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“Talking heads” of Hungary

February 5, 2013

After a brief foray into foreign policy and history it’s time to return to domestic politics. Today’s post was inspired by a television program and its viewers’ reactions to what was said there by young so-called political scientists, and, more importantly, by a thoughtful article written by Vera Lánczos, a member of the Galamus Group, who doesn’t make a secret of her support for Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Demokratikus Koalíció. I should also mention that Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speech at the II. Congress of DK (January 26, 2013) was made available today both on DK’s website and on Galamus.

Let’s start with the television program on ATV called “A tét” (The stake). Its host is András Bánó, formerly of MTV, who received the Hungarian version of the Pulitzer Prize a few years back. By and large I like the program, but some of the young  “political scientists” often irritate me. Political commentators should take their job seriously, and that means in-depth and more or less impartial analysis of current political events. Instead, some of the regular guests only vent their political prejudices. There is one young guy whose superciliousness and flippancy are more than I can tolerate.

Well, it seems that I’m not alone. The show aired last Wednesday and György Bolgár’s call-in show “Let’s talk about it!” was full of angry callers condemning our young man’s attitude toward Ferenc Gyurcsány and DK. Naturally, Vera Lánczos’s criticism is much more reasoned and therefore more weighty. But she also objected to the tone these fellows use in connection with such an important issue as the current state of the opposition and the need for a united stand against Orbán’s regime.

Talking heads

Talking heads

Because right now the opposition is in disarray. New formations appear, old ones reappear, and LMP just fell apart. The way things look, the LMP caucus will be gone by the time parliament convenes in February because the two factions cannot agree on how to keep the LMP delegation together. Separately neither group has enough members to form a caucus. The main sticking point is LMP’s course of action. The position of the Schiffer faction is utterly unrealistic. Although they keep insisting that their main goal is to defeat Viktor Orbán in 2014, they are planning to achieve this alone even as LMP’s share of the electorate hovers around 3%. It is clear that  for Schiffer and the party leaders supporting him, the party’s future is more important at the moment than a united front in which LMP most likely wouldn’t carry much weight. The Jávor faction, on the other hand, is to my mind a great deal more patriotic. It is a shame that the only thing one of the young political scientists had to say about the LMP split was that “the sole difference between the two factions is that one of them likes Bajnai while the other one doesn’t.”

Gordon Bajnai’s E14 is not doing well. In mid-November the enthusiasm for an umbrella organization under the leadership of Gordon Bajnai surged after the October 23 mass meeting. Since then support has slowly dissipated and the number of  undecided voters has begun to grow again. According to some observers, the problem is that Bajnai entered the political arena too early. I disagree. After all, the campaign season has already begun, and to hammer out a common platform takes a long time. A year is barely enough, especially given the uncertainties of the present political situation. No, the problem is not timing. The problem is Milla and Péter Juhász. E14, a movement at the moment, initially announced that it would start proceedings to establish a party. After all, only parties can enter the race. A few days later we learned from Péter Juhász that Milla “isn’t ready to lend its name to the formation of a political party” and E14 pulled back, at least temporarily. Milla is a mysterious and amorphous organization–if you can call it that–about which we know practically nothing. For the longest time Juhász seemed to be the only embodiment of Milla, although lately one can also hear references to Péter Molnár, a member of parliament between 1990 and 1998 (Fidesz and later SZDSZ). Juhász’s latest is that he will never cooperate with Ferenc Gyurcsány. I also doubt that he would cooperate with MSZP. All in all, Bajnai picked the wrong “civic organization” to launch his attempt to bring together the various opposition parties and forces.

After the discussion about LMP, the young political scientists moved on to Ferenc Gyurcsány, whose party is described by its politicians as “the party of unity.” Indeed, it is this party that most consistently and without any reservation supports a joint effort to dislodge Viktor Orbán. Gyurcsány has given up personal political ambition, at least for the time being. He realizes that his party will not be able to capture millions of votes. Therefore he is not forced to make compromises for fear of a mass exodus of followers. He advocates unpopular measures that in his opinion are necessary to turn Hungary’s faltering economy around. Those 100-200,000 people who today would vote for DK will not abandon Gyurcsány because they agree with the details of the party program.

At the II Congress 2,000 people gathered to hear the speeches and vote on the program. I understand that there was only one dissenting vote. The party has 7,000 members with local chapters in 750 cities, towns, and villages. All that without any outside financial assistance. A DK party member won the mayoral race in a smaller town, and DK took second place ahead of MSZP in another.

“A tét” showed a clip from Gyurcsány’s speech at the party congress in which he emphasized the necessity of a common stand. He considers this “a patriotic duty” and argues that those who refuse to cooperate only strengthen the regime of Viktor Orbán. According to our flippant “political scientist,” that means that “everybody should embrace Ferenc Gyurcsány” who wants to force everyone into one big unified opposition that would also include his own party. But what is wrong with this? Isn’t Gyurcsány’s party democratic? The other Young Turk on the program announced that the only reason DK wants a unified opposition is because otherwise DK couldn’t be represented in parliament. Total nonsense. As things stand now, a maximum of three parties could get into parliament if the opposition forces don’t manage to build an electoral coalition–Fidesz, MSZP, and Jobbik. And most likely Fidesz would win.

This kind of irresponsible talk doesn’t help anyone. It only confuses the already confused and disappointed electorate. As Vera Lánczos wrote, “The electorate doesn’t want the opposition parties to compete with each other but to come to an agreement for their sake.” To fan the distrust of parties in general and add to the division of the opposition is not the job of political commentators. It’s no wonder that so many people who truly want Viktor Orbán out of office are outraged.

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  1. February 5, 2013 at 4:31 pm | #1

    It is certain that Matolcsy will be the governor of the Hungarian National Bank. The forint immediately began to fall.From 292 to the euro to more than 295.

  2. Kingfisher
    February 5, 2013 at 4:55 pm | #2

    Essentially, you are grumbling that political commentators on television are not taking sides. Or rather, they are not taking YOUR side.

  3. nadeoszi
    February 5, 2013 at 5:09 pm | #3

    Orbán does as a general rule always the thing which irritates his adversaries, whether it be the West, the opposition. He wants to show that he can and that he, not others, is right. Nothing pleasures him more than the feeling that his adversaries are upset and think he is something that is thought to be crazy. After all he is both a bully and a hurt child. And whom would put Orbán to the NBH governor’s seat if he really could choose without taking into account anything? Obviously Matolcsy. Everybody else would be a compromise and he has to show that he does not do compromises. Matolcsy is completely deranged, but he will have no power like SImor did not have (it’s the board that sets the rate). Other than that he will succeed in driving all intellogent people to abroad, I mean I doubt that any self-respecting intellectuakl will want to work under him, plus places are needed for Fidesz economists.

    That said, just days before selling those bonds, this may be a test. If the forint falls significantly he may choose somebody other than Matolcsy, but if it falls only 2-3 forints, it means that the market does not care, after all the Fed and the ECB and BOJ are essentially printing money so there is something left for junk bonds as well.

  4. February 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm | #4

    nadeoszi :

    That said, just days before selling those bonds, this may be a test. If the forint falls significantly he may choose somebody other than Matolcsy, but if it falls only 2-3 forints, it means that the market does not care, after all the Fed and the ECB and BOJ are essentially printing money so there is something left for junk bonds as well.

    You’re right. I also thought of that possibility. We will see.

  5. CharlieH
    February 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm | #5

    London Calling!

    Yes Eva – probably Matolcsy. Although my money was on Pleschinger!

    He can control Matolcsy with his eyebows!

    I think it must be Matolcsy because Orban knows it will frighten the horses – and is limiting the damage to the forint by declaring he will only announce Simor’s successor the day before he ‘retires’ on March 2.

    (He’ll announce Matolcsy on March 1)

    Regards

    Charlie

  6. Ron
    February 5, 2013 at 6:02 pm | #6

    I do not think that market does not care. I believe the market does care, but they are no longer interested in Matolcsy. I believe they discounted this move already. The next one will be important. Who is going to take over GM’s job, and how this person will act on VO order’s or not.

  7. Jano
    February 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm | #7

    I have to agree with Kingfisher. I’m sorry but I can’t remember you being that any time the other side was bashed. Personally, I find this political scientist profession to be more of a bogus in Hungary. All of them are strongly biased to one side or another, but some conceal that in semantics better than others. The best thing a TV program can do to be impartial is to get one from the left and one from the right. This also means that you have to endure hearing opinions that doesn’t agree with yours.

    I also can’t subscribe to the view that GYF preaching about common platform would be giving up his political ambitions. Please tell me what else he could do? He’s obviously not going to be the prime minister in 2014, DK isn’t gonna get a single seat unless there is a common platform that will carry it on it’s back into the house. This is not a sacrifice for him, but the last straw to stay alive in the political arena.

    On Milla, I started to share your concerns. Not because they are against Gyurcsány, but because they really seem to lack the will or the resoluteness to take the necessary steps further. Bajnai entered the stage with a very strong momentum he couldn’t have possibly kept up, the fall back was natural. However, Együtt 2014 should already be a party, this wishy-washyness is the worst they can do. Afterall, if they can’t make their minds up about what to do now, what can we expect from them on government? It’s not a sin to be anti-previous establishment, but then be honest about it and form a party and try to convince voters.

  8. An
    February 5, 2013 at 9:05 pm | #8

    I am sure these “political commentators” are fulfilling Fidesz orders to create more confusion and prevent the opposition from uniting. Funny that they are still so preoccupied with Gyurcsany… apparently he is still seen as a threat. I don’t see why, as looking at how DK stands, he is obviously not. But he still gets treated like he was the “mumus” (bogeyman).

  9. to divide or to unite?
    February 5, 2013 at 10:16 pm | #9

    In the rightwing gallery all refrain from criticizing the Orban-Vona brothers.

    In the leftwing everybody feels free to trash Gyurcsany, Mesterhazy and Bajnai.

    Long live the Hungarian nightmare!

    The question is to divide or to unite?

  10. qay
    February 6, 2013 at 3:59 am | #10

    To divide: This is The Fundamental Curse of the left anywhere.The left is much more liberal and does not like discipline, they love arguing and debating. They think themselves so much better, the have the dignity of a free person, and look down on the uncritical conservative pundits.The leftists are always much less effective in government because they are more tolerant of the conservatives than the other way round. See Fidesz relentless march against anything percieved as not Fidesz enough. The left meanwhile opens with being so tolerant –so the net result is that policies remain Fidesz-inspired.

    Unfortunately, if this is a contest (perhaps a even a political war, certainly Fidesz sees is that way) discipline and loyalty are fundamental. Those who don’t understand this are doomed to fail and sit at ATV arguing till the end of time, which is what will happen. See Gyula, Fidesz’ organisation is 10x better than MSZP’s (Bajnai or LMP literally have nozing), this will have dire consequnces under the current election system.

  11. Kingfisher
    February 6, 2013 at 4:08 am | #11

    I think that is a slightly unfair generalisation qay. Remember Antal’s government where the right fell apart, party by party. No, Fidesz is monolithic not because it is “right” (or because it is “not left”) but because of the way that Orbán has organised it and built it. He controls its finances so completely that it is he who chooses who is an MP and ensures there is no grassroots movements within the party.

  12. February 6, 2013 at 6:28 am | #12

    An :

    I am sure these “political commentators” are fulfilling Fidesz orders to create more confusion and prevent the opposition from uniting. Funny that they are still so preoccupied with Gyurcsany… apparently he is still seen as a threat. I don’t see why, as looking at how DK stands, he is obviously not. But he still gets treated like he was the “mumus” (bogeyman).

    One thing I’m sure of. They have done a lot of damage over the years.

  13. segura
    February 6, 2013 at 6:33 am | #13

    Kingfisher, I agree with qay, it is in fact the denial of this fundmental difference which dooms the current left to failure.

    Nothing makes Fidesz lough harder then when leftist pundits criticitze their parties to pieces. Until ATV uses its airtime to kill the left and sow doubts about the ability of the left to govern and get to power – well, ATV will get to keep its license. When it will be like MSNBC or be like a leftist Foxnews or Hírtv, then their license will be taken away – ATV knows this.

    Generally, the fact is that right wing and conservative people value dicipline, authority and loyalty much-much higher, while leftist – nowadays – do not like authority (ie want a more equal society), like to be rational and love arguing (as their idea is the deliberative democracy). And the logic works the other way: such people self select and join the party accordingly.

    Fierce control and the look of the ability to control (and to act decisively) are necessary (the Obama campaign machinery and the Obama WH are also extremely controlled and disciplined, there are no leakages like during Clinton, they learnt a lot from W.)

    The left in Hungary – like in Italy – is fatally fragmanted, very much because its best entertainment is arguing who the real leader of the left should be, who is really leftist, who really represents the ‘detested’ prior eight or twenty years. They want to win ‘intellectually’ in small arguments.

    I tell you: MSZP will (has the only ability to) lead because their organisation, however second rate it is, will still fifteen times better than that of anybody else’s. And the votes for LMP and God only knows which other ex-LMP, Milla, 4K whatever will all be lost in the new system. And of course Fidesz wants a strong MSZP who can be duped and purchased. Perhaps Bajnai also, but nobody else from the left.

    Still, peopel on the left need to realise that only a unfied organisation can succeed and therefore people need to give up their own ambitions and carrieer and disappear as a part of a bigger organisation. As the rightist do: all formerly ‘liberal’ Fidesz people are doing so and are loyal to the death and lo and behold the power is theirs. But on the left they do not know the meaning of sacrifice they wnat to be a diferent politican. As though things have changed since Machiavelli or Cicero. Pathetic.

  14. wolfi
    February 6, 2013 at 7:05 am | #14

    I agree with you all re the problems of the left but why have Britain, Germany and also France and afaik the Scandinavian democracies managed a strong left aka socialist or social democrat party ?

    Italy (though I don’t know too much about its politics) seems more like Hungary there – why is that ?

    Especially Germany has a very strong Social Democrat party which is in coalition sometimes with the Greens, the Liberals and sometimes even the “Left” (aka Communists) and the Christian Democrats aka Conservatives.

    SSurely one reason is the history and continuity of the parties in Western Europe, but is there anything else ?

  15. Deak Deak
    February 6, 2013 at 7:16 am | #15

    It is not a secret by now, that the conservative patriotic parochial politics is favored in Hungary by ca. 5:1.
    The leader can be an idiot, but he is their own conservative idiot,
    And victory is assured if free elections are held.
    Liberalism can be only resuscitated if Deak will reappear.

  16. ttreww
    February 6, 2013 at 8:37 am | #16

    Sorry, but this is by Péter Uj (a former chief editor of Index, who has a written style similar to the style of Stephen Colbert, I think). He is more conservative then left leaning (but he was too independent at Index, so he was fired about a year ago) and often has good insights.

    “Most, hogy a Bajnai-féle Együtt 2014 mozgalom gyakorlatilag összeroppant Jávor Benedek politikai súlya alatt, és szépen eltűnt a politikai porondról, a közfigyelem maradéktalanul a Matolcsy–Orbán-féle „Műköggy!!! 2013” Dumaszínházra irányulhat, és a közfigyelemnek, mint megelőzőleg számtalan alkalommal, ezúttal sem kell csalódnia.”

    I would not worry about Bajnai too much, only about their party organisation, but it is true that they would need more ‘visibility’. (Now that there is no registration, a lot (almost half of the people) will make up tehir minds in the last minutes.)

    But they don’t have the media for the visibility, now do they?

    I guess now – slowly it dawns upon MSZP and Bajnai, hopefully, becuase it is still not sure – they realize that Fidesz was thinking in terms of decades and they never wavered and never compromised for a second on the strategy to: own the media (and the prosecution and the secret services).

    Own the media, and you own the discourse. If you don’t have access to the discourse (look Bajnai will not even be able to talk to Orbán face to face, as Orbán does not do debates, because debates are for losers after all) you have no power at all. And if in politics you have no power, you are nobody, you do not exist.

  17. February 6, 2013 at 10:05 am | #17
  18. February 6, 2013 at 1:04 pm | #18

    I think the disease of the Hungarian politics today is the MSZP. They are everybody’s boogeyman in the country. Everybody – left, right, conservative, liberal is pointing the finger on them. If they sit down next to you on the bus you would move over to another seat.

    All the Milla, Trilla, Together20XX, Without20XX, LMP50 (50% that is) is all trying to get away from them.

    Obviously the same comes from the Fidesz side. DK and everybody who had once MSZP ties is doomed. This is the key in the Gyurcsany (or Bajnai for that matter) bashing campaign – they were MSZP politicians once. Nobody cares about Gyurcsany personally. He is just a punchbag for the average Joe. The ex-MSZP politician scare crow. It works better then pointing the finger on Mesterhazy.

    The MSZP is like Jabba The Hutt of the Hungarian politics. Some disgusting big creature nobody wants to unite with. And they don’t care. They are just sitting in the background waiting for the voters come back to them after running away from the Fidesz.

    What we see in the country outside of the Fidesz is that nobody wants to sit with the stinky boy on bus. Until the MSZP exist there will be no new significant liberal or left wing force in Hungary.

    Don’t get me wrong. I will vote for them in 2014, as all patriots should – they are second grade but still 100 times better than the Fidesz. But bringing them back will not solve Hungary’s problem on the long run. Ironically, IMHO, the MSZP’s sheer existence ensures the survival of Orban and his conservative wing nuts. We will bring them back and the cycle will restart.

  19. February 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm | #19

    Mutt about MSZP. You’re right about MSZP being a punching bag at the moment of all political factions, but I don’t understand Fidesz’s rationale in attacking Bajnai and Gyurcsány instead of going straight at MSZP. Gyurcsány, after all, left the party mostly because of the its shady dealings and refusal to modernize while Bajnai was never a member of the party.

    As for present MSZP tactics, I actually think that Mesterházy has chosen a road that seems quite successful from his party’s point of view. He shows willingness to cooperate and thus he can blame the other parties for looking after their own selfish interests. While they can claim that they are a patriotic party that thinks in national terms. Pretty clever.

  20. February 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm | #20

    Eva S. Balogh :
    I don’t understand Fidesz’s rationale in attacking Bajnai and Gyurcsány instead of going straight at MSZP. Gyurcsány, after all, left the party mostly because of the its shady dealings and refusal to modernize while Bajnai was never a member of the party.

    They are going after the MSZP. They don’t care about Gyurcsany. Gyurcsany and Bajnai were MSZP or in Bajnai’s case “close to MSZP” politicians. The average Hunky doesn’t hear when we say “Gyurcsany wanted to reform the MSZP”. They only get the negative message.

    Orban is afraid of the MSZP’s 30% and the Milla’s and likes final “fuck it” moment before the election when they will endorse the MSZP. Gyurcsany doesn’t matter.

  21. Kingfisher
    February 6, 2013 at 2:31 pm | #21

    Gyurcsány certainly wanted to reform the MSZP and had the intelligence to realise that what that party was doing was simply intolerable. But nevertheless, and I think this is why ultimately Gyurcsány is a failed politician, he tried to have his cake and eat it. He might have been calling for party reform and yet he who appointed the appallingly corrupt Veres János as his finance minister. It was Gyurcsány who foisted the corrupt Koka Janos on SZDSZ. And it was Gyurcsány who was perfectly happy to conduct obscene “behind the scenes” deals with Orbán which our hostess Éva doesn’t want to hear about. It is only possible to look at the MSZP with a benevolent eye if you don’t know them.

  22. spectator
    February 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm | #22

    Kingfisher :
    Essentially, you are grumbling that political commentators on television are not taking sides. Or rather, they are not taking YOUR side.

    Well, Eva said:
    “Political commentators should take their job seriously, and that means in-depth and more or less impartial analysis of current political events.”>/i>

    - please, just what part of this sentence correspond to your statement?

    Since your comment clearly indicate some kind of problem – say, you have comprehension issues, – let me help you, I’m sure, we can work out something, even you can understand – no offense intended!

  23. Roger
    February 6, 2013 at 3:09 pm | #23

    The rationale behind the Bajnai attacks is simple, but you have the wrong angle.

    First, there is no campaign yet, so it is not the time to target adveraseris. It is not Fidesz who targets Bajnai, only ‘civilians’ (of course directed right wingers, but not the party, it counts, a lot of people are superficial). In other words, it would be below the dignity of Fidesz to openly target anyone at this point: they are in the incumbent position and they are above petty campaigning (this is the image they want to radiate). An open campaining would actually show that they (Fidesz) are weak, that already a year before the elections they would need to fight someone who has a current popularity of a fraction of that of Fidesz. Fidesz’ image very much builds on the aura of its powerful position and maintaining this image is of primary and paramount importance.

    That said, with keeping the distance (through civilians): they try to target the only, and I emphasize that, only potential adversary of Fidesz. Fidesz knows well that LMP and other miscellaneous leftist/liberals will self-destruct, their open targeting at any point just isn’t worth the effort. Given the elections system, they are condemned to death. In election systems with a very heavy emphasis of the first past the post system (like the current Hungarian system), usually there are only max. 2-3 parties and those positions are surely taken with Jobbik and perhaps, perhaps with Bajnai’s party. The smaller contenders just don’t get it — partly because they don’t want to get it.

    So, Fidesz with a slow-burning, but consistent, relentless campaign wants to weaken Bajnai so that he loses his professional image until he becomes unaccaptable to wavering centrist voters and country-side activits would not be enthusiastic enough to openly particpate in Bajnai’s campaign (which is at least as hard a hit as attacks against his personality).

    Moreover, even if you want to target your adversaries now, you don’t open simultaneous fronts, too complicated. Start with the smaller problems, when they are solved, turn attention to the bigger, more complex ones (this is a management 101 rule as well).

    Do not forget that Fidesz does not really want to target MSZP as Fidesz cannot gain anything from that, at this stage. MSZP voters will never vote Fidesz, while Bajnai’s voters are centrists, wavareing voters (many of them voted Fidesz) who can make a difference if they vote against Fidesz. MSZP cannot really be attacked politcially, only their voters can be targeted to stay at home.

    And last but not least, Fidesz likes MSZP as an adversary, in fact they cannot hope for a better one. Fidesz knows that they succeeded to take advantage of MSZP so many times, they cannot even count it. Whether it was business issues (how to divide public procurements) or putting seemingly centrists (who turned out to be Fidesz puppets) into powerful positions, MSZP were duped and puchased or threatened (well, who controls the proisecution?) a million times, and if the current cohort stays (even if MSZP wins an election), Fidesz will continue to have a field day.The hatred for SZDSZ was not because of politics (ideology), it was that SZDSZ people read Fidesz much better (at least on an individual level) and were more agressive than MSZP which – with the proper pressure – has always been open to comprimises and agreements so that they usually didn’t get the main issue (only perhaps years later).

    So Fidesz will target MSZP, but only much-much later in the game. The time is not ripe yet.

  24. spectator
    February 6, 2013 at 3:33 pm | #24

    Deak Deak :
    Liberalism can be only resuscitated if Deak will reappear.

    - And just who’s gonna recognize him?

    Think about it: an illiterate PM and his fierce supporters can’t even tell king Stephen the Saint from Koppány the heretic..!

    Exaggerating? Maybe. Let’s see, however:

    Remember: the person who wanted to ‘keep traditions’ at any price was Koppány, while the one who moved on to implement ‘modern’ ideologies and religion, with total disregard toward old and traditional rites, customs, etc., was Stephen – and at the same time the contemporary Hungarian government referencing Stephen as the king and statesman whom they treat as the quintessential origin of all, what ‘traditionally’ Hungarian.

    Just how stupid could one turned to be, when the ‘nationalist’ blindfold became a standard government issue..?

  25. February 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm | #25

    qay :
    To divide: This is The Fundamental Curse of the left anywhere.The left is much more liberal and does not like discipline, they love arguing and debating. They think themselves so much better, the have the dignity of a free person, and look down on the uncritical conservative pundits.The leftists are always much less effective in government because they are more tolerant of the conservatives than the other way round. See Fidesz relentless march against anything percieved as not Fidesz enough. The left meanwhile opens with being so tolerant –so the net result is that policies remain Fidesz-inspired.
    Unfortunately, if this is a contest (perhaps a even a political war, certainly Fidesz sees is that way) discipline and loyalty are fundamental. Those who don’t understand this are doomed to fail and sit at ATV arguing till the end of time, which is what will happen. See Gyula, Fidesz’ organisation is 10x better than MSZP’s (Bajnai or LMP literally have nozing), this will have dire consequnces under the current election system.

    Despite Kingfisher’s disagreement with this, I thought it was a pretty accurate and concise summary of the problems of the ‘left’ in politics – it certainly matches my experience in the UK.

    Although, as far as Hungary goes, I’m not sure it applies to MSzP, as they are hardly a ‘normal’ left-wing party – qay’s incite applies more to the little parties trying (or not) to unite against Fidesz.

    I think MSzP is much better summed up by Mutt:

    “The MSZP is like Jabba The Hutt of the Hungarian politics. Some disgusting big creature nobody wants to unite with. And they don’t care. They are just sitting in the background waiting for the voters come back to them after running away from the Fidesz.”

    And that is hardly an election winning strategy.

  26. February 6, 2013 at 3:56 pm | #26

    ‘incite’ should have been ‘insight’ – brain failure…

  27. spectator
    February 6, 2013 at 4:01 pm | #27

    Pretty good assessment, Roger!

    However, are you sure, that you meant: “it would be below the dignity of Fidesz” ?

    A what?

    Actually, I don’t think that using the word “dignity” in a same sentence as “Fidesz” is appropriate, ever! Particularly, if someone familiar with their campaign methods from the previous elections!
    Just try to remember Orban’s infamous “…oszt’ jónapot” sentence, and the circumstances it came forward – one hardly can go lower than that.

    To those who has no recollection: during the campaign silence Orban personally instructed his supporters to break the law, encouraging them, saying: “- and if you encounter any problem, our lawyers will take care of it, ‘oszt’ jónapot’” – as is: “and that’s it, have a good day”..!

    - And he is the ‘law abiding’ Prime Minister of Hungary!
    - Even better: he’s making the law, and breaking it at will, or adjusting it to his like!

    He is the personal friend of an alleged ‘journalist’, who called the ethnic minority in Hungary “animals”, which “shouldn’t be”, – without any consequences.

    So, let’s talk about “dignity”!

  28. February 6, 2013 at 4:04 pm | #28

    “As things stand now, a maximum of three parties could get into parliament if the opposition forces don’t manage to build an electoral coalition–Fidesz, MSZP, and Jobbik. And most likely Fidesz would win.”

    Despite the qualifications, a timely recognition of reality. Unfortunately, things will still stand pretty much this way in a year’s time.

    If our experience in the UK is anything to go by, the collapse of one major party, following the landslide victory of the other, needs at least three elections before something like equality is restored. (And we didn’t have a nascent dictator changing all the rules after his victory.)

  29. February 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm | #29

    Kingfisher can so easily label someone “corrupt” as if he had first-hand experience about their behavior. Just because a friend of Kingfisher is convinced that X or Y is the most corrupt man who ever lived it might not be so at all. If Kóka was so corrupt why didn’t Budai go after him? Or, after Veres!

  30. February 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm | #30

    OT (or perhaps not) – I got quite a shock tonight when I went into Facebook and this picture was at the top of my wall:

    http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=10151185354861093&set=a.10151185352311093.502709.298090296092&type=1&theater

    One of my wife’s friends had posted a link to it and my wife (who, in the odd world of Facebook, is my ‘friend’) had ‘liked’ it – so up it pops on MY facebook!

    If you want to understand the psyche of the Fidesz supporter, this picture is a good place to start…

  31. Kirsten
    February 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm | #31

    Mutt: “All the Milla, Trilla, Together20XX, Without20XX, LMP50 (50% that is) is all trying to get away from them. Obviously the same comes from the Fidesz side. DK and everybody who had once MSZP ties is doomed.”

    When I read Eva’s today’s piece, I first thought, why are people lamenting about the missing ability of the opposition to cooperate and concentrate on personal issues, although the main point for me is the need to find some common ground as regards the substance of the future post-Orban Hungary. And now Mutt’s comment about MSzP made it even more clear. As long as there will be no common ground about the past – and its “substance” – the so called opposition will be absorbed by just finding out next to whom you cannot sit on the bus either. The unability of MSzP to face its past is quite evident. But there are generally too many narratives of the past, and all seem to have a personal component as to who is to be blamed most, and who is the most discredited. By facing one’s past I do not mean that people have to be ONLY critical. But to be more “balanced”, and to truly distance themselves from some people or some events, is a must when cooperation with other oppositional groups should materialise at some point.

    So just urging people who oppose OV to better cooperate will not be enough. First you need some idea how to make these people talk about their interpretations of the past and their preferred future. Create some willingness in these people to accept that other interpretations are possible and need not imply “definitive” personal dicreditation. That seems to be complicated enough. Without some really big issue (forint drops hugely after Matolcsy takes office and Hungary has to introduce capital controls or declare bankruptcy etc.), the elections of 2014 are decided anyway. The opposition should therefore use this time to figure out whether their opposition to OV is indeed strong enough to be willing to search ways how to make cooperation between the opposition parties possible.

  32. Roger
    February 6, 2013 at 4:46 pm | #32

    Spectator: What I meant by below the dignity was what I wrote later, that at this quasi starting point of the ‘campaign’ (which Fidesz would deny that it started), they try to position themselves as the incumbent, whose natural place is to be in power. Everyone else should justify why they want to get there and they want to force others to start from this base line.

    So at this point, more than a year before the elections, an incumbent like Fidesz, whose position must be ackowledged, at least implicitly, by everybody, does not deal with “bottomfeeders”, like a general does not adress a private directly, a general talks only to colonel. This refusal to talk (address) itself positions participants according to a power structure. This is how I think Fidesz thinks, this does not mean that they would not do ‘petty’ corruption and a lot of petty power plays (which would go below their dignity), but in the realm (discourse) of the campaign (which is organsied separately from the realm of government or local power issues) this is how they think about themselves.

    (In addition, I think ambivalence and contradiction are two of the most fundamental features of any person (or group of persons). It is completely natural for thinking or believing something and at the same time doing something else, without reaizing the contradiction. It’s human nature. Sorry, but only intellectuals and pundits are obsessed with consistency, people are anything but, and this is their natural state, I guess – I was perhaps harsh, but you get what I mean)

  33. spectator
    February 6, 2013 at 5:12 pm | #33

    One long time unanswered question lingering all over the issue of the Hungarian left – as is – today: just what’s exactly what Gyurcsány has done, what so definitely disqualify him as politician?

    Beside the obvious fact, of course, that he took Orban as a gentleman adversary, and the Fidesz as a party with civilized contemporary European values, (both turned out to be a grave mistake, as we know..) but still..?

    I keep hearing, that “you know, he’s done… things…. and lying, day and night…” – but never anything substantial. Am I growing deaf, or just there isn’t a single thing, what anyone can pinpoint, besides the overtly successful Fidesz mud-slinging?

    Can anyone help me out here, because – it’s obvious too – it seems, that’s only me who has problem to take the orbanist communication as on face value, the majority taking it as granted, while never ever questioning ‘The Great Leader’, even when from one day to another contradict himself?

    Is there any reasonable explanation, please?

  34. spectator
    February 6, 2013 at 5:37 pm | #34

    @Roger
    Of course, I’ve got it!

    It’s quite clear, that they always want – and even managing to organize it – that someone else take the ‘credit’ for their dirty work.
    If you remember, the “Magyar Vizsla” case is one clear example.

    Otherwise, probably that’s one of my problem:
    “only intellectuals and pundits are obsessed with consistency”
    - and the present ruling elite are anything but!

    Just to underscore:
    If a company decides to support a soccer club, they’ll get tax reduction for the same amount.
    At the same time schools and most of the educational institutes struggling to make the ends meet on the daily basis – there is no such possibility for support, oh no!
    After all, Orban’s favorite pastime is soccer, not such intellectual crap like reading poetry or history, or learning math or economy, for that matter…

    One more:
    Anyone can give away 1% of their yearly tax to something, like charity, church, or organization – today I’ve heard that you should even support the Csányi-foundation this way (the richest bank-magnate in Hungary) – but nothing to the education, as I know of.

    So, here we are again the garbage floats on the surface, and feel good about itself.

  35. Choi
    February 6, 2013 at 5:56 pm | #35

    Spectator, if a lot of people think that Gy. is disqualified, then he is disqualified just by virtue of this thinking. And certainly a lot of people came to think that he is disqualified, so he is. I would not even go into details on the merits, as in politics merits don’t mean too much. Perception, and belief about the belief of others do.

    But Gy. has his own party now, he is organising in the meantime, which is important, nobody can tell what will happen in 2-4 years time. Right now he has just too much baggage, whether someone likes this or not.

  36. February 6, 2013 at 6:12 pm | #36

    Completely OT – but I was just browsing some old posts when it struck me that I haven’t seen anything from Odin’s Lost Eye for months. I miss his idiosyncratic comments. Does anyone know if he’s OK, or did he just give up posting?

  37. February 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm | #37

    Paul :

    Completely OT – but I was just browsing some old posts when it struck me that I haven’t seen anything from Odin’s Lost Eye for months. I miss his idiosyncratic comments. Does anyone know if he’s OK, or did he just give up posting?

    Yes, he hasn’t written anything since October. I wrote to him an e-mail and no answer.I took that as a bad omen.

  38. spectator
    February 6, 2013 at 6:40 pm | #38

    Choi :
    Spectator, if a lot of people think that Gy. is disqualified, then he is disqualified just by virtue of this thinking. And certainly a lot of people came to think that he is disqualified, so he is. I would not even go into details on the merits, as in politics merits don’t mean too much. Perception, and belief about the belief of others do.
    But Gy. has his own party now, he is organising in the meantime, which is important, nobody can tell what will happen in 2-4 years time. Right now he has just too much baggage, whether someone likes this or not.

    Thanks for the answer!

    Without arguing: are you saying, that there is no need for proof of wrongdoing, it’s perfectly sufficient that the heresy condemning someone on whatever basis, so, if the majority of ‘people’ think, he is guilty of something, it’s enough, he is guilty?

    Of course, I’m aware of the brainwashing – say: communication – techniques and their effect, so I’m not surprised by the reaction of the ‘people’, I simply thought that for my own peace of mind asking around, maybe someone able to enlighten me, what is really behind that sentiment.
    Otherwise, what’s exactly that ‘baggage’ what you’re referring at?
    You see, this is the point, where I start to be curious, because nobody – so far – dared to spell it out!

    Is it really that horrible?
    Was it him, who took the kickback money from the Gripen affair, for example?
    Tell me, please, I’m eager to hear!
    After all, it’s time long overdue to someone get punished, don’t you think?

  39. February 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm | #39

    Eva S. Balogh :

    Paul :
    Completely OT – but I was just browsing some old posts when it struck me that I haven’t seen anything from Odin’s Lost Eye for months. I miss his idiosyncratic comments. Does anyone know if he’s OK, or did he just give up posting?

    Yes, he hasn’t written anything since October. I wrote to him an e-mail and no answer.I took that as a bad omen.

    Thanks Éva. It could indeed be a bad omen – he used to post about working on the Russian convoys in WWII, so he must have been well into his 80s. Let’s hope he just decided not to post as often.

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