Yesterday’s announcement by Endre Hann, chairman of Medián, about the unexpected success of Gordon Bajnai’s new civic organization called Együtt 2014 (Together 2014) made quite a splash. I already noted that LMP’s Benedek Jávor for the first time expressed his intention to negotiate with the group that offered to serve as an umbrella organization for democratic opposition. That is a profound change of strategy practically overnight.
The need for such an umbrella organization has been clear for some time, especially since Gordon Bajnai’s foundation Haza és haladás (Nation and Progress) released a study in August that demonstrated that only a united opposition has a chance to defeat Fidesz at the next elections. A summary of the study can be found in an earlier post.
Everybody is stunned because if Együtt 2014 were to become a party, it could be the largest opposition voting bloc. That is about a week after Gordon Bajnai announced its formation. Although the media have been quite skeptical about Bajnai’s chances, his first appearances in Komló, an old mining town near Pécs, and in Budaőrs drew large crowds.
Of course, the results of Medián’s poll have also put the fear of God into the leading Fidesz politicians. Here they are in the middle of working out an election law that is foolproof from their point view and then comes Gordon Bajnai whose popularity is growing and whose organization is a greater threat to Fidesz than MSZP, whom I don’t think they feared much.
The anti-Bajnai campaign began right after Bajnai’s announcement of his return to politics on October 23, but this latest poll made Viktor Orbán truly worried. He decided on an attack before the whole thing blows up in his face. Of course, Fidesz and Orbán didn’t want to do the dirty work, so instead the party turned to the “independent” civic leader László Csizmadia, one of the organizers of the Peace March.
You may recall his name because I wrote about Csizmadia at length on October 25. Csizmadia is heavily involved with countless civic organizations that I suspect are phony groups doing promotional work for the government. On the one hand, Csizmadia is a civil servant because he was appointed to be chairman of the Nemzeti Együttműködési Alap (NEA / National Co-operation Fund), a government agency that has about 3 billion forints at its disposal to hand out to deserving civic organizations. On the other hand, he is also the recipient of some of the grants given to the groups because he is the chairman of an umbrella organization representing some 400 civic groups.
László Csizmadia has still another job. He is the chairman of an organization called Civil Összefogás Fórum (CÖF / Forum for Civic Co-operation). It was in this capacity that László Csizmadia together with Tamás Fricz, the political scientist, and Zsolt Bayer, a journalist and one of the founders of Fidesz, organized both peace marches, the first in January and the second on October 23. Both times Csizmadia and his friends managed to gather very sizable crowds, and Viktor Orbán is most grateful. After the January Peace March Orbán expressed his belief that without the organizers’ efforts he would not be prime minister of Hungary today.
So, what does Csizmadia have to do with an anti-Bajnai campaign? A lot. It is Csizmadia’s Forum for Civic Co-operation (CÖF) that will be in charge of the campaign. Csizmadia this morning gave a press conference in which he expressed his “dismay at hearing that Gordon Bajnai, who took part in the ruination of the country, is planning to return as a political actor.”
Of course, Csizmadia didn’t talk about a campaign against a political opponent. He described CÖF’s strategy instead as “a civic informational movement.” CÖF is planning to send a publication to every household which would include a laundry list of “what happened in the last eight years” (2002-2010). Csizmadia hopes that people will wake up and realize that it was the cooperative effort of Gyurcsány and Bajnai that was responsible for “laying down the landmines” that caused the collapse of the Hungarian economy.
Csizmadia and his his friends are not wasting any time. By next week the first batch of political propaganda will be ready to be mailed. He added that they are hoping to receive small donations to cover the cost. I guess they have to hide the fact that apparently CÖF is an extremely rich organization that garners millions and millions, if not billions from the government.
Tamás Fricz added his own assessment of Bajnai. According to him, the former prime minister “is a man of the past and the reincarnation of Ferenc Gyurcsány.” Bajnai wouldn’t strengthen the flourishing Hungarian democracy. On the contrary, Bajnai would work toward strengthening “post-communism and its network.” Moreover, he wouldn’t represent the nation’s interests but would serve the interests of international groups.
There seems to be a new spokesman for CÖF whom I haven’t met before. His name is Endre Szabó, and he represents civic groups concerned with the state of family life in the Carpathian Basin. He criticized “civic groups that are involved with politics and are trying to overthrow the present government.” I guess Szabó has no problem with his own civic groups’ involvement with politics if that entails a defense of the present government. Clearly, logic is not Mr. Szabó’s strength.
Such a publication and strategy might backfire. I would like to remind the Csizmadia-Fricz-Szabó trio of what happened in 2006 when Fidesz strategists tried to convince people that they were better off in 2002 than they were in 2006. A very sad-looking older woman appeared on huge billboards. Soon enough she became the butt of jokes. After all, most people knew through their own experiences that in fact they lived a great deal better in 2006 than in 2002. What will happen now if the electorate remembers that the 2002-2010 period wasn’t so bad after all, especially if they compare it to the economic situation today?
Bajnai’s Haza és Haladás responded quickly. Victor Szigetvári is one of the deputy chairmen of the foundation and a talented campaign strategist. He was in charge of MSZP’s campaign in 2006 and 2010. Szigetvári naturally knew that 2010 was a lost cause, but someone had to take the job and he sacrificed himself, so to speak.
According to Szigetvári, CÖF is perhaps the richest civic organization in all of Europe. He claims that “the resources of CÖF are practically inexhaustible,” so it will be able to publish millions and millions of pamphlets with pseudo-scientific financial data for the 2002-2010 period. It will be, said Szigetvári, a second Magyar Vizsla.
A few words about Magyar Vizsla. It was a publication that tried to discredit Ferenc Gyurcsány and other leading members of the government in 2006. It was a primitive collection of lies that could easily be disproved. Naturally, it wasn’t Fidesz who lent its name to the publication. They dredged up a woman who claimed that she as a private person paid the millions of forints for the publication. Eventually, Magyar Vizsla was traced back through a fax number to Fidesz headquarters. But no problem. In typical Fidesz fashion they acted as if nothing had happened. Szigetvári expects a publication similar to Magyar Vizsla. Of course, by now Fidesz has perfected their dirty tricks, but who knows when they will trip up. Richard Nixon had much more practice, and still….
P.S. Anyone who would like support Gordon Bajnai’s Együtt 2014 can do so on the Internet:
It is not only the trio, but also this blond bimbo, MTVA, Antal and the rest of Fidesz. I saw them on television today, and VO must be really worried, and his groups try to do their best harm.
Lets look at it from OV’s point of view for a moment.
You are in power with a two-thirds majority, you can make or change any law at will, and so far no one (US, EU, IMF) has come close to being able to stop you. And then suddenly the opposition starts to get organised and looks like it might be a real threat in 2014.
What do you do?
Anything and everything necessary to win that election. First you tighten control over the media, so that the mass of people simply don’t hear about the opposition, then you organise a propaganda campaign to play down and minimise any possibility of a meaningful opposition in 2014. Then you review the electoral laws and arrangement and tighten them as required, perhaps bringing in some new ones.
And if all that doesn’t work? Well, you have supreme power – you do whatever is necessary to win.
What you don’t do is start panicking, running around like a headless chicken or just standing back, wringing your hands whilst the opposition gains strength and steals the country from you.
Anyone who thinks that Orbán is just going to stand back and allow what’s left of a free press and democratic government in Hungary to depose him is living in cloud cuckoo land.
His name is Hann, not Hahn.
Viktor Orban is praising the Bajnai government’s economic policy at a press conference with Angela Merkell on July 21, 2010 – after the 5th minute in Hungarian with German translation.
Let me tell you something personal about the economic situation in Hungary (Orban’s people, watch out – I am revealing my identity…)
I teach foreign, tuition-paying students, future engineers at a major Budapest university, in English.
I was told yesterday that my pay has to be cut by 20% immediately, for lack of money.
First of all, this has never happened to me in the US. Second, a US university would take a loan to pay its professors.
Shameful. Especially if you consider that in the background the fraudulent billing for ‘consultations’ and the like go on continually; not to mention the frivolous and costly media campaigns against the IMF and EU.
As my good friend, Madeleine (83 years young) says on her many travels, “Nowdays, I never admit to being Hungarian”.
Goodness! – and this after the teacher’s pay was to receive a massive increase – then not (thanks to Matolcsy’s see-saw decisions) and now a cut!
Unbelievable that the government can treat its citizens like this (I believe this has happened to others in government) – and of course visiting workers.
And still most Hungarians take it on the chin – without a murmur.
Or just leave.
The Hungarian government members have no decency or self-respect: they will tolerate anything in order to keep their cushy jobs.
It occurs to me that things went wrong in Hungary many years ago when they deemed it more important to teach ‘Hungaricum’, or, nationalism/patriotism in the schools rather than what makes good human beings and good citizens. The result is Bekement and the herds of ‘human sheep’ that follow Orban.
Orban’s Media Authority is simply not willing to obey the judgement of the court and let Klubradio broadcast on its frequency.
Instead they have just turned to the Chief Prosecutor (another fidesznik) to rule against the court ruling!!
An interesting article in Pravda about Hungary and China
I don’t when Wikipedia’s article on the Hungarian Conquest has been put up but my Google Alert called attention to it yesterday. It is exhaustive and well documented:
Well, I believe you maybe taught one of my relatives from Canada, who’s grandfather’s used to be Hungarian. He was there last year for sure from the Calgary area.
Where are all the promises that Rozsa Hoffman made? So, what happened? It cannot be austerity, as Orban and Fidesz kept telling that there are no austerity measures are needed.
So, the idea is that they will not raise the tuition, and they can go out preaching to everyone, how they preserved the same fees and things. They are a bunch of liars. Such a shame.
“Interesting”? Maybe. Good, it ain’t.
Anything from Russia is tainted and has the fingerprints of the FSB (KGB) on it:
–Fidesz as ‘moderately nationalistic’…suuure;
–Fidesz ‘compromise their principles’….what principles?
–the negative effects of EU membership….ahhh, the stealth bombing
–“the previous government of Gyurcsany and Bajnai were not able to do anything”–really? Or just some soft-pedaled lies?
Eva, please save us from Russian, stealth, propaganda by not referring such junk.
OT: Eva, I do not really understand the contribution part of the petition. What does it mean “in the last x days” I did pay, but I just want to know what a heck day mean? I think many people will be confused by the petition’s financial support’s wording. Also, although I understand that it is meant to be publlshed for Hungarian citizens, I do not see any harm in providing an English translation. As your blog can attest, there are many people who do care about saving the democracy in a country that should implement European norms and is member of the Europen Union. We should respect them by allowing them to be in the know. DO not worry, I am sure that China gets all the flyers from Orban too.
To Some1: I didn’t get that far. I just signed.
But when you sign there is a new page opens and there is the option to donate. hmmm Anyway, I donated, but it was confusing with eight different options, with eight different amount, and no option to just to write in how much you want to donate. How about of someone wants to give 200 euros? No option for that.
To Some1.What about getting in touch with them. It shouldn’t be that difficult. I may call the attention of someone who is in touch with Bajnai.
OT: Good news. I hope the Jobbik will go out to protest against the “Hungarian crime”. THe police arrested a man for a serious crime he committed in Alcsutdoboz. The 76 years old shepherd dared to harvest 10 pounds of alfalfa from the property of Loring Meszaros’ company’s that Meszaros leased from the government since February. Meszaros coincidentally the mayor of Felcsut and a Fidesz member. (It was the shepherd’s son who also wanted to lease the property but withdrew his application. He did not want to go against the mayor.)
The 76 years old shepherd did not take the alfalfa with him, he just cut it down, he lives alone and wanted to feed his rabbits, ducks and sheep. For good measure and for evidence they seized his hand scythe. THe police also changed the original 15 kilo alfalfa to 4 quintal (22 times more). I am telling you those Hungarian crimes have to stop.
SO, it is under the Kiemelt Hely heading. It is written wit the poorest Hungarian. Also, what the heck it means “Past x days” I have no clue.
A választói összefogást támogató nyilatkozat
Szeretnéd hogy többen lássák ezt a petíciót?
Szponzor hirdetési hely a petíción. A petíció hírdetve lesz a reklámban térben ezen az oldalt. Jelenleg több ezer látogatónk van minden nap, így ez egy nagyon hatékony és olcsó módja annak, hogy minél több figyelm legyen ennek a petíciónak.
Elmúlt 5 napban: 5 € Elmúlt 10 napban: 10 € Elmúlt 20 napban: 20 €
Elmúlt 40 napban: 40 € Elmúlt 60 napban: 60 € Elmúlt 80 napban: 80 €
Ok, I will try to contact them. I will simply ask them to read the comments made here.
I signed the petition, but made no donation. The donation page would have to be in English for me to be anywhere sure I knew what I was doing/was going to happen.
I signed the petition as well. Might just be one of a very small handful of Canadians on that list.
Having seen the Median poll, I fear that Együtt may be peaking much too early…which will make it difficult to keep up the momentum over the course of the next 18 months.
“…his most distinctive belief was that the new republic needed checks and balances to protect individual rights from the tyranny of the majority.”
Now, wouldn’t it have been useful for the Hungarian constitution writers of 1946, or 1989, to have known that little tidbit? It was there for the learning…had those geniuses bothered to study the making of the American constitution just a little bit. But oh no, Hungarians always know better…
Reap what you sow: it’s starting to dawn on me that Hungary has earned, and truly deserves, Viktor Orban.
Ouch!!! Add to that my wife just discovered that she’ll be paid in 6 months if she’s lucky, 9 if things go as expected and a year if not! She sub-contracts teaching English at an elementary school.
A question, is there no such thing as conflict of interest in Hungary?
Eva, what’s with the Wikipedia page? Is that new? Who authored it? And what about it’s veracity?
Here is a gem. The Fidesz people plan to make a new law on internet. The Media Authority (run by Fidesz appointees) would have the right to force the internet providers to take down any web site or block if it comes from abroad AND these decrees to ban would remain SECRET from the public.
About the Wikipedia page. I looked through quickly and it looked good. I have no idea who the author is but the list of sources is quite impressive.
Wot no mention of Turanians on the wiki?
…..or Michael Jackson?
@Paul (second comment from the top): I totally agree with you. But you haven’t considered that if Orbán finds himself in dire straits there might be no elections at all. The scenario goes like this: In 2014 the Hungarian economy is so down that even the FDI part of it stopped being useful in papering over the domestic slump. If I were Orbán I would declare a state of emergency and tell people that there won’t be any elections because el lider has more important things to do, like fighting the European crisis his way with the help of “panorama Matolcsy”.
Well, I disagree. WIth a well executed PR it would be easy. THey need money for mailing, and advertising. Gordon Bajnai should keep in touch wit the people, and should get on the road, so there is something to report on. THey should not lock themselves in the offices to work out the details, but have to get going. Get advertising going 5 times a week in the prime time spot on Duna TV (30 seconds 815 euros) and MTV. They do not need to play anything else but the Youtube clip of Orban admitting that he did his only problem prior to the nineties was that he did not sit in Kadar’s chair. Some subtitle would be nice. I can go on with how to try to change the Pavlovian reflex of Fidesz fans for the mention of Orban’s name… but it actually needs time. Eighteen months is just sufficient.
The original statement
Not the only one, Eva. I’ve found a more general article in a Swedish paper: ‘China exporting Dictatorship to the West’ – and the only place they name by name is Hungary.
“..Till och med i ett EU-land som Ungern talas det ibland om en ”asiatisk vändning” av politiken, bort från Europa.”
“.. Even in an EU country, like Hungary (they) talking sometimes of an “Asiatic Turn” of politics, away from Europe.”
It’s in Swedish, btw.: http://www.aftonbladet.se/ledare/ledarkronika/anderslindberg/article15748075.ab
The really sad – but quite typical – thing is, that Orban still trying to fool himself and the country, that what happens in Hungary, stays in Hungary, and anyway, it’s nobody’s business.
Failed, hit and sinking, caught lying once again.
Otherwise, in place of the opposition I would use those old Fidesz billboards – completed with some new text, like ‘thank you, Viktor’ because finally the facts catching up with fiction, as it seems, unfortunately.
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