Viktor Orbán’s answer to the Jobbik campaign against him and his regime

On April 1 thousands of stark black-and-white billboards appeared all over the country. On the left, on a white background, is a single short sentence: “You work.” On the right are photos of either Viktor Orbán and Lőrinc Mészáros or Antal Rogán and Árpád Habony with an equally short message: “They steal.” For good measure, the consequences of the political elite’s corruption–poor healthcare and education plus low wages–appear on an orange background. “Jobbik for the People” is in the lower left corner.

The Fidesz-KDNP leadership didn’t find the April’s Fool Day surprise very amusing. In fact, they were infuriated because they realized the incredible impact these posters make. Everybody understands their simple, damning sentences. The appearance of such bold anti-government posters signaled to Fidesz and the Orbán government that the opposition is becoming increasingly daring and most likely also increasingly effective. They are tapping into a general dissatisfaction with the government that has been expressed recently in large-scale demonstrations. Fidesz came to the conclusion that a new, radical solution must be found to the problem. The old methods of discrediting their opponents no longer work.

Fidesz propaganda over the past few months has been directed mostly against Jobbik. Only recently has the government’s propaganda minister also paid attention to László Botka, MSZP’s likely candidate for the premiership. Disparaging Gábor Vona, the Jobbik party chairman, has been continuous and vicious. Among its many charges, Fidesz claims that Vona is being supported by Viktor Orbán’s arch-enemy, Lajos Simicska. And so it was predictable that Fidesz’s first reaction to Jobbik’s billboard campaign would be to reiterate that Vona is a puppet of Simicska while the left is financed by George Soros. Szilárd Németh, one of the deputies of Viktor Orbán, called Jobbik the party of billionaires and accused Vona of selling the “soul of Jobbik” for this media campaign. Perhaps, Németh continued, Vona swore allegiance to Simicska, promising him special financial deals after Jobbik wins the election.

The Jobbik-Simicska connection has been the topic of political debate for some time. Both Simicska and Jobbik deny any financial arrangement between the billionaire and the party. On the other hand, Simicska and his son have both made pro-Jobbik statements, and Vona admitted that he and Simicska have met at least twice at public events. Moreover, all the recent Jobbik messages appeared on the billboards of two companies, Publimont Kft. and Mahir Cityposter Kft., both owned by Lajos Simicska. Fidesz argues that this is proof of Simicska’s hidden financing of Jobbik.

Of course, it is possible that Jobbik received a special deal from Simicska, but hidden campaign financing would be difficult to prove. Although Simicska’s two companies are among the strongest billboard providers, altogether about 100 companies are involved in this competitive business. A couple of years ago Demokratikus Koalíció’s billboards appeared on Simicska’s properties. When Ferenc Gyurcsány was questioned about the arrangement, he said that Simicska’s firm offered the best deal. Simply capitalism at work.

Fidesz also came to the conclusion that “the constitutional court, led by László Sólyom, developed such an extremely liberal practice regarding freedom of speech” that the government has no way of fighting Jobbik’s messaging in court. At least this is the conclusion Zoltán Lomnici, a right-wing constitutional lawyer, came to. Moreover, he added, even if a Hungarian court ruled in favor of the government, one of the NGOs financed by George Soros would take the case to Strasbourg.

So, as a stopgap measure, Fidesz came up with a billboard of its own showing George Soros and Lajos Simicska as the puppeteers and László Botka and Gábor Vona the puppets. In addition, the personal secretary of Lajos Kósa organized a team of Fidesz activists to systematically deface Jobbik’s billboards all over the country. Unfortunately, he said, they couldn’t be burned because that would have destroyed the billboard structures, so they had to be satisfied with painting them over. That method is actually quite widespread in Hungary. Activists of Momentum, for example, suggest changing the “Stop Brussels” billboards to “Stop Moscow.” But these methods weren’t radical enough to solve the Orbán government’s problem with the the kinds of posters Jobbik put up.

On April 27 Index noticed in the Official Gazette that Lajos Kósa, former leader of the Fidesz parliamentary delegation, and János Halász, undersecretary for culture in the ministry of human resources, had submitted a proposal to re-regulate posters and billboards. If the provider of advertising surfaces sells spaces at a price lower than the “current market value,” such an action would be considered to be hidden and forbidden party financing. This regulation would be applicable at times outside of the three months officially designated as the “campaign period.” Owners of poster surfaces must turn in a price list to the State Account Office and will be obliged to make their prices available on their websites.

In addition, and much more worrisome, a government decree signed by Viktor Orbán stipulates that starting June 1, 2017, local government permission will be needed to place new advertising spots anywhere. The decree also introduces other new regulations. For example, the size of the billboards will have to be reduced from 12m2 to 9m2 and the frame size must be changed from 14m2 to 11m2. An additional burden on the companies. But that is the least of the problems. The appendix to the decree stipulates that in the future one will be able to advertise only on properties owned by the state or the municipality. As it stands now, 90% of the advertising surfaces are in private hands and only 10% belong to the municipalities. This decree turns the billboard market totally upside down and will institute a state monopoly over political advertising.

Jobbik doesn’t seem to be too frightened for the time being because they came out with a variation of their original billboards. The color scheme is the same. The billboard pictures Viktor Orbán and Lőrinc Mészáros. The text is: “They steal. We will take it back and use it to raise wages.”

The opposition is up in arms over this government crackdown on campaign advertising. In the parliamentary committee on justice, where the Kósa-Halász bill is being considered, there was quite a ruckus. The opposition is convinced, not without reason, that the bill was written specifically to target Jobbik and Lajos Simicska. The Fidesz opposition tried to limit discussion of the matter, and the chairman, György Rubovszky (KDNP), refused to allow Márta Demeter (independent) and Ákos Hadházy (LMP) to take part in the discussion. In turn, the opposition members called the government party cowardly and the procedure shameful. Rubovszky at this point ordered the opposition members to leave the room, which they refused to do. Hadházy suggested that Rubovszky call the Parliamentary Guard to remove them forcibly. The chairman wisely refrained from making an ass of himself.

The opposition has a powerful weapon against this bill. To pass, the measure needs a two-thirds majority which, as we know, Fidesz doesn’t have at the moment. If the opposition, the left as well as the right, hangs together, it can win this battle. If it succeeds, this would be the second time that Fidesz is unable to force its will on the opposition.

As for the heinous governmental decree, I assume that some of those Soros-supported NGOs will start legal proceedings against it.

May 2, 2017
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Doggo
Guest

Do people here support Jobbik and Gabor Vona? The above piece of writing is hard to pin down I have no idea whether the author is a fan of Jobbik or not. One thing is certain there is nowhere in this text any strong condemnation of Jobbik.

Even very mild criticism is completely missing from the text. When an article in The Guardian or The New York Times mentions Jobbik, usually they write “the far-right party Jobbik” or “Jobbik the far-right party which once proposed drawing up lists of Jews in Hungary” or other some such formulation.

But in this posting above any types of labels or formulations are completely missing. Not once is Jobbik being described as “far-right”. This is why it is so hard to pin down where people stand in relation to Jobbik, the text is completely neutral if not a little sympathizing.

Gretchen Dunn
Guest

Doggo: Why is it necessary to ‘pin-down’? Go back and read past posts of Dr. Balog’s. She is an historian. You do an excellent job at what you do.

bimbi
Guest

@Doggo 7:52 p.m.

But you do know, don’t you, that Orban Viktor and Szijjarto Peter are paid agents of Russia?

Guest

Funnily enough Fidesz is often described in excactly the same way:
“the far-right people in Fidesz” Bayer Zsolt, one of O’s best friends e g – he is probably more antisemitic than most Jobbiks!

Doggy you should first read all articles published by prof Balogh – that would also keep you occupied and save us from your lunacy …

Guest

“Do people here support Jobbik and Gabor Vona?”

Most people here have lost faith in the current breed of Hungarian politicians. The disillusionment is complete. Momentum offers a glimmer of hope. A genuine rejuvenation may be on the way.

Ferenc
Guest

Don’t you understand? Doggo’s the LABEL-man!
He is lost without LABELs, can’t find his way in this world without these things, you know the one’s like: “utility charges reduction”, “illegal immigrants”, “foreign funded”, “speculator”, “Brussels” and above all “quisling”.
Don’t know if he has one for himself, if not I gladly help him out with “OV’s little Doggy” (OV kutyuska).

webber
Guest

Ferenc, you got the language wrong. For Doggo, it would be собака Виктора. I could use a better word than the first, but it would be a bit rude.

Observer
Guest

YES, support Vona/Jobbik if this would help bust the Orban mafia, which is public enemy No. 1. First things first.

ORBAN IS THE FAR RIGHT right now.

petofi
Guest

If those poster of Orban/Meszaros stay up, it can only mean that Russia has ok’d the transfer of power to Jobbik…

(I think Orban’s increasingly desperate actions are an attempt to get removed, probably by Mr. Py.)

Guest

Eva, this is probably a slip:
The Fidesz opposition tried to limit discussion of the matter, and the chairman, György Rubovszky (KDNP) …
Of course it would be nice …

Ferenc
Guest

So the billboards can be added to the list of important items for the Hungarian government. Earlier this year there were: red star, migrants, beer, 2nd fence, CEU, migrants, NGOs, refugees, consultation, migrants, food discrimination.
I suppose the Hungarian will people will be very impressed with what their government has achieved for them so far this year, and be very grateful for the ‘very hard work’ by the government, resulting in ‘serious improvements’ for living in Hungary……..

Guest

Rather OT, but reality in Hungary – from the well known SOTE hospital. My wife just found this list of what patients should bring with them when they come for an operation:

“Szükséges dolgok az Intenzív osztályra:

szénsavmentes víz
pohár
evőeszköz
tisztálkodási eszközök
bugyi
betét
papír zsebkendő
WC papír
saját gyógyszerek
törülköző
2 db fásli (10 cm-es) – műtősegédnek kell adni, a műtőbe menet”

https://444.hu/2017/05/03/ha-mutetre-mesz-vigyel-faslit-is-mert-a-korhaz-nem-ad

Obviously Hungary is turning from a third world country into a fourth world country …

Totally OT – maybe this will lighten up your day:
When we were accosted on holiday in the Canary Islands by street vendors or people wanting to sell us time share housing (a real scam) we would turn them off by shaking our heads and yelling at them:

Törülköző kötelezö!
That would show them that we were from another planet speaking a totally unknown language …

Member

I tried that in Istanbul once. The Turkish guy turned around and responded in decent Hungarian. Amazing.

Ron
Guest

Well I always suspected that Hungarian is actually a dialect of Turkish.

Guest

Linguists tell us that it isn’t. Believe them.

Member

Hungarian does share certain words and other features with Turkic languages, which is evidence of a shared Central Asian heritage. However, anyone who calls Hungarian a “dialect of Turkish” or a “Turkic language” is either misinformed or has a political agenda.

It’s easy to become misinformed on this topic, given the huge amount of propganda surrounding the origins of the Hungarian language.

aida
Guest

Indeed, Hungarian has many Slav words, but it is not a Slavonic language.

Guest

but a slave language?

Sorry, that just had to be – looking at the Hungarian people’s reaction to the obvious Fidesz corruption!
My wife right now again got very angry reading about Mészáros’s buying up half the Balaton tourism business and now the electricity works – unbelievable!
And 10 (or even five ) years ago he was nothing and had nothing …

Guest

Totally OT:

Is the guy called Alex mentioned in this book you?
The Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us
von Francis Tapon
I found it interesting and funny – just started to read it on google books.

Member

Indeed it is.

Guest

Thanks, Alex!
So many interesting people you get to know via these political sites …

old1956
Guest

Wolfi – next, you can try reading the Russian Roots of Fascism by Michael Kellogg. It is a revelation from page 1 to the last one.

https://books.google.com/books?id=GeOR5LbOQwsC&pg=PA195&dq=russian+roots+of+fascism&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjGgeXC69PTAhUDQSYKHXHyAJMQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q=russian%20roots%20of%20fascism&f=false

Ferenc
Guest

The list doesn’t seem complete, but may be the hospital staff assumed that envelope(s) with filling doesn’t need to be reminded to their ‘clients’….

Ferenc
Guest

PS: wolfi, if you need (serious) medical care, where will you go? And what about your wife?

Guest

Ferenc, regular medical service here near Hévíz is ok – the dentists actually are cheaper than in Germany …
The amount of extra money isn’t too bad. I “even” had some eye treatment in the Keszthely hospital for free.

However for serious stuff I go to Germany (I’m resident there) – our university hospitals are famous and I have a good family doc.
So as long as Hungary stays in the EU we’re happy – the Brits I know however are starting to worry …

Ferenc
Guest

So, if I understand you good, the people working in the medical system are OK (quality and service), but the medical system itself (especially funding, but may be more) needs a serious update/renovation.
I only worry that the more time wil pass, till that update/renovation will happen, the more negative influence it will have on the people (in quality and quantity) working in the system.

Guest

Yes, some of the people are good but many get frustrated (especially the younger ones) and you know as well as I what this leads to:
Those who can leave the country and look for jobs somewhere else …
And they never come back – maybe as pensioners.
And obviously the same goes for other professions – but this brain drain is nothing new for all of us.

aida
Guest

Why do the Brits worry?

Guest

The Brits living in Hungary can’t know yet what their legal situation will be after Brexit (actually right now nobody does …), who pays for their medical expenses and what the rules for them will be generally.
There are quite a few of them and they’re all worried – I’m on an expat forum where this is being discussed.

aida
Guest

Thanks, would you be able to let me have contact details of the forum unless it is confidential?

Guest

No problem – but stay out of plitics there (like me …):
http://britishexpats.com/forum/hungary-140/

aida
Guest

Many thanks

Ferenc
Guest

Here they are speaking about the health care system, it seems more severe are the problems in it than the list with things to bring!!
http://hirtv.hu/egyenesen/mindent-a-betegekert-1394287

Daniel
Guest

Just as a general comment from a reader who’s benefited greatly from this blog and its amazing insights, although I’ve hardly commented here. I think it’s useful for the blog’s readers to avoid/stop engaging in never-ending discussions and debates with users such as Doggo whose intentions are sometimes keener on disrupting rather than enriching the conversation. While I think that his/her critical perspective is necessary, useful and should be present here, I hardly see any reason in explaining at every turn of phrase an ethical stance towards the Orban regime that s/he is not keen on even (distantly) empathizing with. Especially since debates sometimes veer into ad hominem attacks (from both sides). Conversations are useful when the participants trust each others’ “will for truth” and honesty, something which is not always the case here. Thank you again for your articles!

Guest

We don’t give hell to a telephone canvasser when he disturbs us with an unwanted call because he may be a traffic victim bound to a wheel chair and unable to find any other job. For the same reason we should not be uncivil to trolls. We don’t know their situation and whether they really deserve to be called idiots. In some cases we don’t even know if they deserve to be called trolls.

If a troll vomits on the comment page, the mess should be cleared away as fast as possible. If a troll expresses his opinion in a civilized and coherent language and refrains from personal attacks his comment should be accepted as any other comment and ignored or answered by other commenters as they choose. However, a commenter who habitually wants to have the last word should not engage a genuine troll.

Observer
Guest

Daniel

In theory you are absolutely right, in practice no rational debate exists or can be held in Hun today. (except among people om the democratic side, which still often end in ad hominem anymosity).

This is mainly the result of Fid’s deliberate policy – a populism with the specific Hun flavors which attracted a crowd of believers accepting the virtual reality created by a big propaganda machine.
All dictators in Europe did/do it, this structure of lies, deceit and manipulation is Orban’s greatest “achievement”.

bécike
Guest
Interestingly, if we are to believe Median, Jobbik won a lot of voters since last quarter. I’m not sure I believe Fidesz’ current 31% overall popularity within the general population but the trends seem to show that Fidesz (from a very high base) lost 500,000 voters and most of them apparently joined Jobbik. This above billboard campaign may have to do with that gain. Basically MSZP and the Left are disliked or not liked enough because they do not appear tough about corruption and do not talk about stealing in a simple, repetitive way like Jobbik did with this campaign. They don’t say they will take that money and wealth back – even though simple justice (especially as people feel justice) dictates this. Some media guru told me weeks ago that this was the best political campaign he had seen in a decade. Simple, black and white, connects feelings with faces (it’s not just billions in the abstract). I wasn’t sure whether it could really help Jobbik or all parties but apparently despite the CEU issue the main beneficiary seems Jobbik. Sad. It’s still a Russian-controlled party of EU flag burners. On the other hand it’s interesting to see individual… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

Here’s HVG’s article about this poll (comparing Apr.with Jan.):
http://hvg.hu/itthon/20170503_median_kozvelemeny_kutatas

Some remarks:
-Jobbik gaining, Fidesz losing about the same, others hardly any change
-whole Fidesz ‘top’ losing popularity (except Rogan)
-Rogan is this year quiet so far, so he even (re)gained some popularity (acc.this poll of course…)
-Vona, Kunhalmi, Hadhazi, Sanyi and Gyurcsdany all gaining, while others (incl.Botka) no change
-overall impression of this poll: anti left/liberal bias

pappp
Guest
Ferenc: To me the question is then why would Jobbik voters be more open to pollsters than leftist voters? I would also think Fidesz is overrated but I don’t see why jobbik voters would be more inclined to answer polls than leftist voters. The only thing I can imagine is a somewhat paradoxical approach to pollsters in rural regions. In rural regions people who encounter pollsters may be more open to them because the pollster appears as a kind of semi-official person and average folks don’t dare to say no to such official-appearing people. I can surely imagine that it’s much harder to gain access to people of Budapest. But there’s still more of a sense of obligation toward people of “authority” in rural areas which includes answering polls. Similarly I think most people who answer these government “consultation” polls are from rural regions, they just know that if big people like Orban ask something then you’d better oblige. So I can imagine that more rural people answers Median’s polls and among them Jobbik is over-represented. However, my problem with scenario is that the CEU-conflict, the demonstrations, Orban’s insanity and corruption (which were the great events of the last months)… Read more »
Member

This is too funny: WSJ is reporting that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and closest advisor, is business partners with… George Soros.

Who knows, hell maybe Soros is doing business with István Tiborcz too. Wouldn’t surprise me.

petofi
Guest

American Politics

It seems that in the US the ‘powers in the shadows’ can tolerate anyone except a person who cannot be swayed by money.

There is presently at attack on the wife of Bernie Sanders, no doubt being perpetrated to cast a shadow over Bernie…who looks increasingly as the major threat–to both Dems and Repubs–for the presidency in 2020.

petofi
Guest

American Politics 2.

It seems that Hillary, like an old rag tossed in the closet, is reappearing for some sort of electoral run (the mayjor of New York, I think).
But who can blame her? The Clinton Foundation isn’t worth a kopeck unless the principles can plug into the political hierarchy…

petofi
Guest

American Politics 3

Colbert has become my favorite late-night talk show host.
He is fearless.
This from his latest monologue:
“Trump should stop using his mouth as Putin’s c*ck-holster.”
Wow.

(Colbert better have a plutonium meter to check his food…)

petofi
Guest

Correction:

What Colbert actually said was:

“Mr. President, the only thing your mouth is good for is to be Putin’s c*ck-holster.”

bimbi
Guest

@petofi 12:30 p.m.

Better use ‘polonium’ than ‘plutonium’. As your Russian friends know, the former gives a lingering death.

petofi
Guest

Thanks, bimbi–my error.

aida
Guest

I wish she would just fade out and leave the spac clear for a winner

bimbi
Guest

Whatever your views on Jobbik (and I am certainly no fan) one has to admit that these ads go straight to the heart of the matter. People understand what they are saying. No wonder the Fidesz legislative machine has sprung into action with some new restrictive and distorted laws to try and skewer this new source of agro!

Like it says though: “YOU work… …THEY steal”.

Maybe some of the electorate will be able to put two and two together on that basis. Ain’t hard to understand, is it Mr. Kosa?

pappp
Guest

This campaign is simple. This is what people get. This is why it’s successful.

You can write tons of investigative journalism about dummy corporations, fronts, rigged public procurement procedures and the like people won’t get them. Simple as that.

The median voter has 8 years of elementary education (at a not a good quality school), lives in a rural town, doesn’t read books, watches commercial TV (no real public service programs), uses internet for limited purposes, doesn’t care about politics. For them talking about complex legal-economic structure is way too much.

They however understand simple messages like those in the Jobbik campaign and react to such campaigns on three levels.

(1) They do get more angry a Fidesz because of the message and they (2) reward Jobbik because voters conclude Jobbik cares about the stealing whereas MSZP or DK don’t because the are silent (sure Együtt talks a lot about Rogan but those are way too complex matters for average folks to get) which also means (3) Jobbik is working while MSZP is lazy.

Again the question is why didn’t the left-wing had any similar campaign?

petofi
Guest

Nonsense.

It seems to me that Orban wants out, and the Russkiy’s have acquiesced…the rest is the patina of democratic movement…

pappp
Guest

OK, that’s a theory too. Jobbik is owned by Putin so it’s kinda logical/plausible. But I actually don’t think Orban wants out. No tyrant has ever been born who would want out. They want to stay for ever, no matter what.

petofi
Guest

What is interesting about the ads is that someone had the gumption–probably with some backing–to put it up in the first place.

It looks like the early stages of the changing of the guard…

Istvan
Guest

Petofi I am surprised that you assume that PM Orban’s ego would allow him to walk away to enjoy his money in Switzerland or the good life in Luxemburg with Juncker over endless drinks. That seems to be extremely rational thinking. I mean Orban’s pockets have to be as deep as Soros by this time, so how much more can the old boy accumulate and enjoy before the grim reaper pays him a visit.

aida
Guest

Soros made his money, Orban stole his.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘Jobbik owned by Putin’

Then something’s rotten Denmark. If Jobbik manages to get on the highest political rungs somebody should keep an eye out for GV and the cohorts. Tigers don’t change their stripes.

aida
Guest

Maybe but usually leopards do not change their spots. Both are such wonderful creatures. Thank the Lord for these woderful cats.

petofi
Guest

@wrfree

Quite right.

Watch for it: stadiums into holding centers…

Istvan
Guest
In the USA what is legal and what is stealing is subject to changing laws relating to allowable investments. Soros made his money betting against the British pound in futures markets in big part here in Chicago where I live at the CME that became allowable because of changes in regulations and laws. This academic essay discusses some of those changes http://scholarlycommons.law.northwestern.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1232&context=njilb Any discussion around the top currency trades in history always revolves around George Soros, because many of the global traders have a connection to him and his Quantum Fund. After retiring from active management of his funds to focus on philanthropy, Soros made comments about currency trading that were seen as expressing regret that he made his fortune attacking currencies. It was an odd change for Soros who, like many traders, made money by removing pricing variations from the market. Here is a link to a short article from the left that argues Soros was a gangster, of a similar nature to traditional crooks like Orban http://gawker.com/hedge-fund-managers-are-the-biggest-gangsters-of-all-1532392791 Who is a crook and who is not is subject to who is analyzing it. For many pasifists those of us who were professional military officers are institutionized murders, for many… Read more »
petofi
Guest

I don’t think that Viktor wants to see the world upside down.
If he got the word from head office that Le Pen will win, then the gravy ride is over. Better to work an exit and leave for a leafy suburb or London…

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