András Schiffer and László Kövér see eye to eye

August is usually quiet when it comes to political news. Indeed, we are in the middle of the “silly season” or, as it is called in Hungarian, the “cucumber season.” So, in this environment, a public discussion between LMP’s co-chairman András Schiffer and László Kövér made real waves. Mind you, Kövér’s pronouncements are always scandalous. Many commentators chalk them up to a madman’s outbursts. He is often described as someone who forgot to take his meds or as a clown who can entertain us free of charge. Those who take him more seriously try to find hidden meaning behind his words or, still a daunting task, to figure out what on earth the man is talking about. This time, to add spice to the usual fare, Kövér’s ruminations were uttered at the third summer academy of the Ökopolisz Alapítvány (Ocopolis Foundation) of LMP, Hungary’s green party.

LMP likes to describe itself as an opposition party, and occasionally its MPs do make fiery speeches against the Orbán government. These speeches make László Kövér, the president of the parliament, mighty mad but, it seems, not mad enough not to accept an invitation by the party to engage in a “constructive dialogue.” Oh, yes, Fidesz does have a special relationship with LMP, as Kövér made clear. Although in his view the Hungarian left, just like their comrades in other European countries, turn against their own nation, LMP is different. Its members don’t rush to Brussels complaining about the lack of democracy in their country like the socialists and representatives of DK or PM. Otherwise, Kövér wouldn’t have accepted LMP’s invitation. He would never attend a gathering of the Demokratikus Koalicíó, for example. It was a sign of the meeting of minds that the audience enthusiastically applauded this particular remark by the same person who, as president of the house, on numerous occasions treated the party’s MPs like dirt.

Some observers consider LMP a useful tool in Viktor Orbán’s hands. András Schiffer, ever since the formation of the party, has steadfastly refused any kind of collaboration with the other democratic parties, thereby giving an advantage to Fidesz. Some people actually suspect that Fidesz helped Schiffer’s party gain parliamentary representation. One thing is sure, LMP is always just a whisker over the minimum necessary for a party to sit in parliament. And while ten DK PMs were not allowed to form a parliamentary caucus, LMP, after the party split, was permitted to form one with seven members. LMP has a special place in the heart of the Fidesz leadership. The only question is whether there is some kind of a secret deal between Orbán and Schiffer or whether Schiffer is simply a “useful idiot.”

In any case, Schiffer is treated differently from the rest of the opposition leaders. He got an invitation both last year and this year to speak at the gathering of the Fidesz bigwigs in Tusnádfürdő/Băile Tușnad. I guess it was time to return the favor by inviting perhaps the most objectionable Fidesz leader, in the person of László Kövér, to an intimate LMP gathering.

It was beastly hot on Friday in Felsőtárkány, just outside of Eger, but the exchange between Schiffer and Kövér went on for an hour and a half. About what? According to the program, the topic was supposed to be the future of Hungary, but it looks as if neither of them have any constructive ideas on that score because the talk was mostly about the past: their warped views of what transpired in 1990 and since. Most of the newspaper accounts give a minute description of Kövér’s version of the events, which actually can be summarized in a few words. The possibility of a regime change was thwarted by MSZP and SZDSZ. They declared the real political force, meaning Fidesz, illegitimate. The country was headed toward a civil war, orchestrated by Ferenc Gyurcsány.

Good luck trying to figure out what this man is talking about because this description has nothing to do with reality. No one questioned the legitimacy of Fidesz, which was from the very beginning an important political player in Hungary’s post-1990 history. As for who called whom illegitimate, I remember Viktor Orbán declaring in 2006 that the Gyurcsány government was illegitimate.

Aren't we friendly? / MTI  / Photo: Péter Komka

Aren’t we friendly? / MTI / Photo: Péter Komka

Schiffer not only agreed but piled a few more sins on the socialists. The cooperation between foreign capital and the communist capitalists resulted in the failure of the country’s economic convergence. According to him, in Hungary, alone in the region, an economic structure developed that resulted in the supremacy of the multi-nationals. He talked a great deal about oppression and the exploitation caused by globalization, which threatens nation states. The two great minds have a lot in common. As Péter Béndek, a conservative commentator, noted, “for Fidesz there is only one acceptable socialist, Schiffer.” The co-chairman of LMP is, he continued, a typical representative of those in green politics who are “green on the outside but red on the inside.” Kövér, who was an ardent socialist in the 1980s, most likely shares Schiffer’s view but, as he said during this debate, Schiffer’s radical ideas cannot be implemented.

There was one remark by Kövér that raised quite a few eyebrows. The man who a few years ago said that he would die for his party if necessary announced that he no longer cares about Fidesz. He has three nice adult children, and he just wants to be sure that they have a bright future. Why this melancholic announcement about his party? Perhaps we can find the answer in another remark of his about not becoming a billionaire in the last few years. Is this an admission that something has gone very wrong in his party? Something he doesn’t want to be associated with? Magyar Narancs found it “laughable and infinitely sad that such a sentence can be uttered as an excuse by one of the highest dignitaries of the land.” Népszabadság thought that, in this case, he should resign. And the ever-cynical Árpád W. Tóta couldn’t help making fun of Kövér, who one day “will have to explain to his children why he didn’t even have enough brains to be able to steal.” It was Pál G. Vasvári in Gépnarancs who offered a grave interpretation of Kövér’s disillusionment with his party, which he interpreted as an opening move in the “leaving the sinking ship” syndrome. Kövér said publicly that “he doesn’t care which way Fidesz is going or whether its ship sinks or reaches the harbor. In brief, he doesn’t care what happens to the cargo of oranges.”

With the exception of Bence Horváth of 444.hu, commentators glossed over some important points. One that I find especially frightening came from László Kövér who, while discussing the fate of the still unavailable list of informers working for the ministry of interior during the socialist period, casually mentioned that the new fundamental law/constitution contains the legal possibility of banning the Hungarian Socialist Party. Here is a man who has been fighting tooth and nail against releasing the names of the informers finding solace in the fact that the new constitution could make a democratic party illegal. The very idea that the new constitution was written with such thoughts in mind is bone chilling.

The harshest critic of the encounter, with whom I agree, is a blogger on a fairly new internet site called europakavezo.blog.hu (European Café). In his opinion, Schiffer is no better than Kövér. “The same old gang.” Schiffer, in his opinion, is a dishonorable man who “doesn’t sit down with MSZP and DK politicians” but has no problem having “a jolly conversation with a character who calls others vermin.” Someone who goes to the prosecutors and accuses a sitting prime minister of crimes, an accusation without the slightest merit, but who is not now running to Chief Prosecutor Péter Polt to look into the sudden enrichment of the Orbán family. The blogger has a point. Otherwise, the journalist of 444.hu was struck by “the pleasant banter and the less refined flirting.” Indeed, these two are of the same ilk. The sad thing is that a lot of democrats have been duped by András Schiffer and his co-chair, Bernadett Szél. Time to wake up.

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ER1956
Guest

Not being duped by the usual liars, is a minority status.

Something wrong in the mainstream DNA?

Member

With all fairness, many countries do have career politicians. This means that the only viable solutions for them to make enough money to keep up with their standard of living is to remain a politician. In many other countries however most politicians could return to “civil life” by taking up positions as professors, advisors, etc. Many Hungarian politicians have no political convictions or any feeling of responsibility towards society, they try to fill the blanks to remain relevant to segments that are able to keep them afloat. Orban is the perfect example. The former atheist, former liberal who turned into a God fearing conservative, likely by the suggestion of his good friend Berlusconi. Kover is right there. His previous employment was provided no else but by the party who he despises so much. Schiffer, I always found a sorry little politician who tries to find some holes, who tries to reinforce how different his ideas are but who is in fact is very pliable. He is upset just like Kover for not being able to achieve fame, and fortune as their time is running out..

Andras Szanto
Guest

„… Fidesz … from the very beginning an important political player in Hungary’s post-1990 history …”:

In 1990, in the first round of parliamentary elections, of the 4.9 m voters about 450 thousand people – cca 9% – cast their vote for Fidesz.

In 1994, about 420 thousand people – cca 8% – voted for Fidesz from among the 5.4 m voters who participated in the first round of that year’s parliamentary elections.

Latefor
Guest

Politicians finally unite! It’s good to see that Kover and Schiffer have the intellect to put their differences aside and look at the best interest of Hungary. Schiffer is a very charismatic man.

exTor
Guest

You’re too easily impressed. Or duped.

Webber
Guest

Latefor – I have no axe to grind against Schiffer, but even his biggest fans would not describe him as a “charismatic man.”
I have met him. In person, he has all the charisma of a box of frozen squid. He is only slightly better on t.v. because he sometimes gets make up to cover his alarmingly grey skin (poss. circulation problems – I hope he’s seeing a doctor)
I get the feeling that your point in writing here is to support whatever and whomever appears at the moment to be pro-Fidesz, or at least not anti-Fidesz, even to the point of ignoring facts (Schiffer charismatic???) Occasionally your comments are so odd that I wonder if you’ve ever been to Hungary. Please don’t answer. There’s no point.

finn
Guest

Schiffer is loved by Fidesz and fideszniks for one simple reason: he is totally harmless, exactly because he has no charisma whatsoever.

Well, maybe for one further reason: according to fideszniks Schiffer’s LMP splits the left-wing votes so his mere existence makes the situation of the left-wing – which must absolutely unite if it is to have at least a minuscule chance ever to get close to power in this rigged system – more difficult.

Schiffer may be (have been) a good civil rights attorney, but certainly not a good politician in any sense of the word.

Guest

And he even split LMP!
Compare that to the German Greens which after their “Sturm- und Drangzeit” have been in coalitions for many years, mainly with the Social Democrats.
And I’m so proud that we Schwabs even have a Green prime minister and most university towns including Stuttgart have Green mayors!
That’s the way to go – not isolate yourself from the parties with similar programmes …

spectator
Guest

“..look at the best interest of Hungary.” – like how to ban the Hungarian Socialist Party in a so called democracy, you mean?

Schiffer is a very charismatic man.

You need a fresh pair of glasses and some new batteries in your hearing aid I’m afraid..! That is, because I sincerely hope, only your senses abandoned you.
Otherwise you’d be able to recognise a slimy opportunist when you see one…

Latefor
Guest

Spectator,
That’s strange . . . how did you know that I’ve been to the Ear Specialist today? (BTW, I’m far too young for hearing aids).
You might appreciate my find re: overuse of VIAGRA. One of the side effects is: excessive arrogance.

spectator
Guest

@Latefor – Figured, you must have some sensory deprivation for some reason, I blamed the battery 🙂

Must have been some experience..!
Since it didn’t involved any hearing and/or seeing, I’ll take your advice!

bimbi
Guest

One remembers the photograph of Laszlo Kover from the late 80s – presumably when he was still a small-time Communist functionary – sitting down next to a sign that said something like: When police are paid more than teachers, you know you are in a police state.

Don’t you just! But these are different times and Laci now has a private army of parliamentary guards at his beck and call. But then, his sign is still valid today:

“When police are paid more than teachers, you know you are in a police state”,

so Laci, how much are rank-and-file troopers in your private army paid and how much are school teachers paid in the Fidesz Mafia paradise? Enquiring minds want to know…

One would wish to dismiss Laci as a mustachioed gasbag but I am afraid his utterances and his actions are much too poisonous for that. But perhaps he has simply been promoted (well) beyond his limit of competence…

Guest

I commented already on this topic on pol.hu:

So Kövér is an antisemite and a fascist right now – but funnily enough the wiki (written by some adoring Fidesznik obviously) does not contain a single word (!!!) about his activities before 1989.

Ain’t that strange – how did he spent his first 30 years?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A1szl%C3%B3_K%C3%B6v%C3%A9r
Does anyone know what Kövér did before he joined Fidessz in 1989 or 1988?

bimbi
Guest

There is a curriculum vitae for Mr. Kover at:

http://www.parlament.hu/kepviselo/elet/k308.htm

Oddly enough the information is mostly on his early career and not his later ascent of the commanding heights

exTor
Guest

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/József_Nyírő

Silly season [uborkaszezon]? More like dogdays [kánikula] here in BP. We’re in the second week of the current heatwave, where every day has topped 30°. Tomorrow the temps hit the body: 37° (per my weather app).

I read the article, wolfi. It sounded quite balanced; neutral, as Wikpedia mandates. That said, there seemed to be a ‘suspicious’ amount of inside detail, so it’s quite possible that someone known to László Kövér wrote it.

Perhaps the article writer did not have any information about Köver’s pre1989 Communist Party role, if any. Perhaps the writer had some info, but thought it not worthy of entry, however (given other ‘unimportant’ details) there’s probably no reason, other than damnable, to omit anything.

Wikipedia did mention the business about writer József Nyírő, an antisemite, an admirer of Joseph Goebbels and a member of the extreme rightwing Transylvanian Party. It can certainly be said that László Kövér’s participation (along with members of Jobbik) in the reburial of József Nyírő in Romania pegs László Kövér an antisemite and a fascist.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Guest

The wiki on Kövér has many details on his family – but nothing on his school, studies, military service? etc – he appears on the political scene as a 30 year old.
Really strange in my eyes …

Totally OT:
Yes, kánikula hits us hard – we’re inside with the A/C running (luckily I put it in the house for two rooms …) all day, only in the mornings from 6 to 8 and in the evenings after 8 do we go outside …

csaba
Guest
Guest

OT re the Sunday closings: apparently the Sziget Fesztival is so powerful that it has gained permission for its closest supermarket (Ocean) to be open on the Sunday during the festival.

sollar
Guest

What’s the surprise? Both the daughter of Orban and that of Szajer (and Tünde Handó of the Supreme Court) used to work for the organizer of Sziget Fesztival. Orban is expected to visit the Festival to soak up some coolness.

Guest

Orbán at Sziget, really?
“Two members of Moscow-based punk-activist protest group Pussy Riot will participate in a round table organised at the Sziget Festival in Budapest this week, organisers said. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, known for their campaign against Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president and the imprisonment they suffered as a result, will take questions from the audience on Friday”
http://www.politics.hu/20150811/pussy-riot-members-to-appear-at-sziget-fesztival/
Will Orbán meet them?

Btw, last year the news was full of reports about drug (ab)use at Sziget and the police activities there.

Puff
Guest

Things have changed. Now it is TEK (Orban’s personal guard and intelligence agency) which provides security at Sziget.

Guest

As I was reading the interesting piece on the opp, a little saying came into my head. It was along the lines of ‘ if you can’t dazzle’em with your brilliance baffle’em with your bull****’. Probably just shows how low the dearth of good ideas are in Hungarian political circles.

And if I can suggest something I have the feeling that for Hungary to go on ahead on look for other shores of political ‘exploration’ without parties constantly barking at each other in the sink-hole of a dismal past I think really another party has to built from scratch. One that can start off not being ‘bought’ and as a result there is no way that they could be blackmailed, blackballed, mothballed you name it by by the ‘F and J’ Kolbasz Haz’. That lovely palsy – walsy tag team of a political meat market is selling bad ‘hoosh’ and the hoosh butchers are no better. Really the bad meat is making the country ill.

buddy
Guest

WashPo has an op-ed from someone who truly gets the essence of what’s going on in Hungary: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/08/10/is-hungary-run-by-the-radical-right/?postshare=5821439227596961

Every single comment on it thus far has attacked the author and his beliefs. Maybe some of you reading this could counterbalance these attacks by commenting yourselves.

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