Orbán and his ministers got their report cards: they all failed

In the last couple of months we didn’t hear much about the teachers’ rebellion against Viktor Orbán’s educational reforms, except that the dissatisfied teachers promised to do something after the matriculation exams ended but before the last day of the school year. Eventually, we learned that the leaders of the “Tanítanék” (I would like to teach) movement were organizing a rally at which they were planning to present the government with their own report cards.

I must admit that I was not at all optimistic that they could pull off another huge demonstration, the kind they staged on March 15. Past experience has taught us how easily enthusiasm wanes. After realizing that street demonstrations rarely have any tangible results, participants soon enough lose their appetite for these gatherings. So, I was very afraid that instead of a mass demonstration only a few hundred people would show up today on March 15 tér and that, with such a poor showing, the whole teachers’ revolt would fizzle out.

Source: Blikk / Photo: Ferenc Isza

Source: Blikk / Photo: Ferenc Isza

I was wrong. To sustain people’s interest protests don’t have to have positive results. On the contrary, a negative outcome might spur even more intensified resistance. If the government had granted some reasonable concessions, the teachers might have been appeased. But Viktor Orbán misjudged the situation and decided not just to ignore the teachers’ demands but to make the state’s stranglehold over the schools and thus over the teachers even tighter. For one thing, instead of a single KLIK, there will now be another layer of bureaucracy–57 little KLIKs.

In the last three years, since the introduction of the centralized system, at least the school buildings and their maintenance remained in the hands of the local communities. The Orbán government, however, in its eternal wisdom, came to the conclusion that they should also centralize the physical maintenance of the school buildings. So, for example, if a window gets broken, the school administration will have to apply to one of the little KLIKs, most likely miles away, for a replacement window.

Source: Blikk / Photo: Ferenc Isza

Source: Blikk / Photo: Ferenc Isza

The reaction in the community was fury. According to the union leaders, the number of people who are ready to actively participate in an anti-establishment movement has grown many times over since the government’s refusal to listen to the initial demands of the teachers. They feel cheated and have come to the conclusion that negotiating with Viktor Orbán’s minions is absolutely useless because the government representatives cannot be trusted. The trade union leaders also realized that the so-called “negotiators” on the government side don’t have a mandate to make decisions or to offer negotiating points. So, Piroska Galló, head of the Pedagógusok Szakszervezete (PSZ), announced that traditional methods of dealing with an employer, in this case the state, are useless in Orbán’s Hungary. From here on, more radical methods must be employed.

Apparently, the government decision makers were misled by the small number of teachers, only about 20%, who participated in the strike staged by the trade unions in April. Trade union leader Galló maintains that, although relatively few people took part in the strike, the trade unions’ demands were supported by a large majority of the teachers. Also, the government negotiators paid no attention to the protest of the parents who kept their children at home on the day of the strike. Their numbers were in the hundreds of thousands. They are ready to support their children’s teachers and are just as angered by the government’s reaction as are the teachers.

Mrs. Galló was right. Despite rain mixed with hail, thousands showed up in an impressive display of resolve. The government went very wrong here and still hasn’t learned its lesson. The education department, housed in the ministry of human resources, continues to think that the trade union leaders and the civic organizations of teachers will fall for the old line that “the majority of teachers believe in dialogue and not in street action and political provocation.” No, they don’t. If the teachers learned anything in the last few months, it was that negotiation with the Orbán government–alleged dialogue–is a dead end. I also believe that the charge, repeated time and again, that the “teachers are being used by anti-government forces” will only add fuel to the fire. The result is that both the trade unions and the civic “Tanítanék” group are determined to continue the fight, and with even greater force come fall.

The two leaders of the Tanítanék group are born leaders. I’m amazed at their organizational and oratorical skills. If anyone can organize a real mass movement around the teachers it will be István Pukli and Kata Törley. They promise something spectacular once schools open in September. They are already working to establish a nationwide network of activists. They began their recruitment right on the spot

One of the highlights of the demonstration was the handing out of report cards to government officials.  Zoltán Balog, minister of human resources; László Palkovics, his undersecretary responsible for education; János Lázár, head of the prime minister’s office; Lajos Kósa, head of Fidesz’s parliamentary delegation; Antal Rogán, “propaganda minister”; Szilárd Németh, one of the deputy chairmen of Fidesz; and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán all received failing grades. As the grades were read out, the crowd jeered and shouted “mocskos Fidesz” (filthy Fidesz). Of course, the greatest booing came after Viktor Orbán’s report card was read.

We should keep in mind that the popularity of Fidesz today is not what it was a few months ago. According to the Republikon Intézet, Fidesz’s popularity has fallen 8% in just one month, between April and May, among committed voters. The beneficiaries of Fidesz’s losses seem to be the smaller parties, especially the Demokratikus Koalíció (+3%) and to a lesser extent LMP (+1%) and Együtt (+1%). These results were more or less seconded by Fidesz’s own Századvég. Some spectacular show of force by the teachers might further erode Fidesz’s popularity.

For those who didn’t see István Pukli and Kata Törley on ATV, they also appeared on Egyenes beszéd ráadás (Straight Talk Extra) yesterday.

June 11, 2016
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András B. Göllner
Guest

“The Orbán government, in its eternal wisdom, came to the conclusion that they should also centralize the physical maintenance of the school buildings. So, for example, if a window gets broken, the school administration will have to apply to one of the little KLIKs, most likely miles away, for a replacement window.”

I would add to this, Éva, that the Orbán government, in its eternal wisdom, will also ensure, that only businesses run by people close to Fidesz will have the right to provide maintenance services to Hungary’s public school system. The tobacco concession racket is just about to be extended to the public school system.

John3
Guest

András, do you not think that the real basic problem is the covert hold of Moscow on the Hungarian state?

Istvan
Guest
Having been in the US Army one of the more curious aspects of deployment is oddly absolutely nothing to do during off duty time. The military allows what are called MWR (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) programs and one such program was organized bible study through the Christian Officers Fellowship. I actually spent several months of off duty time seriously studying the bible, yet I admit I am far from being a biblical scholar. John 3, that the poster uses as a name, is an interesting chapter whether one reads in English the King James Version, the New International Version, or the New Revised Standard Version (NRAV) Catholic Edition that I use. But let’s be clear PM Orban is not Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council and he would have not asked Jesus for guidance, his own arrogance seems too great to allow for that. So there are many lessons to be drawn from John 3 that have application to the world of today, maybe one is from this passage: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the… Read more »
Guest

Re: Orban and the ‘light of Jesus Christ’

Perhaps a modern Constantine, who closed upon the new faith with dreamlike visions married to the political world who indelibly knew the use of religion in achieving goals. Laurels flow to the Emperor and to victorious Christianity. The Arch of Constantine in Rome shows the glorious succession of Christianity and the image of toleration toward ‘pagans’. Yet the Emperor required unity of faith in the new Empire. It was not a time then for Christians to ask questions of the faith and the politics behind it. And once again we come round to see how ‘imperial’ authority inserts itself between the rulers and the ruled both on a theological and political basis.

petofi
Guest

Istvan,

how many times where you in the American army? It seems, with your continuous mention, that you re-enlisted about 22 times…

Istvan
Guest

22 years Petofi, from 1971 to 1993 through the end of Operation Desert Storm. 20 years is required for a pension, in my case I did numerous years as a reservist with zone of combat time added on. Today’s reservists get a far worse deal than I got.

I also worked as a contractor for the DOD following retirement as do many retired officers in logistics.

petofi
Guest

@John3

I’ve been saying this for years, but people don’t appear to take into consideration the ‘signs’: for instance, Malev was sold, twice, to Russian interests. And, everytime Malev got into financial difficulty (read bankruptcy) it was the Hungarian state that bought back the company. This happened twice. I distincly remember that the year the government finally shut down the company–and not before selling tickets to the very last day–that there had been plans some months earlier (as the leader of Malev revealed in an earlier interview) that the company is ready to be sold again! (Any time Malev was doing well, the government was set to sell it off: when the company was losing money or bankrupt, the government took it back and assumed all debts.)

Quite an odd way to run a national airline, wouldn’t you think…?

(Hajra Magyarok!)

András B. Göllner
Guest

John 3

I don’t think Moscow has a covert hold on the Hungarian state. The two virile, macho leaders are engaged in a very public, mutually satisfying embrace, the relationship is a mutual admiration society. There might be hidden, latent undertones to all this, but as a Jungian, I am not qualified to comment. I leave that to the Freudians.

Observer
Guest

@john3

The main problem is the Orban, his maffia and the 1-1.3 million damaged souls there..

Istvan
Guest

A strike or a civil disobedience action that puts one’s job at risk and yet another large Budapest march where the teachers remain largely anonymous are very different things. Existing Fidesz labor laws make the situation of the two main teachers unions very difficult. Possibly even worse has been the public support of other unions for the teachers, but their inability to even engage in a solidarity shut down for a limited period of time out of fear of repercussions from Fidesz.

The Tanitanék movement is a real dynamic movement, but the unions are heavily compromised. There could be a split between the unions which are forced to respond to the full spectrum of their members including bread and butter unionists who are willing to trade some things for material gains and the Tanitanék movement which has a much more wholistic vision of eduction reform. The relationship between the movement and the offical unions seems to be a complex one and will continue to be.

Ron
Guest

To put it very simple: The official unions are the extension of the current government.They will not act against the government, and will not act in the interest of the “forced” members..

Guest
London Calling! “If the teachers learned anything in the last few months, it was that negotiation with the Orbán government–alleged dialogue–is a dead end. ” Well knock me down with a feather! Up here in this little northern enclave called England we’ve been aware of this a very long time. (I know, I know – so have many bloggers on here). But it’s more than important that the so-called ‘union leaders’ wake up and smell the coffee. As it is with the so called ‘Parliamentary opposition’ and the electorate. Once you come to terms with the fact that this is a Commocracy – ok you don’t like the term – that this is not a democracy – then you realise that you are dealing with an authoritarian – ok you don’t like the term – a dictator. An authoritarian will only ‘negotiate’ on their terms. A dictator will only ‘negotiate’ on their own terms. And yet this is still only Eva’s analysis – I’m not sure it’s hit home to the teachers’ leaders. I’m very suspicious of that ‘Mrs Istvan Gallo’ who appears to be a dinosaur. Any woman who insists on being addressed must be an inflexible – formal… Read more »
Guest

A bit OT:

I had to laugh at Charlie’s rant re the Mrs Istvan Galló because I’ve been wondering too about this. hearing it from some of my wife’s female friends.

In the 21st Century married women in Hungary are still addressed like this – or speak of themselves as Wolfiné Charlie (just to make a combination) …

How ridiculous is that?
Sometimes you tend to believe that they lost everything, all individuality, not only their first names and family names, when they married!

webber
Guest

To the day she died, my grandmother insisted on people using Mrs. + my grandfather’s name if they were people she didn’t know.
People she knew and liked could use her first name. My mother’s generation dropped that.
So, Hungary is just two generations behind on this.

Guest

It would appear the ‘education’ movement has great intent and life from the activity. Philosophically , it is apparent Pukli, Torley and followers understand that stone, steel and concrete construction will eventually go to ruin while the important skills learned by developing the tools that would enable the nation’s population to think, create, understand and analyze ideas and project them effectively would be for all time. The government sure appears to go only for low hanging fruit.

tappanch
Guest

Here is a philosophical thought which will put me in hot water.

Q: In what sense are Mohammed and Orban similar ?

A: They set up systems that block evolution, improvement.

The Orban regime (called NER) has the buddy Chief-Prosecutor-for-life, the super majority in the Election commission, etc.

The Mohammed regime (called Islam) has the dogma that M’s last, intolerant words supersede his earlier, more tolerant words. In addition, he declared himself the last prophet of God, therefore nobody can change these last suras, so they are unimprovable, like the one about waging war in 8 months of the year (especially in Ramadan).

tappanch
Guest

Democracy can be changed by evolution, but dictatorship only by revolution.

tappanch
Guest

Read the penultimate sura (chronologically, numbered 9 by length) and hadith Sahih Bukhari 4:56:829

András B. Göllner
Guest

@ tappanch

Is Bukhari better than Bukharin ? Hadith better then Edith ? I need to know before I go to bed 🙂 Sorry, I’ve been watching the Montreal Grand Prix all day – my mind is still running around in circles…. Hamilton is is a Federalist, that knows how to burn rubber.

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