Home > Uncategorized > The siege of the Hungarian Television Station, September 18, 2006

The siege of the Hungarian Television Station, September 18, 2006

December 29, 2012

For those of you who are either not familiar with the fateful events of the fall of 2006 in Hungary or don’t remember all the details I should state again that there were two distinct phases of the riots. The first took place on September 17-18 and the second at the fiftieth anniversary of the outbreak of the 1956 Revolution, an occasion attended by scores of foreign dignitaries.

Every time the topic of these riots comes up Fidesz supporters like to make a sharp distinction between the “peaceful demonstrators” of October 23 and the next few days and the criminal elements who laid siege to the Hungarian Television Station on September 18. However, immediately after that bloody night on Szabadság (Liberty) Square Fidesz politicians insisted that the siege was a spontaneous outburst of justified indignation. At the same time they accused the government of purposely sending the ill-equipped policemen into harm’s way, thereby compromising the opposition that supported them. One thing is sure: the violence that characterized the siege and the characters who took part in it didn’t rock the government. According to a Medián poll taken before the siege, 52% of those asked thought that Gyurcsány should resign. After the siege, only 45%.

First let’s examine how “spontaneous” the gathering was on Kossuth Square on the evening of September 17, right after the release of the incriminating lines from Gyurcsány’s speech. Initially the police noted only 20-30 people, but minute by minute more people came from all directions. To the police it looked as if recruiting were taking place, most likely through cell phones. Eventually there were at least 1,000 people, if not more. Soon enough they even had loudspeakers and managed to put together a podium. Speaker after speaker kept repeating parts of Gyurcsány’s speech. It began to rain and somebody distributed yellow raincoats used at Fidesz gatherings. The demonstration was peaceful at the beginning, but eventually some of the people broke the cordon the police had erected.

This “spontaneous” demonstration was illegal because it had not been registered with the police. The police leadership, especially Péter Gergényi, the police chief of Budapest, misjudged the situation by declaring it part of the campaign season for the municipal elections. During such times spontaneous gatherings indeed are permitted. Gergényi talked to József Petrétei, the minister of justice, and his deputy Ferenc Kondorosi and informed them that there was nothing to do. “Let them let off some steam.” He predicted that the demonstration planned for the following day would also be peaceful. Petrétei happily agreed. According to Debreczeni, the real culprit of this story was the incompetent Petrétei, in civilian life a professor of law at the University of Pécs who, according to his job description, is supposed to “direct” the police. Instead, he was watching the events on television at home.

Some of the crowd didn’t leave the square even during the night. Soon enough someone was serving them food and Gyula Budai, today undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and in the first two years of the Orbán government the commissioner in charge of “political crimes” of MSZP politicians, provided them with portable toilets. He also brought along a tractor with which he led some of the people to Jászai Mari Square in order to lay siege to the building that serves as an office building for members of parliament.

Meanwhile extremist groups came with their flags and slogans: the Honfoglalás 2000, Hatvannégy Vármegye, Magyar Nemzeti Front, and Jobbik. Football hooligans who used to fight among themselves now united in order to attack the television station the next day. Busloads of football fans arrived from Debrecen and Nyíregyháza, the UTE (Újpest) fans came straight from a game in Sopron. They arrived with a police escort! Maria Wittner, the heroine of 1956 and an extremist politician, made a speech and announced that there was a new “revolutionary situation.”  By evening the word came that “Fidesz assures the demonstrators its solidarity.” Naturally, a huge ovation followed the announcement.

I’m not going to go into all the details of the siege of the building the following evening. Instead I suggest you view a video by Ádám Csillag entitled “Under  Siege” (Ostrom alatt).

The police leadership turned out to be singularly untalented and the policemen’s equipment was woefully inadequate. Hundreds of policemen were seriously injured. In 2002 the question of providing the police with proper riot gear came up after a demonstration that blocked Elizabeth Bridge, but the undersecretary in charge of police matters in the Ministry of Interior vetoed it. It was too expensive and unnecessary. Instead they bought 40 Ford Mondeos for patrolling the streets.

Not only the equipment was problematic. The Hungarian police force, especially those who can handle riots, was very small and ill-trained. On that day no more than about 850 policemen were available in the whole country who could be called to the scene. Altogether there were only 2,400 policemen on the streets nationwide, including ordinary traffic cops. In the Netherlands there are 16,000 available at any given moment.

Eventually, they came up with a twenty-five-year-old water cannon whose power was negligible. And when it was a question of getting equipment to fire tear gas, the staff couldn’t accommodate because the equipment was locked up in a room where arms were kept.

Some of those who showed  their "justified indignation" against the lies of Prime Minister Gyurcsány

Some of those who showed their “justified indignation” against the lies of Prime Minister Gyurcsány

It was an incident with this water cannon that make people very suspicious that someone was actually giving orders to the crowd. There were a number of policeman inside the water cannon which the rioters set on fire. Everybody was expecting that either these people will burn alive inside or, if they come out, they will be lynched. But no, when they came out the crowd retreated. Obviously, the organizers were careful not to go too far.

Another episode also indicates some kind of central planning. At one point a number of policemen were cornered; they were practically lying on the ground trying to defend themselves from the stones hurled at them. However, the organizers allowed another unit to rescue them.

In addition to Maria Wittner, Gábor Kubatov, currently the president of Ferencváros and right-hand man of Viktor Orbán, most likely also had a large role to play behind the scenes in the events of September 17 and 18. At least this is what József Debreczeni heard from some people in the Office of National Security.

I should also mention László Sólyom’s rather unfortunate role on September 18. He decided to talk about the “moral crisis” that had developed as a result of the Balatonőszöd speech and practically called for Gyurcsány’s resignation. That added oil to the fire. The attackers felt perfectly justified. After all, even the president thinks that they are on the right side. If Gyurcsány doesn’t resign, they will force him to do so. Standing behind this crowd, be it Viktor Orbán or László Sólyom, showed either very poor judgment or cunning. With Sólyom I suspect it was a lack of knowledge of what was going on exactly and who the actors were. With Orbán, I think one must be less forgiving. He was ready to exploit criminal elements if they served his purpose.

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  1. Proud Hungarian
    December 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm | #1

    Orban and his FIDESZ, or the Jobbik have only one faith, the violence.

    I doubt that plane non-violence would defeat them.

    The fear is great. The parents are afraid, and their sons and daughters, the students will have to demonstrate.

    Lawyers and historians have to convince the millions of Hungarians to abandon their reflexes, to end calling liberal politicians, Jewish bankers, Gipsy workers Anti-Hungarian.

  2. Petofi1
    December 29, 2012 at 10:10 pm | #2

    Proud Hungarian :
    Orban and his FIDESZ, or the Jobbik have only one faith, the violence.
    I doubt that plane non-violence would defeat them.
    The fear is great. The parents are afraid, and their sons and daughters, the students will have to demonstrate.
    Lawyers and historians have to convince the millions of Hungarians to abandon their reflexes, to end calling liberal politicians, Jewish bankers, Gipsy workers Anti-Hungarian.

    And while they’re at it, let Hungarians sprout a sense of justice, and some dignity, and bring to justice Csatary.

  3. Turkmenbasi
    December 30, 2012 at 5:22 am | #3

    The protesters finally conquered the building AND THEN LEFT IT a couple of hours later. Abandoning a conquered castle…how reaistic is this?!

    For me it has revealed that the storm was merely a charade.

  4. CharlieH
    December 30, 2012 at 6:15 am | #4

    London Calling!

    Something very strange occurred with this post! – I meant it to go here rather than under the actual picture in your piece, Eva!

    I know this is a side issue to your main points, Eva but in England the pictures you use in your piece would have been used to identify, with ease, those smashing up the police vehicle.

    Which suggests there would be many more pictures available too.

    If they were used in newspaper reports the police would obtain a ‘production’ order and prosecute them.

    They are clear enough for evidential use – do you think they were used?

    How may ‘hooligans’ were prosecuted during this ‘siege’?

    Otherwise the pictures would be used as ‘trophies’ – look at this! This is me!

    Regards

    Charlie

  5. LwiiH
    December 30, 2012 at 7:00 am | #5

    I believe it was the french that said that asphalt was an affront to democracy in that it covered over the pavers, the only weapon that rioters might have access to. In the absence of a government that is responsive to the will of it’s people, pavers become the voice. My brother-in-law was in the middle of the riots that took place in Blaha Ter. And when I say middle, I mean, he was a photographer standing between the line of rioters and the police. He took a ton of photographs and what I in those pictures were ordinary people, not football hooligans as was often reported. There were people on the front lines of all ages that were outraged that this government had lied to them and they responded with the only means available to them.

    You have to admit that there is a strong air of arrogance in politicians in Hungary. They only go to the people because of these annoying things called elections but after that they can’t be bothered with the wishes of their constituents. The fact that Gy. was able to survive those comments being made public and in light of the rioting that was “inspired” but those tapes is a testament to the arrogance and unaccountability that exists outside of voting time.

    Who ever released those tapes should instead of being prosecuted should be recognized as providing a valuable public service. It exposed how unfit Gy. was to lead. It accidentally brought down MSzP (good for them). One would have hoped that OV would have learned from Gy. mistake but instead he’s proven to be more arrogant and less fit for leadership than Gy. was. If the opposition puts up any semblance of candidate, the electorate will wipe out OV as well. Gy. really missed an opportunity to come clean and expose the corruption for what it is. In fact, that these guys were able to lie leads me to the question, what has changed that would give us confidence that OV isn’t lying about the economy right now?

  6. Kavé
    December 30, 2012 at 7:21 am | #6

    Charlie: It worth re-reading Eva’s post from February 17, 2011 “Another attack on the rule of law: To nullify certain crimes” http://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/another-attack-on-the-rule-of-law-to-nullify-certain-crimes/ which discusses the legal initiative led by FIDESZ MP István Balsai to nullify the legal convictions of those who were arrested by police for rioting during the 2006 anti-government demonstrations and riots.

    The 2006 riots were the evidence that FIDESZ had decided to take politics out of the Parliament and into the streets. Retroactive pardoning of persons who are convicted of using violence against police because of a political conviction is not a common practice in democratic societies ruled by law. Can you imagine a political pardon for all those who participated in the looting and riots that spread over England last summer?

  7. December 30, 2012 at 8:03 am | #7

    Well, I see meanwhile Kavé answered Charlie’s question. Many of the rioters were identified and not convicted and the very few who were ended up “not guilty.” Worse than that: their convictions were nullified. As if they never happened. I guess this was a promise from someone to the participants. It is difficult to interpret it in any other way. At the same time Balsai et al also declared that a policeman’s testimony is not valid unless there is corroboration by someone else who naturally cannot be another policeman.

  8. December 30, 2012 at 8:12 am | #8

    @LwiiH, This is one way of looking at it but I cannot ascribe to this philosophy. I don’t care whether “nice” people committed illegal acts on Blaha Lujza Square or not so nice people on Szabadság tér. There is no way that this kind of behavior is justified. Especially since the crowd’s outrage was not exactly spontaneous.

  9. CharlieH
    December 30, 2012 at 8:17 am | #9

    London Calling!

    Thanks Kave – i have done as you say – and yes I remember reading it first time round.

    “Now Balsai wants to undo these convictions” because the police’ word is untrustworthy.

    Has he succeeded?

    Just as there is photo evidence of the rioter’s thuggery – there would be photo evidence of police thuggery – if it occurred. And the latter should be dealt with with ‘police commission’- and ‘Police complaints commission’- type bodies if they exist in Hungary. If they don’t exist, create them.

    In England there is an intermediate body to oversee the quality of all evidence and police procedures in court cases called the ‘Central Prosecution Service’ (CPS). The CPS is independent of the police and this ensures a certain objectivity in the court process and ensures that prosecutions are taken forward following due legal process – so the police would find if difficult to prosecute gratuitous and malicious prosecutions (we have learnt those lessons at least).

    You mention the looting riots in England – The police have been ruthless in pursuing the rioters involved. Many many promising careers have been wrecked by a few thoughtless actions because the rioters didn’t count on the ubiquitous use of mobile-phone cameras.

    Even now – as you probably know – there are still hundreds of cases being processed by the courts.

    Providing the picture evidence is corroborated with witness testimony – and it is quite forthcoming when other less serious offenders are under potential prosecution themselves – then the police testimony must be trusted.

    That these situations exist; that the state is willing to ‘overlook’ obvious thuggery; that they will even countenance ‘an amnesty’ is truly shocking in a democracy that is part of the EU.

    I believe in the EU – and I am ashamed that it tolerates a country which is willing to play fast and loose with community principles.

    Prosecute them relentlessly I say – as we are (still) doing in England.

    I know some of my compatriots will counter this other with non-sequitur examples – I don’t want to paint England as a perfect idyll – but in this I am certain.

    Regards

    Charlie

  10. CharlieH
    December 30, 2012 at 8:22 am | #10

    And thanks Eva – you answered my ‘has he succeeded’ question as I was typing (slowly!)

  11. Jano
    December 30, 2012 at 10:01 am | #11

    Does anybody think any more that awarding a pledge to the police leadership was any less then outrageous?

    Minor correction: It’s Péter Gergényi, not Görgényi

  12. Jano
    December 30, 2012 at 10:15 am | #12

    What was also left out from the post and is the most telling is that once the building was taken, all these revolutionaries did was scoring some free internet and stealing candies. Didn’t even try to air a statement or anything like that.

    Funny thing, I don’t know how many of you remember but MTV had had an advertising campaign going on at that time with the slogan: “If you were part of a revolution, which TV would you besiege first?”

  13. Some1
    December 30, 2012 at 10:28 am | #13

    I certainly think that many of the protesters were genuinely there to protest against Gyurcsany. Were they mislead or not is beside the point, they were there to voice their opinion. THat original crowd was replaced by football hooligans who came directly from soccer games and such. THe peaceful protesters got out of there when the riot started. It was very unfortunate that the police that were terrified without proper equipment after being attacked with rocks, molotov cocktails and such injured some of the bystanders.
    It is not a coincidence that why the Gyurcsany government only allowed the police to carry live ammunition, some of the Fidesz MPs (likely those who were also kept in the dark) demanded in a later inquire answers as to why the police did not use live ammunition against the football hooligans who endangered the lives of the police and others. The situation was so bad.
    Karoly Konrat, Nyitrai (Fidesz) and many other members of the Fidesz originally sided with the police and demanded answers from Gyurcsany as why the police was ill-equipped?
    Ervin Demeter (Fidesz) is shocked about how illegal this “gathering” was, so it should of been treated like. He is absolutely disturbed why a few days after the riot anyone can say that this was a legal protest.
    I am very curious on what Fidesz thinks should of happened ay the TV, as they feel that the police did not protect it, and they should, but later they say that the police was to aggressive and used excessive force. http://www.parlament.hu/biz38/bizjkv38/HOB/0609191t.pdf page 35, 37, etc.

    Of course after getting briefed, I assume by Orban’s inner circle the telling of the story took a twist, and Fidesz instead of questioning the government and the police about the inadequate equipment and use of force, suddenly took a 180 degree, and started to cry foul. Let’s not wash together the two events the Television riot in September and the other event in October. Fidesz loves to put it together, so it sounds like these all happened at once. THe story now became a story about excessive police violence, police firing into a peaceful crowd (demonstrated by the footage above), those who were bystanders and got injured were “marched around” as the proof for the Gyurcsany’s act against the people.
    I wish that someone would track down some of the peoples from the footage and ask them if they went to vote on the last election. THose people on the footage care less about politics, whet they cared about is doing a riot, just as they do after every FTC-Ujpest soccer game.
    NOw you take total intellectually corrupt people like Orban, Morvai, and the way over her fifteen minutes of fame, Maria Wittner, who’s only contribution to society was some of her involvement in the events of 1956 are still calling and welcoming of ht rioters’s actions. THose rioters who ever since are the representatives of Hungary’s anti-semitic movements, and anti-gypsy sentiments. THere are not to many country in the world where the actions of KKK members would be welcomed in any content. Take Hungary, and you find a proud Fidesz crowd who embraces the rioters. I can only hope, and wish the Orban family that their daughter will marry one of those heroes.

  14. LwiiH
    December 30, 2012 at 10:38 am | #14

    Eva S. Balogh :
    @LwiiH, This is one way of looking at it but I cannot ascribe to this philosophy. I don’t care whether “nice” people committed illegal acts on Blaha Lujza Square or not so nice people on Szabadság tér. There is no way that this kind of behavior is justified. Especially since the crowd’s outrage was not exactly spontaneous.

    It’s not like I don’t believe that there was a possibility of some provocation or direction from a higher authority, I just find that the problem with conspiracies of this magnitude is that it involves too many people and eventually someone is going to talk and expose the whole thing. The other problem is that getting enough information to give centralized direction in a situation as fluid as a riot…

    Was the riot justified in this case? In my opinion no… and while I don’t want to sound like an anarchist, I can understand people’s frustration with an unaccountable and unresponsive system with a demonstration. I can understand why the government would like them to be polite and ask, please sir, can I demonstrate today? Please sir, can I have some more? The question is; how much do people have to take before prying up the pavers seems like the only option? Where is that line? Better yet, who decides where that line is?

  15. brother of petofi1
    December 30, 2012 at 10:53 am | #15

    Your opinions maybe true, but a little background research is still needed.
    The ordinary mildly and wildly anti-communist citizens used 2006 to express their usual biased support for FIDESZ. Here and there, you could find many former red book holding members of the Kadar party among the demonstrators and in the ranks of the newly conservative Christian Ur-Hungarian FIDESZ.

    This seamless transition of the people, from Kadar’s party to Orban’s party is one of saddest chapter of our history.

    Many eminent Kadar era scientists and intellectuals should be rehabilitated to new deserved posts.

    Hungary can not afford to loose the talent of those people.

    The divided nation remained divided in 2006, 2012, just like in 1956.
    In 2006, besides the “peaceful” demonstrators, there was the parallel activity of the extremist mercenaries, continuing their violent demonstrations against the hated Gyurcsany regime.

    The rest was chaos.

    Orban more than Gyurcsany remains in the dock of the court of human justice. Orban is a champion of a criminal destructive politics.

    Unity will arrive when a wide movement can cleanse the society from all myths, and the Deakian justice will be nurtured.

    We are not even in the Kindergarten of this era. Not even born.

    And there are too many young Csatarys still in the bassinets of Szent Rokus, Szent Imre maternity wards.

    Finally, PETOFI1, our partner in the just blogging, is always leaving good remarks here.
    He should be our model commenter.

  16. brother brother
    December 30, 2012 at 11:04 am | #16

    Lw: “You have to admit that there is a strong air of arrogance in politicians in Hungary. They only go to the people because of these annoying things called elections but after that they can’t be bothered with the wishes of their constituents. The fact that Gy. was able to survive those comments being made public and in light of the rioting that was “inspired” but those tapes is a testament to the arrogance and unaccountability that exists outside of voting time.”

    Can you be objective? Gyurcsany was better than Orban. Gyurcsany comments were a real repentance. An attempt to clean up the twisted politics. Orban dresses up himself in the cape of holy Christianity, holy Hungariasm, and destroyed the country, and made millions poor.

    Bad enough to dump him now.

    PS. I would like to hear Gyurcsany style repentance one day from our Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. They operate more like Orban, and less like Gyurcsany.

  17. December 30, 2012 at 11:19 am | #17

    Despite Éva’s posts on this topic and many other pieces I’ve read on it, I still find myself fairly confused about the whole episode. Can anyone recommend a comprehensive, reliable account in English?

    For some reason (probably because we have no TV in Hungary, and in those days no internet access either) I missed the coverage of the events at the time, so my main awareness of all this is the Fidesz propaganda I get from my wife and in-laws. Unfortunately I am unable to counter this as I have such a patchy knowledge of what really happened – and why.

    As for the police, and especially Charlie’s somewhat idealised account of how these things are dealt with in the UK, my personal opinion is that we should treat all police accounts of contested events with a great deal of caution. In the UK we have had far too many situations where it turns out (usually many years afterwards, when it’s too late to do much about it) that the police lied or made up much of what they presented as ‘evidence’, but our courts still always tend to take whatever the police say as true. And, despite all the many scandals over the past 40 years or so, and the many promises of reform, this is still going on.

    The police in the UK may be looked up to by many other countries as an impartial and honest force, but in reality they are a law unto themselves, with no real control over what they do, and very little chance of any complaints by the public succeeding. I could give you chapter and verse on this from published accounts, but I have also had some direct experience of this from my days as a political activist and a football supporter. We are proud of all the rights we have as UK citizens, but, when you find yourself caught up in police ‘crowd control’, you suddenly discover you have no rights at all.

    The police basically do whatever they deem they ‘have’ to do to ‘control’ a situation, whether this is against the law or not. You can of course complain about how you were treated afterwards, and many months, even years after the events, you might, if you persevere and are lucky enough to have evidence or witnesses, even get justice of a sort. But few, if any, police officers are ever found guilty, no matter what evidence there is against them.

    The problem with Hungary’s police, at least until now, has been that there weren’t enough of them and they were appallingly badly equipped, trained and paid. But if they are modernised and become more of a ‘professional’ force under Orbán, Hungarians will need to watch that they don’t go the same way as the UK police.

  18. An
    December 30, 2012 at 11:31 am | #18

    So, Gyurcsany acknowledged in his speech that they were lying to win elections, and people riot because he is unwilling to resign. Orban lies day and night without ever admitting to any of his lies, plus removes democratic checks and balances that makes it impossible to control or influence his power through democratic means, so that the only way to exert any political influence is taking the streets (see unions, student demonstration)… but still no violence. So, people just haven’t reached that tipping point they did when they were rallying against Gyurcsany?

    I tend to think that although there were may people rightly angry about the Gyurcsany speech, the events would not have culminated into what they did without the active help and orchestration by Fidesz, who decided to take politics out to the street (long before there was any reason to do that, see the incident on Erzsebet here after MszP won the elections in 2002). Just as they do not care for democratic rules and norms now, they did not care about them while in opposition either.

    It is actually very easy to exploit and instigate people’s anger for an unscrupulous leader. One reason why Orban does not see similar riots is that such charismatic and unscrupulous leader willing to play on people’s emotions hasn’t emerged on the other side. In the end, though, desperation will get people to the tipping point, and we can only hope that righteous anger will not be exploited again by a political adventurer but will lead to positive changes in the country.

  19. Ppl
    December 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm | #19

    You never ever admit that you are lying. Only losers do. You always stay in character (so that it becomes your very own).

    Orban is lying? Who says that? Because as far as I know, almost half of the population supports him, and they are righteous people who hate liars. Gyurcsany has 4-5% at best.

    Conclusion: Gyurcsany lied as he admitted himself, so he is a liar. Orban? The jury is still out, half the population still says that he is only telling the truth, they rather believe Orban than an admitted liar. Sorry.

  20. An
    December 30, 2012 at 12:22 pm | #20

    @Ppl: Right, so a lie is only a lie if somebody admits it? Did you learn ethics in Fidesz?

    As for Orban’s popularity, according to a recent Tarki survey, Orban was named as the worst prime minister of the last 22 years (yes, Gyurcsany is a close…. second).

    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20121210_Tarki_Orban_22_ev_legrosszabb_miniszterel

  21. Some1
    December 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm | #21

    Ppl :
    You never ever admit that you are lying. Only losers do. You always stay in character (so that it becomes your very own).
    Orban is lying? Who says that? Because as far as I know, almost half of the population supports him, and they are righteous people who hate liars. Gyurcsany has 4-5% at best.
    Conclusion: Gyurcsany lied as he admitted himself, so he is a liar. Orban? The jury is still out, half the population still says that he is only telling the truth, they rather believe Orban than an admitted liar. Sorry.

    OMG you are the mint of Fidesz arrogance and ignorance.
    Orban said himself to foreign diplomats who expressed their concerns of Orban’s promises to the voters that “Do not listen to what I say [in order to win the election].
    Orban recently introduced tuitions which he fought for when the idea was brought up by Gyurcsany. In facts according to many, he won the election based on many of his lies, example that there will be no tuition. Is he introducing tuition now or not? (couple of posts ago there was a link to his whole speech.) So, are you so blindsided or so committed to Fidesz that you yourself lies to as far as you can?

  22. gdfxx
    December 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm | #22

    LwiiH :
    You have to admit that there is a strong air of arrogance in politicians in Hungary. They only go to the people because of these annoying things called elections but after that they can’t be bothered with the wishes of their constituents. The fact that Gy. was able to survive those comments being made public and in light of the rioting that was “inspired” but those tapes is a testament to the arrogance and unaccountability that exists outside of voting time.

    I think this is not typical to Hungary. It applies to politicians all over the world. Maybe elections should be continuous. With the Internet this should be an easy process today. Every time a politician’s numbers fall below 50%, s/he should be fired and the one getting numbers above 50% should replace her/him. This would teach them…

  23. Some1
    December 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm | #23

    Ppl :
    You never ever admit that you are lying. Only losers do. You always stay in character (so that it becomes your very own).

    One more thing. ARe you learning your ethics from Orban? Do not admit that you are lying? Are you kidding me? THis is how you been raised?Either your parents lacked any morals or they must be ashamed of you now. Guess what, I teach my kids not to lie at all. How s that for a new concept?

  24. December 30, 2012 at 1:05 pm | #24

    Ppl :
    Orban is lying? Who says that? Because as far as I know, almost half of the population supports him, and they are righteous people

    Excuse me the following, it’s just experiment.

    You are retarted. IMHO almost all of the readers of this blog agree on this and they are righteous people. Trust me.

  25. spectator
    December 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm | #25

    LwiiH :
    He took a ton of photographs and what I in those pictures were ordinary people, not football hooligans as was often reported. There were people on the front lines of all ages that were outraged that this government had lied to them and they responded with the only means available to them.
    Who ever released those tapes should instead of being prosecuted should be recognized as providing a valuable public service. It exposed how unfit Gy. was to lead. It accidentally brought down MSzP (good for them). One would have hoped that OV would have learned from Gy. mistake but instead he’s proven to be more arrogant and less fit for leadership than Gy. was. If the opposition puts up any semblance of candidate, the electorate will wipe out OV as well. Gy. really missed an opportunity to come clean and expose the corruption for what it is. In fact, that these guys were able to lie leads me to the question, what has changed that would give us confidence that OV isn’t lying about the economy right now?

    This is where you’re wrong.
    The whole thing were indeed orchestrated, organized and executed according to the plan of the interest-group of Orban.

    There was nothing sort of ‘spontaneous outrage’, there were consciously and skillfully manipulated civilians – beside the ‘hard core’ well trained trouble makers – who actually believed that they are right.
    If you interested – what I actually doubt, but hey, one tries – I can provide you with information, how the group-thinking and mass psychosis can be inducted and steered, the field pretty well documented, actually.

    Besides, not much to prove: just look at the present day Fidesz supporters.
    There is no any really reasonable motivation to stay with and support a mediocre soccer player who pursuing only personal glory by any means – and people still howling “Viktor” whenever the opportunity arise!

    I’ve been watching any available broadcast at the time, well after the wee hours, and felt ashamed, because I am Hungarian.
    I couldn’t believed, that the nation I belong to could be so stupid, could be cajoled into that shameful riot with so cheap tricks by so low minds.

    And I still feel the same, only it’s getting greater day by day.

  26. December 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm | #26

    Ok, this did not sound good. The point is this: if a lot of people believe a lie it is still a lie. Like saying the EU wants to make us a colony. This is a lie. You may see 200k people marching under a sign that says so – but it is still a lie. Whoever said that, they know it.

  27. Bowen
    December 30, 2012 at 1:25 pm | #27

    Ppl :
    You never ever admit that you are lying. Only losers do.

    So the difference between Gyurcsany and Orban (who both lie – the latter probably a lot more flagrantly than the other) is that Gyurcsany admitted it. Orban doesn’t admit that he lies – therefore Orban is not a loser.

    That’s what you’re saying, isn’t it?

  28. spectator
    December 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm | #28

    “You never ever admit that you are lying. Only losers do. ”

    What about: “only losers lying”?

    Say: you’re an inadequate PM, but a wannabee dictator, so you have to gain ample support, – otherwise the scam won’t work, – so, what are you gonna do?

    You start to make up fairy tales of the ‘evil forces,’ who will conquer your homeland, and you are the only God given savior, who can save them, and the kind, so, the population have no choice, but scream: “Viktor, Viktor!!” – and at the main time you and the fooled believers going down he drainpipe for good, because that’s how things are.

    Or, you may doing to your best to provide the nation – who put you in the office at the first place, for the very purpose – with the best solution, even in spite of personal ambitions, – if that would be the price, – and you would be a respected leader of your country, whatever the outcome might be. In this case you may fail, but you’d have respect and dignity.

    In my opinion Orban and the orbanists are a failure, a disgrace to Hungary and the Hungarians – it’s clear, that he has no idea, how to govern, what to do, hence he’s lying day and night, whenever he opens his mouth.

    Otherwise he shan’t need to lie, should he?

  29. petofi
    December 30, 2012 at 2:15 pm | #29

    Bowen :

    Ppl :
    You never ever admit that you are lying. Only losers do.

    So the difference between Gyurcsany and Orban (who both lie – the latter probably a lot more flagrantly than the other) is that Gyurcsany admitted it. Orban doesn’t admit that he lies – therefore Orban is not a loser.
    That’s what you’re saying, isn’t it?

    People seem to miss the simple psychology of confession: when one confesses without needing to do so, he subjects himself to the moral prerogative of doing Right. Even though I think that Gyurcsany used the royal ‘We’ to be inclusive, I think he said what he said out of a pure desire to reform the actions of the party. At the time, I remember, that while I knew little of Gyurcsany, I would certainly trust him after what he had said. Shouldn’t that have been the normal reaction to his speech?

  30. Some1
    December 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm | #30

    I think the bottom line is that the speech was only an excuse for Orban and his busy buddies to star the revolt. Orban organizing civilians, and his speeches to fire them up, his spreading of lies started much sooner then the Oszod speech. I mean the jerk was away from parliament, he did not show up. Now when he became the PM suddenly they started to impose sanctions on those who did not show up in parliament in protest of Fidesz antidemocratic doings. THe whole 2006 events provided a cover ip and a distraction for Orban to organize a coup. The coup simply failed. Hiring football hooligans who could care less about politics, you end up with chaos.
    Those who think that in was no organizing taking place, as we would of known about it by now…. Fidesz has a very good record by now, hiring extras to cheer Orban on or to clap when ordered. I am sure that that the idea was not limited for March 15.
    Also do not forget that Fidesz is packed with tags like Ppl or the likes of the the other tag from the previous threads. THeir quality is measured by how far they can go by cheating, distorting the truth, and leading people on.
    Honestly I do not even understand why are we always go back to 2006, because as I said it was only a cover up. THat riot would of happened Oszod or no Oszod.

  31. Dénes
    December 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm | #31

    According to my point of view, it is quite normal that a legitimately elected government tried to defend the public order by using the police forces.
    No other way exists for a civilisation to survive, it is the function of this “violence organisations”, it is price of democracy.
    Kossuth square was preparing to celebration , presidents, kings , prime ministers were expected to come, cca 50 of them to attend the celebration of 1956 revolution and the square smelled from urine and other excremental materials.
    Unfortunately enough, these police forces were quite incompetent and frightened, they were not really equipped with either mental or physical tools. There must have been a lot among them who had fought for their life (eg those ordered to service from police shools, ie kids) Its definitely not their fault.
    Look at other countries, where even casualties happen, of course very sadly (think back to Greece).
    Later conflicts with HU hulligans were handled with rubber bullets as a first choice (in Switzerland).

    No European democracy is prepared for the aggressive destruction of the democracy itself.
    This is one of the main weapons of OV, there are no clear rules in the EU wich would apply to what is happening these days in Hungary. No one was even thinking to a similar case, I am speaking of the period from, 2006 to December, 2012.

    May be JÖrg of Austria to whom only few remember. Now it is one of most successful countries of the world.

    OV does not care any EU rule because only the nation will pay for it as a penalty. I meant the Cohesion Funds. There are not viable tools to regulate him (I am starting to see one, it is related to economic breakdown)

    Its too bad what happened in 2006 and afterwards, when these actions took pace (B-midde football fans were “peacefully” burning up the headquarters of Hungarian Television, including the car of the TV president, Mr Baló thoose times the wife of whom was or at least had been Krisztina Morvay sent by Jobbik to the European Parliament), and when Balsay annulled the criminal violence committed by the rioters. (Later it turned out that there were more policemen injured then rioters).

    As a reward Balsay became the member of Constitutional Court.
    It is dark here, sorry for misspellings.
    Happy New Year to all the authors and commenters, esp Eva who runs this blog.
    PS
    no signature, I am commenting under my own name

  32. CharlieH
    December 30, 2012 at 4:57 pm | #32

    London Calling!

    Compatriot Paul – not idealised at all.

    Just a short defence of what I wrote above – after all this is Hungarian Spectrum.

    As one who lived through – and experienced the Wapping riots I have every reason to have a jaundiced view of the police – but only if you look backwards.

    However they have changed significantly – and I was specifically writing about unequivocal picture evidence as shown in Eva’s piece.

    Your experience of ‘kettling’ (the technique for containing large crowds) has been challenged – and it has been held that in certain circumstances better to frustrate the crowd than risk unbridled violence. It has been examined in many case and found to be a required tool.

    However if you are in one of these situations you will naturally be instantly anti-police.

    They just can’t win.

    I believe the Hungarian police showed extraordinary restraint in Eva’s piece – refusing to use live ammunition under extreme provocation. But am am not too idealistic to believe that they wouldn’t have wanted to get in some retaliation of their own through other means. English police would never be confronted with this dilemma as few carry guns – and only in specific circumstances.

    As one too who has been ‘fitted up’ by the police – and managed to equip myself against a policeman who committed perjury, believe me, I do not have an idealistic view as to what they can do in their worst moments.

    I have also worked with them in many court cases and some ooze integrity, intelligence and innovation. As probably many Hungarian police do too.

    With the new police commissioners – and with the CPS as described above there have been enormous changes in police behaviour.

    So to recap: The police are more professional in England; more ‘overseen’; and more accountable.

    I think you will only have a continuing jaundiced view from your radical student days if you only look backwards – or are a football hooligan.

    And I anticipated a ‘compatriot’ response – but by all means have the last word on this.

    But look forward.

    Regards

    Charlie

  33. Ppl
    December 30, 2012 at 5:50 pm | #33

    I am deeply sorry to have played troll. I will never do it again, I promise. But it was a good experiment. It is very easy to play in the style of Fidesz, so it does not take much experience to do it if someone has the ambition to be a populist politician. You only have to be completely unscrupulous and then you are elevated from the backwaters (Szijarto, Rogan, Lazar etc. and they are just the better known names).

    Unfortunately it works, in a sense. At the end of the day, we are intellectuals, but we are a minority and think that we should never forget this.

    30 % of the Hungarian population has never used internet, and about 25% other uses it rarely. In other words, half of the voters have almost no idea what is going on in the world simply because one can’t get reliable, objective information from Kossuth Radio, MTV1, Magyar Nemzet, RTL, TV2 etc. This half can’t be reached to have a rational debate about issues. And this is just one metric, obviously even internet users often hold crazy views.

    There is no real discourse, the ideal of deliberative democracy does not exist in practice. We can do it here, and I thank for Prof. Eva Balogh, who – in my view – writes better posts here than mainstream journalists who do it for a living and spots the real issues much better than most if not all Hungarian newspapers/sites.

    So arguments like my earlier ones do work because they can’t be refuted or are at least very difficult to refute in practice. A rational person, politician is up against extremely difficult adversaries.

  34. December 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm | #34

    I’m accustomed to following orders of a policeman. If an ordinary traffic cop tells me to get out of the car, I don’t argue with him. I don’t curse at him as Hungarians do with their policemen. If they tried to do that with any policeman here they would find out in short order what would happen to them.

    Only once I felt that I was badly treated by a state trooper. State troopers are in charge of state highways while streets in cities belong to the municipal police forces. I certainly didn’t argue with him but I told him that I will report him to his superiors. He defiantly told me: “Go ahead, here is my number.” I wrote down the number and went home with my $70.00 fine. On closer observation it turned out that I had the choice of not paying it but go to court and argue my case. I decided to do that. I wasn’t going to pay for something I didn’t do.

    Weeks went by and I was waiting for the word about my court appearance. I was preparing my speech in court about being a former refugee from a communist country but even in that communist state no policeman talked to me this way. The opportunity to deliver my speech never came. The court decided not to ask me in. My feeling was that my guy was only too well known to the judges. They knew that they would lose.

    Well, with this long detour, the Hungarian police repeatedly warned people to leave the area that they decided to clear. If “a peaceful bystander” defied the police then he/she shouldn’t have been surprised what came afterwards. But more about that day later. If one gets mixed up with criminals and drunk football hooligans this is what can happen to them. Actually, the police was quite ineffectual. Even on October 23 one could see only retreating policemen, trying to defend themselves.

    One should see what the police does in other countries in such situations. The last time Hungarian football hooligans had an opportunity to learn a thing or two about the Swiss police was when they received rubber bullets because of their disorderly conduct after a football game in Basel. I assume we all remember of what hay Krisztina Morvay made out of police “shooting out the eyes of peaceful bystanders.” Very often she forgot to mention that it was rubber bullets and not real ones and that there was only one case when a policeman shot too high with the rubber bullet. Most likely because he was inexperienced.

  35. December 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm | #35

    To Ppl. We will forgive you especially since you wrote such nice things about Hungarian Spectrum. Smiley follows

  36. December 30, 2012 at 6:11 pm | #36

    Charlie, I’m sorry to disabuse you of your lazy stereotypes, but I have never been ‘kettled’ (although I think it an appalling method of ‘crowd control’ and should be outlawed), nor was I a student or a football hooligan. Nor are my politics particularly radical.

    I am a middle-class, middle-aged, conservative (small ‘c’!) and naturally well disposed to the police. My (at times) negative attitude towards them was fashioned directly by personal experience. I have seen people arrested for just being there, or for breaking minor laws (like collecting money during a miner’s strike march) and then beaten up (for ‘resisting arrest’, of course). I have seen a woman with a baby in her arms being pushed down a long flight of concrete steps by policemen with no numbers (so you can’t identify them), and I have seen a man’s foot broken by a policeman deliberately backing his horse into him (he wasn’t even in the demo, just passing by with his shopping) – and much more. And I have had all the lack-of-rights experience that any football fan who travels to away games will have experienced (and NEVER seen any violence).

    To the police, we are not individuals with rights, we are are just members of crowds that need to be ‘controlled’ – by whatever means are ‘needed’.

    And if you discount my personal experiences, you only have to listen to the news. From the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six, through the Waldorf and de Menezes shootings, and more recently Hillsborough and now ‘Plebgate’ – nothing changes.

    No doubt many of them individually are good guys (I have known several myself and they were OK, apart from the inevitable casual racism). But collectively, the police are a law unto themselves, and woe betide you if you get in their way.

    Getting back OT – one of the things I’ve always liked about Hungary was its amateurish police force (after all, despite what the locals think, its level of crime hardly justifies much more). In Debrecen until a few years ago, you hardly ever saw the police, but now the place is crawling with them (mostly hanging about chatting and smoking, or harassing homeless people). Imagine what that lot will get up to with no real crime to fight and encouragement from their political masters. And, you are right, we do at least theoretically have a chance against the police abusing our rights in the UK, the poor bloody Hungarians won’t stand a chance.

  37. CharlieH
    December 31, 2012 at 8:08 am | #37

    London Calling!

    Eva – your ‘police’ story is quite similar to my own – except the policeman did turn up and perjure himself in court. I was lucky in my own actions too – as you were – I actually asked him if he minded if I took notes – he gave a very surprised ‘No’ – and so I proceeded to notate (and time!) everything he said. In addition I had a very good (theatrical and entertaining!) solicitor.

    Against such a solid defence it was obvious the policeman was lying – even from his body language – and the courts deliberation was less than three minutes – so swift that the policeman got the message – and costs were awarded against the police; in itself quite a rare occurrence here.

    The case took a whole year (to the day) to come to court – and it overshadowed my life completely during this period – so I can empathise with your experience – and know what you probably went through.

    When it was over I was so stunned I just sat in the court room (dock!) – “You are free to go, Sir, you have been found not guilty”

    When I got home and opened the front door I saw down the hall my cat was being sick on the kitchen floor – and I said to her – “Yes Mitzi – we all hate a bent copper!”

    From that day onwards, whenever the cat was sick – I used to say she had “Scrivenered again!”. ‘PC Scrivener’ was the bent copper who perjured himself.

    He is still serving in the British Police force – as the Police Complaints Commission can only weigh my word against his. To quote them “He is bomb-proof – we can only get rid of him if he admits to lying.”

    However his superior was aware of his qualities and advised me that he would be watched carefully as they had a pretty good idea of what had occurred.

    Luck too was on my side here – the investigating policeman on the subsequent enquiry was a good friend of one of my friends. No no nepotism! He was just more forthcoming than he would have otherwise have been.

    But this was in the past – just as the dreadful ‘Guildford Four’ and the ‘Birmingham Six’ cases. (My post is already too long! You can easily find the cases on English Wikipedia if you are so inclined, for further information – but they are ‘celebrated’ – dreadful – miscarriages of justice.)

    I believe such serious miscarriages or justice are much more unlikely in the future.

    Recently a case occurred with Ian Tomlinson who had a heart attack when pushed to the ground gratuitously by a policeman during London City riots. Whilst the circumstances were entirely unsatisfactory, this time he was identified by serving colleagues – when otherwise they would have closed ranks. I suspect they were aware of all the mobile phone footage.

    In London certainly there has been a sea change in the attitude of the police – I hope there has been in your neck of the woods!

    Regards

    Charlie

  38. spectator
    December 31, 2012 at 8:47 am | #38

    @Eva
    “…there was only one case when a policeman shot too high with the rubber bullet. Most likely because he was inexperienced.”

    It wasn’t even necessary to aim high to hit someone on the eye – the only requirement is that both the bullet and the eye is on the same level.

    Now, imagine as a ‘peaceful protester’ just bent down to pick up a cobblestone or any similarly ‘peaceful’ object – eyes under the belt level – as the means of his expression of his free opinion and the manifestation of freedom of speech ( – please, don’t laugh, these were the words then, really!) and his eye and the properly fired rubber bullet already on collision curse bound to meet each other, as they regretfully done so.

    Not even once I have heard this kind of reasoning, only that “Gyurcsány made the police to shot out the eyes of the demonstrators” or the variations of this sentence, and hear it ever since.

    You know, “sling the mud – even if don’t stick will leave a stain” and it’s working just wonderfully…

  39. Some1
    December 31, 2012 at 9:33 am | #39

    spectator :
    Not even once I have heard this kind of reasoning, only that “Gyurcsány made the police to shot out the eyes of the demonstrators” or the variations of this sentence, and hear it ever since.
    You know, “sling the mud – even if don’t stick will leave a stain” and it’s working just wonderfully…

    It takes a very good shooter to aim and hit the eyes of a moving person. Maybe Morvai should be taken to a target practice and see how well she does especially with moving targets, while she wears heavy outfit and others are pushing her.
    I honestly think most Hungarian politicians have some serious mental issues.

  40. December 31, 2012 at 10:11 am | #40

    Spectator is right. The accident with the rubber bullet mostly likely happened exactly the way he describes it.

  41. December 31, 2012 at 10:24 am | #41

    Some1 :

    It takes a very good shooter to aim and hit the eyes of a moving person. Maybe Morvai should be taken to a target practice and see how well she does especially with moving targets, while she wears heavy outfit and others are pushing her.
    I honestly think most Hungarian politicians have some serious mental issues.

    Stupidity and ignorance combined. The latest is that Mária Wittner, the great heroine of 56 who never finished high school, gave a lecture about church history yesterday when the parliamentary committee in which she serves turned down the application of a formerly recognized small church. She declared: “Gentlemen! There is only one God, we don’t need sects.” All that after she declared that after all the Catholic Church is 2,000 year old and although it is true that there was a Reformation and after there were all these churches that multiplied as “amoeba,” but still. I guess in her eyes all other churches are only sects and that must include Judaism as well as Islam. The woman’s stupidity is horrendous.

  42. Some1
    December 31, 2012 at 12:49 pm | #42

    Eva S. Balogh :

    Some1 :

    It takes a very good shooter to aim and hit the eyes of a moving person. Maybe Morvai should be taken to a target practice and see how well she does especially with moving targets, while she wears heavy outfit and others are pushing her.
    I honestly think most Hungarian politicians have some serious mental issues.

    Stupidity and ignorance combined. The latest is that Mária Wittner, the great heroine of 56 who never finished high school, gave a lecture about church history yesterday when the parliamentary committee in which she serves turned down the application of a formerly recognized small church. She declared: “Gentlemen! There is only one God, we don’t need sects.” All that after she declared that after all the Catholic Church is 2,000 year old and although it is true that there was a Reformation and after there were all these churches that multiplied as “amoeba,” but still. I guess in her eyes all other churches are only sects and that must include Judaism as well as Islam. The woman’s stupidity is horrendous.

    Well, with Wittner’s logic we should outlaw Christianity, as Judaism beats that with at lest a thousand year. Christians referred to Judaism in the Old Testament (Book of Esther/Purim). In fact Judaism was the first monotheistic religion. Jews were monotheists at the time when the magyars did not even heard of one God yet, but were chasing magic tags.

  43. petofi
    January 2, 2013 at 9:49 am | #43

    An :
    So, Gyurcsany acknowledged in his speech that they were lying to win elections, and people riot because he is unwilling to resign. Orban lies day and night without ever admitting to any of his lies, plus removes democratic checks and balances that makes it impossible to control or influence his power through democratic means, so that the only way to exert any political influence is taking the streets (see unions, student demonstration)… but still no violence. So, people just haven’t reached that tipping point they did when they were rallying against Gyurcsany?
    I tend to think that although there were may people rightly angry about the Gyurcsany speech, the events would not have culminated into what they did without the active help and orchestration by Fidesz, who decided to take politics out to the street (long before there was any reason to do that, see the incident on Erzsebet here after MszP won the elections in 2002). Just as they do not care for democratic rules and norms now, they did not care about them while in opposition either.
    It is actually very easy to exploit and instigate people’s anger for an unscrupulous leader. One reason why Orban does not see similar riots is that such charismatic and unscrupulous leader willing to play on people’s emotions hasn’t emerged on the other side. In the end, though, desperation will get people to the tipping point, and we can only hope that righteous anger will not be exploited again by a political adventurer but will lead to positive changes in the country.

    –”I tend to think that although there were may people rightly angry about the Gyurcsany speech…”

    No, they weren’t ‘rightly angry’! What on earth for? Because a politician had the tenacity and decency to confess that past actions were wrong and had to be corrected? No. Let us remember, as many have said before, that Hungarians are, or can be, sheep in wolves’ clothing….that is, when they are directed to do so as Fidesz did in haranguing the populace to react. There was zero justification for indignant reaction.

    As for the rioting and the ineffectiveness of the police, I would ascribe that to Fidesz work through their government allies–should anyone require proof that the police and the secret services have always been strictly right-wing?–in the police department. That someone got injured with a rubber bullet is ridiculous. Such rioting in the West would result in deaths–many of them, and much more severe use of police power as was used on this occasion.

    I’m afraid Gyurcsany wasn’t up to snuff on this occasion: he should’ve reacted angrily to Fidesz accusations, and the actions of the police. I’m reminded of Prime Minister Trudeau’s answer when questioned about the implementation of the War Measures Act:

    “How far will you go, Mr. Prime Minister?”

    “Just watch me!”

  44. CharlieH
    January 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm | #44

    Fuddle duddle!

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