Milla and LMP: Double curse of current Hungarian politics

A few days ago I made optimistic noises about a possible collaboration among democratic parties and anti-Fidesz civic organizations without which there can be no change of government in 2014. My optimism resulted from the joint demonstration by DK, MSZP, and Solidarity at the conclusion of the hunger strike of four DK members of parliament. Since then I have been awakened from my dream.

Only a few days after the hopeful signs of cooperation Milla, a civic organization that began on Facebook on December 22, 2010, announced that it is refusing to cooperate with another civic group, Solidarity, because the leaders of that movement want to cooperate with already existing parties. And Milla refuses to get involved in any political action that is supported by political parties. For all practical purposes, a contradiction in terms.

One of the leaders of Milla is Péter Juhász; he is the one who most often represents this civic movement in the media. He showed up on ATV back in August; he gave a couple of interviews on Klubrádió; and only a few days ago Vera Lánczos, one of the members of the Galamus Group, conducted a long interview with him.

Almost two months ago Vera Lánczos expressed her misgivings about the direction in which Milla was going under the guidance of Péter Juhász and his friends in an article entitled “The Milla: ‘Dilettantes, spare me!'”  I wrote about Milla and this article earlier. My opinion hasn’t changed since. I consider Juhász a very confused man who may end up inflicting irreparable damage on Hungarian democracy.

@conservativepress-us

The real problem is that Juhász seems to view the last twenty-two years of Hungarian politics as a steady march away from democracy. According to him, SZDSZ was and MSZP and DK still are just as undemocratic as Fidesz is. Thus he rejects any cooperation with them. In this respect he shares the opinion of the LMP politicians who are convinced that an overwhelming majority of the undecided voters reject both sides and want nothing to do with them.

But Juhász is wrong on several points. He is wrong about the composition of the currently undecided camp. There have been several studies lately that show that the majority of the undecided voters lean toward the left. These are the people who were dissatisfied with the way things were going between 2006 and 2010 and voted for Fidesz in the hope of a radical change for the better. Yes, there was radical change but not for the better. These people are still waiting, but when the chips are down they will most likely vote for one of the parties on the left. And some of them have already returned to the fold. After all, public opinion polls show a steady if slow growth in the number of MSZP voters.

Juhász is wrong on another point. In one of his interviews he emphasized that the Orbán government can be defeated only if the disappointed voters on the right can be persuaded to join forces with the civic groups. If they see that these civic groups are joined by political leaders, they will shrink from cooperating with them. I personally very much doubt that truly committed conservatives would in large numbers join Milla or some other civic group regardless of whether they refuse to cooperate with parties or not. Moreover, there are mighty few moderate conservatives on the Hungarian right.

As for the general anti-political rhetoric of Juhász, he is not very original. After all, this is exactly the position of LMP. The last twenty-two years were a total waste of time, money, and energy. All parties are rotten with the exception of LMP. It is pure and honest because its politicians were in no way responsible for the alleged sins of the past. After all, they are a new party. It seems to me that the only party Juhász would cooperate with is LMP. But there is a problem, and that is a big one. LMP was never a big party (it attracted mostly young Budapest intellectuals), and it is rapidly losing ground. According to the latest Ipsos poll LMP lost 4% of its voters in August and September. I believe the loss is due to the party’s refusal to cooperate with the other democratic parties. LMP managed to sink down to the level of the much maligned party of Ferenc Gyurcsány. Both DK and LMP have a 2% share of the electorate.

LMP needs a base, and I guess András Schiffer et al. believe that Milla will be an ideal vehicle for gathering voters around LMP.  Both organizations believe that all of the undecided voters share Milla’s skepticism about the older parties and they will vote en bloc for LMP. With a current popularity of two percent? Madness.

It doesn’t seem to matter what points Juhász’s interviewers bring up as valid arguments against his beliefs, he remains steadfast. He refuses to cooperate with Solidarity, a civic organization that is ready to join the democratic parties in their planned demonstration on October 23. He also seems to refuse to consider any demonstration against Fidesz’s attempts to limit the number of voters by introducing an absolutely unnecessary registration procedure. According to Juhász, demonstrations were useless in the past and they will be so in the future. So, let’s forget about them.

According to Juhász, Milla was silent during the summer but now its members are moving full force into organizational activities. They put, he said, a lot of energy into a website called MillaMédia. Well, I took a look at it and I agree with György Kakuk that the website is as confusing as their political views. Kakuk specifically brought up the stop sign with runic script. What do the leaders of Milla want to tell us with that? Colossal confusion everywhere.

I suspect that LMP is using Milla to its own political purposes, but the cooperation is unlikely to bear fruit. A tiny party aided by the confused leadership of a civic organization is unlikely to be able to defeat the well organized party of Viktor Orbán. There might be 99,810 “likes” on Milla’s Facebook page, but that means nothing in the harsh light of political reality.

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59 comments

  1. When you read a document like this: http://www.scribd.com/doc/106074761/Baloldalisag-Remeny-Er%C5%91 (for non-Hungarian readers, this is a leaked MSZP’s strategy document) you can see that Milla’s “plague on both your houses” attitude has some justification.

    I do agree in general terms that it is frustrating how brainless the Hungarian opposition is. Anyone who has worked in a Hungarian workplace will know just how hard it is for Hungarians to work together and it is sad that this is no less true in politics.

  2. London Calling!

    I am so depressed that civic groups like Milla still stick to principles and no pragmatism.

    They will learn the lesson next election when they are cast into the political wilderness.

    I mentioned – in another post – our ‘Liberal’ party in England who have never had power as currently constituted – and have been in the wilderness for decades – until we had our first coalition government. They came to the realisation – and the surprise – that sometimes you have to get into bed with the devil.

    They have just made an embarrassing apology for agreeing to introduce tuition fees – when the made a very public pledge that they wouldn’t. But they are in government for the very first time.

    The ‘contradiction in terms’ situation of Milla and others is just sweet sweet political innocence and naiveté that will take not just one election defeat – but several – before enlightenment hits home.

    The English political road is littered with hundreds of inexperienced, principled, good intentioned ‘parties’ – that never saw the light of day. Just forfeited election deposits. (In England you have to pay an election deposit which is only forfeited if you get below a five percent of the vote – to stop frivolous candidates (with limited success!))

    ‘Fine words butter no parsnips’

    Regards

    Charlie

  3. Aiming for political changes within the rules of democracy without parties – it really could be some experience..!
    Just as well if we buy a Perpetual Motion Machine from this guy!

    Not to mention that slight little glitch in the logic in the statement:
    “…the Orbán government can be defeated only if the disappointed voters on the right can be persuaded to join forces with the civic groups.”

    Please, tell, just how the government can be defeated without politics and politicians involved? Are we already passed the possibilities of democratic solutions?
    Does he expecting that Orban will run away because the civilians will so?
    Having government and parliament without politics at all – how and why?

    Has anyone heard something or other, how the life without politics should work in Hungary?

  4. London Calling!

    Mightily O/T – so ignore me please!

    Featured at the top of international radio news recently was the position of Roma Catholics in Germany.

    Apparently many German’s are refusing to pay their charity tax to the Roman Catholic church and therefore it is going to the Government (a strange tax feature that we don’t have in England and which was thankfully explained by our German contingent on here recently).

    This is a backlash to the terrible systemic sex abuse of children over many decades by the ‘celibate’ priests. (In Australia the RC church has ‘fessed’ up to 600 cases with ’70’ in the pipeline – when many people in Australia believe that it is more like 10,000. And the RC church should hand over the cases and evidence to the police. In England you are committing an offence if you know a crime I being committed but fail to call the police. Many in Australia think its damage limitation by the Cats.)

    Apparently too the church receives €5 billion in Germany from this tax (which I find quite staggering!).

    The church is fighting back (with very unchurch-like tactics) – saying you won’t receive an RC burial if you haven’t designated your tax to them. Blackmail!

    Why the relevance here? Well I think any such backlash in Hungary will be prevented by Orban’s control of the media. Already his ‘acolyte’ journalists are self-censoring their copy – as evidenced by the sheer anodyne news bulletins that Mutt (I think) mentioned recently.

    Orban will want to preserve his place in heaven by protecting the RC church (I believe the same kind of tax deductable system operates in Hungary?)

    Do we have any evidence of this yet?

    Is the topic too thin, Eva for post?

    I am mightily interested!

    Regards

    Charlie

  5. London Calling!

    Spectator!

    Don’t challenge us. We are very creative on here.

    We once had a debate on ‘Anti-Semitism without the Jews’ on here!

    We could easily do: ‘Politics without Politics’!!

    (Mutt – Ovidu never did answer your question ‘After this deep analysis – what?’ did he?)

    So don’t start!

    Regards

  6. Charlie you can read it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_tax

    In a nutshell:

    It’s a (ca 8 -9 %) of your income tax that you pay in addition to the standard income tax (if you’re a member of one of the involved churches) and it’s collected by the state and given to the churches – so on your tax form there is an extra field: Which church do you belong to ?

    On my form that field has always been blank, although I had to go to the state registration office first (“Standesamt”, which also handles important things like marriages and birth certificates) when I left school and started to make some real money …

    All churches together get around 1200 million € from this tax …

    Very convenient for the churches ….

    One member of my family is a real “Anti-Christ”, he likes to quote from the series of books “Kriminalgeschichte des Christentums” by Deschner. And he always emphasises that the churches in Germany also get additional money from the state for their schools etc – so how do they spend that tax ?

    PS: I’m just a-religious, that’s enough for me.

  7. London Calling!

    An

    Your story link is so evocative of ‘Thomas, Richard and Harold’ by Rowan Atkinson – which at the very least shows the perils of not working together!

    Regards

    Charlie

  8. Mutt?

    The BBC report here said that the RC’s in Germany receive €5 Billion – what’s the German version of Billion in Germany – you say 12,000 million – is that €12 Billion?

  9. “Has anyone heard something or other, how the life without politics should work in Hungary?”

    Of course it cannot. But on the other hand – given the reputation of the existing parties and of the political business in general – how do you want to motivate people to give some public involvement a try? It is certainly “unprofessional” and not helpful in replacing OV quickly but if this is an avenue how to attract people who were not related to a “movement” before, I am still willing to find something positive to it. In Germany a year ago, a “pirates party” got into the regional parliament of Berlin. People with no political background whatsoever believing in “transparency of politics” and grassroots democracy. Reality made at least a part of those people think about how the ideals fit into the political process, they learned why you need a “strategy”, a “programme”, and an organisation. (But I think they are still struggeling to make it to a proper party.) Jano wrote here some days ago that he will go to the next elections although he has only the choice between several “thieves”. If this is the general perception, what route is open to people to gain some own experience in what it involves to negotiate broadly acceptable solutions and to what extent it is possible to be in politics and not become a “thieve”?

  10. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Mightily O/T – so ignore me please!
    Featured at the top of international radio news recently was the position of Roma Catholics in Germany.
    Apparently many German’s are refusing to pay their charity tax to the Roman Catholic church and therefore it is going to the Government (a strange tax feature that we don’t have in England and which was thankfully explained by our German contingent on here recently).
    This is a backlash to the terrible systemic sex abuse of children over many decades by the ‘celibate’ priests. (In Australia the RC church has ‘fessed’ up to 600 cases with ’70′ in the pipeline – when many people in Australia believe that it is more like 10,000. And the RC church should hand over the cases and evidence to the police. In England you are committing an offence if you know a crime I being committed but fail to call the police. Many in Australia think its damage limitation by the Cats.)
    Apparently too the church receives €5 billion in Germany from this tax (which I find quite staggering!).
    The church is fighting back (with very unchurch-like tactics) – saying you won’t receive an RC burial if you haven’t designated your tax to them. Blackmail!
    Why the relevance here? Well I think any such backlash in Hungary will be prevented by Orban’s control of the media. Already his ‘acolyte’ journalists are self-censoring their copy – as evidenced by the sheer anodyne news bulletins that Mutt (I think) mentioned recently.
    Orban will want to preserve his place in heaven by protecting the RC church (I believe the same kind of tax deductable system operates in Hungary?)
    Do we have any evidence of this yet?
    Is the topic too thin, Eva for post?
    I am mightily interested!
    Regards
    Charlie

    I heard the same item. Five billion Euros paid by the German government to the RC church!

    Am I the only one to think there must be something very wrong with the world when this sort of thing not only happens, but no one seems to be bothered about it?

    The Church of England is the official church of England (there’s a clue in the name…), the Queen is the head of it (God’s representative in England, so to speak), they have unelected representatives in our parliament, and they run many of our supposedly State schools. I don’t know exactly how they get their money, but I can assure you it is NOT from from our taxes – and there would be an almighty fuss if this was suggested.

    The last time I checked, the Holy Roman Empire was no more and Germany was a secular state whose citizens were mostly protestant. So if secular, protestant Germany is handing over 5 billion Euros a year to the RC church, just how much are they getting, scot-free, from the rest of (mostly Catholic) Europe?

  11. For those who do not wish to search I repeat here this:
    “And as regards the role of the Church, is should not be underrated that the Papal States were largely absorbed in Italy. And it might be of interest for you that the Holy See is (I think contrasting with the position of all other churches but in that I am not entirely sure) ” a non-territorial entity with a legal personality akin to that of states”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_status_of_the_Holy_See. Also a historical “holdover”. ”

    Might be that in England this sounds totally unbelievable but not all countries went through your type of Reformation.

  12. @Kirsten: For LMP and Milla, the options are

    Option A:
    Step 1: ally themselves with all opposition groups
    Step2: get OV voted out of power
    Step 3: strengthen democratic institutions and democratic practices, increase transparency
    Step 4: either in government or opposition, LMP (Milla) should fight to increase transparency and to decrease corruption, because if the system is fundamentally democratic, there is a way for parties and advocacy groups to push for change

    Option B:
    Step 1: opposition does not unite because Milla and LMP does not want to lumped together with “thieves”
    Step 2: Loose election to OV
    Stet 3: Corruption further increases, as the essence of Fidesz rule is to institutionalize corruption to feed its nepotistic power structure
    Because the system severely limits democratic institutions and practices, in such a system it is absolutely zero what opposition parties and advocacy groups can do to decrease corruption.

    In short, if you want to get rid of the “thiefs”, you need to get rid of Fidesz first and strengthen the democratic foundations of the country. It doesn’t mean you have to stop there, but that is step 1.

  13. An, I fully agree with your assessment. The problem that I see is that people in Milla etc. do not seem to see a difference between MSzP and Fidesz. And while that is perhaps in some respect comprehensible, they do not appear to see any difference between any parties whatsoever. Alright, now I see the point, Option A has to be somehow accomplished without them.

  14. “Germany was a secular state whose citizens were mostly protestant.”

    That is not correct. Frau Merkel faced some opposition in her Christian Democratic Party because she is protestant. Many southern areas of Germany are Catholic, and I can assure you they are even religious.

  15. The Hungarian IRS investigated the leaders of the Milla movement about their connections and taxes days before their March demonstration and they did find problems with their previous tax returns. There is no word about a follow-up.

    They might be blackmailed by Orban & Co to divide the opposition since then:

    http://www.stop.hu/belfold/mit-akart-az-adohivatal-a-millasoktol-megnezheti-a-jegyzokonyvben/1006274/

    Daily demonstrations would limit the arbitrary power of the Fidesz – their dictatorship cannot be overthrown by only 2 demonstrations per year (March 15 and October 23). Orban feared only the unexpected crowd on January 2nd, 2012.

  16. Kirstan, Option A need to be accomplished with anybody who is committed to res-establishing democracy proper (and not a pseudo-democracy) in Hungary. If MszP on board with that goal, and as much as I agree that they have proved themselves to be corrupt and inept… but they haven’t crossed the line that Fidesz have crossed. MszP is a democratic party.

    The trick for Milla-LMP is to keep the anti-corruption agenda alive after OV is gone… if LMP is part in a governing coalition, than there, if it is part of the opposition, than there. It will be a long struggle, but if they keep it on the agenda and are forceful about it, that can bring change to the Hungarian political culture.

    I think Hungary would also need a strong anti-corruption grass-root organization … maybe Milla could transform itself into one. If Hungarians had enough of the political corruption within parties, it’s time they do something about it… not just complain that all parties are corrupt, so who should they choose. Of course, such grass root initiative could only be successful in a democracy.

  17. I do not agree with An’s assessment. Simply because that is not stage one. Milla and LMP is just way to “holistic”, and not on a good way. They have some growing up to do before anyone who is serious in politics could take them serious. I do understand that their intentions are good, but the way they go about it spells big trouble in a future coalition. Imagine the scenario that a coalition forms “as is”, and they win the election. Can you imagine the mayhem? Can you imagine how each one of the “members” would fight for power as their translation of democracy is so different. Just reading that kind of crap that “we are young, so we are not tainted” makes my blood curl. Both Mila and LMP should comb through what really matters and scrape the virgin attitude off their platform before any party should consider to cooperate with them, or Hungarians will pay the prize while Orban will laugh his head off from Graz.

  18. @Some1: Well, if they’d realize the need for uniting all opposition against OV, that could be one sign of “maturing”. I see the attitude you describe and I agree that has to go… but I don’t see a big difference in their translation of democracy.

  19. An :
    @Kirsten: For LMP and Milla, the options are
    Option A:
    Step 1: ally themselves with all opposition groups
    Step2: get OV voted out of power
    Step 3: strengthen democratic institutions and democratic practices, increase transparency
    Step 4: either in government or opposition, LMP (Milla) should fight to increase transparency and to decrease corruption, because if the system is fundamentally democratic, there is a way for parties and advocacy groups to push for change
    Option B:
    Step 1: opposition does not unite because Milla and LMP does not want to lumped together with “thieves”
    Step 2: Loose election to OV
    Stet 3: Corruption further increases, as the essence of Fidesz rule is to institutionalize corruption to feed its nepotistic power structure
    Because the system severely limits democratic institutions and practices, in such a system it is absolutely zero what opposition parties and advocacy groups can do to decrease corruption.
    In short, if you want to get rid of the “thiefs”, you need to get rid of Fidesz first and strengthen the democratic foundations of the country. It doesn’t mean you have to stop there, but that is step 1.

    You forgot option C (always a viable alternative in these Balkan countries)–be healthily paid off and join the thieves.

  20. Fidesz-Jobbik will win the next election (and the one after that) whatever the so-called ‘opposition’ do or don’t do.

    They’d be better off starting from scratch and building a movement/party/philosophy/whatever so that when Orbán’s wheels finally come off there’s somebody with a plan and the means to carry it out ready to step in and take over.

    The one thing worse than Hungary under Orbán is going to be Hungary after Orbán.

  21. The good news is that Milla is not a party. They don’t fragment the votes. Their supporters will still vote against the FIDESZ in one way or another. They will vote for the LMP very likely. I still don’t understand what’s the reason for the big fear from the LMP? I don’t like their green, anti-capitalist ideas, but they do a lot of good things. Will the MSZP be leaking voters to the LMP when 2014 approaches? Or is it killing the Democratic Coalition (Gyurcsany)?

    Juhász definitely seems a big mouthed amateur to me. Lots of pointless blah-blah. Talk is cheap. Let’s see what they can do when the registrations come. I’m afraid their will be nothing when action will be needed and their credibility will melt very fast.

    His argument against the demonstrations really blows my mind. I almost believed that the guy is on Orban’s payroll. Seriously? In what way would hinder your activities if you would march together with the other groups and horribile dictu you would pledge alliance? This makes you feel that they are just a balloon waiting to be popped. Orban is definitely laughing in the background. He knows the half-asians want to follow. They “don’t self organize” not now at least.

    He is definitely weird. On one hand he comes through very passive and at the same time he is beating his chest saying will will show you what activity means.

    Oh, well. It seems we have to bite the bullet and put the MSZP back in charge. F* it …

  22. Reblogged this on hungarianvirus and commented:
    Eva you are right…but we have around hundred FACEBOOK groups close to 400.000 hungarian, who wants to kick put the Orban-Dictatorship. I will send you the list today. They are against both side. Milla is included, but they are soft and already trying to be politicians. But we need everybody, who can still think normal, to get out if this insanity. We need international support.

  23. Milla is essentially a Facebook phenomenon and as such will not compete in the next elections- Orban’s re-election does not depend on what advice or opinion their leadership gives nor indeed what happens with the LMP’s vote. If the MSZP (or the democratic opposition or whoever) convinces enough of that 100,000 or so “Likes” to vote for what appears to be shaping up to a programme which reads simply “We are not Orban”, then fine. If they don’t, then that’s not the fault of Milla.

    With regards “demonstrations”, they have completely lost their value now that the regime has proved it can bring similar and higher numbers (albeit the vast majority of whom were bewildered geriatrics being paid to go up to the Smoke for a jolly outing or fascists or foreigners or a mixture of all three categories).

    The next step (for Milla) should have been pacifist civil resistance against the regime but they (for whatever reason) bottled it. Not so much a Hungarian Spring, more a Hungarian Bank Holiday can summarise the effect that the opposition, both in and outside parliament have had against the regime.

  24. There’s a question to which I have never received an adequate answer: If Orban is truly intent on building dictatorship along the lines of his Kadarite forebears, then what difference does it make whether the opposition unites in 2014 or not?

    Orban has the power to
    1) Amend the election law up to the last minute to ensure a Fidesz victory
    2) Cancel the elections (probably in the name of Hungarian solidarity or some such rot)
    3) Disqualify ballots cast for the opposition
    4) Ignore the election results entirely

    So, either Orban is a quasi-dictator who will maintain power at all costs, or he is a democrat who is willing to face the electorate. If the former is true, then what difference does Milla or Szolidaritas or LMP or MSZP or DK or Bajnai make?

  25. Mutt :
    I still don’t understand what’s the reason for the big fear from the LMP? I don’t like their green, anti-capitalist ideas, but they do a lot of good things. Will the MSZP be leaking voters to the LMP when 2014 approaches? Or is it killing the Democratic Coalition (Gyurcsany)?

    The problem with LMP is
    1. that they are not willing to cooperate with the other democratic parties, which – already in the last elections – led to better results for Fidesz and,
    2. (and this is what I am missing in this otherwise very interesting post) that they are very willing to cooperate with Jobbik.

  26. I wish someone would explain to me what Gyurcsany was supposed to have done to created the everlasting
    enmity of LMP’s Schiffer? In that politician’s eyes,
    Gyurcsany appears to be a greater danger than Orban..
    I don’t get it.

  27. Schiffer can’t forgive Gyurcsány for manipulating and exploiting his communist era contacts to acquire considerable personal wealth by dubious and unexplained means to the perceived detriment of the state. As simple as that.

  28. “The next step (for Milla) should have been pacifist civil resistance against the regime but they (for whatever reason) bottled it. Not so much a Hungarian Spring, more a Hungarian Bank Holiday can summarise the effect that the opposition, both in and outside parliament have had against the regime.”

    Spot on.

    No one in Hungary seems to realise just how serious the situation is and how much worse it’s going to get. Do none of them read history?

    This is a scaled down version of 30s Germany. OK, so Orbán isn’t Hitler and Hungary isn’t Germany, but the only real difference is in scale and effectiveness. The basic problem is the same – someone who will do anything to get and retain power, and who pays no attention to anyone else’s views or needs or to any namby-pamby concepts like democracy.

    Orbán won’t invade other countries, start a world war or kill millions of Jews, Roma, homosexuals and communists – but only because he hasn’t got the resources to do it and this is not the 1930s. He will still manage to leave Hungary almost as devastated as Germany was by the time he’s finished.

    If people had acted in the early days of Hitler’s rise to power, the whole awful consequences could have been averted. But instead people just stood back and let him get on with it – until it was too late. Even the Jews didn’t seem to realise just what was building up. And now, In Hungary, once again people are just standing back and letting Orbán get on with it.

    By the time enough people realise how serious this is and start to try to do something about it, it will be far too late. Hungary under Orbán is bad enough, but can you imagine Hungary after 15 years of Orbán? Or Hungary in the throes of a civil war/revolution? Or the state it’s going to be when all this is over and someone has to rebuild from the ruins?

  29. Eva S. Balogh :
    Maria is right. LMP’s attitude toward Jobbik is ambivalent. I think I wrote about this earlier but perhaps I should have mentioned it in this particular post too.

    So the LMP’s sin is cooperating, the Milla’s is not cooperating. Planet Hungary Circus in action. We should not cooperate with the ones that cooperate .. or not cooperate.

    We used to give this calendars to the kids a month before Xmas. It had windows and every day opened one and there was a different piece of candy. We should make the Hungarian election calendar version of it. Every morning when you get up you open a little window and there will be a group of Hungarians you will hate that day. Look!! The dentists!!

    There should be a way to approach the JOBBIK. For two reasons. One is they hate the Orban regime as much as we do. The second is we may be able to tame the beast. They are our retarded child. We are responsible. Part of that 15% or so that supports the JOBBIK would appreciate if they are not treated as complete rejects. Their racist views are unacceptable but that’s what they have to let go in exchange of acceptance. Isn’t it worth a try? Or we just keep demonstrating against them? Oh wait, we are not demonstrating … we had only a dozen or so protesting the Garda on the Heroes Square recently.

  30. Kingfisher :
    Schiffer can’t forgive Gyurcsány for manipulating and exploiting his communist era contacts to acquire considerable personal wealth by dubious and unexplained means to the perceived detriment of the state. As simple as that.

    Such absolute, selective, nonsense.

    I like Gyurcsany to Kodorovski: both had a talent to make best use of the privatization strategies of their respective countries. However, once they achieved a certain wealth and comfort level, they both tried to do the best for the country without thought of personal
    aggrandizement. That Hungarians doubt this; and that
    they can be easily led astray because of this, is one of
    benchmark signs of an inability to think for themselves.

  31. Gyurcsány, like a great many other familiar names, became wealthy in the early 90s not through making something, or building something, but by acquiring state assets at artificially knock-down prices exploiting the “Communist old boys network” that contrary to popular opinion, was not swept away in 1990. It is how Fidesz made its money. It is how countless people became rich. It was not necessarily illegal but it did result in the Hungarian state being effectively robbed. I don’t think anyone can seriously argue that this was not happening on a colossal scale. And Schiffer’s anger with Gyurcsány is precisely because of this.

    When I lived in Hungary, I was not some little English teacher who learned about Hungary from the Budapest Sun. I worked for a state institution, I saw how things in Hungary worked from the inside. I know from first hand of a particular deal that the Gyurcsány’s government engineered, eliciting a bribe from a foreign company in cynical collaboration with Orbán himself. I think some posters here are nursing dangerously naive illusions about most of the players on Hungary’s political scene and their integrity.

    I would also suggest that you take a look at Gyurcsány’s mother-in-law and her activities.

  32. @Kingfisher: The Gyurcsany government was in the 2000s… and you talk about the shady deals of the 1990s.
    Now, I tend to ignore the types of argument that says in the 1990s everybody got rich this and that way, especially if you were one of the “boys”, as hypothetical and circumstantial (though likely, still, no evidence whatsoever).

    You have one concrete story that is from the times of the Gyurcsany government, linking the Gyurcsany government to some bribe deal you yourself know about. Now that is interesting and willing to give more credence to it… though “the Gyurcsany government engineered” is till vague… do you mean with the knowledge of Gyurcsany? And why nobody is after this story? I understand why Orban is not, but what about LMP, Jobbik, Index, etc… they all like to ridicule and smear Gyurcsany, why not find this specific story then?

    My problem is the lack of specifics with accusing Gyurcsany; it’s getting tiring. I’m willing to listen if you have specific stories to tell.

  33. An, if you or Eva want to contact me privately, I’m happy to tell you more.

    And this little row blew up because someone asked why Schiffer has such a loathing for Gyurcsány. That is the answer.

  34. Kingfisher :

    An, if you or Eva want to contact me privately, I’m happy to tell you more.

    I’m kind of a straightforward type. If you know something and if it is true there is no reason not to tell your story in public. If someone sues you but you are telling the truth, you will win.

  35. Kingfisher :
    Gyurcsány, like a great many other familiar names, became wealthy in the early 90s not through making something, or building something, but by acquiring state assets at artificially knock-down prices exploiting the “Communist old boys network”

    Well, the FIDESZ showed us we don’t need the commie old boys network to acquire state assets. By the way Gyurcsany was 28 in 1990. Just how big of an “old boy network” did he have at this age?

    But anyway it’s kind of getting really cheap wisdom parroting that certain people got (by the way legally) richer then us 22 years ago, don’t you think? Ok, MSZP are thieves, FIDESZ are bigger thieves. Let’s pick a party from the rest? LMP, JOBBIK? Now what? In 2012 you have to lay down this “let the neighbor’s cow die too” Hungarian attitude and be pragmatic.

  36. Kingfisher :
    An, if you or Eva want to contact me privately, I’m happy to tell you more.
    And this little row blew up because someone asked why Schiffer has such a loathing for Gyurcsány. That is the answer.

    Wouldn’t it mean, that Schiffer hasn’t learned of any other Hungarians, who made a deal during the privatization? Or the really big problem is, that he missed his chance to grab something too, that time?
    I don’t know, which is true, so you may fill me in. However, I don’t see the connection between Gyurcsany’s mother in law and Schiffer motivation, are they related somehow, or what?

  37. Back to basics: I’m still sure, that without the Milla organizing itself to become a formal political entity, a party, so to say, and with the present “no alliance” attitude,they have no chance to topple the government.
    Another aspect to think about: if by some miracle a loosely organized, totally civilian large group of people – even peacefully – manage to chase away all the bad boys in any color (read: all the politicians from all parties) then what? How it would help along Hungary, even to the day after?

    Actually I believe in the strength of civilian motions – up to a level, while being civilian isn’t hindering the goal. I’ve seen above the information about the 400.000 Facebook group – great! If I was to do anything about it, I would suggest, that they should help the other people to get through on that idiotic registration, making sure, that Orban can be beaten in his own game, – which may even work, – furthermore, they should apply pressure on their respective MP-s and other politicians to form an alliance with the others in order to make change.

    But, of course, I can believe whatever…

  38. I’m inclined to think that what Kingfisher says is correct. After all we already know that deals were done between government and opposition over radio licenses – so why do we assume it ended there? Gyurcsány might have been the one man who wasn’t on the take or involved in dodgy deals, but, bearing in mind how he made his millions, this seems rather unlikely.

    This is the root problem for Hungarian politics – the people assume everyone is on the take, so they don’t trust any of them. And that assumption seems to me to be perfectly justified. Orbán tried to use this to his advantage with his anti-Gyurcsány black propaganda, but it has backfired – the people were so convinced by the propaganda that they assumed not just Gy, but all politicians are there just for their own good.

    It’s one of the reasons, perhaps the main one, that people aren’t too bothered about what Orbán is up to. After all, why waste all that energy trying to get rid of someone, when the next lot will be just as bad. And, I’m afraid, everything tells us they probably will be.

    The only way out of this is for someone who has no background in Hungarian politics, and who the people can trust to really change things, to start a new party and build up genuinely new momentum that will sweep all the old guard out of power.

    But Gyurcsány is not that man.

  39. AGK :
    There’s a question to which I have never received an adequate answer: If Orban is truly intent on building dictatorship along the lines of his Kadarite forebears, then what difference does it make whether the opposition unites in 2014 or not?
    Orban has the power to
    1) Amend the election law up to the last minute to ensure a Fidesz victory
    2) Cancel the elections (probably in the name of Hungarian solidarity or some such rot)
    3) Disqualify ballots cast for the opposition
    4) Ignore the election results entirely
    So, either Orban is a quasi-dictator who will maintain power at all costs, or he is a democrat who is willing to face the electorate. If the former is true, then what difference does Milla or Szolidaritas or LMP or MSZP or DK or Bajnai make?

    Democracy is not black and white AGK. It is not if you press the black button you are democrat and if you press the white then you are a dictator. If you followed lately what is happening in Hungary via Fidesz, it must be clear to you that the checks and balances are not in place. Fidesz keeps changing the components of the election in order to alter the outcome for their benefit. Just as Fidesz installed retroactive laws that did not harm their inner circle. Example retroactive tax only to a certain point, as if it would of extended further their own members would of been hurt. Orban made a public comment also regarding his intention to install an alternative system for democracy. He said this publicly. The various “surveys” the government sends out to voters are coded, so it is easy to trace it to each household.
    Let me tell you something, Fidesz would change everything in their favor BUT bringing attention to the possibility of Fidesz going to far may allow the EU to intervene in time. THis is the job of everyone who is alarmed. SO this is your answer. DOing nothing would provide a smooth sailing for Fidesz. Doing something would help to create pressure for Fidesz to try obey democratic principals, and then there is a possibility for fair election when a united opposition could change things.

  40. Paul :
    It’s one of the reasons, perhaps the main one, that people aren’t too bothered about what Orbán is up to. After all, why waste all that energy trying to get rid of someone, when the next lot will be just as bad. And, I’m afraid, everything tells us they probably will be.

    Is this really the same person who earlier wrote:

    Paul :
    “The next step (for Milla) should have been pacifist civil resistance against the regime but they (for whatever reason) bottled it. Not so much a Hungarian Spring, more a Hungarian Bank Holiday can summarise the effect that the opposition, both in and outside parliament have had against the regime.”
    Spot on.
    No one in Hungary seems to realise just how serious the situation is and how much worse it’s going to get. Do none of them read history?
    […]
    By the time enough people realise how serious this is and start to try to do something about it, it will be far too late. Hungary under Orbán is bad enough, but can you imagine Hungary after 15 years of Orbán? Or Hungary in the throes of a civil war/revolution? Or the state it’s going to be when all this is over and someone has to rebuild from the ruins?

    Paul, I suppose neither of us can determine for sure if Gyurcsany was involved in any bad dealings at any time in the past, although I do find it suspicious that in spite of all his enemies there is no single bit of proof. But even if there was something, have you lost sight of the big difference? I.e. some corruption versus corruption without limits and the virtual abolishment of all vital elements of democracy? Do you want to wait for the virgin saviour before Hungary returns to a state where not everyone keeps their mouth shut, cancels their newspaper subscription or doesn’t show up at party meetings out of fear for their workplace? Where formerly state-of-the-art news magazines now report on puppies and foxes? Where the way to fight against the violent rightwing groupings is to take up a good part of their programme and philosophy?

  41. Not too much OT:

    We just saw on Hungarian tv news a discussion in parliament on this registration business – the cameras showed at least 80 % empty benches …

    Re united opposition:

    Jobbik (at least in its present racist form) is absolutely unacceptable!

    I used to browse through their mouthpiece Hungarianambience, but gave up a long time ago – the danger of having to throw up was way too high!

  42. Paul: “After all, why waste all that energy trying to get rid of someone, when the next lot will be just as bad.”

    With that attitude, any effort is useless anyway. Whatever Kingfisher saw while working in Hungary, and I believe that without reservations, these actions can hardly be remedied. You will be neither able to prove it, nor to reverse it. As I said, I consider that to be systemic. In such a situation, the “moral approach” may be reassuring to most people (who at least in their expections even if not – because of the systemic nature – in their actions) but totally useless as it does not help understand the situation (people can think that because of their moral expectations, they are unrelated to the business) and it does not allow any way out. All people are potential or real “thieves”, the political business is only dirty and corrupt, people stay at home etc. The only way how to change this system is to accept a pragmatic approach. We got the point that there has been a lot of “steeling and robbing” in the past 50 years or name any number if you wish. The point is that such observation means nothing for the future – except perhaps to perpetuate the situation by repeating what is known but what has no “morally sound solution”.

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