Shifts in Hungarian party politics

While Viktor Orbán is fighting for his cause in Brussels, I think it’s time to pay some attention to domestic politics. The refugee crisis and Viktor Orbán’s popular reaction to it resulted in a spectacular growth of potential Fidesz voters. Jobbik, on the other hand, lost one-third of its support between September and November. These are some of the findings of the latest opinion poll by Nézőpont Intézet, a pro-government think tank. Earlier polls by others show similar trends.

Nézőpont attributes the decline of Jobbik to Gábor Vona’s decision to tone down the anti-Semitic and anti-Roma rhetoric, but I  see this development in a different light. To put it simply: former Fidesz voters who abandoned their party during the fall of 2014 and spring of 2015 to join the more radical Jobbik returned to the party after Fidesz’s own radicalization. As support for Fidesz grew, Jobbik’s support decreased. Those who consider this development, allegedly marginalizing the far right, to be a great accomplishment on the part of Viktor Orbán should think twice. A more radical Fidesz is not one whit better than an only slightly more radical Jobbik. In fact, a far-right party in power is a great deal more dangerous than a far-right party in opposition.

There is some movement on the left, where the big loser seems to be MSZP. For example, according to Nézőpont, only 9% would vote for MSZP while 7% would vote for Ferenc Gyurcsány’s DK.  Tárki a month earlier reported an even lower number for MSZP and a much lower figure for DK, 7% and 4% respectively.

There are several possible reasons for this loss. The chairman of the party, József Tóbiás, is not at all popular among MSZP supporters, and even in the party’s leadership there are several important people who are dissatisfied with his performance. It is becoming obvious that the young Turks who were put forward by former party chairman Attila Mesterházy are incapable of breathing life into the ailing MSZP. The unfortunate remark of the former chairman of the party, István Hiller, that he doesn’t like the fence “but show me something better,” most likely also cost some support from people who are convinced that there can be no “compromise” with Orbán.

Among the questions Nézőpont Intézet put to the respondents was the following: “According to you, who is the leader of the left opposition?” The possible answers were: (1) Ferenc Gyurcsány (DK), (2) József Tóbiás (MSZP), (3) Attila Mesterházy (MSZP), (4) Someone else, (5) There is no such person, (6) Doesn’t know/doesn’t answer. Gyurcsány came out the winner both in the population as a whole (18% as opposed to 5% for Tóbiás) and among left sympathizers (33% versus 4%). Of course, name recognition was probably a significant factor.

Tóbiás’s position is anything but secure, and many observers predicted that there would be a palace revolt at the MSZP congress held this weekend. The tensions, however, were cleverly dissipated, and all the conflicts remain under the surface. But no one should be fooled by this superficial calm. I have the feeling that this is not the end of the story. Nor, unless something dramatic happens, is it the end of the slide of MSZP toward oblivion.

Believe it or not this is the new logo of MSZP

Believe it or not, this is the new logo of MSZP

Most likely these developments in MSZP inspired Ferenc Gyurcsány to announce that “DK is making preparations to form a government as leader of the democratic opposition in 2018 at the latest.” That  is a definite departure from DK’s earlier strategy. In the past, Gyurcsány indicated that he would be happy with a 10% share of the votes. DK would be a smallish party, perhaps a junior partner in a coalition government or an opposition party of some weight. But now Gyurcsány thinks that he can seize the initiative and gather the opposition forces around his own person and party.

Right now there is no one else in any of the democratic opposition parties who could take on Viktor Orbán. But whether Gyurcsány could prevail is not so clear. Critics point to his tainted reputation, for which he himself is, at least in part, responsible. There are too many people, they argue, ordinary voters as well as politicians, for whom Gyurcsány is anathema, someone who would in fact be an obstacle to gathering the troops on the left. And there are those who basically like the man but who think that, although he is a good politician, he was a bad prime minister.

In the last two or three years Gyurcsány has been the most vocal proponent of an electoral coalition of sorts since, given the new electoral law, small parties running on their own can only lead to certain defeat for all of them. In the last few months he most likely came to the conclusion that none of the other parties can possibly head such a unified front and therefore he will have to try to gather all the forces on the left. He must think that he can rally MSZP party members and voters behind him.

There are an awful lot of “ifs” here, but I guess one cannot lose much by giving Gyurcsány a chance since there is no viable alternative at the moment. Given the Hungarian people’s political views and frame of mind right now, however, I don’t know how well Gyurcsány’s liberal message would resonate. I have my doubts. But, as we know, public opinion can turn on a dime. In 2008 80% of the people voted against co-payments for doctor and hospital visits. Today almost 80% say they would gladly pay if that would improve the quality of healthcare. The 2008 referendum killed Ferenc Gyurcsány’s reforms and led directly to his resignation a year later. Voters are fickle.

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Sackhoes Contributor
Guest

As far as the opposition is concerned, this is a very sad report. It seems that the failed leaders of the left continue to hang on to their meager power, instead of resigning and leaving the field open to fresh blood. How many other countries you can think of where an ex-Prime Minister with 7% support is preparing to govern?

Gyurcsany’s name, unfortunately, is almost a guarantee for Orban to win the next election. If I were Orban, I would buy a health insurance policy for Gyurcsany and the best bodyguards to make sure nothing bad happens to him. Gyurcsany is the golden goose that lays the Fidesz egg.

This all goes to prove: Hungarian politics is not about ideas. It’s about power and the benefits it brings.

petofi
Guest

Discussions about the efficacity of opposition parties are beside the point. Orban has so screwed politics (in a country where largely anything went anyway) that the aim of opposition leaders is not to win power–and that’s just realism–but to present opportunities where Orban feels that the opposition must be ‘charmed’.

There is NO opposition save that which Orban allows to function for the verisimilitude of a modern state. But that opposition is just panting for the opportunity to ‘serve’…

Mesterhazy and Simon are two examples.

But who can blame them? In a country where a grocer of thirty years can lose half his business (the tobacco trade) with the stroke of a pen, what would one expect?

Hungaricum.

Hajra Magyarok!!

exTor
Guest
You make some pointed points, Sackhoes Contributor, though not entirely correct. While some old-time politicos may be spent forces, ideologically and otherwise, they are not without value. Their years of politics are worth something and newcomers may benefit from that political knowledge. It would be a mistake to force out the oldsters. Who would get positions of leadership thereafter? And on what basis? Those who have ‘nothing’ –a loaded word– to offer should be defeated politically within the party. One cannot just empty a party of its ‘nothings’, then invite someone who is merely young to take over. The real world does not live there. Gyurcsány is both the best hope and the worst hope. He lugs a lot of baggage, yet there is no one better than he, at least not now. He might have a chance at something if he acknowledges the Balatonőszöd incident. He basically has to tell Hungary that he screwed up. The problem is that he owns the incident. Everybody knows it. He has to be seen to be showing Magyarország that he accepts the incident as his. Gyurcsány must take Balatonőszöd and work with it, work from it. Most people will accept mistakes if… Read more »
petofi
Guest

Or, as my old friend in Toronto–now nearing 90, and having stuck to his promise when he left Hungary in 1946 never to speak Hungarian again–explained to me several times: Hungarians? “… A garbage people…”

And though I didn’t believe him back then, Hungarians have proved it over…and over…and over…again.

Latefor
Guest

Petofi – after this noble comment, the support for Victor Orban increased by a few thousand. No PR Company could deliver better results!

petofi
Guest

@Latefor

Stick to your children’s books and that constant bottle of gin…

Latefor
Guest

Petofi – with all due respect, I do NOT write for children. Just for future reference: some of the hot sex scenes in my books could stop your heart. (You have to trust me on this.)
Also, I don’t like Gin. Only Australian red or the Hungarian Tokaji. You should try it, it’s good for the mind and puts a smile on your face!

olga
Guest

OMG – there are people who consider a nation “garbage” ?

If your old friend lives in Toronto, I would say that that he has not assimilated into the Canadian way of life , but like everyone else, he is entitled to his opinion and of course you are too

Since I don’t plan to “stick around” this site, I would like to add that “webber” and “Sackhoes Contributor” make compelling arguments that make a lot of sense. whether one agrees with them or not. Logical arguments devoid of histrionics.

Member
Gyurcsány in 2018 (or earlier) Éva wrote: “[W|hether Gyurcsány could prevail is not so clear. Critics point to his tainted reputation, for which he himself is, at least in part, responsible. There are too many people, they argue, ordinary voters as well as politicians, for whom Gyurcsány is anathema, someone who would in fact be an obstacle to gathering the troops on the left. And there are those who basically like the man but who think that, although he is a good politician, he was a bad prime minister.” Gyurcsány’s reputation was tainted, not by his deeds or his words, but by the most outrageous and odious of systematic Orbanian smear campaigns. Any decent person to whom the name of Gyurcsány is “anathema” is either extremely uninformed, thoughtless and stupid or simply another symptom of the sinister success of Orban’s foul FUD tactics. Gyurcsány may not have been the greatest of prime ministers last time, but he was a saint compared to Orban. And he has clearly learned a great deal since — as intelligent, well-meaning people are wont to do — and especially from what Orban did to him, and to the country. And he is also surrounded by… Read more »
NWO
Guest

I do not believe Gyurcsany is a credible alternative to Orban, despite being a talented individual. I know many people still who despite loathing Orbán/Fidesz would still never vote for Gyurcsany. This is obviously not a scientific sampling but I do believe it is consistent with a fairly common POV.

Member

@NWO: “I do not believe Gyurcsany is a credible alternative to Orban, despite being a talented individual. I know many people still who despite loathing Orbán/Fidesz would still never vote for Gyurcsany. This is obviously not a scientific sampling but I do believe it is consistent with a fairly common POV.”

…which just confirms how mindless and amoral are both the anti-Gyurcsany cult and the pro-Orban cult — the very same cult, even when its adherents profess to be both anti-Gyurcsany and anti-Orban: think about it)…

webber
Guest

Stevan
I’ve said it below, and will say it again in a different way: If Gyurcsany unites the left behind him and runs for PM in 2018, I will support him, but I will do so fully convinced that he will lose. I will be very, very sorry when he does, and rather angry that he ran, again.

And if he runs, and if he loses, will you then, finally, say “perhaps someone else should run?” or are we to have Gyurcsány and only Gyurcsány, for ever and ever and ever?

And if you are backing a man who keeps losing elections, and only that man, then what do you call that cult? (I believe I have named it already)

Member

@Webber: “if you are backing a man who keeps losing elections, and only that man, then what do you call that cult?”

Optimism — and constitutional insusceptibility to the Orbanian cult, either in its pro-Orban or its anti-Gyurcsany incantations.

Needless to say I would support the democratic party and leader that had the best chance of ousting Orban — and I am certain Gyurcsany would too.

It’s just that DK and Gyurcsany seem to be the only such party and leader today (and yesterday), and the like-minded opponents of Orban should join them (if they can shame traces of their cult indoctrination from Orban’s insidious anti-Gyurcsany hate campaign) — of which, I hate to say it, but you too, @Webber, despite your frequent clear-headedness and right-mindedness, are, despite protestations, clearly also a victim.

Member

typo: “shame” should have been “shake off the” (above)

webber
Guest

Stevan
If anything, the Orban attacks endeared me a bit to Gyurcsany which, after the oszod speech, is saying something

PLEASE try the following – translate the Oszod Speech into English (or find a translation online – should be one out there), and then show it to a Canadian, any Canadian, who is uninformed about Hungarian politics. Tell them only that the person who made that speech was, at the time, Prime Minister, and that the speech was leaked to the press in a very murky manner. Ask if they would vote for the person who made that speech.

Don’t comment. Don’t cut in. Don’t frown. Don’t try to convince them. Just listen to what they have to tell you.

Try it and see. I can virtually guarantee you of the reaction.

I have said it before, i said it in 2006, and I will say it again: There is not a country in the Western world where a Prime Minister would stay in office after revelation of a speech like that. His reputation would be ruined for good.

If you still think I am the victim of Orban’s propaganda, so be it. I don’t, but can live with the disagreement.

Alex Kuli
Guest
I agree, Webber. Gyurcsany should have realized that his position had become untenable and resigned. The coalition could have replaced him as PM, but the mantra de jour was “nobody except Gyurcsany can push the necessary reforms through Parliament.” Or, he could have called snap elections. Fidesz would have won, but not with a two-thirds majority, Jobbik might not have broken onto the scene so robustly, and the MDF and SZDSZ might still be with us. Gyurcsany’s failure to step down gave Orban the opening he needed to snare absolute power and roll back the progress Hungary had made to becoming a functioning market-based democracy. Of course one can argue that “It wasn’t Gyurcsany, it was the 2008 financial crisis, and that wasn’t his fault.” But responsible political leaders know that bad breaks can come out of the clear blue sky — natural disasters, terrorist attacks, financial crises — and voters will punish them whether it’s their fault or not. Gyurcsany seemed to think, “I’m one bad break away from handing absolute power to Viktor Orban, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Well, the cookie crumbled the wrong way. That said, I think Gyurcsany is the best standard… Read more »
petofi
Guest
@webber and the Oszod speech You’re got a real problem. I don’t know what your experience has been–or lack of it–to so misjudge the person who said those words. As I’ve said before, anyone who admits, freely, that he AND his party have lied and cheated…well, that person, no matter what he may have done in the past, is committed to the right way. Simple as that. No one who has sinned (or not) in past would freely admit and.. then go back to doing it again. Why would he have confessed? No. Gyurcsany used the collective “We” to accept blame and responsibility along with the thieving members of his party. It was a noble thing to do…and certainly not by one who had thieved and cheated as the others. Gyurcsany tried to stop the corruption and members of both parties conspired against him, and still do. Hungarians can understand Orban’s accusations and believe them because of their amorality; and they are not mentally able to comprehend nobility having no experience of it…atleast, not since 1956. And we all know what the groveling Orban has done with that before Putin in his visit to Budapest.
Guest
Steven I agree with you 100%. I find it amazing that even intelligent people who loathe Orbán, have bought into the Fidesz anti-Gyurcsány smear campaign. And it was not just Orbán’s relentless hate and envy which ousted Gyurcsány, but also polticos in his own then MSZP party, who had cushy jobs and did not like it when Ferenc wanted an end to the corruption endemic in politics in Hungary, in all parties. The famous speech which was “leaked” by co-conspirators, and which spelled the end of Gyurcsány as PM, clearly said he had enough of cheating and lying to the public. His colleagues had clearly not had enough, so they made sure he left the party. And now look at MSZP! As you rightly say, Gyurcsány is the only politician, and a gentelman with courteous manners who, unlike the oaf Orbán, knows how to disport himself in any situation, and is pro-West, pro cooperation, pro progressive thinking and pro a multicultural, modern world. He understands what Democracy means and prefers that to a dictatorship. He would not only improve Hungary’s reputation abroad, and greatly improve the economy in Hungary, but would be an asset in the EU as someone who,… Read more »
webber
Guest
If it were not for Gyurcsany and the talk at Oszod(/i beszed), Orban would never have won 2/3s in 2010. I have neighbors who always voted to the left until that speech. They voted left again in 2014 (this is in the “red crescent” of Budapest). They still hate Gy. They just hate Orban more. There is not a Western politician who would have survived the leak of a speech such as Gyurcsany’s in 2006. You can like Gy. That’s your individual right. But the numbers are out there – he is simply unacceptable to a lot of voters who will vote against Orban any day you like. You cannot blame this on Orban’s smear campaign. These people turned against Gy. in 2006, and have not changed their opinion. Gyurcsany was PM. It should be enough for him. Time for a new face. I would like to put a question to those who like Gy – even Eva: Why is the Hungarian left reduced to this one man, in your view? Where are the other talented people? Are there none, in all of Hungary? (I can think of one or two… but then, it’s not up to me) And why… Read more »
Guest

Have you asked your neighbours why they hate Gyurcsány? I have asked people and the reply invariably was “because he doesn’t do things properly’! Brilliant intellectual argument, yes?

webber
Guest

magyar2lips
I have asked. Because of the speech at Oszod (one case)- “kurva orszag” and all that. Because he was hopeless as PM (two cases) – and I, too, remember all sorts of programs and failures (kormanynegyed, vizitdij, szazlepes, ezerlepes, hosszulepes, froccs).

Again, these are people who HATE Orban.

But does it matter why they dislike Gy?

If a large proportion of the population dislikes a politician, that politician will not win elections.

Simple, isn’t it?

Instead of trying to convince people to like someone they dislike, it would be more rational to find another talented and untainted politician from the same side, wouldn’t it?

Member

@Webber: “does it matter why… people who HATE Orban.. dislike Gy?”

Yes indeed it does, because a close look will show how utterly superficial their reasons are, how clearly they are the products of Orban’s vile (but wildly successful) systematic character-assassination campaign rather than of anything nontrivial that Gy ever did, and hence how little hope there is for Hungary as long as people’s “HATRED” of Orban is only skin-deep.

Alex Kuli
Guest

I liked Jimmy Carter. I was just a kid when he took office in 1977, but I was well aware of the malaise that engulfed the United States by the time he left office four years later. He took only three states in the 1980 election — his native Georgia, uber-liberal Minnesota, and West Virginia, where Democrats thought they were still voting for William Jennings Bryan.
So, did I insist that Carter run again in 1988, when I cast my first US vote? Did I condemn everyone who disliked Carter as soft-headed proponents of malicious Reaganite lies?
Actually, no. I thought we should find a new standard bearer who was capable of galvanizing a plurality of voters.
It seems like that’s what you’re saying about Hungary’s opposition. And I think you’re spot-on. The only caveat, as I mentioned in my previous comment, is that Orban controls the voting process to a degree that would be unimaginable in the US, so there’s only so much that a new opposition leader can do, unfortunately.

webber
Guest

I agree with your caveat.
I still hope – irrationally, perhaps – that an opposition figure with some charisma and untainted by past “errors” might appear. I’d like to try Ujhelyi – but I’d try ANYBODY outside Jobbik and Fidesz whom I thought people would vote for.

petofi
Guest

@webber

“irrationally” …is right.
No one can beat Orban until he and Putin decide that he leaves the stage. The election system, as well as the whole working elements of the country–from the courts to the tax offices–are in the service of Orban. He can’t be beat. Possible opposition candidates know the score. Mount any sort of semi-successful opposition and you’d be breakfasting on polonium, or find yourself in a police car facing painful questioning. You might as well try going into the Bronx and displacing the mafia. Not possible.

Orban/Putin now have their tallons firmly around the heart of the country and they won’t let go. And the Hungarian conservatives and the Roman Catholic hierarchy have made their peace with that.

Guest
London Calling! I voted for Gyurcsany at the last election! My partner and I drove to Hungary specifically to be there on election day. I actually cast the vote for DK, with my partner’s permission – in the full knowledge that most villagers were voting for Fidesz. The excitement for Orban was palpable with seemingly older dignified residents punching the air shouting Fidesz! Fidesz! I kid you not. Others shouted their allegiance to Fidesz from cars. It transpired that Gyor-Sopron County returned the second-best Fidesz vote – second only to Vas. However the feeling of contrarian-voting against the tsunami for Fidesz was satisfying for my partner and I and well worth the long journey – 1900 kilometres takes 24hours on the road door-to-door. webber – you ask Why Gy? Simple. Gy is the only person who understands democracy in a commocratic state: the only experienced politician in the opposition; the only person who can galvanise the opposition; the only ‘father of the house’ who can bring on young talent; the only politician who can admit he made mistakes; the only politician who has learned from his mistakes; the only opposition (Hungarian?) who understands the correct meaning of ‘left’ and ‘liberal’;… Read more »
webber
Guest

Sorry, Charlie,
It just is not so.

“Gy is the only person who understands democracy….”
Really? One person in the whole country who understands democracy? Out of c. 10. m. people? Really?
If you really believe that, then just forget about democracy in Hungary, because it is not going to happen. One person cannot do it (what is this, a personality cult???)

“The only person who can galvanize the opposition”????
The only one? There is only one person in all of Hungary??? Then, again, forget democracy – what you’re talking about is a dictatorship with a personality cult.
Have you looked at how that person did in the past few elections? Have you looked at his poll numbers? Have you seen what his former party mates have to say about him?

Where is your evidence that he “galvanizes the opposition”? (there is none)

If by “galvanizing” you mean splitting the opposition and driving voters away from it, then okay, I agree with you.

“The only politician who knows how to behave in the EU.”

Bejasus, you have not been paying attention to the opposition at all – you just see Gyurcsany.

I have named someone else, below (Ujhelyi). There are plenty more who understand democracy and what is needed.

Guest

I do understand your frustration – but you can only vote for the possible. Only for candidates who put themselves on the stump.

The least worst option.

I am a realist, webber, my democracy took 300 years to reach its current state of imperfection.

Yours a little less.

Hungary has only been on the road 25years – before its progress became stillborn in the womb.

You know who said ‘democracy is the worst of all political systems – but for the rest’.

Orban is just a nano second in the political day.

Guest

I’d also like to add that democracy is a pact.

Between politians and the people.

It’s a belated realisation that the the Hungarians – those IN Hungary – do not yet understand their responsibility in a democracy. And many in the diaspora don’t either.

Too many trollers betray the thinking of their compatriots on blogs like Eva’s. And I have yet to meet a Hungarian who understands, for example, the importance of a free press – or who cares.

You might say this is too much of a generalisation – and I’d agree with you if I was on the receiving end.

But it’s my experience – truly. I believe I might be accused of prejudice but it is my experience.

It’s preposterous to blight a whole nation, I know, but I’ve had too many conversations with my partner interpreting that I would never have believed where antisemitism; Romaphobia and other elements have raised their ugly heads – that I have never experienced – ever.

Only Hungary.

Petofi might be right.

And I’ve come to the belated view too that Hungary should be ejected from the EU. Forthwith.

Hungary isn’t ready yet.

(And Turkey is even further away.)

Guest

I agree wholeheartedly, Charlie, with all your comments.

And let’s not forget that the only reason Hungary was admitted to the EU in the first place was because pro-European, pro-democracy Gyurcsány was our PM at the time.
.
Even then, the word from Brussels was that if Orbán had been PM, Hungary would have to wait to be admitted. I suspect this is one of the many reasons for Orbáns hate campaign against the EU.

As for Webber’s ‘visitdij’, comment, consensus of opinion now is that people would be happy to pay the sum of 300 forint (about 80 pence) for each visit to a clinic or hospital, if it would mean an improved health service, which is on the brink of collapse thanks to lack of funds from a government which instead of looking after the health of its citizens, would rather spend funds on seccondary schoolroom lessons on how to pour champagne properly!

petofi
Guest
@ CharlieH “…do not yet understand their responsibility in a democracy..” Of course not, and never will. Hungarians don’t want to know nothing from ‘responsibility’–that’s considered a trap for simpletons. Hungarians want others to follow the demands of ‘responsibility’ while they themselves circumvent the system and screw them. Reality of Hungaricum. That is in Hungarian culture; in their education, and in their history. Asking to follow a person like Gyurcsany would be to play along with the ‘dummies’–Hungarians think themselves to clever for that. The problem is that in the standard of cleverness, someone is always more clever/devious than the other. No one beats Orban in this department; and he succeeds in wildly thieving the country while the mass of converts cheer him on. It’s to laugh. As for Gyurcsany…I believe he’s had his chance, more than one. He was probably naive and inexperienced which led to his misplaced trust in his fellow MSZP-ers and the Oszod speech. May I add, that that speech was a water shed of decency and of course ‘clever’ Hungarians took to it like a child to cod liver oil. Shut down the shortcuts to wealth? Never. I’m afraid that Gyurcsany has been hopelessly tainted… Read more »
webber
Guest

Bokros was tainted by two things: He is boring (deeply, truly, mind numbingly boring – and I don’t dislike him).
His recipe for economic success is and always has been cutting wages (just try winning an election on that platform anywhere).

Alex Kuli
Guest

If you get to know Bokros, you’ll find he’s actually quite an entertaining guy with a good heart and a lucid mind.
His problem as a politician is, he has difficulties cooperating with others and can’t abide criticism.

webber
Guest

I am hoping against hope that a conservative party will appear in Hungary.
The country is up to its ears in the radical right.
This government pursues leftist economic policies, is as corrupt as can be, and makes friends with Russia.

Conservatives have nobody to vote for in Hungary.

maurice
Guest
“Where are the other talented people? Are there none, in all of Hungary?” This is a crucial question. I think Fidesz is so aggressive that the rewards may not be commensurate with the risks. This is true for leftists as well as for other denominations. The “reward” is to govern a country with your hands completely tied. You either play by the “rules” (such as by the Basic Law, by shooting for a moving target since eg the electoral rules are subject to change at the moment one party could potentially gain 2/3s) and you will never be able to get rid of entrenched, corrupt fideszniks or even govern in the traditional sense or you attempt to be “creative” which has many risks and may not be realized. At the time when the economic situation is getting darker–Fidesz doesn’t even know how lucky it has been with low energy prices and zero interest rates; alas the opportunities were squandered. It’s one thing that the Fidesz-controlled media will literally shred you to pieces in no time but there’s physical danger too. It’s a non-negligible risk, it’s real. Fidesz operates a giant and ever growing secret intelligence administration, it has its own… Read more »
webber
Guest

Finally, as to Gyurcsany:
As long as certain people on the left blame the populace for its feelings about Gyurcsany, those people will lose.

Who cares about Gy? What matters is what is happening to the country.

Another question for those who support Gyurcsany:
What is most important to you: getting Gyurcsany back in power, or getting rid of the Orban regime?

If it is the first, then I am disgusted by you.

If it is the second, then I believe the rational thing to do would be to encourage Gy. to leave active politics and find new talent. There are one or two people in Brussels who look good to me –
For instance, I think Istvan Ujhelyi has what’s needed.

But that’s me – it has to be someone who appeals broadly to Hungarians.
Ujhelyi has won several elections, which is why I suggest him.

Anyone who hasn’t won an election should be dropped – Lajos Bokros, for example. He may have great qualities, but the man has lost every election he entered. There is NO WAY any party should put him on an election list, much less name him party head.

Observer
Guest
webber November 30, 2015 at 4:15 am “I, too, remember all sorts of programs and failures (kormanynegyed, vizitdij, szazlepes, ezerlepes, hosszulepes, froccs). Please let’s keep the standards here. Secondly you don’t remember well – the 100 steps programs were of Megyessy’s government. Health care reform was the most comprehensive several prong attempt to improve this rotten system. Its blockage was the darkest sin in the whole episode and the evil troll was again Orbán. “to find another talented and untainted politician from the same side,” This is a recurring theme for the lazy minded here. In fact many new faces appeared in all parties and formations: from Bokros to Bajnai, Karácsony to Szigetvári, Kunhalmi to Szabo T., etc. etc. Add Újhely, and ? None good enough for the Hungarian voter. “Who cares about Gy? What matters is what is happening to the country. … What is most important to you: getting Gyurcsany back in power” What kind of question is this? You seem to lose it here, while a GyF phobia starts to transpire. Finally I am sick and tired of half-baked Hungarian intellectuals, who’s main aspiration is always to say ”No this is not good”, usually without offering any… Read more »
webber
Guest
Observer – you are WRONG, and it is rather funny that you are because you apparently support Gyurcsány and so should be better informed about his record. The 100 steps program/száz lépés program was Gyurcsány’s Look at the story archived here, if you don’t believe me. http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20050502gyurcsany.html Apparently you don’t like jokes when it comes to Gy. Tough luck. I like jokes about EVERYONE. Health care reform – one can support that without supporting the visiting fee/vizitdíj )(if there is money to build stadiums without an extra tax, then….). One of Gyurcsány’s worst moments in Parliament was when he told the people of Hungary that he could not reform health care, because they had rejected his little pet visiting fee (want me to post that speech? – it was revolting) Are you a democrat? Then you have to accept the people’s will on that issue, and find another way. They voted “no”, like it or not (I didn’t like it, but understood and accepted it). They ALSO did not vote for giving Hungarians abroad citizenship, though Fidesz tried that too – I suppose you may have liked that decision (I did not – but accepted it). The left was able… Read more »
Observer
Guest
webber November 30, 2015 at 6:01 am Wow, wow ! Leave some skin on me .. MEA CULPA, I WAS WRONG confusing the 100 days for the 100 steps programs. The rest of the lashings I will pass … Can GyF win an election ? If anyone on the current political horizon, it would be GyF. Accepting your logic, I would too support Újházi, or whoever, if he looks hopeful. But does he?. Looking at the figures today no party with nobody would come close to Fidesz. It looks Impossible, ergo forget it, which leaves the turf to the Orban mafia. However in politics the game is always on with some hopeful wannabees in waiting. This is why opposition works, should work, even in the hopeless confinements of a dictatorship (e.g. who expected the fall of Commi rule in 1989). A major external even like another financial or economic crisis could change the balance within months, gov propaganda notwithstanding. Orban can pass away by Grace of God, at which point all hell will break loose in Fidesz ranks. A US corporation my start a Justice Dept. investigation in high level corruption leading to subpoenas, warrants or Swiss bank accounts discoveries… Read more »
webber
Guest

Observor
I apologize – I was too rough.

I largely agree with what you wrote above, BUT we still disagree on whether Gyurcsany can win an election.

I don’t think he can. I think he is, unintentionally, Orban’s favorite candidate (I think Gy. is sincere – I’m not accusing him of anything nasty).
He is Orban’s favorite because he splits the left.
He is Orban’s favorite, because he will never win another election (he didn’t even win his seat in Parliament in 2014 – he got in on the list).
He is Orban’s favorite, because there are people who hate Orban deeply who still will not vote for Gyurcsany again.

IF I am wrong, then Gy. might prove it by dropping off the list and winning a mandate properly as an individual candidate, mano a mano, in any district he chooses. If he can win a district election, then I will say “maybe he has a chance.”

He could even pick some cushy district, in Pest for example.
In one of those, he’d only have to beat the Socialists. If he won’t or can’t do that, would you also consider him dead weight? (kolonc)

Guest

I totally agree with you,Observer. Those who hate Orbán but have also swallowed, hook, line and sinker, the by now cliched smear nonsense about Gyurcsány, are the reason for the rise of power of a truly evil regime.

Orbán haters rubbish everyone else, think nobody is good enough for them, so don’t even bother to vote, but are vociferous about how dreadful things are here.

In a democracy, there is such a thing as tactical voting for someone who you may not like, but simply in order to get rid of the opposition.

Clearly this is a foreign concept to many Hungarians who, quite frankly, are not yet even on the baby slopes, when it comes to an understanding of democracy.

webber
Guest

This is why Ujhelyi would get my vote – tough, straight speaking, and Hungarian!
(of course, Jobbik hates him)

Gollum
Guest

MSZP’s brand is in a terrible shape. Moreover the left’s brand is in a terrible shape. You can have anybody in MSZP’s leadership, Ujhelyi or somebody else, the prospects remain just terrible. Ujhelyi may be a better option than the current leadership of MSZP, but that doesn’t say much.

petofi
Guest

@webber

re: Ujhalyi clip

Odd that it was from the Kuruc website…Still, I agree that he gave a wonderfully brave speech. Putting on the yellow star should be required in all Hungarian high schools. (Can you imagine that? No? Well, that’s how far we are in defeating anti-semitism in Hungary.)

But I did like Ujhalyi’s grit. He’ll do, but I don’t know his background or field of expertise. He’d make a good lieutenant for Bekesi.

Again, I’d like to see a party headed by the two B’s–Bekesi and Bokros. And once we have them, we might as well go for the team of triple B, and get Bajnai to join.

webber
Guest

Ujhelyi – I don’t think he needs to be anyone’s deputy.
Can you imagine Bokros putting on the yellow star? I can’t.
Not because he wouldn’t, but because it wouldn’t occur to him. When it comes to charisma, the man is about as sharp and attractive as a pickled eel in jelly.
Ujhelyi is an MEP in Brussels these days, which is a bummer because (in my experience) party leaders sometimes send people there to get them out of Hungary and to eliminate their influence within their party and in the country.

webber
Guest

Charisma in action (no, Orban did NOT make this happen):

Guest

webber

I’m disappointed with this addition.

I, like others on here I am sure, appreciate your contributions to Eva’s blog. You have amazing knowledge and erudition that I always read.

One swallow doth not a Summer make.

This is an unfortunate incident but I fail to see how it moves the discussion forward.

(Maybe Gy apologised? Maybe he didn’t. But it seems like an unfortunate set if circumstances – part of the rough and tumble of politics?)

You accuse some of us with ‘cult following’.

This appears to be Gyphobia.

webber
Guest

One swallow doth not a summer make, – I like Shakespeare, too –
but multiple losses in past elections, and really, really miserable poll data suggest failure in the future.

Most parties in Western countries dump politicians who lose elections. MSZP should certainly dump its current leadership.

(Labour in Britain looks to be heading for a beating with Corbyn – he, too, has a cult following)

Gyurcsany is just taking votes away from what should be a unified left, in my view (and given Hun. electoral law now, that’s not a radical view to have). I don’t believe he will ever win an election.

Did he even win a local election in 2014? Someone correct me if I am wrong, but he got in on the (unified – with MSZP/Együtt, etc.) party list as I recall. Hardly something to consider a victory.

Guest

I can only repeat what I said earlier – you can only vote for the brave souls (in Hungary) for those who put themselves on a ballot paper.

The least bad option.

Another erudite person said:

“Democracy means none of us get everything we want…..”

(Corbyn has no place here but is certainly a case of the cult – and the triumph of hope over experience. No surrender and lack of compromise is lack of recognition of the above quote!)

Stick too rigidly to your principals and the ship goes down!

Guest

Exactly, Charlie.

Like one ofmy children said when Gyurcsány lost the election and Orbán won, “Well, we had corruption, and now have both corruption and racism”! That pretty much sunms it up for me.

Observer
Guest

Stevan Harnad
November 29, 2015 at 8:52 pm

Gyurcsány in 2018 (or earlier)

My words, Stevan. Spot on.

Guest

Yes observer Gy in 2018.

But I doubt it – and I hope I am wrong.

But you never know “events, dear boy, events”.

webber
Guest

You doubt Gyurcsány can win, yet you support him….

I am sure he cannot win, so I cannot support him.

As to being disappointed that someone is arguing against Gyucsány:

Isn’t this the time for there to be an argument about who should lead the opposition? Shouldn’t there be debate now, so that the opposition can rally around a single candidate by 2017 (at the latest) for the 2018 elections?

What is wrong with that? What’s wrong with pointing out Gyurcsány’s shortcomings now?

Guest

Yes debate surely – our only power in a democracy – and not inconsiderable.

Apart from the important detail that I’m not Hungarian.

I’ve said in earlier posts – you may be surprised to hear – that I too believe Gy has had his day – but should use his experience to bring on younger gifted politicians. The use of ‘Father of the House’ underscores this role.

But I still believe he can galvanise the opposition – he’s the only really experienced politician – to start the snowball. Then he should bow out.

Too many potential politicians have slashed and burned on principles and disappeared in the Hungarian black hole reserved for naive prospective candidates.

I have been impressed by one particular woman who I watched on video and who showed potential – but obviously not so impressed that I can remember her name!

Eva’s mentioned her in passing a few times too.

How fantastic would that be? A woman leader in patriarchal Hungary?

Miracles might be easy in Hungary – the impossible takes a little longer!

Guest

But Webber, this is Catch22-

It is back to front thinking that becasue he cannot win, you won’t support him.

It is because you will not support Gyurcsány, that he will not win.

webber
Guest
No, it is not Catch22. Gyurcsany had multiple chances to win elections. He lost several times (local and national elections) Polls on Gyurcsany’s popularity are out there if you are curious. What do they say? They say he can’t win an election in Hungary (just look). Now, for me, Ujhelyi (for example) is a different quality. Someone untried. I like metaphors and horses, so: If you go to the horse races, you had better not put your money on the lame mare who won her last race six years ago just because she has pretty eyes, a star on her forehead, and a nice ribbon in her mane. You would do much better to put your money on the ugly bald-faced mare with sound legs who has never entered a race before. You’ve got better chances with her. Ujhelyi could be that mare. Others could be, too. That’s not Catch22, that’s just common sense. If you think you can, convince me I am wrong. Gyurcsany’s supporters should try to do that. Saying people who won’t vote for Gyurcsany are “stupid,” or have “swallowed” Fidesz’s line is no argument. Let’s hear a rational argument. All I see above is that Gy.… Read more »
petofi
Guest

@webber

Unfortunately, what I hear in your ‘vote-only-for-who-can-win’ mantra is the traditional call of efficacy. What about principal? Can we not vote for a person of principal who’ll put the country and its citizens first? Unelectable in Hungary? Well then, educate the bastards!!

Why must the country always ‘dip down’ to please rather than ‘elevate’?

webber
Guest

Petofi, please
ANYBODY opposed to Fidesz + Jobbik surely has principles worth considering?

Why must we think principles reside in one man only, in Gyurcsany?
What sort of principle is that?
Really, it’s getting to the level of a personality cult with some people (not you).

Anyway, one must win elections. Gyurcsany cannot (in my view).

Maybe Ujhelyi could (he has principles, does he not?)

Maybe somebody else (I don’t care much, as long as someone wins).

There are other people. Why stick with those who lose? What sort of principle is that?

petofi
Guest

@webber

re: winning elections

To win at any cost?
Well, yes, you need to win to change things…But, personally, I experienced few things as disgusting (up until that time; there are many now) as MSZP offering the retirees a 13th month. I think that was in 2006, but I’m not sure. But talk about blatant vote-buying. And the people went for it! Yecccch.

More and more, it seems to me that only a ‘strong man’ of the army can take charge and set things right.

But, would we get an Ataturk or a Stalin?

Bowen
Guest

150 world leaders are in Paris today. Deciding the future of our planet.

Where’s our glorious Hungarian leader today?

Why, of course Mr. Orban is in Iran meeting ‘senior officials’, no doubt trying to secure some more funding for his corrupt regime.

To borrow Petofi’s acidic sarcasm for a moment … Hajra Magyarok.

petofi
Guest

@Bowen

recipe for ‘acidic sarcasm’:

–dip in acid and let sit for three weeks; wrap the remains in a newspaper with a large picture of Orban.

tzatzi
Guest

Look, it’s very simple.

Go to Zala county or Vas county or Bács county where the right wing (Fidesz and Jobbik in aggregate) often received more than 85% in 2014.

If anything the right wing gained in these counties.

Those people are happy right wing voters who couldn’t care less about Fidesz-corruption (cos’ is their corruption, OK?) and the urban issues like the dangers of fascism.

Ask them how they feel about Gyurcsány?

[NB: How do they feel about the Left or the Liberals?]

OK? Because it’s impossible even to form a government without these counties (especially that Orban controls almost 1 million votes from beyond the borders, I think people tend to forget this fact) let alone govern (given the Orban-systems constitutional set up).

I see that a lot of people here still appreciate Gyurcsány and he indeed has the funds to maintain his personal party which is indeed more “életrevaló” (full of life?) than the moribund MSZP but the maths doesn’t add up, apart from other arguments.

Guest

tzatzi, that’s one of those things about Hungarians which I don’t understand (but there are many more …):
Those people in Zala county live near the Austrian border, they have a lot of tourists from abroad and profit from them – but they are (or at least many of them) rabid right wingers, fond of corruption and xenophobia and of course those Hungarian illnesses too: antisemitism and anti-Gipsy …
What’s the reason for that?

Btw, I live near Hévíz part time with my wonderful Hungarian wife (the other half of the year we spend in the Black Forest) – luckily she’s not that type …

And she often told me, she wouldn’t mind at all living in Germany all year, if she didn’t have her children and grandchildren in Hungary …

poppea
Guest

Isn’t rural Bavaria the most conservative part of Germany? Zala, Vas etc. are the same only more backward and more conservative. They actually live well, they are OK – they don’t like that urban, modern European, liberal, leftist, radical thing. They like the way things are and don’t care about details (like antisemitism).

Guest

poppea, you got a point here.

Though we in principle also very conservative Schwabs some years ago elected a Green/Red government.

With Bavarians obviously the strong position of the Catholic church is an important factor – there’s an old joke there:

If the CSU put up a black garbage can as a candidate and the priest would be for it, then Bavarians would elect that garbage can into their parliament …

room
Guest

Orban aka the fat bastard (there’s no wind movement, as the flag hangs still).

http://munchausenparokaja.tumblr.com/image/134260572816

poppea
Guest

Rotund people look much more trustworthy than thin people. That’s a basic rule of salesmanship.

Orban is right to be overweight.

spectator
Guest

Yeah, but he sold out Hungary and the Hungarians already, so it’s about time he started his diet!
Preferably three meals a day in some very secure place…

Guest

I want the men around me to be fat, healthy-looking men who sleep at night. That Cassius over there has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Men like him are dangerous.

Act 1, scene 2

spectator
Guest

@webber
With all due respect: why Gyurcsány and why not Ujhelyi? Just because Gyurcsány is a leader, while Ujhelyi is the trustworthy, sympathetic fellow who can be respected, no problem, and that’s about it.
But it isn’t enough, unfortunately.

Something more: In my opinion Gyurcsány has learned of his mistakes and paid the price for being soft on some or other thief in his camp. I see this as a guarantee that it will never happen again. Then he was under the rule of the party, (MSZP), now he has no reason to compromise.

And lastly, those who turned against him because that infamous speech, either never heard/read the whole and in context, or has limited ability to fully comprehend what they heard.
Yes, it was packed with vulgar expressions – just as real life present itself daily – but it wasn’t vulgar for the sake of it, it had reason!
But then again, he wasn’t member of the KDMP who expressed his opinion about the childhood hunger, as any “good christian” would do..!

webber
Guest

KDNP couldn’t win an election, either…

Go for Gyurcsany, go for defeat.

IF he is the only candidate the left can come up with by 2018, of course I will say he is the best choice (almost anybody is better than the lot in Govt. now), but I will do it with a strong sense of foreboding and a surety that he will lose (God, it would be nice to be proven wrong on that).

If only poll data showed something else – but it’s universal.
He is about as hated as Bokros, the csomag/package and mustache man – the man who says “cut wages to save the economy” ad nauseum even today (bad economics, truly), when so many are literally going hungry at the end of the month – right now, actually.

webber
Guest

P.S.
Geeze, Louise! For some people it seems as if I were committing blasphemy by suggesting that someone named Gyurcsány who has lost multiple elections should retire from politics!

Is his cookbook THAT GOOD? (I’ll have to buy a copy).comment image

For those who didn’t know – I did not photoshop that image. He has published a cookbook called “Gyurcsány in the Kitchen,” and that’s the cover!

Is that enough to convince you that the man should not run for office????

Can you imagine an American President publishing a cookbook?

spectator
Guest

”..who has lost multiple elections..”

Now, you have lost me here.
When?
How many?

“Can you imagine an American President publishing a cookbook?”

Yes, I can! (“Yes, we can!”)
Anything else?

Otherwise it’s going to be a rather easy choice: we should vote to that moderately conservative, but open and civilised European party, which has that great support of a people, and their leader for PM..!

Somehow I can’t remember their name at the moment…
Damn dementia, when I nearly had the solution..!

But you may be able to help me here, aren’t you?

Let’s come forward and take the lead, it still open for contenders, as much as I know…

webber
Guest

Come on, man – you know when Gy. lost elections (local and national). He certainly did not win the last one – not even his own district (in on the list)

spectator
Guest

@webber
About the cookbook: don’t have too great expectations!
The man still looks like he can button his jacket!
Must be the foreign influence! The one and only “True Hungarian” PM looks like who expecting, at least on room’s link above!
Must be his wife’s cookbook in effect.
This is the one:comment image

webber
Guest

Deep personality cults!
Must buy both cookbooks, and put them both in the center of a coffee table!
I wonder if Stalin ever published a cookbook?

spectator
Guest

Must have started like “rob some pot, steal a few potatoes, then shot agoat and it’s owner..”

Actually last time GyF was out of office at the time of the election, previously he won big time over Orbán.
Sorry, I don’t follow any other kind of escapade. And anyway, we’ve been talking about dethroning the Viktor, if I got this part right.

Something for sure, the new logo of the MSzP looks like appropriate representation of a kind of loneliness. Think carnation without its bulk, the sides fallen off, just a sore middle petal standing… Great work, no doubt.
Watch how the long time supporters will just love it. Or else.

Guest

The German SPIEGEL has a new article on Orbán and how he is wooing the conservatives/right wingers everywhere in the EU – they call it “The Orbán Sickness”:
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/orban-in-ungarn-auf-erfolgreichem-kurs-gegen-europa-a-1065339.html#

These people are as bad as Hitler and Mussolini (and Horthy of course) in a way …

petofi
Guest

Hungary on the skids.

Report today how 300 workers of a hospital have not been paid since October. Apparently, they are owed 23 million forints. If I’m not mistaken, that averages to about 75,000 per worker (nurses included).

Nice monthly wage in this day and age–roughly $270 per month.

Hungaricum.

Anyone know where Lazar is giving his next speech:
“You are what you’re worth 2.0” ?

webber
Guest

I wonder of Tóbiás was drunk. He was SO aggressive and pig headed from the start (“így van?”… “így van?”…, ) and so illogical that he sounded like he’d come straight from an argument in a bar in Békéscsaba.

Either that, or he was put into an uncomfortable position before the interview, and was (stupidly) reacting accordingly even after the cameras started broadcasting.

I suggest the second just to give the benefit of the doubt, and because something similar happened to me not long ago.

But if that’s just the way he is, the man shouldn’t be allowed to lead a boy scout troop, much less a political party.

Guest

So it’s Gyurcsany then? !!!

Sorry webber!

Just childish provocation.

Don’t respond!

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