The Grand Alliance: Viktor Orbán and Flórián Farkas, partners in crime

No matter which newspaper or internet site I turned to in the last couple of months, I always seemed to find an article about new twists and turns in the infamous corruption case connected to the EU-financed project “Road to Employment.” The story goes back to 2015 when Ákos Hadházy, today co-chair of LMP and a steadfast sleuth of corruption, discovered a massive corruption case that led to the Országos Roma Önkormányzat (ORÖ/National Roma Self-government) and its former chairman, Flórián Farkas. Farkas is today a member of parliament, government commissioner in charge of Roma affairs, and, most important, a close political ally of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Farkas is the man who delivers the Gypsy vote for Fidesz.

Signing of the grand alliance

Thanks to Hadházy’s insistence, the prosecutor’s office reluctantly began an investigation of the case on February 24, 2015 and has allegedly been investigating ever since. To date the office hasn’t questioned a single suspect in the embezzlement of about 1.6 billion forints ($5.5 million). Nonetheless, let’s be cockeyed optimists. The office still has about three more months–until June 24–before the investigation will probably be terminated.

Meanwhile, the ministry of human resources (EMMI), which is responsible for Roma affairs, began an investigation of its own. It came to the conclusion that, indeed, almost all the money ORÖ received had been “diverted.” The Gypsy organization was told that it will have to reimburse the ministry for the enormous amount of money it spent leasing expensive cars, buying a luxury villa on Gellérthegy Road in Buda, giving high salaries to officials of the organization, purchasing unnecessary software, and hundreds and hundreds of other useless items. The money which was intended to assist unemployed Roma achieve skills necessary for employment ended up in the pockets of Flórián Farkas and friends.

In May ORÖ and the ministry agreed on the terms for repayment of the embezzled money. In the first eleven months ORÖ was to pay only five million forints per month, totaling 55 million forints or 3% of the total obligation. In the twelfth month, however, the balance of the money owed (that is, the other 97%) was to be transferred to the ministry. It was a rather odd arrangement.

By early December it came to light that ORÖ actually owes more than 1.6 billion forints to the ministry. It had accumulated a debt of approximately 500 million forints to sundry firms, lawyers’ offices, the tax office, and ministries other than EMMI. The new chairman of ORÖ, János Balogh, just like his predecessors, enjoys an affluent lifestyle. Despite the financial difficulties the organization faces, he bought himself a fairly expensive new car without the approval of the board.

In the last few months, for reasons unknown, Flórián Farkas has become invisible. He has a nice family house in Szolnok, but his wife and his neighbors claim that he doesn’t live there at the moment. He cannot be seen in parliament either, although there is nothing new in that. Farkas is among those members of parliament who show up in the House on only the rarest of occasions.

Going back to the strange balloon payment due this spring, how in the world is ORÖ going to find that much money? For an answer we have to look no further than the handouts of the third Orbán government on December 21, 2016. It disbursed about 300 billion forints among its favorite organizations and projects: for instance, the Gáspár Károli Hungarian Reformed University, the Ludovika Military Academy, and the study of Viktor Orbán in the new building housing the prime minister’s office. Among these disbursements was a 1.3 billion forint item for ORÖ called “special assistance.” According to MTI, this money is meant to cover the establishment of the new Roma Oktatási és Kulturális Központ (Roma Educational and Cultural Center). In fact, this “special assistance” is a thinly veiled way to make ORÖ’s debt of billions disappear.

And what will happen to the “Road to Employment” program? The decision was made in February 2017 to dismantle it. The best thing is to forget about the whole thing, as if it never existed. As far as the fate of Flórián Farkas is concerned, he doesn’t have to worry. He has the full protection of Viktor Orbán. The prime minister’s office came to the conclusion that even though 1.6 billion forints disappeared, Flórián Farkas is innocent. He made a few small mistakes, that’s all. He will remain government commissioner in addition to his job as a member of parliament.

At this point one would have thought that at last we had finished with government handouts to the thoroughly corrupt ORÖ. But no. There was undoubtedly still a shortfall that had to be covered. A few days ago Magyar Nemzet reported that EMMI will buy ORÖ’s luxury villa on Gellérthegy Road for 270 million forints, which apparently is way above the current market value of the property. At the time that ORÖ bought it for 200 million, the price was already considered to be too steep. It is very possible that the government is buying a white elephant just to let the Gypsy leaders of this corrupt organization and its real boss, Flórián Farkas, off the hook. Or, viewed another way, to buy thousands and thousands of critical Gypsy votes.

March 13, 2017
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petofi
Guest

Two gypsy boys…makin goood…what’s the surprise here?

petofi
Guest

I’ll bet there isn’t a dog alive within 50 miles of Felcsut…

webber
Guest

Flórián Farkas cannot deliver hundreds of thousands of votes. Fidesz does that on its own.
Fidesz buys poor people’s votes through so-called chain voting. They take extremely poor people to voting stations (many are Roma, of course). They give the first person to go into the booth a filled-out ballot, and tell him/her that they will give him/her x amount of money (2,000 forints seems to be the going rate) if he/she will drop the filled-in ballot in the box and bring back the empty ballot. Then they fill out the empty ballot, and hand it to the next poor person in the group.
Fidesz activists have been caught doing this all over rural Hungary. People have made clandestine films of them talking about it, and of poor people waiting for their turn. When this was brought up, Fidesz said furiously that it would examine how MSZP was doing this – that is, they accused MSZP of doing what Fidesz does. Naturally there has never been an investigation of chain voting in Hungary under Fidesz.

Member

Evidence?

webber
Guest

Look for yourself – all online. The keyword is “Láncszavazás”. You’ll find a video or two, and all sorts of other stuff.

webber
Guest

Alex, I am very surprised you haven’t heard of this yet. It’s an open secret everywhere in E. Hu. Láncszavazás.

Member

I have heard of it, never saw a proven case.
Admittedly, I have not been paying much attention to this particular bit of corruption amid the mountain of other shady stuff going on.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘lancszavazas’

Thank you webber for my new vocab addition and understanding in how things ‘work’ in the ‘old’ country. I have got to stop kidding myself as I view how an Athenian contribution to the world has been made so convuluted centuries on in a small country in CE. What a mess.

pappp
Guest

webber, this is much simpler in practice. In smaller communities where everybody knows everybody voters are expected to show the filled out ballot to the local, precinct-level election committee as an evidence which also means that those who dare to go into the booth will be treated as the opposition. And you can imagine how big fun is to be branded as the “opposition” in a rural community. It’s also inconceivable that when you are just an average joe or even below that let’s say in rural Szabolcs county then you file a complaint and start a legal procedure against your election committee members (your local dignitaries whom you will have to meet day after day) – citizens there are poor, oppressed and often barely know how to write let lone to engage a lawyer.

Ferenc
Guest

OT
Editorial in New York Times about “Hungary plays the EU”
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/13/opinion/hungary-plays-the-eu.html

Member

Farkas’ uncanny “success” as a Gypsy leader is not only the result of his close cooperation with Orban. It’s also largely due to a near-total lack of civic education among Hungary’s Gypsies, combined with fatalistic apathy.

I was recently speaking with an activist who has devoted much of his life to assisting the Roma in Hungary’s northeast. When I asked him why the Roma had been unable to mount any kind of grassroots movement, he explained that the problem has historical roots: Gypsies were accustomed to obeying the wishes of the feudal landowner, the communist party boss, and now, Fidesz.

Another reason is the ineptitude of democratic parties’ policies toward Roma. For example: I was once conducting a phone interview with a Gypsy woman who was running for office on the SZDSZ ticket. She had kicked off her campaign by publicly declaring, “I’m probably going to lose.” As we were talking, she asked me to hold the line for a moment while she flushed the toilet.

I can give other examples, but I think this one helps to illustrate why corrupt but competent Gypsy leaders have won the day.

exTor
Guest

I seriously doubt that Viktor Orbán has any Gypsy blood, a canard that is widely bruited in Hungary, a supposition that has not undercut Orbán’s position within Fidesz and amongst the electorate. Given widespread Magyar antiGypsy feeling, one might believe any Roma linkage a liability, however Fidesz still remains popular, with or without Roma-voter support.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Observer
Guest

exTor

Re Orban’s gypsy blood
Take a look at his family’s photos, although this is not the main point.

Those who speak about “gypsy crime” can have a look at Orban: a sneaky, cheating and lying, totally immoral character, who steals and robs without restrain, who trample on the weaker and run if challenged..
This behavior, genetic or learned or whatever, and the fact that the guy is not a convict yet, but ruling a country, these are the real problems.

Observer
Guest

Guys,

Pls read carefully:

I turned around the “gypsy crime” notion of the far right and some Fid – they attack the Roma for the same things Orban is doing on a large scale.

Last, I note the behavior, never mind the arguments re its origins or causes.

Of course I could put it more simply, but I’m not a very simple man.

exTor
Guest

Dangerous territory you’re treading, Observer [9:20 AM].

What does a photograph prove? Linking alleged Orbán criminality to supposed genetics sounds quasiracist to these ears.

You need to offramp quick this highway you’re on, Observer. Deal with Viktor Orbán in a straightforward manner, not with mealymouthfuls.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Tyrker
Guest

Come on. That’s not quasi-racist. It’s racist, period.

Guest

If you believe that mankind has diversified into distinct races during its evolution you are OK. If you believe that these races differ significantly you are a racist.

petofi
Guest

Quite right and to the point.

exTor
Guest

I agree that what Observer wrote was racist, but I thought that I’d softpedal my crit just in case he ‘misspoke’ himself. (My presumption is that Observer is male, as I presume most respondents to be, especially the stridents.) Observer should now take the floor to clear his air.

MAGYARKOZÓ

petofi
Guest

@ exTor

Pontificating nonsense. You know nothing of Roma.
Did you know that when a Roma person or family succeeds…9 times out of 10 they have nothing more to do with Roma society?

exTor
Guest

Your antiRoma feelings are selfevident, hence your Gypsy/Orbán linkage. Accordingly, your ‘pontificating’ snark is no surprise, petofi, however what is glaring is your apparent contradiction, whereby you seem to agree with Jean P, who rightly classes Observer’s Gypsy comments as racist, her point working against your antiRomaism. Given your sundry pronouncements, it would seem natural for you to side with Observer’s apparent racism, petofi.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Ferenc
Guest

Eva: should be Ákos Hadházy of LMP (instead of mentioned Árpád Hadházy)

Observer
Guest

Tragic, although this is pick-pocketing in the scale of things.

The same method is being used to make us “forget about the whole thing, as if it never existed.”
The monumental brokers/bank frauds/embezzlement are the most striking examples: Questor, BudeCash, Posta Bank. Hundreds of billions are stolen, and when the bond/share holders scream they are ad hoc indemnified by the state, i.e. the losses are dumped onto the Hungarian taxpayer. Everyone else is happy, the regime even boasts of “saving” the bond/share holders, while its bag-men distribute the loads of booty.

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