Orbán’s election campaign has already begun

The incredible anti-Bajnai campaign that has been launched by CÖF (Civil Összefogás Fórum) led by Sándor Csizmadia and other organizers of the two peace marches demonstrates that the current government is afraid of  Gordon Bajnai. As they should be. He is everything Viktor Orbán is not. The contrast cannot be greater. Bajnai is modest and soft spoken, Orbán is loud and has an inflated opinion of himself. Bajnai is quietly competent while Orbán twice proved that he is not fit to run a government. Bajnai is not really a politician while Orbán is a master of political intrigue, but his talents seem to stop at ruining the reputations of his political opponents.

People who are familiar with advertising rates estimate that this particular anti-Bajnai campaign has cost at least 100 million forints. The poster pictures Bajnai with Ferenc Gyurcsány as the latter is whispering something into Bajnai’s ear. The text is cleverly crafted. Gyurcsány-Bajnai Alliance appears in the lower lefthand corner. Large letters proclaim that “Together they ruined the country.” The word “together” is in red, which is obviously designed to call attention to Bajnai’s new formation, “Together 2014.” The text continues: “Once was enough. We don’t forget.”

The infamous anti-Bajnai poster allegedly financed by a civic group

Clearly the election campaign has begun, albeit unofficially. The method adopted here foreshadows what will most likely happen after the 2014 election campaign officially kicks off. From what we know of the new election law, it contains several stringent restrictions on advertising. We still don’t know whether government subsidies to the parties will be reduced or not. At one point Viktor Orbán talked about abolishing the current party financing because of  hard economic times. So, we can’t quite discount the possibility that the two-thirds majority will vote to change the party financing law and reduce the subsidies to insignificant amounts or even to zero. In that case Fidesz, using government money funneled through its civic groups, will spread the party’s slogans all over, on every bus and every surface available for advertising purposes, while the opposition will be invisible. It is that simple.

I think it is also worth talking a little bit about the Fidesz strategy of linking Bajnai’s name to that of Ferenc Gyurcsány. Some people are convinced that Ferenc Gyurcsány’s return to politics a year ago gave Viktor Orbán the opportunity to tie him to Gordon Bajnai in the here and now. They claim that Gyurcsány should have disappeared and that in that case Gordon Bajnai’s situation would be much easier. I think this line of reasoning is mistaken. I am sure that Orbán would have used the same strategy even if Gyurcsány had disappeared from the face of the earth. Orbán with the assistance of Tibor Navracsics and Zsolt Semjén managed to ruin Gyurcsány’s reputation. The very fact that Bajnai served in Gyurcsány’s government gives them a fantastic opportunity to repeat the performance, with Bajnai in the cross hairs this time around. These guys are skilled political assassins.

Here’s one illustration of my point. A few days ago Heti Válasz displayed a picture that linked Gordon Bajnai to Bálint Magyar (SZDSZ), who was minister of education between 1996 and 1998 and again between 2002 and 2006. Magyar is not involved in politics today, but that didn’t seem to prevent the pro-government publication from describing them, in the words of the article’s title, as “Birds of a feather flock together.” One should keep in mind that SZDSZ’s logo depicted a bird in flight.

Gone is Bálint Magyar, gone is SZDSZ, but it doesn’t matter. The vicious campaign will continue, linking his name with anyone who has ever served with him in the same government.

The question, of course, is whether it will work or not. Most of the people who were asked their opinion of the current anti-Bajnai campaign refused to answer. “I don’t know anything about politics.” Or, “I am not interested in politics.” Only a few dared to tell the questioning reporter that they find the campaign disgusting. One woman went so far as to say that she likes both men.

While this concerted effort at discrediting Bajnai is proceeding apace, LMP is falling apart. Gergely Karácsony announced only a few days ago that a breakup of LMP was “out of the question,” but by yesterday Benedek Jávor wasn’t that categorical. Because Jávor resigned as leader of the LMP caucus, the parliamentary group had to choose a new leader. There were four nominations, but three of the candidates refused to be nominated. András Schiffer, even though last week he announced that he was not willing to take the post, suddenly became much more willing. The trouble was that the eight LMP MPs who formed a platform called “Dialogue for Hungary” refused to vote for him. And since they are in the majority, Schiffer’s nomination was voted down 8-7.

Schiffer and a few of his followers left the meeting early. To the reporters’ questions about the outcome of the meeting Schiffer replied: “I was told that I’m supposed to eat what I cooked but they didn’t give me a fork and knife to eat it with.” Meanwhile Gábor Scheiring called Schiffer “the most divisive person in the party” who is unfit to lead a deeply divided caucus.

My sense is that those who are fed up with Orbán’s regime (and their numbers are growing) will demand unity and will punish LMP if  they stand by their decision to boycott Bajnai’s “Together 2014.” I’m also noticing a mellowing in certain liberal circles toward Ferenc Gyurcsány. People have begun to appreciate his steadfast efforts to call attention to the dangers of a stolen election in 2014. The fact that he and his party are ready to cooperate with “Together 2014” without any preconditions also endears him to those who are disgusted with the Schiffer-wing of LMP. I will be really curious what the next polls will tell us. There might be a few surprises.

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81 comments

  1. Reading some of the reactions to Pibroch’s extraordinarily reasonable and well argued posts, I’m reminded of a comment from one of my favourite playwrights, Joe Orton: “Scratch a liberal and find a fascist bleeding.” It is the same mentality that is appalled (rightfully) by the extraordinary bias and absence of pluralism in the pro-Fidesz media but professes to admire programmes like ATV’s Újságíróklub.

    As for the suggestion that voting for Puch should be considered an option, you are aware that he has substantial off-shore interests with Simicska?

  2. LwiiH :
    An, as I asked above, “Where is the money?” I yet to read a single article that the advertising campaign was not executed because there were not able to rent advertising spaces. Until I read a single factual article about opposition parties advertising being tuned away, anything you wrote is a theory.
    Maybe it will happen, but for goodness sake, who holds Bajnai back to try it?

    This isn’t a question of money, it’s a question of opportunity. If the government seals up all sources of opportunity then you can have all the money in the world. One might add, well how about using websites external to the country? Well, if the government can secretly exclude or censor websites coming into the country (as they are proposing to do), they can block based on the violation of the electoral laws…. the ability to rebuke is quite limited…

    LwiiH: Still it is a theory. WHy not to try? It is like I am arguing with kids saying that they will not freeze ti death by building a snow man. Senseless argument without them trying.
    I think you are also missing the point that by not even trying is ridiculous. WHat is there to lose? If they do not publish the adds, nobody will loose any money but it would make a factual case to file complaint with the EU. If they publish the adds, then the message would get out. So, can you answer to me, why not to try?

  3. Kingfisher, I think this was totally uncalled for. So, you practically call those who don’t agree with you fascist? A very interesting attitude, I should say. Not very flattering (to you, that is).

  4. I fully agree that there is no lack of politicians in Hungary that can be related to bigger and smaller sins. And pibroch apparently does not object to them being still in politics in general if he suggests that Lajos Bokros of all people is a suitable candidate to unite the opposition. But was not the Bokros package the reason why it was “indispensable” to vote against MSzP in 1998? Is he not too close to “corrupt” MSzP either…? I am afraid that given this entrenched corruption and the relatively disappointing track record of democracy in Hungary in the past 20 years, being so critical of just Gyurcsany (and because they cooperated also of Bajnai) AND not being able to hint at a whole group of people who do meet your idea of a clean and politically effective alternative to Fidesz, ultimately means a stabilisation of the current situation. (OV is apparently still better than the alternatives – most of them are “corrupt”and the others too few…) Which brings me to this very strange suggestion of Mr Bauer that one has to consider giving a bigger role to the Puchs and the like. I thought they are already big in the business. Perhaps we could repeat what the objective of the opposition to OV is: to (re)install democracy, to make Hungarian society and politics “cleaner” and to raise the average living standards including the public services. People like Puch may be able to play in a similar league as Simicska, but it just perpetuates the system. What is needed is a transition to a system where people like Simicska and Puch regularly end up in jail.

  5. Kingfisher :
    Reading some of the reactions to Pibroch’s extraordinarily reasonable and well argued posts, I’m reminded of a comment from one of my favourite playwrights, Joe Orton: “Scratch a liberal and find a fascist bleeding.”

    You seem to like this so called “quote” from Orton. You also used it a few months back when Zsolt Bayer, a well known anti-semitic journalist, called Ulrike Lunacek, a member of the European Parliament, trash, liar and idiot publicly and Lunacek dared to complain about it.

    I’m not that familiar with Orton’s works so would you mind telling me in what play of his he wrote this? Because frankly I don’t think he ever did. But I may be wrong.

    What I see here is this: somebody criticized you and they become “fascists”. Scratch a fascist and you find … a fascist.

    Boo.

  6. Latest survey by “Századvég” shows that 55% of Hungarians hold former Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai responsible for the country’s debt that went out of control during the period 2002-2010 when Gyurcsany and Bajnai were at the helm of our government.

    According to the survey, only one-third (35 percent) of respondents doesn’t not agree with this statement. On the other hand, one in ten were unable or unwilling to form an opinion.

    The survey shows that only (pseudo)left-wing party supporters disagree with the majority of the population on issue of debt. In every other group the overwhelming majority hold Bajnai responsible for the out-of-control national debt.

    According to the survey, 82 percent of right-wing party supporters, 59 percent of moderates and 64 percent of undecided voters blame Bajnai for the country’s debt.

    Overall, 58 percent of respondents blame Bajnai for the out-of-control national debt; 33 percent disagree, while 9 percent did not know or did not want to form an opinion on the issue.

  7. Well, Századvég is not terrible reliable source. It is in the pay of the government. Sorry, but this is the truth. Check it out. The poll was most likely ordered by the Orbán government to assist its anti-Bajnai campaign.

  8. @Zsolt: So they just asked whether people agree with the following statement “Do you hold Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai responsible for the country’s debt that went out of control during the period 2002-2010 when Gyurcsany and Bajnai were at the helm of our government”? Really? Talk about a loaded question, right there.

  9. London Calling!

    I would just like to expand on what I mean by ‘unity’ and ‘organise’.

    But first we have to recognise that EVERY Hungarian politician has a few skeletons in the cupboard and is thus ‘tainted’. Suck it up – it’s life! (And Bokros wasn’t so great either – many blame him too for a complete nause-up of people’s living standards – yes I have read Eva’s back-blog!)

    Probably the main weapon to be used in the election in 2014 is:

    Tactical Voting.

    It is what we are used to employing in England – but which is probably a little too sophisticated at the moment for Hungary. (Such an arrogant Englishman! (convince me I am wrong!))

    While the electorate must understand and employ tactical voting – in essence: ‘Anyone but Orban’ or with the help of Google Translate:

    Szavazz Bárkire Csak Orbánra Ne – (SBCON!) which loses the pithyness of the English!

    Anyway, ‘Anyone But Orban’ (ABO) is only half the story.

    UNITY

    Just agreeing to oust Orban is not enough – the parties have to get together and agree to put up only one candidate opposing Fidesz in any single constituency.

    This is possibly too bitter a pill to swallow from the squabbling opposition parties – but they have to face the reality – which hitherto is starkly absent. They have to recommend politicians from other parties where they themselves are absent in a constituency. (Tough love for the Mother country!)

    They have to share resources, election lists and expertise to set up communication ‘trees’ using Facebook and the Hungarian equivalents.

    They have to stop Orban setting the agenda with a common united message. He will try and restrict the rhetoric to Matolcsy’s economy ‘success story’ fairytale.

    They have to concentrate on making the electorate understand how Orban has contaminated democracy.

    Unity includes devising clever – and humorous – ‘viral’ social-network adverts which show the electorate how he has undermined democracy. Pinging them into Hungary from outside internet registered sites.

    Last but not least – if they succeed – they have to work out how they will co-operate as a coalition government.

    And how they will co-operate to call a ‘consolidating’ snap election.

    So not much to do then!

    (Do you think this is in the realms of possibility, Charlie? – Well let me put it this way: Go For It!)

    GO FOR IT! = YES WE CAN!

    I have booked my plane ticket!

    Regards

    Charlie

  10. Charlie, not every Hungarian politician has a tainted name, people like Volner János and Gyöngyösi Márton are clean, respectable and not to mention intelligent (Volner is one of the most intelligent people in the parliament)
    Personally, I think Volner should be the next prime minister.

  11. Zsolt :

    Charlie, not every Hungarian politician has a tainted name, people like Volner János and Gyöngyösi Márton are clean, respectable and not to mention intelligent (Volner is one of the most intelligent people in the parliament)
    Personally, I think Volner should be the next prime minister.

    So, Zsolt, you are a Jobbik supporter. I wrote about Gyöngyösi before:

    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/jobbiks-foreign-relations-expert-marton-gyongyosi/

  12. Zsolt :
    Charlie, not every Hungarian politician has a tainted name, people like Volner János and Gyöngyösi Márton are clean, respectable and not to mention intelligent (Volner is one of the most intelligent people in the parliament)
    Personally, I think Volner should be the next prime minister.

    So Jobbik is the alternative you are suggesting, Zsolt? (both Volner and Gyongyosi are Jobbik members, for those readers who are not familiar with their names).

  13. MSZP, SZDSZ, MDF, Fidesz, etc, they all had their “fun” at the helm of Hungary, and they screwed up.
    I think it should be Jobbik’s turn to “have a go” at running the country.
    If they succeed, then great! If they fail, well it can’t possibly be worse than before.
    But I am willing to give them a chance, and there are even Roma who voted for them.
    They are not “Neo-Nazi” or “Far right”, but a Center right party with fresh ideas.

  14. Zsolt, we were debating that here also with regard to the future direction of LMP, what might seem to be centre-right to some people in Hungary, often counts as far right in other countries in Europe. Jobbik is certainly a case in point.

  15. Zsolt :
    MSZP, SZDSZ, MDF, Fidesz, etc, they all had their “fun” at the helm of Hungary, and they screwed up.
    I think it should be Jobbik’s turn to “have a go” at running the country.
    If they succeed, then great! If they fail, well it can’t possibly be worse than before.
    But I am willing to give them a chance, and there are even Roma who voted for them.
    They are not “Neo-Nazi” or “Far right”, but a Center right party with fresh ideas.

    Are you serious? Are you for real? ARe you reading the news at all? How van you say that Jobbik is not far right? How can you even suggest that they are here to create a cohesive country. Vona is obsessed with Jews trying to take over Hungary!!! Jobbik has enough of the Jews and gypsies, and that s the Hungary you are aiming for? G-d help us!

  16. Some1 :

    Zsolt :
    MSZP, SZDSZ, MDF, Fidesz, etc, they all had their “fun” at the helm of Hungary, and they screwed up.
    I think it should be Jobbik’s turn to “have a go” at running the country.
    If they succeed, then great! If they fail, well it can’t possibly be worse than before.
    But I am willing to give them a chance, and there are even Roma who voted for them.
    They are not “Neo-Nazi” or “Far right”, but a Center right party with fresh ideas.

    Are you serious? Are you for real? ARe you reading the news at all? How van you say that Jobbik is not far right? How can you even suggest that they are here to create a cohesive country. Vona is obsessed with Jews trying to take over Hungary!!! Jobbik has enough of the Jews and gypsies, and that s the Hungary you are aiming for? G-d help us!

    Look, Jobbik, just like Bajnai were targeted by Fidesz propaganda.
    I am familiar with politics, and I know what the far right is. Hitler or Szálasi was far right, Vona is not, you cannot possibly compare the two, it would be like comparing Gyurcsány to Lenin or Stalin.

    There is nothing “far right” about Jobbik’s manifesto. Nutcase “Hungarista” groups in Hungary are far right. Jobbik is simply a center right, democratic party. Vona himself has criticized the Arrow Cross.

    Don’t believe everything you hear about them. Jobbik does NOT want to kill Gypsies, or anything like that.
    Here is a quote from their manifesto:

    “Naturally gypsy crime does not mean that all Gypsy people are criminals, and it is an absurdity to suggest that it equates to the collective labelling of an entire community, as frequently the main victims of gypsy crime are Gypsy people themselves”

  17. On a lighter note (or not, as the case may be …)

    (Caption reads: Orban Viktor. Alone, he’s destroyed the country. And he hasn’t finished yet.)

  18. London Calling!

    Bowen

    That’s EXACTLY the ad I was talking about! – I hope it goes mega-viral!

    Print it off and stick it on the back of buses!

    Guerilla Fly-Posting! (but away from CCTV cameras!)

    Keep ’em coming!

    Regards

    Charlie

  19. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Bowen
    That’s EXACTLY the ad I was talking about! – I hope it goes mega-viral!
    Print it off and stick it on the back of buses!
    Guerilla Fly-Posting! (but away from CCTV cameras!)
    Keep ‘em coming!
    Regards
    Charlie

    Excellent idea. Print as many as you can. Leave it next to the mailboxes in apartment buildings in a pile or even put them in if you can.

  20. I’ve seen the Jobbik ads regarding “Gypsy crime” and also looked at their election programme once, that was enough for me to call them fascist …

    Their latest idea of reintroducing the death penalty didn’t help!

    If you want to see their real feelings, just go to pol.hu and read their comments there …

    “Szebbjovot” wrote there:
    “The Gypsy birth rate must be reversed, and the Gypsy population must decline through birth control means, to the point where the only Gypsies that are around are ‘integrated’ violin players. ”

    Reminds me of the Nazis.

    That was their first idea too – before they started killing them …

  21. London Calling!

    Zsolt

    What planet are you on?

    Have you not seen the pictures of Hungarian Guard thugs – carrying Jobbik flags?

    How Jobbik attend all the Roma intimidation marches?

    – and you are so naive quoting their ‘manifesto’.

    It’s tokenism to get elected – even they realised that their ante-Semitism and Racism is a barrier to getting elected.

    So they changed their manifesto – but a leopard can’t change its spots.

    Jobbik have ‘yanked’ Fidesz to the right too.

    You need to read some decent media.

    A thug is a thug is a thug.

    Jobbik is part of Hungary’s problem – nowhere near a solution.

    Begone.

    Regards

    Charlie

  22. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Zsolt
    What planet are you on?
    Have you not seen the pictures of Hungarian Guard thugs – carrying Jobbik flags?
    How Jobbik attend all the Roma intimidation marches?
    – and you are so naive quoting their ‘manifesto’.
    It’s tokenism to get elected – even they realised that their ante-Semitism and Racism is a barrier to getting elected.
    So they changed their manifesto – but a leopard can’t change its spots.
    Jobbik have ‘yanked’ Fidesz to the right too.
    You need to read some decent media.
    A thug is a thug is a thug.
    Jobbik is part of Hungary’s problem – nowhere near a solution.
    Begone.
    Regards
    Charlie

    Some call it “Roma intimidation marches”, others call it “anti-crime peace marches”, it depends on what side on the fence you are on Mr Charlie.

    There are some thugs who support Jobbik, I grant you that, but there are also thugs who support Fidesz, or thugs who support MSZP.
    May I remind you the police thugs who attacked and fired at Hungarians during the 2006 protests? I don’t see you complaining about those, so MSZP is not so innocent either.

    Jobbik is far from the problem, as it hasn’t done anything bad yet.
    It is at least part of the solution.

  23. wolfi :
    I’ve seen the Jobbik ads regarding “Gypsy crime” and also looked at their election programme once, that was enough for me to call them fascist …
    Their latest idea of reintroducing the death penalty didn’t help!
    If you want to see their real feelings, just go to pol.hu and read their comments there …
    “Szebbjovot” wrote there:
    “The Gypsy birth rate must be reversed, and the Gypsy population must decline through birth control means, to the point where the only Gypsies that are around are ‘integrated’ violin players. ”
    Reminds me of the Nazis.
    That was their first idea too – before they started killing them …

    Ok, so some random person’s comment on the internet speaks for the whole of Jobbik and their supporters??
    And you should check your definition of Fascism, because there is nothing fascistic about their manifesto, or them.
    Fact is, they want to help Roma, and some Roma even asked for Jobbik’s help.

  24. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Zsolt
    What planet are you on?
    Have you not seen the pictures of Hungarian Guard thugs – carrying Jobbik flags?
    How Jobbik attend all the Roma intimidation marches?

    Forget the pictures, I’ve seen them trolling the streets of Tiszavasvari… I’ve (accidentally) walked through the middle of one of their rallies.

    A thug is a thug is a thug.
    Jobbik is part of Hungary’s problem – nowhere near a solution.
    Begone.

    +1

  25. LwiiH :

    Mutt :

    Erik the Reader :

    Morality and legality do not coincide.

    You don’t have to like Bajnai – just work with him.

    Why?

    To boot Orban. If you agree, of course.

    Even according to the Szazadveg, Bajnai has 15% support compared to 26% of Orban’s popularity index. And this is an agency that is payed by the FIDESZ. Try to imagine the truth. If you have better idea to get rid of them please don’t hold back.

    Guys! The Mayas were wrong! There is life after 2014!

    We have take the trash out first THEN we can paint the house. Bajnai is our best chance to restore our country. But the fight will not end in April 2014. We will have to keep them on their toes even after that, otherwise they can become the same corrupt government as all of them in the past twenty something years. If they fail after 2014, we will give these guys the boot in no time! But today we have to remove the trash. Even if we have to give up some of our ideas for 4 years. 4 years is not the end of the world. Give your country a chance and help to get rid of the FIDESZ! It’s up to you my smart ass, undecided fellow Hungarians! Yes, you, Kingfisher, LwiiH and all the flip-flopping geniuses. It’s up to you now. No escaping.

  26. Zsolt :

    Don’t believe everything you hear about them. Jobbik does NOT want to kill Gypsies, or anything like that.

    Tell them to drop racism and anti-semitism and distance themselves openly from the drags of the nation. Then we can talk.

  27. Mutt :

    Zsolt :

    Don’t believe everything you hear about them. Jobbik does NOT want to kill Gypsies, or anything like that.

    Tell them to drop racism and anti-semitism and distance themselves openly from the drags of the nation. Then we can talk.

    Mutt, there is a difference between criticizing some actions of the Israeli government (which is what Jobbik does), and anti-semitism.

    There is also a difference between racism, and openly discussing some issues which do exist in the countryside.

  28. Wow, a big discussion. I think it would be foolish to ignore the fact that there are many people who are natural Orbán opponents who were deeply disillusioned by MSZP and blame them, rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, for many troubles. I have a lot of sympathy for Gyurcsány and the Őszödi beszéd: everyone new they were lying – and Orbán was also lying all through that election campaign – even more so than Gyurcsány. Anyone who flicked to the economics section of the newspaper new that it was election campaign divorced from reality, and I’m not an ecomonics guru. In the speech Gyurcsány said they were “obviously” lying night and day. “nyilválóan”. Yes they obviously were to anyone with a newspaper. But it was stupid politics, and even though it may have been unfair, it would have been strategic of him to step down, in hindsight. But really, exaggerating the rosiness of the economic picture (which is basically what the accusation is) is par for the course in most democracies.

    However, having acknowledged the doubts re MSZP, there will come a time when everyone will have to come into the tent. Yes, Fidesz will definitely change the laws many times over the next 1.5 years, but if they change it to favour multiple parties then obviously they themselves will suffer the most. But the opposition won’t win unless it looks like it can win and it is a credible opposition. For this reason, squabbling, even dignified squabbling, will keep people away from voting for them, or registering to vote for them. Even though it will take some people longer than others to see this, Együtt 2014 is infinitely preferable to Fidesz. Even the last MSZP government would be infinitely preferable (yes, they ran up debt, and they tried to institute reforms, and austerity, which were bitterly opposed and protested against, and in the end defeated by…… Fidesz and their allies like the Védegylet (who started LMP)). But running up debt is normal incompetent governance. What Fidesz is doing and has done is not normal in any world, it has been brutally incompetent, really beyond the pale.

    Re internet and social media: This is really being used in a big way in Hungary by both Fidesz and the opposition. The main part of the Együtt 2014 started as a facebook group, in case anyone has forgotten. If you’re on facebook, click like on Milla or Együtt 2014 or Fidesz or Orbán Viktor to see how active and in many ways creative both sides are.

    Re Jobbik, this is their official 2010 campaign video with English subtitles. It’s actually quite fascinating. People can draw their own conclusions about whether or not they are neonazis.

  29. Pibroch :
    @An, I see your points.
    Still, I have some questions:
    1) If we are sure that Fidesz is going rig the next election, then why should any opposition figures bother running against Fidesz in the first place?
    2) A united opposition makes sense under the proposed election laws that Fidesz has not passed yet. However, they have already made serious changes to the proposal:
    – First, they wanted to triple the number of nominations slips that a candidate needed to get on the ballot (meaning only Fidesz and MSZP candidates would be able to compete, because they are the only parties that have national organizations strong enough to collect this number of slips).
    – They then relented, saying that double the number of nomination slips would suffice.
    – Then, when they saw that Bajnai’s people might be competitive, Fidesz decided to do away with the nomination slips entirely. This allows anyone to compete in the election, dividing the anti-Fidesz vote among potentially dozens of candidates in a single district.
    The election law will be a moving target up until election day (if such a day ever comes). If the opposition eventually does unite behind a single candidate, who knows what Fidesz’s next move will be? Perhaps Rogan & friends will draw up an entirely new system that would make it more advantageous for multiple opposition parties to run.
    3) The MSZP is preferable to Fidesz, but the Socialists can give back as good as they get in terms of corruption. If the MSZP were serious about fighting corruption, they would have taken measures against it from 2002 to 2010. They not only tolerated corrupt governance, but encouraged it.
    If Fidesz is indeed defeated in 2014, it would be counterproductive for former MSZPers to launch a new “atvilagitas” program against anyone except the biggest offenders (Simicska, Nyerges etc). The idea of Fidesz and the MSZP investigating each other for corruption is a political comedy. It is the very epitome of the pot calling the kettle black.
    If there is a new prime minister in 2014, he should take Lincoln’s attitude — “charity toward all, malice toward none” — and move on. Otherwise, the country will get mired in tit-for-tat investigations that will waste time and energy.
    I personally foresee a much darker future for 2014:
    Scenario 1: Fidesz plays every dirty trick in the book and rigs the election. Protesters launch civil disobedience, which Fidesz crushes with a force that makes 2006 look like a tea party. The EU, the OSCE and NATO suspend ties with the Orban government.
    Scenario 2: Fidesz loses, but then plants a bunch of poison pills into the Basic Law that will make it impossible for their successors to govern. (In a sense, they have already done this.) Hungary faces a major constitutional crisis and the Civil Osszefogas launches never-ending street protests.
    Scenario 3: Constant legal bickering over the legitimacy of votes, irregularities in the votes from Slovakia, Serbia and Romania, etc. Orban reasserts power despite the legal wrangling. Everybody shrugs and says “ez van.”
    My point is, it may be impossible to defeat illiberal forces through liberal means (i.e. an election). I hope the election will be a true test of democracy, and I plan to participate in the anti-Fidesz movement. But I fear that a true election is going to be a pipe dream.

    It is even bleaker: illegality has been legitimized–the underlings only care to fullfill and be included in the rush for the spoils. There is already no reaction to illegal doings–the ClubRadio court judgement left to weave in the wind is one example. Another? The whole
    process of law making is illegitimate: no committee studies; no discussion etc.

    The whole aim of the Orban government is the total collapse of the government so that the Russkies can point and say: “You see, this is what EU membership will lead all the smaller
    countries to….

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