Who leaked Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speech in Balatonőszöd?

Yesterday I received Christmas presents from my relatives in Hungary and as usual I got books. I was looking forward to reading all of them, but József Debreczeni’s book on the riots of September-October 2006 especially interested me since I have been fascinated by the way in which the history of a series of events can be rewritten. One needs only a communication avalanche supporting a slice of the whole and magnifying it beyond recognition.

Debreczeni’s book has been #1 on the Hungarian bestseller list ever since it appeared a few weeks ago. So it seems that I’m not the only one who wants to read a minute-by-minute account of those days.

There are three narratives of the events as summarized by Debreczeni. The first is the right-wing version where Good does battle with Evil. The event is described as a spontaneous democratic protest against a government that came into power by lying and that was answered by brutal police terror. The second is the left-wing version that describes the riots as being fueled by Viktor Orbán who couldn’t make peace with losing two elections in a row. According to this version, the events were directed by politicians who hoped for a coup d’état that would remove the Gyurcsány government from power. The third version is that of the civil rights activists: TASZ (the Hungarian version of the American Civil Liberties Union), the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, and Védegylet, an environmental group in which András Schiffer and László Sólyom were active. These groups were aided by such Internet papers as Origo, HVG, and Index that tried “to find their place somewhere between the warring political factions.” In Debreczeni’s opinion these groups belittled the danger the rioters posed to society.

Naturally, Debreczeni has to deal with the immediate cause of the riots of September 17 and October 23-24: Ferenc Gyurcsány’s leaked speech before the MSZP parliamentary caucus on May 26. Here I would like to summarize briefly Debreczeni’s description of how it ended up in the hands of Viktor Orbán.

The quality of the audiotape was too good to have been done by an amateur. It had to have been copied from one of the two official tapes of the speech. One went to the prime minister’s office where it was placed in a safe. The other ended up in the headquarters of MSZP where it was lying about on an open shelf in a room that many people had access to. Thus, whoever stole and copied the original audio tape most likely got it from the party’s headquarters.

And now comes brand new information straight from Ferenc Gyurcsány who obviously shared his suspicions with Debreczeni. In July 2011, when the relationship between MSZP and Gyurcsány was sorely strained, Gyurcsány wrote a letter to Attila Mesterházy in which he told the party chairman that he was fairly certain about the identities of the three people who leaked the speech to Viktor Orbán. Gyurcsány told Mesterházy that he had no hard proof and therefore could not demand a police investigation. Mesterházy refused to open the letter and shredded it unread in public.

What was in the letter? Among other things, that sometime in the summer of 2010 a well known public figure visited Gyurcsány and claimed to know the name of the man who leaked the speech at Balatonőszöd. His son worked in a law office where one of his colleagues kept repeating that he knew who the man was but refused to reveal his secret. Then came a drunken party when he slipped. He named X.

A few months later Gyurcsány was talking to an influential journalist who revealed that on September 18, 2006, a day after the content of the speech became known publicly, a leading MSZP politician asked to meet him. During the encounter the MSZP politician tried to convince the journalist that it was actually Gyurcsány who had leaked the audio. That leading MSZP politician was X himself.

Then in the summer of 2011 Gyurcsány received a message from an MSZP member who doesn’t live in Budapest. According to his story, sometime in the summer of 2006, way before the audio became public, a leading member of MSZP played the tape of the speech for him, adding that “Gyurcsány is in my hands, I can do anything I want with him.” Who was this leading MSZP member? Not but a very close associate and friend of his. The two families spend their holidays together. Let’s call him Y.

And finally, shortly before Gyurcsány wrote the letter to Mesterházy another MSZP member called him with the information that a few months earlier among a small circle of friends revealed that his close associate Z, one of the leaders of MSZP, was the one who had actually smuggled the tape out of the party’s headquarters. 

Imre Szekeres who was named by Ferenc Gyurcsány minister of defense in 2006

Imre Szekeres, who was named minister of defense by Ferenc Gyurcsány in 2006

That was what Gyurcsány knew in July 2011, but since then he learned something else from another person who is ready to testify if necessary. The informer implicated Imre Szekeres who in July 2006 in Székesfehérvár, only a couple of months after the stunning MSZP victory, told county leaders that the party will have to prepare for the post-Gyurcsány period. The informer even asked Szekeres how such an idea could come up at that time. Szekeres answered that in politics one must be prepared for all eventualities. The person apparently sent a message to Gyurcsány about Szekeres’s odd remark,  but  Gyurcsány didn’t attach any significance to it at the time and soon enough forgot about the whole thing.

Péter Niedermüller wrote a four-part series on the “Őszöd speech” (Az őszödi beszéd)  in which he dealt at length with the possible reactions to Gyurcsány’s announcement of the austerity program. There were some party leaders who realized that the promised reforms would adversely affect their political influence and might endanger their positions, financial and otherwise, within the party. When he read these articles in August 2011 Debreczeni immediately thought of Imre Szekeres and László Puch. Just an immediate gut reaction. It was a year later that he found out from Ferenc Gyurcsány what the former prime minister knew about the affair, which seemed to implicate Szekeres and two close associates of his.

These three men obviously had no intention of wreaking havoc on the party’s national standing. They just hoped that they could get rid of Gyurcsány with all his liberal ideas and reforms that rattled the top leadership of MSZP. The party paid dearly for their ill-conceived political power play.

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66 comments

  1. beregi :
    The book you are discussing here is the figment of imagination created by a much troubled mind. You liberals should open the window, breathe in fresh air and deal with the Hungarian reality. Doing shadow boxing either from a far-away happy country or from our much trouble Hungary does not do you any good! Your playing make-believe is rather childish and has not much to do with history or science.

    We try to offer the same with great facts for Fidesz members for a long time, but our suggestion has so fare failed.”breathe in fresh air and deal with the Hungarian reality” Did you smell the fresh air in the six hours line-up for food on Blaha Lujza ter? http://tinyurl.com/c735awu
    DId you compare Orban’s speech from 2008. február 13. to its last week speech about tuitions? http://youtu.be/2XLZss9Bpa8 WHat would you say about Orban “Do not listen what I say” revelation? It unfortunate the the erratic inconsistent behaviour of Orban where he even keeps his own government in the dark from one hour to the other does not raise suspicion on his mental state, example from you. This leaves me suspect that those who remain to support him, and his underground dealings with the riches of Hungary from the best interest of the riches in Hungary are from those who are members or close to his inner circle. THeir interest, and I assume you are one of them are not the best interest of Hungary as a whole but the best interest of the privileged as yourself. YOu should not count yourself in as an insider bereki, as you are the one who tries to make look HUngary as a “happy country” why supporting those who are destroying it. It is a shame that it takes people from far-away lands to have the best interest of Hungarians who still live there in their mind, while those who are inside the borders support a crook and his sorry governments. The failure of Fidesz would make a crust of elite spiral down. WHat remains is the accusations, and calling other childish and unqualified to judge a poisonous situation that is actually built on lies a deceptions. Very immature beregi.

  2. London Calling!

    Some1, beregi’s motto is: “I am deaf and dumb and blind to all but me, myself and I.” and he will not respond – he has no leg to stand on.

    You make some very powerful points, though.

    And I had fun baiting the idiot!

    Regards

    Charlie

  3. Lecso :

    Fidesz lied, yes, but what makes MSZP or Bajnai any better? Same type of garbage, same coin two sides.

    This is simply not true. Did they try to establish a dictatorship? Did they ruin Hungarian democracy? Did they ignore the rulings of the Constitutional Court? Did they pack the Court with their own politicians? Did they dismiss the most experienced judges because they wanted to appoint their own people?

    Think before you make such unthinking statement.

  4. Eva S. Balogh :

    Lecso :
    Fidesz lied, yes, but what makes MSZP or Bajnai any better? Same type of garbage, same coin two sides.

    This is simply not true. Did they try to establish a dictatorship? Did they ruin Hungarian democracy? Did they ignore the rulings of the Constitutional Court? Did they pack the Court with their own politicians? Did they dismiss the most experienced judges because they wanted to appoint their own people?
    Think before you make such unthinking statement.

    So are you saying there is no corruption in MSZP, and that they are 100% honest?

    And if you ask me, police terror in 2006 looked very much like a undemokratic dictatorship, something like that has not happened under Fidesz (or at least not yet).

  5. Also, MSZP did not have a 2/3 majority, therefore they couldn’t do any of those things.
    If MSZP got a 2/3 majority it would be like 1949 again.

  6. I didn’t say anything like the MSZP’s politicians are 100% honest. And there was no police terror. There were some policemen who roughed up some of those who were throwing rocks at them. Happens everywhere in the world. In fact, in comparison the Hungarian police’s reaction was rather mild.

  7. Again, think before you write. the MSZP-SZDSZ government had two-thirds majority between 1994 and 1998. Did you notice any dictatorship or you were too young even know what’s going on.?

  8. Both MSZP/SZDSZ and Fidesz used their election victories to rob the country blind. Fidesz has gone one step further in trying to ensure they will stay in power irrespective of the wishes of the electorate in 2014. The sad thing is that this is the only positive thing one can say about the MSZP: that they aren’t quite a evil as Fidesz. But frankly, I feel their record (particularly 2002 to 2010) disqualifies them from future government.

  9. Kingfisher :

    Both MSZP/SZDSZ and Fidesz used their election victories to rob the country blind. Fidesz has gone one step further in trying to ensure they will stay in power irrespective of the wishes of the electorate in 2014. The sad thing is that this is the only positive thing one can say about the MSZP: that they aren’t quite a evil as Fidesz. But frankly, I feel their record (particularly 2002 to 2010) disqualifies them from future government.

    Would you give us some examples of this business of robbing the country blind because up to now none of the investigations initiated by Fidesz brought any results. Most of the accusations were trumped up charges concocted by Fidesz with the active help of the prosecutors office under former Fidesz candidate for parliament, Péter Polt.

  10. Lecso :
    If MSZP got a 2/3 majority it would be like 1949 again.

    And if you would have four legs you would be a table. I mean how unhistorical one can get? THe truth is that we do not know what would of, could of, should of happened with he MSZP. But we do know what is happening under Fidesz, so lets focus on that.

  11. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Some1, beregi’s motto is: “I am deaf and dumb and blind to all but me, myself and I.” and he will not respond – he has no leg to stand on.
    You make some very powerful points, though.
    And I had fun baiting the idiot!
    Regards
    Charlie

    I’m deaf and dumb and blind or whatever you want to call me (probably even more despicable), but I’m still calling from Hungary and not from affluent London. No doubt that I am the representative of the nasty rich, because I have not accumulated any real assets at all. I’m quasi unemployed today, but no grudge, It’s my “accomplishment”. You know I grew up in socialist Hungary where my best friends were the members of the ruling class (workers and peasants, to put it precisely!). We were equally poor and happy and were totally ignorant of Comrade Minimus and the others confiscating assets and living the life of Riley in Budapest (of course for our sake). And how comrade Minimus and his followers are whining today! Anyway, I was not persecuted or not imprisoned either because of spreading dissident ideas (despite seeing your heroes doing so in 1999 under the benevolent supervision of the state police). I have never been involved in politics, be it local or national level, but slowly realised that if I look back on the horrid history of my family (all members of it stupid enough not to flee the country at the drop of the hat!), and ignore the teachings of our false history books (what a nice cause it would have been for your Ms Balog to put them right!), I get a better grasp of what’s happening around/to us. And if the police beats you up only once, it will be very hard, even for a hard nosed liberal/socialist, to believe that social-liberal combo was something next to heaven! Anyway, I wish you all the best to you for 2013, and I promise you if I see that your blue-eyed boys can offer a good alternative, I’ll tray to back them. Until then …

  12. London Calling!

    beregi I don’t understand what you are saying in your post above – but it certainly doesn’t cut the mustard.

    Your original post was quite insulting (for example, calling us ‘childish’) – so I responded in a like vein – smell the fresh air you said – so I mentioned the smelly drains I have encountered in Győr!

    So I am foolishly (probably) giving you another chance.

    You answered NONE of the outstanding questions – as I predicted.

    You failed to answer:

    1) Eva’s question: “Could you elaborate on the troubled mind? Why is Debreczeni’s mind troubled?”

    2) CharlieH’s question: “Beregi? what are your solutions for “…..our much trouble Hungary….” ? and ….

    3) Some1’s three or more valid questions. (Please read back.)

    and finally please explain more fully (treat me as an idiot! – Oh you did!) the above post – and help me understand please?

    So beregi. I have had the decency to respond relatively politely. I am asking you to do the same?

    However – I have low expectations of a rational response as evidenced in your initial post – so go on….. surprise us.

    Regards

    Charlie

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