands, all values and resources, markets and exploit its cheap labour. The US administrations – both Republicans and Democrats – have been serving the capitalist interests, that is the interest of the richest individuals banks and corporations so these governments de facto defend the global oligarchy’s interests against their very own citizens. And since ALL wars are wanted by banks and corporations, all governments in the US and in the West who are serving banks and corporations are so willing to wage these wars. Meanwhile they lie into our face so blatantly and shamelessly in attempt to sell these wars to us as some kind of beneficial humanitarian endeavors. Meanwhile both Europe and US are in grave danger of this NWO imperialist wars… Read more »
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