The continuing saga of the referendum question

Earlier I described February 23 as a “day of infamy” in the life of the Orbán government. It was on that day that István Nyakó, a former MSZP member of parliament, was prevented from reaching the time clock that registers the exact arrival of an intended referendum question at the National Election Office. Approximately twenty skinheads stood in his way. His question was thus clocked four seconds after a young man handed in the meaningless referendum question of Mrs. Erdősi, the wife of the mayor of Herceghalom, a small hamlet not far from Budapest. The lady seems to be a fanatical admirer of Viktor Orbán.

The Orbán regime obviously dreads a referendum on the question of Sunday store closings, which would be overwhelmingly rejected by the voters. Since the passage of the bill that greatly inconvenienced the majority of the population this was the thirteenth attempt to reverse the 2014 decision, which has been in force since March 15, 2015. Most of the referendum questions that reached the National Election Committee and the Kúria were formulated in such a way as to be ruled invalid, delaying the submission of any other question on the issue. The National Election Office in cahoots with the National Election Commission used all the tricks in the book to prevent the submission of any question that had the slightest chance of approval. But they seem to have run out of tricks, hence the 200-kg skinheads. An optimistic MSZP politician described the event as “the last flurry of a hapless dictatorship.”

I’m not sure of that, but in the last few days the government and Fidesz have retreated on a host of issues. One doesn’t have to search very hard to see cracks in the edifice. Several high-ranking Fidesz politicians openly criticized the party’s handling of the referendum question. It looks as if László Kövér disapproves of the bill that György Matolcsy, chairman of the Hungarian National Bank, and Viktor Orbán pushed through parliament to allow the profits of the bank—which are naturally public money—to be transferred into private funds established by the bank. According to rumor, President Áder may not sign the bill. János Lázár, head of the prime minister’s office, already talked yesterday about a possible compromise on the issue. There is also a general retreat on the education front as well, but so far the compromises the government is offering don’t satisfy the educators. The government will have to go much further than it ever intended.

And it looks as if the government will have to retreat on the issue of the referendum as well. After the head of the National Election Office, Ilona Pálffy, determined that everything was in perfect order because no one had prevented Nyakó from reaching the clock, Mrs. Erdősi’s question was sent on to the National Election Commission. But then, something must have happened behind the scenes because, after some hesitation, she decided to pass on Nyakó’s question as well.

That was the first crack in the Fidesz defense. The second crack came when the National Election Commission, after looking at the existing videos, split on the merit of Nyakó’s complaint. Above is the crucial 26 seconds that shows the situation at the  National Election Office. The chairman of the commission, Szabolcs Patyi, sided with the delegates of the opposition against the Fidesz-KDNP delegates. Still, the vote was 7 to 5 in favor of Mrs. Erdősi’s claim. Thus, it was her question that was sent to the Kúria for final approval. But high-ranking members of Fidesz were not at all satisfied with Ilona Pálffy’s handling of the affair. Both László Kövér and Gergely Gulyás urged an investigation of the case, and apparently some members of the Fidesz parliamentary delegation were up in arms, blaming Gábor Kubatov, deputy chairman of Fidesz and head of the Ferencváros FTC, for the debacle. After all, some of the skinheads were the club’s security guards.

After the National Election Committee’s decision, Nyakó didn’t give up. On March 2 he submitted a request for a review of the case to the Kúria. Yesterday the Kúria made its decision public: it partially annulled the decision of the National Election Committee. After taking a look at the video, the judges reached the conclusion that Nyakó had after all been prevented from exercising his constitutional rights. But the Kúria didn’t agree with Nyakó’s position that there was a conspiracy between Mrs. Erdősi and the skinheads, although it is blatantly obvious that Mrs. Erdősi and the skinheads acted together according to a well-executed plan. Each of the men held a translucent folder with a copy of Mrs. Erdősi’s referendum question together with her signature. They were photocopies of the original. The enlarged picture of the folder is clear proof of collusion. The Kúria obviously didn’t want to rule on the charge of collusion, which would lead straight to Gábor Kubatov, who, by the way, happened to be in the United States at the time, learning the secrets of the Republican Party’s campaign strategies.

Mrs. Erdősi's signature is clearly visible

Mrs. Erdősi’s signature is clearly visible

But Kubatov didn’t have to be present to prevent MSZP from turning in a referendum question. Kubatov filled all the important positions at the Ferencváros club with people who have strong ties to Fidesz. One such man is Kubatov’s secretary, Máté Kindlovits, who is actually the managing director of the club’s affairs due to Kubatov’s many duties in the party. The club’s spokesman is Bence Sipos, who just happens to be Kindlovits’s old classmate at the Pál Apostol Katolikus Gimnázium. And Ádám Varró, the young man who actually handed Mrs. Erdősi’s referendum question to the authorities, was a classmate of Kindlovits and Sipos. (For those unfamiliar with the Hungarian educational system, friendships made in high school can mean life-long associations. Thirty or forty students spend four years together in the same classroom, often sitting at the same desks and having the same homeroom teacher, who in this case happened to be a man who today is the Fidesz mayor of District XVII.)

I assume that in Kubatov’s absence it was Kindlovits who arranged the meeting between Mrs. Erdősi and the Fradi hooligans. How did Mrs. Erdősi enter the scene? A few years ago she was pictured on one of the billboards advertising the decrease in utility prices. Today (in the second picture) she is a few years older, a little grayer, but still willing to serve Fidesz. Most likely Kindlovits recruited her for the job, promising the assistance of his men and assuring her that she doesn’t have to do anything, just be there, because his old high school friend Ádám Varró will take care of everything.

erdosine billboard

erdosine today

I don’t have much hope that the police investigation which is now underway will ever get as far as my imagined scenario. But I’m not so sure that the earlier obstructionist practices will continue unabated. Fidesz and Viktor Orbán are feeling the pinch.

March 4, 2016
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Paul
Guest

If this really is the beginning of the end for Orbán, and not just another false dawn – what happens if Orbán is dethroned?

The left are too weak and disorganised (and unpopular) to take over government, Jobbik just doesn’t have a big enough base of voters to win an election, and there is no centre-right party to attract disenchanted Fidesz voters away.

So what will replace the Fidesz government? Another Fidesz government.

webber
Guest

Just after the 2006 elections a prominent Hungarian sociologist told me that the Hungarian right was disintegrating. I expressed some doubt.
Similarly, I think you might be misreading something into the left’s weakness.

In Petofian terms- when a political party in Hungary looks like it might win elections, suddenly all sorts of organizers join it. Gangsters always want a piece of the pie.

Member

These reviews of the National Election Office left by ordinary people on Google really cracked me up:
https://www.google.hu/?gws_rd=ssl#q=nemzeti+v%C3%A1laszt%C3%A1si+iroda&lrd=0x4741dc1181fa42a1:0x79cbbc75aba8e0ff,1,,

Guest

‘Kidoboember’ and linked with ‘elections’ …… Have to add that one to my vocab list….;-)….

Member

Nyakó was smart to bring cameramen and journalists along with him. It’s hard to refute video proof that everyone in the country can watch with their own eyes.

The law requiring stores to close on Sundays has turned into a huge headache for the government, and I suspect that Fidesz regrets enacting it in the first place. What has the government gained politically from forcing stores to close on Sundays? Did it actually gain them any new voters, or increased public support? If so, it couldn’t have been much.

It’s hard to see this law as anything else but a misstep that just produces a never-ending stream of bad press for Fidesz. But of course the government can’t rescind the law without losing a massive loss of face, so it’s in a bind.

PS – am I the only one who thinks it’s a bit odd that every member of the election commission has a PhD? I wonder what they do there that requires a doctorate, especially since 7 of them are apparently unable to use their eyes properly to discern what it obvious to the rest of us:
http://www.valasztas.hu/hu/nvb/16/16_0.html

petofi
Guest

Hungarian PhD’s…please note the quality of such a degree as exemplified by that of the heroic Schmidt Pal….

Guest

@petofi
Today 2:02 am

The quality of PhD dissertations in the humanities and social sciences have gone down and down and down ever since the onset of university level mass education a decade or so after WW2. Back in the late 19th century, the original idea was that a PhD dissertation would present a substantial piece of original research that would add significant new information to the store of human knowledge. Nothing doing on that score these days in the humanities and social sciences, and the situation is particularly pathetic in Hungary, as well as of course in the rest of the East Block too.

Guest

” – am I the only one who thinks it’s a bit odd that every member of the election commission has a PhD?”

The PhD is an accessory to their dress. They are dressed like bankers and politicians, in short like the people who engineered the Quaestor heist. Fortunately some people have seen the light and have changed to checkered shirts. The most promising sign for ages.

webber
Guest

Kubatov could have arranged it all with a phone call or an email or two. That he is in the US proves nothing.

petofi
Guest

Ms Erdosi two pics bring to mind The Picture of Dorian Gray–

petofi
Guest

The brave work of Ms Erdosi will, no doubt, be brought to the attention of the brethren at the Sunday services…

Member

Petofi, you seem mostly have right.

aranka
Guest

Orban isn’t worried. Should he be? Time is on his side.

In the fall he will have a 95% support at the referendum after some working on the Hungarian crowd, see blow.

Fidesz always plans ahead. Don’t worry about Fidesz, it’s the party of winners.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/05/great-syrian-refugee-crisis-exodus-epic-inconceivable-witness-lebos-islamic-state

Member

” it’s the party of winners. ”

You know, if that was really true then you and others wouldn’t have to keep repeating it so much on this site.

webber
Guest

If Fidesz is “the party of winners,” then Hungary is the country of losers.

webber
Guest

Who’s worried about Fidesz? Who cares?
We’re worried about Hungary.
If those refugees get into Hungary, then Orban’s fence doesn’t work. Then Orban is not “protecting Hungary.” That will show he’s a liar. Why should anyone support him then?
If those refugees don’t get into Hungary, then why would any Hungarians care?

What Hungarians will always care about is the state of public health, the state of the schools, the state of roads (more and more potholes, everywhere), poverty, migration from Hungary, and the enormous government corruption.

Guest

“Don’t worry about Fidesz, it’s the party of winners.”

I worry about the downtrodden.

Guest
“Orban is worried. Shouldn’t he be? Time is not on his side. In the fall he will not have a 95% support at the referendum after some working on the Hungarian crowd. Fidesz never plans ahead. Don’t worry about Fidesz, it’s the party of losers. Whatever happens, Orban is losing. Orban will lose again. He is much dimmer than his opponents. He is just a loser type, not a winner type. If you are a loser you vote for Fidesz, simple as that. And if you are a fidesznik you are unhappy because you feel yourself a loser. It’s not good to be a loser. And Fidesz is a party of losers. Who would vote for a party of the winners, right?” Orban is changing course, he will be much less pro-EU than he used to be in his politics. He is not able to adapt if circumstances so require. This is not win, but unsmart politics. Since he has the media, everything will be unclear and inconsistent to the people. The global economic crisis is not upon us again and the West is not in danger. The migrants keep coming. Orban will not be vindicated soon. Orban is unable… Read more »
Member

Hungarian new speak. Winner = looser. In the long run.

petofi
Guest

All pyrrhic victories–Orban’s Friday night
inventory of laughable opposition. No bother at all, just an integral part of the ‘pava tance’ that he so enjoys.

Member

Re. Sen. Rubio: I have a mounting suspicion that fidass is flirting with the Tea Party, not the GOP per se. (I am not sure though how far Rubio departed from his tea party base.) My second thought is the so-called “Cuban card” (some politicians, mainly of Cuban origin, think in the US that Hungary may have a role or it is a role model for transforming Havana). lol…

Member

Oh, that trusted home!

Member

An OT: After a series of high ranking visits to and from Iran, the MFA is trying to impress UAE (offering money, among others) and now the Saudis. Not sure if they are impressed, however the government messages may be of some interest to the readers as well. http://www.arabnews.com/saudi-arabia/news/890436

Guest

The Saudis are about to replace some Malev air slots in Ferihejy Airport…..

Guest

Oops! The UAE!

“United Arab Emirates is seeking to establish Budapest as a bridgehead for onward flights ……….”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-03/hungary-opens-door-for-emirates-to-provide-lost-air-link-to-u-s

Member

Charlie, Saudi Arabia is a true democracy next North Korea. So it is in the taste of OV, and his illiberal state.

Guest

London Calling!

In England – and I’m sure in other democracies – we have the ‘epetition’ on a government website. They are being trialled at the moment – and have been since 2010 and the process needs a little improvement.

On the government website anyone can propose a petition; and if it gets more than 100,000 (electronic) signatures then Parliament is obliged to debate it.

Since its inception – possibly overlapping Orban’s farcical referendum-game by a long period – we have had about 20 petitions debated in Parliament.

(Among them: Publication of Hillsborough disaster documents; Inquest for Hillsborough victim Kevin Williams; Fuel taxes; Beer duties; Badger cull; Rail franchising; EU referendum; Remploy factories; NHS reforms; The future of Babar Ahmed; Financial education; Pensions and inflation; VAT on air ambulances; Sudden adult death syndrome; Population limits; Children’s cardiac surgery at the East Midlands Congenital Heart Centre; and Minister for older people.)

The subject of such instruments should not be limited by technical hurdles- purposely placed to inhibit use.

I nearly said ‘democratic instruments’ but of course Hungary is not a democracy is it?

And of course Orban wouldn’t instigate it because people would use it.

Regards

Charlie

Member

Hungary is definitely not a democracy. It is what I see from Sweden. But what people see in Orbanistan is an another thing.

Member
The question is why Orban is so frightened to loose power?! Honestly, I think if it would be up to him, he would retire by now. He expressed over an over again in the pst that he does not want to be in politics, etc. I believe that being in politics opened his eyes about the financial opportunities. He was never about he “betterment” of his country, but about the betterment of himself. HIs low self-esteem that pushed him to prove how great he is, lead him to this overaggressive behaviour. Let us not forget his past with a father who constantly beat him (by his words). He had to prove himself to daddy, make daddy rich, and proud, then go on on make himself rich. He never denied how his family dipped into the honey pot. Nobody proved wrong the outcome of any investigative reporting about the enrichment of the Orban family. No reporter was ever found guilty of not telling the truth about the fortune of the Orban family and their friends!!! Now, if the tides will turn, Orban and his friends (Schmitt, Lazar, Meszaros, Levai, Rachel, Habonyi, etc) will loose everything. It would be the end of… Read more »
webber
Guest

shaller doesn’t make any sense in English.

Member

I didn’t understand either shaller, but it means simple “pofon” in hungarian. Maybe of german origin.

Member

Sorry, I forgot that that there are some relative newbies on the blog. Orban’s 2011 Fidesz Congress speech were discussed in dept on the blog back in 2011. Those who followed the 2011 Hungarian politics at the time are mostly familiar with the terms as it was all over the news at the time. (Of course on the English news.)

Orban made the following statement regarding the EU
“We finished our job, we didn’t allow that the weight of the problem, pessimism, defeatism, or others’ doubts would cause us uncertainty in any issue. We did rebut all attacks. We gave to the uppity cantankerous members of the European Parliament some koki (snap on the head), delivered some shaller (smack with the palm of the hand) , and distributed some friendly hit on the nape..”

“Elvégeztük a munkát, egyetlen ügyben sem hagytuk, hogy a probléma súlya, a pesszimizmus, a kishitűség vagy mások kételkedése elbizonytalanítson bennünket. A támadásokat visszavertük. Az Európai Parlament izgága kötekedőinek adtunk néhány kokit, leesett néhány saller, kiosztottunk néhány baráti tarkón verést…
http://vastagbor.blog.hu/2011/07/04/koki_es_saller

http://hungarianspectrum.org/2011/12/14/christian-love-and-physical-punishment-of-children/
October 23, 2011 Mutt explained koki and saller

webber
Guest

I knew what saller means. I was just pointing out that it is not a word in English. It’s just easier to use English words in English text – a lot easier on the reader.
Incidentally, if you spell it shaller, it sounds like how a few Americans in certain parts of the country say “shallow.”

Member

I am open for your translation of smaller, koki, es tarkon seres.
Again those who are familiar with the 2011 politics probably came across the word, but you are right it does need clarification.

webber
Guest

It’s not like people who speak English don’t do these things.
There are 25 common words for “to slap” in English, and a lot more less common ones. I hear these fairly often: slap, clout, smack, swat, cuff, whack
There are plenty of words for “to punch” too
punch, biff, tap, bash, slug, wallop, poke, jab, and belt are just a few.
Take your pick.

Member

The Megalomaniac’s Martyr Complex

Orban fears that he and his clan and cronies will be prosecuted for their crimes once he is no longer in control of the constitution and the constituency…

But Orban also has a megalomania, which is perfectly compatible with his moaning about his martyrdom while clinging to power.

He is a classic psychopath to anyone with eyes to see, just like most other dictators (but not, as many keep claiming, intelligent, any more than El Chapo is intelligent: just canny, because completely free of scruples –, again, like any psychopath).

So far, he knows it’s not prudent to show his teeth, so the underlying ruthlessness is concealed and held in check, for now… Psychopaths are not primarily musclemen — they can hire those as needed — but manipulators.

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Member

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Member

But he has stashed away a lot abroad. He is a happy man.

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