Ferenc Gyurcsány and the hunger strike: Media reactions

I just finished reading approximately 100 articles on the topic of the week-long hunger strike of four members of the Demokratikus Koalíció leadership. DK is the newest political party in Hungary and at present is the smallest, a couple of percentage points below LMP according to the latest public opinion polls. The hunger strike was announced by Ferenc Gyurcsány, former prime minister of Hungary and chairman of DK, on a talk show on TV2 last night.

Seven Days for Free Elections / Index /photo István Huszti

Apparently the presidium of DK  made the decision to have four of its leading politicians stage a hunger strike in front of the parliament building: Ferenc Gyurcsány, Csaba Molnár, Péter Niedermüller, and István Kolber. The four men will survive on water and tea. They set up four tents for sleeping purposes and a fifth, a kind of a living room, where friends and supporters can visit them. This hunger strike will cost DK 130,000 forints, the fee Parliament’s office headed by László Kövér charges for the use of that particular part of Kossuth Square.

The four men’s decision to stage a hunger strike was prompted by the extreme danger they see in the Orbán government’s plan to introduce a registration procedure into the Hungarian election system. Up until now the election commission has been responsible for keeping an accurate list of all eligible voters, and apparently the commission’s record has been good. Therefore registration over and above a centrally prepared electoral list seems superfluous and can serve only one purpose: to limit the number of active voters.

Although the question of registration has been discussed back and forth in the media since late May, Ferenc Gyurcsány believes that the Hungarian public is not aware of the great danger registration would pose to Hungarian democracy. Extreme threats must answered by extreme measures. And a former prime minister on a week-long hunger strike is the perfect story to make a huge splash internationally.

You may recall that last December some LMP members chained themselves to the entrance of the parking area reserved for members of parliament. Some members of  DK and eventually of MSZP decided to join them. When the police arrived the whole group, including Ferenc Gyurcsány, was taken to the police station. Because of the presence of the former prime minister the news hit all the major international newspapers. If he hadn’t been there the news would have been a great deal less “interesting.”

This is exactly what happened this time. Just in the English language press I found sixty-four articles while searching for “Gyurcsány.” The Hungarian media is mostly making a joke out of it, and what I found interesting is that the so-called “liberal” media are a great deal more critical than the right-wing papers and blogs. The latter are often only jovial. A local paper from the County of Bács came out with the headline: “Feri is on hunger strike for a week” and kept calling him “the Feri of the country.” Feri is the nickname for Ferenc. Another paper from the County of Hajdu made snide remarks about “a very rich businessman on a hunger strike.” The far-right Echo TV introduced the news with a slang expression: “Gyurcsányék sátorba cuccoltak, és koplalnak” (Gyurcsány and his friends put their stuff into a tent and are starving). The spokeswoman for Fidesz made jokes about four guys sleeping in the same tent.

On the other hand, some of the so-called liberal bloggers were outright vicious. “Örülünk Vincent” announced that Gyurcsány is already politically dead and “it is not becoming of a dead man to be so frolicky.” The final words of “Vincent” are puzzling. “As I already said, Gyurcsány could make himself useful for the opposition of Orbán only if he were jailed as a political prisoner. We would fight for you, Feri, we would pick up the cobblestones for you and would lay siege to the headquarters of Közgép. Then they would let you rot in jail. You are a symbol, Feri, the symbol of freedom at the wrong time at the wrong place.”

Index is also burying Ferenc Gyurcsány and makes fun of everybody and everything. Nyugat talks about the fretting grandmas who visit Gyurcsány while HVG gleefully announces that there are very few people around and about. Hajdupress, a paper from Eastern Hungary, seems to be sympathetic but finds the whole thing useless. Hunger strikes should last as long as the demands of  the strikers are not met. But then Gyurcsány and his friends would die of hunger because the registration is coming regardless. So, let’s not do anything.

There is talk about everything except the reason for the hunger strike. If the bill on the election law includes registration and if the results are detrimental to the opposition, then perhaps the liberal press will not be so delighted as it seems now. Only one former MSZP MP, József Karsai, came to Gyurcsány’s rescue even though Karsai was known for his very populist opposition to Gyurcsány when he was prime minister. “Ferenc Gyurcsány is right on the question of registration,” Karsai announced.

I think it is time to wake up before it’s too late. And let’s not make a joke out of everything. The situation is not funny.

95 comments

  1. If you’re going to use the tool of a hunger strike then do it properly- you stay on it until you achieve your object.
    7 days *is* a joke, no more than a slightly harsher than usual diet.

  2. oneill :
    If you’re going to use the tool of a hunger strike then do it properly- you stay on it until you achieve your object.
    7 days *is* a joke, no more than a slightly harsher than usual diet.

    He migh as well could say “I’ll eat only carrots for 7 days”.

  3. Ok, I regret my previous joke. It’s true – the situation is everything but funny. If the opposition can mobilize the people to register, that’s a big problem. So they should mobilize them. Door to door campaigns, phone calls, snail mails, emails, flyers. Register, register, register … tell your neighbor. Here we go again. The dreaded “M” word.

    The way I see it Gyurcsany managed to ridicule the issue itself with his diet program. Now the nation is having fun watching him and in Planet Hungary this will give them the impression that the issue itself is not big deal. Hungarians are not the smartest bunch.

    “The government is corrupt and evil! I’m Bozo The Clown and I endorse this message!”

    This is not the best PR.

  4. Mutt :

    oneill :
    If you’re going to use the tool of a hunger strike then do it properly- you stay on it until you achieve your object.
    7 days *is* a joke, no more than a slightly harsher than usual diet.

    He migh as well could say “I’ll eat only carrots for 7 days”.

    I don’t know. In 1956 about a week of not eating was anything but fun.

  5. I do not see what is wrong with the hunger strike. People at least can debate about it (and hopefully through that also about types of protest that they might find more suitable) and could also notice the cause of this strike. Perhaps the protesters could combine it with a petition (but I guess that already exists), just to ask people to position themselves. To make fun of it as the opposition media apparently does, is a proof of their helplessness. Of course they can criticise this hunger strike, but it would be more convincing if they had a positive alternative suggestion.

  6. Mutt: “Now the nation is having fun watching him and in Planet Hungary this will give them the impression that the issue itself is not big deal.”

    Are you suggesting that people only see that somebody refuses to eat, find that hilarious (a diet, too weird, haha) and believe that that person must have only wanted to lose weight? (That’s weird, haha.)

  7. I think this is seriously miscalculated and deserves to be mocked. The timing is also suicidal: the anniversary of the Öszöd speech which just undermines the message. As for the message, we still don’t know quite know what form registration is going to take and whether it is as sinister as we imagine. Lázár today announced how it would work and while I think it is quite unnecessary, it is nowhere near as outrageous or unreasonable as I had expected (an eight month period, during which reminders would be sent out.) So this histrionic attempted suicide is in response to nothing more than rumour. Frankly, it is an embarrassment.

    Let us not forget that it was Gyúrcsány and the MSZP’s inept handling of the Öszöd affair that created the grounds for Orbán’s two third’s majority.

  8. oneill :
    If you’re going to use the tool of a hunger strike then do it properly- you stay on it until you achieve your object.
    7 days *is* a joke, no more than a slightly harsher than usual diet.

    Well said. Going on “hunger strike” for a predefined length of time is a rather unorthodox idea, and indeed a joke if that time is but a few days. (Doing so while wearing a $100+ Ralph Lauren shirt is downright ridiculous.)

    In fact one cannot help but wonder if the prosecutors had made a deal with Gyurcsány: “We’ll let you go Feri but from now on, you’ll have to serve the interests of the Orbán government.” For from now on if anyone speaks up against the planned introduction of the – methinks quite worrisome and wholly unnecessary – registration system, [s]he can conveniently be labelled a Gyurcsányist, which means instant political death. Fidesz already owe a truckload to Gyurcsány – starting with their two-thirds majority as such – and it seems Gyurcsány is determined to help them keep that majority and stay in power. (If he wanted to help the opposition, he should simply shut the hell up and get lost at long last.)

  9. “Let us not forget that it was Gyúrcsány and the MSZP’s inept handling of the Öszöd affair that created the grounds for Orbán’s two third’s majority.”

    That statement seems to be as popular in Hungary as the statement that the country was robbed over and over by foreign forces. If your statement were true, the voters who put their faith in Orban as the head of a “standard Western European conservative party” and who had such clear ideas about what has to be changed to finally arrive at the “decent life in a democracy”, these people would have managed to get rid of Orban within a year but definitely by now. No, if anything, the entire political class is to blame as is the rather lazy public. (Mutt’s ‘M’ word.)

  10. “The situation is not funny” – couldn’t agree more.

    That’s why feels silly to notice that the slogan “Hét Nap a Szabad Választásokért” doesn’t translate as “Six Days for Free Elections” – he caption above – to me, sorry!
    I know, splitting hairs and all that, but still…

  11. spectator :

    “The situation is not funny” – couldn’t agree more.

    That’s why feels silly to notice that the slogan “Hét Nap a Szabad Választásokért” doesn’t translate as “Six Days for Free Elections” – he caption above – to me, sorry!
    I know, splitting hairs and all that, but still…

    Oops! Thanks. Fixed it.

  12. Kirsten :
    Mutt: “Now the nation is having fun watching him and in Planet Hungary this will give them the impression that the issue itself is not big deal.”
    Are you suggesting that people only see that somebody refuses to eat, find that hilarious (a diet, too weird, haha) and believe that that person must have only wanted to lose weight? (That’s weird, haha.)

    Well, some are this dumb. Really.

    But, no, no. The people see Gyurcsany as the household name for sleazy politician. You simply overestimate the intelligence of the average Joe/Mary in Hungary. This is a country where 500k was happily marching (and will again) behind an anti-Semite to support the worst government in post-Communist history. Gyurcsany is simply bad marketing for them. The hysteria that was started in 2006 is still working.

    I do not think he is sleazy – I’m just banging my head into the wall. He should put his talent into organization instead and stay in the background. Perhaps forever. What he’s doing is like stalking your love interest after you’ve been rejected. He should realize that he will not become a leader in this country, despite being a good man and one of the smartest.

    Yes the public is lazy. That’s is why the voter registration is a big problem. So let’s get them out and register. The registration will happen. Let’s accept it. If the opposition parties cannot mobilize the apathetic bunch to register they should question their own identity. What and who are they representing in the parliament?

  13. “Only one former MSZP MP, József Karsai, came to Gyurcsány’s rescue”

    Oh I almost skipped over this one. Karsai is the nation’s number one hunger strike expert – inasmuch as he initiated the most ridiculous one in the country’s history. On 20 June 2011 he announced to “the Hungarian Telegraph Bureau, all television stations, printed presses [sic!] and Internet publications” that he would go on a two-day (no kidding!) hunger strike over a plethora of issues (he listed twenty-one).

    The next day he announced that his doctor had banned him from doing so.

  14. @Tyrker
    “…wearing a $100+ Ralph Lauren shirt is downright ridiculous” – if you say so you certainly have a reason, doubtless, I won’t argue.

    However, to me this fact rather represent a reasonably good taste, as opposed to another person in shirtsleeves, here:
    http://kepviselofunky.blog.hu/2012/08/31/orban_kedvenc_inge
    or here:
    http://szuperblog.szuperblog.hu/oriasi-tenyleg-a-csikos-orban-kedvenc-inge/
    – but of course, I respect your taste too, even if I don’t like it particularly, but hey, don’t worry, – there are a lot of like-minded people around, so you won’t miss my moral support that much!

  15. You guys don’t see any contradiction between labelling GyF so smart and talented and the fact that he managed to make himself one of the biggest laughing stocks in Hungary. I know, I know, evil Fidesz propaganda did that to him, but then you must admit that Orbán was indeed a brilliant opposition leader who managed to gather a 2/3 majority against this super smart and talented hero of the nation.

    On a more serious note, I think that Gyurcsány’s talent is more of a legend than reality and if he is talented in something it’s the same kind of power play and puppetmastering OV is so good at. He beat OV once (but then I admit severely) in a TV debate and ever since then he’s just an icon for that single act (their other battles were a lot closer to a tie). I think he’s a very poor actor trying to create big theatrical drama about himself and this hunger strike is just another pathetic chapter of that. It’s also ironical that back then, his very democratic minded opinion about public protests was: “Let them protest, they’ll get bored eventually and go home”. He’s “popularity” is also based on a cult of personality I’m repulsed by so much. E.g.:

    But otherwise I agree, the situation is not at all funny. That’s why clowns are not the ones who should solve it.

  16. @spectator

    Hey, I actually like RL shirts – I just don’t think they are the proper thing to wear when you’re on a hunger strike. That just doesn’t send the right kind of message. Horses for courses, you know.

    As far as Orbán’s appalling red-white-blue striped shirt is concerned, I’m with you 100%.

  17. For many of my acquaintances who voted for Orban, bashing Gurcsany is kind of a last refuge… they’d like to believe they were at least right about him (as they now realize they were wrong about Orban). So, in some sense, wide-spread Gyurcsany bashing is a psychological necessity.

    Btw, you’ll never hear an Oszod speech from Orban. Not because he never lies (he lies day and night), but because he is never going to admit it, not even to a close circle of his friends.

  18. oneill and Kingfisher nail it as usual. Silly stunt which will only play into the hands of the very people he is protesting about.

    The IRA used to do hunger strikes – until they died, if they didn’t get what they wanted. For instance, Bobby Sands died after 66 days on hunger strike – and died as a member of the British Parliament, having been elected whilst on strike.

    That’s a hunger strike. Not eating for a few days is a silly stunt.

  19. Just out of interest, this is what Sands died for (from Wikipedia):

    “The hunger strike centred around five demands:

    1.the right not to wear a prison uniform;
    2.the right not to do prison work;
    3.the right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and recreational pursuits;
    4.the right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week;
    5.full restoration of remission lost through the protest.”

  20. Sorry, to find that the people are not responding seriously to the hunger strike action.
    It is serious.
    Everybody should try to survive one day.
    It is fair to express sympathy for Gyurcsany, while we should hopeto find an intelligent, enlightened, untainted leader of the social democrats/liberal classes.

  21. The Oszod speech of Gyurcsany was an honest monolog. Unfortunately, Gyurcsan could not counter the hypocritical attackers.

    The source of the leak was never found.

    In plain view, Gyurcsan was could have been a hero and a decent person, but the critiques managed to use his decency against him.

  22. “There is talk about everything except the reason for the hunger strike. If the bill on the election law includes registration and if the results are detrimental to the opposition, then perhaps the liberal press will not be so delighted as it seems now. ”
    Eva, as I stated and predicted on the previous thread, this hunger strike will not bring attention to the cause, or simply the reason will be forgotten. It is just simply does not work, and you can see it too. It backfired. I sympathize with Gyurcsany and I have high respect for him for having the guts (no pun intended) to do this, but this is another “bad public service announcement”. People do not understand what it means what Orban tries to push through, and they only see Gyurcsany going on hunger strike because he does not want voter registration. Voter registration… does that seem so bad from the sound of it? Does this sound bad in Canada? NO. we have voter registration too. WHat the difference is does not get across, and a seven day hunger strike will not do.

  23. Eva, Mutt: “What an opportunity for all the Gyurcsány haters to come out and vent their hatred of the man.”

    We can’t always just hate OV 24-7, we need a break sometimes. Btw, hating is not a crime as long as you have very good reasons to. I for example hate the Nazis and the Hungarian hard right, but don’t make it look like that disliking Gyurcsány is some sort of a lame thing, I admit I have my sarcastic style (just as you do Mutt), but I wasn’t venting. I stated my reasons very clearly, you are very welcome to disagree and start a debate about them. Or we can talk about OV again and have a conversation with 167 subsequent “I agree” ‘s. Keep in mind probably that’s the kind of discussion Orbán usually has with his minions.

    Some1: You are right the reason of the hungerstrike is perfectly legitimate, I just think we have discussed it several times already, and the tone of the topic – at least according to how I felt – was rather directed towards why people mock GYF for it. But I couldn’t agree more with you on your last sentence. It should be emphasized that contrary to what the government claims this is NOT at all the North American system. The opposition parties, including DK and Gyurcsány, are doing a horrible job at it, attacking the concept of voter registration as a whole.

    On this note, I think there is another possibility nobody seems to consider and that is that it might backfire pretty badly on Fidesz, if not in 2014 then in 2018. Hungarians hate when somebody puts unnecessary administration on their shoulder and while they might not care that much about the independence of the national bank, an extra trip to the local government or to the post office might fire up those who are not exactly pro Fidesz. Of course this might be merely wishful thinking, and the opposition parties should do all the groundwork somebody mentioned above to make their supporters register.

  24. Eva, Mutt: “What an opportunity for all the Gyurcsány haters to come out and vent their hatred of the man.”
    I couldn’t agree more. Instead of spreading even more hatred against Gyurcsány,more attention should be focused on the apalling idea of Orbán and his thugs concerning registration for election.
    At least DK is trying to do something to draw attention to the destruction of democracy and there aren’t too many tools left for protesters.
    Those who keep criticising him and DK should come up with some other alternatives.
    It’s easier to mock DK’s supporters from the armchair at home.

  25. some1: “People do not understand what it means what Orban tries to push through,”

    You mean the journalists who find this strike so amusing? I am with An on this one, there is a lot of bad conscience in it.
    Perhaps these journalists would do a better job explaining to the (apparently always uninformed) people what that means. I do not consider them so dumb, so I believe they that because of helplessness they try to take it lightly. And I do agree that Ferenc Gyurcsany is not the most suited candidate for “change” in Hungary, but there are not many more. (Hilarous, by the way.)

  26. I have just heard that pro government fans are organising a feast and food festival just in front of DK’s tents.
    They consider it very funny and witty. How very pathetic!

  27. London Calling!

    The Hunger Strike is an appropriate mechanism to bring attention to the ‘Pre-Registration issue.

    1) There has been good International coverage – as Eva suggested – to bring attention to the issue.

    2) Just as the experienced driver will use his right indicator (or left in Hungary!) when there is no-one behind him when overtaking, for example, a cyclist (to ‘nurse’ the oncoming traffic nearer the kerb to give more room) – (and it is not always always obvious to others…..)

    3) ……then Gyurcsány is doing it for home consumption via a not-so-obvious route. He knows that ‘Ex-Premier’ ‘gets International publicity’ will be effective – and the people at home might re-consider the issue – or see that it deserves more importance. He has been successful in this so far.

    4) What else can he do?(1) As has been shown – Orban’s press ridicules it – if they would report it at all. International press hasn’t. (Witness the journalist’s hunger strike outside the TV station? – I suspect domestically it fell down a big hole.) Gyurcsány knows this of course.

    5) What else can he do?(2) There is no effective time allowed for debate in Parliament – no effective opposition.

    6) This is a Hunger Strike! (Not a Starve-to-Death Strike!) If the participants did hobble themselves to death – or near death – they would be excluding themselves from the human gene-pool (not too clever eh?). The salient point is that it is an ‘Ex-Premier’ and it receives publicity. The ‘degree of hunger’ is almost irrelevant.

    (The comparison with Bobby Sands is a non-sequitor – Sands wanted out of the hunger strike – as persuaded by his relatives – but the calculating callousness of the IRA wouldn’t allow it. He had painted himself into a corner. It was a pretty brainless campaign – with very sad results – a lost cause from the start.)

    7) I have said before that Gyurcsány is a ‘busted-flush’, sadly, because of circumstances – not because of lack of ability.

    Why?

    Hungarians just focus on the obviousness of his taped ‘lies’ (Goodness he lied!) – they don’t realise that politics is more sophisticated than that. This is the reality of politics in a mature democracy – and yours isn’t yet. To an English observer (Me!) from watching his ‘presence’ on TV with my partner translating – this man oozes ‘Integrity’ and intelligence compared with Orban (who also lied with his ambassadors) – and others. This is the reality.

    8) However he may yet experience a come-back (Our Winston Churchill did!). But my judgement is that it is unlikely – I hope I am wrong.

    Regards

    Charlie

  28. “It was a pretty brainless campaign – with very sad results – a lost cause from the start”

    Charlie,

    Yes and no. Sands and 9 others died but in terms of worldwide anti-Thatcher PR which (cold-heartedly) is what their organisation were after, it succeeded. Also, in the end, the other prisioners eventually got their demands re political status.

    Slightly off the point but there are comparisons. If Bobby Sands had said “For seven long days I am going on hunger strike, only tea and water shall pass my lips” would there have been such a worldwide reaction? Of course not. If Gyurcsany were to go on a “no limits” hunger strike how much more explosive would be, regardless of his toxic image at home, the worldwide media reaction? The regime would be put on the defensive backfoot as happened, in my opinion, only two main times before with demos.

    First was the original media independence one, when despite the low numbers involved, pictures of the students with their mouths taped over, went round the world and triggered complete panic within the regime’s propaganda dept when foreign papers started questioning the law’s rationale.

    Second was when the LMP and also Gyurcsany got carted off to nick when they chained themselves to the parliament gates. In both cases the timing was great (ie in the quiet period before Xmas) and the impact hit exactly the target.

    A 7 day’s diet for something as abstract as voter registration (which is present in other democracies) won’t achieve the same target.

    Several have asked about an alternative- they exist but would involve the opposition and normal concerned citizens moving outside a comfortzone where they are presently residing and ineffectually harping at the regime. If the democratic opposition threatened and if necessarily carried out a boycott of the next election that would have an impact. If concerned citizens started carrying out a campaign of pacifist civil disobedience that would eventually provoke an over-reaction from the regime and a corresponding wider impact.

    But there isn’t the stomach for the consequences of either course and as a result Fidesz remain firmly in control of events.

  29. To reiterate: this is premature. The proposed legislation has not been published and the first time we heard details was yesterday, from Lázár, and frankly, I’d struggle to make a case against it on grounds other than it being yet another layer of pointless bureaucracy. I don’t see the need for it, but it is a good less outrageous than the private pension grab and I suspect most outsiders would fail to see what the fuss is about. And I haven’t seen any convincing arguments on this thread either. So to me, this hunger strike is a piece of political exhibitionism, nothing more.

    Gyurcsány is a gifted off-the-cuff speaker (although his written speeches tend to be patronising and false), he made mincemeat of Orbán in the debate, but I can’t say he “oozes integrity.” He “oozes cleverness”, definitely, but during his reign as prime minister, he achieved precisely nothing.

  30. How can you complain that attention is taken away from the supposed cause of Gyurcyány’s tea party, when all he has ever been is an object of derision and moria, as a jaded symbol of the champagne socialism that fatted itself whilst taking none of the necessary steps towards social and financial lustration.

    It is embarrassing, but more importantly it is he, Gyurcsány, who has turned this issue into a joke. He is resoundly despised. His popularity is a mere 17 or something percent. This doesn’t change no matter what performance he puts on to try to draw the crowd’s acclaim.

    The real problem is that he sees himself as a martyr figure, one that represents Hungary’s suffering.

    Whenever he tries to step into the limelight all that is underlined is that he is a dishonest, manipulative plagarist and an incompetent leader. It would take an enormous effort for anyone put that knowledge aside and be able to focus on any other issue.

    He should never choose himself as the figurehead for anything decent. Then maybe the issue itself will be central.

  31. E1776 :

    The Oszod speech of Gyurcsany was an honest monolog. Unfortunately, Gyurcsan could not counter the hypocritical attackers.

    The source of the leak was never found.

    In plain view, Gyurcsan was could have been a hero and a decent person, but the critiques managed to use his decency against him.

    Earlier Gyurcsány mentioned that three people from MSZP present were the culprits. Saturday in an interview he said a little more. He talked about one woman and two men who leaked the speech to Fidesz. I bet that everybody will think first of Katalin Szili who hates Gyurcsány and who had represented the left within MSZP before she left the party altogether to establish a new party of her own that since died a quiet death.

  32. Cherry17 :

    Eva, Mutt: “What an opportunity for all the Gyurcsány haters to come out and vent their hatred of the man.”
    I couldn’t agree more. Instead of spreading even more hatred against Gyurcsány,more attention should be focused on the apalling idea of Orbán and his thugs concerning registration for election.
    At least DK is trying to do something to draw attention to the destruction of democracy and there aren’t too many tools left for protesters.
    Those who keep criticising him and DK should come up with some other alternatives.
    It’s easier to mock DK’s supporters from the armchair at home.

    As is well known for the readers of Hungarian Spectrum I sympathize with Gyurcsány’s ideas. Currently, he is the only politician in Hungary who has a well defined vision for the future. (I don’t consider Bajnai a politician.)

    As for this “stunt” as some of you called it I agree with Cherry17. At least he is doing something. When he and Ágnes Vadai moved in with some inhabitants of a very bad part of Miskolc everybody laughed at the idea. But DK’s popularity went up.

    And one more thing. Although some of you may not have noticed it but the really important decisions of the opposition originally came from Gyurcsány. For example, the boycott of the new constitution and the election law. After some hesitation MSZP and LMP followed.

  33. I think Vandorlo represents a very important point of view. Fidesz often tried to expand their party base (or people who would vote for Fidesz) by using the press, viral campaigns, and every PR tools smartly (and lets put aside how true those messages are),and implementing “measures and promises” (legislative or otherwise). At the other end of the spectrum there was MSZP (and I am including here DK as it is very fresh), that missed its chances many times for clear communication, and often only preaches to the converted. I sympathize and understand what Gyurcsany wants. His fans understand where he is coming from, but does the Fidesz base understand? An, Eva and Kirsten, At this time I think you take the criticism presented on this board as an attack against Gyurcsany, and you do no favours to the cause. THe outcome was very predictable, It is beside the point that the message is right or wrong. I agree wit the message and most of us here agree with the the message. What I do not agree with is how the message is being delivered, because the outcome was predictable. It is like sending an important message to oversees and you put Joe Nobody on the plane and Mr. Hero in a boat. Guess, which one will be more effective? It is not what the message is my problem, and it is not who delivers the message is my problem, but its effectiveness.

  34. Kirsten :

    some1: “People do not understand what it means what Orban tries to push through,”

    You mean the journalists who find this strike so amusing? I am with An on this one, there is a lot of bad conscience in it.
    Perhaps these journalists would do a better job explaining to the (apparently always uninformed) people what that means. I do not consider them so dumb, so I believe they that because of helplessness they try to take it lightly. And I do agree that Ferenc Gyurcsany is not the most suited candidate for “change” in Hungary, but there are not many more. (Hilarous, by the way.)

    Some of the journalists’ comments were outright stomach turning and highly unfair. And as I said not just the pro-government side.

  35. Kingfisher :

    To reiterate: this is premature. The proposed legislation has not been published and the first time we heard details was yesterday, from Lázár, and frankly, I’d struggle to make a case against it on grounds other than it being yet another layer of pointless bureaucracy. I don’t see the need for it, but it is a good less outrageous than the private pension grab and I suspect most outsiders would fail to see what the fuss is about. And I haven’t seen any convincing arguments on this thread either. So to me, this hunger strike is a piece of political exhibitionism, nothing more.

    Well, I doubt that the introduction of registration is less serious than the private pension grab. In fact, it potentially could be a much more weighty issue. It might serve to transform Hungary a potentially one-party state. It is a very, very serious issue.

    And don’t think for a moment that this is a minor issue. If it were Orbán wouldn’t insist on it. But he does. In fact, he knows that there might be an uproar (balhé) about it but he doesn’t care. There is another issue he is adamant about: the retirement age of the judges. Why? For the same reason he is adamant about the registration. He wants to make sure that the Hungarian judiciary serves his purpose. The independence of the judiciary at stake, And with the registration the very essence of democracy: free elections.

  36. Eva S. Balogh :

    E1776 :
    The Oszod speech of Gyurcsany was an honest monolog. Unfortunately, Gyurcsan could not counter the hypocritical attackers.
    The source of the leak was never found.
    In plain view, Gyurcsan was could have been a hero and a decent person, but the critiques managed to use his decency against him.

    Earlier Gyurcsány mentioned that three people from MSZP present were the culprits. Saturday in an interview he said a little more. He talked about one woman and two men who leaked the speech to Fidesz. I bet that everybody will think first of Katalin Szili who hates Gyurcsány and who had represented the left within MSZP before she left the party altogether to establish a new party of her own that since died a quiet death.

    THat is interesting. I wonder what she thinks now. Eva, do you happen to know wHat does she do in her private life? I mean what is her occupation?

  37. Eva S. Balogh :

    Kirsten :
    some1: “People do not understand what it means what Orban tries to push through,”
    You mean the journalists who find this strike so amusing? I am with An on this one, there is a lot of bad conscience in it.
    Perhaps these journalists would do a better job explaining to the (apparently always uninformed) people what that means. I do not consider them so dumb, so I believe they that because of helplessness they try to take it lightly. And I do agree that Ferenc Gyurcsany is not the most suited candidate for “change” in Hungary, but there are not many more. (Hilarous, by the way.)

    Some of the journalists’ comments were outright stomach turning and highly unfair. And as I said not just the pro-government side.

    Just for the record, I do not agree with vilifying Gyurcsany. I agree that it seems that he is the only one who tries to bring serious attention to the issue, and if the newspapers that represent the opposition cannot take this chance, then shame on them. It also takes out from the puzzle on “Why Fidesz can still have followers?”. As they say
    With friends like that who needs enemies?

  38. Eva, you have to register in some form or another in most countries. Here in the UK, you have to put yourself on the electoral register. I don’t have any problem with that. How is what Lazar announced yesterday significantly different? I agree it isn’t necessary but I don’t see it as ushering in a one-party state and certainly, not something to hunger strike about.

  39. @Eva
    “As is well known for the readers of Hungarian Spectrum I sympathize with Gyurcsány’s ideas.”
    You are just another communist no different from your war criminal buddy Bela Biszku.

  40. London Calling!

    I have to agree with Eva regarding the seriousness of this issue.

    Low-poll turnouts are a serious ‘decay’ of democracy in England.

    We are wringing our hands trying to motivate the old; the young and everyone in between. The ‘electoral’ roll is seen as a necessary evil here. But turnouts have been seriously reducing over the years.

    (We have ‘compulsory’ registration – you have to be on the electoral roll to be able to vote and many councils try and keep it updated every year. A long and hard task – even when it is reinforced with threats of large fines for not completing it or completing it with false information.)

    ANYTHING that obstructs – or is likely to obstruct – the smooth passage of an election is a serious issue. And this will obstruct it in favour of the incumbent – Orban; and he knows it.
    What me? (Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth)

    Once it is in place you will never be able to reverse it – and even if it was introduced the legislation should be considered long, long and hard with all the ‘stakeholders’.

    People here are more interested in ‘Xfactor’ of ‘Simply Come Dancing’ and disinterest and ennui is a serious problem. Elections are usually carried out on a Thursday – when blockbuster TV programs less likely to compete with the turnout.

    Policies are aimed at the ‘older demographic’ because politicians know that these are the most likely to vote – and this skews the fairness in our society. The young are almost disenfranchised.

    (I am in favour of being able to vote online – and I wish our Parliament would modernise the archaic voting system there.)

    So WIDEN and FACILITATE the ease of voting – Don’t diminish it.

    Don’t let it happen.

    Don’t get bored – get Orban!

    Regards

    Charlie

    (From the Land of the Mother of All Parliaments!)

  41. @Kingfisher: I don’t know about the UK, but in the US, if you don’t move you only have to register once (when you turn 18) or if you move. The point is to put together a list if eligible voters. In Hungary, right now it looks they’d require voters to register before every general election (the list the will put together in 2014 will “expire” in 2017).

    In Hungary, the list of eligible voters already exists without this extra need for registering to vote, as citizens are required to report their change of address to the local government every time they move. These lists at the local governments are the basis of the eligibility lists they check at the voting booth. The system worked just fine till now… when OV, out of the blue, wants to introduce voter registration. Of course, the benevolent and democratic minded leader he is, he insists on this totally unnecessary step to strengthen democracy in Hungary…. yeah, right.

    In the US, there is genuine need to put together an eligibility list, as no other “list” exists. So the point is to create one , that’s why you need to register, but you don’t need to register every time you want to vote. By the way, they try to make it as easy as possible (online, last minute registration). In Hungary, there is no need for such a list… so the point is what? To make it more difficult to vote (one indication is that you’d need to register before every general election). Is that clear?

    Also, about making it as easy as possible…. according to the current suggestion, the government will send out a letter in August, to which you have respond, whether you want to pre-register or not… then you’ll have a window of several months to actually pre-register.. so you’ll have to pre-register to pre-register… wonderful.

    The motivation behind it is absolutely undemocratic. In a democratic country, the goal should be to make it easier for everybody to vote, not unnecessarily more difficult.

    It is fairly easy to take one’s country democratic practice and abuse it. This is what the Orban government is so good at.

  42. London Calling!

    Is ‘center_left’ you-know-who?

    (Eva are the IP addresses similar?)

    Regards

    Charlie

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