Publicus Institute: Civic groups and political parties

Two month have gone by since the publication (in Vasárnapi Hírek) of the Publicus Institute’s opinion poll on the teachers’ demonstrations. At that time the overwhelming majority (76%) of Hungarians sympathized with the teachers and thought that their demands were justified. Publicus decided to expand its inquiry to learn more about people’s opinions of the relationship between civic initiatives and party politics. This is a timely survey because there are many who, disappointed in party politics, are placing their trust exclusively in civic leaders. In fact, in the past at least, organizers of demonstrations practically forbade party leaders to attend their rallies. They were petrified that Fidesz-KDNP would label them agents of the opposition parties.

Such an attitude was self-defeating. In the first place, no amount of protestation would convince the government of their “innocence.” After every demonstration Fidesz found at least one organizer who earlier had had some vague connection to parties. It’s enough to think of an employee of  the Ökotárs Foundation responsible for handing the Norwegian grants to Hungary who, as Fidesz discovered, was at one point a member of LMP. Balázs Gulyás, organizer of one of the largest demonstrations of late, turned out to be the son of an MSZP EP member and a former party member himself. And Fidesz quickly learned that István Pukli, the principal organizer of the teachers’ demonstrations, was once also an MSZP member. In the eyes of Fidesz, everybody who demonstrates against the government is by definition a traitor who wants to topple the legitimate Hungarian government.

The civic leaders who organized demonstrations were also convinced that their supporters would abandon them if it turned out that they were in any way involved in party politics. Therefore before every demonstration stern warnings were issued demanding distance from the opposition parties. This attitude benefited only Fidesz and the government since, in general, one-off actions of civic groups don’t prompt the government to change its mind. Yes, as the result of a mass demonstration that got wide coverage in the foreign press the Orbán government, after a week of confusion and mixed signals, gave up the idea of a steep internet tax . But that’s all civic organizers have managed to achieved to date. The repeal of the law governing Sunday store closings resulted from the doggedness of MSZP, although clearly public sentiment supported their efforts.

If civic leaders feared a backlash from their supporters if they solicited the assistance of parties in their struggle for change, they can now breathe a sigh of relief. We know from the latest poll of the Publicus Institute that a large majority of Hungarians believe that civic groups should work together with parties. So, from here on perhaps leaders of civic organizations might take a few steps toward forging closer ties with the larger democratic parties.

Let’s dig a little deeper into attitudes regarding the relationship between civic groups and parties. Seventy-two percent of the respondents think that although it is natural that civic groups fight for their interests, alone they will not be able to achieve their aims. Sixty-three percent urge cooperation between civic groups and the opposition parties. On this question MSZP and Jobbik supporters, on the one hand, and Fidesz followers, on the other, think very differently. The voters of the former two parties are strong advocates of cooperation (89% and 83%) while the majority of Fidesz voters oppose it.

The Publicus Institute also returned to its earlier topic of the civic movements that have been taking center stage in Hungarian domestic politics. Interest in the efforts of the teachers, doctors, and nurses is still high. Eighty-five percent of Hungarians follow the events and support the organizers’ goals. At the same time, they expect politicians to solve the current problems of education and healthcare. Seventy-two percent of the respondents think that “if no definite steps are taken by opposition politicians, there is no other solution but for civic groups to lead the way.” However, a large percentage of the same people believe that if these groups try to go it alone, their cause will be lost (47%).

Support for the teachers is still high (62%), but lower than it was in mid-February when it was 76%. It seems that government propaganda has succeeded in convincing Fidesz loyalists that the Orbán administration has been doing its best to solve the problems but the teachers are reluctant to engage in well-intentioned dialogue. Twenty percent of Fidesz voters and 10% of Jobbik supporters have been won over by government propaganda. On the other hand, MSZP voters are more determined than ever to see the teachers win their case.

credibility

While people know that without politicians and political parties the opposition forces have no chance of succeeding, they still have no trust in individual politicians. The Publicus Institute chose eleven public figures who have in one way or another been connected with the education and healthcare movements. The question was: “How credibly do the following people represent the cause of education/healthcare?” Among the eleven names there were five politicians: Zoltán Pokorni (Fidesz), Ágnes Kunhalmi (MSZP), Dóra Dúró (Jobbik), István Hiller (MSZP), László Palkovics (Fidesz), and Zoltán Balog (Fidesz). On the whole, the politicians did badly. On a scale of 1 to 100, Balog and Palkovics came in last, each getting 44 points. István Hiller, minister of education during the second Gyurcsány and the Bajnai governments, didn’t do much better (45 points). Dóra Dúró, the Jobbik politician specializing in education, received 49 points. Only two politicians got more than 50 points: Zoltán Pokorni and Ágnes Kunhalmi. Pokorni, minister of education between 1998-2001, is the odd man out in this group because he retired from national politics some time ago, most likely not entirely on his own volition. He is no longer in parliament and has been tucked away as mayor of District XII since 2006. Ágnes Kunhalmi is, in my opinion, a promising young politician who is the chair of the Budapest MSZP group. She was given the task of focusing on educational matters, although I have the feeling that the party could make better use of her talents.

The star of the civic leaders is Mária Sándor, the nurse in black. Almost 90% of the people know who she is and 75% have trust in her. Other figures in the movement are less well known and received lower scores. Katalin Törley, co-chair of the Tanitanék Movement, got 57 points. Mrs. István Galló, leader of the larger teacher’s union, received 56 points; László Mendrey, the other trade union leader, got 55 points; and István Pukli, principal of the Blanka Teleki Gymnasium, got 51 points. So, all the civic leaders scored over 50 points while only two of the six politicians did so. In brief, politicians have to improve their image if they hope to take part in the upsurge of civic initiatives.

Opposition politicians should make every effort to deflate and combat the long-standing Fidesz propaganda, which unfortunately has been far too effective in besmirching the reputation of MSZP and SZDSZ politicians. Their accomplishments have been underrated and their failures exaggerated. It would be time to stand up and defend those policies that deserve praise. For example, teachers were far from satisfied with the state of education before 2010, and by all estimates most of them voted for Fidesz. Yet today they admit that, despite all the shortcomings, their and their students’ lot was much better before the arrival of Viktor Orbán’s Christian-national regime. Maybe it is time to drive home that truth.

April 17, 2016
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Jon Van Til
Guest
Of course it is perfectly legitimate for individuals who are active in civil society organizations also to exercise their rights as citizen activists within political parties. That a few misguided oppositional leaders join the Hungarian regime in seeking to create a wall between civil society and democratic politics represents only one more indicator of Hungary’s widespread civic illiteracy, engendered, as Eva brilliantly showed in yesterday’s post, by the country’s lagging educational system. All over the world, schools from grade one to the doctoral level are advancing programs and curricula in civic education and service learning. Jointly with my students, I developed such a program in the early 1990s at Rutgers University, as Bill Clinton recognized when he came to our university in 1993 to announce the formation of the AmeriCorps program, which continues to this day to support democratic action and civic service on the part of a wide range of citizens, young and old. A fully functioning democratic society rests securely on a base built by an informed citizenry, active as voters, civic participants, volunteers, and party activists. Often, and Barack Obama, Lajos Bokros, Peter Juhasz, and a number of leaders in the Solidarity Movement are clear and productive… Read more »
Observer
Guest

“Opposition politicians should make every effort to deflate and combat the long-standing Fidesz propaganda..”
Hear, hear.
By now the silly and hypocritical Fidesz “accusations” should be answered – so what?

Zsolt Lovas
Guest
Teachers will never vote Left. Period. Same with doctors and health care workers. No matter how much Fidesz will torment them. They are an elite especially in rural regions. And rural elite folks would vomit if they wanted to vote Left, their stomach just couldn’t bear it. It’s a huge issue for the left-wing, but this is the way it is. It’s an identity issue, a family issue, a status issue. Just like no self-respecting Muslim would ever vote a pig-eater alcoholic (no matter how good, well-meaning he may be), communists (“jews”) are a total no-go for teachers. Teachers, doctors are deeply conservative and by nature like and expect order and discipline. As a result they will forever remain a core Fidesz constituency. They will never vote for liberals and gipsy-huggers (sorry, this is how they think, not me). Which also means that there can be no competition for their votes. Just like in district XII of Budapest – which is one the most fidesznik/right-leaning districts in all of Hungary – the streets are full of rubbish, the roads are terrible, nothing is invested in improvements. Why should the municipal politicians? They will get the votes anyway, there’s no incentive.… Read more »
Lutra lutra
Guest

No, but they might vote Jobbik. Especially if it continues to show its “respectable” face and champions causes that resonate with all the groups you mentioned. If the goal is to see the end of the Orbán regime then the red counter-counter-revolution can wait four more years.

Guest

Once again:

Only for an extreme right winger all opposition to Fidesz is “leftist” – why are you repeating your defeatist propaganda all the time, even under different names?

Just look at other European countries where you have many partieys in the spectrum – like Germany eg, the real left, the greens, the social democtats, the liberals etc …

Or are you trying to tell us that Hungarians are soemthing special – not developed enough to understand the ideas of democracy?

My (Hungarian) wife says most of her countrymen are 50 years behind – are you telling us that they are a hundred years (or two hundred) behind and will never catch up?

Guest

Once again:

Only for an extreme right winger all opposition to Fidesz is “leftist” – why are you repeating your defeatist propaganda all the time, even under different names?

Just look at other European countries where you have many parties in the spectrum – like Germany eg, the real left, the greens, the social democrats, the liberals etc …

Or are you trying to tell us that Hungarians are something special – not developed enough to understand the ideas of democracy?

My (Hungarian) wife says most of her countrymen are 50 years behind – are you telling us that they are a hundred years (or two hundred) behind and will never catch up?

webber
Guest

Wrong. And you know it.

Zsolt Lovas
Guest
No, unfortunately I’m not. And you know it. I’m no leftist, but I would love to see real political competition. (Hell, in a way Orban would love that too, he would feel so much better defeating a worthy enemy.) But the left-wing politicians are not a real competition. Why are they so inapt? I don’t know. That’s a huge conundrum. But they are. Compare Orban’s activism prior to 2010 and now compare the Left’s (any and all leftists parties) since 2010, or since 2014 if you want to be kinder. Orban won because he worked hard, very hard. Like it or not. The left-wing thinks that the pendulum will sooner or later swing back, they don’t have to do anything. Now tell that to the Democrats of Texas. I know about the lost interim elections since 2014 and the rest. But what if national elections (especially with a rigged system) work differently? After all they are about governance. What if people hate Fidesz but would still vote for it because …(bezalternativost). This has happened may times in history. What you surely don’t know apparently is how terrible state the left-wing parties are in. Fidesz is in a bad state, for… Read more »
webber
Guest

You are wrong about how teachers and doctors will vote. You don’t have a clue.
Provide data backing up your outlandish claims – you can’t.

Zsolt Lovas
Guest

Look, I can imagine that – if you at all know teachers outside Budapest – they are like you, that is not too right-leaning (meaning pro-Fidesz). It would be normal to have connections to like minded people. So they appear as potential voters for the left-wing.

But when people can talk to people they trust, they are more open.

I know my extended family (including teachers and doctors outside Budapest) and they are as adamantly pro-Fidesz as ever (but they know that I am not). Their friends and neighbors (some I know personally too) also. Still.

Yes, they are more critical too, acknowledge large scale corruption but voting for “the communists” is not an option. It’s not and never will be.

Voting is an identity issue, there’s nothing rational in it. It’s extremely difficult to pierce through identity and the leftist are nowhere near (haven’t even gotten started). They still think that voting is a rational thing. It’s the liberal paradigm, I know, but reality is different.

webber
Guest

People in Hungary have voted for the left in the past, you know. Was identity not an issue then? Of course it was.

The majority of Hungarians, like their compatriots in other countries, are not committed to the right or to the left. They are committed to what they see as best for the country and best for themselves. That’s all. Most people couldn’t care less whether a politician is on the right or left.

You’re simply blowing a lot of hot air, and you are obviously a Fidesz troll, despite your protest to the contrary.

Do you know what the give away is? The lines that the left is disorganized, teachers and doctors will vote for Fidesz, it’s an identity thing, and the right has won. Those are, each of them, things regularly posted here by Fidesz trolls. You appear to have copied some earlier comments from other trolls word for word.

Don’t you have anything original to say?

Zsolt Lovas
Guest

What I can say is that if the left-wing continues with that inaptitude it has been very consistently displaying since at least 2010 than don’t be surprised if Orban will win again and in any case he and his family will enjoy the billions. Trolls or not, I agree with those who say that. My point is that the rigidness of identity of teachers (and many other “thinking” “intelligent” people outside Budapest) is underestimated. By the way it’s not as though the Left would be gaining (and don’t tell me they are afraid, why aren’t the Jobbik voters afraid to talk to the pollsters). http://index.hu/belfold/2016/04/18/zavecz_partpreferencia/

webber
Guest

Again, WHAT are you talking about???
The left keep winning by-elections outside of Budapest!

Member

Well Zsolt Lovas, I do know many teachers outside and inside Budapest. Some (not all) would vote against Fidesz. Do you know any teachers?
As far as your statement about “Orban would love to see real political competition”. Where do you live? Orban beside enriching his family, spent most of his time in the last decade and a half to destroy with false accusations, mock trials, riots, by using soccer hooligans, and so forth to destroy any legitimate, intelligent competition. Well, he did not succeed. The best he can say he achieved is having the likes of you supporting his agenda without any critical thinking and using fake data. Cheers.

Locust
Guest

People are riddled with contradictions. Orban would like to eliminate competition altogether and at the same time would love to win against a really tough competition. It’s totally normal. People do have contradictory, ambivalent feelings about everything. This is also why the simplified causation of the rational choice theory doesn’t work. Try not to be so logical, people aren’t.

Locust
Guest

saddled of course not riddled.

webber
Guest

and of course you have perfect knowledge of what Orban really wants….
Or not.

Guest

“Orban won because he worked hard, very hard.”

The fact is that he dodged the hard work: Meeting his opponents in televised debates.

Zsolt Lovas
Guest

Yes, but did he work hard to coopt civil organizations and trade unions from opposition? You bet. Orban and his machinery coopeted many brand name civil organizations, established new ones, cajoled others into support by blackmail or purchase etc. The result was a nation-wide network of such organizations (not counting the churches). Sorry, Orban worked hard (he is a corrupt tyrant, but a hard worker). I just don’t see that with József Tóbiás and his cohort. I don’t think any leftist party has the open support of any brand name civil organization. By that time Fidesz had dozens.

spectator
Guest

@Zsolt Lovas
The fundamental flaw in your argument is that you obviously can’t imagine any other variation just what you elaborated on.

Instead of thinking in terms like Fidesz versus the “leftists”, try out for a change like: Fidesz versus the civilised, free minded people?

What would you say to a new, moderate liberal-conservative line in the Hungarian politics, for example? You know, the ‘volume’ is there, the number of disgruntled, cheated and betrayed people vastly exceed the number of Fidesz supporters, even combined with the Jobbik and LMP, only the right direction and the momentum needed to clean out this unholy bunch of crooks.

Yeah, you may have a point, if you thinking of the truly crucial and truly missing ingredient, the leader who can steer all this force effectively and properly, — after all, this is Hungary we’re talking about.

Well, you never know. So far every significant movement managed to find a leader, for better or worse, so don’t worry!

You see, the world isn’t only black and white, so there is far more variation available than choosing between the Fidesz and the leftists, whoever they might be, far more.

Member

The “Zsolt Lovas” clones and the HS commentatorship
What is wrong with the HS commentatorship that we cannot recognise or resist a formulaic Fidesz troll like @ZsoltLovas, even when he/she/it/they air the exact same defeatist/triumphalist/fatalist propaganda that he/she/it/they crepitated yesterday under their latest pseudonym? “He always wins” “They’ll never vote against him” “the opposition are a bunch of losers” “not my opinion but…” We are acting like Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s annual football, except we do it every day — and these Orban Oracles with their nauseatingly familiar distractions and subliminal messages are infinitely more insidious than Lucy. The ease with which our buttons can be pushed is as much of a liability as the gullibility and pettiness of the diehard Orban loyalists.
comment image

webber
Guest

You are right, and yet there may be a certain sado-masochistic pleasure in it.
I wonder what Freud would have made of Charlie Brown?

T1000
Guest

However, there was also a mythological figure called Cassandra.

spectator
Guest

If you are at it don’t forget Sisyphus!
No, I’m not predicting anything here!
I wouldn’t take Cassandra’s job, anyway..!

Guest

Stevan
We do not only preach to the saved. Sometimes we are trying to serve the occasional innocent reader with corrections to nonsense. Even at the risk of calling forth more nonsense.

Guest

Re: Maria Sandor

From the description she comes off as perhaps a budding female Walensa who was a great catalyst for change in communist Poland. With him running things from the labor end, the government found themselves in the position where they had to pay attention. They had to deal with him.

To be popular, trusted , a ‘caring’ individual and a ‘star’ may prove to be qualities to help check Fidesz’ constant predilection to seemingly co-opt ‘identity politics’ when it comes to the opposition in the country. It sure doesn’t bode well when somebody else always tells you who and what you supposedly are. Probably the top job description to help counter that assessment for opposition leaders to investigate. Looks to be many openings.

Member

OT: Dear commenters, may I ask what stops you to register as Members of this blog? The only way we could control people to post on the same subject under different names would be only allow registered users to post.
You could use WordPress, Disqus, Twitter options to log in. Can you please try?

Guest

That reminds me, some1, that I registered via wordpress so I can edit my comments – but I still appear as “guest”. What did I do wrong?

Member

Are you signing in? Try this: Close HS, clean your cache, go back in and try to comment. Now you will have a choice to comment as usual OR to click on the little graphics above the comment box. Click on wordpress, sign in , and agree with HS using wordpress. Let me know if t works.

Guest

Does it work now?

Guest

Next try …

Guest

some1
Keep Hungarian Spectrum an open society. Let people post under different names if they are inclined to do so. It’s a minor problem. We are liberal. Let us act accordingly.

Member

Just so you know, it is not my decision but Eva’s. It would be still an open forum, just as it is, except people have to choose one name they are posting under, not 6,7,8. It is like the elections when Fidesz had dozens of voters living at the same address.

Guest

A bit OT:

O was in Lisbon where the CDI (of which the European EPP is a part) had a meeting where he proclaimed his ideas of Schengen 2.0 – but I can’t find much about this in the media, only these:
http://www.euractiv.de/section/eu-innenpolitik/news/fluechtlingskrise-orban-wirbt-europaweit-fuer-schengen-2-0/
http://bbj.hu/politics/hungarian-pm-proposes-ten-point-action-plan_114689
And of course something on kormany.hu which I won’t read …

Guest

Here’s the English version of the euractiv article on O’s visit – nothing in the European media …
http://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/orban-will-tour-eu-capitals-with-schengen-2-0-plan/
They also announce that O will visit other capitals, he’ll come to Berlin next week?

Guest

Orban has a ten-point plan which he has called ‘ Schengen 2’

He has solved the crisis and saved Europe.

Three cheers for Orban the Savour!

Orban always wins…. the left are sad losers. Case closed.

Guest

I’m thinking of starting a shrine for the Wonderful Viktor of Europe and have chosen 5 September as inauguration day – which should give plenty of time for suggestions as to location, form and style of the shrine.

Of course 5 September is the name day for Viktor (and by an amazing coincidence for me – also happens to be the name day for Lorinc – the gas-fitter hero that looks after our dear Viktor.)

I’m thinking of importing some of those funny red plastic ‘day-of-the-dead’ candles to make it a nocturnal 24/7 shrine and would ask others in other countries to consider doing the same.

I’d like it to be truly international for Wonderful Viktor of Europe I and await your suggestions?

Don’t hold back?

Guest

My mind is working overtime now.

Does anyone know how I can get a miniature representation of that Eagle and Gabriel kitsch statue?

I’m thinking it would make a fine centre-piece for my shrine?

if any of you know how to do injection moulding we could sell these models as a sideline? A bit like those cheap plastic Jesus statues you can get in Roman Catholic church merchandise shops – which seem to be open on Sundays?

Keep the ideas coming, please.

spectator
Guest

Think 3D printing instead, easier to handle.
Not to mention that then you can start selling Orbán, Lázár, Rogán, etc. too!
Would put some real fun into this whole sordid business what called Hungarian politics!
Imagine the collectibles value on a few decades!

OK, I stop here, I promise!

Guest

Brilliant! Of course! 3D printers ……. but I don.t want them too good quality? They have to be cheap like the cheap Jesuses in those RC Church shops…..

Brilliant idea, Spectator!

spectator
Guest

The tool for injection moulding is way too expensive.
At the main time: what about these?

http://www.shapeways.com/product/SCD3B2NJD/donald-trump-plug?li=marketplace&optionId=57331330

Guest

I’ve thought of making the Gabriel and Eagle into money savings boxes with a coin slot?

Kövér, Ader, Orban, Szijjártó and Laser – all with coin slots to encourage thrift and careful money management.

Collectables for all the family?

I’ll approach Herend for a special anniversary pottery edition. Apparently Princess Diana received a special edition dinner service – so a set of pottery Kovers et al would be snapped up!

webber
Guest

3D printing? Piffle. Chinese manufacturers are the key. They already supply most of the glow-in-the-dark angels (I kid you not) for sale at Catholic shrines. They can turn out any number of Gabriels in plastic for a pittance.

Guest

Wow!! I like ‘glow-in-the-dark’!

My shrine and money-boxes would fly off the shelves!!!

(Are there any Health & Safety issues here? Isn’t Polonium what Putin used to terminate with extreme prejudice Litvinenko and made half of London glow?)

petofi
Guest

“Orban always wins”

The fact is that people don’t realize that only Orban wins–everyone else loses. Such a waste of time to argue about the demise of the ‘left’ and such nonsense. Orban has no allegiance to any philosopy except the light-footed, light-handed, belief in doing what works for him in the moment.

Guest

Petofi?

Try and stay ‘on topic’ for once?

!!!!

petofi
Guest

@ Charlie

Did you forget your own comment?
Look above: “Orban always wins…”

Guest

Ouch!

Guest
I just wanted to update you on my ‘Shrines R Us Inc’ idea and thinking for the shrine of Emperor Viktor I of Europe – in recognition of his saving of Europe with his Shengen 2 10-point plan – which I know will be embraced with the concomitant gratitude of fellow European leaders – all of whom will be wondering how “we could have overlooked the one amongst us who has lead us out to the promised land?” I’m thinking that besides my Gabriel/Eagle centrepiece (glowing if possible) we could have a ‘money-box’ Orban model which can detect if you are male or female. If you are female he will hold out his hand and if you engage it – he bends down and kisses it! How good is that? I would like it to say “I kiss your hand” just before he delivers his kiss – in Hungarian of course. I’ll have a word with Mattell – remember those Furbey dolls? This is a particular clever idea – imagine all those older women scrambling to have their hands kissed? Do you think the software can detect between Males and Females? What do we do with LGBT people? I’m a… Read more »
Guest

Jobbik seems to be thinking on similar lines – the latest edition of their magazine we got today has a pic of O and his minions with the text: The godfather (Keresztapa) …

Istvan
Guest
So the Teachers Union (PSZ) was on M1 TV today, Istvánné Galló indicated that the union and the government were making some progress on the issue of reforming KLIK, but that there were larger disagreements relating to the 22 hour work week and overtime pay. She indicated the one day strike was on for Wednesday and that PSZ was asking for a five minute work shut down across Hungary in solidarity with her union. If you go to this union website http://www.pedagogusok.hu/sztr%C3%A1jkh%C3%ADrad%C3%B3 there is a lot of information about the strike. One of the documents simply explains to teachers what a strike is and why workers have to sometimes go on strikes. Overall the website is practical and is well organized. It includes a letter to be given to parents explaining the action, explanations of existing labor law, report forms for strike leaders, and what the union calls its “strike scenario” for schools. Here is the problem I foresee, except for those members of the public who can keep Tanitanek civil disobedience actions, two hour PDSZ warning strikes, and now the one day strike by PSZ straight in their minds along with the 12 demands and the 25 demands it’s… Read more »
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