Ferenc Gyurcsány’s resolve against Viktor Orbán and his regime

Yesterday I indicated that I would like to say a few more words about this latest fiasco in the two-year-old witch hunt against political adversaries of the current government. According to the latest count Gyula Budai “investigated” and reported to the authorities 1,320 “crimes.” Out of this enormous number of cases so far forty were deemed good enough to pursue, and as far as I know none of these has come to verdict. Some of the cases that were announced with great fanfare had to be dropped for the same reason as Ferenc Gyurcsány’s: no evidence of wrongdoing.

The most shameful case was the concocted charge against liberal philosophers whose names were dragged around in the mud, creating a worldwide protest in the academic community. For weeks right-wing papers couldn’t talk about anything else but the shameless academics who stole half a billion forints from the Hungarian state. Interestingly enough, when the investigation was halted the prosecutors neglected to announce the fact, even to the accused. And naturally, the same right-wing papers that spoke most loudly against the philosophers failed to report the end of the story.

Ferenc Gyurcsány’s case was incomparably more important and delicate than that of the philosophers. After all, he was prime minister of Hungary for five years. During this whole ordeal there was a lot of talk about the fate of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko who only last year was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for “abuse of  power while in office.”  Her crime was signing a gas contract with Russia which in the eyes of her accusers was disadvantageous to Ukraine. Examining Gyula Budai’s cases, one finds that the Hungarian “investigator” uses the same tactics the Ukrainians did against Tymoshenko. For example, the five people in the King’s City case are also charged with selling state property below the assessed value. I know that Hungarian government officials hate comparisons to Ukraine, but the similarities are too striking to ignore.

The fact that such a politically important case had to be scrapped couldn’t have been a happy event for Péter Polt, the supreme prosecutor,* who most likely received strong encouragement from Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to get Gyurcsány at all cost. According to well informed sources, the Központi Nyomozó Főügyészség (Central Investigative Chief Prosecutor’s Office) found the case so weak that it already suggested dropping the case against Gyurcsány sometime early spring. However, Polt was adamant. Bringing charges against Gyurcsány was of paramount importance, it seems. And now, after many delays, the announcement had to be made that all these efforts were in vain. No wonder that the reporters asked the chief prosecutor, Imre Keresztes, whether this admission of failure wasn’t embarrassing to the prosecution.

The announcement couldn’t have been welcomed by András Schiffer either, who has the dubious distinction of being the man who went to the prosecutors to denounce Ferenc Gyurcsány. The reporters also approached him, wanting to know his reaction to the announcement. If Schiffer had simply said that he doesn’t want to comment on judicial matters and that on the basis of media reports the charges against Gyurcsány were only partly based on his complaint, it would have been fine. But Schiffer went further. He complained that two years after the change of government the public still has little knowledge of the “chaotic affairs” of the earlier administration. The promised “bringing to account” is no more than legerdemain on the part of Fidesz, whose politicians “rattle the handcuffs over the heads of the socialists at intervals” but do no more.

Well, Schiffer and the politicians of Jobbik see eye to eye on this matter. Gábor Staudt,  a Jobbik member of parliament who is in change of legal matters within the party, announced that he and his party received the news with great dismay. The decision to drop the case will have serious negative consequences for Fidesz, whose voters will now see clearly that they can trust only Jobbik as the party that takes penalizing the socialists for their wrongdoings seriously. Specifically, Staudt announced that “bringing Gyurcsány to justice will be our task.” Perhaps András Schiffer, who considers the last twenty years of Hungarian history a total waste that must be completely abandoned, will work together with Jobbik to achieve this desirable goal. In this case, Schiffer can be assured that the socialist/liberal politicians will be sent to jail or even may even hang–after all, Jobbik advocates reintroducing the death penalty–regardless of what they did or did not do.

And finally, Gyurcsány’s own reaction. Two hours after the official announcement that further investigation of his case had been halted, he responded on Facebook. He began: “Polt should resign and afterward apologize. He falsely accused me of a serious crime that he himself didn’t believe. He is unfit for the job and a dishonest man. He is a despicable man…. [But] Polt became scared because he knew that every day of a possible trial would be sheer hell for him. Because I would have been his accuser. Him and his ‘keeper,’ Viktor Orbán and his regime…. But there is someone else here, András Schiffer, who in 2009 as a leader of a small party without parliamentary representation denounced me for a brief period of celebrity. A man who parades in the role of the defender of constitutionality while making false accusations. Miserable man. Shouldn’t you say something, András? Or would you rather pat Gaudi-Nagy** on the back a little longer? Are you compensating? Why and for whose sake?”

Gyurcsány is obviously full of determination, but whether he can repair the damage inflicted on him by Viktor Orbán and his “assistants,” whose job it was to “amortize” him, as Zsolt Semjén admitted sometime after the elections, is hard t0 predict. Eight years of character assassination will be difficult to obliterate, especially as long as there are András Schiffers in the so-called democratic camp who don’t realize that by attacking Gyurcsány they are playing into the hands of Orbán. Can Gyurcsány be a successful accuser of the current regime? Can he have a leading role? At the moment there are few people who would bet any money on his ever achieving the kind of fame he had between 2004 and 2006. But in politics one never knows. People’s memory is short. A politician can rise or fall overnight. Time will tell.

—-

*I rarely use the proper Hungarian title of “supreme prosecutor” when I talk about Péter Polt because it sounds odd in English. It is a Soviet import from the 1950s, but I guess all those chief prosecutors under him don’t want to be demoted to ordinary prosecutors.

**Tamás Gaudi-Nagy is a Jobbik MP and a lawyer who defends many of the dubious characters of the extreme right. He and Schiffer could be seen at times in very friendly conversations.

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38 comments

  1. Why, exactly, is Schiffer’s party considered a Green party. As a member of the US Green Party, I find what little I know of the man completely out of sync with our values and beliefs.

  2. Ms KKA :
    Why, exactly, is Schiffer’s party considered a Green party. As a member of the US Green Party, I find what little I know of the man completely out of sync with our values and beliefs.

    I think it’s only partly considered green party. I’m not even sure if they would classify themselves a green party. Here is a short overview of their views:

    http://english.lehetmas.hu/about-us

    Basically one of their basic principles is sustainability that is “responsibility for an environment worthy of mankind, for the lives of future generations and for global ecological issues”.

    It’s a good question. What makes a party a green party?

  3. @Ms KKA one striking difference I notice living in Hungary is here the green / sustainable interests tend to be associated with nationalism and the right. If you follow stories through I think there is some appeal to the idea of self sufficiency, in Hungary this means to many a divorce from the rest of the world.

  4. Hmmm…I’m not sure what you mean by sustainable interests, and how that dovetails with Schiffer’s agenda. If this is true, they are the only Green party on Earth associated with the right that I am aware of.

  5. @Ms KKA:

    For new parties like the Greens (and they are a newcomer in Hungary!) left and right are a difficult question – consider the example of the new Pirate Party in Germany (formed after the Occupy movement started):

    They are having a continuous in-fighting because there are some right-leaning people who share some, but not all of their ideas. Similar to that, in the founding years of the Greens in Germany (I still remember that time …) there were some very conservative members – some ex-officials even from the governing CDU.

  6. Unfortunately, that has always been the problem with the Left. There have never been any 2 people who can agree on anything – whether they be green, red, or purple – while the Right seems to march single-mindedly along towards their goals.

  7. “Perhaps András Schiff, who considers the last twenty years of Hungarian history a total waste that must be completely abandoned, will work together with Jobbik to achieve this desirable goal. In this case, Schiff can be assured that”

    You’re confusing Schiff with Schiffer here. András Schiff is a pianist who left Hungary eons ago.

  8. Ms KKA :
    Why, exactly, is Schiffer’s party considered a Green party. As a member of the US Green Party, I find what little I know of the man completely out of sync with our values and beliefs.

    LMP is a member of the European Greens Party, which is European federation of all the green parties.

    As I’m sure everyone is aware, right and left mean very different things in Hungary, not just with regard to the LMP

    Fidesz, for example, is more socialist and anti-capitalist than the socialists.

  9. Well, thank you all for confusing me even more! ;-) Actually, you simply made me realize that our Green Party and the LMP are apples and oranges, and that party names, at least in Hungary – “Fidesz, for example, is more socialist and anti-capitalist than the socialists.” – have little to do with the traditional definitions where I come from.

  10. It has long been a tradition in Hungary that an accusation is far far more important than any evidence which supports it.

    In Hungary the accusation is something which shows others believe or want to believe in the accused person’s guilt. If the accuser is ‘High on the Totem pole’ then the accusation is more solid and evidence is less important.

    The fundamental idea that the accused is innocent until having been proved guilty and this has been done beyond all reasonable doubt is made meaningless by the fact that the Accusation was made.

    The fact that the legal proceedings have been dropped is neither here nor there. The accused is still guilty and probably more so because he/she has hidden or destroyed the evidence.

    As by now you have realised that Party titles and declared leanings (left, right, democratic etc.) are just ‘flim-flan’. Fidesz is a party of ‘Central Control’ and have stricter centralised control than the Communists under Rakosi & Co.

  11. LMP is a member of the European Greens Party, which is European federation of all the green parties.

    As I’m sure everyone is aware, right and left mean very different things in Hungary, not just with regard to the LMP

    Fidesz, for example, is more socialist and anti-capitalist than the socialists.

    Very true. As for LMP they claim that they are an “ökopárt” and often show environmental concerns. Otherwise, they are strongly anti-business and especially Schiffer who is the leader of the group without a formal title passionately hates the socialists. Although they are critical of Fidesz they refuse to make a distinction between Fidesz and the socialist-liberal parties. In their eyes everything that has happened in the last twenty years is the fault of the whole political elite. A convenient position considering that LMP is a brand new party that had no part of whatever was going on in Hungary since 1990.

    They refuse to cooperate with any of the opposition parties and Schiffer keeps repeating that LMP alone will win the next elections. Right now their share is 4% (Ipsos).

    Schiffer is also responsible for László Sólyom’s presidency. Another questionable point in his career.

  12. It seems that “szabad” Hungary is more hazardous to the Hungarians than the “atkos” Hungary.

    Confusing?

  13. Odin’s Lost Eye :
    It has long been a tradition in Hungary that an accusation is far far more important than any evidence which supports it.
    In Hungary the accusation is something which shows others believe or want to believe in the accused person’s guilt. If the accuser is ‘High on the Totem pole’ then the accusation is more solid and evidence is less important.
    The fundamental idea that the accused is innocent until having been proved guilty and this has been done beyond all reasonable doubt is made meaningless by the fact that the Accusation was made.
    The fact that the legal proceedings have been dropped is neither here nor there. The accused is still guilty and probably more so because he/she has hidden or destroyed the evidence.
    As by now you have realised that Party titles and declared leanings (left, right, democratic etc.) are just ‘flim-flan’. Fidesz is a party of ‘Central Control’ and have stricter centralised control than the Communists under Rakosi & Co.

    Well said, Odin.
    There is no redemption after an accusation. Notice that the fellow who announced the dropping of charges–can’t remember his name–has emphasized that that doesn’t mean that Gyurcsany is innocent. Could such a statement be made by a legal representative in any other democratic country?

    Also, in Hungary-speak, the accusation without a punishable remedy means to the religious faithful that the person has just
    escaped just punishment.

  14. Petofi How right you are. There is one thing worse that an accusation which is the anonymous/secret denunciation. In this the denounced never get to face their accusers in open court.
    If I were in Gyurcsány’s place I would probably sue the public prosecution for ‘dereliction of duty’ in that the accusation was made by an M.P. and as such should have brought into court with a prohibition against the prosecution offering ‘no evidence’. But if that happened Gyurcsány and his ‘mouthpiece’ would have destroyed the whole of the prosecution’s case which was totally based on fiction.
    By doing what they have done the prosecution has ‘laid the case aside’ ‘sine die’. The Viktatorship can and will dig it out again at any time in the future.

  15. @Odin
    ” Fidesz is a party of ‘Central Control’ and have stricter centralised control than the Communists under Rakosi & Co.”

    You haven’t got the slightest idea about that era.

  16. The good news here is that the politically motivated prosecution failed. The question I have is, does this muddle the independence of the court issue even further? Or did these guys start be think that if GF ended up in jail Hungary would be further compared to the Ukraine?

  17. Odin’s Lost Eye :
    Petofi How right you are. There is one thing worse that an accusation which is the anonymous/secret denunciation. In this the denounced never get to face their accusers in open court.
    If I were in Gyurcsány’s place I would probably sue the public prosecution for ‘dereliction of duty’ in that the accusation was made by an M.P. and as such should have brought into court with a prohibition against the prosecution offering ‘no evidence’. But if that happened Gyurcsány and his ‘mouthpiece’ would have destroyed the whole of the prosecution’s case which was totally based on fiction.
    By doing what they have done the prosecution has ‘laid the case aside’ ‘sine die’. The Viktatorship can and will dig it out again at any time in the future.

    Precisely.
    The intent of all that mumbo jumbo was : “He (Gyurcsany) is not innocent. But he’s been too clever and we haven’t got enough evidence yet. We (Fidesz) are too law-abiding to go ahead without such evidence; but we will no doubt find it in the future.”

  18. Kormos :
    @Odin
    ” Fidesz is a party of ‘Central Control’ and have stricter centralised control than the Communists under Rakosi & Co.”
    You haven’t got the slightest idea about that era.

    These sweeping comments about other posters …

    The centralization in the education is pretty much on the same level as the communist era or worse. The central (ministerial) control on the schools, books and curriculum is striking. The removal of principals on political grounds is widespread. Almost always against the will of the parents, teachers and students.

    In the economy we aren’t yet at the “three five year old plans or five three year old plans – it doesn’t matter” stage as Geza Hofi put it, but it seems we are getting closer every day.

    The centralization of the press is also very obvious, although the freedom of speech still exists.

    The FIDESZ is pushing the country closer and closer every day to the Rakosi and Kadar era Hungary – minus the terror.

  19. Kormos :
    @Odin
    ” Fidesz is a party of ‘Central Control’ and have stricter centralised control than the Communists under Rakosi & Co.”
    You haven’t got the slightest idea about that era.

    Kormos,
    the only element missing from those days is the neighbors informing on one another.
    Everything else is similar and any difference is just a matter of degree. The government
    intent on establishing FEAR and INSTABILITY to further enhance its control is much the same.

  20. Kormos When the basic foundation stones of Fidesz were being laid down the Hungarian government was 100% Communist. This formal model of the government machine is the only one that Fidesz has experienced or even knows about. To this model Fidesz have added the idea of ‘chronic nationalism’ and strict dogma. In some ways it is highly centralised and controls its ‘supporters’ with a rod of iron. This is true especially if the supporters benefit financially. You Must pay your dues!,

  21. What were the levels of homophobia, antisemitism, and anti-Roma behavior (now called ‘chronic nationalism’ and ‘strict dogma’) under Communist rule?

  22. Ms KKA :
    What were the levels of homophobia, antisemitism, and anti-Roma behavior (now called ‘chronic nationalism’ and ‘strict dogma’) under Communist rule?

    Anti-semitism and anti-Roma….a constant in Hungary;

    Homophobia…presumably very much under the carpet in olden days;

    Chronic nationalism…not quite the same. Formerly, it
    didn’t incorporate the religious element which now
    supports it.

    Stupidity and Lunacy…nothing in the past can match
    the ‘achievements’ of Matocsy, Budai, and Kover in this sphere.

  23. petofi: “Anti-semitism and anti-Roma….a constant in Hungary;”

    Neither of these were promoted officially or semi-officially, as they are today. There was no party – like Jobbik today – that made them its main reason for being. This does not mean that they didn’t exist in individuals but expressing them publicly was not allowed.

    Further, due to industrialization a large number of the Roma were employed. After the regime change most industries employing them disappeared, this led to very high unemployment among them.

  24. @gdfxx:

    Not only jobs in industry were lost. I rember vividly (it must have been shortly after 1998 when I bought my holiday home aka “little hut” here near Héviz) the scene when at least 30 workers mowed the grass and the weed with their scythes on both sides of the road to the Balaton, stopping regularly to sharpen them, talking to the other workers and having a drink from their soda bottles (probably filled with “fröcs”).

    Some years later I saw a nice machine (built in Germany of course) doing the same job …

    My wife’s brother in law was a director of a TSZ and he also told me about the many unskilled workers they used – after privatisation there was no more work for them. Maybe even more jobs were lost in agriculture.

  25. PS:

    And even though there are a lot of job opportunities in Héviz – what job would be available for an unskilled Gypsy (who may not even be able to write or calculate) in the tourist trade ?

    Of course there are a few openings for musicians in the restaurants – but even these jobs are getting rarer and rarer and not every Gypsy is also a good musician …

  26. gdfxx :
    petofi: “Anti-semitism and anti-Roma….a constant in Hungary;”
    Neither of these were promoted officially or semi-officially, as they are today. There was no party – like Jobbik today – that made them its main reason for being. This does not mean that they didn’t exist in individuals but expressing them publicly was not allowed.
    Further, due to industrialization a large number of the Roma were employed. After the regime change most industries employing them disappeared, this led to very high unemployment among them.

    Some valid points: I stand corrected.

  27. About Roma unemployment: this is not a unique characteristic of Hungary. During economic turmoil, such as changing from horse drawn carriages to cars, from manual calculators to computers, from small scale, mostly manually performed agriculture to industrial scale farming large groups of people find themselves unemployed. Many of them become never employed underclass, some of them re-qualify themselves for the new jobs. In my opinion the large unemployment in the US (and Europe) can be partially explained with this phenomenon. Factories that used to employ thousands of workers are now run by automated systems, requiring a small percentage of the number of people producing much less. Large farms are run by few people (except some manual-labor intensive farms that require large number of harvesters, for example fruit).

    The poorly qualified are always the ones hit hardest. And they happen to be many of the poor minorities (Roma in Hungary and other countries from the former Eastern Block, African-Americans in the US, African immigrants in Western Europe).

  28. gdfxx: ” Factories that used to employ thousands of workers are now run by automated systems, requiring a small percentage of the number of people producing much less.”

    No, we in the US have high unemployment becuse the educational system (highly unionized) is uncapable to produce useable graduates. There are many job openings wich can not be filled because they require some degree of knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, Hungary is somewhat following the US example. The very good educational system which was a combination of the pre-war and the communist pre 1956 methods, is deteriorating gradually but continuously.

  29. Louis Kovach :
    gdfxx: ” Factories that used to employ thousands of workers are now run by automated systems, requiring a small percentage of the number of people producing much less.”
    No, we in the US have high unemployment becuse the educational system (highly unionized) is uncapable to produce useable graduates. There are many job openings wich can not be filled because they require some degree of knowledge and skills. Unfortunately, Hungary is somewhat following the US example. The very good educational system which was a combination of the pre-war and the communist pre 1956 methods, is deteriorating gradually but continuously.

    This is only partially true. Those who were displaced by automation are unemployed not because of the educational system but because their skill level is not needed anymore. I also don’t buy the argument of many unfilled job openings. There just aren’t many of them. I personally know engineering graduates with “highly desirable” skills who had a very hard time finding jobs. And if the market requires certain skills, the market will create them, regardless of the highly unionized educational system.

  30. GDFxx: gdfxx: “This is only partially true. Those who were displaced by automation are unemployed not because of the educational system but because their skill level is not needed anymore. I also don’t buy the argument of many unfilled job openings. There just aren’t many of them. I personally know engineering graduates with “highly desirable” skills who had a very hard time finding jobs. And if the market requires certain skills, the market will create them, regardless of the highly unionized educational system.”
    In any industry, “automation” does not happen from one day to another, it is a relatively slow process, years rathar than days. Those who do not retrain early, naturally will be eventually unemployed. In town here was the largest buggy whip factory in the world, when automibles came in it met its demise, but such changes in technology are fast only to those who do not see what is going on. Regarding your second item, the free market could solve the education problem , but it is “nationalized”..

  31. I cannot judge whether Ferenc Gyurcsany is guilty or not of some murky business. Perhaps not. But the fact that nothing can be proved unfortunately cannot be taken as a prove of his innocence because it is known that corruption is rampant while too seldom punished. It is a great pity that judges have to concentrate on cases such as the philosophers and we can be very grateful that they withstood the political pressures here. But unless some important cases of corruption will be proved and the correct people prosecuted, it remains at least always likely that there is a grain of truth in such accusations even if the judges and the police cannot “prove” anything. If the judiciary plus police were better functioning, it might not be so easy to accuse people falsely of corruption.

  32. Kirsten :

    I cannot judge whether Ferenc Gyurcsany is guilty or not of some murky business. Perhaps not. But the fact that nothing can be proved unfortunately cannot be taken as a prove of his innocence because it is known that corruption is rampant while too seldom punished..

    Well, in this case that assertion doesn’t hold. Viktor Orbán would have been the happiest man if there were credible evidence against Gyurcsány. Believe me, Gyurcsány is not a corrupt man. On the contrary, he tried to stop the corruption within MSZP but the crooks were stronger than he was

  33. Kovach:”but such changes in technology are fast only to those who do not see what is going on. Regarding your second item, the free market could solve the education problem , but it is “nationalized”..”

    1. i’ve been in the business of automation all my life, I have seen what’s going on. Processes that one year took several people, the next year took one person. Payroll was handled by many before computers, now, in one day of switchover, one computer (or in many cases some computer in India) is handling it. And I could go on forever.

    As far as the educational system in the US is concerned, it is not nationalized. Up to high school levels it is owned and financed by local school boards or cities, based on local taxpayers desires and willingness to pay. Higher education is partially private and partially state owned. A large number of state universities and colleges provide private university-level education.

  34. Qdfxx: “Processes that one year took several people, the next year took one person.”

    Exactly…. one year..not instanteneous.

    I live in the US over 50 years, I am familiar with the educational systems. The current movement toward funding students by vouchers to select any school they like may get to privatization. The extant system is not private. Govt rules, programs and requirements and the shackle of the unions (not having the ability of firing bad teachers) bind the hands of all school boards. Currently some high schools graduate kids who cant write a decent sentence and can barely read.

    I was looking for both chemical and mechanical engineers and there are hardly any folks looking for jobs. Current US immigration policy is also very stupid because it doeas not have higher engineer, scientist quotas.

  35. Louis Kovach :
    Qdfxx: “Processes that one year took several people, the next year took one person.”
    Exactly…. one year..not instanteneous.
    I live in the US over 50 years, I am familiar with the educational systems. The current movement toward funding students by vouchers to select any school they like may get to privatization. The extant system is not private. Govt rules, programs and requirements and the shackle of the unions (not having the ability of firing bad teachers) bind the hands of all school boards. Currently some high schools graduate kids who cant write a decent sentence and can barely read.
    I was looking for both chemical and mechanical engineers and there are hardly any folks looking for jobs. Current US immigration policy is also very stupid because it doeas not have higher engineer, scientist quotas.

    What are you implying? That if it takes one year to switch a plant from manual to automatic, all displaced employees are going to find jobs? Are thinking in milliseconds?

    The educational system in the US has problems. But the curriculum is set by the school boards. And generally, if a high school graduate cannot read, usually that’s the parents’ fault.

    In any case, this debate belongs to a different blog.

  36. Eva S. Balogh :

    Well, in this case that assertion doesn’t hold. Viktor Orbán would have been the happiest man if there were credible evidence against Gyurcsány. Believe me, Gyurcsány is not a corrupt man. On the contrary, he tried to stop the corruption within MSZP but the crooks were stronger than he was

    Sorry, I don’t believe you. I don’t think anyone would seriously dispute that Veres and Puch conspired to rob the country blind. But who appointed Veres? Who foisted Kóka on the SZDSZ? Whose mother-in-law is as crooked as a dog’s hind leg? Who has not given a remotely convincing explanation how he came to be one of the richest men in Hungary? (and that is why Schiffer loathes him, he knew Gyurcsány when he was relatively penniless and has watched as he cleverly used his party contacts to acquire large swathes of public assets on the cheap). He also failed to make an even remotely convincing case against the accusations of plagiarism. And if you read Debreczeni’s book on Gyurcsány, he admits to some fairly alarming things that throws his integrity into question.

    Gyurcsány is certainly intelligent enough to realise that what Puch et al were doing is unsustainable and I can believe that he was not personally involved in a lot of what the MSZP were doing. But my God, he turned a blind eye to it. And that is a kind of moral corruption, to put it mildly. The Öszödi Beszéd is a good speech in that it was refreshing to hear a Hungarian politician talking honestly for a change. But it was Gyurcsány who was party to a totally deceitful election campaign (yes, Orbán’s was even more immoral but two wrongs don’t make a right).

    I do dispute your implication that Gyurcsány’s unpopularity is the result of character assassination. I doubt if the average Hungarian is interested in Szukoró and his role in it. But the average Hungarian knows that Gyurcsány’s two governments were a disaster, it is hard to think of a single positive achievement during his time in office (other than keeping Orbán out.) And the thumping the MSZP received in 2010 (despite the Bajnai/Oszkó government which was actually competent) is entirely deserved and largely Gyúrcsány’s fault.

    Gyurcsány talks a good talk. He can be amusing and is certainly the most intelligent politician in Hungary. But he sowed the seeds of his undoing through his endless ability to make moral compromises.

  37. I would not go as far as Kingfisher. Politicians will not deliver more moral behaviour than what the public demands or what the public can make them deliver. In a society such as the Hungarian (or nearly any of its neighbours, too), the public is weak in that regard. That is unfortunate but it means that nearly all politicians are either involved in or have knowledge of dubious businesses. The police and the judiciary cannot make sure that accusations of fraud or corruption are either proved or cleared up, because of incompetence or unwillingness (inadequate pay) or outright cooperation with the politicians. The only point that you can start from then is that the public (people that have not been involved before with a “clean history” – if you find these) increases its pressure with the help of the press, some politicians (including those that have knowledge of corruption to some extent) but who may have been elected because of their promise to fight corruption and those people in the police and in the judiciary who also work towards a “cleaner system”. The gain from a “revolution from above” has been shown by OV (and also by Ferenc Gyurcsany before) to be rather doubtful. I certainly prefer a “fresh start” with new people but in the absence of that it may suffice that politicians that may not have been involved in a way as the Puchs, Veres’s, Nyerges’s and the like change course. This is as much morals as you can get. The fact that the judiciary cannot be trusted to be capable of establishing (and punishing) or rejecting corruption leads to the shaky moral grounds and the possibility that people can be accused of anything while others can do nearly anything without proper consequences. This uncertainty about who can be trusted, who really did what and the limited usefulness of the police and the judiciary in that regard is most devastating in my opinion.

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