Yada yada. And next?

The demonstration just ended. I didn’t have a chance to hear all eight speeches, but those I did listen to greatly varied in quality. There were some that demonstrated political naivete and some that questioned the very notion of a market economy, which was described as a system of exploitation. Not surprisingly, the politically most sophisticated speech was delivered by a former politician, Gábor Vágó (LMP). In the speeches of the two organizers of MostMi!, Zsolt Várady and Bori Takács, a frequent refrain was that “we will have to figure out what kind of Hungary we want.” I found this worrisome. It seems that once again Hungarians want to invent something new and unique instead of following the examples of successful democracies that offer their citizens a decent living and security.

According to Abcúg.hu, “this first demonstration of the year was one of the shortest and least eventful of the past few months.” The reporter overheard someone saying that “we have been hearing the same thing over and over,” which is of course true. Speakers complain about the government and about all politicians and parties while the crowd chants “Orbán scram!” The demonstrations, quite frankly, are becoming boring. But the trouble is that the organizers have no idea how to go beyond demonstrations, how to elect a new government, how to create the idyllic Hungary they would like to see after the fall of Viktor Orbán.

There was one speaker, Bernadette Somody, a lawyer who is the director of the legal think tank Károly Eötvös Institute, who pointed out some practical problems facing those who are dissatisfied with the present political situation. In order to rid Hungary of the whole system, the politicians who take over after the fall of the Orbán government must cleanse the government edifice of Orbán appointees. But that will be exceedingly difficult because Viktor Orbán made sure that most of the appointments are of very long duration.

Otherwise, the speeches were full of vague notions about the full participation of citizens at every level of decision-making. A politically engaged citizenry will discuss every issue. Politicians will not be able to make decisions without their approval. I guess I don’t have to elaborate on the impossibility of creating a large-scale participatory democracy in today’s world.

I was greatly disappointed in László Kálmán, He showed a surprising lack of knowledge about anything practical. He said, for instance, that one needs neither a centralized nor a community-based school system. Parents will get together and establish their own. There is a saying in America about those academics who “can’t even tie their own shoe laces,” meaning they are singularly impractical. Well, Kálmán seems to be one of them.

demonstrcio jan2

Although it is a welcome development that there is a growing awareness of widespread poverty and sympathy for the poor, the two speakers speaking for the homeless talked in quasi-Marxist terms that poor Marx wouldn’t recognize. In Hungarian this kind of primitive Marxism is called “vulgár marxizmus.” These speakers talked about the poverty that is inseparable from the capitalist system. There was a lot of talk about exploiters and exploitation. Once the present system is gone, they suggested, there will be an “even distribution” of goods. Another hopeless idea.

And the biggest problem of all: the rejection of party politics. One of the speakers, unfortunately I forget which one, announced that “we don’t need parties but a new alternative.” He neglected to tell us what this alternative is. Several speakers, Várady and Kálmán for example, found all the parties of the last twenty-five years totally incompetent. I am much more charitable. It’s a lot easier to be a Monday morning quarterback than to be on the field in real time. In 1990 an inexperienced crew took over the reins of government in incredibly hard times. The country had a staggering national debt, the collapse of the socialist economic system led to more than a million people being unemployed, inflation was over 30%. Under these circumstances the new government had to lay the foundations of a democratic regime. On balance, they and their successors didn’t do a bad job. For instance, by 1998 Hungary’s most serious economic problems were over. Yes, they made mistakes, but to say that they botched up everything is simply not true.

The organizers’ anti-party attitude went so far today as to refuse Zoltán Kész, the independent candidate supported by all parties with the exception of LMP in the crucial Veszprém by-election, the opportunity to speak. Péter Krekó of Political Capital, a think tank, rightly pointed out that this was a grave mistake. Kész is not a party candidate. He can be considered a civic-minded citizen, an English teacher in town. His slogan is: vote for me and you vote against the two-thirds majority. This election for Tibor Navracsics’s old seat is important for Fidesz also. The government just gave 800 million forints to the city just to make sure that the voters know who butters their bread. And yet the organizers who are so eager to unseat Viktor Orbán didn’t allow this man to speak. Incredibly short-sighted.

All in all, I don’t know where this movement is going. Let’s just hope it’s not another Occupy Wall Street, which fizzled. I was pleased to hear that a large demonstration is planned for February 2 when German Chancellor Angela Merkel is supposed to visit Budapest. But as long as the opposition remains fractured, as long as people’s dissatisfaction is expressed only in the form of demonstrations and not in political organizing, Viktor Orbán doesn’t have to lose sleep. Foreign pressure might be a different story.

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d'magyar
Guest

Decent effort.
Little progress.
Waiting for an intelligent, qualified rescuer.
Bajnai may have to return now, to save Hungary.

Istvan
Guest

Eva your experience of having gone through the utopian phase of the 1956 revolt is invaluable to this new generation. One does not to give up all dreams to realize a much happier Hungary than we have today. Hopefully, the movement in the streets will have time to become more pragmatic and politize.

I personally like the fact that many of the young people are questioning the logic of the market. The occupy Wall Street movement questioned that logic too and as Eva correctly noted it collapsed. The only way to balance human needs, for the disabled in Hungary for example who were represented at the kick off rally, will be by taxing individual incomes, some purchases, and profits of corporate entities. Those taxes even if appropriately spent will likely in a poorer nation like Hungary still come up short of what is needed. But none of those thoughts are possible given the institutionalized domination of Fidesz and with the breakdown of the functional Republic.

bamba4
Guest

I was there (missing the first 20 minutes) and I can report that these people will go nowhere. They are not politicians, period. They have zero political savvyness. I mean nobody even mentioned the newly introduced high-way fee which is on the minds of a lot of people and causes a serious and rare internal dissent within Fidesz, it’s ridiculous (not that the left wing opposition would hit this issue, they are just as dead as ever).

The vague concepts of democracy and constitutionalism can’t reach more than a 100k people, all from Budapest, who are unable to change anything.

The speakers have no vision or rather nobody can seriously believe that they have a vision and they clearly cannot offer decisive leadership. Orban can sleep safely.

buddy
Guest

I’m less interested in the question “Why don’t the protesters accept the opposition parties?” but rather “Why aren’t the opposition parties organizing demonstrations of their own?”
“Why don’t these parties mobilize people themselves?”
“What are they doing to stay relevant to the populace?”

gdfxx
Guest

Those who advocate “even distribution” of goods and other communist type ideas have forgotten that the system that collapsed in the late eighties was not economically viable, could not sustain itself and resulted in the overwhelming majority of the population living in “equal” poverty. The capitalist system, with all its negative components – such as periodic crises – is still the only one that seems to be viable. It results in wealth creation, and although the amount of wealth is not equally distributed, most members of the society have access to parts of it and many of today’s super wealthy individuals created their fortunes because the system creates incentives and ways for accumulation.

Kavé
Guest

Eva: I hate to admit it, but you are absolutely right. The speeches were parodies of Elementary school assembly addresses. They went on and on and never hit the issues. I felt that all any speaker had to do was recite the “Top Ten Scandals in Hungarian Politics.” I did not attend but i could hear it from my window (when I opened it letting in the ice cold air) and watched it live on ATV. My 21 year old son – who is entirely engaged and involved in university political life – told me ” Papa, I am not going because these people do not understand that in a democracy change is made by political parties, not just disgruntled people with a microphone.” And he is right.

steve397
Guest

…. in a democracy change is made by political parties, not just disgruntled people with a microphone” – said Kavé. He knows, Éva knows, even I know. Why are the opposition parties so shy or stupid?

gdfxx
Guest

I think the opposition parties have a big problem: FIDESZ was able to imbed in the minds of most Hungarians that they are not a party, they are the PEOPLE, all others are the corrupt parties that destroyed and would continue to destroy the NATION. Even with new leadership, the opposition parties have an almost impossible task.

The American analogy is when one politician gets a rumor started about his political competitor: he regularly beats his wife. It’s a hard to beat rumor, what is he going to say, no he does not? Obviously he would say that even if he did, wouldn’t he?

gdfxx
Guest

An article in the New York Times states that “[w]orries about immigration have helped buoy right-wing parties in Britain, Denmark, France and Hungary.” How did the authors reach this conclusion about Hungary is a mystery to me…

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/03/world/in-sweden-the-land-of-the-open-door-anti-muslim-sentiment-finds-a-foothold.html

petofi
Guest

Let’s begin with a realization: Democracy is not for Hungarians. For Democracy to work you must have co-operation: Hungarian politicians only cooperate to defraud the public purse, not
to pass legislation for the benefit of its citizens. So let’s forget a system of government that requires members to be altruistic to some extent. Hungarians only know self-interest; and to harpoon anyone foolish enough to act otherwise.

Only chance: make Konrad Gyorgy President for life and let him choose his Prime Minister and the members of the cabinet jointly. Abolish voting–it’s totally corrupted and means nothing.

Perhaps Democracy can be given another shot in 30 years or so.

Guest
@Éva: “In 1990 an inexperienced crew took over the reins of government in incredibly hard times. The country had a staggering national debt, the collapse of the socialist economic system led to more than a million people being unemployed, inflation was over 30%. Under these circumstances the new government had to lay the foundations of a democratic regime. On balance, they and their successors didn’t do a bad job. For instance, by 1998 Hungary’s most serious economic problems were over. Yes, they made mistakes, but to say that they botched up everything is simply not true.” ——————————————————————————————————————————– How very true. Totally agreed. With 20/20 hindsight, I think that perhaps the most major blunder at the time was taking for granted the future of a liberal democracy in the Hungarian context. This was however probably inevitable and unavoidable, given the inexperience of the crew that “took over the reins of government in incredibly hard times.” Otherwise the leadership of all major parties could have been much more careful in thoroughly cementing the foundations of liberal democracy and a liberal democratic value system in context where these notions were alien to most people. There would have been a lot more care and… Read more »
Geza Kmetty
Guest

The 50+ years of Socialism and anti-western indoctrination is still alive in the minds of the “average” demonstrators. Democracy, Political Debate, Citizen Participation, Personal Responsibility, Government of the People, One Man One Vote, Free Enterprise System, are not household words and concepts yet….Austrian wages without Austrian work ethics, now that would sell!!! It will take at least 2 generations (If the EU lasts that long) for the masses to become aware of what they really want and when finally the sleeping Hungarian intelligentsia will offer some “intelligent” unselfish public minded politicians like Ferenc Deak was.

Guest

@Geza Kmetty

Yes, exactly so.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

I did not hear all the speeches. However, those speakers I’ve heard seem to be idiots in the sense the old Greeks used this word. They believe that politics is a dirty word. While Orbán & ilk condemned the “nyóc év” (the eight years) some speakers condemn outright the last 25 years. They want to begin from the scratch.
Nothing new under the sun. Those apolitical Hungarians want again to invent “fából vaskarika” iron made out of wood. Good luck.

nwo
Guest

FIDESZ : of all the good fortune it has had, the greatest continues to be the quality of its opposition.
HUNGRAY. Once again, the country never loses an opportunity, to lose an opportunity.
Foreign Governments: the USA and EU can only isolate Orban internationally, they will not and cannot effect change domestically. That needs to be driven by domestic factors.

However, 2015 is starting out in an ominous way for the Government. A combination of Euro and EM problems, and the soon to be introduced new shopping restrictions should make a for a perilous time for Hungary’s economy in1H 2015.

TeamBritanniaHu
Guest

Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Eva S. Balogh: Let’s just hope it’s not another Occupy Wall Street, which fizzled.

There is of course a ‘global’ element, however I find it difficult not to consider all the recent European protests movements born out of a region-wide criticism of the Transitions. Bosnia. Bulgaria. Romania. Croatia.

Something interesting perhaps in the Eurobarometer studies, which have been asking the question of trust in political parties for 11 years.

comment image

The positive effect of the 2006 election, followed by a steep negative one (Öszöd leak) can’t be missed, as well as a clear rise during the 2010 Fidesz campaign and win. However last spring the election generated no spike at all, and the gap between distrust and trust is widening since the end of 2013.

With a general election three years away, the trend should worry everybody.

PS: in Poland – which hasn’t had much of a ‘tradition in liberal democracy’ either, wink to the cliché lovers – trust in political parties has been slowly but steadily rising since 2004.

Webber
Guest
Then there are the other more salient questions: Where are the opposition parties? Where is their (common) platform? Where are their great ideas? When are they going to join forces? If they don’t have a common platform, they’ll never be able to win elections under the current system. They had four years, yet weren’t able to present viable, appealing alternatives before the 2014 elections, and weren’t able to present any coherent view of where they want to take Hungary. The reaction of some of them after the elections was that the voters are stupid. What a great democratic attitude! (that ain’t). The opposition now have (just under) four years to get their act together, and yet there is no sign that they can. I find it disturbing that some people are so quick to criticize protesters, who don’t want power, for not presenting a convincing view of the future (why should they? They want change, that is all), and yet are so reluctant to criticize opposition parties who do want power for the same fault. I find it especially disturbing because little protesters not backed by parties in Hungary today may lose their jobs for openly criticizing government. The police… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest
Reading the comments I wonder why all the people around here who *know* what has to be done have not yet provided the “qualified rescuer” that d’magyar searches for (in itself a remarkably apolitical statement). From my observation (limited, of course) people have very vague ideas about politics in general and a modern democracy with a party system in particular. And by the way, parties did not exist in the Greek “democracies”, so although I do not know where Hungarians take their ideas about democracy from, perhaps they have learned something about ancient Greece, coupled with some Communist ideas of the one and only public good. I do not know. But should any useful knowledge about a modern political system that includes parties be around in Hungary, it has not yet been revealed to the public. Certainly not by the existing parties, in particular those considering themselves “democratic”. Their inability to cooperate, agree on a programme, provide some suitable policies and politicians does not need any further proof. So why such surprise that anger at the current situation is targeted also at the parties? Instead of criticising here so much, it would be better to seize the moment when people… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

I am sorry for the typos: …most productive…

blinkyowl
Guest

„I guess I don’t have to elaborate on the impossibility of creating a large-scale participatory democracy in today’s world.”

In the age of internet, when secured online voting is one of the easiest matter, why do you think we should we should take parliamental democracy the only possible way?

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

While I stated in November my own reservations about the conversion of the Internet Tax protests into something more substantial, I entirely agree with Kirsten.

And although I did not took part in the following demonstrations (only ‘crossed paths’ with some) because I’m not a Hungarian citizen, I will probably join the ‘Merkel tünti’… because it’s my EU, too. 🙂

Member

Basically I don`t think the woters are stupid. They woted wisely if you consider what alternative the opposition parties presented. Everyone wants to wote for something you can believe in. What you can perceive is the fully intelectual emptiness of the opposing parties. Untill that does not change the fidesz remains in power.

Guest

@Marcel Dé

“…Poland – which hasn’t had much of a ‘tradition in liberal democracy’ either, wink to the cliché lovers – trust in political parties has been slowly but steadily rising since 2004.”

——————————————————————————————————————————–

Cliché? Give me a break.

Member

OT
An other “Hungary Performs Better”.

The 2014 Person of the Year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), was awarded to Vladimir Putin, but Viktor Orban, Hungary’s Prime Minister was strong runner up. We can say he received a Silver.
Congratulations goes to Fidesz on this great achievement. I hope that this great news will also be required to be posted in every building and in every government office.

The award given annually to the person who does the most to enable and promote organized criminal activity.

OCCRP is a not-for-profit consortium of regional investigative centers and for profit independent media stretching from Europe to Central Asia and in Latin America. Its goal is to help the public understand how organized crime and corruption affect their lives and to improve reporting on the issues of corruption and criminality. OCCRP seeks to provide in-depth investigative stories as well as the latest news pertaining to organized crime and corruption activities around the world.

http://occrp.org/person-of-the-year/2014/

Guest

Thank you, some1 for this scathing report on Putin!
In the future I will link to this whenever I find Russian trolls – and you find them everywhere in the net nowadays …

Gardonista
Guest

So, the consensus on this blog today is that the protesters are stupid, Fidesz is stupid and nothing will ever get better.

The person who trusts Hungarians the most is Albrecht Neumerker who said “Basically I don`t think the woters are stupid.”

I REALLY don’t want to agree with Mr. Neumerker, but he offers the best solution for democracy right here. Political parties need to lead, but they also need to be based in grassroots attitudes. If we want to get rid of Fidesz/Jobbik, we have to work with the Hungary we have. We have to figure out a way to speak in a language that the average Hungarian can understand.

I don’t like to use any sort of profanity, but the idea that Hungarians aren’t ready for democracy is BS.

Hungary will change whether we want to be part of it or not. Maybe the speeches were full of platitudes, but the speakers are at this moment leaders.

yoku
Guest
Orban decidedly raised the bar for the entry of the political market extremely high. This is not mentioned often enough, perhaps I read it at Gábor Török a months ago. But let’s repeat it. Due to the election system, no party has a any chance without a nation-wide network from the get go. Remember that even LMP failed to create such a network after many years of active, in the Parliament political work. The network of MSZP is fading away (in western Hungary is non-existent just like in, say, 1938), Együtt/MP has had nothing. DK sort of has something. But without being simultaneously active in all 104 districts, any efforts are hopeless. Media. Orban realized this in 1994 and has been having a laser like focus on owning an own and very sophisticated, segmented media empire (including the state media, but much more than that). No opposition party has any, let’s repeat this any media outlet, let alone portfolio. (Népszava which is often connected to MSZP is financed by Lajos Simicska, one wonders why). And no plans, no ideas, which is unbelievable. In the meantime CEMP and other Fidesz-loyal media essentially overtook the internet which is the most free for… Read more »
gdfxx
Guest

blinkyowl: “In the age of internet, when secured online voting is one of the easiest matter, why do you think we should we should take parliamental democracy the only possible way?”

As one can see almost daily, nothing in the internet is secure. I would definitely not trust the authorities controlling the vote-count in any country with an internet voting system, but especially in today’s Hungary this would probably guarantee FIDESZ majority forever.

Artilcle 7
Guest

It’s hard to disagree with the importance of a goal, plans to reach that goal and tactics for implementing those plans. The protestors don’t seem to have the fire in their belly to storm the barricades abd I doubt Orban and his henchmen will react positively to “please” and “thank you”.

I’m not so sure that Obran is sleeping soundly these days. He’s spread a lot of money around the country (that the government can ill afford) and gave the police a nice big raise. The police of course are his main provider of armed defense should Hungarian decide to storm the barricades. Also he is generating counter propaganda via the pro-governent media, Magyar Hirlap has called for a criminal investigation into the demonstrations.

Most telling of all however is the FIDESZ lawmaker calling for stricter laws on freedom of assembly. It’s the same old question, when is enough, enough?

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