MSZP’s Karácsony and Molnár in Transylvania. A waste of time

Among the left-of-center opposition parties it is only the Demokratikus Koalíció (DK) that openly opposes extending voting rights to those people in the neighboring countries who acquired citizenship as the result of a registration drive organized by the Orbán government in the last five or six years. The others all join Fidesz in embracing the unity of the Hungarian nation across borders, which carries the right to vote as a given, and they openly disapprove of DK’s anti-voting-rights rhetoric. Critics maintain that Ferenc Gyurcsány and his party are only taking advantage of the general xenophobia whipped up by the Orbán government since the beginning of 2015.

Yet opinion polls going all the way back to 2010 when the question of dual citizenship and voting rights was first discussed confirm that the overwhelming majority of Hungarians living within the Trianon borders are against granting voting rights to members of the Hungarian minorities living outside the borders. A May 2010 Medián poll showed that 71% of the adult population was against granting voting rights and 33% even opposed granting citizenship to Hungarians in the neighboring countries. In July 2012 Medián repeated the poll. It showed that, despite Fidesz and Jobbik support, slightly over 70% of the population disapproved of Fidesz’s brainchild. Five years later, in 2017,  public opinion was still strongly against voting rights as well as against providing dual citizens with pensions, paid leave for new mothers, travel discounts, welfare benefits, and the very generous financial support that goes to political parties, cultural organizations, and churches in the four neighboring countries: Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia.

In 2014 Fidesz’s two-thirds parliamentary majority resulted from the one extra seat the party gained from the dual citizens, 98% of whom voted for Fidesz. By now, thanks to the tenacious citizenship drive conducted by Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, whose only occupation seems to be making sure that the largest possible number of people register to vote, it is predicted that Fidesz may receive three or four extra seats from the votes of dual citizens.

Left-of-center opposition parties, fearing a backlash from abroad, have supported the pro-minority “national policy” of the Orbán government, hoping to extend their own influence in Hungarian-inhabited areas of Ukraine, Romania, and Serbia. In this spirit, Gergely Karácsony and Gyula Molnár visited Transylvania to assure Hungarians there that the current generous level of support for them will not be reduced after a possible change of government. Moreover, the Transylvanian Hungarians have nothing to fear about their right to vote. In fact, MSZP is thinking of making some changes that would offer them further advantages. For example, whereas now they can vote only for party lists, the socialists would establish voting districts with local candidates to vote for. I find this idea fraught with danger. Given the number of registered voters in Transylvania alone, I can’t imagine that the political leaders of the Hungarian minority would be satisfied with two or three electoral districts in Romania. And what about Serbia’s Voivodina autonomous region? I don’t think that these politicians thought through the possible consequences of such a move.

The trip that Gyula Molnár and Gábor Karácsony undertook to extend a hand to the Hungarian voters in Transylvania was a flop. No, it was more than a flop. The two were deeply humiliated by the chairman of RMDSZ (Romániai Magyar Demokrata Szövetség/Uniunea Democrată Maghiară din România), Hunor Kelemen, whom they invited to dinner. After the meeting was over, Kelemen, in an interview with a local internet news site, reported that he had told the opposition politicians that they shouldn’t even bother to campaign in Transylvania. “It is a waste of time.”

Molnár and Karácsony were presumably aware of RMDSZ’s solidly pro-Fidesz stance. The leading Hungarian party in Romania considers Fidesz-KDNP’s “national policy” excellent, something that should be continued. “The Hungarians of Transylvania know full well for whom to vote,” said Kelemen. Magyar Idők called the Karácsony-Molnár trip a “suicide mission to Transylvania.” Naturally, the government paper was only too happy to describe the indignity the opposition politicians suffered in Kolozsvár/Cluj and the total commitment of RMDSZ to the Fidesz cause. Kelemen’s party, in fact, is working to advance Fidesz’s citizenship- and voter-registration drive on money provided by the Hungarian government to Eurotrans, a RMDSZ foundation. Given this backdrop, I have no idea what Karácsony and Molnár wanted to discuss with Hunor Kelemen.

Only Gergely Karácsony and Gyula Molnár are smiling. I wonder why.

Gáspár Miklós Tamás (TGM), a Transylvanian native, expressed his disgust with Kelemen’s behavior. In his opinion, Kelemen behaved boorishly when he made public the contents of a private conversation. He affronted not only the two politicians but also those who are not followers of Fidesz. TGM as well as others consider Kelemen’s antagonistic attitude toward Karácsony and Molnár, who support voting rights for Hungarian nationals living in the neighboring countries, a political mistake because “the majority of the Hungarian public in this question agree with [Ferenc] Gyurcsány, including a not insignificant portion of right-wing voters.” András Jámbor in Mérce also alluded to Kelemen’s bad political instincts because, in his opinion, Kelemen’s statement “only adds fuel to the fire stoked by the Demokratikus Koalíció because it hopes to gain votes from the general antagonism toward Hungarians living across the borders.” Actually, the fire doesn’t need much stoking, as older public opinion polls demonstrate.

I should add that Kelemen in that interview also stated that there are only two parties with which he refuses to have any formal relations: Jobbik and the Demokratikus Koalíció. Jobbik, given its nationalistic ideology, by and large supports Fidesz’s policies as far as the Hungarian minorities are concerned. When last November the government gave 325 million forints for the continuation of the citizenship drive to RMDSZ’s foundation, Gábor Vona favored the decision, saying that “government support of the Hungarian national minorities is important and has been successful.” Jobbik by now is not a far-right party; in fact, it may be closer to the center-right than Fidesz itself. Therefore, Kelemen’s disavowal of Jobbik doesn’t rest on ideological grounds. It is most likely the result of what looks like a life-and-death struggle between Fidesz and Jobbik.

RMDSZ’s animosity toward Ferenc Gyurcsány and the Demokratikus Koalíció, on the other hand, is completely understandable. In 2010 there were only three members of parliament who voted against the law that extended citizenship to by now close to one million people: Ferenc Gyurcsány, Csaba Molnár, and Tibor Szanyi. Three other socialists–József Baracskai, Lajos Oláh, and Iván Vitányi–abstained. Of this group Gyurcsány, Molnár, Oláh, and Vitányi are members of the Demokratikus Koalíció today. So, there is a long history of DK’s opposition to Fidesz’s “national unification across borders” policy.

Critics of the left-of-center opposition parties often complain about their political leaders’ lack of sharply delineated positions. One such issue is nationalism. It is hopeless to try to outdo Fidesz in nationalist rhetoric. Moreover, should they even try? The trouble is that, time and again, left-of-center parties mimic Fidesz, even in word usage. The Fidesz leadership years ago ordered its politicians to use the adjective “Hungarian” in front of “people,” whether that qualifier was necessary or not. In no time, everybody, including the opposition, was throwing “magyar emberek” around. This is a small example but unfortunately typical. Going to Transylvania and offering more money to buy them away from Fidesz is a hopeless, even disgraceful undertaking.

February 5, 2018
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Member

Does the MSZP and other opposition parties have a campaign program and a list of solutions, how to eliminate the problems most people are expecting a Government to perform? Here are a few, just in case they are totally clueless, as they appear to be.

Eliminating corruption,
Restoring the social net and accountability of the Government to the people,
Reinstating the Constitution and discarding the Fidesz Infringement Proclamation (Tákolmány) that is in place,
Financing good education and restoring the educational system,
Financing and improving healthcare,
Insuring retirement in the future,
Restoring the independent judicial system,
Restoring the independence of the office of the public prosecution.
Just to name a few.
None of the opposition parties are declaring any meaningful programs. Instead, they are only fighting for the prime ministerial position, that none of them will have. A mild description for them is that they are INEPT!
Fidesz needs no program, they know how to win the so called “election” by hook or crook and the little viktor will be the prime minister guaranteed.

wrfree
Guest
Re: ‘None of the opposition parties are declaring any meaningful programs’ Surely not. And if those ‘programs’ are there trying to gain ground it’s perhaps akin to biting on rock since little has managed to occur against the current political machine. And if politics is composed of the art of the possible Messrs Molnar and Karacsony arguably aren’t up to speed with that one. Right now hands down Fidesz in the world of ‘ideas’ has been the overwhelming force. They captured the electorate’s imagination once and have controlled it since. If the opposition has any glimmer of a hope to bring about a comprehensive challenge they too must have an ‘idea’ that pulls everything together into a cohesive whole so an electorate can identify with an act. How can it be otherwise? That ‘ideas’ are so important in moving and influencing an electorate to put their candidate in is verified completely in the recent US election. Thing is though as we march on with ‘Trumpocracy’ the ideas propounded through rhetoric in the election could be taking us off the rails. Point to ponder for an opposition that has an unforgiving Everest to climb. And those climbers only have very few… Read more »
Sackhoes Contributor
Guest
The story starts even earlier, in 2003/4, when the leader of the now defunct World Federation of Hungarians (Magyarok Vilagszovetsege) floated the idea of somehow formally recognizing the Hungarian minorities in the Carpathian basin. Citizenship for these Hungarian was universally opposed in, even by Fidesz. (I have personal recollection of discussing this with a senior level Fidesz member, who thought that citizenship was out of the question.) But MVSz leader Paturnany persisted and managed to collect enough signatures to bring it to a plebicite. Once the question was posed, it was not easy to say no, for it was highly insulting to Hungarians living outside Hungary. Yet the socialists went out of their way to campaign against it. This was exactly Paturnaby’s goal: to embarrass the socialist government. At this point the socialists could have said, that they will also vote yes and make the question moot, but they didn’t. They campaigned hard against extending recognition to the Hungarians. Unfortunately for the socialists, they won and the Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin have never forgotten or forgiven them. It is not surprising, therefore, that a delegation of the opposition (that still includes Gyurcsany) is met with derision.
tappanch
Guest

“it is predicted that Fidesz may receive three or four extra seats”

I predict six Fidesz MPs from the Transylvanian and Serbian mail-in ballots.
My argument is that the ratio of these voters will be more than twice as large as four years ago
(say 5.5% of the total eligible voters by the March 24, 2018 deadline)
[2018.02.05: 404570 registered or applied]

In addition, the Fidesz-helping mass mailers will make sure that unlike in 2014,
the ballots will not be disqualified in large numbers.

Fidesz will also create one (or possibly two) “ethnic” MPs.
They require only 1/4 of the party list votes according to electoral law created by Fidesz.

That leaves 85 or 86 seats to contest with the domestic party list ballots.

Member

“They require only 1/4 of the party list votes according to electoral law created by Fidesz.”
When did Fidesz pass this part of the election law? Do you know?

tappanch
Guest

In 2011.

(2011. évi CCIII. törvény)
promulgated on December 20, 2011, effective on the same day when the Constitution ceased to exist: January 1, 2012.
Six years ago.

16. §

Add together the party list votes [this includes the Transylvanian etc. mail-in votes] , the fractional votes from individual district ballots and the ethnic votes.

16. § d)
Divide the sum by (93*FOUR). The result is the “kedvezményes kvóta”, the minimal number to create an “ethnic” MP.

tappanch
Guest

Number of votes needed to get an MP elected in April 2014.

12755: Fidesz MP in an electoral district. (96 MPs)
17619: Leftist MP in an electoral district (10 MPs)
22022: ethnic MP (not filled for lack of votes)

86639: Fidesz MP from the party list (37 MPs)
86875: Leftist MP from the party list (28 MPs)
87874: Jobbik MP from the party list (23 MPs)
102721: LMP MPs (5 MPs)

Member

I think Lajos Bokros might have the best solution to this thorny issue. He wants Hungarians in neighboring countries to keep their citizenship, and even keep their representatives in Parliament, but these representatives will only have advisory roles, not voting rights. Nor can these representatives participate in a government coalition. Something similar I guess to what Washington DC has in the House of Representatives. Dunno, makes sense to me.

Member

It might make sense, but the non-resident citizens will go on the warpath, as will the nationalists in Hungary proper. Rescinding voting rights is a very tricky business.

Member

The simple solution would be that in exchange for the opportunity to vote, the non-resident citizens pay tax. I imagine that would go over in a big way with extra-territorial voters.

wrfree
Guest

Magyarorszag has potential ‘riches’ just waiting to be uncovered. Crime duly will ‘pay’. All they should do is tax the hell out of it. Treasury issues? Solved. And all the ‘forint pinchers’ will be doing some ‘travel’. Tax brackets can kill you. 😎

Jean P
Guest

A privilege granted to a large group of people is permanent. The Hungarian parliament has irrevocably degraded itself by handing over king making power to foreign, tax exempt voters. A new constitution must, convert the present watered-down parliament to a weak second chamber, and create a new superior legislative body elected by tax paying residents of Hungary.

bimbi
Guest

I certainly hope that the new constitution for the Hungarian Republic is being worked on. A lot has to be done prior to getting rid of the the Orban/Fidesz patchwork rag of a document. Get to work!

Member

For the foreseeable future, there is no way to get rid of the constitution without employing extralegal means (i.e. emergency rule by someone whose name is not Viktor Orban.) Since there is no appetite for constitutional change among the voting public, get used to saying “Basic Law.”

Jean P
Guest

“..get used to saying “Basic Law”.”

Never.

tappanch
Guest

Hungary will repay 78.2 million euros to Russia in early May. This is the amount of Paks-2 loan Hungary has received from Russia so far.

By this prepayment, Hungary will save (3.95% – current market) interest.

https://www.vg.hu/vallalatok/elotorleszti-magyarorszag-paksi-hitelt-2-778989/

Observer
Guest

If the loan was never entered into, Hungary would have saved even more.

Observer
Guest

It’s too late, too long after the event.

When the law was originally passed by the Orban government, THEN the opposition should have thrown itself into the campaign across the borders. May have opposed its creation, but once it was legislated, the choices were just two:

* Ignore it and give up on the possibilty of grabbing at least some of those votes before the battle for them even begun, or

* Accept political reality, formulate appropriate policies and fight tooth and nail for every single voter’s heart, mind and ballot from the start.

We now know which choice was made. As usual, the stupid one, as a direct result of which Fidesz managed to scrape together it’s 2/3rds majority four years ago. Now trying to do something about the situation, best part of a decade after the fact, is not just suicidal, it is laughable. It is a voluntary Certificate of Incompetence and Stupidity, issued by the stupid incompetents themselves.

Member
A wise person whose name has been lost to history once described “insanity” as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” By this definition, the entire Hungarian opposition is insane. They need to understand that the standard “campaign for six weeks and do our best” is never, ever going to replace Fidesz. They need to deepen their roots in Budapest, Salgotarjan and Szeged, the only cities whose residents are broadly sympathetic to the opposition. They need to go out to the countryside and establish roots. They need to create the kind of trust that will inspire people to vote against their own short-term interests — that is, to vote their consciences despite the promise of a Fidesz backlash. They need to attack Fidesz and keep hammering away. They need to make themselves not just relevant, but essential to a significant swathe of Hungarian voters. When Fidesz strikes back, they need to be prepared to lead the public to with whatever tools they have available — general strikes, protests, civil disobedience. You can’t do that without rock-solid support from significant parts of the countryside. And it can’t be the usual two-hour warning strike, or “Well, it’s… Read more »
Tyrker
Guest

Of course that’s not a definition of insanity but one of perseverance. In fact, most if not all achievements require a degree of perseverance and some repetition and there’s nothing insane about that. If you happen to be truly interested in the real definition of insanity, here it is:

“A form of mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.”

Not quite as catchy as the one you have quoted, but definitely closer to the truth. (This does not, and is not meant to, refute what you’ve said about the Hungarian opposition, by the way.)

Aida
Guest

Macnaughten defined it very simply as:a person doing an act whilst suffering from a disease of the mind and not appreciating the nature and quality of what he was doing, but if appreciating it not knowing that what he was doing was wrong. That was a definition for the purposes of the criminal law. A high hurdle

Member

Tyrker – What I mean is, if you want to build a house, and the house keeps collapsing, sooner or later you have to ask whether there is something wrong with the blueprint.

I’d like to think that the opposition can defeat Fidesz by simple electioneering, like they do in most European countries, but I know Fidesz too well.

And not all the tricks in Fidesz’s bag are dirty. When Orban was at last summer’s swimming championships, he took time to greet the people in the crowd and even posed for photos with them. Some ex-SZDSZ friends of mind were horrified… Who does he think he is? What a demagogue!!!

I don’t call that demagoguery. I call it politics.

wrfree
Guest

Thought of the day:

‘We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds. Our planet is the mental institution of the universe’. Goethe

Guest

We’ve all surely heard the slogan “No Taxation Without Representation” but for these people outside Hungary it should be “No Representation Without Taxation “!
It’s kind of grotesque to let Ukrainians, Romanians, Serbians etc vote twice – once in the country where they reside and then in Hungary too.
PS:
I’ve described it already – as someone with two residencies (Germany and Hungary) I also have to decide, for the European Parliament I could vote in Hungary e g (which of course I won’t do, my vote would be kind of lost …).

wrfree
Guest

That ‘taxation’ bit. Amazing how two minds are on the same thing.😎..like esp or something ..;-)….

Member

I think that in the long run the left/liberal opposition has to face up to the challenge of the voters outside Hungary’s borders, even if it doesn’t seem very useful right now. It is easy to assume that all Transylvanian Hungarians – or Romanian Hungarians or Hungarian-speaking Romanians or whatever you call them – are table-thumping Hungarian nationalists bent on permanent Fidesz power, but this isn’t necessarily the case, even if the numbers right now are not too good. Many Transylvanians and Romanians are suspicious of Orbán precisely because they knew at first hand what real, all-encompassing, kleptocratic dictatorship was like.

Member

“Many Transylvanians and Romanians are suspicious of Orbán precisely because they knew at first hand what real, all-encompassing, kleptocratic dictatorship was like.”

What are you basing this on? I myself have not seen any opinion polls measuring the depth of Transylvanians’ support for Orban, but when I talk to them casually, they all seem to think he’s the bee’s knees.

Member

I agree about the fact they think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. This makes sense because he doesn’t steal their money, just gives them money he takes from the Hungarian taxpayer.

funkhauser
Guest

MSZP was naively trying to appease the local Hungarian political clients of Fidesz like Gyula Horn wanted to appease the traditional Christian churches back in the mid-1990’s. It didn’t worked then (in fact it totally backfired) and it never will work in Transsylvania. Guess they had to give it a try though.

tappanch
Guest

The MSzP candidate from Gyöngyös resigned from his party today. Did his party want to give the MP seat to the Jobbik candidate in his district?

https://444.hu/2018/02/06/vannak-dolgok-amik-erkolcsileg-vallalhatatlanok-mondta-az-mszp-gyongyosi-jeloltje-es-kilepett-a-partbol

pantanifan
Guest

Sorry to be pedantic, but isn’t it Gergely Karácsony rather than Gábor Karácsony?