Fidesz prepares the battleground, July 22-September 17, 2006

József Debreczeni has no direct evidence that would prove that Viktor Orbán knew about the existence of the speech Ferenc Gyurcsány delivered in Balatonőszöd, but he makes a fairly good case that he did.

His argument relies on the relatively calm popular reception of the new government’s program, including the austerity measures. Naturally, there was disappointment because the population was expecting further improvements in their lives, but when right-wing organizations held a series of demonstrations in late June hardly anyone showed up, as even Magyar Nemzet had to admit. Gyurcsány’s personal popularity fell, but Orbán didn’t gain substantial support between March and October 2006.

Debreczeni also counters the claim that Gyurcsány didn’t tell the truth after the election. In an interview with Népszabadság (June 29, 2006) he explained the reason for “not unfolding all the details of the truth.” Because, he said, “politically that was a rational move because it created the chance of a real change…. But what it is true and proper in politics is not entirely true and acceptable by the measures of everyday ethics.” Here, of course, he was thinking of Max Weber’s famous dictum. Although there was talk about Gyurcsány not revealing the real state of the economy, Viktor Orbán didn’t begin a campaign against the alleged lying prime minister.

It was on July 22 in Tusnádfürdő, Romania, where Fidesz bigwigs gather yearly for political speeches and rock concerts, that Fidesz issued a proclamation called “Good Morning, Hungary!” It was signed by an odd assortment of office holders within Fidesz. In addition to Viktor Orbán the signatories were Kinga Gál, a member of the European Parliament; Zsolt Németh, today undersecretary of foreign affairs; Mihály Varga, who doesn’t belong to the party’s inner circle; Tibor Navracsics, who was a later addition to Fidesz; György Schöpflin, a member of the European Parliament and a real outsider; József Szájer, a member of the European Parliament and not active in domestic politics; and András Gyürk, a member of the European Parliament. Debreczeni thinks that signatures were hastily collected on the spot from Fidesz dignitaries who happened to be in Tusnádfürdő on the day part of the text reached Orbán.

In the Proclamation the word “lie” (hazugság) appeared eleven times, eight in combination with “political” as in “political lie.” So, three months after the election Viktor Orbán called out his troops to defend democracy from the dictatorship that rested on lies. He asked his supporters to sign the Proclamation and gather on Heroes’ Square on September 23.

Apparently, the plan was that those parts of the speech Fidesz already knew about in July would be broadcast at this mass meeting. Meanwhile Viktor Orbán began laying the foundation for a spectacular unveiling of the lies of the prime minister. He wrote a long article, published in three parts in Magyar Nemzet between July 29 and August 2006, entitled “Watershed” (Vízválasztó). In it he compared the Gyurcsány government to the dictatorship of the Kádár regime that was founded on lies. Today, he claimed, the problem of the country is not in the economic but in the political sphere. “The real problem is the lies of the government, its conscious distortion of the truth.” He predicted that by the time winter arrives it will not be the right and the left arguing with each other; an embittered and exasperated country will be facing an illegitimate government.” What did Orbán have in mind?

One of Debreczeni’s sources, an unknown blogger, noticed a telling item in the August 11 Magyar Nemzet. In an article about the chances of the opposition succeeding against the government, Zoltán Kiszelly, a political scientist of decidedly right-wing leanings, was asked to comment. Kiszelly declared that the population is fully aware that lying in politics is an everyday affair, so “the accusation of lying by itself does not carry enough weight.” The article had an illustration of a tape recorder. The blogger surmised that even if Kiszelly didn’t know about the tape, someone at Magyar Nemzet did.

A lot of people call attention to a highly unusual visit of Viktor Orbán to a Ferencváros (Fradi) game. Orbán is not a Fradi fan. Moreover, Fradi had just been demoted from NB I to NB II and was playing against Jászapáti of all places. The Fradi Fan Club, however, was an easily lit fuse. They were known for their brawls and their anti-Semitism.  At games against MTK they would chant about “the trains that are speeding toward Auschwitz.”  Magyar Nemzet, in the wake of Orbán’s attendance at the Fradi game,  gave the club a voice. The editors published an opinion piece by the vice-president of the Fradi Fan Club: “Ferencváros: Symbol of the Country.” Fans of this symbol of the country were active in the siege of the public television station on September 18, 2006, along with other football hooligans.

Beginning on September 4 the media reported demonstrations anywhere Gyurcsány appeared. Usually the same faces showed up and chanted the same slogans. It was clear that these noisy demonstrations were organized by Fidesz. By September 14 Orbán was calling on Fidesz activists to redouble their efforts in gathering more and more signatures to the proclamation “Good Morning, Hungary!” because it is “time to set out against the government.” On the same day Orbán gave an interview to Reuters in which he talked about the right to resist. “In Hungarian, ‘rebellion’ is a very strong word, so I would rather not use it, but the people have the right to resist and I think that resistance is an acceptable form of democratic politics.” It was at this time that Gyurcsány wrote in his blog that Orbán “is playing with fire.”

Playing with firedeeharman / flickr

Playing with fire
deeharman / flickr

Magyar Nemzet came out with an issue on September 16 that dealt almost exclusively with the theme of  lying. “Demonstrations against the government!” “The wave of demonstrations will culminate this weekend.” “The prime minister is a maniac,” a quote from László Kövér. “One hundred days, one hundred lies.” It was reported that Imre Kerényi, who today is an active participant of the Orbán government’s Kulturkampf, was organizing a “walking demonstration.” On the op-ed page there was an article with the title “From lie to dictatorship!” Finally, a full-page ad for “Good Morning, Hungary!”

If the tape was in the hands of Fidesz politicians earlier–which, of course, they deny–then the riots of September-October must be re-evaluated. In this case they were not spontaneous reactions of the indignant population; the riots were organized.

The unnamed blogger and Debreczeni agree that by calling the government illegitimate and announcing the right to resistance Viktor Orbán exceeded the limits of legitimate democratic political action. Moreover, according to the Constitution of the time (2.§/3/), “No activity of any person can be directed toward the forcible acquisition of power.” Debreczeni claims that although Orbán didn’t explicitly call for force, he did cross the Rubicon by calling the government illegitimate and those who attacked it legitimate.

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21 comments

  1. I must say that everything that Fidesz and his fan club accused the government at the time, came true at the time when they too it over, with the the exception of the current opposition encouraging people to throw over the current government.
    Let see:
    – We should call on to “defend democracy from the dictatorship that rested on lies”. Not yo many thing that Fidesz promised, publishes, advertises is not a lie. They gained their votes on promises that at least 80% were factual lies.
    – Orban “compared the Gyurcsány government to the dictatorship of the Kádár regime that was founded on lies. Today, he claimed, the problem of the country is not in the economic but in the political sphere. “The real problem is the lies of the government, its conscious distortion of the truth.”
    Yes, but very recently Orban said that his only problem with the Kadar regime was not the concept but who were the leaders at the time. Also the “conscious distortion of the truth.” could not ring any more true today about Fidesz, like the campaigns against the EU, the IMF, etc.
    – “I think that resistance is an acceptable form of democratic politics.” said Orban. Be careful what you wish for. At this point, the teachers, students, cancer patients, the poor, the homeless, doctors and nurses re at the end of their rope, and they are already resisting.

  2. Petofi1 would say that this orban crime government deserves a general uprising in Hungary. I agree with all what he says or does not say.
    Every day, they orbans serve is another attack on all decent Hungarians.
    The disastrous jobbik is just another extension of the crime.
    The question is why so many citizens are struck with blindness?
    Probably, too many are entangled in a web of patriotic myths.

  3. resist resist :
    Petofi1 would say that this orban crime government deserves a general uprising in Hungary. I agree with all what he says or does not say.
    Every day, they orbans serve is another attack on all decent Hungarians.
    The disastrous jobbik is just another extension of the crime.
    The question is why so many citizens are struck with blindness?
    Probably, too many are entangled in a web of patriotic myths.

    No uprising: no bloodshed.
    I believe in civil disobedience. Stop work. Stop travel.
    Call elections NOW.

  4. Once I read, somewhere I cannot recall, that it was Gy. Budai that played the role of liaison between the football hooligans and the Fidesz leadership.

  5. Fidesz most certainly had the tapes. It is simply inconcievable that if the tapes were leaked to anyone, then Fidesz people would not acquire it quickly.

    They have (and that time it was in even better shape) a well-organized national network of supporters, including members of security services who could acuire the tapes. But I guess a day after Szekers leaked it to anyone it was with Kövér/Orbán/Simicska (he being the owner and effective ceo of Magyar Nemzet).

    No political article appears at Magyar Nemzet without the knowlegde and approval of top Fidesz people. There are no accidents with MN. If the tape recorder was in the article, then it was a message, it was exactly the kind of game Kövér/Simicska (and their people at MN) love to play, Orbán probably would not deal with the editing, Simicska and Kövér would be informed.

    I completely agree with Kiszelly’s statement and I know it for a fact that Orbán was arguing in private (in about 2004-2005) that lying is nothing special because people anyway expect politicians to lie and be crooked. Kiszelly was only parroting the Fidesz’ line of argument (which by the way resonates as exactly the kind of cynical argument Törok Gábor uses these days; he is now the right leaning pundit who can onyl evalute something from the point of view of political gain, he learnt this approcah from Orbán, after all he gained a 2/3 with his completekly uncroupulous and cynical action ). So the fact that lying became such an issue is really a reaction to a special opportunity — handed tehm by Szekers (and what about Péter Kiss? He completely disappeared whereas before he was alwas named as a potential canditate for premiership. His disappearance coincided with the leak).

  6. To Tappanch two things.

    (1) Kiszelly, Török, and in general almost all the so-called political scientists “who can only evaluate something from the point of view of political gain. He learnt this approach from Orbán,” Excellent description and I’m afraid it doesn’t apply only to the right leaning ones. Kiszelly otherwise is one of the stupidest I have encountered. If anyone wants to hear his pearls of wisdom should watch András Bánó’s program (A tét) on ATV Wednesday nights. Thank God he is not on every week but when he is, oh, my God. Exceptionally stupid fellow.

    (2) Almost everybody is certain that the second man (or the first) was Puch. Nowhere I read any guesswork on the identity of the third person. But I don’t think that it was Kiss. Otherwise it is unlikely that Zoltán Brády, friend of Rózsa-Flores, would have said jokingly to Szilvia Krizsó when Krizsó pressed him that it was Péter Kiss and György Szilvásy, a good friend of Gyurcsány, who passed the tape to them.

  7. The Orban legacy will be remembered as the assassination of human values.
    Instead of the fruitless exchange of opinions, instead of the endless analysis of trivial events, we need dynamic new ideas.
    Many Hungarians will have to apologize for electing and supporting Orban/Vona/Semjen.

    Demand new elections. Demand a new civil society.
    Reject the old Horthy, Rakosi, Gero, Kadar, Orban, Vona Hungary.
    Demand a new enlightened Hungary.
    Talpra-Talpra-Talpra Magyar! Follow Old Deak!

  8. Breaking news:

    1. The Constitutional Court struck down the permanent “temporary measures” of the “Basic Law” today, including the registration to vote and lots of other outrageous Fidesz things.

    2. Fidesz declared right away that they will put everything back in the “Basic Law” as permanent in February.

    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20121228_Alkotmanybirosag_alaptorveny_atmeneti_ren
    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20121228_Ab_dontes_fidesz

    3. By the time the Court will vote again, Fidesz appointees will have the majority in the Court.

  9. Tappanch: Yes, but times are changing. Nobody knows what will happen in one or two months time when this amendment should be approved. The first reaction of Szájer (personal friend of Orbán — ie. he is channeling Orbán’s reaction, who has no doubt discussed this issue in the recent days with Szájer, Kövér etc., they were obvioulsy aware of the draft decision) was prediactable enough. But we will see what happens in practice. They may include these provisions in the Basic Law proper, the CC may OK the amendment, but it only will further the argument that Fidesz has effectively built a dictatorship which looks only from afar as a democracy. It may even be better politically for the opposition. The consequences are not always straightforward.

  10. resist resist :
    The question is why so many citizens are struck with blindness?
    Probably, too many are entangled in a web of patriotic myths.

    What we shouldn’t forget is the very professional use of ‘Social Engineering’, the conscious manipulation of public opinion and sentiments in whole.

    It’s quite clear, even following Eva’s analysis, that the events were carefully planned and orchestrated, the communication were pointing to the (far)right direction well in advance, prepared with the appropriate technique.

    To me it’s an enigma, why the government wasn’t prepared better to handle the situation, since it was quite obvious, what’s going on. Perhaps they just couldn’t believe, that Orban would go that far?
    Personally I never had any doubts regarding the unscrupulous ruthlessness of our Great Leader, and he’s still working hard on to prove me right…

  11. London Calling!

    I have followed your analysis, Eva with great interest – it has been rivetingly exciting and it is a fascinating exposé of the dark arts of politics. And with more to come you say.

    Please enlarge on the Weber dictum? I am not familiar with him – I looked up Wikipedia and found his dictum of ‘Legitimate violence (an oxymoron surely?) is the monopoly of the State” interesting – but that can’t be what you meant?

    The intrigue and ‘unwinding’ of ‘Gy’s lie’ are reminiscent of a case in England – the case of Jonathan Aitken who, with famous chutpah, lied to everyone and came unstuck; lost his favoured position under Margaret Thatcher (Prime minister) – when many thought he himself would become a Prime Minister – and ended up serving time at her Majesty’s pleasure.

    But given the circumstances who wouldn’t have made full use of the propaganda opportunity that the naïve idiots of MSZP gave Fidesz?

    In England – and other democracies – I would venture to add the USA – it would have been milked endlessly and ruthlessly for ever ounce of political advantage. Even sailing close to the wind legally if necessary – It’s just run-of-the mill politics.

    I can’t see that calling a government ‘Illegitimate’ and ‘illegal’ is one of the most heinous crimes in politics – it comes with the territory – (even if it is enshrined in a constitution – as in the case of a ‘just war’! Ok Ok – I overstate my case!).

    Except for the fact that Hungary is such a young democracy.

    In a mature democracy much of the electorate would see through the darks arts and treat them with a pinch of salt.

    The opposition would have the freedom and resources to expose the conceits. But of course we know on here that that is not possible in Hungary.

    That MSZP have given Fidesz such an opportunity, and with it its his thumping majority, – and with Orban’s quick, ruthless and comprehensive consolidation afterwards – then that has to be put down to political experience.

    MSZP now have a duty to help unwind their mess and try and find a way to combat Orban.

    Not easy – but other countries have succeeded in worse messes – or disappeared in the black hole of political failures – just like Jonathan Aitken.

    I just have a feeling that the Hungarian electorate – especially maybe the young students – are a bit more savvy this 2014-time around.

    Unfortunately the critical mass will not have enough momentum this time round – maybe! The opposition won’t be spoon-fed such a political golden opportunity this time.

    Regards

    Charlie

  12. London Calling!

    Minusio!I read your response to Hect elsewhere AFTER I posited the above – and it chimes a great deal with what you say – even if yours is more eloquent!

    Maybe my vicarious mention of Weber’s dictum of “Legitimate violence is the monopoly of the State”……..

    …..can be replaced with Hect’s dictum:

    “Legitimate violence is NOT the monopoly of the State”

    …or might have to be!

    Regards

    Charlie

  13. spectator :
    To me it’s an enigma, why the government wasn’t prepared better to handle the situation, since it was quite obvious, what’s going on. Perhaps they just couldn’t believe, that Orban would go that far?

    I semi-understand that you were surprised at first but it puzzles me why are you still surprised. THe last three years every month on this blog comes up a few times how horrible the socialist’s and liberal’s marketing is. It has been established how much money Fidesz pours into PR (London PR, USA PR firms from taxpayers money for the last two years for example), the money they spend on “national consultation”, etc. It has been established that there is never a proper well executed, prompt answer form any of the opposition parties. You could of say “at the time” or it is “further proof how the government has never been ready to properly handle any of the Fidesz’ PR”.
    How can we be so surprised of these events when ourselves fail to acknowledge the ongoing factual problems with the marketing of our “supported” political forces? THe Hungarian opposition maybe ready to lead, but they have to win the war first, and they never-ever had a proper strategy. As Fidesz comes up with some ad-hoc ways of running the country but mastered their PR, the opposition have some ad-hoc ways of running their PR, mainly relying on the mercy of media that sympathizes with their fight. When the media will be silenced (and Orban is doing a darn good job there too), all the opposition will be going down.
    The only exemplary “opposition” marketing is coming from University students and not surprisingly from high-school students. No kidding that Fidesz is terrified from an educated new generation!

  14. Some1 :

    spectator :
    To me it’s an enigma, why the government wasn’t prepared better to handle the situation, since it was quite obvious, what’s going on. Perhaps they just couldn’t believe, that Orban would go that far?

    I semi-understand that you were surprised at first but it puzzles me why are you still surprised. THe last three years every month on this blog comes up a few times how horrible the socialist’s and liberal’s marketing is. It has been established how much money Fidesz pours into PR (London PR, USA PR firms from taxpayers money for the last two years for example), the money they spend on “national consultation”, etc. It has been established that there is never a proper well executed, prompt answer form any of the opposition parties. You could of say “at the time” or it is “further proof how the government has never been ready to properly handle any of the Fidesz’ PR”.

    Actually I meant the riots and such.
    Otherwise I’m with you regarding the utterly inadequate MSZP communication/PR work, or the whole present day opposition, if we are at it.

    The Fidesz-communication were much better even before they have managed to spend state founds – András Wermer was indeed one of the best communication-strategist in the whole country, they couldn’t come even close after he passed away. Today only the money makes any difference, earlier was the brain too on the Fidesz’ side.

    The problem with the opposition’s communication that they still think, that’s enough to be better and ‘the masses will recognize it’.
    If it was true, Viktor would never reach the throne – but he did, so, the opposition is on the same wrong path as ever.

  15. tappanch :
    Breaking news:
    1. The Constitutional Court struck down the permanent “temporary measures” of the “Basic Law” today, including the registration to vote and lots of other outrageous Fidesz things.
    2. Fidesz declared right away that they will put everything back in the “Basic Law” as permanent in February.
    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20121228_Alkotmanybirosag_alaptorveny_atmeneti_ren
    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20121228_Ab_dontes_fidesz
    3. By the time the Court will vote again, Fidesz appointees will have the majority in the Court.

    I guess the next step is to issue little red books to everyone, even better, little red iPhones, that can be updated every time the “Basic Law” is revised or every time the Great Leader has something else to say to his people (at which time all contradictory content is erased).

  16. Sandor Petofi was a romantic dreamer, but Ferenc Deak was the unique reformer, and the founding father of the modern Hungary as a modern European nation, and moreover the inventor of the new legal order and the non-violent social pattern.

    The only man, we should follow is Ferenc Deak.

  17. @Some1
    Interestingly, my answer is waiting for mediation in the last six hours – so, it’s either friggin’ slow, or nonexistent, not to mention why?

  18. spectator :
    The Fidesz-communication were much better even before they have managed to spend state founds – András Wermer was indeed one of the best communication-strategist in the whole country, they couldn’t come even close after he passed away. Today only the money makes any difference, earlier was the brain too on the Fidesz’ side.
    The problem with the opposition’s communication that they still think, that’s enough to be better and ‘the masses will recognize it’.
    If it was true, Viktor would never reach the throne – but he did, so, the opposition is on the same wrong path as ever.

    I agree full heartedly.

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