The fifth anniversary of the Fundamental Law of 2011

Viktor Orbán never disappoints. Every time he opens his mouth he comes out with something that takes our breath away. Today’s speech at a “conference” organized for the fifth anniversary of Fidesz’s Fundamental Law was again full of outlandish statements.

Given the fanfare that surrounded the passage of this new constitution, the celebration today was decidedly subdued–wisely so, considering the checkered history of the document. In five years the new constitution–thrown together in a great hurry, mostly by József Szájer, a Fidesz EP member, and Gergely Gulyás, the rising star of the party–has been altered five times, and its sixth amendment is currently awaiting approval. I wrote several articles about the constitution at the time of its birth in April 2011, but I just discovered that the posts from the second half of that month have simply disappeared from the archives of Hungarian Spectrum. You may recall, even without reminders, that the date the new law was enacted had a symbolic meaning. In that year April 25 was Easter Monday, and for a while government officials talked about the new Fundamental Law as the Easter Constitution. The date, of course, symbolized the resurrection of Hungary.

The constitution was passed by the super majority of Fidesz-KDNP. None of the opposition parties voted for it and now, five years later, all of them swear that with the disappearance of this whole gang (bagázs) this contrivance (tákolmány) will end up in the garbage heap. Együtt’s Viktor Szigetvári called it “the constitution of the cold civil war” and predicted that the downfall of Orbán will also mean the disappearance of his regime’s constitution and institutions. József Tóbiás, chairman of the socialist party (MSZP), reminded his audience in parliament that there is no reason for the government to celebrate. The conference organized by the government was “no celebration but rather a repass after a funeral” because “in the last five years we have had no constitution.”

Although László Kövér (president of the House), József Szájer (EP MP), Pál Schmitt (former president), László Trócsányi (minister of justice), and Tamás Sulyok (acting chief justice of the Fidesz-controlled constitutional court) all delivered speeches, I will concentrate on Viktor Orbán’s speech, which in some respects was truly extraordinary.

Let me start with his claim that the “Islamization of Hungary is forbidden by the Fundamental Law.” It was this claim that captured the imagination of the Hungarian media. According to the summary of the state-controlled news agency, MTI, “the Hungarian government cannot support such movements of people that would be contrary to the pledges stated in the ‘National Avowal’ [preamble] of the Fundamental Law.” In this preamble there is only one sentence that might be relevant. It states: “We recognize the role of Christianity in preserving nationhood.” I’ll bet no one imagined five years ago that Viktor Orbán would use this sentence about the role of Christianity and nationhood as a constitutional weapon against accepting a few hundred or thousand Muslim refugees. Moreover, the sentence following this one states: “We value the various religious traditions of our country.” And Hungary already has 4,000-5,000 individuals who are the members of the Islamic community. Would a few thousand more alter the overall religious composition of the country? Of course not. But the presumably relevant sentence from the preamble will be useful in the propaganda campaign Orbán immediately began for “a strong showing (izmos) at the referendum” to demonstrate to the world the Hungarian nation’s strong resistance to compulsory quotas.

Source: Magyar Nemzet / Photo Béla Nagy

Source: Magyar Nemzet / Photo Béla Nagy

Orbán never misses an opportunity to condemn the European Union one way or the other. This time he extolled the virtues of the Visegrád Four. These countries are characterized by vitality, vigor, and an intellectual renaissance. By contrast, the European Union “doesn’t know where it is coming from; it has no vision, and it is myopic.”

Ildikó Csuhaj of Népszabadság considered the following question by Orbán–“Why does the European Union use its power against its own members?”–a watershed. In her opinion, Orbán has never gone that far in his fight with Brussels. Whether this attack is worse than the hundreds of others I simply don’t know.

Today we learned a few new details about the birth of the new constitution. Although earlier Orbán had steadfastly denied any plan to create a new constitution before the 2010 election, it is now clear that he was adamant about it, although he was met with serious opposition within the party. As he put it, “there were strong siren voices that argued against such a move because they feared that [a new Fidesz constitution] would adversely influence Hungary’s [EU] presidency” in the first half of 2011. Today he expressed his thanks to those who stood by him. In fact, he said, the timing was perfect. It would have been a mistake to retreat.

Perhaps the most intriguing comment in Orbán’s speech was about former president Pál Schmitt, who after months of agony was eventually persuaded to resign on April 2, 2012. It turned out that his doctoral dissertation was a translation of parts of an English-language book. I wrote a number of articles on the case during March and April of 2012. To recap the scandal, HVG received a note from someone who discovered the plagiarism and came out with the story. Orbán hoped that the scandal would die a quiet death, but it didn’t. Even he couldn’t manage to quell the outrage it prompted. Reluctantly, he told Schmitt that he had to leave his post. I’m certain that by now Orbán deeply regrets his decision. In the last year and a half he has been calling on Schmitt to fill all sorts of positions in matters concerning sports. Schmitt is a former Olympic fencing champion.

Orbán is now rewriting the history of Schmitt’s resignation. In his version, Schmitt, just like all those who made the decision to go ahead with the enactment of the new constitution, knew full well the consequences of such a decision. As far as his government is concerned, I guess, this means an attack by the international legal community against certain provisions of the constitution. In Schmitt’s case, his very signature on the law regarding the constitution cost him his position as president of Hungary. “Outside and foreign forces will never forgive him for it. This is very important to know, because it places an obligation on us. If they will never forgive him, then we must never forget [him].” So, according to this version, it seems Hungary’s enemies invented the story of Schmitt’s plagiarism and decided to oust him. Instead of a cheat he is actually a martyr in the cause of the nation. The obligation, of course, means that Schmitt, instead of quietly retiring from politics, will return as some “useful” member of the Orbán team.

This latest stunt of Orbán really boggles the mind. Who can believe such a cockeyed story? One would like to say nobody, but Orbán is a skilled storyteller. Perhaps someday one of the National Bank’s foundations can produce a sequel to the Grimm Brothers’ Household Tales–Orbán’s National Tales.

April 25, 2016
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Member

The provenly fraudster, Pal Schmitt did not need “Outside and foreign forces” to disgrace him. He did it on his own. Hi only talent as to figure out how to slip lower and lower. He cheated and lied all the way, until his last day as president. Not only he fraudulently obtained his degree, he used fraudulent titles with his name. The guy could not spell properly a simple sentence, and not because he had learning disability, simply because he was an uneducated carrot! He was a disgrace for Hungary and only can be the shining star for such other criminals as Orban, and his company.

Member
Pal Scmitt was here in Washington in 2011. I went to the place wirh a friend where he gave a speech to political science students. There was a Q&A session at the end. My friend stood up and asked this bozo what does he think about the preamble of the fidesz constitution, where they practically assaulted the Hungarian Jewish community by including a paragraph about the German occupation in 1944 suggesting the Hungarians are not responsible for the Holocaust. This dimwit was staring at my friend, seemingly not understanding a single word, then asked her to repeat. Awkward. Then my friend tried to reduce the vocabulary to come down to “doctor” Schmitt’s intellect and repeated the question in a shorter form. Blank stares again. Now my friend tried it in three or four words, like talking to the Goggle search engine, and now one of the keywords got a hit in Schmitt’s brain – Holocaust. The he rattled down some stock speech about how great the Fidesz government is with the Jewish community. That was it. At least so we thought. After the Q&A session he came down from the pulpit and headed straight to my friend and asked her… Read more »
webber
Guest

That, actually, is the nicest thing I’ve ever read about Schmitt.
Orban wouldn’t change a single letter of one of his laws, no matter how hateful.

Observer
Guest

Add another gem from the same speechb according to which the new Basis Law was not born in scientific discussions and consultations, but a political struggle, which they (Fidesz) had won.
Proudly claiming that a constitution is a political booty suggests Orban have skipped his Constitutional Law class. More importantly, it reveals that this cheat and liar not only lacks any democratic conviction, but is proud of it – the consume little fascist.

Guest
London Calling! Pal Schmidt has indeed been rehabilitated – just as Horthy has been. This illiterate dim fraudster is enjoying a high profile as he is now the apparent ‘Main Man’ to head the 2024 Olympic bid. He demanded state accommodation after his downfall as Speaker even though he owns several expensive properties. Must’ve been hard to lose Sandor Palace after his international disgrace. The Olympic bid will go nowhere – except on an expensive money burning trip before it hits the buffers. With the Laslo Kiss scandal which shows there is an institutional tolerance for raspists in the sporting world as long as they deliver results – and an unbelievable ‘interpretation’ of how it is acceptable to feed athletes anabolic steroids masquerading as vitamin tablets – the Olympic committee will never award Hungary the Games. The atheletes won’t be safe. It’s easy for athletes to deny they ever took steroids – even if they have a musculature that looks rooted in steroids because they don’t know. It’s attitudes and integrity of people such as Schmitt and Kiss that have done for Hungary and the Games. There are rumours circulating about the main Hungarian woman swimming athelete who never achieved… Read more »
Guest

Are those ‘Parliamentary’ soldiers in the picture made of chocolate?

In a democracy ‘soldiers’ or anyone military wouldn’t be allowed in the hallowed debating chamber – from a purely symbolic perspective alone.

Doesn’t Orban and his chumps understand? They don’t get it do they?

But allowed, obviously, in a Commocracy.

Observer
Guest

(Corrected version, sorry)

Add another gem from the same speech according to which the new Basic Law was born not in scientific discussions and consultations, but in political struggle, which they (Fidesz) had won.

Proudly claiming that a constitution is a political booty suggests Orban has skipped his Constitutional Law class. More importantly, it reveals that this this cheat and liar sees everything as booty for he not only lacks any democratic conviction, but is proud of it – the consummate little fascist.

Guest

O/T
“…….but I just discovered that the posts from the second half of that month have simply disappeared from the archives of Hungarian Spectrum.”

Do you think you have lost them permanently, Eva?

(If so you may be able to retrieve them from your readers who have subscribed to your blog – and who receive an email of your narrative – providing it was in place at that time. But I’m sure you know!)

Observer
Guest
Re: winning (a joke or maybe not) Orban: “We fought a glorious war of independence and suffered heavy casualties. We won it! But many battles are still to be fought, therefore, have not won yet! However, we defeated the defeatism and the selfishness, the regime of lies! We won! But defeatism and selfishness still exists in those who, leeching on society, consume our future and lie about our acquired rights. So we still have not won! But despite all this altogether we won! True, sometimes we failed, but because the fatherland can not be in opposition, we won then too! For we always win! We win since we say always and everywhere that “we won!” We won and we shall win, we shall convince my society that they win! So we win! On the basis of the victorious idea of social justice we will win and triumph over the vanquished disability pensioners. Our triumphant workers troops will be replenished with unemployed graduates …. We shall overcome idleness and unemployment and we shall triumph over those freeloaders whom we defeated last year, but if we keep winning soon somebody will win against us. But this somebody will not be a winner,… Read more »
Gyuszika
Guest

Orban is set to win in 2018. His downside risk is extremely limited. The opposition may win BUT if it is not united (that is if it cannot govern in a united fashion) or it doesn’t have 2/3s nothing will happen (Polt will stay put, the Constitutinal Court will stay, the courts will stay).

And so at most Orban will take the back seat for a few months until the new, constantly infighting government falls.

Then he comes back again. You can lough, but Orban has thought about this years ago. When the liberals didin’t even understand what hit them (they still don’t get it). He isn’t worried.

The chances of a disciplined, united party reaching 2/3s is currently nil.

Orban and his people are planning on staying and they will, they have outsmarted the leftists/liberals years ago. They aren’t coming back anytime soon. But daydreaming is not bad, let them play around a bit.

Gyuszika2
Guest

The complaining people will received a lot of dough so they will gradually go silent and vote for Fidesz (remember, communists are not an option for the rural elite). This is how pros do it. The era of Socialist impotence is over.

http://index.hu/gazdasag/ado_es_koltsegvetes/2016/04/26/koltsegvetes_varga_mihaly_ngm_2017/

Guest

There is worry in Fidesz. We can see it from the significant increase in the number of comments that tell us that Orban will be victorious and Polt will be there to protect him from imprisonment for ever. Such comments are wasted on most readers of HS but they may have a soothing effect on the nerves of their authors and their employers.

Observer
Guest

On “winning” see above.

The trolls are going like the child walking in the dark “I am not afraid. I am not afraid. I am not afraid ….”.

As the saying goes

“The day will come and there will be blood!” (I hope)

Guest

This is just one troll appearing again and again – it’s funny how it always makes the same spelling mistake …
Some of you might have found it out already 🙂

Guest

There’s a piece of country lore here that some people will rob you with a six-gun and others by a fountain pen. Pretty evident in these last few years that when it comes to constitutional endeavors before the ink is dry the country and people have their pockets picked right before their eyes. The ‘bagasz’ seem to be have been very good using those pens.

And they also like to play with language. Orban usually seems to always add an oomph as he revises his storytelling just to get the message across. Thing is he kind of reminds me of Davy Crockett, not only ‘king of the frontier’ but of embellishment in his exploits and rationales. Some thought it true. But others figured it had to be a ‘crock’…;-)…

Guest

O/T interesting video from DK about the health service if you haven’t already seen it.

There are more deaths in hospitals from infections than road deaths in Hungary! (I was right to run!)

Orban’s football pitches are heated – unlike hospital wards.

And you see those infamous ‘bring-a-battery’ posters in the video.

http://budapestbeacon.com/public-policy/gyurcsany-releases-scathing-video-of-orbans-hungary-the-hungary-of-less/33828

webber
Guest

OT
What is the source of the bizarre idea, repeated like a mantra by Fideszniks, that “liberals don’t understand” emotions or emotionalism in politics, and that they believe solely in human rationality?

They assume this to be true of liberals outside of Hungary and in the country alike. It is a very strange belief – met nothing like it outside Hun. r-wing circles.

Fülöp
Guest

Actually there is a huge literature on the topic. Here’s one good example. I could go on, but let’s make the life of fidesznik campaign people a bit harder (alas they are much better and more hard-working than their left-leaning adversaries anyway).

http://www.amazon.com/Righteous-Mind-Divided-Politics-Religion/dp/0307455777

webber
Guest

Thanks for the lit. recommendation. I’m still stymied by the idea. An example of why: Was Gladstone a liberal?
– He was the quintessence of liberal.
What was his Bulgarian Horrors campaign, if not an appeal to the heart?

Stella
Guest

The ironic thing is that George Lakoff’s Don’t Think of an Elephant (at least its earlier edition) was even translated into Hungarian back in 2006 as part of the Demos Books series.

Demos – not too many people will remember – was MSZP’s “New Labour” think thank answer to Fidesz’ Századvég.

But while Századvég was kept alive even during the lean years and has been active in publishing books and journals, keeping alive the “conservative flame” and operating as a real think tank (and as a money laundering outfit for the Fidesz/secret services set, I agree) Demos duly disappeared already under the 2006-2010 Socialist government.

[Remember after 2006, Öszöd etc. MSZP and Gyurcsány were very uncool so nobody would associate their names with anything leftist when a cool and vengeful Fidesz was about emerge.]

Apparently nobody read the book during the last decade.

I read the 2012 edition last summer and I can tell you that it’s pretty well-written and smart. It could be very useful for the Left but they are too lazy even to read something that could be useful for them.

http://napvilagkiado.eu/webaruhaz/shop.product_details/12-politika-politikatudomany/flypage.tpl/741-ne-gondolj-az-elefantra/

Guest

Rather OT but really funny from http://zeroz3ro.tumblr.com/post/143480170237/via-h%C3%ADrcs%C3%A1rda
You have to look closely …
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