“Observer”: An action befitting a dictatorship

The action of the “independent” State Audit Commission (ÁSZ) against the opposition parties emerges as the most brazen act of political repression committed by the Orbán regime to date (together with the respective legislation passed earlier).

Although many already may know the basic facts, I would like to recap:

At the end of last year ÁSZ completed the scheduled audits of all opposition parties and unprecedentedly found that they all had accepted “illegal funding in kind” and suggested* they have to repay/pay the amount of the alleged illegal funding shown below + an equal amount of fine:

  • LMP 8 mil. Ft. for below market prices leases
  • DK 16 mil. Ft. for below market prices leases
  • Együtt 16 mil. Ft. for below market prices lease and for member fees accounted for as donations (the question of how ÁSZ knows who are the members is left unanswered)
  • Együtt, Párbeszéd, and MOMA were also fined for poster space below market prices.
  • Jobbik 331 mil. Ft. for poster space below market prices (remember the “You work they steal posters”) grant

* According to the 2011. LXVI. Law regulating ÁSZ (ÁSZ Law), it can only offer its findings, suggest and advise Parliament, or initiate proceedings with the competent authorities. The law does not contain the word “fine,” nor does it grant ÁSZ in any way the right to such or any other administrative action.

For lack of space we shall not discuss the often scandalous actions that ÁSZ undertook earlier, such as refusing to audit Fidesz, citing a lack of jurisdiction for market price comparison or studies, scheduling Fidesz audits in even years, i.e. after elections, and flouting document submission deadlines during the audits (of Jobbik), etc.

Fitting the picture is also the end of 2016 – 2017 onslaught against the advertising/poster free market after Jobbik and other parties contracted space from the Simicska-owned CityPoster. The Orbán parliament amended obscure settlement image legislation in an attempt to circumvent the important law on political advertising, which the government couldn’t change for lack of the required two-thirds supermajority. This stands as another brazen act of defying the legal order of the country, i.e. a clear demonstration of dictatorship.

I would, however, draw attention to several actions, which considered together defy credulity and strongly suggest ulterior motives and unlawful organized action:

  • All parties were charged with the same form of “illegal funding in kind,” i.e. they had supposedly rented premises below market prices. Notably, many leases are years old and had been audited by ÁSZ before. In one case the leases were arranged by the Parliament Administrative Office.
  • Four parties allegedly all contracted poster space at below “list prices.” ÁSZ never addressed the long-standing objection that in practice everyone in the market is given some discount from the list price. (Until now the dispute was left hanging in the air since no action was ever taken by ÁSZ on this issue).
  • The space contracted by Jobbik was from the same Simicska-owned company that had “supported” Fidesz in the same way for more than a decade, until the fallout between Simicska and Orbán, after which the practice was outlawed in 2014. In response to the other parties’ protests against those economically nonsensical prices, Simicska once cynically responded that everyone has the right to be stupid.
  • In crude violation of all legal principles (e.g. as DK pointed out, ÁSZ didn’t specify the incriminated leases, and they had many), ÁSZ also did not make public or at least disclose to the affected parties the evidence/materials supporting their conclusions or the way ÁSZ calculated the specific amounts.
  • Jobbik, the largest opposition party, the one most likely to draw votes from the Fidesz camp, was hit hardest, annihilated with a 336 million withdrawal of funding + a fine of the same amount. Jobbik was also found to have failed to cooperate, mainly to provide requested documents (which Jobbik denied in detail), and was threatened with steps to initiate criminal prosecution against its president, i.e. Gábor Vona, under par. 33.3.a. (An indictment would disqualify him from participation in the election.) In the autumn Jobbik was negotiating even more poster space with several firms.
  • Just before the ÁSZ action, by act 29/2017 of October 6, 2017 the Ministry of National Economy (NGM) amended the enforcement/collection provisions only, rep. only for the illegal funding, adding par. 2.A. to decree 55/2016. (XII. 21.) NGM. The amendment was to “come into force on the day following the publishing.”
  • Finally, according to the ÁSZ’s Enikő Czinder, “A proposal based on the auditing experience of the State Audit Office was acted upon, [and] the legal loophole indicated by the ÁSZ was closed by the Ministerial Decree on National Economy for the Suppression of Prohibited Funding.” The timing indicates that the amendment was practically retroactive, as the ÁSZ audits of the parties had been going on during the same period. [Translation is mine.]

There are too many coincidences, unless one believes in miracles.

♦ ♦ ♦

Before delving into the legal aspects of the case, I have to confess that it’s not easy to find the updated and complete texts of the various acts, since the Orbán regime has passed over 750 laws and amendments, often abusing the legislative process by hiding amendments in the bulk of omnibus bills.

The legal aspects

Let’s move on from the audit performance and its findings to the legality the so-called fines ÁSZ imposed.

Prof. Peter Róna, economist, jurist and businessman, recently published an article in HVG and gave some interviews where he harshly denounced the action: “ÁSZ committed a coup against the constitution … The ÁSZ action against opposition parties forsakes the separation of powers set by the Basic Law. This is a dictatorship,” he stated.

Beyond the ulterior intentions and the actual attempt to impair the opposition’s capabilities to successfully participate in the election race, Professor Róna warns of what he sees as “the final elimination of the constitutional foundations of our country.” He points out that the current “Basic Law is the basis of Hungary’s legal system (Article Q (1)), which is based on the principle of separation of powers (Article C (1)). The power of the state is divided into three parts, namely the Parliament entrusted with legislation (Article 1), the Government with the executive power (Article 15) and the Courts entrusted with providing justice. (Article 25)”

According to article 42/43 of the Basic Law, ÁSZ is an organ of Parliament; § 1.1 of the (ÁSZ Law) 2011. LXVI. stipulates: “The State Audit Office is the main financial and economic control body of the Parliament, which performs its task under the Parliament. The statute and the powers of the State Audit Office are defined by the Basic Law and this Act.”

The above status, argues Professor Róna, “precludes any executive task, the possibility of any executive action. ÁSZ, therefore, cannot be authorized by any law with more or wider powers than the ones the Parliament itself possesses, or with which Article 42 of the Basic Law endows it. The Parliament has no constitutional rights to carry out specific [executive] actions, even less so to impose specific punishment, and the Basic Law only defines auditing powers” to ÁSZ.

The ÁSZ Law specifies the ÁSZ functions as follows:

  • 1.4 Assisting Parliament with findings, suggestions and advice.
  • 1.5 Based on its findings, the State Audit Office can initiate proceedings with the competent organs against the audited organizations and responsible persons.
  • 3, 4 and 5 setting out tasks of ÁSZ mentions “audit plan,” “carrying out audits,” “auditing functions,” “auditing activities,” “findings of the audit,” but no executive action at all.

The ÁSZ Law repeatedly and consistently refers to ÁSZ’s right and obligation “to initiate proceedings with the competent authorities” or organizations/organs: §11.4 11.5 16.5 23.2.b 27.1 27.7 27.8 30.1 33.3a/b, but does not mention any form of punitive action by ÁSZ, which leaves no doubt regarding the intention of the legislator.

Prof. Róna thinks that the much maligned provision of the ÁSZ Law “§ 1.6 The ÁSZ reports, the findings therein and its conclusions cannot be challenged before a court or other authority” fits into this line of legal thinking, because “from ÁSZ’s scope of authority it follows that it cannot make decisions binding on others; it can only inform the competent organizations or Parliament if it detects a violation of the law. Its [ÁSZ] decisions cannot be appealed exactly because in the absence of binding force there is nothing to rectify or to execute.”

Most of us agree that the interpretation of the ÁSZ finding, including the testimonies of (sometimes dubious) external experts, as being incontestable is absurd in any legal system today. Even in Prof. Róna’s line of reasoning, I still am critical of the clause, because it makes unclear the status of the ÁSZ findings vis-à-vis other evidence in any legal contest.

In Róna’s judgment “the action of ÁSZ against the opposition parties forsakes the separation of the branches government set out in the Basic Law, i.e. the Parliament through its own organ, the State Audit Commission, takes specific [executive] action circumventing the judicial branch and denying legal remedy. This is the dictatorship itself, for the prevention of which the separation of the power branches was conceived.”

What next?

By now all affected parties have stated that they are not going to pay–Jobbik actually cannot, but there are various statements regarding the following steps and the presumed consequences thereof.

Fines are generally due to the Treasury, and, if not voluntarily paid, some can be collected by the Tax Office. The applicable 2003 Law XCII. (Art.) § 145, contains an exhaustive listing of “enforceable documents,” i.e. the only legal grounds for the Tax Office to enforce collection:

  1. final official decision determining the payment obligation (order, order for payment),
  2. in the case of tax self-assessment, a tax return containing tax obligation (tax advance payment)
  3. outstanding public debt, which can be collected in the way of tax collection,
  4. tax assessment communicated to the taxpayer
  5. a judicial decision …[ordering court fees]
  6. document establishing a healthcare contribution obligation

ÁSZ, however, is in no position to issue any of the above, so the guessing game is on.
Viktor Szigetrvári of Együtt stated that they won’t pay voluntarily but was certain that the Fidesz party state will take their money anyway (in Hungary the Tax Office can garnish, freeze, and seize funds from a bank account without any writ), administering “quick poison” to the opposition. He did not elaborate further.

Emese Pásztor of the Eötvös Károly Institute spoke of ÁSZ “calling upon” (felszólítani) the parties to pay within 15 days, and stated that the legal nature of such “calling upon” is unclear; it cannot possibly be considered an administrative act, as all such must be open to appeal.

Attila Szabó of TASZ (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union) concurs in this respect. He also criticized the lack of justification by ÁSZ, e.g. how were the amounts of the fines established. He speculated that the parties can petition the Administrative Courts, which will most probably throw out the petition for lack of jurisdiction, but such a ruling may help clarify the status of the case and may be used in an eventual international legal challenge. He also pointed out that one-fourth of the MPs can petition the Constitutional Court for subsequent control of the legislation involved.

I couldn’t find a firm opinion on whether the ÁSZ act can trigger the process of collection, and it may be that there isn’t any such provision. There have been many cases of half-baked pieces of legislation rushed through by the all-too-eager ruling party, which are often deliberately drafted in a way to conceal their true ulterior objectives.

The eventual enforced collection is also problematic since the 2003 Law XCII. (Art.) obliges the Tax Office to avoid causing “undue stress” to the debtor by eventually deferring and scheduling the payments. In our case this means a collection after the elections and in installments.

So what are we to make of this week’s more telling than baffling initiative of the minister for the economy Mihály Varga, who started a “co-ordination“ (egyeztetés) with Treasury and the Tax Office aimed at postponing and scheduling the payments of the fines by the parties. The move raises numerous questions: why the NGM minister, why not ÁSZ, on what authority does the minister interfere, etc.

My first guess is that the whole action was planned as a form of intimidation only, with no intention to actually seize the funds, not now at least. However, witnessing the recent harder line taken by the regime in other areas, I can’t exclude the possibility that the intention was to destroy Jobbik and/or to drain Simicska’s resources. It is possible that Viktor Orbán felt that ÁSZ’s heavy-handed action created too much political noise and turned to Varga to do something quickly to smudge the picture, a favorite routine in Orbán’s Hungary, prompting Varga’s ill-considered action.

Summing up

Péter Róna sees the situation as follows: The reason Parliament or the government “does not entrust the task of punishing any wrongdoings to the competent authority — as stipulated in Article 23 of the Basic Law — is because the BL provides for legal remedies against executive actions. Since the [government’s] intention was to take actions that would not pass the filters of justice, there was a need to find a body that does not fall under the jurisdiction of the courts. Such is the State Audit Commission.

“The Parliament’s responsibility is now enormous. It is a constitutional duty to reject … the [ÁSZ’s] decision, … and the opposition parties’ responsibility is to refuse to comply with any ÁSZ measure,” concludes Prof. Róna, to which ÁSZ reacted with some platitudes and with calling on Prof. Róna “to cease misleading the citizens.”

It turned out that the indicting ÁSZ reports were not signed by the president, László Domokos, formerly Fidesz member of parliament. The law allows for substitution, but one must ask why the president didn’t sign such politically explosive documents. When pressed, Bálint Horváth, ÁSZ’s communication director, said only: “because the president decided so.” My sarcastic reaction is that it was perhaps insurance against eventual criminal charges.

Let me cynically sum up: a party soldier at the head of ÁSZ acts beyond his authority, attempting to cripple financially the opposition parties and annihilate the biggest one, charges all of them with the same alleged offense — a situation that has existed for years and has previously passed muster with ÁSZ, while providing no detailed justification of its findings and how the fines were arrived at. This assault on the opposition just before the elections happens to benefit the ruling “illiberal” regime, which has a long record of actions against the democratic institutions, and which in this case amended legislation to facilitate the collection of precisely such fines.

I rest my case. It’s now up to the jury.

January 12, 2018

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47 Comments on "“Observer”: An action befitting a dictatorship"

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bimbi
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This outrage appeared just before Christmas (subtle and exquisite Orbán timing!) and on the 25th December I sent the following comment, surprisingly, left undiscussed. OK, so let’s try again:

“I apologize for blowing cold on the party here – we atheists are always ready with our two bobs worth – but we need to remember that the punitive actions of Orbán and his government take no time off over this “Blessed Christmas Season where we tenderly remember the Birth of the Christ Child”.
As a Christmas gift now LMP, DK, Együtt and Dialogue for Hungary are to suffer arbitrary and unjustified fines of between $10,000 and $20,000 “for accepting forbidden campaign contributions”, these on top of the $2,580,000 fine imposed on Jobbik.
May I suggest that ALL the opposition parties simply get together and TOGETHER say to Orbán and his dictatorship, “NO, WE ARE NOT PAYING THIS ARBITRARY IMPOST”.
It is time to call out this mafioso politician for the crook that he is!”

Observer
Guest

You’re right re the sneaky timing – even I missed it while closely monitoring the situation.
And right again re the parties’ course of action: if they all refused to pay/cooperate, for which they have perfectly sound justification, Orban would have two choices: drop the action (causing confusion in own camp) or go ahead and practically shut down the parties activities (something the even the EPP can’t swallow). Orban has maneuvered himself into a lose lose situation, the opp parties have to press on.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘Orban has maneuvered himself into a lose lose situation, the opp parties have to press on’.

Right and just to suggest that opposition parties need to be cognizant of certain consequences in the nefariousness you have so well described.

In a dictatorship suppression is nine tenths of the law. Orban on that score apparently has erred in covering all his bases. But he may not make the same mistake again. He just may be rabid to get that other tenth. That’ll be locking up the ‘dictatorship’. The opposition then need to be very very good chess players when a possible mate is a ‘tenth’ away. The game then is lost for them and the country.

bimbi
Guest

This punitive action was not initiated by “a party soldier at the head of ÁSZ”. It came from the top of government. Fact is that the
“YOU WORK THEY STEAL”
captions attached to ugly photographs of government “leaders” wounded and wounded deeply. No one can take offence – nor has the opportunity to do so – better than “il capo dei capi”, VO himself, (tho’ he is now hiding behind the Economics minister, what’s-his-name?)

YOU WORK THEY STEAL

Observer
Guest

Right again re the petty vindictiveness of the deeply complexed upstart (originating from the small half gypsy boy pushed around).
We know that the ASZ president Domokos is just a puppet, but it is him that would go to prison for this coup against the “democracy” we still have on paper, if ASZ doesn’t have sound evidence and justification, which I’m sure they don’t. Apropo, another small detail – the Orban regime must be toppled before that.

Guest

We have a saying in German:
Ist der Ruf erst ruiniert dann lebt’s sich völlig ungeniert!

Everybody knows that the Fidesz system is neither democratic nor based on laws – it’s a mixture of a kleptocracy and a kakistocracy (forgot the exact definition …), based on corruption openly stealing the tax money and fining everybody who’s against the regime …
The only good news is that they can’t hide it any more – just look at Vajna, Mészáros etc.

But it’s nothing new – when I had my house renovated almost 20 years ago the builder openly told me that he did only private projects because there was no chance for him to get any state projects- his small company couldn’t compete with the established companies corruptionwise, they were too well entrenched …
And in those days also Fidesz ruled.

Guest

Wolfi7777~~I have almost no German. This is how Google translated your saying:” If the call is ruined then it lives completely unabashed!”. It would be wonderful if you could also send translations of your apt sayings.

Guest

Sorry, here we go (For proverbs google is usually worthless):
Once your reputation’s gone, you can boldly carry on.
Once your rep is down the drain, life ain’t gonna be the same.

Ferenc
Guest

think hungarians don’t have to look up “kakistocracy”… mirror translation would be “shitokrácia”…

Ferenc
Guest

“ÁSZ president didn’t sign”
If not signed by a person with signing authorization, the ÁSZ reports means nothing! Did anybody else sign?

Second I think ÁSZ send out unreasoned reports, to get replies, on which bases they can ‘with proof adjust’ their own report.
Third most likely OV&Co are not after the parties/users, but going after the providers offering services “below market prices”, of course not the landlords of the offices, but the poster space company of Simicska.

Fourth if poster space was supposedly “below market prices”, could it be that “market prices” are pushed up by certain party/parties paying “above market prices”. That party/parties could ‘very well’ be the biggest advertiser in the market, i.e.HU government and related Fid and Fid organizations. Should be brought in by other political parties, as investigation is needed, if current HU gov is squandering tax payers money (if so, also the ‘rakers’ and ‘possible purpose’ of the squandered money have to be investigated).

Observer
Guest

Ferenc
The ASZ reports were signed by the Secretary, as such delegation is allowed. Sorry for the omission.

Good point re market prices – the state is the biggest single advertiser and can well influence the prices. ASZ hasn’t offered any study re “list prices” vs market prices.

In the absence of specific details in the reports, the affected parties were in no position to produce informed responses and should have withheld such reactions until the specific details were revealed by ASZ, stopping the procedural deadlines clock as well.

Ferenc
Guest

OT
Yesterday was organized by MJVSZ (Alliance of Towns with City Rights, i.e.more than 50.000 inhabitants) a special conference named “Mayor Co-operation Against Immigration Organizing Offices”, if I understand it correctly, after registration it would be possible to enter the conference. A Momentum representative from Kaposvar (a MJVSZ city) tried to register at the entrance of the conference, what happened can be read and watched at https://24.hu/belfold/2018/01/12/balhe-es-lokdosodes-a-polgarmesterek-soros-ellenes-szeanszan/

Now I have some questions (with my answers, please correct me, if I’m wrong):
1.Are ‘Immigration Organizing Offices’ against the law in Hungary? NO
2.Are authorities allowed to hinder such offices/organizations in their operation? NO
3.Who are operating against the law in the above? MJVSZ (aka.the Co’s of OV)

PS: M1/Hirado made a report about the ‘conference’ and only showed what happened outside the building, mentioning that opposition parties hindered the conference…

Istvan
Guest
Generally I do not like governmental interference in the electoral process, it’s a libertarian streak in me I guess. So initially I admit I supported the US Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United case in 2010 that struck down limits on independent campaign spending by corporations and unions in federal elections. But then came another case case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, No. 12-536, striking down a decades-old cap on the total amount any individual can contribute to federal candidates in a two-year election cycle. Now the flood gates are open and billionaires with self financing and billionaire associates have been elected all over the place. Not that some were not elected prior to these cases, but it has been much accelerated. Some of what could be called the elected political class composed largely of lawyers and in some cases retired military officers like myself has been replaced with very rich people in both the Democratic and Republican parties, but less so among the Democrats. Trump I guess represents the optimal self financed candidate and in truth really a low total budget candidate. The hatred of the political class here in the USA exists on both the left and… Read more »
bimbi
Guest

@Istvan 8:52 a.m.

It is surely generally accepted that the national electoral/political landscape was transformed in the USA by the Supreme Court case decisions that you noted so that today there is only one rule – Money Rules – and the famous American “little guys” are completely shut out from the national election process unless they can be aligned by a pseudo-red neck fake like Donald Trump. The electoral financing situation in the US needs to be completely re-set if the current complete dominance of Big Money is to be put in its place, such that “We the People” are allowed their voice and “We the Corporations” are reined in. With time, that will come.

The situation in Hungary is smaller and more easily solved. With time, Orbán will no longer be dominant in Hungarian politics. For the establishment of a gentler, less corrupt and more prosperous nation for all Hungarians, that time cannot come soon enough.

As @petofi notes, Hungary is a small nation. Fixing it ain’t rocket science.

petofi
Guest

Did I say that?
Must be another ‘Petofi’…

In my opinion, there’s no fixing the nation before repairing the ethics and integrity of its people–

bimbi
Guest

@petofi, 4:33 a.m.

No, you are right and I am wrong: what you said was, “All Hungarian politicians are ‘little guys’”- it was my interpretation to place all those “little guys” in a little country – with an administration about the size of a decent-sized city, no more. Yet VO wants to bestride Europe as the Great Statesman from the East. C’mon, who ya kiddin’? Not just a mafioso but a “lilli-puti(a)n” mafioso.

petofi
Guest

@ bimbi

Don’t be taken in by Orban’s shenanigans. First and foremost, he wants to ruin Hungary and Hungarians…to get even for the mistreatment of gypsies for 1000 years. (And then he will become the king of gypsies everywhere.)

petofi
Guest

(It goes without saying that Viktor wants–like most gypsies he deals in feathers–…to feather his bed with about 10 billion (euros, not forints).

Ferenc
Guest

“US military expenditures,… the economic advantages… based on that intimidation power”
When, if ever, will all that be used in a really sustainable manner, necessary to protect and respect the imho only reason why we all can be here on our globe?

Observer
Guest

Istvàn
You are right to “return” from any absolute believes/positions – the truth is somewhere in between and it swings left/right depending on many factors.
Most people are LIV, the human brain works in energy saving mode by default, where it uses saved routines without processing much info – system 1, as Kahneman calls it.
Hence the influence tricks from Ancient Greece to now, repeat a lie a thousand times and it becomes a truth, i.e. it becomes a sys1 routine, Pavlov reflex, dog whistle, etc, all describing the same thing.
This is why I often answer trolls, even if with one liners, to disrupt the routine forming process.

Bimbi
The ways money or propaganda work are the same in Hun. The national psyche, i.e. the starting base in Hun is worse than in the US (no democratic traditions), hence all such signals have to be processes in sys2, which requires some effort, more for the less educated. Another reason to keep the masses in the dark.
There is no “establishing of a gentler, less corrupt nation”, the state/elites can only influence, educate, even dril the populace until it became the whatever, and starting from the current base its a long journey for the Huns.

wrfree
Guest

Re: the ‘LIV’s

Should be an interesting bunch in that among them two thought processes exist. One is the public presentation of what they do and how they behave and the other their private thoughts that they keep to themselves. The Nazis were so good in their informational and propaganda manipulation that there became a dichotomy in the public and the private lives of citizens. Eventually what one did did not represent what one believed but yet the regime went on and on.

And that is why continued and virtually all media control in the country will be a great bane on democracy in the country for the future. ‘Low information’ at bottom is really ‘no information’ since LIVs would appear to not even have the intellectuall skills and capacity to adequately process and filter the tainted information they receive. They’re the kept citizenry. Control of media will continue to grow as they continue to give the government the impression they are ‘loyal’ no matter what they believe.

Member

Again, I ask will the April election be a “free and fair” one operated in a democratic manner? If not, then democrats should not be participating in as parties or voters. To do so, legitimizes what is by now Orban’s fascist state.

Jean P
Guest

Also my opinion. The leaders of the opposition parties will never agree on that either. They hope to be elected. That is enough for them.

Guest

Totally OT – but disturbing fake news:
North Korea sends a missile in the direction of Hawaii!
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2018/01/13/false-ballistic-missile-alert-rattles-hawaii/1031491001/

Marty
Guest
This article is fundamentally misguided. Apparently Observer (the author of this post) just as Prof. Rona cannot leave Orban’s discourse. Apparently they never read a single line from Micheal Foucalt. Orban forces his discourse on his very enemies and such adversaries by entering into an argument with Orban on the terms set by Orban implicitly accept such terms, the rules of the discourse. Orban’s opponents are unable to not dream the same dream Orban does. As we know since Foucault any discourse is maintained even by its adversaries. The very first step in defeating Orban must be leaving and consistently rejecting Orban’s discourse. A new vision, new frame of reference, new terms must be dreamt up by the opposition and opposition supporting people must stop participating in Orban’s discourse. Just to cite a recent example. The 2016 US election was about Trump (his visions, antics, opinions) only. Even his very opponents, the critical voices of journalists, pundits, those who condemned him at every turn eventually took part in Trump’s discourse and maintained such discourse and helped Trump get elected. Trump should’ve been ignored and not given free advertisement. Observer, Rona etc. argue and cite legal rules, legal provisons, the constitution… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Marty

Good or bad this is what a diminished and repressed opposition can do, exactly because the all positive plans and promises are hot air when you are far from the position of even attempting any of it.

Secondly, we are not writing for the masses, but for people who need info not propaganda panels and slogans. I can take a lower line, breath some fire or be quite sharp where needed, but this is not the place.

BTW what do you suggest for action?

Marty
Guest
I understand that you write for intellectuals but with such analyses there should always be a disclaimer at the beginning, a kind of warning where you say clearly that Hungary isn’t a democracy but for the sake of argumentation we will assume for the moment that it is, but we know it isn’t. Something like that. Otherwise I would simply refuse the deal with dictatorial developments as part of the legal system (how they are unconstitutional, contravene EU law or the human rights conventions etc.). Orban must be opposed because he’s a corrupt autocrat who went insane and is making Hungary lagging behind its peers. Period. Repeat a million times. Orban doesn’t argue rationally, he’s just distributing his propganda, repeating a million times his lies – the opposition cannot possibly defeat him by engaging in any rational argumentation. Even voters don’t care about arguments (this was one of the conclusions of the Trump phenomenon). Sure, I get that this is a special forum for such rare rational discussions, but we must be conscious that in the normal world this just doesn’t work and must be careful what we imply even by opposing something. (Politicians then will have to talk about… Read more »
Guest

Marty, you often write things like Even voters don’t care about arguments
But that’s not true, period!
It is only a minority of voters in Hungary just like in the USA!
Neither Trump nor Orbán and his cronies did get a majority of votes – “only” the peculiarities of the election systems made them winners!
So we shouldn’t give up hope.

And now repeat after me:
There never was a majority of voters for Orbán and maybe there’ll never be!

Farkas
Guest

Yes, Wolfi, but those who do not vote, nonetheless implicitly endorse the winner (i.e. Orban & Fidesz) BY DEFAULT. Ergo, every time Orban and the mafia are put back into power, they are reelected with what is in effect a VAST MAJORITY (and I haven’t even mentioned yet either the notorious gerrymanders inside Hungary or the hundreds of thousands of Fidesz lemmings in neighbouring countries).

This sort of thing couldn’t happen in a democracy like Australia, where compulsory federal, state and municipal level voting is written into the federal constitution, gerrymandering is made virtually impossible by our constitutional arrangements (and over the border lemmings do not exist).

Ferenc
Guest

Typical writing “ins Blaue hinein”, and furthermore only discrediting people trying something against OV&Co, while NOT coming with anything substantial against that bunch.
Note: it’s a waste of space if answered with the same “ins Blaue hinein” as above already written twice…

Ferenc
Guest
How I see things: 1.before OV&Co there was a democracy and a rule of law (not perfect, as not any is, with still a lot to improve on them, nevertheless they were) 2a.OV&Co have turned ‘demo’ into ‘auto’, i.e.currently no real democracy 2b.OV&Co have made a new law system, but it’s not democratic, i.e.applied with double standards, and on top inventing new regulations not in line with any of ‘their own’ laws, but pushed as the most valid ‘legal items‘ (i.e.it’s down to things which feel OK for OV, only) 3.the most dangerous thing to happen would be parties coming up with yet another (3rd) kind of democracy, laws and rule of law as the two described above (warning: none of such are possibly bringing ‘real democracy and rule of law’ any closer) Note: ‘the third’ is what ‘m is hinting/pushing at above… The best thing to happen is beating OV&Co in and with ‘their own’ system, that would ‘knock them out’ forever. The second best is convincing a majority of the people in Hungary that it’s best to return to the previous system and make simultaneous acceptable proposals for improving that system in a direction of a ‘real democracy… Read more »
Marty
Guest
Ferenc, I totally agree with you when it comes to rational arguments. Like I said, I obviously concede that this forum is for and by people who believe in rational arguments. But my point is that by participating in such arguments we must never forget for a second that for, I dunno, 70% of the voters (let’s leave non-voters aside for now) such arguments don’t count for anything. This is a said truth. It goes counter to what we learnt in college, our values etc. but this is the case and we must face that reality. That 70% don’t get these arguments. In my experience even people with a university degree (but almost all only high-school degree holders) would be hard pressed to define such terms as rule of law, constitution, democracy with their own words, let alone know why they are important and important now. Moreover these terms – even if they know correctly what these terms mean, why they are important – mean nothing in practice in rural regions. The way of life is very significantly feudal in bigger places like Debrecen, Kecsekmét, Pécs etc. and have scant connection to the modern, constitutional state. Most voters don’t understand… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

Again “ins Blaue hinein”.
Starting with totally agree, and then but ‘blablabla’.
I always try to argue, explain and talk, as simple as possible, with everybody else in by them understandable language. Not forcing my opinion, but trying to let others really find their own.

Marty
Guest

Which part don’t you agree with and why?

Ferenc
Guest
1.before OV&Co there was a democracy and a rule of law (not perfect, as not any is, with still a lot to improve on them, nevertheless they were) 2a.OV&Co have turned ‘demo’ into ‘auto’, i.e.currently no real democracy 2b.OV&Co have made a new law system, but it’s not democratic, i.e.applied with double standards, and on top inventing new regulations not in line with any of ‘their own’ laws, but pushed as the most valid ‘legal items‘ (i.e.it’s down to things which feel OK for OV, only) 3.the most dangerous thing to happen would be parties coming up with yet another (3rd) kind of democracy, laws and rule of law as the two described above (warning: none of such are possibly bringing ‘real democracy and rule of law’ any closer) Note: ‘the third’ is what M is continuously hinting/pushing at… The best thing to happen is beating OV&Co in and with ‘their own’ system, that would ‘knock them out’ forever. The second best is convincing a majority of the people in Hungary that it’s best to return to the previous system and make simultaneous acceptable proposals for improving that system in a direction of a ‘real democracy and rule of law’… Read more »
Marty
Guest
Ferenc, FYI, There seems to be a consensus among legal scholars (most of them conservative, as most lawyers in Hungary are conservative) by that we can’t go back to the constitutional system existing prior to the 2010 “conservative revolution”. The thinking is that the 1989/1990 constitution was “too liberal” (whatever that means) and history has moved on (meghaladta). That constitution is regarded as a product of the defunct MDF and SZDSZ (especially with the “paktum”) parties which are despised by many members of the legal establishment. Also its first version involved a compromise with communists and that tainted the image of the constitution for ever (also the formal name remained Act 20 of 1949). In other words, I would not suggest “going back” to the 1989/1990 constitution because many people hate those years. But more especially a going back to the 1989/1990 constitution would imply a kind of return to the pre-2010 years: when in fact average voters rejected that kind of political system and -although they didn’t want the ensuing corruption, incompetence etc. – they apparently demanded a more populist system. Average (poor) voters figured that rule of law meant the victory of rich corporations, banks, multinationals and the… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Marty
Where is the “consensus among scholars” about ….. ?
What is the “before 2010” era?
Most of what you write is almost verbatim the Fidesz propaganda panels, against which the MSZP did not fight very hard then (let Gyurcsány slug it).
The Const. was deemed acceptable to all, witness the very few amendments, and even the very active conservatives like CC judge László Solyom didn’t find any deep flows, let alone any communism elements.

Marty
Guest
Sigh. I agree that these consensuses were manufactured by Fidesz but now we have to live with the consequences. As I said I am a lawyer and talk to lawyers who deal with constitutional law. I don’t think there is any nostalgia for the 1989 constitution (apart from a handful of people who publish in Élet és Irodalom). This rejection could have many reasons (most lawyers in Hungary are conservative by nature, many simply don’t care about democracy, they never were invested in that constitution etc.) but this is my firm conviction. Ask Laszlo Sólyom, he himself will say that – unfortunately – the Constitutional Court (ie. until 2010 when it was still a real court) became a playground of a few liberal NGOs but it wasn’t “accepted” by the average people. How could it have been accepted, one would ask, when average people simply don’t understand even the most basic concepts of constitutional law or democracy? Anyway. Now the situation is much worse than before, of course, but the political solution is not the ‘return to that era’ in any shape or form. That will be fiercely resisted. You have to understand that most conservative-leaning people (which includes 80%… Read more »
Ferenc
Guest

again useless “information”
FYI, no thanks

Marty
Guest

Ferenc, how do you want to execute your ideas if you have no information about the situation on the ground? Has it ever occurred to you that what looks great on paper very often fails in practice?

Ferenc
Guest

Any action(s)? As example(s) for others?
PS: was “impressed” by above confirmation of following of OV’s instructions (e.g.”F.successfully destroyed its reputation”, “word liberal must never be used”, etc)

Marty
Guest

Has it occurred to you that no American president since Jimmy Carter called himself a liberal and that includes Bill Clinton and Barack Obama?

The destruction of the reputation of the 1989 constitution and the term “liberal” becoming a focal point of hatred are facts.

Fidesz and the right-wing in general are much better at communicating aka framing (see George Lakoff’s entire ouvre) than liberals or leftists.

You either face this reality or you will keep being surprised by political developments.

It seems to me that you’d rather dismiss anybody who wants to make you face this sad reality than change your opinion, though it’s of course up to you. If you want to keep living in dreamland then go ahead.

There was a good article on politico.com about progressives being quite successful in Alaska (the state of Sarah Palin) lately. But did the progressives use the term “liberal”? Did they even use the designation “Democrat”? Or did they face reality (that Alaska is a gun, oil and military loving state) and acted accordingly?

Ferenc
Guest

So NO actions as examples for others…
only “following OV’s instructions”

Marty
Guest

Read the article. Action IS possible but you need to be smart – just repeating the old liberal mantra will lead you nowhere, people will reject that.

How to turn a red state purple (Democrats not required)

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/12/how-to-turn-red-state-blue-purple-alaska-politics-2018-216304

Guest

Isn’t Alaska the State that once elected Sarah Palin?
I read stories about her in 2007/2008 in the Anchorage Times which I almost couldn’t believe.
So with an experience like this anything seems possible!

petofi
Guest

Where is my Military Guy? ISTVAN, where are you?

Anyway, a question for you: are you pleased in seeing the encirclement of the Trump by ex-military? Is this a military takeover a la Seven Days In May?

az angol beteg
Guest

The Nazi government fines the official Nazi opposition party for “buying” poster space from a former oligarch.
Meanwhile in a multitude of impoverished villages behind God’s back, the people get ready to vote for Orban again.