The spectacular business career of Lőrinc Mészáros

On January 2 HVG published a short article with the title “The new year barely begun, Mészáros already grabbed more than one hundred billion.” Of course, they were talking about the “fabulously talented” Hungarian businessman, former pipe fitter, mayor of the village of Felcsút, and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s friend or, what more and more people believe, his front man, Lőrinc Mészáros. The information about this latest grab came from the Public Procurement Authority, according to which Mészáros and Mészáros Kft. got the job of reconstructing a 15.7 km railroad line between Százhalombatta and Ercsi, which will cost 49 billion forints. The same company, together with Euro Asphalt, will build a waste disposal system in Ózd at the other end of the country for 4.3 billion forints.

A few days later, on January 10, Válasz reported: “Hang on! Suddenly Lőrinc Mészáros owns 203 companies.” Anyone who’s interested can now look at the list Válasz put together. Less than a year earlier the same internet site recorded only 103 companies owned by this business wizard, whose assets have grown faster in ten years, especially in the last three years, than Facebook’s. When journalists asked Mészáros about his striking outperformance, he responded that “it is possible that I was smarter than Zuckerberg, don’t you think?”

The Hungarian media had lots of fun with Mészáros comparing himself to Mark Zuckerberg

Most of the amassed wealth has come from the European Union. Átlátszó calculated that between 2010 and 2017 Lőrinc Mészáros and his family won public tenders worth €1.56 billion, 83% of which came from EU funds. I might add that of the 203 companies Mészáros and family own, only nine have been the recipients of public procurements, but they were richly rewarded. All told, they won 97 public tenders, half of which were open tenders where the Mészáros firms had no competition whatsoever. A list of the public tenders won over the years can be seen here.

The English-speaking world was introduced to Lőrinc Mészáros’s fantastic business acumen last summer when Bloomberg published an article about him. The story that caught the eye of journalists was that stock in a Hungarian company called Konzum Nyrt., whose sales in 2016 had dropped 99 percent and whose debt ballooned, a year later, after Mészáros bought a 20% share of the firm, grew fifty-fold on the Budapest stock exchange. The article noted that in three short years Mészáros had become the fifth richest man in the country.

It doesn’t matter how emphatically Viktor Orbán insisted during a parliamentary debate that Lőrinc Mészáros is not his front man (stróman in Hungarian), an overwhelming majority of Hungarians are convinced that behind him and some of the other oligarchs is Viktor Orbán himself. Only a tiny minority, 6% of the adult population, can’t imagine that such a connection exists, while 78% consider a connection “very probable and/or possible.” Even Fidesz voters suspect their party leader is hiding behind hand-picked oligarchs. Among them, 31% believe in his innocence, but 60% are either certain (10%) or consider it possible (50%) that the prime minister is heavily involved in the corruption scheme which the majority of voters consider systemic. Of course, opposition leaders like Ferenc Gyurcsány of DK and Viktor Szigetvári of Együtt are convinced that the richest Hungarian today is Viktor Orbán.

Átlátszó came out with a fascinating article in December that tried to put the wealth of Orbán’s oligarchs into historical perspective. They picked the three richest men in the country in 1935: Count László Károlyi, Count Sándor Festetics, and Prince József Habsburg. Their wealth in pengő, the Hungarian currency at the time, is known, but it is hellishly difficult to translate that into today’s forints. Átlátszó asked two economists to come up with some comparable figures. Their results were wide apart, but in both cases they were only tiny fractions of Lőrinc Mészáros’s estimated wealth. Péter Szakonyi, who maintains an annual list of the 100 richest Hungarians, told Átlátszó that “there has never been anyone who got from zero to 120 billion in three years.” Indeed, in the last three years Mészáros has seen an exponential growth in his wealth.

There is no end to the Mészáros story. It doesn’t seem to bother Viktor Orbán that more and more people consider him a crook who through Mészáros is amassing a fortune. Just yesterday it was all over the media that Mészáros’s three children, who in 2015 established a company called Fejér-B.Á.L. Zrt., a construction company, had just won a public tender for the new building of the University of Physical Education. As for the company’s name, B stands for Beatrix, Á for Ágnes, and L for Lőrinc, Jr. According to their website, the company currently employs 120 construction workers and 27 office personnel. The company will share the job with Magyar Építő, one of the favorite companies of the Orbán government. It is this company that is in the process of building the new Ferenc Puskás Stadium and did the work on the Ludovika Campus. Both of these projects are extremely close to Viktor Orbán’s heart. The job that the Mészáros children got, at least on paper, is worth 1.2 billion forints.

The Mészáros children have every reason to smile

The Hungarian edition of Forbes described Mészáros’s wealth as something he didn’t take away from someone; he didn’t acquire it through his business acumen; he simply received it through the good offices of the prime minister of Hungary, who for one reason or other finds this man useful for his purposes. This simple pipefitter must play a key role in Viktor Orbán’s scheme to build his own financial empire. Mészáros is also used to increase the government’s presence in the Hungarian media through his purchase of regional newspapers. From the outside, this relationship between Orbán and Mészáros is hard to fathom, but I’m sure Orbán knows what he’s doing.

January 21, 2018
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Member

Perhaps many Hungarians, the majority of voters, vote for the viktor, because while he is in power, just like a dream, even a poor plumber can become one of the richest man amongs them and in a very short time. What a country, what great people!

Reality Check
Guest

Hungarians as a whole are not stupid. They are not dreamers, but rather cynics. What many no doubt believe is that if you have the right connections you might be able to get rich. Many also think that if the government changes, then you’ll just need a different set of connections.

Observer
Guest

“Hungarians as a whole ..”
Aren’t they … if they keep shooting themselves in the foot? If 70%+ voted for Orban and Jobbik in the last fair elections 2010?! They got what they wanted, or thought they wanted…

Guest

Please!
Just 44.87% voted for Orbán – and that includes those votes from outside Hungary which were almost 100% Fidesz.
So the majority did NOT vote for Orbán/Fidesz in 2018.

Why do so many people repeat this nonsense?

Member

Please read my comment more carefully – “the majority of voters, vote for the viktor”. Not the majority of Hungarians, only the majority from those who make the effort and vote. Non-voters don’t count.

Guest

Gyula, imho “the majority of voters” would mean 50.1% at least!
If you mean it differently then it would be better to write something like:
More Hungarians voted for Fidesz than any other party or even better:
Of all parties Fidesz was the strongest in votes.

PS and not too much OT:
One should be careful with these numbers and their interpretations – when Fidesz got a two-thirds majority in parliament some people (like our village idiot …) claimed:
Two thirds of Hungarians voted for O!

Ferenc
Guest

Yes please read careful:
Is 44.87% of voters a majority of voters??

Member

That is the majority of the voters, the rest gave their votes to various other parties, and those became the minorities.

Ferenc
Guest

majority > 50%
44.87% is a very big minority

Guest

Hey, I’m sorry – wishful thinking on my side? Of course it should read 2014 in my post 4.51 am

Ferenc
Guest

Thanks wolfi, you corrected that (forgot it in my comment…)
May be Eva can/likes to put a banner on top of the blog with the real 2014 election results: % votes and disproportionate seats

Ferenc
Guest

correction:
“even a poor plumber can become THE richest FRONT man amongs them and in a very short time”

Furthermore note tht the mentioned “very short time” is the period after G-day (2015.Feb.06, if I remember well, when Simicska publically gave up his “front-man-ship” from OV). And guess who’s owning the weekly Válasz, which is now publishing the lists of M.’s companies… Yes, that’s S.

PS: the wealth of a “front man” is never really his own… he’ll only get a minor percentage, aka.crumbs of the “dough”

Member

Crumbs of 120 Billion Forints, that is the estimated wealth accumulated for the viktor is a nice crumb, plus the perks that come with the job and the salaries from various companies, etc.
I am aware of the nature of the stroman system, but we can only humor it from here.

Jean P
Guest

No, the reason for the misery is fatalism. You can’t change anything.

dos929
Guest
This whole sad saga of Lőrincz Mészáros is a telling story not only about the extreme corruption of Orbán and his regime, but about the result of the EU’s incompetency in which they effectively financing nearly 90% of the corrupt practices of the regime, thus giving a lifeline to this otherwise ‘failed state’. It is a tragedy that the vast majority of Hungarian masses that condemned to the government propaganda machine have no idea about the real extent of the corrupt deeds of the regime. Those millions of unsophisticated people do understand numbers only in the vicinity of their salary or pension, and perhaps have some weigh idea about ‘millions’ too, but have no perceptive of the billions of forints or billions of €’s that are being stolen from them. In a country where not only the government holds power on over 90% of the media, but subject to heavy penalties made compulsory of the official government news agency reports to be broadcasted without change or commentary by the remaining few ‘free’ TV stations, the real and any news that is detrimental to the regime will never reach the masses. So, whatever statistics and results of surveys are quoted about… Read more »
Min
Guest

‘Orban and his Fidesz party not only robbed the country, but effectively stole it. When will this hard fact reach the brains of the EU commissioners and its various decision making bodies??’

When will it reach the brains of the Hungarians? For me that is the real question.

Marty
Guest
This is a bit like in Venezuela. Indigenous (and poor, formerly oppressed) voters will do anything and suffer anything but they totally refuse to go back to the era when the white oligarchs ruled. Anything today (even anarchy) is better than life in those days. The problem is that the era prior to Fidesz is very negative for most. Many voters refuse to go back to that era when – in their memories – multinationals, banks always won, utility prices only increased, health care fees were introduced, pensions were cut because it was “economically necessary” etc. Somehow the experts (from the IMF, EU etc.) always told things which were bad for the average people. People hate capitalism and especially hate ‘restrictions’ (cuts to pensions etc.). Unfortunately for the left-wing, Fidesz established itself as a party that (i) protects people from capitalism and (ii) is opposed to restrictions. This may be a perception issue, but in politics only perceptions matter. Voters hate those days so much that they happily overlook Fidesz’ insane corruption. They will not want to risk a third Bokros package (the second being Bajnai’s package). Voter hate corruption but fear capitalism and market forces more. It would be… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Marty
You heavily mix up what the regime is telling the people, while the reality is different. More than 60% are on gov propaganda diet and don’t see/hear any of the facts and figures we discuss here. When I pesent them with such facts they are absolutely incredulous, after living in a fictitious, virtual reality : Hun performs better, Strong and proud country, etc. while the OLAF damning report and claim re the first son in law wasn’t even mentioned in the news.
Repeat a lie one thousand times…..

Observer
Guest

Marty
Power to steal and money for power to steal and… this is Orban’s game (set up by Simicska 20 y ago)
There’s no ideology, no “unorthodox”, etc – everything is propaganda, every “chiseled in granite” thing flips in any direction to suit the above, e.g. relations with Russia, strong/weak HUF, offshore cos, etc. in this respect you are right – we have to fight the propaganda war.
And pls don’t call twits like L.Bogàr intellectuals (I’ve heard him many times).

Marty
Guest
Of course there are many reasons why Fidesz is popular or Trump is more popular (was in late 2016) in places like OH, WI, PA. But the point is that there is rather big constituency (20-30-40% of those casting a vote) that is absolutely fed up with the life under the current state of capitalism and vote for people who offers a change (Orban was a kind of early Trump in 2010 rejecting neoliberal economics and having intellectuals around such as Laszlo Bogar etc.) and not for the other party which basically offers to continue with the same market-based system only less racist etc. Propaganda is key of course for the maintenance of any autocracy and in that sense Trump is in a worse situation obviously. But propaganda is only a means for achieving a strategy. And the strategy says that Fidesz must be positioned as a party that “protects the Hungarian from bad capitalists and foreign interests”, whereas the left/liberal side must come across as “a bunch that gives in to the demands of Brussels, IMF or foreign banks, investors”. This is an image issue but it’s a long term perception issue one that has been brewing for decades… Read more »
Guest

You’re funny!
Fidesz is anti-capitalist?
Really? 🙂

Marty
Guest

Just ask the commercial banks in Hungary what they think about Fidesz? Or the retailers? Or the energy companies? Or the media companies (all of them out except for RTL which already sold the channel to Fidesz pending the elections)? All of these are in a worse situation that under the leftist/liberal coalitions. So yes, Fidesz is the more anti-capitalist.

Guest

Are you crazy?
Fidesz has its own capitalists (Mészáros, the Orbán family and countless others) – they just hate everyone else who makes money and is not a part of the Fidesz racket!

Marty
Guest

wolfi, this is not a rational debate. This is why the left cannot win.

I’m telling you about the **perception** of the parties.

I’m not saying Fidesz is communist. I’m saying Fidesz comes across as a party that is more anti-capilist than the party of Bokros/Bajnai and assorted SZDSZniks who wanted to privatize health care.

In politics only perceptions matter.

Voters assume that there’s corruption in every party, just by pointing to one set of corrupt people you didn’t say anything. (I know of course the Meszaros who is Orban’s alter ego stole orders of magnitude more but for many voters it’s just corruption, MSZP had it too).

Moreover, capitalism in people’s head is a foreign (coming from abroad) concept. Local entrepreneurs may be hated for their lifestyle but people are OK with them, they hate multinationals, banks and the effects of consumerism, closing down of factories. Local matters like Mészáros are outside this discourse for uneducated people.

Ferenc
Guest

And THE marty has to write about (the) people and (the) voters again, like the all mighty marty know it all…
Perception issues; are following TRUE or FALSE:
(i) OV&Co protect people from capitalism
(ii) OV&Co are opposed to restrictions
Imho both are factually 100% false, so I try to explain that to other people (to make up their own mind about it).
Now ‘mighty marty’, what’s YOUR OWN opinion about the two items, andWHAT are you doing with your opinion??

Imho: anything else is better than the ‘comment’ you wrote above!!

Ferenc
Guest

‘M’ you ‘only’ write about OV&Co’s image and in such a way that the purpose of your comments is questionable to say the least.
You DO NOT really debunk, nor give suggestions how others can take off OV&Co’s masks.
Actually most of your writing with generalizations (the people, the voters, etc.) makes one really wonder about your legal experience, you mentioned a few times.

Ferenc
Guest

“I tell everybody that the left must be “populist”.”
… another / the next generalization by the ‘mighty know-it-all’ M… ins Blaue hinein
Don’t understand what I mean?
Example (of M):
the ‘fill-in your-group’ bla bla bla bla bla

Ferenc
Guest

Farkas
I’ll consider your wish.

PS1: best if you apply your 1st sentence on the rest of your comment (please don’t hide behind ‘could’)
PS2: what’s your opinion about (most of) M.’s comments?
PS3 do you consider M. to be without a 2nd agenda?

Farkas
Guest

Ferenc

PS1: As you wish. :-)))
PS2: Sensible.
PS3: Yes.

Farkas
Guest

Ferenc

I wish you would leave Marty alone, and if you wish to contest his positions, do so in a civilised manner, instead of crazy emotional outbursts and ad hominem accusations.

And remember that you too could be accused of all manner of things, like champion wishful thinker, dogmatic left winger, politically blind as a bat, and generally thrashing about emotionally, instead of putting a case for your positions.

There is that old adage that people who live in glass houses, shouldn’t be throwing stones. Worth remembering that.

Marty
Guest

I tell everybody that the left must be “populist”.

The leftists must tell average voters how their lives will be better under a leftist government. Of course since the left as such isn’t credible, even such promises from Gyula Molnar or whoever mean nothing because nobody believes them. They must earn credibility with the masses first.

But pensions must be increased, taxes decreased, salaries for teachers etc. increased.

Voters must feel that the government wants to protect them not the investments of multinationals (that’s important too, but corporations in Hungary don’t vote only relatively poor people).

Look at what Kaczinksi did in Poland – he’s not popular because of his nationalist/autocratic antics but because he increased family support, salaries etc. and voters like that. if you keep cutting pensions (even if it was an economic necessity) people will hate you especially if you are nominally leftist.

People forgive the right for some anti-lefist policies but they don’t forgive the left for the same measures. Voters are unfair – they don’t treat the left and the right the same way.

Guest

Kaczinksi and his gang might be popular because “the Poles” are like “the Hungarian” 50 years (at least) backwards, behind the civilsed West -the Christian propaganda against LGBT etc still works with them.

The latest elections in Austria and Germany e g have shown that everywhere quite a few people/ a certain number are not emancipated and still have those fears of the unknown and things they don’t understand …
Imho a lot of it is not only the baggage of “Communism” but also education’s fault – but I obiously have no experience there.
The easiest solution:
Throw those Eastern europeans/Balkanese out of the EU again!
In a hundred years they might learn …

PS:
The example of my wife who grew up in a small town in the East clearly demonstrates that not evrybody has to become a bunko paraszt in those circumstances – why?

Marty
Guest

OK, this is one opinion, but I’ve been trying to tell a more complex view.

Marty
Guest

Ferenc, did I say Fidesz actually protected people from capitalism? Or that Fidesz was really opposed to restrictive measure? NO. But I do think that Fidesz’ image is those.

I think Fidesz does not protect people from capitalism, I know very well Fidesz increased taxes for low-wage employees etc. But this isn’t about me. I never voted for Fidesz and never will.

But I do maintain that Fidesz is infinitely better at creating an image and better at aggressively destroying its adversaries.

One example: Fidesz very aggressively fought Bajnai and made sure that pensioners know that Bajnai is “killing them” by taking away their rightful 13th month pension (Orban didn’t give that back of course). What has the Hungarian left-wing been telling to pensioners in the last few years about Orban? Nada.

az angol beteg
Guest

You’re absolutely right but of course systemic corruption has been around at least since the time that Moricz wrote Rokonok. What does it matter who steals the billions?

Guest

And now back to reality – how Hungarians react (at least the clever ones):
They just leave the country!
Of course the official statements are different (and funny …):
The number of Hungarians working abroad is about 300,000, with most of them working in Austria. Compared to neighboring countries, this is a low number, Piroska Szalai, advisor at the Ministry of National Economy told daily Magyar Idők.
https://bbj.hu/economy/hungarians-working-abroad-favor-austria-germany_144219
Of course the numbers are stupid lies – here in the village are many houses which stand empty most of the time – the people work in Austria and return just for holidays, but their official residence is Hungary, so they are not included in those stats!

And some background info from my home, the state of Baden-Württemberg:
While in 2012 around 300 doctors and 300 nurses from abroad registered there, in 2017 the number was 1300 doctors and 3000 nurses – of course not all of them Hungarian, but a large percentage …

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘They just leave the country’

Back in ’06 we met a young Magyar man on a street in Wales who was working for a plastic bag factory. He did make a decision to work there and make some money. Leaving his family for awhile was the sacrifice.

Always wondered what transpired with him. Did he eventually go back or did he bring his family out to the UK? I would like to think much worked out for him. The impression I got from speaking with him was that he would be a test case in what to do if and when and if he heard that urging siren call of his country. But if I’m not mistaken many young aspiring families who want more out of life tell their stories ‘walking’ nowadays. Truly their country’s great loss.

Guest

My favourite example here is the daughter of one of my wife’s best friends. She went to Switzerland and her boyfriend followed her and also got a well paying job. Sothey decided to marry and have a child but she continues with her work – no problem in Switzerland. Then they got a bigger apartment so her mother who visited them regularly can stay with them for longer …
Btw they gave their boy a typical “German” name so he would not be bullied when growing up in Switzerland …
Hungary already is a relic of the past for them …

wrfree
Guest

Perhaps for me too. I have a ‘push-pull’ attitude toward the country. Perhaps I have been naive to think they could dust themselves off after experiencing trauma both self-inflicted and beyond their control. But I think… how many times can a pass be given when it comes to ‘responsibilities?’ That habit of playing as somebody’s satrap is a vexing situation. It has to be a neurosis.

Once again same old same old. It’s like the country exists in one of those venus fly traps. And crunch time really hasn’t come ….yet.

It’s sad bunch of leadership that we see today in a ‘modern’ Magyarorszag. And really ‘modernity’ hasn’t been to kind to it just like the turbulent past which some even cannot stop clutching because of its soothing touch of reverie and nostalgia.

Ok .. I’ll need to get off the gallery here. One person’s opinion perhaps only amounts to Rick’s measly ‘hill of beans’ compared to the problems of countries and the world. But in any case it’s felt. Sorry but I can write pages.

exTor
Guest

This is my 1000th post to Hungarian Spectrum.

comment image

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/369960-dem-slams-trump-i-wont-be-lectured-on-military-needs-by-a-five-deferment

MAJOR TRUMP TAKEDOWN !!!

Tammy Duckworth, a double-amputee war veteran and Democrat senator from Illinois, called Donald Trump a draft dodger and referred to him as Cadet Bone Spurs. I would love to see the tweetback from Le Grand Orange.

comment image

Relatedly, I’d like to see George Soros (here with his wife Tamiko, who might seemingly be (namewise) Hungarian, but is actually quarter-Japanese) challenge the newly proposed no-entry restriction that seeks to bar him from Hungary.

Sometime in March, which would be close enough to the April election, Soros should show up at the airport in Budapest. I would like to see the Orbán regime try to keep out a citizen of Hungary.

The political fallout would be major.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Istvan
Guest
Tammy Duckworth is one of my two Senators here in Illinois and she is indeed correct that Trump was a draft evader during the Vietnam war. Senator Duckworth got her legs demolished and lost full function of her her right arm when her Blackhawk helicopter was hit in 2004 in Iraq by a rocket-propelled grenade. She was a Captain at the time in the Illinois National Guard and became an officer via the same route as myself through the Reserved Officer Training Corp. I too like Senator Duckworth was in a helicopter hit by ground fire, but in 1972 in Vietnam, luckily for me I was not hit, but a South Vietnamese Col sitting next to me was and died. Our helicopter went down in the jungle not far from highway 13 that was filled with North Vietnamese wanting to capture us. Fighters from the naval air units located on aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin provided intense attacks that allowed for our extraction and likely saved my life. God bless the US navy, I am for ever in debt to their heroism. This video of a young American Hungarian US Army Officer with a North Dakota accent that… Read more »
exTor
Guest

comment image

Some day I’d like to sit down and talk (in person) about your Vietnam experiences, István. Maybe you’d be up for it the next time you’re in BP.

In the spring of 1967, I hitchhiked down the Left Coast. I ended up in custody in Sacramento and ultimately got booted out of the country. At that time, the thought of ending up in Nam didn’t bother me. I was naive.

Do you have any sense of what percentage of the military actively supports Trump, István? What percentage of the military is appalled by Trump’s draft-dodging history? Likely the two previous figures are similar.

Do you think that the Vietnam vets who support Trump do so because Trump is hypernationalistic, which then negates (or overrides) their dislike of someone who took the easy way out almost a half-century ago?

MAGYARKOZÓ

Member

Just FYI – If any of you gentlemen were thinking about getting a piece of the Mészáros family action á la Tiborcz… Ágnes is off the market. It seems a certain Mr. Homlok, late of Swietelsky Zrt., decided to dump his former wife and take advantage of a busine… ahh… I mean… fell in love unexpectedly.

https://24.hu/belfold/2017/07/25/ferjhez-ment-meszaros-lorinc-lanya/

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘smarter than Zuckerberg, don’t you think?’

Maybe Mr. Meszaros should pay attention to his ‘luck’. Some guys really need to pray it won’t change.

The pix.. two models of bizness. The guy on the right rakes it in and gives to charity. The guy on the left rakes it in but the ‘jaws of life’ couldn’t pry a forint out of him from ‘his’ er ‘Konzum Nyet’. Yep, the ‘kon’ is on and the ‘konzumers’ are getting bilked big time.

And the kids. Don’t know them but ‘silver spoons’ in their mouths could be another problem down the line. ‘Easy come. Easy go. Everybody will see if they go with the flow’.
Magyarorszag: the land of tej, mez and penz. And you don’t even have to ‘work’ for it. Some guys get all the ‘luck’.😎

Observer
Guest

One has to listen to Mèszàros speaking – you’ll get the picture:
– past 45 he suddenly snapped out of small village stupor and roared into markets he had never shown any interest in or didn’t know such existed,
– he sounds totally ignorant re economics, incapable of buying a fridge on credit,
– often has no idea what did he acquire the day before,
– all his “successes” are only with public work contracts ..

Pleeeeease, five me a break, if it looks like a duck, if quacks like a duck …its Orban’s front man.

tappanch
Guest

number of people eligible to vote
with vs without Hungarian address

2014.04.05: 8019566 vs 195338 (2.38%)

2017.08.10: 7960767 vs 291409 (3.53%)
2018.01.21: 7944942 vs 325592 (3.94%)

Serbians were coming up last week, from 12.1% to 12.8%.

tappanch
Guest
Farkas
Guest
@Marty January 22, 2018 1:47 pm Cynical as it might be to admit to this, perception is definitely the only thing that counts with an electorate, and Fidesz is infinitely better at playing the image game and the manipulation of perceptions than its left wing opponents. The far right rump – Jobbik – does not really count in any significant sense in the image and perception stakes; their base is ideological, committed and immovable. As to capitalism, it is just a proven device for the exchange and accretion of financial value; a method, in fact the sole proven method of generating wealth, notwithstanding distortions such as crony capitalism or robber capitalism (mafiosi capitalism). Even state capitalism (socialisms of various kinds) is inevitably a capitalism of sorts. The application of the device of capitalism has created and continues to create hitherto unimaginable prosperity around the world and is rapidly lifting ever more of the Third World out of the misery of dire poverty. In the end, there is absolutely no alternative to market operations, and the key issue is the quality of regulations aimed at preventing its malfunctioning. With the greatest respect, marxists and socialists of various ilk are talking through… Read more »
Marty
Guest
Farkas, thanks for the long reply. I’m not a Marxist by any means I just say that analysts tend to underestimate or completely ignore the importance of economy. Not in the sense of the Clintonian slogan “it’s the economy, stupid” (ie, my salaries increased by 10% and I bought a new car so I will vote for the incumbent). That logic, I concede, has some relevance in the short term, but I think more important, more fundamental is a deeper level issue how one party comes across re the economic state of the world, which we educated people call capitalism. Average voters don’t even use this term just have a set of feelings about the state of the world and their individual place in it. Anxiety, pressure to perform, old factories closing, moving to Cambodia or Moldova, people get fired, my neighbor is unable to pay his mortgage, only foreign goods are available in a shopping mall, the boss speaks German or French etc. etc. To the losers of capitalism all these add up to a feeling that liberal and leftist politics unfortunately failed to address but right-wing politics naturally did – like Le Pen is most popular in desolate… Read more »
Farkas
Guest

Yes. I think that what you advocate is mostly sensible common sense. What it boils down to is that the selling proposition of the Hungarian left should offer sufficient goodies to the “deplorables” of the electorate to cut the political ground out from under Fidesz.

BUT. Mindless populism in pursuit of favourable political perceptions by the deplorables of the electorate can also have some very, very disastrous and unintended consequences. And it would never work anyway, in the absence of ideological substance.

In the Hungarian case, Fidesz has plenty of substance, plus extensive grassroots support networks right across the country, and its populism builds on that, fully integrated with its nationalist, irredentist and scapegoating substance which the deplorables also lap up, quite literally. It makes them proud to be Hungarians, however inane and thoroughly dangerous it might seem to us liberal democrats to have pride in a group identity that is anchored in nationalism, religion, irredentism and scapeoating.

The left on the other hand has no substance whatsoever, and should it opt for populism without any substance to back it up, it would only fall flat on its face.

So that is the point on which our positions differ.

Observer
Guest

There were suggestions re some ideological elements, e.g. inclusive patriotism – reminiscent of later 19cen, progression and development – to reach Austria in chosen areas like education, certain RD, etc.
No takers that I know of.
The dem side has to project more strength, firm convictions, clear positions – almost the opposite of the contrarian or obstinate TGM like figures (he made another “show” last night on atv) with their ifs and buts and on the other hand ..etc who are even counterproductive with the voters.

Ferenc
Guest

OT – robbing instead of healthcare
EU gave more than 40 billion Forint (>133 million Euro) to improve Hungarian healthcare, even that was robbed to piecescomment image
*acc.’experts’ minimum 20% (8 billion Ft – 27 million Euro) landed in pockets of private persons
*former healthcare advisor of OV suspected of coordinating cartel
*one of the biggest ‘winners’ is connected to the wife of a state secretary
(note: Meszaros does not seem involved…)
source: https://tldr.444.hu/2018/01/24/tizmilliardokat-adott-az-eu-hogy-jobb-legyen-a-magyar-egeszsegugy-de-ezt-is-szetloptak
full translation highly recommended