Will the left have a presidential candidate? Not at all sure

We are witnessing a possibly important event in Hungarian politics. In May, János Áder’s tenure as president is coming to an end. We have known since December 20, 2016 that, after all, he will be renominated for the post. This news came as a surprise not only to the public but, apparently, even to János Áder himself.

Why was the announcement so unexpected? After all, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán should have been satisfied with the performance of his hand-picked president. Áder never made waves by sending clearly illegal acts of parliament straight to the Constitutional Court. If something truly outrageous arrived on his desk, he simply sent it back to parliament for reconsideration, an act that resulted in its being sent back to him in an unaltered form, after which he had no choice but to sign it. And yet it seemed that Orbán was dissatisfied with Áder. After Pál Schmidt, who wanted to be a loyal servant of the government and never questioned any of the laws put in front of him, I guess Áder was still far too independent.

In May 2016 a cameraman of HírTV caught a few words exchanged between György Rubovszky (KDNP), chairman of the parliamentary committee on legal matters, and Imre Vas (Fidesz), the committee’s deputy chairman. Rubovszky told his colleague that “there is no way Áder will be reelected because Viktor doesn’t permit it.” The Fidesz majority in parliament will vote for whomever the prime minister wants to be elected.

A few weeks ago the names of László Kövér and Zoltán Balog were floated as possible successors to Áder. Kövér’s name quickly disappeared from the short list. My guess is that Kövér said he didn’t want the job. And Orbán respects Kövér’s political and personal decisions. As far as Balog is concerned, we know that Orbán and Balog discussed the matter. My hunch is that Balog was ready to accept whatever job Orbán entrusted him with. At the last moment, however, the idea was dropped. The reason? Balog’s mega-ministry is under heavy criticism. The revolting teachers want him to resign because of the disastrous PISA results. Hungarian healthcare is in shambles. Removing Balog from his current position might have been interpreted as a retreat by Orbán, something the prime minister is loath to do.

As soon as it became known that Áder would most likely be reelected, Sándor Székely, one of the leaders of Solidarity who earlier had managed to get almost all of the democratic parties on the same platform on October 23, decided to look into the possibility of suggesting a respectable candidate all democrats could support. He, Balázs Gulyás (one of the organizers of the successful demonstration against the internet tax), and Peter Krasztev (a literary historian and former head of the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Bratislava) got together to find a suitable candidate. Of course, these three men had no illusions. Given the dominance of the government party in parliament, Áder will be reelected. Whoever agrees to the nomination is facing certain failure. However, they argued, if they manage to gain the support of all the parties on the left, this act will not only have symbolic value but might also expedite cooperation among the parties when it comes to the 2018 national election. Their choice was László Majtényi, a constitutional legal scholar who is currently the director of the Károly Eötvös Intézet, a legal think tank. The organizers got 39 well-known public figures to support Majtényi’s nomination. The list of supporters can be found here.

László Majtényi

Right-wing publications try to paint Majtényi as a representative of those liberals who are no longer relevant. He represents a world that no longer exists. Even Magyar Nemzet came out with an opinion piece that made fun of the whole idea by claiming that the democratic opposition might just as well have nominated Lagzi Lajcsi, a musician who was popular some years back. This is a truly unfair comparison. Majtényi was counselor to the Constitutional Court between 1990 and 1994; subsequently he was named Hungary’s first ombudsman in charge of data protection (1995-2001). In 2008 President László Sólyom and Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány jointly named him to head Országos Rádió és Televízió Testület (ORTT), responsible for the enforcement of Hungary’s media laws. Less than two years later, in October 2009, he resigned “because he was unable to prevent the decision of the organization” which allowed the two parties, Fidesz and MSZP, to divide between themselves two radio frequencies. He showed a great deal of independence and integrity in this case.

Majtényi agreed to be put forth as a candidate for president although his chances are nil. Moreover, in order to become an official candidate he will need 40 votes in parliament. Even if all 29 MSZP members and all 10 liberal independents vote for him, he is still short one vote. To be successful, at least one LMP member would have to side with the others. And that is a question mark. At the moment MSZP, Párbeszéd, Együtt, and the Liberals expressed their support. LMP and DK are still undecided. LMP’s problem is most likely the party’s reluctance to do anything with the other opposition parties. DK’s hesitancy is more complex. DK doesn’t consider the new constitution legitimate and therefore doesn’t consider the person of the president legitimate either. On the other hand, they consider Majtényi an excellent candidate. So, says DK’s spokesman, the leadership, which will meet again at the end of the month, will have to resolve this dilemma.

Jobbik, by the way, announced that it will come up with its own candidate for the presidency. Its MPs will vote for neither Áder nor Majtényi.

There is a possibility that the 40 votes may materialize because, after all, LMP really shouldn’t have any problem with Majtényi’s candidacy. But one never knows because the “evil spirit” of the party, András Schiffer, who allegedly no longer runs the party, just published a short note on his Facebook page in which he accuses Majtényi of inconsistency. The ill will Schiffer harbors against Majtényi goes back to András Schiffer’s negotiations with Fidesz to reach an agreement on the nomination of four new judges of the Constitutional Court. Since Fidesz no longer had a two-thirds majority, Orbán needed LMP’s help. Majtényi’s Károly Eötvös Institute advised against the deal because “it would legitimize an unacceptable political system.” If that was the case last year, asks Schiffer, how is it not the case in 2017? Doesn’t his running against Áder legitimize Orbán’s unacceptable regime? There is, I’m afraid, some truth to this. It is the same problem DK is facing at the moment. And yet if the opposition parties do not support Majtényi, they will appear to accept the status quo and become even more marginalized.

January 5, 2017
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webber
Guest

N.b. Lagzi Lajcsi is being prosecuted for fraud (not saying he’s guilty). Fidesz has compared him with Majtényi as part of its smear campaign.
Shiffer accuses someone else of inconsistency? That’s the pot calling the kettle black.
Péter Krasztev would be a disaster as candidate for anything. There is too much dirt on him (not yet public – personal knowledge here), and Fidesz would dig it up if he ever ran for any office. He worked well as an appointee in the realm of “culture.” That is all.

But none of this really matters. The President of Hungary will be whoever Fidesz (actually Orbán) wants to be President, and nobody else. There is no point in discussing or even thinking of other candidates, because the electorate also knows what the situation is. People who hate Fidesz (that is, the majority) will say this is all just clowning around, and the opposition should spend its time and energy on serious work for the 2018 elections, not on something futile like this.

Ferenc
Guest

I think there’s one thing they could do: showing (again) that the current representation in parliament is far from the (public) voting results, if all, except Fidesz&Co, would held a ‘shadow’ president election. Each party in the ‘shadow’ parliament should get seats/mandates as per % of votes from 2014 elections: Fidesz – 93 seats (44.9%) / Change – 53 seats (25.6%) / Jobbik – 42 seats (20.2%) / LMP – 11 seats (5.3%) / other – 0 seats (4.0%).
It’s possible to beat the Fidesz&Co candidate, if all other parties vote together for another candidate. This ‘shadow’ presidential election should best be organized just before the official presidential elections, so the difference is made the most clear to the public.
I think all parties, except Fidesz, could be interested in doing such a ‘shadow’ election as it again would make very clear their underrepresentation in the current parliament. Even in the first round the parties can still present their own candidate, only in the final ’shadow’ round they have to vote together.

webber
Guest

Again, I think it would be a waste of time and energy. It would look as pointless as a Model UN conference.

Guest

Not just pointless, but totally wacko (as is this entire Desperation Gulch initiative by the Székely-Gulyás-Krasztev trio). Sheer lunacy. Shows less political sense than rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. Especially in the context of contemporary Hungary.

The fact is that too many cooks spoil the broth in the opposition’s kitchen. Too many self-obsessed geniuses, too many too-clever-by-half generals of mini-armies with too few or no NCOs and foot-soldiers. Unless that changes, and changes fast, the democratic opposition in Hungary has no chance whatsoever of knocking Orbán off his perch in 2018. None whatsoever. Nil, nada, zilch. Guaranteed.

Guest

One more point. Just because many Hungarians have come to loathe Orbán and his gang does not mean at all that they would not vote for him – again! – when push comes to shove in 2018.

Unless, that is, the current collection of pottery shards making up the democratic opposition in Hungary were to finally get their sh*t together, present a united front to the electorate and come up with a basket of policies attractive enough to remove Orbán and his gang from the levers of political power.

webber
Guest

This was a campaign film made by one opposition party’s, Együtt’s, candidate for Mayor of Budapest in 2014:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m928bRI9OrQ

I hoped that the opposition parties had gotten beyond this sort of thing, but the totally pointless “candidacy” for President suggests they haven’t. If they really go in for a “shadow” election, they might as well dump something else on their own heads and put that up on the net.

Guest

Yes, one of the opposition’s problems is as wesay in German: They want to be chiefs – but there are more chiefs than Indians …
They’rte really hopeless – do we have to wait and hope for a new generation?

Does Hungary have to go down the drain before that?

My wife is sure she won’t see real change in Hungarian politics in her/our lifespan. OK, we’re both over 70 but still …
And she’s usually a very optimistic person even after all the hardships that befell her.

pappp
Guest

I totally agree with webber.

More importantly though, people just don’t care about who the president is. They know that it’s a very weak position, doesn’t matter. Why the big fuss about it, they can ask?

What comes through from this playing around – yet again – is that the leftist opposition is preoccupied with intellectual games instead of with real issues like poverty, rural degradation, mass immigration from Hungary, well paying jobs, whatever.

I don’t understand why Majtényi himself participates in this idiocy after he rightfully faulted LMP for having collaborated with Fidesz on the constitutional court judge election issue. Vanity, I guess.

I honestly don’t know who this Székely-Gulyas-Krazstev trio is, but they are total amatuers and just hopeless. All they succeeded to achieve is to make the Left look weak and hapless – so just its usual self. Attaboy.

Member

Gold reserves of the Hungary:

comment image

Total international reserves :

2015.
jan. 31. 110 16 92 35,154 2,859 38,231
febr. 28. 106 16 93 34,408 1,784 36,407
márc. 31. 109 16 95 35,249 1,438 36,908
ápr. 30. 106 16 92 33,854 2,877 36,946
máj. 31. 107 16 94 34,304 2,626 37,147
jún. 30. 104 16 93 34,457 90 34,761
júl. 31. 98 16 94 32,323 2,084 34,615
aug. 31. 100 16 93 32,277 1,051 33,536
szept. 30. 99 16 92 31,574 345 32,127
okt. 31. 103 16 93 31,734 165 32,112
nov. 30. 99 16 96 32,239 690 33,140
dec. 31. 96 16 94 29,952 164 30,322

2016.
jan. 31. 101 16 94 29,621 1,436 31,268
febr. 29. 112 16 381 30,337 870 31,715
márc. 31. 107 15 371 26,783 274 27,551
ápr. 30. 111 15 372 25,676 259 26,433
máj. 31. 108 15 378 23,902 1,060 25,463
jún. 30. 117 15 376 23,910 367 24,785
júl. 31. 119 15 375 23,730 319 24,557
aug. 31. 117 15 375 23,257 367 24,130
szept. 30. 117 15 374 23,020 134 23,661
okt. 31. 115 15 377 24,364 130 25,001
nov. 30. 110 15 380 24,486 159 25,151
dec. 31. 0 15 379 23,978 12 24,384

First column: gold, last column total.

2015.
jan. 31. 38,231
2016.
dec. 31. 24,384, a 36.2% decline.

FreeWheeling
Guest

Is it getting about that time to start converting one’s forints into more stable currencies?

Guest

Who knows?
Strangely enough the HUF has become stronger since Jan 1st:
http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=EUR&to=HUF&view=1W

pappp
Guest

Matolcsy had to keep HUF weak until end of Dec due to the accounting games he’s been playing with Hungary’s FX reserves (which games are enabling him to burn a few hundred billions of HUF any which way he wants to mostly putting them into his and Fidesz’ coffers).

But this game is being phased out and it seems presently Matolcsy has no short term objective any more which now enables the HUF to appreciate (for the time being).

Remember that Hungar’s rating was upgraded into investment grade, its (massaged and forged) numbers look deceptively good, so there’s been speculative pressure for an appreciation.

Markets (which are anything but efficient and smart) need good stories so they happily overlook (mid/long term) problems if they can find a good investment story for these months, and then they move on to the next trade.

Guest

Thanks, you’re probably right here. Anyway +/- one or two percent doesn’t mean too much for us average guys, though of course when exchanging my €s into HUF for shopping here it’s always nice to get an extra 1000. But prices and inflation are really more important.

Member

My feeling is that the December depletion of the reserves was used (indirectly, of course) to lower the national debt on December 31. I bet both the debt & the reserves will be significantly larger on January 31.

I regard the [reserves – debt] as an indicator.

Member

Government propaganda + lie in the geography textbook for 8th graders !

http://img0.hvg.hu/image.aspx?id=1cdca3de-4a44-4ee6-b4a1-7a153c4e8d0f&view=fc7856de-6454-4f03-8a50-b64be4c0f1c6

Problem:
identify by the flag which country piglets milk the German sow, and which one does not want her money.

Solution:
[Greece , Spain Belgium? get the German money, but proud Hungary does not want it]

What about the yearly 6 billion euros Hungary gets [the most per capita !!], dear indoctrination officer?

Member
Member

The new geography textbook was published last year.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20170106_nyolcadikos_foldrajz_konyv_bornirt_feladat

Guest

Hungarian education is sinking to hitherto unimaginable lows of pathetic stupidity.

Ferenc
Guest

For who’s interested in the whole textbook, it can found here: https://player.nkp.hu/play/133709/false/undefined (for download, click the paperclip).
I flipped through the whole, what to me seems over-presented is items about immigrants/refugees (unfortunately haven’t seen previous issues so can’t compare/check the changes).
The other thing which is peculiar is the many maps with markings of areas around Hungary, basically showing the ‘Greater Hungary’.

Guest

Totally OT:

There was a kind of shitstorm in the Czech anti-social media (my definition for facebook etc …) because German company Lidl (belonging to the Schwarz group which is Europe’s biggest privately held supermarket chain …) dared use a young black guy as a model for a new clothes line, among others of course …

So Hungarians are not the only/the most (?) open racist and xenophobic consumers in Europe …

Now it’s good night from me – it’s bitter cold and windy outside near the Balaton!

wpDiscuz