Mayoral election in Hódmezővásárhely, a Fidesz stronghold

It was more than a year ago that I wrote about János Lázár who was then the leader of the huge Fidesz parliamentary delegation. He performed his job admirably. The most successful “majority whip” could have been envious of him, although admittedly the members of the Fidesz delegation are an easier lot than their British or especially their American counterparts.

So, it is difficult to fathom why Viktor Orbán decided to remove him and make him his chief-of-staff. Was he dissatisfied with the performance of his office under the leadership of Mihály Varga? Or perhaps Varga was needed to attend the negotiations with the IMF? We don’t know. Little is known about the everyday functioning of Viktor Orbán’s inner circle. Only one thing is sure: the most important decisions are made in the Office of the Prime Minister.

In any case, Orbán felt that his office needed Lázár in spite of the fact that this move also involved Lázár’s resignation from his post as mayor of Hódmezővásárhely, a Fidesz stronghold. Just to give you an idea of the strength of Fidesz in the city, out of the fourteen members of the city council ten came from the Fidesz ticket, winning their districts outright. In the council there is only one MSZP member. In the 2010 local elections Lázár himself received 66.69% of the votes while Andrea Kis, the current candidate of MSZP, received only 8.27%. She finished dead last in a four-person race. Even Jobbik did better than MSZP’s candidate. So, the by-election in Hódmezővásárhely is not exactly a risky undertaking from Fidesz’s point of view.

Hódmezővásárhely City Hall

Hódmezővásárhely is no metropolis, but in the past couple of decades the city developed by leaps and bounds–as it turned out, mostly from borrowed money. Under Lázár’s stewardship the city managed to be the most indebted town in the entire country. The city has an outstanding debt of 30 billion forints which, given a population of less than 48,000, is quite a feat. So, whoever is taking over Lázár’s job will not have an easy time of it. Moreover, in the last twenty years the city lost about 20% of its population and economic development slowed considerably.

Lázár resigned  from his post in Hódmezővásárhely on June 2, 2012, and his job was taken over temporarily by István Almási, deputy mayor for the last twelve years and a member of the council for eighteen years. Two months later, on August 3, the local electoral commission announced that four people had declared their intention to run for the post of mayor: István Almási (Fidesz), Andrea Kis (MSZP), Sándor Kovács (Jobbik), and László Nagy (independent). Judging from earlier results, if Andrea Kis manages to get more than 10% of the votes, MSZP can consider it a respectable showing. If she manages to get 20% of the votes the party leaders can celebrate. The election will take place on Sunday, September 2.

What Fidesz is doing in Hódmezővásárhely is what a party normally does at national elections. Almási made sure that he got as many endorsements as he could possibly lay his hands on. According to Magyar Nemzet he got 8,000 endorsements when 760 would have been more than enough. Getting that many endorsements has a psychological effect on the electorate, something that cannot be underestimated.  However, Andrea Kis also claims to have collected a great deal more endorsements than necessary, and MSZP says that support for the party has never been greater in Hódmezővásárhely than now.

In order to have a respectable showing MSZP made Zsolt Molnár, an important MSZP politician in Budapest, Andrea Kis’s campaign manager. The local Fidesz politicians objected: outsiders shouldn’t poke their noses into local politics. Of course, such an argument is ridiculous. Moreover, when Molnár in an interview said something critical about the Fidesz leadership in Hódmezővásárhely, the town’s “notary” threatened Molnár with a civil suit. A notary is actually a kind of town manager responsible for the smooth running of the local administration.

Soon enough local Fidesz politicians complained that “several dozen MSZP activists aggressively [emphasis mine] represented the interests of MSZP and they bother people.” Oh my, in a campaign someone dares to approach people and ask them for their vote! Now that we in Connecticut are nearing primary elections I have been inundated with leaflets, from candidates for the U.S. Senate to candidates for probate judge. This is what a campaign is all about.

Local Fidesz leaders also couldn’t get over the fact that high-level MSZP leaders (they called them “pártkatonák, party soldiers) had the gall to go to Hódmezővásárhely to campaign on behalf of  Andrea Kis. Can anyone imagine a Republican hopeful for the Senate protesting because the president is campaigning on behalf of the Democratic candidate? They have strange ideas in Hódmezővásárhely about what campaigning is all about.

One thing is sure, the socialists are pulling out all the stops. In addition to Molnár, Gábor Simon from the top leadership, Szeged’s socialist mayor László Botka, and Tibor Szanyi, the only MSZP candidate who won in his district, also visited the town. Szanyi, who likes strong language, compared Hódmezővásárhely “to a patient with cancer who needs very serious treatment.” The town is so indebted that every inhabitant of Hódmezővásárhely owes 450,000 forints. If all goes well perhaps by 2037 the city will be able to “come up for air,” he claimed.

The outspoken Szanyi didn’t receive any better reception from the local Fidesz supporters than the others before him. A group of them waited for him on the main square of the town with placards saying “Pesten okoskodj!” which can be loosely translated as “Give your smart advice in Pest!” and “Vásárhely nem kér belőletek!” (Vásárhely doesn’t want you here!).

You may have noticed that there is no LMP candidate in the mayoral race. I wrote a post on July 26 entitled “The future of LMP: An interview with Benedek Jávor” in which I more or less predicted that LMP would not have the resources to come up with a suitable candidate. Jávor tried to cover up the weakness of the party by emphasizing the impossibility of winning against Fidesz in this city. So, I guess, why try?

Yesterday Péter Oláh, another LMP functionary, went even further when he claimed that “given the solid Fidesz majority in the city council even if an opposition candidate could win in Hódmezővásárhely the situation would resemble that of Esztergom. And that wouldn’t be a favorable outcome.” So, why win?

But perhaps the most outrageous announcement of LMP was that the party is not even going to support any of the opposition candidates because they don’t consider any of them fit for the post. Why not? Oláh mentioned only Andrea Kis specifically and in her case the objection was that she is a high school teacher in a public school maintained by the city of Hódmezővásárhely. Therefore, Oláh continued, one cannot expect serious criticism on her part against the city administration. Don’t even try to find logic in that particular accusation since if by some miracle Andrea Kis won she herself would be running the show in city hall. But I guess if one must explain the inexplicable one gets confused.

Another charge leveled against Kis was that in the last two years, although she was a member of the city council, “she just sat there without any criticism.” Considering that out of the fourteen council members ten are from Fidesz and two are from Jobbik, I really wonder how much influence she could possibly have on the running of the affairs of the city. None, naturally.

Gábor Filippov of Magyar Progresszív Intézet found LMP’s decision not to enter the race foolhardy. Even if the party’s candidate wouldn’t have a chance, the race would give the party an opportunity to spread its message in a race that has nationwide interest. By not entering the race LMP strengthens the general impression that it has already given up certain parts of the country and that it has no substantial following outside of Budapest. And the party’s decision not even to support the opposition candidates only fortifies the belief in certain circles that LMP is actually a fifth column of Fidesz.

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38 comments

  1. and that very much sums up Hungarian politics.

    After Lazar puts the city in to record debt, and admittedly playing on the market with the city’s money (and lososing) two things happens. First Orban saves Lazar’s butt by lifting him out of the small city and putting him in a position where he is responsible for the whole country. Two, the city that is composed very much of the likes of Louis Kovach (the blog’s very own Fidesz/Jobbik supporter) will not see anything wrong electing an other member from the same party that brought their city the honor of the largest outstanding debt in the country.

    The other great part of the story is how Fidesz’ busy buddies are upset that politicians from Pest are getting involved in the local politics. Can we hear the same Fidesz members opinion on Orban and Kover’s visits to Romania?

    As far as LMP goes, I am starting to talk out any of my friends who used to vote for them to stop wasting their time with such incompetent politicians.

  2. An :

    Also, Hodmezovasarhely received 1.7 bn Ft from the central government budget for various purposes, “coincidentally” just before the mayoral elections. A startling example of how Fidesz is pumping money to “friendly” cities (and only to friendly cities) and a blatant attempt to influence public opinion with tax payer money before election time.

    http://tenytar.blog.hu/2012/07/19/lex_hodmezovasarhely_1_7_milliard_tamogatas_a_valasztas_elott

    Thank you, An. I missed this. I may also add that a voter in Hódmezővásárhely (or anywhere else for that matter) could rightly say: “If we vote for the opposition, we will be discriminated against.” And this wouldn’t be the figment of his imagination.

  3. Two points came to mind while I read this. One, the old mafia saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer..” Could it be that Orban sees the only possible challenge to him coming from the loose canon, Lazar? By putting him in his office, he has deprived Lazar of his power base and made Lazar’s future completely dependent on himself.

    Two, LMP’s decision not to run a candidate does a great favour to Fidesz (and not for the first
    time aka Shiffer). If they had run and taken a significant number of votes, it would’ve highlighted the weakening of Fidesz countrywide, especially if Fidesz margin was seriously
    eroded.

  4. Petofi1 :

    Two points came to mind while I read this. One, the old mafia saying, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer..” Could it be that Orban sees the only possible challenge to him coming from the loose canon, Lazar? By putting him in his office, he has deprived Lazar of his power base and made Lazar’s future completely dependent on himself.

    Two, LMP’s decision not to run a candidate does a great favour to Fidesz (and not for the first
    time aka Shiffer). If they had run and taken a significant number of votes, it would’ve highlighted the weakening of Fidesz countrywide, especially if Fidesz margin was seriously
    eroded.

    There are many people who think that Orbán looks upon Lázár as a possible rival. Especially after Lázár was rather popular when he gave a couple of lectures in German business circles.

    As for LMP I have no idea what’s going on in that party.

  5. Let’s step back a minute and consider what possible advantages LMP would have in running a candidate. In short, there are none. They have limited resources which are already spread thinly across the country, and no local personnel who could provide a credible candidate. Moreover, even if they had the resources and a candidate with even the slightest of chances, the financial situation of this town is so horrendous, that there is absolutely no upside in owning it politically, which is what any elected mayor would eventually have to do. What they do have is an opportunity to press the Fidesz and other candidates on the critical policy issue of the election, a realistic financial path forward given the debt burden, Doing so would be completely in keeping with the “politics can be different” identity, separating any issues of personality and party ambitions from honest concern about the disaster of local finance.

  6. No disrespect, intended, GW, but what you’re saying effectively translates as “very small party, with no chance at all outside Budapest, and even there unlikely to get many (any?) seats in 2014, unable to affect politics directly, forced (chooses, if you like) to operate as a very minor pressure group”.

    Or, to put it even more bluntly, “LMP has no realistic chance of affecting political decisions, and is effectively no different to dozens of other small pressure groups operating outside politics”.

  7. GW :
    Let’s step back a minute and consider what possible advantages LMP would have in running a candidate. In short, there are none. They have limited resources which are already spread thinly across the country, and no local personnel who could provide a credible candidate. Moreover, even if they had the resources and a candidate with even the slightest of chances, the financial situation of this town is so horrendous, that there is absolutely no upside in owning it politically, which is what any elected mayor would eventually have to do. What they do have is an opportunity to press the Fidesz and other candidates on the critical policy issue of the election, a realistic financial path forward given the debt burden, Doing so would be completely in keeping with the “politics can be different” identity, separating any issues of personality and party ambitions from honest concern about the disaster of local finance.

    Wrong. If LMP was a legitimate party it would jump at an oppurtunity to demonstrate weakness in a Fidesz stronghold. They had nothing to lose since expectations were that
    they would do badly. But if they did well…

    What legitimate party would pass up such an oppurtunity?

  8. Paul, Petofi1, the politics of a first-past-the-post mayoral election are very different from those of a proportional party list election and LMP is absolutely correct in assessing this this way. For useful comparisons, look to the FDP and B90/Greens in Germany, where, as smaller parties, they have been very astute in entering first-past-the post mayoral elections _selectively_, allowing their council work over many years’ time to build up constituencies that recognize their value and only then entering mayoral races when the electoral chances were realistic. (The FDP has generally avoided mayoral elections altogether.) For the Greens, this has led to a series of significant mayoral elections in cities of significant size (e.g. Freiburg, Darmstadt, Tübingen) and eventually bypassing the SPD in size in some major cities (Frankfurt) and even the third-largest Federal land, Baden-Württemberg. This success has also been due to distancing itself from the SPD when policy differences have required it, insisting from the beginning at being seated in the middle in parliaments and even entering, on occasion, into local coalitions with the CDU (e.g. Frankfurt) when that was pragmatically the best option for achieving their policy goals. But this maturing of the Greens into an accepted governing party has been a process of more than 25 years, with many early missteps and intra-party conflicts and LMP is still very far from that maturity. This may well appear unfortunate, given the holes in the present Hungarian party landscape and the tragic and disastrous policy and management performance of the Fidesz government, but my sober assessment is simply that things will get much worse before they can even begin to improve, and all alternatives, both parties and personnel, had best use this time to design real policy alternatives. I have no idea whether LMP will be a successful party in the long term, but I do believe that their only chance at success will require developing a consistant and meaningful profile and that means maturing out of the Schiffer era.

    Petofi1, please consider the possibility that rather than risking even worse performance it is an even better option for a party with poor expectations is to participate as a critical voice during the election and to leave the public wondering what would have happened if they had put a candidate forward.

  9. Sorry to everybody! There will be no election in 2014 in Hungary! The Fidesz will creating some stories to prove that the country has no money or no time for such time wasted programs like the election. The current dictator and his close team acting like the Mafia families. Lazar is a gangster and proved to the Mob he is ready to be the next consigliere of the Fidesz-Mafia. The real-life Mafia consigliere ( Lazar ) is generally the number three person in a crime family, after the boss ( Orban) and underboss ( Kover ). A crime family normally has only one consigliere at a time, but bosses have on occasion appointed more than one. The boss, underboss, and consigliere constitute a three-man ruling panel. The other consigliere is the very sympatetic Rogan. In Hodmezovasarhely the local “orange-Zombies are deserve their debts. After Rapcsak, the City should have learned the lesson. Lazar was acting, as a Banker in the city and failed. He should be charged like Madoff, but as long as he is in the “family” he is untouchable! Actually the Fidesz just testing the current will of the people in a headquarters of the Party. The democracy was over in Hungary, when the “Napoleon” from Felcsut came in power again in 2010. The Hungarians never learn from the history.(sorry for my bad grammar).

  10. This is a rare instance of this blog being a little too far to the right. The building depicted is not Hvhly City Hall but the Hungarian Credit Bank building. The Town Hall is to the left of the photo, the yellow building just out of shot.

  11. London Calling!

    Andrew! – You jester! – Always space for humour on here.

    As far as LMP is concerned I don’t think Hungary is ready yet for a ‘Green’ party. Its tiny power base is mainly in Orban-sceptical Budapest.

    A party DOES lose credibility in no-hoper situations and Hvhly is no-hoper for LMP par excellence

    A poisoned chalice for any party – better let Fidesz see the whole sorry mess fester on their watch – and reap the electoral ‘dividend’ – negative of course in any normal electoral base.

    Hungary Green? – Old buses belching fumes; rubbish dumping on your stretch of the beautiful Danube; ineffective filtering of factory effluent; an ever-growing red sludge lake; no evidence of any renewable energy resources; villages of 300 people with 400 dogs and the concomitant dog mess.

    No.

    Regards

    Charlie

  12. I have long said any party whose name contains the word “reform” cannot last long. Why? because “reform” implies you want to change something. If the party reaches power, and effects the changes, then what is left? You can’t keep reforming yourselves in perpetuity, especially if you are the ones who are making policy.

    Similarly, the LMP’s very name reflects its temporary nature. If they reach power (at this stage, this is only conceivable as a minority party in a coalition), then they will lose their raison d’etre: If politics can be different, then why don’t you make them different?

    The LMP’s decision not to enter the Hodmezovasarhely mayoral race may be justified. If they have meager resources and no chance of winning, then they should devote their energy to building a national party network. However, any effort to create a national network is undermined by their absurd and childish behavior.

  13. @GW, your analysis of the German Greens is right on spot – it took them a long time to get established.

    If things happen in Hungary at the same pace (and the probability is high that things even take longer here) a Green party won’t be significant before 2030 …

    BTW, I’m from one of the university cities with a Green Mayor that you mentioned and I remember leaving the town early on Sunday, the day of the elections, (after having given my vote) and in the evening in Hungary I switched on my tv and heard it on the news – I was flabbergasted …

    The Greens were lucky that the elections in Baden-Württemberg were shortly after the Fukushima catastrophe – and that our local Christian Democrats are a bunch of corrupt and lazy idiots. We have a saying:

    The Christian Democrats might have the devil as a candidate – he still would be elected …

    But this time people had enough of a kind of political monopoly that had been going on for more than 50 years! Let’s just hope that the Fidesz reign in Hungary won’t last that long …

    PS:

    I heard/read somewhere in our local newspaper that Orbán earlier this year “invited himself” to Stuttgart, maybe to test-drive some Porsches or Mercedes, but the Green-Red government asked him to answer some questions first on the freedom of the media etc – so the Hungarian government said they’d postpone that visit …

  14. This blog brilliantly chronicles the divisive polarisation of Hungary, and less brilliantly, promotes it dogmatically. But it is worth noting that Hungary is actually going through a period of rare unity, as the nation follows the Hungarian Olympic team who are performing extremely respectable (7 gold medals so far). It might sound a trivial point but it is one of the rare arenas of Hungarian life where MSZP and Fidesz supporters unite, cheering on the nation’s athletes.

    As for the above post, I still find Eva’s inability to understand or accept that LMP has a perfectly legitimate reason for despising MSZP or Gyurcsány frustrating. MSZP might not look too bad from Connecticut but one thing that strikes me in Hungary is just how bitter ordinary people still area bout the MSZP. And I’m talking about people in areas that were former MSZP strongholds. Why should LMP support a corrupt and unreformed party other than to conform to this blog’s cherished belief that Hungarian politics can be neatly divided into the good and the bad? And the same goes for Gyurcsány’s party. I’m sure from Connecticut the Öszödi Beszéd seemed reasonable. As a non-Hungarian, I also felt it was a rare breath of fresh air. But I think Eva doesn’t comprehend just how offended most people were by it. I have a friend who is very Western in his thinking, liberal, works in the media (so knows what is really going on), and is also Jewish. And he had never forgiven Gyurcsány for that speech and never will. I’m not sure I agree with him, but that is how ordinary Hungarians tend to think. And so if LMP feel the opposition are unworthy of support, they are doing no more than reflecting the feelings of most Hungarians regarding the opposition parties.

    In my recent visit to Hungary, I noted that virtually everyone hates Fidesz and that no one supports the opposition.

  15. “As for the above post, I still find Eva’s inability to understand or accept that LMP has a perfectly legitimate reason for despising MSZP or Gyurcsány frustrating.”

    Well, they can certainly do it and help Fidesz to win the next elections.

  16. LMP is a suspect party. You have a former leader who went out of his way to stop any collaboration by opposition parties in the past; and a spokesman (Karacsony) who has proven that his word can’t be trusted and that no political agreement can be made with him Some party. There is only one legitimate member, Vago Gabor, and he seems to be getting less attention (and, shamefully, fewer invites from Kalman Olga than the aforementioned Karacsony).

    With regard to Gyurcsany and Borsodi, all I know is what’s been reported. So, he told gypsies that they must work. So? What’s wrong with that. I can’t stomach the anti-Gyurcsany crowd.
    Hungarians defend gypsies ‘at a distance’ but the fact is that a great majority or them present an insoluble problem. Not only in Hungary as Canadians, having accepted some 30,000 of them quickly found out what it was like to deal with them. Result?
    Deportations and slapping visa restrictions on Hungary.

    I personally have employed in the distant past, a couple of gypsies and they worked for me for about a week. I listened to their sad-sack stories and found them work in my building as well as employing them myself. And I discovered the classic truism:
    the better I was to them the more they abused their increasing
    prividges. How does one help people who’s mentality is to seek
    and take advantage of ‘weakness’, which is what courtesy and kindness is perceived as by the run-of-the-mill Roma?

    Now, anyone who objects to the above characterization, as well
    as Gyurcsany’s honest reflection in Borsodi that gypsies must work…is just another emanation of the classic Hungarian self-righteousness. “No, you don’t know what you’re talking about”, and the like. Yes, Hungarians are sooo UNIQUE…and sooo
    PUT UPON. They’re the champion weepers of Central Europe.

    But, they are great sportsmen. What an Olympics?!!

    HAJRA MAGYAROK!!

  17. petofi :
    I listened to their sad-sack stories and found them work in my building as well as employing them myself. And I discovered the classic truism:
    the better I was to them the more they abused their increasing
    prividges. How does one help people who’s mentality is to seek
    and take advantage of ‘weakness’, which is what courtesy and kindness is perceived as by the run-of-the-mill Roma?

    I have heard Belgians say EXACTLY the same thing about Hungarians who have migrated to Brussels. In my view, the behavior you describe is a phenomenon of the have-nots in Europe, not a Gypsy vs. non-Gypsy phenomenon.

  18. GW :
    Petofi1, please consider the possibility that rather than risking even worse performance it is an even better option for a party with poor expectations is to participate as a critical voice during the election and to leave the public wondering what would have happened if they had put a candidate forward.

    Disagree. That is “playing political games”, and LMP’s (Politics Can Be Different) major platform is that they are different from the usual political games. They should either give up on the name and continue with their political games or go out with a full swing and put 100% to it. Who would of thought 15 years ago (even 5 years ago) that and African American has a chance to become the President in the United States?

  19. London Calling!

    Eva: “……and help Fidesz to win the next elections.”

    Here! Here!

    Sometimes you have to work with strange bedfellows to achieve what’s best for the country – that is the political reality.

    Here in England we have had the first coalition government in our history – the Conservatives have had to form a partnership with The Liberal Democrats; something that political reality made necessary. And something that both parties would only countenance previously ‘over my dead body’.

    By all means encourage LMP to remain ‘pure’ and ‘principled’ – but Wolfi’s prognostication of 2030 will be the result (or mine of Fidesz until 2050).

    In response to Eva’s László Sólyom article I wrote:

    “To unite the opposition – the biggest single redeeming factor – does certainly require more than telling them not to be so noisy. A really close alliance is required – which is about as likely as rocking-horse manure.”

    It seems more apposite here.

    Pragmatism and reality are ‘gold’ in the political arena.

    And in the sports arena, well done Hungary. 9th to date in the medal table – yr punching way above yr population and GDP weight. Brilliant!

    Regards

    Charlie

  20. AGK :

    petofi :
    I listened to their sad-sack stories and found them work in my building as well as employing them myself. And I discovered the classic truism:
    the better I was to them the more they abused their increasing
    prividges. How does one help people who’s mentality is to seek
    and take advantage of ‘weakness’, which is what courtesy and kindness is perceived as by the run-of-the-mill Roma?

    I have heard Belgians say EXACTLY the same thing about Hungarians who have migrated to Brussels. In my view, the behavior you describe is a phenomenon of the have-nots in Europe, not a Gypsy vs. non-Gypsy phenomenon.

    I speak from experience, and to comment glancingly at all the criticism Gyunrcsany received.

    I don’t doubt for a second that Hungarians do the same are perceived in that light.

    Back some years ago, we visited Ireland and I knew that many Hungarian youth went there
    to work in the summer. But you can imagine my surprise when I found out that it was not
    the Hungarians that the Irish wanted but the Poles. In fact, a Dublin paper had a four-page
    insert in Polish in the newspaper.

  21. Some1 :

    GW :
    Petofi1, please consider the possibility that rather than risking even worse performance it is an even better option for a party with poor expectations is to participate as a critical voice during the election and to leave the public wondering what would have happened if they had put a candidate forward.

    Disagree. That is “playing political games”, and LMP’s (Politics Can Be Different) major platform is that they are different from the usual political games. They should either give up on the name and continue with their political games or go out with a full swing and put 100% to it. Who would of thought 15 years ago (even 5 years ago) that and African American has a chance to become the President in the United States?

    The election of Obama speaks to the greatness of American society and culture. It is first and last, a great credit to the american electorate. It speaks to the freedom and liberality of the American mindset. Nothing is more reprehensible than to hear the pygmy Hungarian
    politicians like Orban and Kovacs decry the American political system or involvement.

  22. Some1: “Two, the city that is composed very much of the likes of Louis Kovach (the blog’s very own Fidesz/Jobbik supporter) will not see anything wrong electing an other member from the same party that brought their city the honor of the largest outstanding debt in the country.”

    Let’s just see how the US folks will vote this Fall maybe the person who borrowed more than all US Presidents before will squeek through and prove that the Hungarians of Vasarhely are not so crazy keeping the Ex-commies out.

  23. AGK: petofi :
    I listened to their sad-sack stories and found them work in my building as well as employing them myself. And I discovered the classic truism:
    the better I was to them the more they abused their increasing
    prividges. How does one help people who’s mentality is to seek
    and take advantage of ‘weakness’, which is what courtesy and kindness is perceived as by the run-of-the-mill Roma? ”

    “I have heard Belgians say EXACTLY the same thing about Hungarians who have migrated to Brussels. In my view, the behavior you describe is a phenomenon of the have-nots in Europe, not a Gypsy vs. non-Gypsy phenomenon.”

    A little more wailing and they will build a wall for it……Copycats!

  24. @GW: LMP have run in numerous by-elections outside Budapest since the 2010 election. I’m not sure, but I think in all or almost all of them. In none of them did they have a chance to win, they only had the chance to raise their profile and get their message across by being a candidate.

    Their choice in Vásárhely is a departure from their past form. I’m not sure why. But it would be a very strange tactic for a political party not to run candidates in order to be able to get their message across.

    But, in the end, it will probably be a good thing as it may give MSZP more political oxygen.

    I got in a relatively big argument last night with two educated, open-minded, “left-wing” (on the twisted Hungarian spectrum) and yet neither of whom planned to vote. They hated LMP, they hated MSZP. Maybe by the end of the conversation I had convinced them. Maybe not. The sad thing was my argument was something like: “Yes, MSZP will probably be a bad government – they probably won’t make the reforms necessarily. But Fidesz is cartoonishly bad, it’s a caricature of bad government, and if you won’t vote for a bad party over a ridiculously bad party, then you deserve the government you get.”

  25. Very OT: This afternoon I went to the exhibit “Mi A Magyar” at the Mücsarnok, Hősök tér. Part of it was videoed interviews with 12 HUngarians in the arts and letters. My favorite was Heller Ágnes: the life in her face and gestures–so quick and direct and light–she was absolutely the ‘youngest’ one of all. Helpfully, the texts of the interviews had been translated into English, but they had to be returned. Heller spoke of her genetic defiance, a quality her grandmother (the first woman to attend the University of Vienna) and her father bequeathed to her.

  26. Louis Kovach :
    Some1: “Two, the city that is composed very much of the likes of Louis Kovach (the blog’s very own Fidesz/Jobbik supporter) will not see anything wrong electing an other member from the same party that brought their city the honor of the largest outstanding debt in the country.”
    Let’s just see how the US folks will vote this Fall maybe the person who borrowed more than all US Presidents before will squeek through and prove that the Hungarians of Vasarhely are not so crazy keeping the Ex-commies out.

    Louis this blog is not about the USA. I could care less about on this blog, how the Americans will vote. You totally misunderstood what i was saying Or you flatly letting us know that you did not / would not vote for a black man?
    What you saying is that Obama is black he should be kept out as the ex-commies should be kept out n Hungary?
    IS it a new info for you that Orban is an ex-commie? DId you know that Csurka was not only ex-commie but a III/III. Here goes your smartness down the drain again, and here comes your racism out to light…

  27. Kingfisher has it pretty spot on from my experience here in Hungary.

    As for this racist nonsense that petofi trots out (and which he should be deeply ashamed of), I have heard this said about every underclass in the UK over the last 50 years. As each lot of incomers adapts, prospers and moves ‘up’ – or is simply replaced in the public’s mind by a new lot of incoming strangers, so the same stories and opinions are repeated about the new group.

    And even if it were true about the two (what a meaningful sample!) he employed, in fact even if it were true about the majority of Roma, it is a perfectly understandable and inevitable reaction to being under the frog’s popsi and univerally despised – you sink, or you fight back, in whatever way you can. To fail to understand this and treat it as a racial trait is the very core of racism. The person is not a fellow human being, with good points or flaws, they are a member of a ‘race’, and therefore destined to behave in this way.

    Simple, straightforward, disgusting racscim.

  28. Some1 :

    Louis Kovach :
    Some1: “Two, the city that is composed very much of the likes of Louis Kovach (the blog’s very own Fidesz/Jobbik supporter) will not see anything wrong electing an other member from the same party that brought their city the honor of the largest outstanding debt in the country.”
    Let’s just see how the US folks will vote this Fall maybe the person who borrowed more than all US Presidents before will squeek through and prove that the Hungarians of Vasarhely are not so crazy keeping the Ex-commies out.

    Louis this blog is not about the USA. I could care less about on this blog, how the Americans will vote. You totally misunderstood what i was saying Or you flatly letting us know that you did not / would not vote for a black man?
    What you saying is that Obama is black he should be kept out as the ex-commies should be kept out n Hungary?
    IS it a new info for you that Orban is an ex-commie? DId you know that Csurka was not only ex-commie but a III/III. Here goes your smartness down the drain again, and here comes your racism out to light…

    I don’t think “Kovach” is talking about Obama’s skin color here. I think he’s saying that Obama borrowed more than any previous US president, breaking George W. Bush’s record.

    Here’s the difference: Hodmezovasarhely is not the US. The US is the most economically and militarily powerful country in the world. Hodmezovasarhely is the most indebted city in Hungary and does not possess the economic wherewithal to repay its debt on any certain schedule. Lazar is a very rich man who sniggers at the poor (Az ember kaparjon, gyűjtsön, építkezzen kockáról kockára. Aki erre nem képes, akinek nincs semmije az annyit is ér). He owes his entire fortune to Orban, the most corrupt man in the country. And the leaders of Fidesz (Orban, Martonyi, Fonagy, Matolcsy, Varga, Kover, Pinter, Szalai, etc.) were members of either the MSZMP or KISZ. Their actions show that they have not broken with the Kadarite ideals of their youth.

    So, that’s why massive debt in HodMSZMPhely and the US cannot be compared.

  29. Some1: “Louis this blog is not about the USA. I could care less about on this blog, how the Americans will vote. You totally misunderstood what i was saying Or you flatly letting us know that you did not / would not vote for a black man?
    What you saying is that Obama is black he should be kept out as the ex-commies should be kept out n Hungary?”

    You consistently modify my postings into what you would have liked to see for your attack to fit. Or you have limited understanding of the English language. Sorry “Busy buddy”, it is very transparent that you either misread or misattack my postings.

  30. Paul :
    Kingfisher has it pretty spot on from my experience here in Hungary.
    As for this racist nonsense that petofi trots out (and which he should be deeply ashamed of), I have heard this said about every underclass in the UK over the last 50 years. As each lot of incomers adapts, prospers and moves ‘up’ – or is simply replaced in the public’s mind by a new lot of incoming strangers, so the same stories and opinions are repeated about the new group.
    And even if it were true about the two (what a meaningful sample!) he employed, in fact even if it were true about the majority of Roma, it is a perfectly understandable and inevitable reaction to being under the frog’s popsi and univerally despised – you sink, or you fight back, in whatever way you can. To fail to understand this and treat it as a racial trait is the very core of racism. The person is not a fellow human being, with good points or flaws, they are a member of a ‘race’, and therefore destined to behave in this way.
    Simple, straightforward, disgusting racscim.

    There is no doubt that ethnic, religious and ideological groups exhibit similar modes of behavior. You’re ignoring reality if you say the Romanians don’t comport themselves in a different manner than the Hungarians — or even if you say that the people who grow up in Harlem have different patterns of behavior than people who grow up in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

    The problem arises when people think that INDIVIDUALS who belong to these groups must behave in a certain way, simply because they belong to that group. That is racism.

  31. Paul :
    Kingfisher has it pretty spot on from my experience here in Hungary.
    As for this racist nonsense that petofi trots out (and which he should be deeply ashamed of), I have heard this said about every underclass in the UK over the last 50 years. As each lot of incomers adapts, prospers and moves ‘up’ – or is simply replaced in the public’s mind by a new lot of incoming strangers, so the same stories and opinions are repeated about the new group.
    And even if it were true about the two (what a meaningful sample!) he employed, in fact even if it were true about the majority of Roma, it is a perfectly understandable and inevitable reaction to being under the frog’s popsi and univerally despised – you sink, or you fight back, in whatever way you can. To fail to understand this and treat it as a racial trait is the very core of racism. The person is not a fellow human being, with good points or flaws, they are a member of a ‘race’, and therefore destined to behave in this way.
    Simple, straightforward, disgusting racscim.

    @Paul,

    I’m not racist. That’s your characterization–might I say, simplification–of what I’m saying.
    I do generalize, but these generalizations come from assimilating information from various sources. Let me say, contra the racist attack, that I do realize that there are hard-working, accomplished, achieving Roma. But a funny thing: once they move up the latter, their first
    move is to cut all ties with most other Roma.

    Back to Roma generalization about their mindset and work ethic: why is it that Roma
    villages in Serbia, Slovakia, Macedonia et. al are all massive dumps? Would you care to show me a Roma town in Europe that would serve as an exemplar for governments throughout Europe? Isn’t it odd that in all the various countries and governments of Europe, no one has come up with a working policy for Roma?

    How about our British bloggers: any stories of shining Roma communities in Britain?

  32. Kingfisher: “In my recent visit to Hungary, I noted that virtually everyone hates Fidesz and that no one supports the opposition.”

    I am not very convinced of the usefulness of Ferenc Gyurcsany in current politics either but even worse is this apathy. What LMP nurtures, is a criticism of politics as such. Politicians are evil (I only wonder why – with such approach – people can claim to be “disillusioned”. Of what?). MSzP might be unreformed, and Fidesz equally corrupt but then – why is there still enough support for this system that both Fidesz can run the country and MSzP claim to be one of the larger opposition parties? Apparently also some of the “disillusioned people” who feel to just having “retreated” in some way help keep the system running.

  33. Louis Kovach :
    Some1: “Louis this blog is not about the USA. I could care less about on this blog, how the Americans will vote. You totally misunderstood what i was saying Or you flatly letting us know that you did not / would not vote for a black man?
    What you saying is that Obama is black he should be kept out as the ex-commies should be kept out n Hungary?”
    You consistently modify my postings into what you would have liked to see for your attack to fit. Or you have limited understanding of the English language. Sorry “Busy buddy”, it is very transparent that you either misread or misattack my postings.

    No Louis I do not have limited misunderstanding of the English language, so spare your remarks to yourself, who every single time takes the blog in a different direction. It would not be a surprise if you would have a problem with Obama being a pResident because he is black. For that matter I think you probably do have a problem with it, just by looking at your posting records regarding many issues. It is you my little friend, who loves to put a twist on things. You never miss a chance to bring in a far fetched example from an other country to make a point that has little to do with the original posts. DId it hurt your feeling when it backfires? Oh too bad. Sorry big baby.

  34. Oh, I left this of from my reply to Louis. THe whole story about Louis post to me is the half truth (how Fidesz). Following my post about my surprise of how the people will reelect the same party after its questionable history, I also posted something else, and I very much believe Louis’ that as much as you want to deny it, this had to do with your reply.
    ““Two, the city that is composed very much of the likes of Louis Kovach (the blog’s very own Fidesz/Jobbik supporter) will not see anything wrong electing an other member from the same party that brought their city the honor of the largest outstanding debt in the country.”

    ” LMP’s (Politics Can Be Different) major platform is that they are different from the usual political games. They should either give up on the name and continue with their political games or go out with a full swing and put 100% to it. Who would of thought 15 years ago (even 5 years ago) that and African American has a chance to become the President in the United States?en though he tries to dent the story (again, how Fidesz1).”

    Louis answer: “Let’s just see how the US folks will vote this Fall maybe the person who borrowed more than all US Presidents before will squeek through and prove that the Hungarians of Vasarhely are not so crazy keeping the Ex-commies out.”

    Louis, Louis wake up!

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