Home > Uncategorized > Two elections in Hungary

Two elections in Hungary

July 2, 2012

One was serious. The other wasn’t, but not without its lessons.

Let’s talk first about the serious one: a by-election in Dunaújváros, formerly an MSZP stronghold. After all, we mustn’t forget that once upon a time it was called Sztálinváros.

There seems to be a curse on politicians in Dunaújváros. Since the 2010 local elections four by-elections had to be held in the city, three because of the death of the incumbent. Fidesz won all of them, though this latest was not exactly a resounding success. Not even Magyar Nemzet dared to call it that. Instead the paper’s headline said: “Huge defeat for MSZP!” Well, we’ll see how enormous the defeat was.

We should start with this latest by-election and compare its results to the outcomes in 2010. Not surprisingly, fewer people bothered to vote than two years ago. Then 36.25% of the eligible voters cast their ballots as opposed to this year when only 20.73% showed up. In 2010 the Fidesz candidate bettered his MSZP rival by more than 10% (42.63% to 31.87%). This time the Fidesz and the MSZP candidates were neck to neck. The winner, Mrs. Zoltán Nagy, received 295 votes (35.33%) against the MSZP candidate András Magyar’s 283 votes (33.89%). The defeat, in brief, was not so overwhelming as Magyar Nemzet tried to make out.

The overwhelming defeat belongs to the LMP candidate Ákos Gergely who in 2010 received 109 votes (7.62%) while this year only 14 people voted for him (1.68%). One of the oddities of this particular by-election was Erzsébet Kozma’s decision to run as an independent when two years ago she was Jobbik’s candidate and received almost 18% of the votes (17.87%). As an independent she got only 110 votes (13.17%). However, Jobbik had its own candidate who received 56 votes (6.71%). Thus, followers of the far right still have a fairly strong presence in Dunaújváros.

This was the first time that the Demokratikus Koalíció ran in an election. Their candidate was Zsolt Czuczor, who received 41 votes (4.49%), about the same percentage that DK can garner among eligible voters nationally. In addition, there was another independent candidate, Miklós Szilágyi, who received 4.31% of the votes. I have no idea where he stands politically.

If we add up the votes for the left opposition parties, together they could easily have defeated the Fidesz candidate.  If we add up the right-wing votes (Fidesz, the “independent” and Jobbik), however, we come up with a staggering 52.91%.

One can safely say that voter inertia is substantial and that neither Fidesz nor MSZP can manage to get their voters out. At the by-elections on May 13 only 19.82% of the eligible voters showed up. This time it was about the same (20.73%). At the first by-election of the year (April 22) the Fidesz candidate won by only 26 votes and if LMP had joined forces with MSZP, they could have defeated Fidesz’s Gábor Takács. The same was true about the May 13 by-election. And yesterday, a DK-MSZP coalition could have prevailed.

Journalists naturally brought up the point during the press conference that DK’s Ágnes Vadai gave today. Vadai’s answer was that “the goal of DK is to achieve co-operation, but the chairman of MSZP didn’t ask DK to withdraw. In fact, he announced that ‘we can be victorious alone.’”

We mustn’t forget about Jobbik. At each of the three Dunaújváros by-elections Jobbik did relatively well. Every time I hear that the far right did well in former industrial centers I always have to think of the successes of the Arrow Cross party in 1939 and subsequently in the mining towns and in “Red Csepel,” the industrial center of Budapest. In the April by-elections Jobbik received 16%; in May 7.5%. If we combine yesterday’s results for the independent who two years ago was the Jobbik candidate and the “real” Jobbik candidate the total is nearly 20%.  So if there is co-operation between Fidesz and Jobbik the democratic opposition forces would still be in the minority. At least in Dunaújváros. And today.

The other “election” wasn’t a serious one and wasn’t for real. ATV organized a championship of politicians where, somewhat similar to the EURO soccer championship, eventually a winner is declared. We must keep in mind that ATV is the television station of the democratic opposition and therefore the results are slanted. In the finals one could vote for either Gordon Bajnai or Ferenc Gyurcsány. Not by much, but Gyurcsány won. Why? Because DK managed to activate the party’s supporters. Just as the party calls attention to every appearance of a DK politician on television or radio, it also made sure that all the DK supporters would go and vote for Gyurcsány. The moral of the story is: get out there and scramble. That is what MSZP doesn’t quite know how to do.

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  1. CharlieH
    July 3, 2012 at 3:03 am | #1

    London Calling!

    O/T – but electoral!

    In England we have the ‘Freedom of Information Act’ which requires Governmental, NGO’s and most government bodies to provide specific information when requested. It has resulted in much more information being made available by default.

    Does Hungary have a similar act?

    Why do I ask?

    Now that the Pal Schmitt affair has died down – I believe that Orban will see his mate ‘all right’ – I think as we all do. There will a special ‘deal’ to let him have a grace and favour home – and the details – ALL the details should be publicly known.

    In England just a simple threat of the FOI would ensure the information is placed in the public domain.

    Will the Hungarian people ever know officiously what the Schmitt ‘settlement’ was?

    Regards

    Charlie

  2. Odin’s Lost eye
    July 3, 2012 at 4:45 am | #2

    CharlieH Oh my what a can of worms you have just opened.

    In Hungary there is the Act on the Protection of Personal Data and Public Access to Data of Public Interest extends a right of access to all data of public interest, defined as any information processed by a body performing a governmental function. Complaints and contested applications may be appealed to the Data Protection Commissioner or to the court.

    In 2005 the Parliament adopted the Act on the Freedom of Information by Electronic Means (Act XC of 2005). The Act has three basic parts: 1. electronic disclosure of certain data by public sector bodies, 2. publicity of legislation and 3. Openness of Court decisions

    There is also other odds and ends like Articles 8 and 10 of the European Charter of Human Rights and other fun and games like Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information and Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and the Council of 30 May 2001.

    However bearing in mind the Viktator’s letter on Co-Operation which he issued and is on display in ALL public offices. This effectively says you will co-operate with ME (the Vikatator) so keep your ‘Snouts Out’ as none of what we do concerns you (and by you they mean ALL OF YOU!

  3. July 3, 2012 at 10:11 am | #3

    Now that the Paul Schmitt affair died down….it may be worth looking at how plagiarism is handled in a more “democratic country:”Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta was found to have plagiarized in his doctoral paper, as decided by the National Titles, Diplomas and University Certificates Certification Council. The decision was taken by 13 of the 21 members of the council who attended the meeting late last week.
    The Council proposed that the Education Ministry should withdraw the Prime Minister’s Doctorate title, but the Education Minister said the decision was not valid, as the council didn’t have a quorum of 14 members.
    The 307-page doctoral paper published by Victor Ponta was analyzed by the council and found to have 85 pages copied without an indication of the source.” Quote from Romania Business Insider.

  4. gdfxx
    July 3, 2012 at 10:24 am | #4

    Kovach:”Now that the Paul Schmitt affair died down….it may be worth looking at how plagiarism is handled in a more “democratic country:”Romania..””

    There is a basic difference between the Romanian prime minister and Scmitt. Schmitt was basically placed in his position by Orban, while the Romanian prime minister was elected into his position by a majority of the parliament (and not a 2/3 majority), after the previous prime minister (and his party) lost a non-confidence vote. By the way, this prime minister claims that the commission that established his plagiarism is made of of people that were all on the side of the previous government.

    In any case, who claimed that Romania is a “more democratic” country?

  5. July 3, 2012 at 10:54 am | #5

    Louis Kovach :
    Now that the Paul Schmitt affair died down….it may be worth looking at how plagiarism is handled in a more “democratic country:”Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta was found to have plagiarized in his doctoral paper, as decided by the National Titles, Diplomas and University Certificates Certification Council. The decision was taken by 13 of the 21 members of the council who attended the meeting late last week.
    The Council proposed that the Education Ministry should withdraw the Prime Minister’s Doctorate title, but the Education Minister said the decision was not valid, as the council didn’t have a quorum of 14 members.
    The 307-page doctoral paper published by Victor Ponta was analyzed by the council and found to have 85 pages copied without an indication of the source.” Quote from Romania Business Insider.

    Mr Kovach,
    I assume you posted this on the wrong blog. Your post belongs to the English language Romanian blog. I hope they will be able this disgrace of their country’s image similar ways as the Orban government HAD TO under public pressure.
    Thank goodness Hungary dealt with this properly and at least in this affair they did not follow third rate solutions, but a solution that should be the norm for any developed country. I assume you are not suggesting that Hungary supposed to give back the office to Schmitt because Romania handles a similar affair differently? Are you?

  6. July 3, 2012 at 11:30 am | #6

    The problem with Kovach is the pathological fear to publish his own opinion.

    Let’s cut the kid some slack. I believe he is cheering the the way things worked out in Hungary, how we booted the dumbass Schmitt according to the law unlike the barbarian neighbors. Am I reading you right, Lajos?

  7. petofi
    July 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm | #7

    Louis Kovach :
    Now that the Paul Schmitt affair died down….it may be worth looking at how plagiarism is handled in a more “democratic country:”Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta was found to have plagiarized in his doctoral paper, as decided by the National Titles, Diplomas and University Certificates Certification Council. The decision was taken by 13 of the 21 members of the council who attended the meeting late last week.
    The Council proposed that the Education Ministry should withdraw the Prime Minister’s Doctorate title, but the Education Minister said the decision was not valid, as the council didn’t have a quorum of 14 members.
    The 307-page doctoral paper published by Victor Ponta was analyzed by the council and found to have 85 pages copied without an indication of the source.” Quote from Romania Business Insider.

    @ Lajos Kovacs

    One of the things that distinguishes a dyed-in-the-wool Fidesz mentality is that they seek to compare apples and oranges. I’m no expert on the Ponti affair but I know two things:
    a) His salary was not degree-dependent
    b) He has not lied about the plagiarism.

    Dear LK, the LYING by Schmitt Pal is indicative of his true nature and the real reason that he deserved to be ‘defrocked’. Had he a morsel of integrity, he might have refused the extra pay due to his ‘doctorate’, and, when discovered, he might’ve done a ‘mea culpa’ and all would’ve been forgiven. (Atleast, as far as I was concerned.) But to have brazenly lied about everything; to continue to say that he has not done anything wrong is to deny the role
    of decency and honesty in our lives. For that alone he deserved what he got–to whit, being forever condemned to be the laughingstock of modern-day Hungary.

  8. wolfi
    July 3, 2012 at 2:27 pm | #8

    Louis is really funny – a perfect example of “logical fallacies” of several types.

    You could alternatively call this “Kindergarden Logic”:

    He did the same thing last week – why am I being punished ?

    Another one you find here: http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/

    Stalin, Hitler and Saddam all say that one and one makes two – now should I believe them ?

    Re plagiarism: Several German politicians were found out having plagiarised their PhD works: the defense minister (who resigned …) and some members of parliament – interestingly enough most of them in the reigning conservative coalition.

    It seems that in conservative circles titles like a “Doktor” (Germany does not differentiate between MD, PhD etc) is a must – so if you are too stupid or lazy and have enough money often a ghostwriter is used …

    PS:

    @Louis “kosher salami” was a really good joke – made from kosher pigs, I presume …

    PPS: That Nizkor project is dedicated to Holocaust victims, refuting holocaust denial etc, very interesting stuff! http://www.nizkor.org/

  9. wolfi
    July 3, 2012 at 2:29 pm | #9

    My last comment is “in moderation” – probably because I used S*alin and H*ler als examples …

  10. July 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm | #10

    Can we ignore Lk just for a few days? He’s just the latest in a long line of Fidesz trolls. Feed him and he’ll just get worse, ignore him and he’ll go away, just like all the others did.

    “So if there is co-operation between Fidesz and Jobbik the democratic opposition forces would still be in the minority.”

    This is the key line in Éva’s post for me. Even if enough flying pigs vote MSzP so that they actually beat Fidesz in 2014, the opposition will never garner enough support to beat Fidesz AND Jobbik. We will simply see a Fidesz ‘government’ replaced by a Fidesz-Jobbik coalition or some sort of pact, or even a minority administration, mostly supported by Jobbik.

    How that is an improvement on the current situation is utterly beyond me.

  11. July 6, 2012 at 11:55 am | #11

    Mutt: “The problem with Kovach is the pathological fear to publish his own opinion.”
    Well I presumed that it is adequate to present some facts and the readers have sufficient intelligence to form their own opinions. I am sorry, I was mistaken.

  12. July 6, 2012 at 11:57 am | #12

    Louis Kovach :
    Mutt: “The problem with Kovach is the pathological fear to publish his own opinion.”
    Well I presumed that it is adequate to present some facts and the readers have sufficient intelligence to form their own opinions. I am sorry, I was mistaken.

    Don’t sweat it, Lajos. Next time don’t hold back …

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