Two men who put up a fight: Lajos Simicska and Bachar Najari

Among the active members of Hungarian Spectrum there has been a long-standing debate about the most useful attitude toward the Orbán regime’s very existence and future. There are those who get upset when they encounter pessimism regarding the removal of the present Hungarian government. They think that defeatism is counterproductive and take every opportunity to raise their voices against naysayers. Among these people we find some who think that these pessimists are actually Fidesz propagandists whose job is to spread the dogma of Fidesz invincibility. But, to be fair, one doesn’t need to be a Fidesz troll to feel less than optimistic given the state of affairs in the country.

I for one agree that the proverbial Hungarian pessimism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, which should be avoided at all costs. But, at the same time, we must admit that overcoming the obstacles that Orbán and his minions have placed in front of those desiring change is a formidable task.

Today I would like to hearten those who are worried about Hungary’s future by writing about two men who decided to stand up to the government. The first is Lajos Simicska, Orbán’s friend from high school, who reaped all the benefits of the mafia state until his falling out with the prime minister about a year and a half ago. The other is Bachar Najari, a Syrian-Hungarian-Swiss businessman, the new owner of the famed Zsolnay Porcelain Factory in Pécs. Although for different reasons, both were targeted for financial annihilation by a corrupt regime. It looks as if the powers that be are finding it difficult to destroy them.

Some people believe that Lajos Simicska’s contribution to the creation, development, and final accomplishment of Fidesz was even greater than Viktor Orbán’s. After all, it was Simicska who brought home the bacon. Of course, in the process he himself became immensely rich. But then came the falling out. Orbán, being a vindictive man, decided to ruin his old friend financially.

Simicska’s most important business venture is Közgép, a construction company that specializes in building highways and railways. As such, it is heavily dependent on government orders. Thus, Simicska looked like an easy target. Indeed, right after the blow-up between the two men, the government suspended midstream the highway that was to be built by Közgép. The second move was that the Public Procurement Authority (Közbeszerzési Hatóság), which handles government tenders, “discovered” that Simicska’s firm had cheated on one of its tenders. It was decided that as punishment Közgép would not be able to compete for any government jobs for three years. Simicska went to court and won, both in the lower court and also on appeal.

Trying to ruin Simicska through Közgép was not enough. Orbán instructed István Tarlós, mayor of Budapest, to break a long-term contract with Simicska’s firm, Mahir Cityposter. In 2006 the firm acquired the right to provide the city with 761 large cylindrical kiosks. The contract was to be good for 25 years. Ten years later the city suddenly “discovered” that the contract was not fair. When Simicska didn’t remove the kiosks by a specified date, the city ordered them to be forcibly removed despite a court order to stop the vandalism. Simicska promptly hired György Magyar, a very able lawyer, who said from the beginning that the case was absolutely clear-cut. And indeed, he was right. A few days ago the court agreed with the argument Simicska’s lawyer presented and forbade the removal of the kiosks while the case is pending before the court of appeal. The city will also have to pay 6.8 million forints in court costs. If the city loses, it will have to pay Simicska 600 million forints in damages.

Perhaps Simicska’s savviest move to date has been to form a consortium with the Italian company Itinera, which has been described in the Hungarian media as “a big gun.” Itinera has been “active in large-scale infrastructure projects and civil construction for more than 75 years in Italy and around the world.” Közgép together with Itinera presented a bid for a 27 km-long section of the M4 highway between Berettyóújfalu and the Romanian border. Their bid was 58 billion forints or approximately 188 million euros. Two other consortiums were also eyeing the job: (1) a consortium of three Hungarian companies whose bid was 84 billion forints or approximately 268 million euros and (2) a French-Slovak-Czech consortium that bid 87 billion forints or 272 million euros.

The difference in price is staggering. It seems that Simicska with this offer wanted to show the fair (admittedly, probably on the low end of fair) price of road construction and to highlight the graft that is normally built into these bids. In the case of the Hungarian consortium it was as much as 26 billion forints or 80 million euros. In this particular case almost 3 million euros per km would end up in someone else’s pocket. Of course, it is still possible to find fault with the Közgép-Itinera tender if Viktor Orbán so desires, saying that price is not everything, but apparently the Közgép-Itinera bid is also best in every other category, including environmental considerations. The consensus is that it will be very difficult to award the project to anyone else.

 

Now we can turn to the case of Bachar Najari, the Syrian-Swiss businessman with a Hungarian wife who also speaks fluent Hungarian. How Najari ended up owning the Zsolnay porcelain factory is a long story, which I pretty well told in a post titled “How to ruin a businessman with government help.” The upshot of the story is that one of Viktor Orbán’s oligarchs, Attila Paár, decided that he would like to own the factory because many of the vintage buildings in Budapest that will be restored or even rebuilt will need the famed terracotta tiles Zsolnay was famous for in the last decades of the nineteenth century. Najari had managed to put the formerly city-owned factory on solid financial footing, and it looked as if from here on it would be a profitable enterprise, especially with the impending sale of roof tiles. There was a fairly large loan which had been taken out by the city earlier from the Hungarian Development Bank for which Najari offered a certain amount of money to settle the account. The bank declined the offer and instead sold the debt for half of what Najari had offered to Attila Paár. Meanwhile, the city of Pécs decided to help Paár along by setting up a bogus company to which it recruited more than half of the workforce of Zsolnay. These workers are actually on paid vacation and no one knows who pays them. The situation was compared by one of the workers of the factory to a gangster film from the 1930s.

gangsters

Najari decided to fight. First he managed to get back his stock, which had been placed under sequestration. He used his own money and made good on the debt he inherited when he bought the factory from Pécs and also paid 90 million in local taxes, although it was a disputed item. Therefore there was no more reason for the city, which owns 19% of the stock, to take over the factory. Then the Kaposvár court refused to register Pécs’s new porcelain manufacturer, called Ledina Kerámia. Finally, the court in Zalaegerszeg turned down the request for a liquidation of the Zsolnay factory. A few days ago the city of Pécs “sold” the nonexistent Ledina Kerámia to an unnamed off-shore company. The city claims that the sale, for 3 million forints, “will ensure the jobs of those workers who were enticed to leave Zsolnay because it was to fold soon.”

Meanwhile work is being done at Zsolnay. Najari refused to be intimidated, and it seems that he managed to foil the attempt to rob him blind.

Although it is not easy, these two cases show that a person can win as long as he has the means and the determination to stop the Orbán regime’s unscrupulous, illegal activities.

September 19, 2016
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Istvan
Guest

Off topic but the mandatory quota issue does not want to disappear. European Commission spokesperson Margaritisz Szkínász gave an equivocal response to a reporter’s question about the Commission’s current position on mandatory quotas today. The spokesperson was reported to have said Juncker’s words “do not have to do with the application of Community law.” Which is true but is a chilling response for the V4 to hear when many believed that issue was behind them. See http://mno.hu/kulfold/megis-szeretne-brusszel-kotelezo-kvotat-1362366

I think it’s pretty funny that Simicska has been able to beat Orban at his own game, but then Simicska made up the rules of the oligarch game for Orban. He is such an over stuffed pig it’s hard to believe he hasn’t dropped dead from a heart attack as yet.

Odessa
Guest
The topic won’t disappear. Orban and his media ensure this is so. Expect this to be on the agenda even post 2 October too. It’s great. It’s a bit expensive but it crowds out literally everything so why not do it? Nobody cares about corruption, terrible public services but everybody is watching the game like it was Barca against Real. Who will win? Who has bigger chances? What do the newest polls say? What did Tamas Deutsch or Szolt Bayer say at this town hall meeting? It’s a great sur-reality show provided by the courtesy of Orban. But people love shows. In fact they too want to get distracted away from everyday problems. Orban just knows how to entertain people, no surprise he is so beloved. There is no opposition leader from Vona to Schiffer who could really entertain the people like Orban can, he is still riveting after close to 30 years in politics. Though truth be told he has the entire state and much more than half of the private media at his disposal. He is the popular villain of the TV shows like JR (in Hungarian Jockey) was in Dallas and a lot of voters hate him,… Read more »
Guest

Orbán is beloved by whom?

Why do you trolls always tell the same idiotic lies – this reminds me of latefor who would write that most Hungarians adore O …

Just like Kádár,Stalin, Mao (I could go on …) where loved by their people?

Or are you telling us that Hungarians are really that stupid? maybe some of them, that’s for sure, but not all …

You should hear what my wife has to say about Fidesz – never heard somany swear words …

Alex Kuli
Guest

Orban is beloved by plenty of Hungarians. I have no idea who you are, where you live or what your wife’s background is. But pay a visit to practically any small town or village in the countryside. Orban lovers are a dime a dozen. I would estimate that his hard-core supporters make up 20% of people who vote. Then, there are those who don’t particularly love Orban, but think he’s better than anyone else.

webber
Guest

“20% of people who vote.”
Quite possible. Some years ago I saw Orban’s picture in people’s living rooms, and in one restaurant near the Matra hills.

But I would also venture to guess that over half the country hates the man now.

webber
Guest

P.S. Wolfi had a point. Kadar was “much loved” in his time too. Some people actually wept when Stalin died – and those weren’t tears of joy (this is well documented). Mao was adored, literally.

Guest

Of course. What’s the word I’m looking for. Everything with those leaders is ‘kevered’ up with the evaluation. Really they were terrible terrible souffles as they scrambled all their rotten eggs. But people who experienced life under a boot and then felt that oh so small lift and got that taste could only worship the ground they walked on considering where they were wallowing from. And where in the final analyses are some of these chefs of the future? Objective looks at them show them only to have been totalitarians on the make.

Guest

20%. of those who vote – that’s about 10% of all Hungarians, not too much imho.
And not “an overwhelming majority” as latefor used to write …

Bowen
Guest

Orban is so beloved, that when he last made a public appearance in Budapest (March 15, 2016), all the surrounding streets were closed off to cars, and there were fences around the National Museum, stopping anyone getting anywhere near him. Only authorised ‘guests’ (including some Poles) were allowed in the fenced area.

Compared to before 2010, when he used to give public speeches around Budapest with no trouble.

Alex Kuli
Guest

Hence my reference to “the countryside,” where 80 percent of Hungarians live.

Bowen
Guest

How many appearances in the countryside has he made recently, which have drawn large, adoring crowds?

Alex Kuli
Guest

One in five people who show up at the polls are hardcore Orban. That’s a hell of a lot. They persuade their families and friends to vote Fidesz. More importantly, they have power in Fidesz-controlled areas and they use it to ostracize anyone who speaks against Orban. There is immense social pressure in the countryside, where everyone knows everyone else’s dirty laundry, to toe to the government party line.

Bowen
Guest

Voting because of coercion and risk of ostracism isn’t quite the same as voting because a leader is ‘beloved’.

webber
Guest

Not any more, Alex. Since the 2014 general elections, there has been an enormous change.

Are you not in Hungary now? If you left in 2014, I understand why you are a skeptic.

Bowen is damned right – Fidesz and Orban are hated now right through the country.

webber
Guest

On pressure, you are right – but it isn’t social pressure now. It’s brutal force in the countryside. You can lose your job if they discover you are going to vote against Orban. It’s all gone back to the old hard communist habits – do you have a recommendation from a party member? Then you’ll get the job.

But if you think that means people LIKE Fidesz, or that they will actually vote for the party, you haven’t been looking at the results of by-elections.

Alex Kuli
Guest

What I said was, Orban is beloved by “plenty” of Hungarians. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
As for by-elections, the results in most countries normally do not match the results at general elections. It’s time for people to cast protest votes or express their dissatisfaction by staying home. Zoltan Kesz won his seat because the turnout was far heavier in the city of Veszprem than in the villages. Rig Lajos edged out the Fidesz candidate by a handful of votes for two reasons 1) Voters in the Tapolca region were already sympathetic to Jobbik 2) Vona and Jobbik far outcampaigned their competitors, devoting more resources and more energy
than any other party.
I have lived in Hungary for at least six months out of each year since 2014, I keep close contacts with people in the countryside, and when you talk about a mass rejection of Orban/Fidesz, I get the impression you are living in a fantasy world.

Observer
Guest

Crimes past we’re “dicovered” and new have been committed eg. “The bank declined the offer and instead sold the debt for half of what Najari had offered to Attila Paár. ..”

Resisting Orban’s mafia is a patriotic and humanitarian imperative. For many it is an existentional problem, but the majority are just patsies or damaged souls.

Hungary expects every man to do his duty (Adm. Nelson paraphrase), one can’t control the result, but can 100% control the effort.

This mafia will fall, we have to bring this forward.

Guest

Re: ‘Nelson’

Great admiral and leader. No ‘leading’ from the rear. His ship at Trafalgar was the first to engage the enemy fleet and consequently receive great fire ripping up his ship and seamen. He died of his wounds and gave his life for ‘victory.

pappp
Guest

Let’s not forget when exactly did Simicska win his contract for 25 years (re the city-wide cylindrical kiosks)?

It was under mayor Gabor Demszky of SZDSZ at a time when both MSZP-SZDSZ as a block had 33 and Fidesz 30-MDF 3 representatives in the Budapest council. So it was evenly divided but in addition Fidesz was in the opposition in the Parliament, while MSZP and SZDSZ were governing and making laws.

Although the Hungarian left-wing at that time was firmly in power they very simply sold out a monopolistic media opportunity for the already aggressive Fidesz.

It’s up the readers to decide what kind of parties would sell out their own future to their very opposition?

pappp
Guest

“I for one agree that the proverbial Hungarian pessimism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, which should be avoided at all costs.”

Yes, I completely agree. However only by facing (the sad) reality can one really be able to start doing something. Speaking for myself I think Fidesz is not invincible per se, no. Even with a rigged election system, the airtight media situation and the limitless Fidesznik campaign resources there exists, I genuinely feel, a possibility to defeat Orban and Fidesz. I just have serious doubts that the current (as of September 2016) leftist opposition (its leaders) have the ability to accomplish that and what is actually a bigger issue, the ability to peacefully govern after obtaining power (including mercilessly holding top Fideszniks accountable).

It’s relatively easy to send dictators packing as we saw from the Arab-spring, but to be able to actually govern after that, that’s orders of magnitude more difficult.

Member

Dasselbe in Grün

pappp, prove your positivity: Who/what do you think is capable of ousting Orban and governing, how?

Easy to say “I am not a Defeatist Melancholic, nor a Fatalist Self-Fulfilling Prophet echoing Orban’s Triumphalist Turul Trolls!”

Harder to say how you differ from them.

Here’s a non-starter: “The opposition should stop being so wimpish and use the winning ways of Fidesz.”

That’s just Dasselbe in Grün.

You once posted that you were doing your own positive bit to help fix things in the background, and I asked you what that bit is. You never replied…

comment image

[Full disclosure: I do my bit by posting my critiques of Orban’s ‘Ndrangheta publicly and non-anonymously, and under the aegis of the Canadian-Hungarian Democratic Charter, a (tiny) Canadian organization that is trying to help restore democracy in Hungary — and one that I am sure you would dismiss as just another ineffectual form of (external) opposition.]

And I would say that Professor Balogh’s remarkable, relentless daily campaign of exposing Orban’s abominations in Hungarian Spectrum is one of the biggest positive contributions anyone, anywhere is making, and that history will show them to have been a significant factor in ensuring and hastening Orban’s ultimate ouster. A historian making history.

Member

And here’s another doing his bit: Soros to Invest $500 Million to Help Refugees and Migrants
comment image

Nor is Ferenc Gyurcsány’s courageous, relentless — and successful — pushback against Orban’s odious personal smear and hate campaign and persecution to be sneezed at.

Guest

Re: ‘a historian making history’

Always thought Prof’s incisive essays on the Magyar scene should be on all Magyar modern history shelves bound neatly in volumes. And I could see a ‘best of’ very easily.

Member

Radio silence from “pppp,” predictably, whenever challenged for positivity: He’s just there to parrot why nothing works, and nothing will work. “I’m 100% with you guys, believe me, but….”
comment image

webber
Guest

Yep. Every single time.

pappp
Guest
There is no silence but as I said perhaps only a day ago I do have some ideas but I will want to test those not at this blog in public. That said, I maintain what I’ve been writing. I maintain that Orban is actually beatable, but also that this, current leftist bunch (those parties which call themselves baloldali and/or liberális), in my view (and I understand webber thinks otherwise) will be unable to. This means in my evaluation two things re the possibility to defeat Orban: either such aforementioned parties must fundamentally change until the elections (which may indeed be held in early 2017 until which time there is no way they can get ready, but let’s hope for a normal April 2018 elections) or new parties, people, public figures need to appear. There are no other possibilities which I see, but both are actually possibilities. At this point nobody can tell which will take place or have a higher chance but with Gyula Molnar (with Mesterházy, Puch, Hiller etc. in the background), Gyurcsany (who like it or not is the most disliked politician behind even Antal Rogan) I am sure they have no hope. Like I said try… Read more »
Member
Observer
Guest

Stevan
Wrfree

Hear, hear!

Guest

London Calling!

Mea Culpa!

I too have been a pessimistic contributor on here, but have tempered it by always trying to look for a chink of light – but mostly failing.

Having been conditioned by the most perfect imperfect democracy, Hungary’s situation has rammed home to me the importance of independence in the ‘infrastructure’ of democracy, for example, the media, judiciary and legislature – the so-called checks and balances.

So much has been corrupted in this process that it’s impossible to see a way out.

Impossible.

Simicska is not the answer – he has long been a significant part of the problem.

The only solution that can possibly work – to my mind – is revolution.

And the Hungarian electorate is in thrall to their wonderful Viktorlae Orbanescu.

I don’t know how a population turns on its dictator – especially one boyed up by the establishment of the EU.

But turn on its dictator it will.

Eventually. Sometime. In the future. A long way into the future. After some time. In the end. In due course. At long last.

It will won’t it?

In my lifetime?

Guest

Buoyed up!

Guest
Re: ‘Impossible’ Oh boy ‘cch’! You know for all my life I have been enthralled with the ‘American Revolution’ ( I guess really all ‘revolutions’ political, cultural and social). As Wellington said of Waterloo, ‘It was a close run thing’. George and the army were almost down for the count. Usually a few times. I walked streets were they came hoofing it up cliffs after frantically fording a river running for their lives with the British hard at heels. That was the Battle of Brooklyn. The army escaped to fight another day where they bagged Cornwallis at Yorktown. And then the great ‘experiment’ began. And that was to the unity of the population and their courageousness in a great cause. We have a good run. Theme: You can lose battles but win wars. And important values must be defended regardless of the hardships. What I find very no extremely disturbing is the fact that my own ancestral country is now being a divisive enabler of everything against that grand ‘experiment’ two hundred plus years ago. Its politics is so off kilter and so damming in its vision and causes that it is stunning that Europe would abide a country that… Read more »
Guest

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

Guest

Yes, Bob Dylan had it right – and I fondly remember how his songs impressed us when we were young!
In 1964 I had just left my parents’ home and got my own room in the University town then – so I could “party” all night and didn’t have to take the last train home, which left at 8 pm …

Guest

We have an appreciation of that ‘song and dance’ man…😎

And something from arguably his greatest:

‘You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hanging out
Now you don’t talk so loud
Now you don’t seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal’

A lyric perhaps to be sung from the rooftops if that upcoming ‘ref’ hits the skids.

tappanch
Guest

Labor situation, calculated from the official data, some of them published today.

3-month averages, May-July .

Employed by:

enterprises with at least 5 employees:
2014: 1860.6
2015: 1908.4
2016: 1978.9

state:
2014 : 696.8
2015: 699.4
2016: 693.9

non-profits:
2014: 89.9
2015: 96.1
2016:108.2

Therefore self-employed or employed in enterprises with less than 5 employees:
2014: 1184.0
2015: 1186.8
2016: 1237.3 (!!)

————-
fostered workers (yes, different series from two official sources)
2014: 147.2 or 157.2
2015 : 198.5 or 222.1
2016 : 215.2 or 235.5

working abroad, but counted in the Hungarian statistics

2014: 96.6
2015: 111.0
2016: 118.1

Zoli
Guest
The conversations on this site are getting to become more and more hilarious and removed from reality. There is only one way to remove Orban, and that is at the ballot box. Frankly, the only ones I see capable of achieving that perhaps not next election, but the one after that, is Jobbik. No matter how you try to twist it and turn it, Orban and his government are popular. And no, it is not because of trickery. It is because they came in and took the EU economy that was first to need an IMF bailout and brought it back to health. It is not me saying it, it is the S&P for instance. I recommend people read their ratings upgrade report, which details all the fundamental improvements. These improvements mean a better future for Hungarians. A future that looked very bleak when Orban came into office. Hungarians see this, and they also see how the left tried to undermine it all, which is in addition to the fact that it was the left which left the country in the ditch. On Europe’s biggest issue of the day, namely the migrant invasion, Orban is on the same page with… Read more »
Guest

You are on severely dodgy ground when you quote S&P……..

And when you continue the ‘left’ mantra yarder yarder yarder……

We’re talking about a fair society; a decent society, in a decent democracy.

Zoli
Guest

right Charlie! On “dodgy ground”. I bet you and most people here had no problem with S&P when it downgraded Hungary in 2012 to 2 grades bellow investment, even though it was one of only 3 EU countries which managed to decrease its debt/GDP that year. Bond traders in London and elsewhere cried foul politics on that one, but I am sure that most of you on this site thought it was as just and fair as it can be.

I do understand how it can be very hard for most who hang out on this site a lot to accept the findings of S&P or most other metrics which in fact confirm what the bond market has known for a while now, namely that the S&P upgrade back to investment grade was overdue. It can be hard when day after day you discuss how corrupt Hungary’s government is, how harmful its policies are and so on. Most of you probably expected Hungary to be back on its knees, knocking on the doors of the IMF by now. You must all be very disappointed at this point.

Guest

you discuss how corrupt Hungary’s government is

So are you saying that’s not true?

Guest

Picking only the numbers that match your prejudices – and relying desperately on a small upgrade from junk to (barely) investment grade hardely counts as a counter argument to:

The number of Hungarians leaving – and wanting to leave.
The rating of Hungary in Transparency International’s corruption index.
Hungary’s top University being about 550 in the Global league

Not to mention other indexes where Hungary ‘performs’:

Life expectancy, well-being, happiness etc

And the State of the health service – whilst no measurable index is available it’s considered third world – I know I’ve been there.

Yea.

Pick your index.

Reading Eva’s tell-it-like-it-is blog must hurt?

Are you some sort of masochist?

I’d stick to Echo TV and all the other media under Orban’s control if I were you – you’ve got a life to get through.

Guest

And btw – The starts coming out of the KSH and MNB are decidedly dodgy – and all the rating agencies have a conflict of interest.

They rely too readily on ‘National Statistics’ – so when the independence of Hungary’s agencies are called into question – and they often are – they still use them for their algorithms.

M8tolcsy and Gabriella are too close to Orban to be objective – and honest.

Guest

The stats.

Guest

Troll-like, Zoli’s done a runner after his second response.

No payment for subsequent posts.

Zoli
Guest
Right! The stats. Do you have any proof that they are wrong? The EC seems to be ok with them. Other than that, you mentioned other measures, such as people leaving Hungary for instance. Please be my guest and point out what measures could have possibly prevented that from happening in the aftermath of the collapse of Hungary’s government & consumer FX debt bubble economy under the Socialist government. Can you tell us how you envision any government inheriting a broken economy, such as was the case with Hungary, offering better services, higher wages and more jobs? Orban’s achievement on this front has been the stabilization of Hungary’s economy, in other words preventing further deterioration and a return to a path of sustained economic growth, while keeping fiscal discipline and reducing Hungary’s FX exposure. Now that the situation has been somewhat stabilized, we are in fact seeing the things that need to be happening, actually happening, such as an increase in job availability and higher wages. In fact, real wages are increasing at a rate of about 7% y-o-y according to those “liars” with their stats. That cannot possibly be true either.
Guest

I think I need to introduce you to tappanch.

Guest

And Observer

Guest

And you trust M8tolcsy?

Guest

Zoli?

Please see tappanch below?

Or do a ‘find in page’ for ‘Zoli’.

Or maybe just rest your brainwashed head on a pillow?

Guest

Yes, Hungarians are a strange people – corruption is rampant, Fideszniks are filling their pockets – and (the majority of …?) Hungarians just smile and continue adoring Orbán …

PS:
If you look at some internet sites with parodies of the “Tudta” campaign, you get a different feeling.

PPS:
Please stop calling every opposition “The Left” – this is a sure troll indicator!

Guest

Re: ‘Hungarians are a strange people’

You know we have a postcard that we keep in the kitchen:
‘Everybody’s normal until you get to know them’.

As an outside looker looking in I have usually felt that the relationship between the government and the Magyar population is a ‘familial’ one where it appears ‘apu’ calls the shots on many levels. Just don’t see the separation between daddy and the children. To go on breaks would need to be made to live a new life both within the family and without. Looks like ’emancipation’ is tough on both. Something will have to give sometime later or the entire house will be ‘put asunder’.

Alex Kuli
Guest

Wolfi, I use quote marks with “left” because Fidesz’s policies are much closer to old-style socialism than the parties who call themselves “left wing.”

The MSZP privatizes, Fidesz nationalizes. The MSZP localizes, Fidesz centralizes. In Hungary, the definition between left and right has very little to do with ideology.

webber
Guest

Wolfi – on this, Alex is right.
Hungary’s left took up Giddens’ and Tony Blair’s third way, which was essentially a r-wing economic program.

Guest

My remark was adresedat Zoli who like Palika, pappp etc always throws all the opposition parties in one bag – the left. Seems convenient for them all …

My usual reply would be:

If you are the extreme right, so that to the right of you is only the wall – then of course everyone else must be a leftist!

Guest

…..Orban is on the same page with the overwhelming majority of Hungarians, and no matter how much you tell yourselves, it is not because Orban brainwashed them. ….

Hunger for power has brainwashed Orban.

tappanch
Guest

“The conversations on this site are getting to become more and more hilarious”

In a dictatorship like Orban’s, it sure looks hilarious from the top of the hill.

webber
Guest

Orban is not popular (see above – Ipsos figs.).
He is hated, deeply, by the majority of Hungarians.
I guess you don’t live in Hungary.

webber
Guest

And only Jobbik? Pardon?
The disgust with Fidesz seems likely to wash over Jobbik, too.
People turned right, and are now turning away in revulsion.
Doesn’t mean they like the left. As I repeatedly have said, most people don’t think that way (they are neither r nor l), but Fidesz has pounded on the left so much. A lot of voters might vote for “my enemy’s enemy” now.

I am guessing you live in the US, only visit Hungary for vacation, and so haven’t experienced the change in public opinion. It is massive.

NWO
Guest
Eva. You are one of the most intelligent, astute observers of Hungarian politics, and as such there is no way you can seriously make the argument of Simicska as some kind of savior of Hungarian politics. He may have fallen out with Orban, but this is an internecine Maffia war. Simicska as you note was at the center of FIDESZ from day 1. His infamous role at APEH as the Tax Commissioner in first Orban Government set the stage for the total destruction of the political system and for any hope for clean and transparent Govt. His conversion to enemy number 1 is circumstance and mutual greed on his part and the PM’s part. His willingness to now support Jobbik shows he is hardly the hero or martyr the country needs (though I would prefer Vona to Orban as PM if that were the choice). If anything, the fact that you choose to feature Simicska in this way is the best case there is for why the pessimistic/fatalistic view of Hungary is so compelling. The hope (long term), if any, is that so many young Hungarians are exposed to proper civil and political society in the UK and other places… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

“The editor in chief of Budapest Business Journal is leaving the newspaper. Here, he explains why.”

“Subtly Silenced by the Hungarian Government”

http://mediapowermonitor.com/content/subtly-silenced-hungarian-government

Guest

Good luck Tom Popper – all the best in your future endeavours.

Another flame of integrity and hope extinguished.

Guest

I’m a big fan of BBJ, read it online every day – sorry to hear about this!

Best of luck to him!

tappanch
Guest

“if Hungary has reached a state where print and online newspaper publishers are leery of criticizing the government, we need to be discussing politics more, not less.”

Ron
Guest

And it is not just the criticizing the government that cause problems, also criticizing organizations, such as the Hungarian Football and Basketball organization on facebook cause blocking of facebook account responses, a unofficial reprimand from your boss, Or threatening the “career” opportunities of your children.

All this because you are questioning the sanity of these organizations to treat 12 year old children as professional players.

Istvan
Guest

Jobbik’s referendum ad with English subtitles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acrMglXetZY

tappanch
Guest

Re: “Zoli” and Orban’s “fiscal discipline.

Let me introduce the official numbers to you!
(Admittedly, they are not advertised too much…)

The result of six years of “fiscal discipline” of the Orban regime.

June 30, 2016 vs June 30, 2010

In spite of the fact that

A.
Hungary received around 9.4 TRILLION forints’ worth of support from the EU,
B.
The government took away and SPENT 2.8 trillion of people’s private
retirement funds.

The net result is:
A’.
The international reserves of the National Bank.
2010: 35.174
2016: 24.785 billion euros.

The difference is worth a loss of about 3.2 TRILLION forints or
a decrease of 29.5%.
(all of it happened under Matolcsy in the last 3 years)
B’.
The NET debt of the total government.
(the balance for the central government is even worse!)

2010: 16066.5 billion
2016: 23262.2 billion

The debt went up 7.2 trillion forints or 44.8% in six years.

Guest

Thanks tappanch – the figures are stark.

tappanch
Guest

total government = central government + local governments + social security fund.

The NET debt of the CENTRAL government.

2010-06-30: 16154.6 billion
2016-06-30: 25061.3 billion

The increase of the debt is 8.9 trillion forints or 55.1%

Guest

“Orban’s achievement on this front has been the stabilization of Hungary’s economy, ……………..”

Ha! Ha! HAaaaaaaaa!STOPPPP…. Ha HAaaaaaaaa…..

Zoli
Guest

Hate to interrupt your good time charlie. I have to inform you that you are entertaining yourself based on the comment of someone who has no clue on the subject. Yes he posted some stats, but has no clue about the meaning of those stats, and evidently neither do you. I responded to this great forum economist of yours, which you insisted that I absolutely must meet. Read my comment. Perhaps you may actually learn something. Then again….

Guest

My neighbour told me today that he gets 800 HUF (net) per hour – and he is a hard working guy!
And his wife who works in the village kitchen gets 600 HUF per hour. (They don’t even have a dish washing machine there …)

So I’m wondering who are the people who get more than the average of 150 000 HUF per month?

Zoli
Guest

People with some education or with a trade, just like anywhere else.

Guest

How much does a nurse “with some education” get?

Do you know at all what you’re talking about?

Hint:
It’s probably less than a forth of what she can get in DACH …

webber
Guest

Averages, Wolfi, averages.

Zoli
Guest
tappanch, the fact that you have to resort to such distortions as you did just now says a lot about the lack of a viable argument. In absolute terms the debt went up in every country on this planet in the past 6 years. When talking about debt, most people tend to talk about the debt/GDP ratio, which in Hungary’s case declined from around 83% in 2010, to about 75% currently. Also, Central Bank reserves have nothing to do with fiscal discipline. Learn some basic economics and finance before commenting on the subject. Central Banks have to do with monetary, government is fiscal. As for the EU funds, those were also available during most of the 8 years of Socialist leadership, yet it managed to increase the debt/GDP ratio from about 55% to 83% in the 2002-2010 period. You refer to those funds as if it is something new that only appeared in 2010. The fact that Hungary managed to absorb more of the EU funds available since Orban came to power is in fact an achievement. Romania for instance is looking with envy at Hungary’s absorption rate. Seriously, learn some basic economics before commenting on the subject, or at… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

I admit I do not like your condescending tone !

You could mitigate the numbers above by the right arguments, but not by those you mentioned.

A.
The money movement between the Treasury and the National Bank was more than 1 trillion last December to make the debt/GDP ratio smaller just for December 31.
B.
The calculation of the GDP was changed on September 30, 2014 to make it larger.
C.
The “Maastricht” debt is a GROSS debt, easy to manipulate.
D.

Net EU funds to Hungary
2004-01-01 to 2009-12-31:
(6 years of Socialist governments)

7.0324 billion euros.

2010-01-01 to 2015-12-31:
(5/12 year of Socialist and 5 7/12 years of Orban government)

25.4158 billion euros.

Zoli
Guest
A) You are once again confused about the government-central bank relationship. Yes, the movement between them may have been 1 Trillion as you say, but once again you are demonstrating you have no clue in regards to meaning of the numbers you are referencing. The Hungarian government tends to front-load bond issuance to the beginning of the year. The excess money raised from those bond auctions is parked with the Central Bank. Towards the end of the year, those funds that were parked with the Central Bank are drawn down. This happens every year. There is nothing out of the ordinary about this. B,C) We are getting into something that would require much more argument room than what is suitable for a forum. D) You once again demonstrate your lack of knowledge in regards to the meaning of the numbers you are referencing. You are in fact pointing to an achievement of Orban’s compared with previous government. EU funds are there to be absorbed. Some governments are better at it than others. Your numbers clearly indicate that Hungary did very well since Orban, as your own numbers show. Have to say that this is the first time I saw an… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

D – phony argument. After joining the EU, every single country started from low EU money inflow.

Hungary joined the EU in 2014, didn’t it?

If you want to measure the Orban governments achievements,
A.
compare them with those of Slovakia, Czechia [sic], Poland, or Romania.
B.
Where did the money ago? How many stadiums were built from it? What is the % that ended up in private accounts in , say, Singapore?

Zoli
Guest

You are changing the subject. We were talking fiscal discipline, while you are switching to EU funds absorption and spending. Should point out to you that EU funds absorption does not in fact contribute to cutting deficits. In fact governments have to co-pay on many of those EU projects, so a high absorption rate, in fact requires governments to spend more money.

I fully understand why you want to steer the conversation away, after the foolish arguments you made, such as you did on the central bank reserves, or on absolute debt numbers and their context. But no worries, I don’t tend to visit this site too often, and you can get back to making your flawed points, and everyone here will like what they are hearing, even though it will likely be as false and put in false context as what you presented in our conversation, without anyone calling you out on it. Until I visit this site again perhaps.

tappanch
Guest

I did NOT change the subject. You did not answer B. and C. , so I answered your answer about D.

A.
Do you know what went on in December 2014 & 2015 to make the deficit look smaller on December 31? (involving MOL, state-owned banks and MNB)?

If you know, would you share your knowledge with us ?

Guest

‘co-pay’ is a complete farce in Hungary.

Look Zoli – you just want to believe your own bullshit.

‘Co-pay’ in Hungary means submitting uncontested estimates that absorb the so-called ‘co-amount’ plus the corrupt ‘premium’ so the EU pays 200% for each project. I’ve seen churches that have been renovated where the church paid nothing and the mandatory EU sign is a lie. I’m certain the clergy are embarrassed with the almighty lie outside their Church. But so corrupt and evil are the Roman Catholic clergy that they don’t care.

We’ll just have to let sleeping dogs lie – you stick to your propaganda. We’ve reached a polarisation that won’t move.

I initially said that many on here are “……talking about a fair society; a decent society, in a decent democracy.”

That’s all. And S&P doesn’t cut it.

So I suggest you find another site that supports your warped observations – like 888.hu.

And one day just visit Hungary for a holiday or stay and look under the stone.

It’s nasty under there. Believe me.

e-2016
Guest

Hungarian regimes excel to pile up crimes against the nation and humanity.
Money is not important.
National decency is the missing currency.
Love helps, false pride, hunger for glory hurt.

Guest

That’s a good joke, thank you:
EU funds are there to be absorbed.
In building miniature railways, stadiums etc …

I can tell you that my neighbours in the village did not “absorb” too much of that EU money!

Guest

Wow! You say, Zoli?

What about the 1,000,000 jobs? …….Still waiting!

What about:

“Hungary will be the engine that will drive the EU out of recession” Orban 2013

Your argument is shot through with holes.

Orban has stabilised the Hungarian economy….
That’s true. Very true.

But on an inexorable downward trajectory.

Forget S&P – it’s a very narrow perspective – go and live there for a while.

You seem to be an American-Hungarian domiciled outside Hungary?

Anyway you are out of touch.

Bowen
Guest

Charlie, of course Orban has stabilised the economy. He and Lorinc Meszaros are doing excellently. Far better than before.

FYI, Felcsut is (per capita) one of the richest settlements in Hungary.

Guest

Yes! Of course.

I missed it!

Hajgra Hungarian!

(Or something like that!)

Guest

Hungaricum! (I know that bit. Android obviously doesn’t!)

Zoli
Guest
If you believe that something could have been done in the aftermath of the Socialist FX government and consumer debt bubble popped, leading to Hungary being the first country to need an IMF bailout, be my guest and point out to me what that thing is. You could argue that the alternative of sticking with the IMF would have led to a better outcome. Have to say however that you would be sorely mistaken. in neighboring Romania they stuck with the IMF, even though their issues were nowhere near as severe as Hungary’s. You have no idea what that meant for living standards there. A 25% pension and public employee wage cut. A huge number of hospitals closed. And if you think the exodus from Hungary was bad, you should talk to some people from Romania and ask them about their exodus. So, once more, be my guest and point out to me what could have been done to improve things. And please don’t start with some silly arguments about how ending corruption would have made everything better. I agree that corruption should be fought, and perhaps Orban should do better on that front. But can tell you this much;… Read more »
Bowen
Guest

“I agree that corruption should be fought, and perhaps Orban should do better on that front.”

You’re funny.

Guest

Of course, you never can have enough of a good thing like corruption – why be happy with 10% when you can have 50% or 100%?

webber
Guest

Zoli – Orban should do better on the corruption front? Interesting comment.
Do you think he should go for a world record? You might be right.
I mean, you already need to look from a satellite to see all his wife’s (Lévai Anikó) and his father’s landholdings within Hungary – all around Orban’s new palace.

comment image

Then there are the lands he’s bought up in Romania. And all the money he’s getting from the gas business…
I didn’t think he can beat Putin in the corruption game, but heck, who am I to contradict you? Hungarians are great at getting medals. Hajrá!


All, all of that was gained at the expense of the Hungarian public – all money that could have gone to the budget, improved health care (you know something about that, right?), or stayed in Hungarian taxpayers’ pockets. But it’s worth it if Orbán can get a gold medal for corruption, huh?

PALIKA
Guest

Zoli, thank you for your balanced and informative posts. You are probably new to this blog because otherwise you would refrain from engaging with Charlie and with Webber. Their skulls are impenetrable to anything that may shake them from their ignorant, bullying bigotry. Their contributions produce horrendously boring, bullying, repetitive posts which cannot be described as debate. I am grateful to you for your contributions as well as those of Alex Kuli.

Guest

@Webber re the utility bills (I’m starting new because of that strange wordpress behaviour):

You’re right, 2000 HUF are better than nothing but it would have been even better if the poor Hungarians had got a fixed sum or an incentive to insulate their apartments/houses with cheap loans e g.

So the opposition might have said something like: The utility bill reductions are a first step but if we win we’ll help you reduce your energy consumption …

That’s how it was done in Germany e g – and those cheap loans are still available! But in Hungary? Seems Fidesz is interested in everybody using as much energy/electricity as possible?
Honi soit qui mal y pense …

webber
Guest
webber
Guest

P.S. the title is a bit misleading. You’ll see – the film isn’t actually there.

wpDiscuz