The internet tax is only postponed: it most likely will be called something else

The first act of the drama is over, but I’m almost sure that more will follow since the participants in the recent massive demonstrations know Viktor Orbán only too well. Moreover, in his interview today on Magyar Rádió, he was quite blunt about his resolve to reintroduce the tax. The tax will be adopted “but not this way,” “not in this form.” That’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it?

The problem, according to the prime minister, is that once again the people “misunderstood” the original proposal because there was never any talk about an “internet tax.” The proposed tax was simply an extension of the already existing “telecommunication tax.” Again the same old story: all controversial pieces of legislation are misunderstood by the domestic opposition. And naturally they are misconstrued by the antagonistic domestic and foreign media.

People who know Viktor Orbán are only too aware of his absolute intolerance of contrary opinions. We were reminded of this character trait only today when Tamás Mellár, the conservative economist who worked at Századvég for a year until he resigned in disgust, told the following story to a Népszabadság reporter. One day, when four or five economic experts gathered for a meeting with Orbán, he dared say to the prime minister: “Forgive me, but you are wrong in that.” A deathly silence followed, during which Mihály Varga, minister of national economy, “pulled” Mellár’s hand under the table, signaling to him that such a thing is simply not done.

So, you can imagine the scene when the normally servile reporter who conducts Orbán’s Friday morning radio interviews had the audacity to say that it doesn’t matter whether we call the disputed tax an “internet tax” or a “telecommunication tax”–it is only “playing with words.” A brief silence followed, and one could feel the stunned surprise and wrath of the prime minister. It was a frightening moment. But that was not the only awkward exchange in the conversation. The reporter mistakenly thought that Orbán had exhausted the topic of the internet aka telecommunication tax and wanted to switch over to foreign criticism of Hungarian policies, which he thought was somewhat connected to the upheaval over the internet tax. Orbán snapped at him again. First of all, these two things don’t have anything to do with one another, he claimed, and, second, he does not want to talk about this now. What he wants to bring up and what is very important is that the Hungarian government has an understanding with internet providers to make the whole country internet ready by 2020. This is what is important.

As for the criticisms, Orbán had a very simple answer. Naturally, the accusations of Hungarian wrongdoing have nothing to do with the facts. It is noticeable that criticisms multiply when the government stands up for the Hungarian people which in turn hurts foreign business interests. Right now, for example, after the parliament passed a piece of legislation that forces mostly foreign banks to lighten the burden on Forex borrowers, foreign governments are trying to put pressure on Budapest. Falling into the same category are the mostly foreign internet providers who don’t carry their fair share of the tax burden. They make enormous “extra profits” that they take out of the country. These extra profits disappear into thin air. He leveled this charge despite the fact that earlier in the interview he praised the same foreign internet providers for continuing to pour enormous sums of money into the development of broadband service.

Finally, Orbán announced a “national consultation” on the subject of the non-“internet tax.” Tamás Deutsch, a member of the European Parliament who hangs out on Twitter all day long entertaining people with his obscenities, will be in charge of this grand consultation. Although Deutsch thinks that the tax is “stupid,” he called the protesters “ragamuffins” and “stink bugs.” As for the so-called “national consultation,” we have witnessed a few of these in the past and we know that they are a farce. Viktor Orbán sends out millions of questionnaires to voters containing questions that beg for affirmative answers that justify the government’s position. For example, “internet dependency is a serious psychological illness” or “the internet is dangerous to young people because of pedophiles roaming the Net.”

As for the mysterious “extra profit,” I get annoyed every time I hear someone use the term. And unfortunately one hears it far too often. It stirs up old memories of a compulsory university course called “political economy.” In it one learned the Leninist definition of extra profit. According to Lenin, extra profit derives from the exploitation of workers in the colonies. These extra profits are then distributed at home to raise the living standard of the working class in order to keep them quiet. According to Marxist-Leninist theory, all profit is based on exploitation of the workers but the extra profit is achieved by taking exploitation beyond the normal level. The notion of extra profit in today’s public discourse makes not the slightest sense. Viktor Orbán is taking advantage of the Hungarian people’s discomfort with capitalism and what it entails–including competition and profit–and invoking concepts from the very same communism he wants to banish once and for all from the country. And, by the way, the profit these providers earn is apparently rather low.

Delete Viktor

So, will Viktor Orbán’s announcement this morning quiet the protesters? It looks as if Viktor Orbán’s interview, widely reported in the foreign press as announcing a withdrawal of the tax–a capitulation by the prime minister, did not impress Hungarians. Tonight József nádor tér was still full of demonstrators, and the slogans and posters highlighted various “sins” of the government. For example: “Viktor, you will find the extra profit in Felcsút.” Norwegian and EU flags were seen everywhere. The speakers announced that there is no need for “national consultation” because that already took place in the last  few days on the streets of Budapest and other Hungarian cities. The speakers argued that the government needs extra taxes because of the corrupt tax authorities.

In Szeged a very large crowd gathered tonight. Here the speakers covered several topics, including corruption and the lack of media freedom. The internet is the only “free island which the government hasn’t occupied yet.” It is, one speaker claimed, the most significant invention since the discovery of fire and the wheel and the symbol of Hungarians’ tie to Europe. “We cannot stop at the internet tax, let’s demolish the walls while they are not yet plastered and painted. … Long live freedom and the fatherland!”

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Kirsten
Guest

“We cannot stop at the internet tax”

That should be meant seriously with all the consequences. If people believe that waving flags while being otherwise “apolitical” will lead to anything, they are wrong. People who feel that “this has been too much” have to accept at the same time that this is not a one-item problem and that politicians of the opposition have to be called to their duty to support this movement and to provide political skill to the protests. (Sounds a bit unlikely, but hopefully the momentum could help a bit.) There has to be cooperation, and there should be asap some joint programme that includes more than the abolition of one tax. It should in particular make cooperation between the many different opposition groups possible, respecting differences in the concrete programmes. And accepting also that the most important issue at stake are not the egos of the bosses of the respective groups and parties. Protesting in the streets is impressive but it will have an effect only when combined with some strategy, (joint) programme, cooperation and mobilisation of the broad public, not only of people deemed “left-wing” or otherwise “intellectuals”.

Paul
Guest

OT (sorry) – but the other day I got an email telling me that someone had ‘liked’ a post of mine on HS. I’ve never had one of these before and didn’t even know you could ‘like’ a post (for instance, I can see no way of ‘liking’ Kirsten’s post above).

Can anyone throw any light on this?

Guest

@Paul We have never been able to ‘like’ anything here—except for once, some months ago when Dr. Balogh was changing formats on WordPress. I had long wanted such an option, but when it was suddenly available, I wished it wasn’t there. It disappeared also suddenly. We can only ‘like’ someone’s comments by directly saying so. I think it is best.

Paul
Guest

Well, this is the email I got:

“useyourwings2fly liked a comment on Hungarian Spectrum
useyourwings2fly liked your comment on “This is just the beginning”: An even larger demonstration against the regime today.

“So, Hungarians wake up at last? Interestingly, today, for the first time ever, my mother-in-law actually criticised the Fidesz government over …”

View Comment

You might want to go see what they’re up to! Perhaps you will like their blog as much as they liked your comment!”

Member

Paul, that message sounds like spam to me, trying to get traffic to another blog. Since Eva’s blog software does not have a “like” feature (and the notification feature seems to be disabled or not functioning) probably someone wrote a robot that crawls blogs looking for commentators who have their identities attached (you apparently have a gravatar) and then spamming them to go visit uyw2f… My own blog on Open Access has 21,499 bogus comments by robotic spamware…

Julie
Guest

Maybe it’s time for Occupy Hungary?

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Eva S. Balogh: Tonight József nádor tér was still full of demonstrators, and the slogans and posters highlighted various “sins” of the government. For example: “Viktor, you will find the extra profit in Felcsút.” Norwegian and EU flags were seen everywhere.

There was only one Norwegian flag (nice idea), and I only saw one EU flag; there might have been more, but certainly much less than Tuesday. Also, the square was only half full, compared with Sunday.

Overall it was disappointing, much too solemn for the occasion and the attendance (a live band would have been nice), and though the speeches on corruption made sense the issue is too abstract to raise the kind of grass-roots response the protests were built upon. By 18:30, when the organizers said goodbye to everybody, I was under the impression that the crowd was longing for something that didn’t happen.

D7 Democrat
Guest

Norway is continuing to stand firm against the thugs-
http://www.thelocal.no/20141101/norway-fronts-up-to-hungary-in-political-aid-row

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@Paul

Steven Harnad is spot on. The ‘like’ function works only between gravatar/wordpress users, and although the function is disabled on this blog it looks like a ‘like’ can still be triggered by reconstituting the absent button’s link.

Beyond the comment number, there’s a unique identification key attached to each comment, and since this key is invisible when the function is deactivated there’s probably a wordpress security hole being exploited here.

But it doesn’t mean these people have your email. Disabling “Email me when someone Likes one of my comments” in the notification section of your gravatar/wordpress account settings should prevent further spam in your mailbox.

Steward
Guest
coal country
Guest
Let’s not get carried away. Orban won three elections this year. Sure, he committed electoral fraud (with absentee ballots from Romania and Serbia), thoroughly manipulated the election system, controlled and still control the media, but he also brought many more voters to the booths than the opposition. Orban is still adored by millions. There’s no better for that: he is being adored like a god. No European leader receives such adoring comments, letters, which are similar to what Kim Jong Un does or Ceausescu used to. As Uj Peter (editor in chief 444.hu formerly of index.hu) wrote: within a couple of months most people shed two centuries of concerns with Russia. Now being an Atlanticist is the same as being a Liberal, favoring the jewish/communist/capitalist (both communism and capitalism being a modern ‘ism’, and as such are deemed fundamentally jewish in Hungary) enemy hell-bent on destroying Hungary. Orban’s (and Russia’s) brain washing is working and won’t stop in the next years. His power base within the party is still 100% loyal and will support him come what may. The American visa issue is over, the internet tax issue is over (I agree it will be introduced under a different name).… Read more »
jopla
Guest

Eva Balogh:

“THE INTERNET TAX IS ONLY POSTPONED: IT MOST LIKELY WILL BE CALLED SOMETHING ELSE”

Neelie Kroes on twitter:

“I am very pleased for Hungarians today. Their voices have been heard #InternetTax”
“Belföld: Orbán: Nem lesz internetadó – NOl.hu”
“Hungarian Government will withdraw proposed internet tax. Good news.”

Both are talking about the same but saying the opposite. Who is stupid out of the the two? Eva Balogh or Neelie Kroes?

teambritanniahungary
Guest

Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@Eva S. Balogh

Most likely, the blog isn’t indexed by Google News anymore. A submission link is at the bottom of this page:

https://support.google.com/news/publisher/answer/40787?hl=en#ts=3179198

D7 Democrat
Guest

“His power base within the party is still 100% loyal and will support him come what may.”

That we don’t know. I am sure a percentage of Fidesz, the politicians and oligarchs, actually believe in Orban as a leqder and Orbanism as a policy (which is forever changing but that is besides the point). But I am also confident that a larger percentage of the regime are pure opportunists (or pragmatists if you want to be politer). Orban delivers them money and influence at this moment in time- they support him. He no longer delivers money and influence, there is no inherent loyalty that will keep them onside.

If the economy was to go belly-up are we seriously stating that Orban would bring 100% of his regime with him, there wouldn’t be rebellion?

buddy
Guest

It looks like Tamás Deutsch will be in charge of the internet tax “consultations” (probably just to get him to shut up about his opposition to it). Deutsch just now wrote on twitter that he would like to consult with Balázs Gulyás: http://twitter.com/dajcstomi/status/528497489054560256

Right. I’m sure his first (and perhaps only) question to Gulyás will be “How much do we have to pay you so that you won’t organize another protest when we introduce the internet tax?” If Gulyás is smart and genuine in his intentions, he won’t have anything to do with Deutsch or any sham “consultations.” It is encouraging that Gulyás has already indicated that he’s not interested, and that he personally called Deutsch “frivolous” and “vulgar.” :)))))

In any case the protests are not about any one person so someone else will continue them anyway if the tax goes through.

limbo
Guest

Deutsch was picked probably because he always opposed the internet tax to begin with.

But I am concerned about yesterday’s demonstrations (the one one Friday). There were a big demonstration called for 18:00 and it already ended by 18:30.

Only about one thousand people turned up which shows a spectacular decrease from the demonstration on Tuesday. I hoped more would come but the interest in the Internet tax is disappearing very rapidly. Especially after they announced that in 2015 there will be no internet tax under any cirumstances.

If there were no Friday demonstration maybe it would have been easier to say there is still momentum behind this cause. But such a big fail and suddenly proves that all the momentum just disappeared.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@Eva S. Balogh: hope it works. One possibility is that you were previously indexed because of excellent rankings… which could have dropped in the last weeks due to the sudden amount of english speaking news on Hungary. Getting human approval should prevent this.

PWT
Guest

What expertise does Deutsch have in either taxation, the Internet, or public opinion surveys? He is not a paid employee of the Hungarian government but a member of the European Parliament. Will he be paid for this activity? If so, out of which budget will he be paid?

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@limbo

I’d say four to five thousands people were here, based on former estimations at the square for the Sunday and Tuesday demos. At 18:30 the square was ‘full’, but with much more space between people (on the other hand, barriers surrounding a large unplanted flowerbed had been removed this time, providing for more square meters). That’s indeed a serious drop, but nothing dishonorable either, considering this has been a very focused movement, on a single issue which for now is off the table.

My only regret is that yesterday wasn’t more, well, … celebratory. Mulled wine and an couple orchestras would have been better suited than solemn speeches and the national anthem. Of course that may be my French side speaking here, but a real party would have embodied the youthful, good-spirited, mischievous spirit of the two previous protests. Something to be remembered and invoked if (or should I say when) it is needed again in January. We’ll see.

tappanch
Guest

“Washington tries to check Hungary’s drift into Kremlin orbit”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/01/us-hungary-russia-energy-idUSKBN0IL2OB20141101

Member
ELECTIONS: FAIRNESS FIDESZ-STYLE Thanks to @tappanch, here are the 2014 Hungarian election’s voting percentages (again): Fidesz 43.7% (of which 2.5% were from non-tax-paying citizens of adjoining countries some of whom have never even set foot in Hungary, enfranchised for the purpose: only 0.1% voted for other than Fidesz) Left coalition 26.8% Jobbik 20.8% LMO 5.5% rest: 3.7% In other words, not only did Fidesz have nowhere near a 2/3 “supermajority” of the popular vote, it did not even have a majority of the votes, just a plurality. The Fidesz law-making/breaking 2/3 “supermajority” (133/199) was purely an outcome of the Fidesz gerrymandering of electoral districts, the number of seats, and the citizenship rules, using the law-making/breaking powers of the 2/3 supermajority of 2010. And even that would have fallen short of the 2/3 threshold without the 2.5% enfranchised non-Hungarian vote. That, on top of Fidesz media monopoly, signpost oligopoly, arbitrary campaigning-rule control and relentless press and police FUD campaigns against all opposition. (This is all assuming that these Fidesz voting figures are themselves honest ones, which, in light of all the other Fidesz foul play, is highly unlikely.) Any government in any country in the world could create and entrench a… Read more »
Crane, jr
Guest
@limbo Momentum as a term originating from physics may not be the best metaphor to describe politics. It’s actually misleading. Middle class people won’t just go out to the streets to burn stuff or throw rocks every day. People were out twice on the streets in the past week and people were apparently discontent. That didn’t change on Friday. If you hoped for a revolution, well, that didn’t happen. But discontent builds up slowly and can be used by politicians. Not necessarily by a movement building on the internet tax, but by existing opposition parties or by new parties. Orban has been only governing Hungary for 4 years, although he (thinks he) entrenched himself for another 20. I am not pessimistic, however, in the sense that I don’t think that in three years, he gotten three years older and three years crazier and after 7-8 years of dictatorial leadership he will be in a position to win democratically, however much we stretch this term further (as it was a stretch already). I think changes do take place within the electorate. Within 8 years, counting from the 2010 victory, a significant part of the electorate will change just by virtue of… Read more »
Ron
Guest

I do not think too many people went to the demo yesterday, due to the fact that today is remembrance day and people travel to various graveyards of loved ones.

If it would be held next week you see more people.

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