Gábor Vona and Viktor Orbán: Who will win this political game?

At the end of yesterday’s post I indicated that Gábor Vona, chairman of Jobbik, had just announced his party’s refusal to support the government party’s quest for another round of amendments to the constitution that would introduce a number of changes related to the settlement of foreigners in Hungary. Earlier I wrote an analysis of the notion of constitutional identity, which is the linchpin of the otherwise meaningless constitutional amendments, and published an English translation of the amendments themselves.

The government considers these amendments vital to Viktor Orbán’s impending battle with Brussels over a possibly mandatory distribution of refugees. But changing the constitution requires a two-thirds majority in parliament, which Fidesz-KDNP currently doesn’t have. The government party had been counting on the support of Jobbik, the only opposition party that was wholeheartedly behind the amendments. In fact, it was Jobbik that, from the beginning, championed for constitutional amendments instead of a referendum. Fidesz, however, rejected the proposal and embarked on an expensive, divisive referendum that in the end turned out to be invalid.

What followed was a typical Viktor Orbán move: regardless of the failure of his referendum he decided to go ahead with the amendments to the constitution. But there was a rub. Jobbik demanded a price for its members’ votes, which Gábor Vona set forth early in the game.

For starters, Vona said that he wanted to meet with the prime minister in private. In the last six years, however, it has never happened that the ruler of Hungary sat down alone with an opposition leader. Granting such a privilege to Vona was too demeaning, so Orbán organized a series of “consultations,” starting with Zsolt Semjén of the Christian Democratic Party and his own deputy, which everybody thought was a joke. Then he sent a message to Gyula Molnár, chairman of MSZP, who foolishly accepted the invitation, which he kept secret from the rest of the leading politicians of his party. Once the meeting became known, Molnár tried to explain himself away by saying that the consultation was not about the amendments but about the summit that is taking place at this very moment in Brussels. Since when does Viktor Orbán have consultations with opposition party chiefs about summits?

The long-awaited meeting between Vona and Orbán took place on October 18. In the days leading up to the meeting, Jobbik spokesmen repeatedly indicated that the party would support Orbán and that the Jobbik delegation would cast its votes with Fidesz-KDNP, guaranteeing an easy passage of the amendments. After all, this is what they wanted all along. Yes, but Jobbik was in a perfect position to demand something in exchange for its support of the government party. Vona’s demand was that the government cease selling residency bonds to wealthy Chinese, Russian, and Arab businessmen.

The residency bond sale, which I described as a “colossal swindle,” is the brainchild of Árpád Habony and Antal Rogán. Habony is safely deposited in London. Rogán, on the other hand, has been under incredible pressure, mostly because of Népszabadság’s revelations about his most likely ill-gotten wealth. The residency bond scheme has been severely criticized not only by the opposition but by some higher-up Fidesz leaders as well. In fact, in the last few weeks there were indications that the scheme would be modified. But I very much doubt that Orbán had the total cessation of the program in mind. And this is what Vona demands. If poor immigrants can’t settle in Hungary, rich ones shouldn’t be able to either.

The outcry against the Jobbik demand was not restricted to the government party. Gyula Molnár, chairman of MSZP, also condemned it in almost identical words. Bence Tuzson, one of the many spokesmen of the prime minister’s office, called it “kufárkodás” (profiteering) while Molnár considered it “seftelés” (conducting business in a dishonorable way). The two words are practically synonymous. For good measure Molnár added that Vona’s behavior is “political prostitution” pure and simple.

I am amazed at these reactions. In the world of politics this kind of give and take is perfectly normal. If Viktor Orbán needs the help of Gábor Vona’s party, it is natural that Jobbik will want something in return. After the meeting, Vona talked to the press and announced that Viktor Orbán had rejected his proposal, but a few minutes later Orbán sent a message via Tuzson saying that “he will consider the request of Vona.”

The Hungarian media started speculating about whether Orbán would meet Vona’s demands. Szabolcs Dull of Index simply could not imagine that it will be Viktor Orbán who has to knuckle under. After all, Orbán has convinced the Hungarian public that he is always the one who comes out on top. He is always the winner. In fact, Dull suggested, Orbán wants to get rid of the troublesome residency bonds anyway, and therefore he will readily concede to Vona’s demands. In fact, “he will kill two birds with one stone: he will be able to restructure the residency bond scheme and will receive Jobbik’s endorsement.”

Dull’s theory collapsed less than ten hours later when the government indicated that it has no intention of scrapping the residency bond program. Yesterday, around noon, Lajos Kósa, leader of the Fidesz caucus, announced that in their opinion the two issues, the bonds and the settlement of foreigners, have nothing to do with one another and suggested that Fidesz isn’t counting on the votes of Jobbik. They hope to get the necessary two votes from the “independent” members of parliament. Who these “independent” members would be is not entirely clear, but some Fidesz politicians indicated that they think a few “patriotic” Jobbik members could be found who would turn against Vona. By this afternoon most Hungarian journalists were convinced that Fidesz will put the amendments to a vote on November 8 even if they are not assured of Jobbik’s support.

Antal Rogán, carrying Viktor Orbán's briefcase in Maastricht, October 20, 2016

Antal Rogán, carrying Viktor Orbán’s briefcase in Maastricht today

In trying to win concessions from Orbán, did Vona sow the seeds of his own destruction? Today Magyar Nemzet speculated about why a Fidesz defeat would actually be good for Fidesz and bad for Jobbik. If the amendments are not passed and if Brussels insists on compulsory quotas, Fidesz can blame Jobbik.

Tamás Fábián of Index found this hypothesis compelling, adding that from information he received from people close to Orbán, “Brussels cannot be stopped and within months the compulsory quotas will be forthcoming.” If that is the case, “Jobbik politicians will never be able to get rid of the label of being traitors,” which Lajos Kósa already pinned on them. Fábián is convinced that Vona made a fatal mistake by presenting Orbán with an ultimatum. “He started on a narrow path and will suffer heavy blows along the way.”

Fábián also predicted that the sale of residency bonds will be continued, even if with some adjustments. Although in the last few days Fidesz spokesmen did talk about fundamental changes, two weeks ago Orbán called the program “a successful construction.”

I might add that despite all the dirt that was unearthed about Antal Rogán, he seems to have nothing to fear. Orbán will not let him go. I was astonished to see Rogán in Brussels, walking right behind Orbán. Since when do propaganda ministers go to summits in Brussels? I guess the government is sending a message that he is still under the protection of the prime minister.

October 20, 2016
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tappanch
Guest

Yesterday’s Zavecz poll shows the popularity changes among the “certain” voters after the massive government referendum campaign.

October vs August 2016

Fidesz: +6%
Jobbik: -5%

MSzP+DK+LMP+Egyutt+Lib+PM: 0%

http://index.hu/galeria/index/belfold/2016/10/20/oktoberi_partreferenciak/3

tappanch
Guest

Opposition voice is expelled into a test problem in graph theory:

“The situation is critical. Weasel invasion threatens the capital of Absurdistan.”

http://www.cs.bme.hu/~fleiner/sza2016/zh161020mo.pdf

Doy
Guest

How come that all of a sudden you, following Hungary’s parties in the opposition, stopped using the epithets of “anti-semitic” and “far-right” when talking about Jobbik?

Jean P.
Guest

Everybody knows that Fidesz and Jobbik are antisemitic and beyond far right.

Guest

Leave it to pappp etc to repeat their mantras to get people to believe all kind of stupid lies …

Simple truths don’t need to be repeated – telling them once is enough.

A bit OT re antisemitism:

The latest “Soros scandal” in the US elections – made me laugh this morning:

Soros controls the voting machines in 16 US States and has them programmed to cheat for Hillary – these constipation theorists are really unbelievable!
http://www.snopes.com/george-soros-controls-smartmatic-voting-machines-in-16-states/

e-2016
Guest

In my opinion, all us, Christians, Jews, Muslims face one common danger, the disinformation, murderous plots, and terror sponsored by the Russian State Apparatus.

tappanch
Guest

Debt and reserves on September 30, 2016 [2015]

Debt here is the narrow debt of the central government as reported by AKK, in billions of euros.

total debt : up by 1.290

forint debt: up by 7.476
non-forint debt: down by 6.186

international reserves of the national bank: down by 8.466

tappanch
Guest

Today’s commentary by the European Statistical Office:

“Eurostat is maintaining the reservation on the quality of the data reported by Hungary in relation to the sector classification of Eximbank (Hungarian Export-Import Bank Plc). Eximbank needs to be reclassified inside the general government sector which will result in an increase in government debt.

Moreover, Eurostat is discussing with the Hungarian statistical authorities the possible rerouting of operations carried out by the Hungarian National Bank, deemed to be undertaken on behalf of government.”

/fhttp://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/7704449/2-21102016-AP-EN.pdf

tappanch
Guest

Some of ExImBank’s recent “loans” to Orban’s friends:

Garancsi – 16.5 billion forints to buy real estate in Budapest (Kopaszi-gát)

Vajna – 6.7 billion to buy the second biggest commercial television channel TV2 and make it a government mouthpiece.

Gubicza (Rogan’s friend) received 16 billion for nobody knows why.

http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20161021_eurostat_allamadossag_ksh_eximbank
http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20160121_Vajon_kinek_adta_az_Eximbank_a_16_milliar

Observer
Guest

I am really searching for ANYTHING where the Orban regime is not lying and cheating. Someone estimated that the liabilities of Eximbank would add approx. 2% points to the GG Debt, which I find exaggerated.
I believe however that part of the GGDebt is surely hidden in other institutions mainly the healthcare and education, the unpaid bills alone often amount to 1-1.5%. Lagging pay increase and deferred maintenance and development could add anywhere between 2 and 5%. Unfortunately, as we see, the gov data is either none, aggregated to the point of being useless or simply false.

It is highly probable, if the past is any guide, that large portions of these loans will go bad (after the due part is stolen) and will be eventually written off, i.e. the dupes will pay for these too.

webber
Guest

I think it is highly probable that if Fidesz loses the elections in 2018 (which I think very possible), the incoming government will find that the country is bankrupt and will be forced to turn to the IMF for a loan. At that point, Fidesz will start screaming that things were actually great, the new government has lied and is again driving the country into IMF slavery.

BMO
Guest

Once again the hungaro-frankenstein semi-autocratic governance shows it’s intractability.

The electorate will probably end this some day, but as they say the constitution is meaningless unless it’s principles are enshrined in the population that are to protect it and enforce it when appropriate. Let’s not forget that a significant majority of Hungarians still have that residual political inertia inherited from the Soviet times, when one had to ascribe that nothing can be changed..

Guest

Seems that O (and his minions ?) are travelling a lot right now – just a few days ago he was in Munich, now in Brussels, in between he met Vona (where?).

Is there a site which has an overview of all his visits – preferably in English for me to read?

Guest

O/T

Grinning Goon Szijjártó tries to defend the indefensible. Hard Talk does a better job than the recent World Questions.

Stephen Sackur challenges quite hard – especially the hypocrisy of allowing Chinese and Iranian ‘redident permits’ – thousands- against the refusal to take 1200 refugees.

http://bbc.in/2emP4dF

Ferenc
Guest

Thanks charliecharlieh!!
EVERYBODY, who doesn’t understand Hungarian, but wants to understand what’s going on in Hungary, should sit down for 30min and LISTEN to this!!

Ferenc
Guest

Just found that the interview is made a news item on the Goverments website: http://www.kormany.hu/en/ministry-of-foreign-affairs-and-trade/news/reports-about-hungarian-brutality-towards-refugees-are-untrue
Report (only in English, no Hungarian version) seems prepared by MTI, mentions thatit airied on wednesday/thursday, while BBC clearly shows today (friday) and saturday, also no link to the BBC page, where you can listen to it (see charliecharlieh’s post above).
Should Hungarians better not listen to the interview?

Ferenc
Guest

PS: report not (yet?) published on the MTI site………

Guest

Re: the Sackur-Szijjarto show

Would be nice to really get Viktor up on the cameras. I’ve always thought leaders of their countries should be out and about defending their positions especially if they believe in them so rigidly. I wonder if he’s a scaredy cat. But it looks if he defers to some ‘challenges’. What I like about Sackur is that he makes big cheese politicos earn their money er no matter how they earn it.

Istvan
Guest
Péter Szijjártó’s interview with the BBC became interesting when he began to discuss the intersection of the Dublin II and III Regulations and the quotas. It is true that nowhere in the current regulations does the concept of burden sharing exist (http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32013R0604 ). But as we all know Greece is a fiscal disaster and can’t support the mass number of refugees it would be required to accept under the Dublin treaty. As the European Council on Refugees and Exiles (ECRE) and UNHCR has repeated noted the Dublin treaty fails in providing fair, efficient and effective protection to asylum seekers. But it appears impossible that the treaty can be adjusted. As George Soros has repeatedly noted the quota system is unenforceable and does not even economically make sense for the refugees based on the differing social welfare systems of EU member nations. Even JC Juncker was prepared to abandon the quotas or at least contemplated it in one or another of his various states of drunkenness, yet quota’s return again and again. Anyone familiar is the politics of the USA will recognize a great reluctance for my country to approve treaties that impact our sovereignty unless the material benefits to our… Read more »
pappp
Guest
However, a nice snap election would solve everything. Zavecz’s poll numbers basically come from the referendum data. Out of the 39-40% who voted no, Zavecz Research figures that almost 30% (3/4 of those casting a valid vote) were Fidesz voters. They would certainly participate in a snap election too. Which means if Zavecz estimates the turnout at about 60% (more or less in line with 2014) this means 50% of the votes cast (enough for the 2/3s). In that sense the research could reflect the truth. Also Fidesz never had less than 42% of the votes cast since 2002 regardless of the turnout – Fidesz really commands a huge segment of the population, though nowadays likely less than at its best. There are three things which could change that 50% figure. 1. A good opposition campaign could shave a few percentages off of Fidesz’ support base in the general population. This I think is unlikely – after all the opposition had 6 years to convince voters that the corrupt Orban isn’t a good option, why would they be successful in a future campaign fought without real funding and conviction (even the opposition seems think it will lose in 2018, surely… Read more »
webber
Guest

Yep, you’re a Fidesznik. That clinched it for me. Like a dog going back to its vomit, you return to the idea that Fidesz cannot be beaten, day in and day out.

Zavecz’s figures are nonsense, and you know that.

Guest

And pappp’s problem is:

The “guy” just can’t stop repeating repeating repeating …

Either it’s an obsession – or he gets paid for it?

pappp
Guest
This is the millionth time you said it and you’re wrong again. It think it is you too guys who are obsessed. If you read carefully what I wrote I actually expressed hope that Orban does not call a snap election because obviously under the normal schedule the opposition, any opposition would have time to prepare. If however the elections are in a few months time then the opposition simply could not do anything as they are not in campaign mode – because they did not even campaign in the referendum (except for MKKP) and haven’t prepared with anything (like whom to nominate etc.) and probably have no money. I also implicitly criticized Zavecz (more explicitly yesterday) because I think he simply used data from the referendum and massaged his raw numbers to fit those figures and arrive at the 50% number. I cannot believe that Fidesz increased its popularity significantly as Zavecz says, even factoring in some positive economic mood. So his numbers are questionable and are only based on some pragmatic calculations (not reliable polling), which I also tried to recreate. If you actually take care understanding my approach you can see that if Fidesz goes down to… Read more »
PALIKA
Guest

Or he agrees with me, repetition is a good advocacy tool.

webber
Guest

Yes, Fidesznik trolls constantly repeat their lies and misrepresentations. A “good advocacy tool?” Maybe to the dull-witted.

pappp
Guest
webber: we must constantly face reality and threats not ignore them. What I think you would prefer is not talking about realistic threats because i dunno because that could affect the morale within the opposition? I am not defeatist at all – but I also don’t think sweeping outstanding issues under the carpet will do anything good. The main point was the snap election, which is a threat to the opposition. They are not ready for a battle simple as that. There was no misrepresentation at all, I can defend everything I write but you simply want denunciations of Fidesz as if that alone would do the trick. If I was a leftist politician I would be very worried about North Western Hungary. Interestingly, in one of Paksa Rudolf’s books about the history of the Hungarian extreme right wing Zala, Győr Sopron, parts f Veszprém, Vas were the most extreme right wing regions as well as parts of Pest megye and Bacs-Kiskun at the 1939 elections – the exact same regions which were the most active, pro-government voters at the referendum. Interestingly Somogy, Baranya, Tolna (although not too far from Zala, Veszprém) were very weak in voting for extreme right… Read more »
webber
Guest

snap election – those hallucinations are based on the psychedelic delusions of someone who calls himself a political scientist, but who has no training whatsoever in the field. There will be no snap election. Orban got such a surprise in the referendum…
There will be no general election before 2018.

webber
Guest

And Pappp, your “realism” is actually just a repetition of Fidesznik nonsense. Stop it, please.

Guest

Jobbik’s demand for supporting the proposed change of constitution has the virtue of being logical but maybe not of being thought through.

If Orban agrees to pay the price and stops the residency sale he can and probably will restart it the day after the constitutional amendment has passed the parliament.

He will cheat and there will be commenters on all blogs who will announce that he is the smartest.

Guest

Vona should demand the prohibition of residency sale to be incorporated in the amendment. However there may be ways to cheat on that one also.

webber
Guest

I don’t think Jobbik followers will think Vona is a traitor at all for demanding this, even if Fidesz then fails to pass the amendment. They will like him a lot more for it, and will say it’s one more example of Fidesz’s corruption and treason to the nation. The sad fact is that letting Chinese people into the country is not popular – no matter how rich those Chinese people may be, and no matter how much they pay.

Mihal
Guest

I completely agree with you. Even though the Fidesz-media will do the very best to describe Vona as a traitor, the not-so-true believers will see that Fidesz finds it more important to make money on the residency bonds than to keep terrorist out.

Giuseppe Riccardi
Guest

Dear Webber,
Each of us is referring to his own experiece of course but I don’t see this popular opposition to regular chinese immigration.
Where the hungarian side of my family live there are chinese families.
They are considered quiet hardworking people. I see their children with their hungarian friends and they seem on very friendly terms.
I read that the chinese community in hungary is large with people coming and going freely and they don’t seem a problem.
Of course the situation could become a problem as in Prato ( former Tuscan communist stronghold) where there is a large chinese industrial community that tried to oppose european social security laws against slave work and workers overexploytation stating that … it was racist !
I don’t know if Hungary has a similar problem .

webber
Guest

Giuseppe – Just remember that referendum.
Individual Chinese and Vietnamese and Nigerian, Arabs, and whatever people you want to name do quite fine in Hungary, and settle happy here. But if you asked average Hungarians whether they would like Chinese people to move into the country, I think you know what the answer would be. I am sure the answer would be similar in Italy – but probably even stronger in Hungary.
I am sure the answer would be the same about Nigerians, though Hungary has one very popular Nigerian-born citizen. His name is Lapite Oludayo, and he had a fantastic career in Hungary singing under the name Fekete Pókó (Black Paco). I think his music is awful, but he had a real following among middle-aged working-class Hungarians. Here’s a taste of his music from the 1990s – (the words are pretty rude)

Ferenc
Guest

Don’t know if posted here before, just to be sure you’re informed:
Yesterday the US Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs has yesterday released a press statement “Hungary Media Freedom”: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/10/263362.htm

Just check what other “Media Freedom” press releases they recently released:
-2016.Sep.01: Concern Over Post-Election Constraints on Media Freedom in ZAMBIA
-2015.Nov.27: Media Freedom in TURKEY

Nice question for a quizz: what do Turkey, Zambia and Hungary have in common?

Guest

I’m sure that Eva will have something for us on the 23rd – a kind of “Vorgeschmack” (foretaste) from our German magazine SPIEGEL, the fascinating story of brave Mécs Imre, once a friend of O and now one of his critics …
Really moving!

http://www.spiegel.de/einestages/volksaufstand-in-ungarn-1956-jungs-ich-gehe-in-den-tod-a-1117277.html

PS:
Of course the description of his waiting in prison for the actual death after having been judged reminds one of “A Tanú”.

Guest

On the other Jobbik thread I linked to another scathing comment in TIME:
http://time.com/4538652/hungary-refugee-crisis-history/

I’m sure there’ll be more shaming of Hungary in the next days!

Guest

Washington Post is also interested in Hungary’s treatment of the media:
Though the ruling party denied responsibility, its co-chairman declared that “it was high time Nepszabadsag shut down unexpectedly.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/a-hungarian-newspaper-embarrasses-the-government-days-later-it-is-shut-down/2016/10/20/

Guest

And more very critical remarks:

The presidents of the constitutional courts of Germany and France have just made a joint declaration against the ongoing destruction of democracy in Poland and Hungary – this will soon be in the news everywhere.

So I’m waiting for a translation into English.
It’s fitting in a way that this coincides with the uprising of 1956.

Tyrker
Guest

“The outcry against the Jobbik demand was not restricted to the government party. Gyula Molnár, chairman of MSZP, also condemned it in almost identical words.”

This should add fuel to the already widespread sentiment that MSZP is secretly cooperating with Fidesz.

http://index.hu/belfold/2016/09/16/ha_osszeomlik_az_mszp_a_fidesz_osszetakolja/

pappp
Guest

What’s the source of this quote?

Guest

Eva, above!

tappanch
Guest

Terror suspect, wanted by the US – but as a new next door neighbor of Orban’s, he is protected by Orban’s “anti-terror” unit TEK.

His name is Ghaith Pharaon of BCCI fame.

His business relationship with Orban’s son-in-law resulted in the extermination of the trees of Jozsef nador square.

http://magyarnarancs.hu/belpol/rejtelyes-arab-befekteto-vette-meg-az-orban-viktor-hazaval-szemkozti-villat-101248

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest

Garancsi & other Fidesz friends have received vast amount of EU money for “research and development”

http://index.hu/gazdasag/2016/10/21/ginop_innovacios_tamogatas_garancsi_korei/

Member

OT: me on ATV (in Hungarian) about Hungarian Academy of Sciences external members’ resignations to protest the Orban regime’s unchecked assaults on democracy and the Academy’s unwillingness (or inability) to oppose them.
http://www.atv.hu/videok/video-20161021-hernad-istvan

tappanch
Guest

Congratulation on your move Istvan – Stevan.

Observer
Guest

Tnx again for your stance and effort in defense of democracy.

webber
Guest

Thank you for speaking for those who do not dare to speak. God bless you.

tappanch
Guest

Open letter to Orban by the co-chairman of the journalists’ trade union, Mr Hargitai.

Why don’t you enforce the still existing labor laws that were breached at least 10 different ways by the owners of Nepszabadsag?

https://www.facebook.com/nepszabadsagszerkesztoseg/posts/226842797731700:0

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