Viktor Orbán no longer has the full support of his troops in parliament

For today’s post I picked three separate topics, all of which Viktor Orbán dealt with in his regular bi-weekly radio interview on Friday morning: his reaction to the loss in the Veszprém election, his ignorance of basic democratic principles, and how the loss of the two-thirds majority might affect his government’s foreign policy decisions. Orbán comes well prepared for these not so spontaneous exchanges. The photo taken of him on this occasion shows him with pages and pages of prepared notes.

Starting with Veszprém. What I found fascinating is that Orbán seems to be totally clueless, or at least pretends to be, about the real causes of his party’s defeat. To the question of why half of the Fidesz voters stayed at home, the only thing he could come up with was that “probably they are dissatisfied with us.” Perhaps they would like to have more consultation and “not such fast decisions which is at times possible, other times not.” In his opinion, the voters want them “to pick up the gauntlet.” They want “more fighting spirit,” and he promised more of it than in the past when “life was more comfortable.” His diagnosis is the opposite of everything one hears about the public mood.

Of course, the collapse of the brokerage firm Buda-Cash and its four affiliated banks was discussed. I assume that the reporter’s provocative question, with which he introduced the subject, was approved by the prime minister. “Don’t you find it surprising that no handcuffs have snapped yet?” Keep in mind that we know practically nothing about the case. We don’t even know who the suspects are. And naturally we don’t know a thing about the alleged guilt of the owners of the firm. And yet these two people, one of whom is the prime minister of the country, have a surrealistic conversation about snapping handcuffs. The question itself was misplaced, but what came after was truly outrageous because Viktor Orbán agreed with the reporter. Moreover, he added, if “we or, let me be immodest, I were in charge of the judiciary, they would all be sitting in jail.” That conversation took place shortly after 7:30 a.m. By 10:30 four managers of a second brokerage firm that’s in trouble were arrested by the police.

Finally, Orbán dealt with the most interesting topic in a couple of sentences. On the whole, he doesn’t think that the loss of the two-thirds majority will matter. He will simply negotiate with the opposition when the two-thirds truly makes a difference. For example, he said, he would very much like to see Hungary participate in the U.S.- led effort against the terrorism of the Islamic State, but to send a mission to Iraq one needs a two-thirds majority. I have never noticed such professed eagerness on his part to cooperate with the country’s western allies. On the contrary, Orbán often expressed his disapproval of Hungarian soldiers taking part in peacemaking efforts abroad.

Hungarian soldiers on peace mission

Hungarian soldiers on a  mission abroad

It was on March 3 that I noticed a brief news item about an MTI interview with Péter Szijjártó, who said that “the government will ask the parties represented in parliament to support Hungary’s participation in the western coalition against the Islamic State.” The country would like to send 100-150 soldiers to the Kurdish region of Iraq where they would guard a military base near Erbil. They would work with Italian and German soldiers.

Soon enough the official request came. From later releases about negotiations with the Italian and German military leaders, it seems that plans for the mission must have been in the making for some time. While a couple of months ago Hungary refused to have NATO troops stationed in Hungary, now the government seems eager to join the western coalition. What is going on? Surely, Orbán is trying to mend fences–or, more likely, is trying to give the appearance of mending fences. He is trying to show that he supports the West while the opposition does not. Because a day or two after the official invitation, it was reported that, although the government would like to oblige, all the opposition parties are opposed to sending soldiers to Iraq.

Yesterday afternoon I heard an interesting news item on Klubrádió. “In addition to the government parties, only DK indicated that the party would support the initiative of sending a Hungarian mission to Iraq.” The four DK members of parliament would be sufficient to clear the two-thirds hurdle if all the members of the government parties voted for such a resolution. A few hours later Együtt’s two MPs joined DK, followed by Gábor Fodor, the only member of the Magyar Liberális Párt (MLP). As of last night it was only Jobbik and LMP among the opposition parties that refused to support the government. MSZP remained undecided.

So, the Hungarian government’s plan to blame the democratic opposition for its own unwillingness to send troops to Iraq failed. Népszava learned from a high-ranking Fidesz politician that KDNP does not support the plan at all and that there is no unanimity even in the Fidesz delegation. Moreover, DK and Együtt support depends on certain guarantees from the government. Although Szijjártó called a meeting of the leaders of all parties for Monday, DK announced that they will not attend “because [DK] most resolutely opposes the Orbán regime” and refuses to negotiate with the government directly. They expect the chairman of the appropriate parliamentary committee to come to the full session of the house and inform the members about the details of the request and the suggested answers. Then, if all is in order, they are ready to vote with the government.

I suspect that no Hungarian mission will be going to Iraq because the opposition parties will join Fidesz only if all 131 Fidesz-KDNP members vote for the resolution. And at the moment that is not likely. Viktor Orbán, it seems, no longer enjoys the unquestioning loyalty of his troops.

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István
Guest
There are probably three factors why PM Orban is willing to send troops to the coalition combating Islamic State. One may well be the rational that Eva identified in her essay, playing up to NATO and the USA “Orbán is trying to mend fences–or, more likely, is trying to give the appearance of mending fences.” Another I suspect is a rather dark and disturbing reason that harkens back to the medieval crusades. As the Fidesz Constitution enshrines the historic Christian nature of Hungary so Orban sees himself as the defender of the faith. Third is oil. As early as September 2014 Hungary provided 7 million cartridges and “thousands” of mines and armor-piercing shells. Hungary also sent a $90,000 US aid package to Christians in Erbil. Hungarian Interchurch Aid launched a fundraising campaign and directed its donators to support Christians living in camps in Northern Iraq months ago. Hungarian Baptist Aid travelled to Erbil and Kirkuk to get information and talk to Christian leaders about further assistance just one week ago. In September, the organization had already sent $5,000 to the region, the Chamchamal refugee camp received $3,000 and Chaldean church in Sulaymaniyah, that takes care of 70 Christian families, received… Read more »
Webber
Guest

I think, maybe, Eva’s essay hit the nail on the head with the hint that Orban wants the opposition to do him a favor by voting against deployment to Iraq (an idea that is deeply unpopular, in any case), after which he can turn to his NATO allies and say “See! I am committed to the West – they are not!”
As to serving honorably – that’s very nice, of course, but I don’t believe that sending a few Hungarian troops will improve the situation in Iraq one whit.

petofi
Guest

If Hungarians were sent to Iraq…the only ‘action’ they’d see is in running the American commissary. What a joke. The gypsy never stops dancing, eh; and everyone rises to the bait like salmon swimming up river in BC. Ludicrosity.

While Orban throws some ‘gumi csont’ (rubber bone) for people to harangue over, the real issues–like hiding the Paks details for 30 years, go by the board. How simple
is Simple? Look at a Hungarian.

And Orban not being supported…is totally dreamsville. All Orbi has to do is flash his pocket change and all fall into line like little chicks following their mommy.

Read my lips: there is only one decent, Hungarianpolitician in the land–his name is
Angyan. And here’ the thing: examine why all opposition parties didn’t line up behind Angyan and put him forth as the alternative to Orban…and you’ll know why politically the country is crippled. Hopeless. People stood by while Angyan’s institute was squeezed out of usefull existence–it’s government support diminished or withdrawn with not even a murmur. For Hungarians, it served as a cautionary tale, not as a rallying point.

spectator
Guest

Right on!
Exactly as I see it too, at least the part regarding Orbán’s playacting.

By the other hand, a few days ago I’ve seen how the madmen of the ISIS demolished the ruins of Nimrod and they only warmed up! Up to this point they were supposed to be ‘Human Beings’, fighting for the supremacy of another culture, how ever wrong it could be. But with this act this is over.
In my opinion such barbarians must be stopped in any means possible.
And to me it has nothing to do with religion, any religion for that matter, or who controlling the oil fields, or anything of the kind.

petofi
Guest

Political correctness be damned: once people kidnap and behead innocents than it’s time for the strictest of corrective measures–nuke the bastards.

Webber
Guest

Can somebody tell me when, and by whom Hungarian troops were invited to go to Iraq? Have I missed something? I can’t recall Washington or NATO headquarters ever issuing a request for a new Hungarian mission to “Kurdistan” (Orban’s term).

Member

If we can still believe any word coming from Orban, he said this on Friday.
http://mno.hu/magyar_nemzet_kulfold/orkatonak-kurdisztanba-1271529

Member

I truly do not follow the deployment situation and what NATO membership means, so I am just asking here. Does becoming member of the NATO is a smorgasbord? I mean can you just pick and choose what do you like, what not. Hungary received millions of dollars worth of training, and other services for its troops. Hungary’s financial contribution to the NATO is one of the lowest of all member states. Can our Prime Minister still can pick and choose in what way and how Hungarian soldiers or equipment (paid by NATO) will be used? Essentially Orban can say, just like he says to the EU that he wants all the money, training , and equipment but no way I am providing any help. (I am saying this as someone who has two family members in the Hungarian army, and both were deployed in Afghanistan!)

Webber
Guest

I knew a Hungarian who served in Afghanistan. She wanted very much to go back – not because she enjoyed it, but because the pay was so incredibly good compared to what she earned serving in Hungary. She said, however, that there were waiting lists to go. Afghanistan is one thing. That was a NATO operation – after the 9/11 attacks, the Afghan government’s refusal to eject Al Kaida and the activation of mutual defense (the only activation of Article 5 thus far).
In contrast to Afghanistan, no NATO member is required to go to Iraq – Article 5 was never activated for intervention in Iraq, as there was no attack on any NATO member. I have no doubt that ISIS would very much like to carry out a major attack on a NATO member state, but it has yet to happen.

Member

That is exactly the same what I heard. Compared to regular Hungarian wages the pay was incredible. Those who went were able to put a decent downpayment down on a house, so these young “kids” lining up for the opportunity.

So here is the question: There are enough takers. It is voluntary to sign up. So, why is Orban and others are so against it?????

indus
Guest

That the fidesz party troops in the Parliament are not totally loyal any more may be true, but if we assume that Orban never wanted to go to Iraq in the first place, that he only wanted to create an appearance of loyalty to NATO or Western allies then all what happened was that the opposition called Orban’s bluff. In my view Orban does have the loyalty of its MPs, but simply he doesn’t want to go to Iraq, he never wanted. I think he is afraid that this time the project could end up badly politically. Some of these weak, clueless Hungarian troops could get kidnapped and then ritually executed by ISIS. That wouldn’t be such a great story for him. So in my view this was an unsuccessful case of peacock dance with Italy, German of the NATO.

Orban has the loyalty not only of Fidesz/KDNP but as we saw with the votings of the last few days of some individual jobbikniks as well. If he wants something passed Orban can always have his way it in the Parliament, if he doesn’t, he can blame the opposition.

István
Guest

Webber Hungary and other nations were invited to Iraq by the independent government of Kurdistan which encompasses part of Iraq. You can read about this at http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/121120142 . In December the formal Iraqi government gave Kurdistan the right to sell oil which MOL got in on immediately see http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/03/world/middleeast/kurd-pact-with-baghdad-against-islamic-state.html?_r=0

The independent government of Kurdistan is not formally recognized, but it exists in reality. It is opposed completely by Turkey. Hungary has not recognized Kuristan formally as have the other NATO nations supporting the Peshmerga. The Hungarian Parliamentary Committee for National Security I am sure is fully aware of all of this including members of the opposition.

spectator
Guest

A few months ago I saved a link – actually was posted here – and I think it comes handy now to shed some light of the reasons:

http://rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/301020142

As we are at it, Hungary have sent a load of weapons, I think assault riffles and such to the region, allegedly to help the christians there.

Or to help those christians with high hopes or/and investments in the oil assets of the Kurd regions.

You may come to a few names all by yourself, just try it for fun!

Webber
Guest

Interesting. Which countries have recognized Kurdistan? Certainly not the U.S. I doubt any NATO country has (Turkey, also, is a NATO member).
That it is an autonomous region is one thing, but every State Department communique I’ve ever read starts with the (fallacy) assumption that Iraq’s borders must be respected and that the autonomous Kurdish region is an integral part of that state
I wonder if Orban’s people have had to placate the Turkish government for his use of the word “Kurdistan”? They seem allergic to the very term. Given that Hungarian troops would (probably) have to enter Iraq via Turkey, this is not a minor issue.

Webber
Guest

Eva – What is this statement from Hungary Today that appears as a link in the comments’ timeline?

Member

What are you talking about? I do not see any Hungary Today link.

Webber
Guest

The comments are linked to the bottom of the Hungarian Government Online thread. They don’t appear as comments but as “Pingback” (I have no idea what that is) but they did appear as comments in the comment timeline.

Eva Blanar
Guest

This one?
http://hungarytoday.hu/cikk/statement-hungary-today-47573
A statement in a blog. Weird.

Member
Goto120
Guest

Lajos Simicska on Orban:

Orban reported about me and in Moscow these papers are probably still available.

http://index.hu/belfold/2015/03/08/simicska_lajos_orban_viktor_ugynok_jelentes/

Webber
Guest

You beat me to it! Just after I posted the news I saw you had posted it first.

spectator
Guest

Wanna bet that Simicska will rather postpone his evening strolls for a while?

petofi
Guest

Oh, oh.
Simi, Have you filled your prescription for Polonium antidotes?

Webber
Guest

Two interesting bits of news –
Lajos Simicska claims Viktor Orbán was asked to spy on him when they were serving in the army, and says he knew that because Orbán told him:
http://mandiner.hu/cikk/20150308_simicska_lajos_a_mandinernek_orban_odajott_hozzam_es_azt_mondta_jelentenie_kell_rolam

The Mayor of Budaörs, Tamás Wittinghof, has asked why, when it had a 2/3s majority, the Fidesz government headed by Orban repeatedly blocked legislation that would have opened the secret police files?:
http://index.hu/belfold/2015/03/08/budaors_polgarmestere_nyilvanossagra_hozatna_az_ugynokaktakat/

tappanch
Guest

Some people in Jobbik disclosed some documents years ago that Orban had reported to III/II (military counterintelligence) in the 1980s.

Max
Guest

Military counterintelligence in the Kádár-era was III/V. Orbán was not formally recruited while he was in the army, rather he reported as a ‘társadalmi kapcsolat’ (TK). At Stasi this category of informants were called IM (Inoffizielle Mitarbeiter).

reader
Guest
Webber
Guest

Question: “Are you suggesting that those old (secret police) reports by the Prime Minister (Orban) are there (in Moscow) and that Putin may be blackmailing him with them?”
Answer – L. Simicska: “If they did exist and came to light, everything would be overturned here. That’s certain. Because of what happened over the past year (i.e. Orban’s turn to Moscow), I don’t know what to think.”
In Hungarian (in case someone can give us a better translation):
Arra céloz, hogy ott megvannak a mai miniszterelnök egykori jelentései, s ezzel zsarolhatja őt Putyin?

Ha ezek meglennének és napvilágra kerülnének, az mindent borítana itthon. Ez biztos. Én meg – az elmúlt egy év történései után – nem tudom már, kiről mit gondoljak

petofi
Guest

Blackmail?!!
Man, this stuff is entertaining.
As if Victor hadn’t been a Russian asset for the last 30 years…
But if the news ever gets out…well, his actions on Hungary, no matter how damaging, are innocence itself because he wasn’t responsible for them.
Marvelous.
Can you hulla hoop and tango at the same time? Victor can.

István
Guest
Webber I recomend this article http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/01/21/the-worlds-next-country-kurdistan-kurds-iraq/ In response to your question about recognization of an independent Kurdanistan. As the article states and you point out “President Obama and his predecessors in the White House have all been notably reluctant to give their blessing to Kurdish statehood — out of the not entirely unreasonable fear that creating a new player in such a volatile neighborhood could invite serious instability.” Given the rise of IS and the outright collapse of Bagdad’s control over a huge part of Iraq there are numerous American military experts who now support a fully independent Kurdistan. Articles has been published supporting that position including http://www.aei.org/publication/time-for-an-independent-kurdistan/ and http://www.wsj.com/articles/william-a-galston-why-oppose-an-independent-kurdistan-1407283819 The truth is the Bagdad government’s offensive against Tikrit which is currently held by IS would collapse if not for the pressure being brought on IS by the Kurds. Lastly people on this blog make fun of the fact that Hungary is committing 100 to 150 troops claiming it is meaningless, given the fact that Hungary has a standing army of only 11,000 it’s actually large. Canada with a far larger standing army has committed 600 troops, one of whom was killed this week, As of September Germany had committed… Read more »
Webber
Guest

“I applaud the effort Hungary is making and so does Ambassador Bell I am sure.” – Hold your applause until Hungary actually sends the troops (and I very much doubt they will be sent into combat).
Otherwise, I join you in applauding Hungarian troops who have thus far served in NATO contingents abroad (even if not in combat).

Member

They did not serve in combat but there were many sent as “Explosive Ordnance Disposal” specialists. To be honest I am not sure which one is scarier.

buddy
Guest

“Given the rise of IS and the outright collapse of Bagdad’s control over a huge part of Iraq there are numerous American military experts who now support a fully independent Kurdistan. Articles has been published supporting that position including http://www.aei.org/publication/time-for-an-independent-kurdistan/ and http://www.wsj.com/articles/william-a-galston-why-oppose-an-independent-kurdistan-1407283819

This is pretty off-topic here but I would like to point out that the two examples you give are from the American Enterprise Institute and the Wall Street Journal’s political page! Those two outfits (among many others) are extremely right-wing and literally just reflexively oppose anything Obama does/says out of habit (as they do to pretty much any Democratic President). So I’m not completely convinced that this is their actual professional opinion on the issue (i.e. I think they might argue differently if we had a GOP president now.)

István
Guest

The general intention of NATO support for the Kurds is not to actively engage IS on the ground but to provide technical support for Kurdish fighters. Things like calling in air strikes, command and control over artillery, providing medical evacuation support. But such work can still get you killed, so my hope for the Hungarian forces deployed is that they do not find themselves in a situation where they have to fight for their lives. Because there can be no surrender for NATO forces to IS, they will surely be burned alive, beheaded, or shot if they are lucky. It would to put it simply look like the slaughter of captured Hungarians following Mohácsi Csata.

István
Guest

Buddy I agree that the perspectives I posted were from the right of the political spectrum in the United States. But some on the left in the US also has supported independence for Kurdistan, People like Peter W. Galbraith, a former US Ambassador to Croatia and Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations have also adopted this perspective see http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/06/iraq-independent-kurdistan-107958.html#.VPzAeROCOK0

Some formerly in the U.S. Military have even formed an organization called US Veterans For An Independent Kurdistan. I belong to that organization just for the record.

petofi
Guest

Isti,

will you put away your kid’s drum?

By the way, have you taken your pills today?

István
Guest

I call that a cheap shot Petofi- for those unfamiliar with the term go to http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Cheap+shot

I will move on.

petofi
Guest

I can only afford ‘cheap shots’…

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