Tamás Bauer on the task of the Hungarian opposition

I think I already mentioned a series of interviews that György Bolgár of Klubrádió initiated about a month ago. Four times a week he asks public figures critical of the present regime what advice they would offer the opposition parties to enhance their chances of winning the national election in 2018.

Until now none of the ideas of the well-known commentators or former politicians inspired me to summarize them here. But I thought the advice of Friday’s guest–Tamás Bauer, a professor of economics and former SZDSZ politician (1994-2002)–was well worth sharing.

First, I have the highest admiration for Tamás Bauer. He is a clear thinker and a man of the highest principles. Back when Zsófia Mihancsik’s Galamus was still in existence, Bauer wrote article upon article on vitally important topics, each of which was an intellectual delight. I don’t remember any of his articles I couldn’t agree with. Unfortunately, nowadays he writes only rarely, mostly on the pages of Népszabadság.

Bauer Tamas

He began the conversation by noting that Bolgár’s original question concerned only the 2018 election. But one has to widen one’s perspective, Bauer claimed. It is wrong to place the 2018 election at the center of the opposition’s thinking about Hungary’s political future. He would be a happy man if Viktor Orbán were to lose the next election. He would be even happier if he lost an early election this year, as Gyurcsány predicted. But Hungarians must first ask: “In what kind of country do we live?”

To win an election is the most normal goal for any opposition party in a parliamentary democracy. But to the question “Do we live in a democracy?” Bauer answers no. Even the functioning of the parliament is questionable. The reality the opposition parties must face and loudly proclaim is that “today there is no democracy” in Hungary. Democracy functioned for twenty years, but after 2010, on the basis of a “well-thought out, deliberate plan,” Viktor Orbán eradicated it.

The next task is to define the nature of the existing regime. Bálint Magyar calls it a “post-communist mafia state,” Rudolf Ungváry “a fascistoid mutation,” and László Bartus in his latest book a “fascist state” pure and simple. All three argue convincingly, but Bauer prefers to describe the regime as “tyranny” (önkényuralom) that is steadily moving toward dictatorship. Just to remind everybody of the dictionary definitions of “tyranny”: (1) “Unjust or oppressive governmental power”; (2) “A government in which a single ruler is vested with absolute power.” There is no question that, at the moment, Viktor Orbán has absolute power to single-handedly decide the fate of the country.

So, what’s the next step? Bauer can’t think of a tyrannical regime in the twentieth or twenty-first century that was removed as the result of a free election. What happens is that tyrannical regimes become weakened, spent, and are eventually forced to negotiate with the opposition forces. This is what happened in Greece, Spain, and Portugal. And, of course, this is what happened in the former Soviet satellite countries where the communist parties eventually had no choice but to sit down and negotiate. In all of these cases change occurred as the result of a negotiated settlement followed by election.

So, the task of the opposition parties is not to prepare their strategy for the election but to “create a situation that will lead to the possibility of holding an election” that can shake the foundation of the regime. A “freedom movement” (szabadságmozgalom) should be established that can fight the present tyrannical regime. The opposition forces must inculcate society with the realization that they don’t live in a democracy.

But to be able to do that, the opposition parties shouldn’t act as if they operated in a democracy. If the opposition parties don’t consider the new constitution legitimate, they shouldn’t offer amendments to it. If the constitution is illegitimate, the amendments are as well. And one shouldn’t submit amendments to the constitutional court for review because it too is an illegitimate body, filled with Fidesz functionaries who were appointed without consultation with the opposition.

On the day that thugs prevented MSZP’s István Nyakó from turning in his referendum question József Tóbiás, the party chairman, said something to the effect that “this morning when I woke up I thought I was living in a country of rule of law.” “Where does this man live?” asks Bauer.

These politicians behave as if they lived in a democratic country. The opposition parties (but Bauer is talking mostly about MSZP) shouldn’t initiate parliamentary debates. They shouldn’t interpellate. Under the circumstances the whole procedure is a mockery, especially when the member of parliament finishes his interpellation with the words: “I’m expecting your esteemed answer.” Or, when opposition politicians refer to Viktor Orbán as “miniszterelnök úr” when speaking with journalists.

At this point Bolgár interrupted Bauer and asked what he thought of boycotting parliament altogether. Boycotting parliament is something people are increasingly talking about as a possible answer to the present political situation. Ferenc Gyurcsány, for example, suggested it as a reaction to the referendum scandal at the National Election Office. Bauer very rightly pointed out that a boycott shouldn’t be introduced as an answer to one particular grievance. After all, if the regime buckled, it would do so only on one particular issue. The referendum case is only a symptom, the real problem is the whole tyrannical system. As for a total boycott, at the moment Bauer wouldn’t support it, although he added that it might be necessary in the future. On the other hand, he is convinced that the opposition members of the Budapest city council should have boycotted the body in 2014 because it was only a few weeks before the municipal elections that the government changed the rules of the game to ensure a Fidesz victory, without which the party would have lost the city.

What the opposition has to do is to let society know that “we are alive.” It is not true that the Orbán regime is a “mafia dictatorship.” There are two million people behind Fidesz, and the party has a distinct worldview with nationalism, anti-capitalism, and hostility toward the poor as its components. What the opposition should do is to take contrary stances on all of these issues, unlike now when the socialists in particular dread dealing with government positions they think their voters also support. “Such behavior must be rejected.” For example, MSZP endorsed voting rights for dual citizens just because they feared a backlash. They also must take a clear stand against all anti-capitalist measures–for example, lowering the cost of utilities because the whole scheme is economically and even morally wrong. The opposition should fight resolutely against nationalism and stress Hungary’s adherence to European integration. Finally, it should be a vocal defender of the poor and the downtrodden as opposed to Fidesz’s support of the upper middle class.

Finally, Bauer touched upon the question of cooperation among the parties on the left since almost every commentator stresses the necessity of such collaboration. Yes, Bauer says, these parties should work together, but not just before the election as they did last time and as they plan to do now. It is very difficult to forge cooperation in the middle of an election campaign. Collaboration should begin immediately. Every demonstration should be supported by all parties unlike in the past. For example, today’s demonstration outside the Várkert Bazár where Viktor Orbán delivered his yearly “state of the nation” speech was supported only by Együtt and PM. Even that way, they had about 2,000 vocal people demonstrating against the Orbán regime. Imagine how large the crowd would have been if both MSZP and DK had supported the demonstration.

If these parties listen to Bauer, which I doubt, they should start joint demonstrations against the proposed referendum on the quota system and against the fence that Orbán wants to extend along the Romanian-Hungarian border. They have to show that there is strength on their side. They have to show a political alternative on the basis of which one day they will most likely be able to negotiate with the weakened tyrannical regime of Viktor Orbán. But first, the opposition forces must weaken it until Orbán and company have to throw in the towel.

February 28, 2016
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Guest
I too like Tomi very much. He has a piercing intelligence with lots of courage to match his intellectual capacity, and from what I hear, he is a real nice guy too. He is a third or fourth cousin from what used to be the “communist” side of the extended family, whilst we were on the “capitalist” side. Nonetheless, the “capitalist” side helped to hide and protect the “communist” side when the gendarmerie (csendőrség) was after them before the war, though they of course never bothered to return that favour when they got into the saddle after the war. We bumped into each other at a mutual cousin’s place when he was around eight. At that time he was a real little princeling of the nomenclature, me on the other hand a despised offspring of class enemies. It goes without saying that his obviously mortified parents immediately shooed him away from my potentially polluting presence. Well, he has sure come a long, long way since then, and all credit to him. As to this interview with György Bolgár, I think that there is a fundamental problem with the principal assumption on which Tomi rests his case. In Greece, Spain, Portugal… Read more »
Guest

I would like to add that “left-wing opposition” is really a crude misnomer, and “democratic opposition” or “liberal democratic opposition” would be far more accurate designations of the essence and substance of the political formations lined up in opposition to the illiberal state in Hungary.

Guest

I agree, Ambalint.
We should stop calling the opposition left-wing, and call it democratic opposition.
Nothing to do with party affiliation, just with principles, and even non left-wing, ex- Fideszers or those who have not voted simply because of the stigma of “left-wing”, might then join the protest.

Can we start, Éva, by always referrring to Orbán opposition as democratic opposition?

petofi
Guest

I agree: ‘democratic opposition’ it should be.

But forget about ‘selling the brand’–it’s a non-starter.
Hungarians know this: it won’t pay. The opposition is no place to be when government hordes its riches and rewards only its own constituents.

Hungarians have become Mayflies: give me my reward now!

Guest

@petofi
Today 1:55 am

Well, if we can forget about ‘selling the brand,’ then nothing will ever happen. Guaranteed.

Because in the end that is an admission that we have nothing to sell. And with that, we have dealt ourselves out of the game. For good.

petofi
Guest

Precisely what G-d thought….and then he let go the Flood…

holvart
Guest

which god was that?

Member

@petofi “gimme my revards now”

You’re so right. I asked my bro what kinda country he wants to leave to his sons. He answered like you say.

petofi
Guest

One of the most shocking discoveries is to find that Hungarian parents don’t really care what kind of world their kids will live in!

holvart
Guest

I would guess it’s the kind that doesn’t have you in it. Based on your comments here, I can’t say I disagree.

Guest

petofi
“The opposition is no place to be when government hordes its riches and rewards only its own constituents.”
Then where should we be, while the mafia state thrives, if not the opposition? Should we join the unethical and be in the thick of all the corruption? I do not understand your stance.

Observer
Guest

Hear, hear! Been preching this for a while and

Orban’s regime – not government.

Guest
Re: ‘marketing and selling’ An interesting way of looking at modern day political activity. Even Fidesz knows how important it is to advertise their ‘brand’ and continually sell it to the masses. Indeed they are paying in various ways for ‘shelf space’ in the political supermarket. Tough to fight a behemoth if another ‘brand’ wants to crack the market. It can be done but it is difficult especially if the brand has less clout in the way it can position itself against the giant. I ‘d think in the case we are looking at the solution isn’t like viewing the political battle as like cereals or toothpaste being packaged goods simply to be bought and sold. This is a very different business we are talking about. I’d think at this time there has been so many erasures and changes made to Hungary’s Constitution that it is evident the pen and argument of one ‘clique’ has deleteriously altered the concept of ‘good’ government existing in the nation-state. It would appear that of all things an opposition must do under the circumstances would be to change or influence the psychology of the people towards understanding that if indeed Hungary is a democracy… Read more »
Guest

wrfree
Today 12:40 am

Yes.

But the core issue remains the non-democratic and anti-democratic cultural proclivities and political comfort zones of the vast bulk of the hungarian electorate.

In purely commercial terms this boils down to the question of how to go about marketing and selling a political product – democracy, minority rights, genuine constitutionality and genuine rule of law exercised in a tolerant, liberal spirit – that most of its potentially available customers viscerally dislike, despise or even hate, whilst feeling more than comfortable and perfectly cozy with an opposing political product involving illiberal and autocratic dictatorship of an overwhelming parliamentary majority in the spirit of Christian Nationalism and National Socialism).

To my mind this is the nub of the problem facing the democratic opposition in Hungary today. Issues such as unity, boycotts, demonstrations and op-eds and interviews in the remaining democratic media outlets are important, but only as components within something vastly more important, namely a framework of strategically and tactically sound and well thought out comprehensive, coherent and consistently applied long term marketing and selling program. Without that nothing can or will actually happen, and that can be just about guaranteed in blood.

Guest

Correction:

“. . . of an overwhelming parliamentary majority EXERCISED in the spirit of Christian Nationalism and National Socialism.” at the end of para2.

Guest
Re:’Yes…. But the core issue remains the non-democratic and anti-democratic cultural proclivities and political comfort zones of the vast bulk of the hungarian electorate’ You know Mr. Bauer noted he did not believe Hungary currently had a democracy. I’d be curious if he thinks Magyarorszag ultimately has the drive and mind set for it and if he believes the country will continually be regulated to experience everything but as the country moves on into the 21st. As far as democracy, I don’t think it doesn’t need to be ‘sold’ as such since there are people who have ‘bought’ it already. Problem is in all this potential brand-switching’ is that it just doesn’t get the opportunity to be ‘tried for purchase’ and continually given a chance to settle as the ‘illiberalist’ brand has done. Orban sure ain’t giving sales on ‘democracy’. No way since he pays and owns the Magyar supermarket. ‘Illiberalism’ right now is the top brand among the population. Thing is to be the top brand requires constant investment of time and money money and more money. So it is important for ‘other’ brands if they want inroads into that share to make sure the incumbent brand isn’t bought… Read more »
holvart
Guest

So why bother? They don’t want you – you don’t like them. Are you like a woman who thinks she’s going to change her husband?

webber
Guest

Holvart – FYI women can change their husbands (they can get a new one).

holvart
Guest

thanks for supporting my point

Guest

@holvart
Today 4:00 pm

That is a good point. That is what I asked myself when I was fourteen and left the Hungarians stew in their own juice.

But not everyone can do that, not everyone gets the chance. For them, all that is left is to to complain bitterly about a truly intolerable situation; intolerable, that is, for all who are unwilling or unable to become a party to that intolerable situation.

holvart
Guest

“the goal of benefiting ALL the people individually and collectively not sects or cliques or specialized social or political groups”

How is that project working out in Israel? 2 states or 1? Anyone?

Guest

holvart
Today 4:56 pm

Better than you think.

Despite being continuously under siege, despite being made up of all races from all corners of the world that arrive there speaking 150 different languages, and despite a society riven by deeper than deep religious, ethnic, social and political fault lines.

Just shows you that it can be done, if the will, the brains, the enterprise and the energy are there.

Guest

That was a sly little attempt on your part, holvart, to change the subject. Got a problem with THE Jews, ars*hole?

webber
Guest

Slight disagreement – I don’t think the democratic opposition should spend its energy opposing every stupid little thing Fidesz does. I think it should concentrate on the things that effect little people, or which little people will notice: threats against all those who challenge Fidesz (esp. the plight of little people – the opposition hasn’t done this); widespread impoverishment; the real state of the economy; the state of hospitals and health care; the state of education; Fidesz’s lies; the fall in value of real wages over time; the state of public transportation; people leaving the country

A poster campaign could be very effective about “Hungary does better” (Magyarország jobban teljesít) could be very effective – that slogan, plus pictures of horrible hospital wards, Kőbánya-Kispest train station, homeless people sleeping in forests, poor people living in miserable conditions.

Guest

London Calling!

Tamás says: “Do we live in a democracy?” Bauer answers no.

Charlie has said: Don’t use ‘democracy’ use ‘so-called democracy’ because it is a Commocracy

Tamás says: “……don’t consider the new constitution legitimate, they shouldn’t offer amendments to it…….” And: “they shouldn’t interpellate”.

“These politicians behave as if they lived in a democratic country. The opposition parties (but Bauer is talking mostly about MSZP) shouldn’t initiate parliamentary debates.”

Charlie has said: be elected but don’t take up your seat in this sham of a parliament.

Tamás says “the whole process is a mockery”.

Charlie: A de-mock-racy

Tamás indicates: “It is not true that the Orbán regime is a “mafia dictatorship.”

Charlie has said: It is an exaggeration to say Hungary is a Mafia State – “A Mafia State it ain’t” – to deal with a problem you have to analyse it correctly (I had the hardest task on here defending this position).

Tamás infers that the ‘ referendum process should not be engaged with’.

Charlie said that the referendum ‘farce’ should not even be attempted – it cannot be used.

Tamás says the opposition parties should unite for the whole opposition period.

We have all said that on here.

Regards

Charlie.

Guest
A Commocracy A Commocracy is a nation frozen in a transitional state between an authoritarian regime and a political system that only they claim is a democracy. To be a democracy requires all of the values and elements of freedom – a free press; a free judiciary; a free population to work and express their views; freedom from poverty; a debating chamber in Parliament; an effective opposition in that Parliament and full representation of the people, including honest elections. And an open and transparent society. If any one of these is deficient – then it can arguably be called a Commocracy It will invoke Nationalism and Xenophobia as a mechanism to comfort its ‘voting’ constituency and promote a seige mentality to coalesce the population. The Commocratic regime makes claims for democracy – but they know that it doesn’t conform – and corruption, for example, is a revealing measure of lack of openness. To say they ‘aspire’ to democracy is wrong. ‘Aspiring’ suggests that the regime will eventually be a democracy – but it is ‘frozen’ in a transitional state and there is no intention of embracing democratic values. Whilst there are others who are coming from a different direction, for… Read more »
webber
Guest

You may be right, but will the punters care?

Guest

@charliecharlieh
Today 4:35 am

I think it is safe to say, charliecharlieh, that you are barging through open doors on this forum with the two posts above, and I don’t think there is any of us who would disagree with you on any point.

The real challenge however is not so much the outraged presentation of the current scandalous state of affairs over and over and over and over, but to present sensible, workable and well thought out strategies and tactics that would enable breaking out from the current intolerable state of affairs towards a desirable one, i.e. to move from the current intolerable point A to a future desirable point B, the ways and means that would be required to be able to do so, and the time the exercise might be likely to take.

We know perfectly well what the state of affairs is in Hungary today; we have been witnessing it and hearing about it ad nauseam for years. What we don’t know is how to change it for the better, and to my mind at least, that is the bottom line, the most vital and really interesting political and social question that the debate should focus on.

holvart
Guest

Didn’t you say that your cousins did something like that kind of social engineering in 1919 already?

webber
Guest

A Jobbik supporter, I presume?

Guest

@holvart
Today 4:58 pm

Nope.

Our family got it in the neck first from the reds and then from the whites in 1919, and the process was then repeated in reverse order from 1938 to 1955.

My parents were too old and too sick to leave that accursed place after all that they have gone through there, but I was lucky enough to be able to bail out of there in 1956.

Never regretted it for even one second.

Guest

Today’s post and the comments are filled with suggestions about what should be done by those parties whose correct collective name cannot be agreed on. I can think of nothing to add to the suggestions except getting rid of the flat tax. It is Orban’s main tool for achieving his program: Making the poor poorer. Explain it to the poor voters first thing.

Istvan
Guest
Orban could lose his American friends by moving to a high graduated income tax as exists in Northern Europe. American conservatives in general support a flat tax at least in theory. The Hungarian flat income tax rate of 16% is however far too low and the VAT too high. The corporate tax rate is also too low, but that is done purposely to promote Hungary for development and investment. In the USA the middle quintile household income of around $65,000 pays an effective federal tax rate of only 11.5%. This is able to happen because of the graduated income tax that creates a very high tax rate on households with incomes over $134,000 a year, going as high with effective tax rates ranging from 19.3 to 29.4%. In general American conservatives argue that this high rate reduces investment on the part of the most wealthy in the USA. Many conservatives here support the idea of the modified flat income tax. Trump would reduce the tax brackets to only 4, with the highest bracket paying only 15% ( http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Donald_Trump_Tax_Reform.htm ). But Trump knows these numbers do not add up to enough for the national government to function, so he includes a… Read more »
webber
Guest

What American friends does Orban have now? Enlighten us.
The Republican leadership refuses to meet him. The Democratic leadership, ditto.
Incidentally, since when did anyone in America care at all about Hungarian income tax policies?
Tell me that, please.
By “friends” do you mean the people he pays to lobby for him?
He won’t lose those no matter what he does – as long as he keeps paying their salaries.
Or do you mean Putin’s moles? They, too, couldn’t care less about Hungary’s tax rate.

Istvan
Guest

Those who invest in the Danube fund, those who invest or own directly corporations that make money in Central Europe, see Hungary’s tax policy as a positive, except for special taxes on foreign firms which are not liked at all. These would be among those you might look at. The extended Bush family has been involved in Central European investment for example. US biotech giant Monsanto, and many other firms need to work with the wealthy of Hungary for many investment reasons. The expert I consulted on these issues relating to direct investment by Americans in Hungary when I considered it in Budapest was Kyle Hatcher at our embassy who was Economic Section Chief. I don’t know if he is still there, but I am sure if he isn’t there is an equally knowledgeable replacement, that can discuss how tax considerations figure into direct foreign investments and working with Hungarian firms.

webber
Guest

Surely these people don’t care about Hungarian income tax?
They wouldn’t pay it anyway – foreign investors never do.

Istvan
Guest

They care about join ventures and therefore about income taxes for investors in Hungary.

webber
Guest

Istvan – this I know,: there is no dual taxation in Hungary vis-a-vis American citizens, and vice versa. This is a bilateral tax agreement between Hungary and the US that predates EU accession (I specifically asked at the Embassy, and got a nice handout on this ages ago). If you pay income taxes in Hungary, you do not pay them on that income in the US, and the reverse is also true.
Any investor would be insane to pay income taxes in Hungary (or investment taxes – not to mention profit taxes, and corporate taxes, which are insane in Hungary). I can assure you, taxes are far lower in the US.

Istvan
Guest

We are not talking about dual taxation. When one is looking for a joint venture partner, they are looking most often for a Hungarian. The flat tax from the perspective of many conservative Americans is a positive good because it creates greater incentive to invest on the part of those already wealthy in Hungary.

This is a very common perspective among conservatives, FreedomWorks is a conservative and libertarian advocacy group based in Washington D.C., supports and promotes the flat tax here. Senator Rand Paul a libertarian is a big promoter of the flat tax idea too. FreedomWorks helped foster the Tea Party movement here in the USA. So Orban’s promotion of the flat tax would be extremely pleasing to that crowd.

webber
Guest

Istvan – I think what you’re saying is wrong. No investor I know cares the slightest bit about another investors’ tax returns, or where s/he files – not even if the other investor is a partner.
No investor with a choice would set up a company to be taxed in Hungary. Corporate taxes are ridiculous in Hu.
Caiman Islands? Yes! Budapest? No.
Invest in Hungary and be taxed in another country? Sure.

holvart
Guest

Yes, Rand Paul would seem a perfect friend for Orban and Trump. That is if you can’t get Rand’s dad. Throw in Le Pen and Putin and maybe some North Koreans.

Guest

@holvart
Today 5:02 pm

Duh? Rand Paul? What have you been smoking today?

Guest

@Istvan
“foreign firms which are not liked at all”
How does a foreign firm go about making itself liked?

Istvan
Guest

Jean tax proposals specific to foreign firms operating in Hungary is what I was discussing. Frankly, Eva even wrote as I recall one or two posts critical of those proposals relating to taxation of foreign firms.

Guest

@Istvan
Today 1:24 pm

Levels of taxation constitute only one of the considerations of foreign investors. Important, but only one.

The bottom line is the net profit that can be expected to derive from the venture and the sustainability of that net profit over the long haul.

That however is also impacted by considerations of productivity, multinational strategy, local availability of essential skills and capabilities, local energy and animal spirits, local inventiveness and enterprise, local social and political stability, local business ethics and transparency and so on.

And for large multinationals tax considerations are largely immaterial, since there are relatively simple ways to shift profits from high tax to low tax locations.

Observer
Guest

Sorry Istvan,

I can’t equate investment with political friendship, perhaps some in the area of small family cos investing.
Friends of Orban should be a stigma for those with even a slight knowledge of European affairs (paid lobbysts excepted).

Re taxation – there is no proof that taxing high level incomes=consumption in the whole of the OECD economic system diminishes investment.

I follow the T.Picketty, W.Buffet and others’ argument that taxing the top incomes should be way way higher, the 7 figure incomes maybe over 50-60%. Ditto for inheritance tax for the super rich.
I see the current political dissatisfaction, protest vote, apathy, etc. mainly due to the stagnant or declining living standards in Europe and the US.
To let this continue unchecked will cost the Western world very very dearly, I am afraid.

Guest
@Observer Today 2:21 pm Hm. Not so simple. I think we need to pause a moment before we launch half cocked into class warfare and soaking the rich. The end of the day the rich can only eat so much and only consume so much; what they eat and consume van only be a fraction of a fraction of their wealth of their wealth. The rest of their dough must go somewhere. Leaving it sitting in a bank account or putting it into gold or diamonds will lead to massive opportunity costs and often to actual losses in value, and therefore cannot involve more than just an another fraction of a fraction of their wealth, to be used only as backstops in cases of real emergency. Some fraction of their wealth goes to philanthropy and charity, which have tax advantages and make the rich feel and look good. But the vast bulk of their wealth MUST BE productively invested in order for them to be able to stay wealthy. That in turn means employing multitudes in private enterprise and creating enormous amounts of wealth for all partners in enterprise, be it the CEO, the fitter and turner on the factory… Read more »
Guest

Correction:

” . . . what they eat and consume can only be a fraction of a fraction of their wealth.” the end of para 4.

Guest

Well, there might be some opposition to this so called “trickle down” from the rich in reality …
You should read this satirical piece:
http://harddawn.com/trumps-robot-future/

Observer
Guest

@ambalint 2.21pm

I am fully aware of the points you set out.
Taxation of company profit affects investment, not so much of the individual income (on higher levels).

Yes, the consumption of the super rich’s is a small fraction of their wealth, hence they will not feel anything if taxed more.
Yes, the inheritance tax means redistribution, but the shares, properties, etc. are sold on the market on a regular basis, decreasing prices and increasing relative returns.

The mail point is to increase the income from labor, the consumption and quality of state services, which are much more direct ways to stimulate the economy.
This will have political benefits stalling the populists.
It’s very complicated, but this is the essence of it.

Guest

Yes Jean

The abolition of the flat tax was listed in the DK manifesto – the only party that published a manifesto.

The flat tax is an insidious financial mechanism that means the poor pay much more for their society – while the rich laugh all the way to the bank.

And it particularly unfairly affects a specific group of Hungarians – the Hungarian Roma.

The only fair tax in a democracy – which Hungary isn’t of course – is a progressive tax.

It is a basic requirement that everybody is treated as equals in a fair society – the flat tax breaches this unequivocally – and Hungarians must know this.

This tax ‘concession’ and the energy bribes – the wallet vote – are the reasons why the older population keep hold of power and vote Fidesz and keep Orban in power – and he knows it.

And it will continue until Hungarians start voting for their children’s future and for – dare I say it – real democracy.

In the meantime countless thousands leave.

Guest

“It is a basic requirement that everybody is treated as equals in a fair society – the flat tax breaches this unequivocally – and Hungarians must know this.”

So must the Americans…..

webber
Guest

Some Americans.
But “equality” is not a value in the view of many Americans. Lots like inequality – feel it is natural and right.

Guest

@charliecharlieh
Today 8:58 am

Unless of course the flat tax was very low and applied right across the board, rather than just to income.

That could mean, for instance a relatively low, uniform tax on all stationary wealth, property, shares, inheritance, capital gains, charity, consumption, as well as of course income.

In other words, a charge on all stationary wealth, and a 10% toll every time money changes hands.

No exceptions.

Those on or below the poverty line would be adequately compensated by a system of special rebates or negative tax.

The actual tax rate would need to be modeled out and calculated so as to ensure that sufficient funds could and would always be collected to meet society’s expectations for the provision and quality of public services.

Goodness, what would the poor old politician, tax lawyer and tax accountant have left to do in such a horrific situation?

As to the Hungarian Roma, I think that the issues around them are just “very slightly” more complex than the supposed or actual unfairness to them of the flat tax, which by the way could of course be easily fixed by a special rebate or negative tax that would adequately compensate people on or below the poverty line.

Guest

Correction:

” . . . rather than just to income AND CONSUMPTION (VAT).” at the end of para 1.

Guest

Correction:

” . . . and a toll every time money changes hands.” at the end of para 3 (10% deleted).

Guest

Imho Hungarians don’t understand the tax regime at all – they are happy because of the flat tax and the falling energy costs – but don’t get it that they have about the highest VAT!

Especially crazy that it’s 27% on most basic stuff like food – we in Germany have only 7%VAT on food, books etc …
This of course hurts poor people much more than rich ones who spend much less on food (percentage wise).
It’s the same story with the energy costs: A flat reduction of 10% obviously means much more money for a rich family with air condition, swimming pool etc than for some poor blokes who have no central heating but still use firewood for cooking and heating …

And at the same time Hungarians whine that things are cheaper abroad – that must be the bad global companies’ responsibility of course!

Seems too many people believe the Fidesz propaganda even if it’s obviously false!

Are Hungarians really that stupid?

Norbi3
Guest
This is how taxation works. Politically you have to tax what people accept. For example the so called “transaction stamp duty” (a real tax actually) the banks have to pay formally is actually paid by the customers in the form of increased fees (so they blame the blood sucking banks). The average joes pay the tax anyway but if you wanted to introduce it as say income tax on their incomes there would be a revolt. And so on. The reason why VAT should be decreased from 27 to around 12 (according to various studies the actual revenues would remain the same at that level) is because high VAT encourages tax fraud. The scale is enormous, we talk about hundreds of billions of lost tax revenues per annum. The government is aware of this exactly – in significant part the US visa issue you may remember was about this. The Hungarian Tax Authority, however, has been actively refusing to investigate the big players (except in a few token cases). But Orban wants to keep high VAT for two reasons: (1) first, VAT fraud is managed by companies in bed with Fidesz all over Hungary, so it’s a huge and extremely… Read more »
Guest

@Charlie:
We bring as much butter as possible (my car fridges are always full …) from Germany each time we go there – it keeps nicely in the freezer …
And also cheese in all variations, from Emmentaler to Italian ones.

@Norbi.

Yes, this is a field for money games …

Of course we also “cheat” on taxes: We buy as much as possible from our neighbours in .
the village and their relatives:
eggs, chicken, ham and bacon, sausages, potatoes, vegetables, fruit, walnuts, honey, wine, pumpkin seed oil, pálinka …

And we take a lot of that stuff to our friends and family in Germany!

The only one where we get a tax receipt is the guy who produces that fantastic pumpkin seed oil – maybe he was visited by the men in black from the tax authority once …

And the people doing repairs on the house (carpenter, plumber etc) are also happy when we don’t ask for a receipt …

holvart
Guest

Firewood for heating? How bad have things gotten in Germany?

webber
Guest

Wolfi is talking about Hungary – firewood being used by Hungarians.

Guest

@holvart
Today 5:06 pm

Looks to me like you have a serious problem with English comprehension.

Member

Holy guacamole, this is a surprise: the election commission rejected Mrs. Erdősi’s question in favor of Nyakó’s.

I guess those election commission officials better start looking for a new job, possibly even abroad…

http://index.hu/belfold/2016/02/29/varatlan_fordulat_megis_az_mszp_nepszavazasi_kerdeset_engedik_at/

webber
Guest

Meanwhile, Matolcsy’s salary will be raised from 2.3 million forints, to 5 m. forints per month. That is, he will be earning significantly more in a month than an associate professor at a university earns in a year. Indeed, many school teachers don’t earn that much in two years.

Cseperke
Guest

Always the leftists complaining. The teachers, professors don’t work as much as Dr. Matolcsy does. Everything is absolutely legal. He was named as one of the best central bankers in Europe, OK? When were these teachers and professors named as the best teachers of Europe? I’m sick of their complaining, nothing is every enough for them. Balhézni bezzeg tudnak.

Dr. Matolcsy is one of Hungary’s top economists. He is helping Hungarian entrepreneurs and punishing foreign banks. He is worth every dime.

Tetszettek volna forrradalmat csinálni. We did.

Guest

I consider this satire – if it was not meant as such, then …

webber
Guest

wolfi – it’s not satire. This is how they actually speak, loudly and in arrogant tones, in Hungarian. You thought a couple of other similar comments were satire – some might have been, but I’m fairly some weren’t. These people have no idea how awful they sound, and they actually believe their own lies.

Gőzeke
Guest

I can confirm webber that this is exactly how fideszniks talk and think. I know quite a few.

I actually think that the Salgotarjan election results were an extremely impressive feat for Fidesz despite the fact that Fidesz lost seriously.

So many people still, after all voted for Fidesz. Half of Hungary is really a die-hard fidesznik, thinking along these lines. Do not underestimate that power and support all over Hungary. In Western Hungary Fidesz still has way more than a majority of people in my experience.

Top Fideszniks think this was a huge show for support in a very leftist place such as Tarján and obviously will not give up power without a fight (well, Fidesz will not give up power period).

webber
Guest

I think Fidesz people are more than a little unhappy about the results in Salgótarján. They did comparatively worse – compared with 2014 – and much worse than they expected.
I would bet almost any sum now that they won’t call early elections (not yet, anyway) because they know for certain that they will lose even more seats in parliament if there are elections now.

webber
Guest

P.S. There is no way they have “way more than the majority of people” nationwide.

Guest

“He was named as one of the best central bankers in Europe”.

Ha! Ha!.HAaaaaaaaa! HAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Oh! Sto…… HAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa stop pleeeeeeeees ….HAAaaaaaaaaàa ……
Haaaaaaaa. STOPPPP!!!!!……. Haaaaaaaaaaaàaaàaaa…….

“Dr. Matolcsy is one of Hungary’s top economists….

No problems with that.

petofi
Guest

@Cseperke

“He was named as one of the best central bankers in Europe”.

Where? It’s standard, in English, to give a quote on which you base this claim.

The only grading of central bankers that I saw was in “Global Finance”. Matolcsy’s grade for 2014 was B-. The only European banker rated lower was the one for Belarus who got a grade of C.
Four other bankers were rated at B- with all other bankers of Europe rated higher than that.

Does that, in your comprehension, put Matolcsy as ‘one of the best bankers in Europe’?

petofi
Guest

Correction: Only THREE other European bankers were rated as low as Matolcsy…

webber
Guest

What revolution?
Fidesz still hasn’t opened the secret police files. No lustration (átvilágítás) no revolution.
I recall Fidesz people screaming bloody murder about Simor’s salary when he was head of the Central Bank.
Matolcsy is a disaster as Central Banker, just as he was a disaster as Finance Minister.

webber
Guest

Keep it up, Cseperke!
What do you think average Hungarians will say when they learn of Matolcsy’s raise? All paid for with their money.
Just keep the arrogance – keep up your superior tone. It’s very effective. We saw the results in Salgótarján yesterday.
You Fidesz people are losers, and only you don’t know it yet.

Guest

@webber
Today 8:15 am

In Oz, we call people like Cseperke ars*holes incorporated. Empty headed, uninformed, full of themselves and full of sh*t.

Egy beképzelt, üresfejű hörcsög, amely fel se képes fogni, hogy mekkora egy pöcegödörben ül.

webber
Guest

Don’t insult hamsters!

spectator
Guest

You are the member of the sect too, aren’t you?
And a faithful one for that.
Otherwise you may risk to believe to your own eyes instead of gobbling up all the ready chewed crap, so you don’t even have to think yourself.

Don’t ever try to see and think, because it will be the end of your mental comfort, for sure…

holvart
Guest

“Fideszniks” is this motley crew’s code for “Hungarians”, right?

webber
Guest

When only a minority are voting for Fidesz???
Don’t insult a whole nation!

Guest

@holvart
Today 5:09 pm

If you mean Fiddiks, then on my part at least, the answer is most definitely in the affirmative.

Szóval pukkadj csak meg.

Observer
Guest

Matolcsy “He is worth every dime. ” to the Orban mafia. Of course, that’s what Orban put him there for, the last place with some money to be stolen.

petofi
Guest

Who decided this? How can Matolcsy’s salary more than double?

webber
Guest

Not only will Matolcsy’s salary more than double – the same will happen to the salaries of his deputies. Moreover, funds shifted from the Central Bank to Matolcsy’s various foundations are being made a state secret by the same law.
Nice, huh? I wonder how much money will actually be left in the bank when he’s finished his work?

webber
Guest
petofi
Guest

Thanks, Webber.

Gőzeke
Guest

Facebook conversations about Matolcsy’s pay increase.

(This is the legal part of his incomes, the untold billions syphoned off via the private foundations of the Central Bank are another matter, but Fideszniks like to pick up the change too.)

http://martonbede.tumblr.com/post/140211065879/szomszedsrac

Guest

Just wondering. VO looks like he’s doing pretty well. 25 mil ft a year I believe (unless he got a raise) for his job. Yikes… Nice work if you can get it. And the guys no doubt around him their ten finger discounts.

Observer
Guest

Got to be kidding – OV is probably among the 50 even 30 richest individuals. Unless one belived he made Mészáros 86th rich out of good neighbor feelings.
Mind you, this grand corruption expedition started with the Gripen jets in 1999/2000, and was turbo charged after 2010.

petofi
Guest

Canadian cabinet members, together with expenses etc, make about $250,000 per year. Matolcsy is set to make $300,000 in SALARY ALONE.

Wow! Hungarian government really does ‘perform better’!

Now, the question: Will Canadian politicians move en masse to Hungary?

I guess not: they know better than to move to the outhouse from the penthouse…

petofi
Guest

It’s truly mind-boggling that Matolcsy’s salary increase is advertised. Talk about in-your-face hutzpah!
Fear of the electorate?
Worried about the next election?

Hungary and it’s Teflon party–Fidesz.

jóska
Guest

Nope, it was all a show.

Index.hu (which broke the – now it seems – planted story) as well as the MSZP and LMP members of the election commission who were promised last week a fair hearing on Monday (so they did not oppose the rejection of MSZP’s appeal) were duped (or paid) again.

When will these suckers ever learn that Fidesz always wins?

Non-Fideszniks can only assist Fidesz in its show just like IMF etc. did during the famous peakock dances.

There is no f*****g way, I repeat there is no way MSZP or any opposition party will ever have any referendum in Hungary ever.

Anything contrary to that is just a show. People in 2016 still think that Fidesz gives in to leftists – this is not how it works. The election committee is made up of extremely loyal people who were selected for loyalty to Belügy, they do as ordered.

petofi
Guest

And this is YOUR idea of ‘government’?

Asshole.

jóska
Guest

petofi: What made you think that? I was replying to shoopy who apparently has no idea how things work in Hungary.

For example shoopy wrote:

“I guess those election commission officials better start looking for a new job, possibly even abroad”

Nope, those commission members aren’t going anywhere. The are the most loyal troopers of the Orbanian deep state, it’s ridiculous to think that they would let an opposition question go forward or that they would leave Hungary. They are home, oh, yes they are.

webber
Guest

Shoopy knows just fine how things work in Hungary. He saw the story on Index, and thought based on that something had happened. Index was duped (or wrong).
If you want to argue that people at Index don’t have a clue about Hungary, then fine – then you can argue it about Shoopy too. Otherwise, what Shoopy said was perfectly logical based on what he knew (and could know) when he wrote it – and he could only know it based on news that appeared in Hungarian (it didn’t appear in any other language).

Guest

@webber
Today 4:00 pm

I am with you on this webber, but at the same time it does not hurt to be deeply skeptical about government-related news in the Hungarian media, whether it be the press, the internet, radio or television.

You don’t need me to tell you how much prevarication, dissembling and underhand game playing goes on in Hungarian media of all political colours, and especially at the hands of the journalistic prostitutes serving as mouthpieces for Fiddik.

Observer
Guest

@petofi 3.16 re joska

Take it easier and sharpen up your sense of humor.

Member

jóska: “When will these suckers ever learn that Fidesz always wins?”

Answer me this: Why is there no tax on the Internet here in Hungary? And how can that be possible if “Fidesz always wins?”

Go ahead, take your time. Somehow I expect to be waiting a long time for your answer.

jóska
Guest
shoopy: You are comparing apples and oranges. I’m talking about Fidesz acting – for a moment – as though it would accept a reasonable argument (like in the present case the rejection of the submission of that lady would be pretty reasonable legally) and then it turns out Fidesz is doing it as originally planned. This trick was played a hundred times. Fidesz can be forced into changing course only by the show of a credible force. There is no other way. It has been said at this blog many times that Orban and his people only understand the blunt exercise of raw power like when Putin calls Orban and then that’s that. Implicit in Putin’s orders is that he can turn off the tap or publish Orban’s reports to state security or whatever. Or when 50k people are marching seven days in a row against the internet tax. But if the case is about legal procedures involving state organizations thoroughly packed with loyal fidesz partizans then nothing will happen, ever. Last time it was the Kuria which killed the referendum, the president will sign, the constitutional court will assent etc. These are not independent organizations – I know it… Read more »
Guest

London Calling!

Politics is treating people fairly .

Your mantra about ‘winning’ is just ignorance compounded by ignorance and a complete misunderstanding of what democracy is – but hey! You will never know because Hungary is no democracy and you are so ignorant.

Try thinking ‘lose’ – because it’s you and the Hungarian people who are losing.

You will find out eventually.

Regards

Charlie.

Guest

@charliecharlieh
Today 5:16 pm

A close reading of what Jóska wrote gives no indication whatsoever that he approves this undemocratic state of affairs. If anything, the contrary is the case. It is perhaps his somewhat gleeful tone and some inappropriate expressions that he uses that might be interpreted as unwarranted triumphalism, and that is what might have got your goat up. But to me it seems that what he wrote was pretty factual, and I myself am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, not least because of this key sentence of his:

“Fidesz can be forced into changing course only by the show of a credible force.”

Member

Maybe you’re right, but I think you underestimate MSZP in this affair.

Why do you think Nyakó brought along a phalanx of journalists with him? They all knew something mischievous would happen, and they were right. Moreover, they caught it all on camera, even running after the skinheads to pepper them with questions.

It seems to me that MSZP’s subversive goal was to bring bad press to Fidesz. In that I would say they succeeded.

Guest

@shoopy
Today 6:51 pm

Very true. Obviously.

petofi
Guest

The ‘bad press’ doesn’t mean a thing….But recording an illegality and the government’s non-action…is another thing altogether.

petofi
Guest

not ‘non-action’ but ‘inaction’…

áron
Guest
My impression was that the media was there as a quasi deterrent ‘against Fidesz’ so that Fidesz would eventually accept MSZP’s referendum proposal given that they were filmed. MSZP figured that Fidesz would not dare prevent MSZP from succeeding when the media was there and mszpniks had a better legal case. But Fidesz doesn’t care about all these. Fidesz controls the media. (The entire “free” internet is perhaps read by 1 million people out or 8m voters.) I’m certain that 60% of Hungarians didn’t even hear about this circus. The rest may have heard about it in Fidesz’ media and thought that MSZP as usual f***d it up. Or whatever. The point is, I’m not sure MSZP came out as a winner in this case. Their perennial is image is that of the hapless loser – which was reinforced again. Fidesz would become extremely belligerent in a similar case and that matters. It would send the all-important message that Fidesz is tough and doesn’t accept such a violation of its honor. In a grand narrative when the world is against us (fighting the EU, the Americans, the liberals, the communists, the jews etc.) being a “weakling” is not a good… Read more »
webber
Guest

“Many voters hate losers…”
That would explain the results in Salgotarjan.

Your entire narrative is based on a bunch of unsubstantiatable assumptions.

áron
Guest
webber: This may be true. I like everybody else base my evaluations on various assumptions. There is no other way to do it. In times of (a prolonged global economic) crisis the world unfortunately tends to turn to strong figures and among others accept more curtailing of freedoms/corruption in exchange for the protection of a strong leader who at least gives us a good feeling of worth and pride. In politics it’s all about leadership. MSZPniks want to get elected to be leaders of a nation. Do their image correspond to the expected charateristics of a leader? I’m not sure, and I’m not sure the events at the election committee helped their case in that respect. People may feel sympathy but also know that leaders have to make tough choices and thus must be tough themselves. Look at Putin or Erdogan, the majority of voters (sure, due to the lack of alternatives engineered by these tyrants themselves) adore them and reelect them with happiness (in a nationalistic fervor, but still). You know exactly that MSZP and the entire Hungarian left field suffer from this image of being weak and ineffectual (because this applies to all modern leftist parties). I’m not… Read more »
Observer
Guest

re. @cseperke

Guys, you have to admit it – these add some spice here.
I know, many don’t like to read such cretin-like statements, but that’s the joke.
After all they don’t have any figures or arguments, its all slogans (issued by the agit-prop dept. from time to time)

Matolcsy (he’s early career excepted) is now considered a charlatan (and political whore) in the profession here.
I agree. Moreover, looking at him speaking and at his body language I feel there is something wrong with him on a personal level.

Observer
Guest

Don’t worry Shoopy, nobody’s going to be fired in the NEO, This “leak” was just a rouse, they duly approved the nonsensical and illegal question.

In essence the old lady asked the public
to express political support for the regime by confirming the stable status quo and
the parliament to do nothing.
Both not allowed/envisaged by the law on referendum, but in Hungary there is a different set of rules for the opposition.

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