The Orbán government’s trademark: Constant lies, big and small

Let me start with a footnote to the “war of numbers.” The following letter came from a friend of Hungarian Spectrum. The subject of the e-mail was: Galileo: observe and measure! Here is the letter:

Dear Eva,
Re your blog 23 October ‘war of numbers’:
From what I read and heard from various sources, estimates for Kossuth tér ran from 100 to 400 thousand. No one mentioned, and as far as I know no one publicly questioned, how these estimates were achieved. (Of course, politically no one is interested in that.) Possibly all kinds of people use all kinds of methods for that. For Kossuth tér, however, there is a simple, objective method: measure the space, and divide it by the space pp. Some time ago I took the trouble to carry out this measurement: from the walls of the northern buildings to those on the south: 250 m, and from the entrance of the Parliament to the walls of the opposite building: 50 m. (Because my legs were my measuring rod, and my maximal step length is not quite 1 m, this is probably somewhat less.) Of course, this space can not be occupied by people everywhere (statues, trees). I estimate the space pp on 0.5 m2 (0.7m x 0.7 m). This leads 250 x 50/0.5 = 25,000 people. In addition there are five streets converging on Kossuth Tér. If I take per street a crowd of 10 m wide and 50 m deep, this leads to 5 x 10 x 50/0.5 = 5,000. Altogether 30.000. To me this seems to be still an overestimate. On the other hand I may be wrong in some basic estimates, but certainly not more than 30%. Even then, however, I end up with 40.000 at the maximum. Given the first right-wing estimate of 150.000, I wonder how they would explain where were these other more than 100.000, who were apparently not on Kossuth tér.

Well, I think that will settle the matter, at least for those people who read Hungarian Spectrum. But before I leave the subject of crowds, one of György Bolgár’s guests on today’s “Megbeszéljük” (Talking it over) was Tamás Fricz, an organizer of the Peace March. He is one of the so-called independent Hungarian political scientists whose activities do nothing to elevate the low level of Hungarian political culture. But at least he is a mild-mannered fellow.

In the course of the conversation Bolgár inquired about the size of the crowd and the estimates announced by the Ministry of Interior of 150,000 or even 400,000 people listening to Viktor Orbán’s speech in front of the parliament. First, Bolgár expressed his surprise that the Ministry of Interior made such an announcement. This was a first. Second, he expressed his doubts that 150,000 people could fit into that space. Fricz’s answer was that “we must believe the official estimates.” As you can imagine, that answer didn’t satisfy Bolgár. Fricz explained his position by saying that doubting the police estimates would lead to constant questioning from both left and right every time there was a demonstration. Let sleeping dogs lie.

Well, we can be fairly certain that the Orbán government didn’t tell the truth when it came to the size of the Peace March. One can argue about the importance of the issue: does it really matter how large the crowd was? Some people would say that it doesn’t. On the other hand, we received a couple of comments from true believers even on this blog who obviously found the “overwhelming support” of the government versus the very small number of protesters heartwarming and politically significant.

If the Orbán government lied only about how many people showed up at a demonstration it wouldn’t too bad. But the problem is that they lie about critical matters as well. Let’s take first the various estimates the Hungarian government has submitted to the European Union in order to avoid the excessive deficit procedure. Only yesterday Árpád Kovács of the three-member Budgetary Council stated that upon closer observation the 764 billion forint extra tax revenue announced on October 5 and 17 is only 453 billion. It’s no wonder that Orbán was told in Brussels a couple of days ago that the latest Hungarian numbers “are not quite enough” to keep the deficit under 3%. And Kovács, who isn’t exactly a critic of the Orbán government, didn’t even mention in his report that there is no way Hungary will have 0.9% economic growth next year, especially if Germany musters only 0.8%. More and more people think that on November 7 the European Council will suggest keeping Hungary under excessive deficit procedure. And that could mean the loss of billions in cohesion funds–and these billions are not in forints but in euros.

Another lie being concocted right now deals with the Hungarian government’s relations with the International Monetary Fund. This morning Origo came out with a story that on the surface seems well founded, according to which the IMF has had enough of Hungary’s peacock dance. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the Hungarian government’s latest anti-IMF campaign. Millions were spent on full-page ads claiming that the IMF makes intolerable, inhumane demands– for example, cutting child support benefits in order to balance the budget.

One of the ads saying “Cuts to family benefits. No, we won’t give in to the IMF”

This out-and-out campaign against the IMF coincided with the Annual Meeting of the IMF in Tokyo where Mihály Varga was supposed to have a discussion with the IMF officials in charge of the Hungarian negotiations. Apparently these talks didn’t go at all well, and it looks as if for the time being the negotiations–if there ever were any formal negotiations in the first place–have come to a halt.

The forint immediately began to fall after Origo’s report. Varga naturally denied the story, but Varga’s assurances didn’t put an end to the very strong suspicion that Origo’s information is correct, especially after the IMF refused to comment.

It seems that the constant lying (because I consider fudging figures lying), especially when directed against the hand that feeds, has resulted in a potentially dire situation. If the IMF negotiations have come to a halt and if the excessive deficit procedure against Hungary continues (with the possible loss of European Union subsidies) Orbán is in big trouble and so is the country.

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43 comments

  1. I am still in the dark on how the IMF can even go on negotiating with the current Hungarian Government. For goodness sake it is not the that the liberals telling the lies about them. Does anyone from the IMF or the EU even care what lies the Orban government prints and advertises about the IMF? THis advertising campaign should shot the door on any further negotiations.

  2. As far as I understand, Varga has admitted that IMF officials asked him in Tokyo to explain what these adverts were. He says he told them they were “information” to the public about the negotiations. Also the IMF will not go back to Hungary before the European Commission announces their verdict on the budget plan in November.

    In other words, it is true that he was questioned and it is true that the IMF is not coming back for a while.

    Both the IMF and the EU know that Orban doesn’t want the deal, that he is only using the prospect of the deal to keep the markets calm. However, it’s been a year now, and the failure to agree is costing both the IMF and the EU a lot in prestige. Therefore it is expectable that they will decide to “clear the table” and think of another strategy on Hungary. I guess there is no good will left towards Orban in Brussels and in the IMF, and they won’t assist him any more in the game of “we are going to get money from the IMF VERY SOON”.

  3. Some1, I think the IMF and the Commission are quite used to being blamed by governments for the austerity measures. But I think these adverts went a bit far, especially considering that both the IMF and the EC had stated clearly what they want – and that they don’t want to “reduce pensions”. Given that at the same time Orban doesn’t seem to even want a deal, it might be a bit too much.

    However, Hungary is a member of the IMF, and theoretically they can’t just “shut the door on their noses” if a country is requesting financial assistance.
    But there is no clearer message to the financial markets that a country is not on a sustainable fiscal path than the EU sanctioning them for it!

  4. I started to like this … On this map you can see the stretch from Hero’s Square to the Elizabeth Square. It’s 2.5 kms. Assuming the street is 20 m across, that’s 50,000 m2.

    So in case of a moving crowd the best case is 2 people on 1 m2 if it is possible at all. So you can stuff roughly 100 thousand sheep marchers into the whole stretch.

    The government estimate of the Sheep March v1 was half a million. If you put all of them here then there was 10 people in every quadratic meters and they were moving! Quite a party, he? I hope they showered … Is anybody here from the Guinness records book?

  5. Friend of HS: Fritz’s answer was that “we must believe the official estimates.” As you can imagine, that answer didn’t satisfy Bolgár. Fritz explained his position by saying that doubting the police estimates would lead to constant questioning from both left and right every time there was a demonstration. Let sleeping dogs lie.

    So why is he writing in his January 2012 CV “One of the Founder and Spokesman of Civil Union Forum. The Civil Union Forum was founded in 2009, its goal is the promotion of the democratic civil public life in Hungary.

    The Civil Union Forum has organized several national demonstrations for democracy, in which tens and hundreds of thousands of citizens have participated. Most recently CUF was a co-organizer of the march on January 21st 2012 in which hundreds of thousands of people have participated and showed they stood for the government.

    The Civil Union Forum represents two hundred non-governmental umbrella organizations with around one hundred thousand members.”

    Pdf alert: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/document/activities/cont/201202/20120208ATT37547/20120208ATT37547EN.pdf

  6. Why should Hungary ask for help to feed them , let them grow up and learn to feed themself no IMF or other organisation work or pay taxes in Hungary they live on rich countries. Follow the chicago boys and you will have a better country.

  7. cheshire cat wrote:

    “However, Hungary is a member of the IMF, and theoretically they can’t just “shut the door on their noses” if a country is requesting financial assistance.”

    Yes, but by the same toke, there is no way for the IMF to provide assistance if the borrowing country cannot meet the conditions set by the lending countries. In effect, Hungary is asking the IMF to lend money at less strict conditions than the IMF is permitted. If Hungary were really serious about such an exception to the rules, then it should be actively negotiating an exception with the net donor or creditor countries. Hungary has not been doing that (if fact, in many cases, it has been actively alienating those countries), so one must logically conclude that Hungary is not serious about assistance from the IMF. Given the economic realities of Hungary today, the suspicion that these perpetually delayed negotiations are cover for a plan to raid the foreign reserves of the Hungarian National Bank is at least plausible. And if such a plan is, in fact, in place, then the government certainly owes the Hungarian people an argument as to why the foreign reserves, which are the most significant (if not the only) instrument available to the Bank to support the value of the currency in the event of exchange rate pressure, should be accessed for state spending.

  8. “the government certainly owes the Hungarian people an argument as to why the foreign reserves…”

    Some days ago a person called “hulaaa” provided us with the explanation already: “Orban is doing a lot of good things for Hungarians against big business.” I think most of us tend to agree (mildly speaking) with the reply of Some1 to this remarkable belief of “hulaaa” but I think you will not get much more of an “argument” from the government if it just pays outlays from the reserves of the central bank. And I am more and more convinced of that they will do just that next year rather swiftly when the new governor is in place. (But at some moment the inevitable crash will follow. The earlier they start the reserves gamble, the earlier we see the crash.)

  9. According to Simor Andras, the central bank funds can be accessed even now. However, with his own man in charge, Orban can use all the tricks at his command to hide what he’s doing, which he couldn’t while Simor was at his post.

    As for the IMF, Orban would never agree because he couldn’t stand the oversight access he would have to agree to. For one thing, the Hungarian banks’ money laundering would be exposed…

  10. cheshire cat :
    As far as I understand, Varga has admitted that IMF officials asked him in Tokyo to explain what these adverts were. He says he told them they were “information” to the public about the negotiations. Also the IMF will not go back to Hungary before the European Commission announces their verdict on the budget plan in November.
    In other words, it is true that he was questioned and it is true that the IMF is not coming back for a while.
    Both the IMF and the EU know that Orban doesn’t want the deal, that he is only using the prospect of the deal to keep the markets calm.

    The situation with the IMF reminds me of the old joke, do you know the difference between a politician and a lady.
    When a lady says no, she means maybe, when she says maybe she means yes, and a lady never says yes. When a politician says yes, it means maybe, a maybe means no, and a politician never says no. The IMF is simply not going to say no to negotiations.

    The IMF has the responsibility to not take down a country finically (which the IMF easily do in these situations if they said the wrong thing.. They are professional, they will sit and listen and I wouldn’t expect them comment on much of anything. This deal is up to OV to make or break it. If he continues to play games than the IMF will consider it a waste of time to meet and they’ll just be busy doing other things when Varga comes looking for an appointment. So, expect fewer and fewer meetings until the negotiations die quietly… or the hope is they die quietly. The fact that they are not coming to Hungary speaks loud enough on it’s own. The financial analysts understand what’s going on and they will exploit the situation to make as much as they can… that is their job. Since we don’t have access to their models, it’s hard to understand their motivation for buying bonds or other instruments.

    The HUF is now one of the worlds best performing currencies having recovered 11% in the last few months. That is an ROI not to be ignored but it also suggests were in for an equally big rebound. So people are making money over this….

    Interesting link on crowd sizing… http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/the-curious-science-of-counting-a-crowd. Mutt, I think we do indeed have a world record for the number of co-joined people.. err crowd density.

  11. I suspect the very dark days are now staring us right in the face. Unlike the U.S., Europe’s economy continues to go deeper into recession. This will help kill off what remains of a Hungarian economy. Look at the news from this weak on the European car industry (just about the only industry in which Hungary is competitive). But that is not really new. What is new is if the EU (unlike this past winter) has now the backbone to really deny Hungary the cohesion money (as the Origo.hu report suggests). If there is no money to grease the political system and keep Orban’s few friends happy, the chance of a real meltdown of the Orban government exists. However, the real risk, I fear, is that the response of the Government will be to further clamp down on the political system and further ramp up the anti-foreign rhetoric and further squeeze the population. Having lost the EU money, further EU threats become hollow. This is setting up to be truly a winter of our not glorious discontent.

  12. Let us remember, the whole globe emit constant lies these days. So the trademark doesn’t apply. Rather, we must say Orban is does only like a US politician(he thinks, he is just as powerful), like a EU official, etc. etc.

  13. While I’m a daily reader, I’m really much more of a lurker in this section, having only commented once or twice, but I’m floored that nobody else has commented on the headline on the opposite side of the Metro newspaper in the picture: “The Country Can Survive Without IMF Credit” (magyarul: IMF-hitel nelkul is kibirja az orszag). The verb “kibirni” is tricky to translate here – something like “endure” – but that is the gist of the headline.

    It is both pathetic and appalling that 99% of Hungarians see the anti-IMF ad from the government on the left side, see the headline on the right, and make no connection between the two.

    At least with the Russians, Hungarians knew not to believe what they read in their newspapers; such healthy skepticism seems not to extend to propaganda spread by one of their own…

  14. Two new developments. (1) The IMF made it quite clear that they can’t accept the Orbán government’s “solutions,” i.e., one-time tax-hikes. (2) The excessive deficit procedure against Hungary will most likely continue. According to Magyar Nemzet, the government is already prepared for the eventuality.

    I wonder what will happen once this becomes widely known. The IMF’s displeasure was reported by Reuters and the news already appeared in The New York Times.

  15. Kirsten writes:And I am more and more convinced of that they will do just that next year rather swiftly when the new governor is in place. (But at some moment the inevitable crash will follow. The earlier they start the reserves gamble, the earlier we see the crash.)

    I wonder what the scenario will be after the consequences of raiding the foreign reserves of the Hungarian National
    Bank become visible. Spiralling inflation and the crash cannot be hidden so easily even if there are Orbán clones everywhere.

  16. houswife77 :
    Let us remember, the whole globe emit constant lies these days. So the trademark doesn’t apply. Rather, we must say Orban is does only like a US politician(he thinks, he is just as powerful), like a EU official, etc. etc.

    Why are you mixing in what other countries, you assume, doesn’t do right? THis is how you raise your children too? Is it OK for your kids to lie and cheat? I am sure many people do that, so is it OK for you or for your family? I guess, if this is the attitude of those who go to vote, we must understand why Fidesz remains in the hart of similarly thinking people.

  17. David :
    While I’m a daily reader, I’m really much more of a lurker in this section, having only commented once or twice, but I’m floored that nobody else has commented on the headline on the opposite side of the Metro newspaper in the picture: “The Country Can Survive Without IMF Credit” (magyarul: IMF-hitel nelkul is kibirja az orszag). The verb “kibirni” is tricky to translate here – something like “endure” – but that is the gist of the headline.
    It is both pathetic and appalling that 99% of Hungarians see the anti-IMF ad from the government on the left side, see the headline on the right, and make no connection between the two.
    At least with the Russians, Hungarians knew not to believe what they read in their newspapers; such healthy skepticism seems not to extend to propaganda spread by one of their own…

    Maybe you should comment more. You say you are floored that nobody commented on this. Do not be floored, be active. WHy is that most people in Hungary are waiting for others to find a solution, become active and do something what floors me. Do not forget that the solution for the problem that Hungary faces is not in the hand of Eva or those who comment here, but in the hands of those who will cast their votes.

    I just read a great article/interview regarding the upcoming city election on Tiszavasvar. Unfortunately it is in Hungarian only but it is the perfect example about voters apathy and hopelessness. It also shows how the Fidesz is already cutting deals with the Jobbik in order to remain in power. Tiszavasvar by the way is the only city where Jobbik won. In one part of the article is a snippet about that the Jobbk “bought” votes from the roma population. http://index.hu/belfold/2012/10/27/nem_sikerult_a_mintavaros_a_jobbiknak/

  18. As is well known, Orban never ever had any respect toward rules or/and law, let they be explicitly legal- or moral obligations, he ignored them altogether, if his interest led him to.

    “….oszt jónapot” – if you too remember, this was his comment, when ordered his people to – against the law – keep continue with their campaign. (The whole in context was, that if there going to be any trouble with their unlawful activities, their lawyers will take care of, and ‘that’s it – good day’

    So, this kind of moral basis there is nothing strange about his behavior – according to his view, everything is ‘right’, if it serves his (personal) interest.

  19. Regarding the licit over participants – I’ve just posted in another site, that there is available technique to exactly measure the crowd – all you need is some imagery, preferably aerial, and a dedicated software. Strange, that the Hungarian Interior Ministry coming out with estimated numbers, when this technology is up and running since at least a decade.

    I include a link here too, mostly to illustrate, just how much the subjective and objective figures differ
    http://science.discovery.com/stories/week/measuring-crowds.html

  20. Please do not forget that about 35% of the population do not use internet anywhere not from home, neither from work. It is a very high percentage. These, mostly retired people, however watch tv and listen to radio a lot, as my own grandparents do. They do not really watch commercial channels, and in any case, there are no real news programs, only shows about accidents and crimes on commercial channels. In other words a lot of people live in a kind of separate or parallel reality. Kossuth Rádió, MTV, the free Metropol, Helyi théma, municipal magazines etc. (not to mention Hir tv, Magyar Nemzet – but these are consumed by party loyals) produce a consistent world in which there are 400k people on the Kossuth tér, IMF sends a detailed list of demands, economic news are regularly left unmentioned and always get sanitized. So there are a lot of potentially well-meaning, moderate people who simply do not understand what this fuss is about? Their pensions have been increased by inflation (so they themselves have no worries) and simply do not get why other people are complaining when all they hear and read is that everything is fine and we are marching towards victory. It is still a vast reservoir of voters ready to be harvested by Fidesz.

  21. “The excessive deficit procedure against Hungary will most likely continue. According to Magyar Nemzet, the government is already prepared for the eventuality.”

    Eva, some “unnamed sources” have leaked that on the 7 November the EU Commission is going to propose to put part of the cohesion funds on hold for Hungary. That is understandable, because they have indicated that the government haven’t introduced credible structural measures, and some of Matolcsy’s “solutions” are exactly the opposite of what he agreed in the country-specific recommendations.
    Again, like in the spring, the EC proposes, and the Ecofin council (the financial ministers of member states) will have to accept it in December. I guess Orban’s plan is to try to get as many member states on his side as possible to politically stop the Ecofin’s approval.

  22. spectator :
    Regarding the licit over participants – I’ve just posted in another site, that there is available technique to exactly measure the crowd – all you need is some imagery, preferably aerial, and a dedicated software. Strange, that the Hungarian Interior Ministry coming out with estimated numbers, when this technology is up and running since at least a decade.
    I include a link here too, mostly to illustrate, just how much the subjective and objective figures differ
    http://science.discovery.com/stories/week/measuring-crowds.html

    Spectator, what an excellent link!, thank you.

  23. Re Cheshire cat’s comment. These leaks more often than not turn out to be true. I assume that the information is accurate. It will be difficult to convince too many finance ministers. I somehow can’t imagine that they have a very high opinion of Matolcsy’s expertise or they would be taken by Orbán’s “charm.”

  24. Chesire Cat :As far as I understand, Varga has admitted that IMF officials asked him in Tokyo to explain what these adverts were. He says he told them they were “information” to the public about the negotiations.

    How on earth can they pretend to be so naiv? The IMF should just simply refuse any further negotiations with Orban, and Eu could make an example of him, refusing any contributions, and letting Hungary know they are not playing in kindergarten anymore.
    I might be very wrong, to me these 2 years of cat and mouse play with Orban, does more damage to the EU’s authority and effectiveness, than simply refuse to play further.
    .

  25. Eva, I think the tactic will be that they will try to strike discord among the finance ministers presenting the issue not as a particular Hungarian case, but a more of a general issue of EU and national sovereignty in matters of economic policy. This is a smoke, of course, but there are a few possibly among the finance ministers who may see the 3% requirement as overly restrictive.

  26. An, most likely you are right but I don’t know how successful Hungary will be in this endeavor. After all, more and more countries in the EU realize that tighter control is needed over member countries’ finances because otherwise there will be more and more cases like Greece or Spain. The timing is not the best for that kind of strategy. But, of course, I might be wrong and Orbán will manage to convince some. Does anyone know how many votes he would need?

  27. Győr Calling!

    Yes still here!

    The ‘Numbers’ game has been fascinating on here – and shows what could be done by a responsible research department in the (Hungarian) Universities if they wanted to.

    Your friend’s work is elegantly simple! Footsteps! Pure genius!

    Here is just one academic example of what has been done in England when estimating numbers – in quite a few different situations.

    http://shura.shu.ac.uk/2851/1/DaviesfinalIJSMS.pdf

    It is of course to the Governments advantage to keep the situation in flux – and you are right about ‘fudging’, Eva – it is dissembling – and Orban knows it.

    So where are you Universities? >/b>Why don’t you do just some simple (but impressive work Mutt!) academic work – to verify the ‘crowd-count’?

    Is it because you fear for your jobs? Or because you really do support Fidesz? And you inculcate your students with their right-wing views? Where is your voice? Where is your independence? Where is your academic integrity?

    Your academe silence is deafening.

    (Btw Housewife77 is an insult to housewives – if indeed he/she is)

    Regards

    Charlie

  28. Eva S. Balogh :
    An, most likely you are right but I don’t know how successful Hungary will be in this endeavor. After all, more and more countries in the EU realize that tighter control is needed over member countries’ finances because otherwise there will be more and more cases like Greece or Spain. The timing is not the best for that kind of strategy. But, of course, I might be wrong and Orbán will manage to convince some. Does anyone know how many votes he would need?

    I think, Eva, that the finance ministers of the other member states already have heard of Orban enough to know, where to stand with him.
    But, of course, there’s always the interest somewhere – his card would be, that ‘it’s your turn next time’, and anyway, ‘scratch my back, etc.’
    However, as much as I know about the other members, they rather will have good relations with the EU than with Orban – that’s what I hope, at least.

    The path is fairly clear otherwise: he’s trying to prolong the negotiations till next spring, put his paws on the National Reserve while he pushing the country to the brink of collapse – and when the default seems inevitable, he will introduce his own ‘political solutions’, in order ‘to save the Nation” of course.

    This is the scenario which could only be countered with the strongest possible unity of the civilized side, I see no other way.

  29. spectator :
    Regarding the licit over participants – I’ve just posted in another site, that there is available technique to exactly measure the crowd – all you need is some imagery, preferably aerial, and a dedicated software.

    Actually, this can be done by anybody at home. The Kossuth square was packed (see a 3D panorama : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hg44q3jZCg). Measure the area with Google perimeter: http://acme.com/planimeter/
    For me, a very generous coverage of the square gives a bit less than 20000 m^2, or 200,000 sq.ft. Alkotmány Street up to Bajcsy-Zsilinzsky takes up 6000 m^2, or a bit more than 60,000 sq. ft. But the friend’s estimate of alloweing 500 m^2 per side street is more reasonable. So, we have maybe 45000 m^2, or 500,000 square feet. The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility quotes MSNBC [http://www.cmfr-phil.org/2012/03/27/estimating-crowd-size/ and http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28662672/#.UIwjbbQrg3d%5D:
    “A loose crowd, one where each person is an arm’s length from the body of his or her nearest neighbors, needs 10 square feet per person. A more tightly packed crowd fills 4.5 square feet per person. A truly scary mob of mosh-pit density would get about 2.5 square feet per person.” So, a completely packed area around the Parliament would have maybe 200,000 people. 100-150 thousand must be the correct number. [Truth be told, still respectable…]

  30. @ChesireCat
    You know, ignorance irritates me by design, and when I’ve seen – heard/read – these imaginary figures, I remembered that I knew of something about the subject.
    Been involved many years ago with some image-processing experiments too, hence I have background information what triggered my curiosity.

    After all, this year is supposed to be 2012, come on!

  31. @Cs
    You’re perfectly right, of course, it can be done at home by anyone.

    However, If I had anything to do with any kind of authority in Hungary regarding the subject, I would certainly do my damnedest to publish unquestionably correct figures, being aware of the current political situation, what exactly I should be doing.

    Presently, since the technical possibilities are given, I think it’s a great luxury to come out with estimated numbers, let alone, correcting them again, right after, don’t you think?

    However, this whole thing shows only to me, that the accumulated number of the inborn and foreign brain-dead decreasing steadily, so the next time I look forward to see our half Asian Azeri brothers too, who ‘rather want to be poor, but free’.
    They still have a choice, by the way, while the Hungarians have none – they are already poor, and less and less free by the hour.

  32. To Cs. My friend and Mutt Damon’s calculations by two different methods came up pretty much with the same result. Spectator’s link is full of stories of gross overestimation of crowds not in Hungary but in the United States. Therefore, I’m a bit skeptical about your high numbers.

  33. Eva S. Balogh :
    Spectator’s link is full of stories of gross overestimation of crowds not in Hungary but in the United States. Therefore, I’m a bit skeptical about your high numbers.

    – However, there is a method to more or less measure the size of a crowd, so, in my opinion anyone officially dare to declare something, they should be aware at least, that that time has gone, when an ‘educated guess’ counted as sufficient.
    Above Cs. And Mutt estimated using the theoretically available area – which is about right, if we have the intention to have only an approximate size, while the examples what I’ve linked pretty accurately illustrating, that there could indeed be a significant difference.

    Needless to say, that my intention here is to show, just how ‘reliable’ the official ‘estimation’ might be.

  34. Missing post replay.

    I start with a (very old) joke. The difference between a politician and a lady. When a lady says no she means maybe, saying maybe means yes, and a lady never says yes. When a politician says yes it means maybe, maybe means no and a politician never says no.

    My experience with dealing with people financing projects is if you don’t convince them that you’ve got the next best thing to sliced bread, they’ll politely say thanks and that will be that for that. I suspect the IMF will be some what the same in that they have a responsibility to not drag a countries financials down which means….. no loose talk. I would have expected that the IMF would just let the talks die quietly. In this case Budapest isn’t letting them. Even so the comments made today may seem quite muted but not if you consider that the IMF doesn’t want to be responsible for a sudden crash of the HUF.

    BTW, my advice would be to short the HUF. 😉 I think that 11% gain is in jeopardy.

  35. Eva, An and all,

    the commission proposed this cohesion fund withdrawal in February first. Orban’s first idea was then to organize a camp of supporters. However, then Orban went to Brussels to a summit, where someone must have told him something, because he suddenly changed his mind and announced “it is a technical problem, Hungary can correct this mistake in the budget in two days, let’s not create a political theatre out of it.”
    We can’t know what they told him but they put him off the camp-organizing in a second.
    Then in March, Spain suddenly announced that THEY can’t meet their deficit target, right before the Ecofin meeting, asking for an extra year, which made some finance ministers talk about “double standards” (eg the Austrian and the Polish finance ministers, if I remember well) and support Hungary. Allegedly Rehn argued vehemently for the proposal to be accepted and eventually it got the vote, with the compromise that they would revise the decision as early as in June (instead of September). So, anything can come up and it’s not possible to predict everything.

    A lot of countries have introduced austerity measures to achieve the deficit targets (Belgium, Cyprus) and along with some Nordic and Baltic member states who always tend to do as they are told from Brussels, they might actually be quite keen for the EU to use the sanctions against those who so clearly don’t bother. The direction of EU reforms is also clearly tighter control, sanctions – in fact, they want a new rulebook, in which the EU’s “budget tsar” would be able to refuse budgets even if they are achieving the deficit targets, if the structural measures are not sustainable. This case about Hungary could be an example or justification for that: “Look at Hungary, they have got down the deficit but with what measures, this is killing their economic growth, it’s not enough to just control the numbers”.
    Also, the EU Commission themselves are quite keen to use the sanctions, it would make their reforms more credible if they sanction Hungary now – if they then OK other member states’ budgets in the future, it’s useful to know that they don’t that automatically.
    As far as I know, next year, it is Germany and France who have to behave or be sanctioned – that might alter some opinions, too.

    On the whole, I don’t think Orban has a lot to offer for “scratching his back”, he never keeps his promises and nobody believes him. (Lately, even in Austria, Germany and Poland, his reputation has become rather low. )

    The question is, of course, what happens if Hungary loses the funds? is he going to take people to the streets against Brussels? is Hungary going to run into a deep crisis or even default? now that the IMF refuses to negotiate, the budget is not sustainable, how will the country finance its sovereign debt? What then?
    I have heard speculations about the EU wanting to remove Orban very soon now, just waiting for the right moment – hm, not sure…

  36. Breki :
    Please do not forget that about 35% of the population do not use internet anywhere not from home, neither from work. It is a very high percentage. These, mostly retired people, however watch tv and listen to radio a lot, as my own grandparents do. They do not really watch commercial channels, and in any case, there are no real news programs, only shows about accidents and crimes on commercial channels. In other words a lot of people live in a kind of separate or parallel reality. Kossuth Rádió, MTV, the free Metropol, Helyi théma, municipal magazines etc. (not to mention Hir tv, Magyar Nemzet – but these are consumed by party loyals) produce a consistent world in which there are 400k people on the Kossuth tér, IMF sends a detailed list of demands, economic news are regularly left unmentioned and always get sanitized. So there are a lot of potentially well-meaning, moderate people who simply do not understand what this fuss is about? Their pensions have been increased by inflation (so they themselves have no worries) and simply do not get why other people are complaining when all they hear and read is that everything is fine and we are marching towards victory. It is still a vast reservoir of voters ready to be harvested by Fidesz.

    In my experience, this is a very accurate summary of the situation ‘on the ground’.

  37. Bernard De Raadt :
    hungary has food they dont need a hand to feed them if they do its because somebody told them they did not have to work )Socialist=

    Can someone please translate this to English?

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