Rally for the New Republic,    March 15, 2015

While the crowd that gathered to hear the speech of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was somewhat smaller than in the past, an opposition rally that took place in the afternoon was much larger than expected. The occasion was the 167th anniversary of the birth of the first Hungarian government in the modern sense of the word.

Although there have been many anti-government demonstrations in the past six months, none was as large as the one against the planned introduction of an internet tax, which frightened the Fidesz-KDNP government into retreat. Since then the number of people who were ready to face the elements has steadily decreased. But with rising temperatures and the prospect of spring, people’s readiness to publicly express their dissatisfaction with the present regime also revived.

By now, reporters hate to guess at the size of crowds. Most newspapers, when the crowd is really large, talk about “thousands.” Well, the crowd was indeed in the thousands. People filled up Rákóczi út between the Astoria Hotel and the Hospital of St. Roch (Rókus kórház).

Uj koztarsasag2

There are at least three reasons why this latest rally was more successful than some of the others. First, the organizers were experienced. Balázs Gulyás, formerly a member of MSZP, led the anti-internet tax rally. Zoltán Vajda, a political novice who seems to be a natural talent, organized a large demonstration in the name of those 60,000 people who, despite government pressure, kept their savings in private accounts after the Orbán government nationalized the savings of about 3 million people. Vajda decided to act when it became evident that the government, always in need of money, was planning to nationalize the accounts that remained in private hands. The third person who joined them was Tamás Lattmann, an associate professor of international law. All three are responsible people, not self-appointed rebels with confused political ideas. They are confirmed democrats who, unlike some young critics of the Orbán government, acknowledge the positive political developments that occurred between 1990 and 2010.

The second reason for the success of this rally was that the organizers know full well that no parliamentary democracy can exist without parties. So, while some of the other organizers practically forbade parties to advertise their presence, the Gulyás-Vajda-Lattmann leadership had no objection to party members appearing with flags and other objects identifying their party affiliation. There were plenty of party logos–with the notable exception of MSZP, which is doing a capital job of burying its brand.

The third reason for the demonstration’s success was a good program. Lajos Parti Nagy, the poet/writer who received the Kossuth Prize in 2007, gave a speech that should be translated one day because it was perhaps the most eloquent and hardest hitting critique of the Orbán regime I have ever heard. The masters of ceremony were two famous actors: János Kulka (winner of the Kossuth and Mari Jászai Prizes) and Andrea Fullajtár (winner of the Mari Jászai Prize).

The surprise of the event was a list of proposals for referendums on nineteen different topics. The three organizers who put together the list of questions for referendums kept their plans secret because, as it stands, if someone turns in an utterly bogus request for a referendum no decision can be reached on any subsequent request on the same topic. For example, DK’s petition for a referendum on Sunday closings is still awaiting a decision because a bogus request was turned in for the sole purpose of postponing or preventing a referendum on the question.

The precise formulation of these referendum questions is important, and for now I can’t provide an accurate translation. So let me just say a few words about my impressions. The questions are grouped into fifteen categories, of which two seem to have received the greatest emphasis: the transparency of politicians’ financial affairs and the right of citizens to know exactly how much money they have in their pension funds. Some of the proposed referendum questions are important, others less so. In any case, the list of questions was turned in and we’ll see what happens. The Orbán government changed the law on referendums to ensure that they will be rare occurrences.

Experts are split on the referendum questions. Some old-timers think that the proposals are naive and are sorry that they were not consulted ahead of time to express their misgivings. Others say that at least the organizers laid down a list of demands because it is not enough to say “Orbán, buzz off!” Later people can add or subtract from this list of demands. This attempt might not be the best, but it is something, they argue. At least people can think about specific ideas and can decide what else they would like to add or change. If nothing else, it will start a public dialogue. At least this is the hope.

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Bifidus
Guest

Mari Jászai (not Jászi).

Gitarra
Guest

OT

The negotiations are underway with the Euratom about the fuel rod supply agreement, and the agreement is close. The standpoints are very close.

I guess the Russians can waive exclusivity since Hungary will always choose Russian rods, because only they have the technology. It’s inconceivable that anybody could supply rods to a Russia-designed power station cheaper than the Russians themselves. So in a way it doesn’t matter what’s in the agreement or what tender is required to be held, the Russian will supply the rods and that’s that.

Euratom will accept an open-ended contract which in practice will be the Russians’. That’s good enough for the mighty EU.

The EU prescribes tenders for the public procurements as we know and it couldn’t care less if every construction project is won by Közgép (now Market) or the lighting company owned by Orban’s son-in-law. That’s OK, because “there was a tender”.

Orban and Lazar will organize a very very public, international, open tender for the supply of the fuel rods. :-DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

http://www.napi.hu/magyar_gazdasag/kozel_a_megallapodas_az_euratommal_paks_2_uzemanyag-beszerzeserol.595046.html

Member

OT: ATV’s Having Financial Problems?

It looks as if I will no longer be watching Egyenes Beszéd faithfully every evening because in my area (Montreal) they seem to have had to allow a 2-minute unskippable commercial (the very same one) before every clip.

I can completely understand ATV’s having to do something that radical, given the way Orban’s control of the media has choked out most advertising and support.

But it’s certainly going to deter their viewers. (I wish a decent donor would give them a subsidy. George Soros, for example — though the Fidesz FUD machine would have as much of a heyday with that as if the donor were Ferenc Gyurcsány… So what? Let the sinister, cynical spinmasters keep doing their worst. Soros money is only “tainted” to eyes and minds that are worse than tainted: demented. ATV is for the rest of us…)

Article
Guest

The Budapest Beacon observed that the list of referendums could be the outline for an action plan for the government that replaces the Orban regime.

Most interesting to me of the events of the 15th was that some Hungarians are now willing to take the fight directly to Orban. These were not thugs or hooligans but seemed to be regular, every day Hungarians who want their country back. The scuffling at his event on that solemn occasion should be a wake up call to Viktor that he and his government no longer represent the majority of Hungarians and he

Bart
Guest
Arthur J. Finkelstein client Benjamin Netanyahu won yet again in Israel. Just 4 days ago, according to polls I read, Likud was 5 seats behind the Zionist Union (the successor to the Labour Party), but eventually Netanyahu won. Isreal has been moving towards the right as the old leftist, zionist European Ashkenazi elite of the founding fathers died out and the deeply conservative and right-wing Russian jews moved in and the ultra-orthodox grew in number.The left-wing is dead in the water just like everywhere in Europe and given demographics, it has no hope to regain power anytime soon. As long as Netanyahu wants to remain in power, he will. I checked the TV spots for the parties and Netanyahu’s message was simple and clear: the fu***ng Arabs (ie. gun wielding terrorists) are coming and want to blow up Jerusalem. To say the ads were racist (fascist) is an understatement but who cares if it works? The leftists ZU had no comparable leader and had at least half dozen messages (more help to the poor, more housing projects etc.). Lack of leadership and lack of clear and coherent message. Isn’t this familiar? Orban’s true soul mate is Netanyahu, people just can’t… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

Results of the Israeli election, March 17, 2015

(My funny [I hope] summary):

few concessions to Arabs (3 parties) 37.82%,
lots of concessions to Arabs (2 parties) 22.62%,
Arabs (4 parties) 10.98%,
Lovers of religion (2 parties) 10.97%,
Haters of religion 8.77%,
Lovers of cheap telephone 7.41%,
Lovers of marijuana 0.97%

other parties: 3.46%

#6 is the new party of a former minister, who created huge competition
in the cell phone market (100 companies to court the customers),
so the prices collapsed to 1/10, one or two years ago.

If you give money to #7, they promise to give you free marijuana, once they succeed in legalizing it.

Webber
Guest

Hungarian kids will continue to learn history from a book that portrays Hitler in a sympathetic light, and Horthy as a hero, because after a review the Ministry has decided not to withdraw the textbook. Even Horthy would have objected to such a portrayal of Hitler.
News here:
http://index.hu/belfold/2015/03/18/visszavonjak_a_botranyos_tortenelemkonyveket/

BritInBudapest
Guest

I was there – the rally did have a much more positive feel than many others, maybe because it was sunny and daylight, rather than cold and dark! but I also agree that the sense of a positive agenda was strong. The other thing that struck me was that there were a lot of middle aged people, some older people, a lot who looked poor – this was not a rally made up of the left leaning Budapest intelligentsia with international connections. And it was not young rabble rousers looking for a cause. And the sense of being and wanting to be a part of Europe was strong – this is such a strong message for other EU countries which have lost a sense of why the EU exists (maybe especially my homeland, Britain).

Dasha
Guest

Nice. But the election – under the current election system – is decided in rural Hungary. Budapest doesn’t matter. Fideszniks are smiling because the media, centered in Budapest, is preoccupied with what’s happening in Budapest when in fact it has zero relevance to the outcome of any future election. But let the media keep focusing on Budapest, the longer they do that the longer they ignore rural Hungary where the last thing people want is more money and more rights for the gipsies, more EU, more capitalism, more modernity etc.

Do people in Sopron or Békéscsaba or Encs or Bonyhád or Csorna or Mezőtúr like the leftists too? That’s the question opposition-leaning people should be focusing on.

Webber
Guest

Budapest, which has 20% of the country’s population and electorate, certainly does matter. No party can afford to neglect 20% of the vote.
Of course the other 80% matters. The problem with that is that what goes in Békéscsaba may not work in Kaposvár, and what people think is necessary in Nyírbátor may differ from what people want in Pereszteg. I agree that the opposition should work, and work hard on finding out what people want outside Budapest (too). I’m sure the opposition agrees.
The results recent by-elections, particularly that in Veszprém suggest that at least some of the people outside of Budapest have had enough of the current government.
I think Fidesz may be facing a major upset in 2018, IF the opposition parties can get together throughout the country.

Member

hAppY biRtHDaY evA!!!!

Member

Scheppele’s new piece on possible Fidesz-Jobbik cooperation is spreading in the Hungarian internet media like wildfire (similar to Bibi’s “victory”). http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/17/hungary-without-two-thirds/?_r=1

Robo
Guest

The two parties could even unite eventually. Orban will be working with Jobbik hand in hand, hell, they have been doing so in local municipalities all over Hungary for years.

Jobbik voters are a huge reserve for Fidesz (and vica versa actually), because jobbikniks (or any self-respecting right wing voter) would rather die than vote for “communists” (ie. everybody who may be deemed as pro-Western in any way).

There isn’t any difference between their policy aims at all, why wouldn’t they cooperate? That’s a no-brainer.

Tomi
Guest

The lefties were dying for those 80k HUF (USD 300) per month jobs and their wishes were granted.

Fidesz has been pretty generous in Budapest with its own opposition and the lefties are never enemies of a good compromise…

Think how difficult could be to purchase the leftists outright.

http://www.atlatszo.hu/2015/03/18/poziciokkal-kenyezteti-ellenzeket-a-fovarosi-fidesz/

Member

Can you tell us more about what the Fidesz is not even dying for but gets? It is such an easy list, so please put it together. You know everything but what you just linked us to. ARe you one of those who gets all the other stuff? I just wonder as I do not remember seeing you around to much to complain about what Fidesz gives to their inner people like the tobacco shops, contracts, casinos, buildings, lands, etc.

Member

OT: One of the Fidesz division just started a “new” Rakosi era kind of network. It is not a joke. THey call this idea directly copied from the nazis “Provocationobserver”. They want people to report to them if they have a suspicion about leftist neighbours, friends, shopkeepers, wives, in-laws, who may plan to protest against the nazi party. Sorry, not he nazi party, but against the Fidesz. I have no idea what I though of the nazis… They said; ” everyone has the right who are the leftist provocateurs who want a disturbance” at others’ events. The head of Fidelitas (newly elected right hand man of Fidesz) asks everyone “if you notice a provocateur”, send their name, photograph to provokatorfigyelo@fidelitas.hu, and they will publish it.

I wonder where Fidelatas was when Orban’s people, the criminals who also protected the Fidesz headquarter a few years later from peaceful demonstrators, provoked in 2006, and attacked the police?

Member

Its worth to take a look on the government’s news portal to see how those provocateurs look like. (By the way, the middle aged man who beats up the reporter is not a provocateur but someone who went there to celebrate). In overall the government’s news was not able to take photographs of any great disturbance, even though I am sure they tried really hard. THe “real provocateurs” as you may see peacefully hold up so me signs.
http://www.hirado.hu/2015/03/15/egy-embert-eloallitottak-a-muzeumkerti-allami-unnepseg-utan/#jp-carousel-1638392

Guest

Fielitas deserves to know all provocateurs, past and present. Use he link.

Member

Even wannabee provocateurs.

kiddo
Guest

Too late. The Facebook page was taken down.

The kids are getting crazier and lost all sense of reality.

Jobbik is preparing, I hear the smart kids in rural regions who want to make a carrier and be powerful (at least locally) go to Jobbik these days. Fidesz is a has-been they say.

Sebt
Guest

That was a head-shaking-in-disbelief moment. Someone at work had put up a Photoshopped poster dating from (I think) the Rákosi or German Nazi era, with the instruction and this email address on it. I asked what it was and they explained what you’ve just explained. Mutual head-shaking-in-disbelief and facepalming moment.

I’m learning more and more Hungarian ways of saying “WTF”?

The most terrifying thing is that this bunch of jokers really seem to believe that they’re operating in a country with no culture or memory.

At least the ever-reliable Hungarian satirical Photoshop cottage industry is still hard at work.

Eddy
Guest

Good point (link). According to GFG, Orban’s über-spinmeister, Jobbik is a non-issue as nobody can possibly imagine them as a governing force, like imagine Előd Novak (editor in chief of Kuruc Info) as Minister of Interior [of course Novak has 3 years to mature and nobody in their right mind would have thought just 3 years ago that Peter Szijjarto would be foreign minister].

GFG’s conclusion is: we don’t deal with Jobbik, Jobbik may grow and at worst we will ask the leftist voters to vote for Fidesz, otherwise Jobbik would come to power and they don’t want that. For Fidesz that’s OK too.

http://paldanielrenyi.tumblr.com/post/113946467724/grat-gfg-nek-nem-kormanyzokepesek-ergo-nincs

spectator
Guest

“..nobody can possibly imagine them as a governing force..” – and it doesn’t matter, if someone even able imaging them, they will be, anyway.

Orbán will create a new title to himself and will move to the castle, while Vona will take care of the dirty work what the Fidesz always wanted to, but they still trying pretend to be part of Europe.
Vona and his party has no such handicap.

Otherwise I was pretty sure about Szijjártó’s advancement, particularly when he made a few performances front of Gyurcsány’s home – such “brave” and “truly Hungarian” behaviour must be valued! Never mind, that when the lady of the house and her daughter came out to talk to the handful of “righteous and rightfully angry” likewise true Hungarians, our hero slinked away in the background – so it was due to happen.

I can all but congratulate the people and the so called “democratic opposition” to let these lowlifes rule.

With the exception who presently demonstrating on the Chain Bridge, whoever they are!

Member

Totally OT: I just found a board game called Fidelitas. Here is the description:

“In Fidelitas, players take on the role of faithful citizens in a medieval city who are exerting influence in order to gain the credibility needed to lead the charge against the corrupt crown.

Players play character cards to various locations that make up the city in order to meet conditions of hidden objectives. Each type of character card is associated with a unique action that manipulates cards in the game: the Butcher bullies other characters to new locations, the Student gains more cards, the Soldier keeps the peasants from loitering too long, etc. In this game where keen maneuvering is key, attentiveness to the opposition may uncover hidden motives that seek to foil your bid for power.

The first player to gain a certain number points (depending on the number of players) is determined worthy to lead the revolt and also wins the game.”
http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/160784/fidelitas

It certainly very fitting with the exception of “against the corrupt crown”. In the Hungarian version of Fidelitas board game, it will be “for the corrupt crown”.

tappanch
Guest

Weekly “HVG” will publish a copy of a document tomorrow proving Orban was connected to military counter intelligence in 1981 and 1982.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20150318_Orban_1981es_elharitasi_kartonja

tappanch
Guest

The Orban government nationalizes two cemeteries: the Fiumei street, which includes the graves of Kossuth and Kadar and the Jewish cemetery on Salgotarjani street.

What is their ulterior motive ? (They always have one .)

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20150318_Parizsi_mintara_kozossegi_terre_alakitana

Ted
Guest

Fidesz will use the real estate, probably for the new big hospital project.

Webber
Guest

Just read Gogol.
There’s money in the dead!
There are plenty of up and coming undertakers in Fidesz, anyway.

spectator
Guest

There was a time when they favoured the traditional costume of the undertakers – comrade Schmitt spoked to the Nation clad like “gyászhuszár” at least once, but certainly not the only time he looked the part!

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