A Hungarian Watergate?

Hungary is reeling from the news that former Fidesz government officials hired a private company headed by a "retired" spook to try to remove Ibolya Dávid as the head of MDF.

This story is in its infancy; the public learned about some of the details only this morning. It began with a startling announcement by Ibolya Dávid, the very popular head of MDF (Magyar Demokrata Fórum), a moderate, conservative party with eleven parliamentary members, that she was the target of a planned smear campaign. Earlier Ibolya Dávid served in Viktor Orbán's government (1998-2002) as minister of justice, but it seems that getting to know each other didn't make them friends. On the contrary, Ibolya Dávid subsequently severed all connections with Fidesz and refused all calls for cooperation. Everybody predicted that MDF would not receive enough votes (5%) to get into parliament. Dávid and the party managed what most people thought was impossible and reached the magic number. Barely, but they managed.

Orbán doesn't seem to be able to forgive Dávid for her betrayal of the "righteous" cause of the right. He blamed her and MDF for his party's defeat in 2006. And it seems that he is still trying to ruin MDF and Ibolya Dávid. I already wrote about one of the young deputy leaders of MDF, Kornél Almássy, who announced his intention to run for Dávid's job. Everybody suspected that Fidesz was behind Almássy's attempt to remove Dávid. A few counties actually declared themselves for Almássy, and the situation was serious enough for Dávid to cancel her trip to the United States at the time of the Republican Convention. However, it seems that Almássy's chances diminished as time went by and that he needed a boost.

What we have learned up to this point is the following. Wednesday the Hungarian National Security Office raided UD Zrt., a closed corporation with the standard "everything under the sun" business mandate, including and obviously its main focus, computer security. For example, UD Zrt. is responsible for the computer security of OTP (Országos Takarékpénztár), the largest Hungarian bank headed by the richest man in the country, Sándor Csányi (with assets of 80 billion HUF/550 million USD).

The Hungarian National Security Office became suspicious of UD Zrt. and two days ago, on Wednesday, they raided their offices, confiscating all their computers. The National Security Office accused UD Zrt. of illegal data gathering. Apparently, they not only hacked into the server of an internet provider but may even have breached the government network including that of the National Security Office's communications. This morning came the revelation that Ibolya Dávid is in possession of a CD on which one can clearly hear one of the owners of UD Zrt., János Tóth, talking to somebody whom he calls "President," informing him that András Tombor would like them to find some dirt on Ibolya Dávid. Furthermore Tóth informs the "President" that "in MDF there have been preparations for a change behind which are Stumpf and his associates; they are the ones who pay for the whole thing. They want to get hold of the top spot in the party. Some kind of vice-chairman, called Antal or something like that, is also in it." At this point the "President" supplies the information that the real name is Almássy. Tóth then continues: "Yes, yes, Józsi [József Horváth, another owner of the company] will meet with him. He will be the one who tells us what kind of information he would like from us."

A brief "Who's Who." József Horváth, one of the owners, is a former secret service man from the good old days of the dictatorship who remained with the new "democratic" national security forces. In fact, László Kövér, the minister in charge of the secret service for a while, appointed him to be "főigazgató helyettes." Hungarians, when it comes to titles, love superlatives. "Director" would not do: he was named "deputy chief director." I would say a fairly high position, chief or not. But it seems that the socialist-liberal government was not too fond of József Horváth. In 2002, although he was only forty-one years old, he was put out to pasture: he had to retire from the secret service. Then there is András Tombor. He was the head of the national security cabinet under Viktor Orbán. He could be compared to the national security adviser in this country. István Stumpf doesn't need much introduction. He was the "college dean" of Viktor Orbán in his student days. He became one of Orbán's closest advisors and when Orbán became prime minister, headed the prime minister's office with the title of minister. And the prime minister's office is not a small organization. It has about 500 employees. Right now Stumpf is the head of Századvég (Fin-de-siècle), a think tank, and parades as a political scientist. Well, he's a lot more than that if he and his "business associates" are paying big bucks to finish off Ibolya Dávid. I read one article according to which two billion forints might have been available for her removal. This sounds a bit over the top, but who knows what's going on in certain political circles in Hungary? Oh, yes, and who was the "President"? Apparently none other than Sándor Csányi, president of OTP, the richest man in the country. What can one say? If half of this is true, Orbán and Co. is a throwback to Watergate, a crime syndicate.

Oh, yes, one more question. Who sent the CD to Ibolya Dávid? We don't know. It is possible that it was the National Security Office. By law György Szilvásy, undersecretary for national security affairs, would have to inform Dávid. On the other hand, Dávid said that she is sending a copy of the CD to Szilvásy. So perhaps the source is "Deep Throat."

Needless to say everybody is denying everything. Tóth says that it was a private conversation about a business deal he knew nothing about. Stumpf, of course, denies that he has anything to do with it. Former minister for national security under Orbán (successor to Kövér) Ervin Demeter claims that these are trumped up charges intended to discredit Fidesz, and not a word of it is true. Almássy admits that he did talk to UD Zrt. but about the security of his house. Sure thing!

The sad business is that most likely no one will be able to pin all this on Fidesz. However, Ibolya Dávid might realize that an MSZP-SZDSZ-MDP alliance against Fidesz is more advantageous than an Fidesz-MDP-SZDSZ alliance against MSZP.


  1. No matter how murky the whole affair is, and regardless of how unclear it shall remain, we can certainly deduce some conclusions that are by no means new, rather the same old conclusions confirmed.
    The fidesz is not about to rest, regardless of their favourable position, they continue their underground activities. Even if the real “mouth that roared,” Orban, is relatively quiet now.
    They almost always over-play their hand. That would be OK perhaps, but the interesting part is that they always find ready and willing accomplices for their machinations.
    They often choose to attack their allies instead their opposition. Although that is easier and cheaper, it always leads to embarrassment. But! It is almost impossible to embarrass the fidesz, they are impervious. (In fact, the more they embarrass themselves, the more aggressively do they come out with ridiculous accusations and “predictions.”)
    This affair again brings to light how petty and how vengeful Orban and the fidesz is. His earlier maxim: “aquila non captat muscas,” (an eagle wouldn’t hunt for flies) is often violated, like in this case, when he went after a second-rate functionary of a third-rate party, regardless of the consequences.
    But let us not forget the effect on MDF either! They must love it and be grateful for the attention this sordid nonsense will bring to them and their ineffectual “conference,” that otherwise nobody would have noticed.
    Finally, it doesn’t take a genius, (lucky, because we haven’t got any,) to predict that this affair, just like many similar ones before will lead to nowhere, will have zero consequences and the protagonists will cheerfully live continuing their “thing” everafter.
    (Hi Odin’s! I got intrigued by your nick and looked it up. That’s how I realized that I woefully misunderstood, and what is worse, misspelled your name ’till now. Sorry about that.
    On the other hand the significance of the lost eye is still a bit uncertain, since it has no further role in the mith. Neither is it as cool as the one he kept.)

  2. Professor might I suggest that this is the other half of the ‘Mouse that Roared’ tail. Fidesz is trying to eliminate any refuges for peoples who are disenchanted with either MZSP or Fidesz. Their objective is not to give them anyone to vote for (other than the Loony Left or the Rabid far Right). If the voter cannot or will not cast his/her vote for Fidesz then it is better that they do not vote at all!
    The putsch to unseat Ibolya Dávid as leaderm of MDF was a ‘put up job’ to stop her from visiting the Republican Convention in the USA. The reason Fidesz’s ‘All Highest’ Viktor Orbán would be speaking at the Convention, not as top man in Fidesz, but as the deputy chairman of the European Peoples party. He would then join the fourth handshake line and visit pappa George Bush. After all Washington did show him a Red Card over his dealings with the far Rancid Right. Ibolya Dávid on the other hand would have spoken as a Hungarian and from MDF. She would probably have shaken hands with the candidate for Vice President of the ‘US of A’ (the second handshake line). The 30 to 40 seconds of airtime allocated for the convention on the TV would have had to be shared between them. This is something that the Fidesz’s ‘All Highest’ Viktor Orbán could not tolerate.
    Professor your statement **** “The sad business is that most likely no one will be able to pin all this on Fidesz..” *** is probably all too true. Like McCaffity the Cat whenever anything wrong is done Fidesz is never there, but their taint lingers on.
    As you say Professor *** “However, Ibolya Dávid might realize that an MSZP-SZDSZ-MDP alliance against Fidesz is more advantageous than an Fidesz-MDP-SZDSZ alliance against MSZP.” ***
    Ibolya Dávid and her supporters should have a good look at the events surrounding the leadership putsch and those involved. Who paid whom and where did the money come from?

  3. Mr Sandor
    There was the EYE no one wanted it, so I took it, why not? ‘Cool’ not in my line of business.

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