Viktor Orbán drags Ferenc Gyurcsány onto the podium

Yesterday the prime minister called a marathon meeting of the cabinet. The members of the government were closeted in all day, with only a short break for lunch. In preparation for this meeting, the executive board of Fidesz most likely worked out a plan to revive the reputation of the party and the government. The remedy seems to be massive new infrastructure investment on European Union money. The M4 highway construction project has been abandoned, but we are now being told that 600 billion forints will be spent in the next two and a half years on road construction other than M4. Whether a new package of promises will turn around the negative political trend of the last year is hard to tell. Perhaps voters who have abandoned Fidesz will eventually return to the fold, but “eventually” probably won’t be in time for Sunday’s Tapolca-Ajka-Sümeg election.

Viktor Orbán’s magic touch?

In the past a personal appearance by Viktor Orbán in an electoral district could work miracles. In 2002, when after the first round of voting Fidesz was languishing, the prime minister visited 22 electoral districts where MSZP was leading. He managed to reverse the results in 14 of them. The question is whether Viktor Orbán still has that magic touch. Perhaps not. First of all, he is so afraid of anti-government demonstrations that his schedule is kept secret until the last minute. His itineraries are also secret, and therefore supportive crowds can’t be organized, even if fans were eager to meet and cheer him. Moreover, the old fire seems to have gone out. The reporter for 168 Óra thought that “the prime minister was a shadow of his former self [whose] words were hollow, short of ideas, and spiritless.” He came to the conclusion that Orbán’s presence, instead of helping the Fidesz candidate, worked against him.

The first town Viktor Orbán visited was Ajka, a socialist stronghold where the MSZP-DK candidate, Ferenc Pad, will most likely win. According to the reporter for Magyar Nemzet, only Pad’s posters are still intact. Even Orbán had to admit that Ajka is a “success story” where unemployment is only around 3%, even if the town is governed by a socialist mayor and the majority of council members are also socialists. Of course, the prime minister didn’t dwell on the party preferences of the inhabitants of Ajka. He simply said that his government also has a great deal to do with the relative well-being of the town. Surely, he concluded, people of Ajka cannot have adverse feelings about his government. Media descriptions of the public mood in the city contradict Orbán’s assessment.

From Ajka he moved on to Sümeg, where he promised the completion of the Sümeg Castle, built in the 13th century. Since this town, which lives off of tourism, is pretty solidly behind Fidesz, his stay there was short and to the point.

Anti-government demonstrations

However short his Sümeg visit, Orbán managed to be two hours late arriving in Tapolca. He still couldn’t avoid a small anti-government demonstration whose members had waited patiently for hours, keeping up their spirits by singing the anthem of the European Union and some protest songs from the 1970s. His speech was less than 10 minutes long and was addressed primarily to those activists whose job it is to rouse the less than enthusiastic Fidesz voters.

Orbán seemed to be bothered by the presence of the demonstrators and even mentioned them in his speech: “There are two kinds of people present. Those who are curious about how they can support the candidate of Fidesz-KDNP and those who came here to ruin our day. There is democracy and freedom, therefore it is their business; ours is that we should not allow that.”

Patiently waiting for Viktor Orbán in Tapolca / Photo: János Bődey

Patiently waiting for Viktor Orbán in Tapolca / Photo: János Bődey

Those cursed demonstrators! There may have been only a few dozen people, but the Fidesz leadership just couldn’t get over their gall. The current spokesman of Fidesz, Bence Tuzson, discovered that the organizer of the demonstration was Csaba Czeglédy, the former lawyer of Ferenc Gyurcsány, who was “a tax criminal of the socialists.”  The gathering wasn’t just an ordinary demonstration, according to Tuzson, but a “left-wing provocation,” and they “shouldn’t submit to such aggression.” He called on the left to recall their provocateurs.

Dragging Gyurcsány to the podium

This was not the first reference to Gyurcsány during today’s campaign trip. In Ajka, when Orbán was still in a jolly good mood and kept cracking jokes, he complained that lately he has been the only one “in the limelight” and therefore he has to bear the burden of every wrong decision. He feels so lonely that “soon, [he] will have to drag Gyurcsány to the podium,” he said jokingly, to the audience’s great satisfaction. And in a way, Orbán did drag the former prime minister onto the podium. First, a Nézőpont Intézet study prepared for Magyar Nemzet brought up the possibility that if Ferenc Pad, the MSZP-DK candidate, wins, he may decide to join the four DK members of parliament. That would hand Gyurcsány a parliamentary caucus, which would entitle his party to government funding and a great deal more flexibility in parliament debates.

By today this hypothesis became a perceived threat to the right. According to Gergely Gulyás, a win by Ferenc Pad may “result in the formation of a far-left parliamentary caucus,” which would have a serious effect on the work of the parliament. After all, this new caucus would be led by Ferenc Gyurcsány. Gulyás is not a stupid man. Far from it. He is one of the more intelligent Fidesz leaders, so I can only assume that Fidesz decided it was time for scare tactics. Calling DK a far-left party is, of course, a joke. Some commentators who find the socialist component in Hungarian political thinking practically nonexistent would call DK a neoliberal party, at least as far as its economic policies are concerned. Trying to frighten the electorate with the spectre of Ferenc Gyurcsány, whose party’s support in the population as a whole stands at 6%, seems like an act of desperation. The work of the Hungarian parliament, where Fidesz holds just shy of two-thirds of the seats, will never be disrupted in the event that Ferenc Gyurcsány becomes the leader of a DK caucus.

And that was not the end of “dragging Gyurcsány to the podium.” KEHI (Kormányzati Ellenőrzési Hivatal/Government Control Office) announced that it is pressing charges against Magyar Fejlesztési Bank/Hungarian Development Bank, which in 2005 extended a 17 billion forint loan for the construction of the Győr ETO stadium and ETO Park. As 444.hu jokingly said in the title of its article on the subject: “KEHI presses charges because during the time of the Gyurcsány goverment the Gyurcsányist MFB gave a Gyurcsányist loan to the Gyurcsányist ETO Park.” Soon enough we will have another endless court case that is a crass political ploy without the slightest legal merit.

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Member

IF, they would build the new roads, that is only for the purpose of corruption money to the kiss-ass supporters and for the purpose to generate new road taxes! Increasing the tax base with EU money is a villainous, sordid and low-down attack on the citizenry – the Fidesz modus operandi, AGAIN!

István
Guest

Eva you forgot to mention that in Sumeg Orban posed with a white horse and a hussar reenactor. Possibly OV wants the people to think of him as Hadúr the war god in Magyar mythology, or at least Admiral Horthy.

Cseresznye
Guest

Don’t forget much of that proposed HUF 600bn will end up in Orban’s coffers.

(One of) Orban’s stróman (front) is on a shopping spree of sorts. Orban effectively obtained (ie. from EU monies promised to the sellers of the company) Market Zrt. and now Lőrinc Mészáros is moving to spread his influence in the construction business. He does not pay anything of course but arranges EU-funded deals to the sellers from which the sellers can satisfy their demands. Needless to say when Orban’s people say they want to “buy” your company you don’t complain but rather ask how can I help you, sir? These fidesznik boys are pretty smart, huh?

http://index.hu/gazdasag/2015/04/09/meszaros_lorinc_tovabb_terjeszkedik/

LwiiH
Guest

“if Ferenc Pad, the MSZP-DK candidate, wins, he may decide to join the four DK members of parliament”
I don’t get it. If Ferenc Pad intends to join DK shouldn’t the voters have the right to know this before they vote for him? Is their anyone in politics that gets democracy in Hungary?

IME, there are sometimes small things that can tip things in an undesirable direction. No one believes the story being told about the bankruptcies and no one really cares about them either. They don’t even care about the corruption, well, they do, but recognize that they are completely powerless to do anything about it and all parties engage in it. No one cares about the highway or how the central bank is being run or the courts or just about any of the other “big” things. What really tipped this whole thing was the internet tax and Sunday shopping. These maybe small details in comparison to the other issues but they are in your face irritants.

Dec
Guest

it’s highly unlikely that MSZP-DK can win in this district. Also note that people from Tapolca would never vote for an Ajka-man. The Tapolca people look down on the communist Ajka and Sümeg people even more so, they just don’t want to be seen as ‘giving in’ to a Socialist stronghold. Whereas the more left-leaning voters of Ajka are more open to a Tapolca or small village candidate. It’s the usual game: right-wing voters (from Sümeg or Tapolca) would never consider a ‘communist’ from Ajka, but left-leaning voters of an industrial town are always open to people of other political persuasions and regional identity. Jobbik is king in rural areas and now it will show its strength.

Guest

Maybe some one should have warned the people in Sümeg that no more visitors from abroad will come if they vote for a fascist …
That would be a disaster for the town – when we were at the old castle ruin last summer with our young ones more than half of the cars parking near there were from abroad, from Italy to Poland …
Btw the castle was destroyed by the Austrians twice – in 1713 and finally in 1726 …

spectator
Guest

“..people from Tapolca would never vote for an Ajka-man”
A what?
Are you serious that not only the people divided by party preferences, but even along the provincial borders of a city or a village or whatever?
What about people from different streets?
Do they speak with each other, or it also out of the question?

I recommend to the people of Tata to start wearing high heels – like the Lilliputians – in order to distinguish themselves right away..!
Well, Hungarians, aren’t we..?

spectator
Guest

Seems that still the only person that the Fidesz – it means Orbán – still afraid is Gyurcsány.
Imagine, if it would be inevitable to listen him in the parliament, or even worse, have right to participate in different events! Must be quite unsettling feeling, because there is a theoretical possibility – albeit nothing more.

Poor Orbán, what a nightmare..!

Guest

In or near Tapolca there was a large Bauxit mine from which Aluminium was produced (already during WW2 for the German military …) in Communist times like in Devecser – remember the catastrophe of the red sludge there?
That aluminium production was stopped (don’t know when) and a lot of workers lost their jobs – maybe that’s one reason for the rivalry with Ajka?
That production was an ecological catastrophe btw! The contaminated water from the mines/the aluminium production wnet downwards to the Balaton and also threatened the famous thermal lake of Hévíz.
I think I mentioned the story here before:
In several villages doctors found an unusually large number of older people with intestine cancer and everybody was later asked to supply a stool specimen to detect this.
The reason:
People had used the water from their wells for drinking and cooking – and that was poisoned …
Luckily later the villages had got a water supply so younger people were not touched by this …
It was a scandal that was hushed somehow …

dzsunka
Guest
wolfi: there were many problems. Resource extraction with any method is extremely detrimental to the environment. With the Veszprém county bauxit there was another problem. Ground water (as usual for any mining activity) had to be extracted and this resulted in the drying up of the famous Tapolca undergroud lake and the cooling down of the Héviz lake (which never recovered, it’s lukewarm at best these days). The water returned to Tapolca eventually, though. The slug was another issue of course. I personally never heard that contaminated ground water reached Balaton itself, but it’s very plausible that groundwater was contaminated in the area and that it cause illnesses. It’s not very often talked about but the health situation at Pécs (after decades of coal and uranium mining) is worse than terrible — but people have fond memories of mining (miners were real hot shots in those pre-1990 days) that even sick people say they would do it again. Just around the system-change (1990) the production of aluminum (aka the Hungarian silver) became unprofitable and so the mining problem kinda solved itself. Part of the aluminum conglomerate was sold to Alcoa and the rest (which was rather unattractive) was privatized to… Read more »
Lukas
Guest

The CEO of the Paks 2 project company abruptly left Hungary for a job (?) in the UK.

There’s no successor, no communication, the guy – who signed all docs with the Russians – just left after having been awarded a decoration a month ago for his achievements.

Pretty, pretty, pretty interesting.

http://444.hu/2015/04/10/titokban-tavozott-paks-2-vezerigazgatoja/

petofi
Guest

Now this is significant!

Guest

Thanks. dzsunka, for that background info!
I just remember the desolation in that village when several people were diagnosed with that cancer – unoperable and with certain death …
I Totally agree with your last sentence!
PS:
That was in my eyes one of the worst sides of the “Communist” system in Eastern Europe:
The total disregard for the environment – and the people …

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