Political action and the critical mass

For over a week György Bolgár has been conducting a series of conversations with politicians, political commentators, and regular listeners on his popular “Let’s Talk It Over!” call-in show on Klubrádió. The topic is “What is to be done?” given the present political situation. How can the opposition dislodge the political system Viktor Orbán masterfully put in place in the last six years?

Many well-known people were invited to share their ideas, but only a couple of these ideas struck me as workable or promising. There were some who want to send all politicians into retirement and to find new faces, but they neglect to tell us where to find these talented young people with all the attributes of a good politician. Then there are those who have lost faith in politicians altogether and think in terms of civil society exclusively. But again, without parties and leaders it is impossible to imagine a functioning parliamentary system and a modern democratic regime. Still others are split on whether the existing democratic parties should unite as soon as possible to create a new party because, without unity, the splintered opposition cannot possibly win at a national election that was tailored to benefit the government party. Then there are some who are dead against forming a unity party since at the last election this strategy failed spectacularly. These people suggest competition among the five or six opposition parties on the left, the idea being that sooner or later one of them will rise to the top. Almost all people severely criticize the current opposition leaders for their incompetence or for simply being too soft on the government.

I would be hesitant to offer a recipe to the current Hungarian opposition even if I had one. The only thing I know is what cannot or should not be done. I know that without parties and without a strong charismatic leader the prospects of the opposition are slim. I also know that without massive public support behind that party leader there will be no possibility of regime change. In brief, as long as there is no widespread dissatisfaction with the Orbán government, no politician, no matter how talented he is, can wage a successful campaign against the present regime. I also know that at the moment the four or five opposition parties (I leave LMP out of the calculations) cannot possibly unite, even though they agree on most of the political fundamentals. Personalities trump politics. Therefore, I believe that they should carry on for a while on their own, with the expectation that sooner or later one of them will come to dominate the field. According to Medián, in November 7% of the electorate would have voted for MSZP (Magyar Szocialista Párt) led by József Tóbiás and 6% for Ferenc Gyurcsány’s DK (Demokratikus Koalíció). Each of the other opposition parties–Együtt (Together), PM (Dialogue for Hungary), and MLP (Magyar Liberális Párt)–has only 1% support. So at the moment the race for the lead is between MSZP and DK.

But let’s return to the most important ingredient of success: widespread, strong public support. What is going on in Hungarian education is a perfect formula for political action. A school with an apparently young, forward-looking teaching staff has the guts to put into writing things that have been bothering thousands and thousands of teachers who were afraid to stand up against their boss, the almighty state. After all, brave individuals standing alone are vulnerable. One needs a “critical mass” to be safe.

There comes a moment when everything falls into place. It starts with the few who initiate a move against the powers that be, and then the thousands who are ready to follow join the cause. Once the movement has grown to a certain size, its growth will gain speed. At that point others, who are in one way or the other affected by the initial cause of dissatisfaction, will join. The growing protest emboldens organizations, for example trade unions, that up to that point couldn’t move because their leaders knew that the membership wouldn’t follow them. The time was not ripe.


Once a movement is successful and the government must retreat, others who are in a similar situation within their own profession will be encouraged and will imitate these successful strategies. There will be a chain reaction. If the time is ripe, there is simply no way of stopping it.

Pessimists, and there are many among us, will counter that the teachers’ rebellion will come to naught just as the very promising revolt against the internet tax did once the government retreated. The tens of thousands who went out on the streets, once they got what they wanted, returned home never to resurface. But I suggest that the two situations are radically different. The internet tax was only announced as something to be introduced in the future. So, the demonstrations were of a preventive nature. The teachers’ revolt is something very different. They want to abolish practices that were forced upon them more than three years ago, practices that they find injurious to Hungarian education. What they want is to undo the crazy system Viktor Orbán came up with, which turned out to be unworkable and bad for students as well as teachers. The teachers, supported by their unions and even by their professional association forced upon them by the government, are not satisfied with small concessions. They want to negotiate. Otherwise they will strike. As of now 17,659 people and 207 schools have signed the manifesto published by the staff of the Ottó Herman Gymnasium, and their numbers are growing rapidly.

Admittedly, these are just first steps, but, given the oppressive nature of the regime, I believe the time will come when the majority of the population will realize that the whole system is rotten to the core and that the vast majority of the population are its victims. I don’t know when this realization will arrive, but I’m sure that it will happen. The corruption, the incompetence, the arrogance of this regime will not be tolerated indefinitely. How long will people put up with empty stadiums for billions or an airport for Felcsút, the village where Viktor Orbán spent his childhood, while millions live in poverty? And once there is an awakening, there must be a party and a leader who can gather the dissatisfied troops. The opposition has its work cut out for it.

January 21, 2016
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January 21, 2016 6:56 pm
London Calling! 18,000 in a country with a voting population of 8million (which I believe overstates the number – but still) leaves an awful lot of so-called undecideds. Even taking away the 33% of Fidesz voters still leaves an awful lot of undecideds. I believe that Hungary’s ‘undecideds’ who end up not voting – some 40% – are actually mostly tacitly voting for Fidesz, with only a negligible number of would-be voters voting for the opposition. People who don’t vote in Hungary have experienced communism and know full well the power of the non-vote. They know full well what message they are sending and how it will be interpreted. In a totalitarian state potential voters know the default is the status quo. Orban’s ‘two thirds’ is actually bigger at nearer 70%. Hungarian non-voters are tactical non-voters – for Fidesz. Uniquely too, Hungarians who are brave enough to declare against Fidesz – knowingly giving the impression that they vote against a right-wing ‘government’ – then go into the voting booth and vote for Jobbik. Moving further right. This has happened to us with acquaintances in Hungary – when people’s ‘disguise’ has slipped in later conversations – too many times. This has… Read more »
January 21, 2016 7:14 pm

This is a great favorite: every Dick Tom & Harry offer a sure recipe for … whatever. I have three…all free of charge.
Before showing the light though, I’ll recommend a v useful reading to all budding rulers – Dictator’s Handbook. It’s a must for the majority of the politicians/notables on the democratic side, since they confuse the ideal with the possible, fatal flow for a politician.

January 22, 2016 8:14 am
The ‘Handbook’ seems to be working, eh? That’s what happens when the ‘people’ take a break from their domicile and find out others have moved the table and chairs. Disconcerting for awhile but heck they get used to it regardless of how they feel about how the place is getting decorated. And then after all that one feels they’re in a cage and dreaming eventually and truly of dogs ‘getting their day’. While things are not going so good for the opposition in the country nevertheless I would think there are things occurring which may lead to so-called ‘tipping points’ , events which push action and generate insight, and in turn generate momentum for great change. We see the murmurs now with the teachers and the doctors those who serve Hungarian society and try to make it better with their inestimable contributions. Will that ‘critical mass’ occur? Perhaps and perhaps not. But in any case reflection by those groups appears to be stimulating a drive towards perhaps a ‘tipping point’ where indeed changes will occur…..because it cannot be stopped. Perhaps in the future Hungary will revisit its foray into managing tipping points for the good of their society as they… Read more »
January 21, 2016 7:44 pm
However important protest movements may well be in contemporary Hungary, the government can quickly neutralize them if they so wish, by a range of appropriate concessions. Upon which the protests quickly fizzle out. In effect, the government is playing the protest movements like a gifted musician his/her instrument. And no doubt busily subverting them behind the scenes. Consequently, it would seem to be mere wishful thinking that protest movements would ever be likely to solidify to a critical mass capable of forcing regime change in Hungary, however hopeful a sign they might be. The fact is that the left-liberal opposition parties in Hungary lack two basic dimensions that would be crucial to put them on the fast lane to achieving a workable parliamentary majority, if not a constitution-changing two thirds. One is a clear and inspiring vision for Hungary and Hungarian society; of where we are now, where we would like to get to, how we would do this and how soon would we get there. As they say, if you don’t know where you are heading, it is unlikely you will ever get there. However, strategic thinking is not a strong suit of the current crop of left-liberal politicians… Read more »
January 21, 2016 8:04 pm

And may I add that the visions that Fidesz and Jobbik offer to their respective support bases are firmly rooted in the cultural proclivities and political comfort zones of their supporters.

This makes it doubly, triply more difficult for an oppositional group to formulate an inspiring vision attractive enough to lure to its side masses of people from the Fidesz and Jobbik camps.

January 21, 2016 9:20 pm

The Medián findings about voting intentions are very interesting.

If the MSZP would get 7% of the vote, DK 6%, and the other three left-liberal formations 1% each, that is 16% all up.

LMP and Jobbik would be, say, 5% and 20% each, respectively.

Thus all oppositional groupings would together add up to 41%, which would still leave 59% for Fidesz.

59% is still plenty at this stage for Fidesz, because on this basis, with a little bit of electoral fiddling , with throwing some last minute moneys at the electorate, and with the votes from the other side of the borders, the party could still end up with a two-thirds or near two-thirds parliamentary majority in 2018.

January 22, 2016 12:06 am

Trying to figure out votes…it is to laugh.
When Fidesz lies on every front, why would people think that the election will be on the level?

The country is rigged…and f*gged. Good luck trying to correct it.

January 22, 2016 12:07 am

Now I understand: it was because of a country like Hungary that G*d sent the flood-

January 22, 2016 3:00 am
Mike? The point I make is that all poll analysis is off – when it comes to Hungary. Because it is still a commocratic state – frozen in transition – still – thanks to Orban that all the usual assumptions about voters and undeclareds (undecideds) are invalid. You may have heard that in the UK the published polls – without exception – failed disastrously to come anywhere near the actual result in our recent elections (One poll claimed – after the results – that they had taken a poll which showed a winning margin of 8% – the eventual outcome. Yeah!! Yader yader yader!) And this in a developed mature democracy. In Hungary the polls don’t have the empirical knowledge to come to any meaningful conclusions. Any analysis of actual results – due to being a non-democratic state, the gerrymandering, the propaganda and the absence of all other democratic processes , is an unproductive activity. Meaningless. I believe the majority of ‘undecideds’ are an immoveable voting mass of the Fidesz faithful. We have seen in past polls in Hungary that the undecideds are a very large constituency which hardly moves. I believe they hold the key to any possibility of… Read more »
January 22, 2016 5:12 am

You are absolutely right. Polls can be way off, and the results depend on the quality of underlying assumptions, the agendas being pushed and paid for, and the quality of survey methodology, and the truthfulness of responses by the sample surveyed, all of which is rubbery by definition even in the best of circumstances.

I was merely responding to the figures in Eva’s piece, and carried out some indicative calculations based on them.

The bottom line is that doesn’t matter which way we look at it, and does not matter what amount of hopeful rhetoric we throw at it, the left-liberal factions in Hungary have bugger-all chance of winning any kind of parliamentary majority in the foreseeable future.

All the rest is just wishful thinking.

January 22, 2016 2:37 am

“Then there are some who are dead against forming a unity party since at the last election this strategy failed spectacularly.”

It wasn’t the strategy that failed, it was the execution of the strategy. Big mistakes included handing the top spots on the party list with the very politicians who were most responsible for the 2010 debacle (in the voting public’s eyes, at least); public spats between Mesterhazy and Bajnai; failure to choose a viable name for the list; general whining; and a lame campaign that did not even try to circumvent the booby traps that Fidesz had laid for them.

One of the big reasons for Bill Clinton’s electoral victory over George HW Bush in 1992 was his ability to unite the squabbling elements of the Democrat Party, which had just lost three successive presidential elections by massive margins. The official name for the Clinton campaign was Unity ’92. Orban opponents might want to study the Clinton-Carville playbook for some clues on how to build their own unified electoral movement.

January 22, 2016 5:26 am

I think that a united front would certainly be a nice to have, but far, far more important would be an inspiring vision together with dense, country-wide networks of supporters and activists.

Zero plus zero is till zero. And 7% + 6% + 1% + 1% + 1% is still only 16%, which is bugger all in the overall scheme of things parliamentary in Hungary.

There is clearly no market in Hungary for what is being profferred by the left-liberal side of politics, whilst there was a huge market in the States for what was being proffered by the Democrats in 1992.

Under those circumstances, creating a united front among the Democrats was a technical, rather then existential issue.

Technical issues are generally solvable, existential issues rarely ever.

I think therefore that the 1992 Clinton campaign is a false analogy in the Hungarian political context.

January 22, 2016 9:21 am
You’re mixing “total sample” numbers with “committed voter” numbers. If you add up the total percentage of committed voters for the democratic opposition parties (excluding LiMP), you get around 25 percent, which is roughly what they scored in the 2014 election. Nothing to get excited about, but a quarter of votes is not “nothing.” I’m not sure how old you are, so you may not remember, but the Democrats were facing a serious crisis in the early 1990s. The party had lost its traditional Deep South constituency to the Reagan Republicans and had been unable to elect a president for 12 years. Jimmy Carter won only six states to Ronald Reagan’s 44 in 1980; Walter Mondale won ONE state to Reagan’s 49 in 1984; and Michael Dukakis won 10 states to George HW Bush’s 40 in 1988. Numerous interest groups including Big Labor, social progressives and so-called New Democrats (=Republicans who support abortion rights) spent more time bickering with each other than attacking Republicans. And the party’s leading figures, such as New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo, refused to run in 1992 because he thought Bush was unbeatable after winning the Gulf War. If that’s not what you call an… Read more »
January 22, 2016 10:01 am

Er no Alex – you’re comparing apples with pears.

January 22, 2016 12:55 pm

Er no I’m not.
The main difference is, the US had (and still has) an electoral system through which any party with sufficient financial backing can win the presidency. Hungary does not.
That has nothing to do with a politician’s ability to learn from somebody else’s success in unifying people who share the same ultimate goal, but hate each others’ guts.
It’s typically Hungarian to say, “Oh, this is not America, it will never work here.” Believe it or not, Hungarians’ political DNA is not that much different from any other country’s.

January 23, 2016 1:14 am

Alex, we can quibble about the type of sample to take into account until the cows come home, but the bottom line is this:

–“A biztos szavazók több mint fele voksolna most a Fideszre, derül ki a Medián HVG-ben megjelent kutatásából. Ekkora fölénnyel közel a ciklus derekához még egy kormánypárt sem vezetett.”–

Whether we are talking about 16% or 25%, it is still bugger all in the overall Hungarian parliamentary scheme of things, particularly as that 16% or 25% is made up of many small or tiny fragments at war with one another.

You misunderstood my thrust in saying that zero plus zero is still zero. All I intended to say with this was that two nothings still amount to only nothing, meaning that a bunch of fragmentary factions ranging from 7% or 10% down to 1% does not amount to a hill of beans in relation to electoral results in Hungary.

January 23, 2016 1:34 am
I would also like to add that I continue to beg to dispute the validity of your Clinton campaign analogy. I am 73 years old, going on to 74, and I remember well the Clinton campaign in 1992. However, you are comparing apples with bananas. The Democrats had a wide support base of dense, country-wide networks of supporters and activists. The Hungarian left-liberal factions are not even within a cooee of that. Clinton was able to articulate a clear and inspiring vision for America that was attractive enough for all Democratic factions to cohere around it. The Hungarian left-liberals are quite clueless in that regard. Clinton, furthermore, was (and is) a man of the people, a great communicator, who was (and still is) able to speak the language of ordinary folk, who found that what Clinton was saying was both interesting and exciting. Hungarian left-liberals have no such leader. Very far from it, unfortunately. Thus, it is not a case of the ‘not invented here’ syndrome, when I say that the analogy you draw between the ’92 Clinton campaign and the situation of the left-liberals in Hungary is quite false, but simply that Hungarian left-liberals totally lack some of the… Read more »
January 23, 2016 3:53 am
Balint, your comment does not refute my idea; in fact, you reinforce it. You write, “The Democrats had a wide support base of dense, country-wide networks of supporters and activists.” True. If the Hungarian democratic opposition would study this, it would know that it needs to rebuild the country-wide network it lost 10 years ago. This is difficult in the Orban era, but not impossible. Instead, you get moronic opposition advisers saying “we don’t need a network, we’ll just do it through the media and mass mailings.” You get the MSZP terrified of attacking Orban on the issues for fear that the public won’t respond to “negative campaigning.” You write, “Clinton, furthermore, was (and is) a man of the people, a great communicator, who was (and still is) able to speak the language of ordinary folk, who found that what Clinton was saying was both interesting and exciting. Hungarian left-liberals have no such leader. Very far from it, unfortunately.” Again true. If Gyurcsany were to learn from this, he would know that he needs to begin grooming a successor who can portray himself as a “man of the people” and who can match Orban’s communication skills. Instead, Gyurcsany behaves like… Read more »
January 22, 2016 3:58 am

Maybe a strategy should be developed which considers several steps :
Get a name and a program for the new party
Get some people who can lead
Get some recognition i e votes
Then think about getting a majority

A good example might be the German Greens -it took them many years to be accepted outside the intelligentsia – now I’m happy to say that they are “established” here.

“Even” some family members of mine who I would not have expected to vote for them (a father and son, both down to earth truck drivers …) are fervent supporters of our Green Mayor and Schwab Green prime minister!

January 22, 2016 6:11 am
Um, yes, but the German Greens had a clear, coherent and inspiring vision right from the outset, and then focused on fashioning their political programs to maximally facilitate the realization of that vision. They were also assiduous in fostering, nurturing, developing and creating dense country-wide networks of supporters and activists. Hungarian left-liberals neither have a vision (and never mind about ‘inspiring’), nor could they be bothered with the hassles of building dense country-wide networks of supporters and activists. Furthermore, they tend to be intellectualizers with an almost total incapacity to communicate in ways that would be meaningful and of interest to the ordinary folk that form the vast bulk of the electorate. As to the name of that hypothetical united front party of Hungarian left-liberals, well, choosing a name for that organization would be very much a secondary or tertiary issue (or even lower down on the scale of importances), because without real political substance, the guts and sinews necessary to actually win elections, whatever name would be chosen, it would remain merely an empty label, and nothing more. As to getting some people who can lead, that would be a consequence of having dense, country-wide networks of supporters and… Read more »
January 22, 2016 6:24 am


. . . . unfortunately that doesn’t cut the mustard.

January 22, 2016 6:55 am

Essentially, what I am talking about is that in the first instance, as a first step, a coherent multi-decade marketing campaign would need to be launched by the left-liberal side for it to have any hope of eventually attaining a parliamentary majority.

A well-thought out campaign could start on a relatively small scale, then gradually scaled up in its intensity to eventually become a vast, nation-wide effort.

For such a campaign to be effective and inspiring, it would have to be nailed down up front what is, and what ought to be, needed and wanted, the presentation of issues would have to be dumbed down to effectively communicate to ordinary folk, the campaign would have to be appropriately tailored to effectively communicate to all key electoral segments, and regular course corrections would need to be carried out as ongoing feedback is received from the field.

The first thing would be to ensure continuous and consistent funding for the project, and this is where a guy like Soros could be of immense assistance.

January 22, 2016 5:00 am
January 22, 2016 7:23 am
Trump and Soros have one thing in common, they speak their mind and to use an American metaphoric term alluding to chopping wood – they let the chips fall where they may. Soros is totally correct when he is quoted as saying, “The EU is in an existential crisis as a result of migration. The EU is falling apart.” He was also totally correct when he stated several months ago that the EU could not force EU nations to accept refugees that did not want to accept them. Hungarians that keep looking for the EU to implement some type of dramatic action against Hungary that will wake people from their stupor are in a state of denial over the reality of the EU that Soros is not afraid to publicly admit even though his Open Society Foundation has worked closely with the EU on many issues. Soros unlike much of the Hungarian opposition understands capitalism deeply and the inherent tendencies of powerful nation states to seek advantage over less powerful ones. He understands how the EU development projects are often self serving for the developed western nations within the EU and how Central European nations find themselves in a dilemma… Read more »
January 22, 2016 7:45 am

@Istvan and Bálint:
You’re both so right – but what can we/should we do?
If I were younger …

And again something totally OT:
Remember the story of the 2million$ Ferrari and the accident in Budapest?
I just heard that after having repaired the car in Italy the driver had another accident here – the tires were not gripping, because they hadn’t been warmed up ???
Anyone heard/read about this?

January 22, 2016 11:39 pm

Wolfi, there are no short term fixes for the ailments, ennui and general irrelevance of of the left side of politics in Hungary.

What they ought to do is begin work on change in the longer term by developing an inspiring vision for the country and its people, and by starting out on the hard, grinding work of building up dense, country-wide networks of supporters and activists.

However, the results of all this work would only be reaped by the next generation of Hungarian left-liberals. The current one is a lost generation that can only prepare the ground for an eventual return to parliamentary majority in two or three decades hence.

In any case, Hungarians on the left side of politics tend to short term spurts of activity that quickly fizzle out. The longer term is not their strong suit.

Anyway, the bottom line is that the current generation of left-liberals in Hungary are physically, intellectually and organizationally far too feeble to start undertaking the hard and grinding preliminary works necessary for eventually regaining political power in the longer term.

January 23, 2016 12:49 am
István, I don’t quite get the thrust of these sentences in the last para of your post above: — “Soros unlike much of the Hungarian opposition understands capitalism deeply and the inherent tendencies of powerful nation states to seek advantage over less powerful ones. He understands how the EU development projects are often self serving for the developed western nations within the EU and how Central European nations find themselves in a dilemma between development and dependency.”– I think that Soros (and yourself) conflates consequence with antecedent intention. I cannot for the life of me see any deliberate intentionality by powerful nations to exploit less powerful ones. The era of colonialism is well and truly over (except in Israel). Capital flows to where it is able to get the best returns, and that is all. Naturally, it will flow, for instance, where labour is cheapest (except that with the onset of the age of automation, that will come to a stop). Is it ‘exploitation’ to give paid employment to otherwise unemployed poverty-stricken Bangladeshi peasant women in the textile industry or to otherwise unemployed Hungarians in car assembly plants? Gimme a break. Over the past three centuries, returns-requiring capital investments have… Read more »
January 22, 2016 7:39 am

No amount of logical discussion about building a viable left-wing party in Hungary will amount to a more than a hill of beans. The politics in Hungary have jumped the ‘tracks’ of a logical, democratic, continuum. What exists now is a party in power that clearly has done away with objective, neutral, fair government activity. Witness the cigarette shop fiasco, and the many other one-sided activities of government. Orban has said: ‘We have a right to reward our followers.’ And that’s were the country is at. How do you counter that? You can’t. Clearly, Fidesz has shown: it’s either our way or the Esztergom Way. In the last regional
elections, the constituents have learnt their lesson–every seat in the country went to Fidesz. Popularity? No. This is purely Intimidation that brooks no opposition.

Welcome to Big Brother.
Welcome to 1,000BC and the ways of tribal rule.


January 22, 2016 10:58 am

“Orban has said: ‘We have a right to reward our followers.’”
We have a right to buy votes for tax payer’s money.

A common attitude among politicians but rarely pronounced.

January 22, 2016 1:48 pm

Re: ‘Tribal rule’

I’d agree with that. But getting one’s ‘tribe’ up there starts with the natives being restless. Got to throw yer hat into the ring. And there are ‘rumblings’.

Just thinking about the fact that two tribes fought 600 years at
Agincourt. The Bard gave a great line to the beleaguered Heny as he contemplated what he needed to snatch a desperate victory… ‘All things are ready if our minds be so’. Hungarians if they want to act would do well to take it to heart. But things really are not ‘ready’ yet in that land of make-believe.

January 22, 2016 11:59 pm

Blatantly rewarding followers and intimidating opponents is how political power gets cemented in for many decades to come.

This is of course common practice in all illiberal set ups around the world, rightly condemned by anyone with a modicum of decency and sanity.

The unique ‘genius’ of Orbán is that he got to where he got to with ‘perfectly legal,’ ‘EU-compliant’ means, so now he can have his cake (EU funding) and eat it too (EU bashing).

Now THIS is indeed a genuine Hungaricum, a world-beating first, though nothing much to be proud of for any Hungarian with a shred of decency and sanity.

January 22, 2016 9:25 am

News, not quite OT.

Hungary is one of the most free countries in Europe, said Orban today.

Stop laughing, please.
He’s got a point: Hungary is perhaps THE MOST free country in Europe, for Orban and his cronies, Nowhere else can the ruling gang so freely grab power and wealth, bamboozle, cheat and rob the hapless population as they do here.

He also said that it is only when the left-liberal side is not in government that they bitch and complain about the lack of democracy.
Right again: when in power the left/liberals don’t try their hand at dictatorship, but crafty Orban does when he got the chance, hence the democrats bitch and complain. Quite logical.

Yesterday at the end of her beautiful concert top class Hungarian soprano Erika Miklosa told the audience that “Viktor Orban hear this song (a mediocre pseudo folk) and he liked it so much that it would be his favorite from now on, he said”.

“Welcome to Orbanistan” I would have said , but there was notably less applause for this statement.

January 22, 2016 9:56 am

Once you get momentum, movements can actually form pretty quickly.

You can see it happen in real time in this 3-minute video:

Jon Van Til
January 22, 2016 11:07 am
In illiberally-led (and followed) 21st century Hungary, I do not see political change starting within any political party. More likely to me is a process that begins with a blunder by the ruling party, something like the current rumblings of an emergency rule policy or the collapse of a vital system like health care or education. Second comes the internet challenge, arousing buzz, “likes”, and the requisite number of comments. Third come the called demonstrations and the brief but vital moments in the street. Momentum begins to build. And then the important business of change begins. IF (there are at least four big IFs) political activists from every independent corner begin to affiliate with the emerging “big tent” movement as individual members; IF the movement continues to issue credible policy challenges through the workings of a “virtual think tank” that links many voices and many organizations throughout the country; IF that all-important vision combining progressive policy, clean government, and patriotic pride begins to emerge; and IF the oppositional party leadership teams find themselves willing to echo support for these challenges—then political change may find its way. Momentum continues. In such a way, and even possibly by 2018, a new, unifying,… Read more »
January 22, 2016 2:00 pm

Re: ‘Momentum makes its mark’

Yes it certainly may. To the comment on ‘buzz, likes’ etc perhaps that may very well be the jump-start if you will of ‘dialog and response ‘coursing through society. When started it can rage like a wildfire and influence opinion. Social media activity does indeed look to be a significant catalyst in possible change today in sicieties.

January 24, 2016 6:52 am

Sounds good, were it not for the avalanche of ifs, buts, possible maybes and perhapses.

As it is, it sounds like well articulated wishful thinking.

Facile enthusiasms and spurts of energy that quickly fizzle out are very Hungarian characteristics.

In America, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama articulated clear and inspiring visions to pre-existing country-wide Democratic Party support bases and activist networks, where all that was needed was to activate them. Ditto on the other Republican side with Trump.

In Obama’s and Trump’s case, the internet social networks operate(d) as a force multiplier.

But force multipliers only work if there is a force to be multiplied in the first place, in this case an inspiring vision and a dense, country-wide support base.

That, unfortunately is what is missing with the left-liberals in Hungary, and that is why your avalanche of ifs, buts, possible maybes and perhapses is, sadly, mere well articulated wishful thinking.

January 24, 2016 7:10 am

This post immediately above was a response to Jon Van Til’s
on January 22, 2016 at 11:07 am.

January 22, 2016 2:18 pm

An interesting article about the Fidesz government’s evolving position in relationship to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement between the EU and the USA. Most of my conservative friends in the USA are deeply opposed to the agreement and consider it an all-out assault on America’s sovereignty and independence. Senator Ted Cruz however supported it and Senator Rand Paul opposed it. Trump is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement but has not discussed the TTIP deal. I suspect he opposes it.
See http://nol.hu/belfold/az-amerikaiak-csendben-kilora-megvettek-az-orban-kormanyt-1585953

January 22, 2016 2:47 pm
Many comments here seem to assume that the Hungarian political system is a two party system with ultra right Fidesz-KDPM-Jobbik as de facto one party, and the ”left-liberals” as the other party. This view makes it tempting and easy to parallelize Hungarian politics with that of the United States and derive suggestions and predictions from the parallel. As an European I see things differently. I am not abhorred by a multiparty system. I do not talk about checks and balances. In stead I talk about the separation of powers. (In Hungary neither exists now). The election rules made by Fidesz aims at a one party system, tolerates an unchecked and unbalanced two party system and makes a multiparty system impossible. This I find unfortunate because I believe that a multiparty system with separation of powers and the practice of coalitions across the political centre is the best political system invented so far. Its track record isn’t bad. I don’t think that the Orban regime will last as long as many commenters fear, because the unbridled recklessness of the regime will cause its downfall before the opposition can get its act together. There must be more than two different political view… Read more »
January 24, 2016 6:35 am

I don’t even think that drafting a new constitution would be necessary. All that would be needed is to take the constitution of the Hungarian Third Republic and amend where appropriate.

January 22, 2016 2:51 pm

Totally OT:
The snowstorms and blizzards coming to the US East Coast are all over the news here in Europe. Have you prepared for this kind of weather, will it touch you?

We read about school and office closures, thousands of flights being cancelled, people emptying supermarket shelves etc …

Hope everyone is alright and manages!