Demokratikus Koalíció moves into a “new phase” of its electoral campaign

Ferenc Gyurcsány, president of the Demokratikus Koalíció (DK), announced a “new phase” in the party’s 2018 election campaign. DK activists will collect signatures of people who agree with DK’s resolute opposition to the right of dual citizens who have never lived in Hungary to vote in Hungarian national elections. DK has been relentless in its opposition to the 2011 law, which it opposes on the grounds that only those people should vote who will directly bear the consequences of their decision.

Let’s make clear at the very beginning that no DK politician seriously thinks that this signature drive can have any impact on the current law. Instead, it was designed to serve political purposes. First, the signature drive allows the party to be visible. It will certainly give the party more exposure than the party’s forums, where a hundred or so people gather, most of whom are already DK sympathizers. Second, a signature drive will add tens of thousands of signatures and addresses to the party’s database. And third, it distinguishes DK from the other left-of-center parties that all believe that opposing the voting rights of non-resident Hungarian citizens is far too risky. It would alienate those Hungarians who live in Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine. And the government parties will call them traitors to the national unification efforts launched by Fidesz in 2010.

Surely, Gyurcsány must have known the kind of abuse he would get from abroad as well as from Fidesz and, to some extent, from Jobbik. Yet he decided that the advantages of such a signature drive far outweigh its disadvantages. In 2014, 95% of votes from the neighboring countries were cast in favor of Fidesz and perhaps 2% for the left-of-center parties, which in the eyes of the very conservative Hungarian voters in the neighboring countries are already considered to be traitors to the national cause. On the other hand, DK might endear itself to the overwhelming majority of Hungarian voters who strongly oppose voting rights for dual Hungarian citizens.

In August of this year Publicus Intézet published a comprehensive poll on the attitudes of resident Hungarian citizens toward the rights of Hungarians living outside the current borders of Hungary. The results cannot be clearer. While 68% of Hungarians think there is nothing wrong with granting citizenship to members of the Hungarian minorities, they have grave objections to granting them voting rights. When it was pointed out to the respondents that these people don’t pay taxes yet they are allowed to vote, only 18% of the population was in favor of granting voting rights to them. Of course, Fidesz voters were more enthusiastic than those of the other parties, including Jobbik, but still 50% of them objected to what they consider a “free ride.” Thus, gathering signatures will probably not be very difficult.

Some analysts consider the signature drive a very clever political move. Among them are Dániel Mikecz of the Republikon Intézet and, to my great surprise, Zoltán Ceglédi, a political scientist who is normally highly critical of Gyurcsány. The former is certain that this “radical” move will mobilize not only DK voters but sympathizers of MSZP as well. Gyurcsány will be fiercely attacked by Fidesz, but he is already hardened on that score. The issue can distinguish DK from the other left-of-center parties with an easily recognizable and strong political profile. It may allow DK to call attention to the real danger of a two-thirds majority with the help of votes coming from abroad. In 2014, 130,000 foreign votes gave the one extra seat in parliament that was necessary for Fidesz to achieve the much desired two-thirds majority. At that time, only half a million new citizens had been added to the voter rolls, but by now the number is close to one million. So, it can easily happen that the Fidesz parliamentary faction will gain two or three extra seast as a result of the vote coming mainly from mostly Transylvania.

Voting in Transylvania / MTI / Photo: Nándor Veres

The government is doing its best to make sure that the foreign vote will be large. A special commissioner was appointed whose single task is the organization of the election abroad. This is in addition to another commissioner who makes sure that as many individuals ask for citizenship as possible. Mikecz reminds his readers of the infamous speech of István Mikola in 2006 when he was Fidesz’s candidate to become deputy prime minster. He said that “if we can win now for four years, then we will give citizenship to five million Hungarians, and when they can vote, we will be set for twenty years.” And since, according to many analysts, the best the left-of-center opposition can achieve in 2018 is to prevent a huge, supermajority Fidesz win, a campaign against the voting rights of dual citizens can keep the issue alive.

Zoltán Ceglédi is no friend of Ferenc Gyurcsány, but now he defends him because the other seven parties came forth under the banner of Márton Gulyás’s Közös Ország (Common Country) with a proposed electoral law that would give extra two mandates to the dual citizens outright, regardless of the number of votes. Momentum and Együtt went so far as to propose the creation of two extra districts, which would allow the voters in the neighboring countries to vote not only for party lists but also for local candidates. Given the strength of Fidesz domestically, the prospect of two or three seats coming from abroad should be truly frightening to the opposition.

Zsolt Semjén, whose chief job is to gather new citizens and new voters, is working assiduously. Viktor Orbán has already sent off a letter to all new dual citizens. An incredible amount of money is being spent abroad, for which the Hungarian government “is asking for and getting votes.” According to Ceglédi, “one mustn’t be mum about this.” Ceglédi believes that the opposition is doing Orbán a favor when it supports this idea under the false notion of “a common country” with people who have never set foot in Hungary and who “just mail their votes for Viktor Orbán.”

On the other side, Csaba Lukács, a journalist for Magyar Nemzet and a native of the Szekler district in Transylvania, is certain that Gyurcsány’s campaign is good only for Fidesz. He is sure that Hungarians living in the neighboring countries will be even more determined to vote after DK’s campaign. In his opinion, Gyurcsány is discrediting the entire left. His only goal is get a few more votes in order to squeeze his party into parliament. In Lukács’s opinion, the votes coming from abroad are neither here nor there. First of all, these people have only “half a vote” because they can vote only for the party list, not having districts of their own. And one seat out of 199 is nothing to make a fuss about. What Lukács forgets to mention is that “this one measly seat” gave Fidesz a two-thirds majority in 2014.

Another Transylvanian, Miklós Gáspár Tamás, TGM as he is known in Hungary, is convinced that Gyurcsány is a “bad politician,” as he has proved again and again. He admits that “it is somewhat unusual that people who have never lived in a country and have no intention of moving there and pay no taxes” can vote, but just because something is unusual does not necessarily make it incorrect, unreasonable, or illegal. “To reject these compatriots of ours just because they are partial to one particular Hungarian party is selfish and petty.” Gyurcsány “foments hatred … ignores or belittles the Hungarian nationalities in the successor states, which is intolerable. His madness and provocations are distasteful.”

So, that’s where we stand. We will see whether Gyurcsány is “a genius,” as the political scientist Gábor Török called him a few days ago, or a really bad politician whose latest move was most likely celebrated in Fidesz circles, as Csaba Lukács and TGM claim.

November 3, 2017
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Observer
Guest

Lukàcs is pretty illogical – whom is DK supposed to alienate if 95% of the votes were cast for Fid, fraud notwithstanding.

TGM often speaks ultra left a la 1960s with some bombast too, but more often than not, is far from Realpolitik and even reality (I can’t find my old note with various nonsensical pronouncements of his). E.g. he was vocal and stern critic of the gov actions in the autumn of 2006 against the Fid organized riots, in the run up to the 2010 elections he (and other talking heads) speculated that Fid may pass some good reforms (only Làsxlò Keri admitted his grave mistake on this account).
And I find him irritating too.

Gabor Toka
Guest

Lukács is plain logical. The more of those out-of-country Hungarians are stirred to vote in the election by Gyurcsany’s campaign, the more vote the Fidesz list will have. Yes, those votes were only enough for one seat in 2014, but by now there are a million of such citizens without residential address in the country (this is not to be mixed up with citizens who also created residence in Austria etc. because of their job). The key question is how many of them will vote, and their enthusiasm for Fidesz is waning. So it was high time that Gyurcsany, the person who single-handedly paved the way to Orban’s two-third majority with his political genius in 2004-2010, gets back in action again.

Observer
Guest

Toka Gabor
“Gyurcsàny,…who single-handedly paved the way to Orban’s two-third majority..”

What a BS! Where do u live? GyF:
– Inherited the consequences of two 100 days programs spending,
– won an election considered lost,
– did all possible to shake MSZP and
– to clean up parties’ financing,
– drastically cut the budget deficit in 2007,
– prepared the most comprehensive reform of healthcare, etc
Add the
– lukewarm support of the MSZP top, the resistance if L.Puch et al,
– the appalling Const Court decision on the referendum
– the Fid relentless attacks, and
– the biggest financial crisis since 1929.
– resigned a year before the election.

Member

It’s not apparent whether DK’s signature campaign — against the voting rights of non-native and non-native-born foreign nationals who have been offered dual citizenship — will help DK, but DK is certainly right to oppose this irredentist travesty of democracy, a democracy that is rapidly being eroded away by Orban’s relentless and unresisted machinations. And the other parties are just demonstrating, yet again, how craven and clueless (if not downright unprincipled) they really are. At the right distance, they and their scruples are by now indistinguishable from those of Fidesz. And with incoherent and vacuous pundits like TGM ever ready to opine resolutely on every issue to which they cannot add anything of substance or value, Hungary’s fate looks sealed for decades.

Observer
Guest

“..incoherent and vacuous pundits like TGM ever ready to opine resolutely on every issue to whi ch they cannot add anything of substance or value,..”

Succinct summary of all these frustrating elements. I wish I wrote it.

tappanch
Guest

As of November 2 [August 20], 2017

363,160 [354,190] new citizens with no Hungarian address applied to vote, and

299,982 [292,224] applications were accepted.

If this rate of increase did not change (but it will),
the number of new citizen voters with special status would be 316,000 by April 2, 2018.

tappanch
Guest

The “Transylvanian and Voivodinan” vote gave Fidesz a 1.3% boost [= 1.4 MPs] in the final tally of the party list vote in 2014.

If the same number of Hungarians in Hungary voted in 2018 as in 2014, but 316,000 votes were to arrive in mail from “Transylvania and Voivodina”, the Fidesz party list votes would increase by 4.7% [= 5 MPs]

Alex Knisely
Guest

This came up the other night at the Andorka Tanya, the kocsma across the street from my place.

I asked — How come these people can vote where they live rather than going to a Hungarian governmental office? That’s what friends of mine in Britain had to do.

Answer — The situation is different from that of Hungarians living in Britain, or France, or what-not, who have to travel to embassies and so forth. The Hungarians in Transylvania, Slovakia, Serbia, Croatia are Hungarians who live in Greater Hungary. The borders shifted. The nation remains. Pre- or post-Trianon Hungary, the rules for Hungarians on Hungarian soil must be the same.

Or… Well, there’s külfold, and then again, there’s külfold,

Observer
Guest

Orwell said it: some are more equal than others.

wrfree
Guest

For sure. And he knew how political aristos thought. He wouldn’t be surprised as to what is happening today where that ‘educated’ class has gone well in bringing moral relativism once again to the workings of the country. History has repeated itself after Adolf and Joe.

It seems many can’t make distinctions under the deeply troubling illiberal power grab as the power of the society to halt their rise has been compromised. Europe needs Orwell’s political genius now more than ever. Whatever he wrote and thought will never ever go to sleep. And it’s almost as if he saw the future of Europe with every word he penned.

dos929
Guest

There are democracies that allow their expatriates to vote from abroad, but most do not, and for exactly the same reason what drives the Gyurcsany initiatives. If one doesn’t share the burden of the country, then he/she should not determine or influence the outcome of the elections. Under Orban, who at the time claimed and promised that dual citizenship he promised to those Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries won’t go in hand with voting rights, clearly and deliberately lied.

Why the Hungarian people take lightly those never ending litany of lies is a mistery… Moreover, why the average Hungarian who suffers from the day to day worsening of the country’s infrastructure, whilst Orban continuously spending the equivalent of tens of millions of €’s in those ‘Hungarian communities’ doesn’t protest on the streets is another riddle. To add to these mysteries, why the EU keeps financing these and other corrupt practices of Orban from the decent EU taxpayers’ money is another mind blowing question….

Ron
Guest

This is a very good move. I like it. And perhaps they should do the same as eight years ago.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VsyBrvlyKVw

And repeat this. Perhaps than it will sink in to the people of the Republic of Hungary.

wrfree
Guest

All I’d suggest is that nothing moves in Magyarorszag until individuals think for themselves. It’s a lost skill due to those simply pushing buttons from the control house. Then autopilot kicks in. And all this after a life of ezer plus ev. So progression has lead to that.

If VO was a goose the utterly conformed would still vote for him. For really all that counts is….. the ‘vote’. Have to say the ‘customization’ of Magyar democracy is on a big roll. The creativity in destroying it is astounding as anything in it seems to get debased or altered diabolically from its original form.

Jean P
Guest

It seems that Gyurcsany is the only politician in Hungary who has the guts to stand by the the obvious: People who don’t live and pay taxes in Hungary should not be allowed to decide with impunity on the fate of those who do.

Those who run the state business should be representatives of the taxpayers and of nobody else.

J Simon
Guest

The proper new phase for Gyurcsány should be to remove himself from the Hungarian political scene. He has lingered on far too long dividing the opposition. He has nothing to contribute.

Jean P
Guest

“Gyurcsány should be to remove himself from the Hungarian political scene. …. He has nothing to contribute.”

He has just made a major contribution. The opposition knows how to divide itself without his help. It is incredible that all other opposition parties are such cowards that they don’t support Gyurcsany on his campaign against the most deadly weapon used against them.

Guest

Nothing to contribute – just like you?

It seems to me that in Hungarian politics right now anything is ok that will keep “Die Kacke am dampfen” as we say in German because the situation is kind of hopeless.
Fidesz is taking Hungary down the drain, stealing as much money as possible (and more …) and most Hungarians are in akind of stupor, watching helplessly, doing nothing …
Crazy!

Observer
Guest

So Fidesznik Jo Simon is trying to help the dem side with some good advise …
A bit thick, isn’t it?

Guest

I’ve been wondering about a side effect of the voting rights for “Hungarians” who are citizens of other EU countries.

In the elections for the EU parliament you should obviously vote just once – even if you have two (or more) residencies like I do.
Before the last EU elections the Hungarian authorities sent me a letter explaining that I could choose to vote in Hungary – but they would of course inform Germany so I couldn’t vote twice.

How does this work for people living in an EU country, say Slovakia or Austria e g who are now Hungarian citizens and can vote for the EU parliament in Hungary, do the different states know about this?
Now Austria afaik doesn’t recognise dual citizenship so the “new Hungarians” probably don’t inform the Austrian authorities or do they?

Gabor Toka
Guest
Gyurcsany’s move is as principled as Gyurcsany in general, i.e. completely cynical. There is a a self-serving agenda that hopes to put Gyurcsany’s party ahead of MSZP in the vote, and of course he has all the right to pursue that. But with this campaign he will help Fidesz to add not 200 but 300 K extra party list votes to their tally. Which takes ever further the prospects of effective legislative action against an anti-democratic election law and all other oppressive feature of the Orban regime. There is no uncertainty or “we shall see” in this equation – this is all plain obvious. The proposal of the Közös Ország Mozgalom would not allow Fidesz or any other party to run candidates in the two-member electoral district allocated to citizens w/o residential address in the country. That is a sane proposal that Jobbik can conceivably support and has a remote chance that a future Hungarian parliament may agree on. After that, the two reps of the Transylvanian etc. Hungarians may still vote with Fidesz, but then they will be accountable for that (and their influence would be limited to two votes in a proportionally elected parliament of 222+ members, rather… Read more »
Marty
Guest
Gyurcsany has only one goal: to politically survive Orban. If it takes 20 years then he will wait it out no matter what happens to Hungary or the opposition in the meantime. In other words Gyurcsany only cares about himself. Gyurcsany kind of wants to have the last lough against Orban. He will never have it of course – Orban has real popular support behind him which is several times bigger than that of Gyurcsany’s. Also the wealth of the Orban family is orders of magnitude greated than what Gyurcsany and his wife’s formerly communist family could amass. Orban won. But Gyurcsany will not give it up just like MSZP never will. They will linger on like hordes of zombies. The undead. I very much believe that if Gyurcsany resigned back in 2006 – as Fidesz demanded – Fidesz would’ve won the elections (as it did the local municipal elections) but then the financial crises would’ve hit Fidesz and most likely Fidesz wouldn’t have won with 2/3s to begin with in the snap elections and then MSZP could’ve criticize the necessary restrictions. But Gyurcsany was vain and refused to resign (not allowing Medgyessy to have a last lough in their… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

Marty: “Gyurcsany has only one goal: to politically survive Orban… In other words Gyurcsany only cares about himself.”
Before going into a discussion about your statement, would you be so kind to clarify your opinion about which current HU politician(s) does(do) “NOT care only about him/her/themself(ves)?

Marty
Guest

Good point. I don’t know. But Gyurcsany is causing relatively lot of harm because he is relatively more influential than say the Momentum kids. I respected Andras Schiffer for his resignation (quasi-resignation, but now he has to live off the legal market, must eat what he kills).

Member

Gyurcsany lost my vote with the whole “mysterious guy in Southeast Asia wants to sell me hot info on Orban but I WON’T tell you what it is” thing.

Matt L
Guest

This is totally insane. How can you give the vote to people who don’t pay taxes or who will not be held accountable for the policies carried out in their name?

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