Further developments in the Kubatov affair

Yesterday I gave some background on Fidesz's detailed database that was collected under the watchful eyes of Gábor Kubatov, Fidesz's "party director." A far-right internet site got hold of a tape in which Kubatov explains to young party activists the intricacies of developing a modern on-line database that can be accessed by all authorized individuals. They made the tape available yesterday on YouTube. At that time they promised a new installment that indeed came today.

I figure that both tapes were recorded on the same occasion. According to the far-right site that got hold of the tapes Kubatov delivered his pep talk at a "summer camp" organized by Fidesz in Balatonszárszó for the party's young supporters. The gathering was called "Civic governance 2.0." The weekend affair was also attended by some bigwigs–László Kövér, György Matolcsy (Fidesz's "economic expert"), and Zoltán Pokorni (allegedly a moderate within the party whose expertise is education). As it turned out even some so-called "independent" political scientists were also among the guests, like Gábor Török and Géza N.. Böszörményi. According to a summary of the events published by Fidesz, Kubatov's "lecture" was greatly appreciated because in spite of the serious nature of the subject the speaker cracked a lot of jokes, making it very enjoyable. Unfortunately, adds the summary, "for various reasons one cannot really quote parts of the speech." That's an understatement.

The second segment is perhaps more damaging than the one released yesterday. Here Kubatov explains how they created a situation in Pécs in which it looked as if MSZP's candidate and her activists violated the election laws by breaking the campaign silence. But let's hear Kubatov himself. Fidesz "collected for example Katalin Szili's campaign leaflets and threw them into mailboxes on Sunday. Then a Fidesz activist got a telephone call [from the party] saying 'Jóska, would you go down and check your mailbox?'…. Jóska went down and, miracle of miracles, he found a leaflet in his mailbox. He phoned back saying 'I found a leaflet in my mailbox and the stairwell is full of leaflets, but I swear that they were not here yesterday because I emptied the mailbox and picked up all the leaflets.' 'Jóska, then immediately go the election committee and tell them what happened.' And he did. These are the kinds of things we will have to do in the future as well."

Kubatov then explains what MSZP did wrong when the party sent down 2,000 or 2,200 older women to help Szili's cause. I remember that at the time I thought it was a brilliant idea. At last MSZP is running a modern campaign, I said to myself. Great was my surprise when I heard from my relatives who live in Pécs that the reaction was terribly negative in town. I couldn't quite understand why. After all, I argued, Fidesz activists had been knocking on practically every door for weeks. What's wrong if MSZP activists do the same, I argued. At the time the only thing I could think of was that the Fidesz activists were locals while the MSZP's older ladies were strangers in town. This is still a possible explanation but Kubatov came up with another. "MSZP organized a similar campain that HírTV called the invasion. They sent down 2,000-2,200 'nyuggers.' And the 2,200 'nyuggers' went from door to door…. This full court press didn't make much sense because if you don't have your own database it is possible that you activate the base of the other camp. Because think of it. What happens when a canvasser for Gyurcsány or Bajnai knocks on your door and says, ''Good afternoon, Bajnai sent me and I urge you to go and vote.' Well, the first sentence that would pop into your head: 'Go to hell!' The second: 'I will decide' and the third that if until now you didn't have any intention of voting after such an insult you will go and vote" and of course not for MSZP.

A couple of observations and additions to this text. The word that definitely needs an explanation is "nyugger." Even if you live abroad as I do and aren't familiar with the latest not too polite descriptions of certain groups you immediately realize that this is degrading slang for "nyugdíjas," pensioner. The first thing that popped into my head was that it bears a suspicious resemblance to the word "nyűg" meaning burden. Put it this way: our young man doesn't exactly honor his elders. I translated "menj az anyádba!" as "go to hell" which is more polite than the Hungarian expression which uses the word "mother."

Meanwhile the left-liberal side is actively pursuing this case. They have asked a range of officials–the national election committee, the prosecutor's office, and the ombudsman, just to mention a few–to investigate. The Pécs MSZP and Katalin Szili have also moved into action. On the other side there is a huge silence except for the few words Péter Szijjártó uttered trying to minimize the affair as some horrible conspiracy to discredit the party. Some of the television stations last night didn't even mention the event in their evening news. Papers supporting Fidesz simply published Szijjártó's indignant complaint against the evil collaboration of Jobbik and MSZP. I will keep checking the Hungarian media for further clues. But so far the "politologists" who usually unabashedly side with Fidesz have been extremely quiet. They don't seem to be able to find the right words to defend their favorite party.