The sorry state of the Hungarian opposition

I stumbled on today’s topic this morning when I read one of András Stumpf’s vitriolic articles that appeared in Mandiner on February 12. It was about a piece on a relatively new blog called Nyugati Fény (Western Light) which, according to Stumpf, referred to him, along with Zsolt Bayer and András Bencsik, as “a Fidesz propagandist nobody.” The author specifically objected to an article by Stumpf in which he talked about the “hysteria” that was created by the opposition around the topic of “child hunger.” Stumpf called the description of his article unfair because Nyugati Fény portrayed his attitude toward child hunger as cynical. After reading Stumpf’s original article, I came to the conclusion that Nyugati Fény’s comments were largely justified.

Stumpf was deeply offended and immediately began to search for who could possibly be behind Nyugati Fény. It didn’t take him long to find his answer. Back in December the right-wing Pesti Srácok reported on a tweet by Viktor Szigetvári, co-chair of Együtt (Together), claiming that Nyugati Fény is DK’s “party blog,” written by three prominent DK politicians: István Vágó, Zsolt Gréczy, and Viktor Mandula. Szigetvári repeated his accusation on Facebook.

This time Nyugati Fény tore into Viktor Szigetvári. The occasion was Szigetvári’s negative comments on Ferenc Gyurcsány ideas about political strategy that he decided to share with the editors of Magyar Idők. In his Facebook note he claimed that Ferenc Gyurcsány himself admitted that the “communication team of DK” supervises Nyugati Fény and another new blog called Európa Kávézó. According to Szigetvári, Gyurcsány even organized a meeting for him with Viktor Mandula, who during their talk suggested that if Együtt stops criticizing DK, the anonymous blogs will cease their abusive comments against his party and Szigetvári himself. After this revelation he immediately attacked DK, whose behavior he considered dishonorable.

Illustration accompanying the article against Viktor Szigetvári in Nyugati Fény

Illustration in the article against Viktor Szigetvári in Nyugati Fény

I believe this single incident speaks volumes about the state of the Hungarian opposition. As for whether Nyugati Fény is in the service of DK or not, I doubt it. Several articles published there simply don’t fit the picture we have of Gyurcsány’s party. As Júlia Lévai, a frequent blogger herself, pointed out in a comment to Szigetvári’s post, such articles as “The liberal migrant policy is clearly a failure” couldn’t possibly have been written by one of the politicians of DK. Or, what about an article in which the blogger attacked György Kakuk, one of the leading members of the party? István Vágó himself wrote a comment to Szigetvári’s post in which he recalled that he had written several times that he has nothing to do with Nyugati Fény, but “it seems that Mr. Szigetvári writes his posts without paying any attention to the comments.” As for Európai Kávézó, it is most likely written by someone who is an uncritical DK supporter. For example, one of the articles is titled “Gyurcsány shows the way.” But, of course, this doesn’t mean that the blog is the product of DK’s communication team.

There is friction among all the parties on the left. Magyar Idők gleefully announced on February 3 that “the left wants nothing to do with Gyurcsány’s program.” Szigetvári made a statement to the government paper in which called his party’s solutions, unlike those of Gyurcsány, “sober and moderate.” “We don’t believe in free water or a flat tax.” There can be no collaboration on the basis of such a program. Együtt has its own program, its own alternatives, and its own candidates. Párbeszéd Magyarországért (PM/Dialogue) announced that it is not interested in the programs of other parties. Keep in mind that each of these two parties has only one percent support. The socialists (MSZP) also said that they pay no attention to the other parties. In fact, Chairman József Tóbiás talked about this in an interview he gave to the government mouthpiece.

The depth of the division among opposition parties is highlighted in an article about a roundtable discussion organized by the Republikon Intézet on the topic of holding primaries ahead of the elections, during which possible candidate for the premiership could emerge. As the reporter said, “after about half an hour the representatives of MSZP, DK, PM, and the liberals were exchanging personal attacks.” Zsolt Molnár (MSZP) told Bence Tordai of PM that he should be more modest because he talks as if his party had 40% of the electorate behind it. Tordai shot back: “perhaps more modesty should be shown after the last twenty-five years.” Soon enough it became evident that these people are incapable of cooperation even though they know that alone they are incapable of winning the election. Szigetvári’s Együtt didn’t even send a representative. That LMP wasn’t there surprised no one.

And I haven’t even talked about the Modern Magyarország Mozgalom (MOMA) of Lajos Bokros. Bokros was severely criticized lately by the other opposition parties for organizing a demonstration on his own protesting the planned amendment to the constitution that would allow the government to declare a state of terror threat and assume widespread powers. Again, the parties pointed fingers at one another. MOMA charged that the other parties simply didn’t support it, while the others claimed that MOMA never asked them to participate. The number of demonstrators was predictably small.

The sad part of all this is that when one encounters these people individually in interview situations they come across as sympathetic, intelligent, and reasonable. Their views are not terribly far apart. Yet when they begin to denounce each other, one feels frustrated and loses hope that they will ever be able to form a united front against the present regime.

It may be Valentine’s Day, but love is not in the air in the Hungarian opposition.

February 14, 2016
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Jean-Paul
Guest

It’s tragic….

bimbi
Guest
Yes, a sorry state of affairs that, in the middle of industrial-scale theft and corruption by the government – on many fronts – as it attempts to build a moneyed middle class (Meszaros Lorinc?!), opposition forces cannot unite behind a common goal of removing the Fidesz mafia from power. One is reminded of the phrase “Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians”, or the situation in Italy where everyone wanted to head up a political party, even if it had no followers, so that some 20 parties vied at the hustings. Of course, the situation is familiar to the Hungarian government advisors who, as the elections approach, suggest the “sponsorship” of several more nominally opposition like-named parties just to confuse any potential opposition voters and they will appear, duly registered and supported by the government on the voting list in the name of “democracy”, but democracy Fidesz-style – a democracy that is principally distortion and deception. Is there really no person in the opposition who can rise above petty personal interests and throw their effort into working for the benefit of the Hungarian people as a whole? Must we still wait for the arrival of a messiah? Maybe Petofi is… Read more »
Observer
Guest

“Is there really no person in the opposition who can rise above petty personal interests and throw their effort ”

Pls see my comment below and

Your reasonable expectation is paradoxical, unfortunately, because if everyone else wants to be a chief the person you envisage has to sacrifice personal ambitions and step back, hence the best person/s will not be the guiding ones.

The only realistic way is to unite the democratic side is by force, by the weight of voter numbers (and some deft maneuvering), the acquisition of which requires a tremendous effort (more so in the absence of a big war chest). In this case one has to win a dirty war first and then consider rebuilding in whatever style. Like it or not it’s A la guerre comme a la guerre.

webber
Guest

Yes, realism! We must be pragmatic and realistic – difficult as it is. We must face the fact that blood may flow when we get to the really difficult issues, such as which end to crack an egg on, and whether the t.p. should unroll from the outside or the inside.

Member

@bimbi

I’m afraid that Petofi hit the nail on the head. I watch the happenings from abroad and have not lived in Hungary for many years. There is no one who is trustworthy on the opposition side. So the laying of the girl is not good.

webber
Guest

A revelation! This is the first time I have ever heard of Nyugati Fény (Light of the West!) and now read that it has seriously insulted a Fidesznik!
Would that be published by the Revolutionary United Social Services Front, or is it by the Revolutionary United Anarchist Services Front?

webber
Guest

NICE graphics there, too! Dashing 1970s style neon violet characters! Very impressive.

Guest

Bent English Alert!******Erter!Erter!Erter!*******
English Usage Corruption Alert! ******Erter!Erter!Erter!*******

Bob555444:

Initial advice: skip the post fix

“Orban wins” = Hungarians lose.
Left-wing = ‘communists, Jews, Soros, Roma – and humanitarian liberals’ (yes plenty of confusion but anybody Orban hates)
Lefties – those with humanitarian views and understand the word ‘democracy’.
‘Much Smarter’. = thick as the proverbial – Orban clones.

Other analysis:

Bob555444 is probably a paid troll and potential Jobbik voter. He – it’s unlikely a woman – sports a moustache like Kövér and is a fully paid up member of the Magyar Guards with a beer gut. He has dandruff and likes the band Karpatia.

This software gets better and better!

Bob555444
Guest

Spot on. For the left wing it has always been much more important to deal with their own side than with t he right-wing.

During the 1930’s dealing with the bourgoisie social democrats was incomparably more important for the communists then dealing with the fascists.

The history of the post-WWII of Italy is also the history of the defeat of the left-wing due to infighting.

The left-wing just doesn’t understand unity and discipline. This is deadly in any case but in a first past the post election system (which is anyway rigged) makes the future of the left wing absolutely hopeless.

Orban wins. He always does. Sorry, but he and his people are much smarter then the lefties and as such they will rule Hungary for decades to come.

Guest

The arguments re the “Left” that you’re describing are only valid for “Balkan” or mafia countries like Italy and Hungary etc …

The “left” has had a success story in the UK, Germany, Austria, France, Scandinavia etc …

Why here and not there – that is the important question imho.

Is it because of the inherent corrupt mentality in some of the countries?

Observer
Guest

Yes, you have a point here.

However, free/different opinions, debate and compromise are inherent to democracy, but dangerous in crisis. E.g. armies/ships have had single commanders for millennia, the Romans even had the office of elected dictator.

Re Hungary see my comment 5:38 am below.

webber
Guest

Britain and the United States did fairly well in two world wars with debate and compromise.

webber
Guest

P.S. there is no crisis in Hungary, except for that intentionally created by Fidesz.

Observer
Guest

I agree there are variations, but this ancient principle still stands. BTW Churchill was seen and elected as a very strong leader for the WWII crisis.

The assault on democracy in Hungary has been a crisis alright – political, social and economic. Never mind it was created by Fidesz.

webber
Guest

Bokros couldn’t win an election if he were the only candidate on the ballot.
I am beginning to wonder about his sanity. He hasn’t won a single election yet. Every party he ever joined saw its popularity plummet. Yet he plugs right along, convinced that sooner or later the people will see the error of their ways and vote for him (and he’s not the only one with that delusion in Hun. politics now)
The mustache…. watch the mustache:

petofi
Guest

The problem with you piece, Webber, is that it falls apart when we remember that Bokros entered the mayor’s race (Budapest) and received an astounding 35% of the vote…

webber
Guest

Astounding it is not. A DOG could get 35% of the vote in Budapest, just as long as it is running against Fidesz.
And, as I wrote above, Bokros LOST that election.

Member

Yes!

tappanch
Guest

Before the 2014 election, Szigetvári acted as if he had been Orban’s mole to divide the opposition. Two years later, we can see his repeat performance.

Member

I have a bad feeling that the man is not to be trusted.

tappanch
Guest

This is how Orban’s plumber got into the official circle [1.0-1.5% of the people] who were entitled to obtain state-owned agricultural land at artificially low prices in November & December 2015.

He and his family got 1400 hectares.

http://mno.hu/belfold/meszaros-lorinc-furcsa-oklevele-1328760

Observer
Guest

Very sad.

This gets me back to an earlier post I made elsewhere –

The problem is rooted in the Hungarian national character, call it stereotype if you will. Sitting on the fence between east and west, like most wanabees it is burdened by deep inferiority complexes and compensates with jumpy “sensitivity” and extreme reactions excluding compromise. Another result is the lack of persistence, systematic approach and self-discipline.

These features explain why only authoritarian rule is feasible in Hungary – from private company management through social organizations (trade unions, professional associations) to political parties and government. E.g. Orban became first a dictator in his own party, SzDSz disintegrated after Kuncze and MSzP waned after Horn and the Kovacs faction.

One can’t live among whores and remain a virgin. Democratic opposition take note – the task is formidable.

petofi
Guest

“The problem is rooted in the Hungarian national character.” Quite so.

Guest
Re: \’One can’t live among whores and remain a virgin. Democratic opposition take note – the task is formidable\’ From the looks of it it certainly is. You know it would appear the opposition parties and their leaders just do not understand the role of compromise, when to use it as well as not , in their current political strategies. They would seem to be missing dearly a Magyar \’Lawrence of Arabia\’ who could possibly bring together the tribes who are all squabbling over the place. Not sure if it\’s the fact of missing skill or the abject lack of a unifying vision for the country. Also, and this is in hindsight , but the fact that Orban that aggressive lawyer railroaded through changes in the Constitution to the detriment of the country implies to me that all that wasted energy in dead end arguments taken up by the opposition among themselves was dissipated away and couldn\’t be used in defense of the great document where the \’national character\’ indeed lies. You know that at the last that was where there should have been no compromise or a fight not to have made it so easy. The country now has… Read more »
Member

The real problem is that these parties and their leaders are not true democrats.

tappanch
Guest

Orban’s new revenge attacks against Simicska:

A.
The most popular radio station, Class FM belongs to Simicska.

Simicska and Orban fell out, so Orban plans to take away Simicska’s frequency.

http://vs.hu/gazdasag/osszes/holnap-jon-az-ujabb-csapas-a-simicska-birodalom-ellen-0215

B.
The Hungarian Competition Authority did not find any cartel suspicion with Simicska’s road building last summer.

A judge at the former workplace at Fidesz-appointed head of the judiciary Ms. Hando now instructed the Authority to investigate Simicska again.

http://444.hu/2016/02/15/megis-vizsgalja-a-gvh-az-m4-es-autopalya-koruli-kartellezest

petofi
Guest

The Justice Ministry in the service of vengeance–how utterly disgusting!

Istvan
Guest

Based on PM Orban’s speech before Parliament today it appears he wants to put more resources into border controls including strengthening the fence. He indicated Hungarians should expect huge migratory pressures in the future. He cited these projections for the future to Europe 3.2 million people from Iraq, Syria 6.5 million, Nigeria 2.1 million, 2.5 million from Sudan, Congo 3 million, and 1 million from Afghanistan. If he is guessing anywhere near right that is really a lot of people. He again restated Hungary’s opposition to EU refugee quotas. I assume Eva will be posting on this speech before too long.

webber
Guest

A couple of days ago a couple of us predicted Orban would ride the refugee issue as an attempt to draw attention away from domestic protests/problems. Looks like he’s doing it.

Istvan
Guest

Back to the problem of the opposition, here is yet a new one. Does anyone understand why DK used in its actually very good video, photos of deep poverty from France and even Romania with a voice over discussing poverty in Hungary? To see the video go to https://www.facebook.com/gyurcsanyf/videos/1142829525749508/

To see the story on non-Hungarian photos go to http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20160215-greczi-zsolt-demokratikus-koalicio-gyurcsany-ferenc-video-szegenyseg-nyomor.html

I am totally baffled by this, has Gyurcsány lost his mind? Was DK just that lazy it didn’t want to bother to use actual Hungarian photos and just downloaded stock photos of poverty from wherever, really it is amazing? Did DK want to discredit its own video, I really don’t know. Any of us on this blog could have gone out into the countryside and shot equally dramatic photos o poverty in Hungary.

Guest

It is good to see that both Éva and many of the commentators on the blog are beginning to adopt a more realistic stance toward the atomized political opposition in Hungary. On this topic, usually it is wishful thinking that seems to be the rule here, and anyone daring to point to the unfortunate realities of the thoroughly pulverized left in Hungary will instantly be pooh-poohed or called a mole, a Fidesz troll, or worse by the resident committee on rectitude in political thinking.

To me it has been clear for years now that all effective left wing political opposition in Hungary had been shattered for good in 2010, and is unlikely to revive for generations to come, if ever. Hungarians have emphatically returned to their traditional political comfort zones, Christian Nationalism and National Socialism, hard as it may be to swallow and digest this politico-cultural proclivity for any reasonably sane and rational person.

Nonetheless, to my mind at least, a clear-sighted appraisal is always preferable to wishful thinking, however painful such an appraisal might be.

Guest

Corrrection: “autocratic Christian Nationalism” instead of “Christian Nationalism” in the second para above.

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