MSZP campaign at home and abroad. Part I

I’m really looking forward to the political polls that can be expected sometime in the middle of February. It seems that the pollsters don’t publish their findings in January, most likely because of the extended holidays at the end of the year.

I’m curious about the results because I have been noticing a quickening pace of activities on the part of the Hungarian Socialist party (MSZP). As I see it, the campaign has begun and on many fronts, both at home and abroad. Because let’s not forget about the 300,000 new citizens living abroad who are now eligible to vote in the Hungarian elections.

It’s no wonder that the government party immediately began a smear campaign against the chief MSZP adviser, Ron Werber from Israel, who was hired by the socialists to assist them in their 2014 election campaign. Werber’s influence was immediately noticeable. As of yesterday, over-sized posters appeared throughout the country with pictures of György Matolcsy and Rózsa Hoffmann. The choice of these two was wise because their activities are widely criticized even within Fidesz circles, but I have the feeling that a poster featuring Viktor Orbán is not long in coming. One could also read about the training of hundreds of MSZP activists who will be in charge of individual electoral districts. It will be their job to mobilize local supporters of the party to get in touch with every voter and convince them that MSZP’s program is worth voting for.

Promises, promises. Instead of unparalleled success economic fiasco; instead of free higher education, tuition fee

Promises, promises.
Instead of unparalleled success economic fiasco;
instead of free higher education, a tuition fee

Well, it is time that MSZP woke up to the fact that their old-fashioned campaign strategies no longer work. As Ron Werber pointed out, it is not enough for a few MSZP leaders to make an appearance on ATV or chat on Klubrádió. It is also useless to stand on street corners hoping to pass out a few leaflets. MSZP should have learned something from Fidesz and the strategy it adopted years ago.

Fidesz immediately attacked Ron Werber whose advice in 2002 resulted in a narrow victory for MSZP and SZDSZ while everybody, including Viktor Orbán, expected a sure Fidesz victory. Fidesz’s criticism of Werber has always had a slight anti-Semitic edge. But Fidesz also works with Israeli and Jewish-American advisers, George E. Birnbaum and Arthur Finkelstein, who have conservative parties in the United States and worldwide as clients. Their latest job was to advise Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in connection with the current Israeli election. It seems that Israeli and/or Jewish advisers are cheap Fidesz targets only if they work for MSZP.

Werber describes himself as a “widely recognized expert on political and communication strategies, … grassroots work and community mobilization.” This is exactly where MSZP is weak. Werber, who now spends two days a week in Hungary, gave the socialists a pep talk (or, perhaps better described, a talking to, four-letter words included) a couple of days ago. Werber told the MSZP leaders not to whine but to get to work. Népszabadság translated one of Werber’s descriptions of the socialists at the moment as “egy nagy rakás szerencsétlenség” which more or less means “futzing around” without producing any results. Well, it is a little bit stronger.

There is a change in MSZP strategy with regard to its relations with Hungarian political parties in the neighboring countries. The largest Hungarian minority exists in Romania, but the number of Hungarians in Slovakia, especially along the Slovak-Hungarian border, is also considerable. Relatively few Hungarians live in Ukraine and Serbia.

In Romania there is no question that Fidesz is the most popular party among Romanian Hungarians. According to a poll conducted by the Hungarian Political Capital and Kvantum Research of Romania (Cluj-Kolozsvár) a year ago, 55% of Transylvanian Hungarians support Fidesz while 35% are undecided. Jobbik, although a lot of people claimed that the party’s support was growing among Romanian Hungarians, is really minuscule, and support for MSZP and LMP is no better. Hungarian Slovaks don’t figure here because according to Slovak law holding two citizenships is illegal. Anyone who takes out Hungarian citizenship automatically loses his original Slovak one.

In a referendum on December 5, 2004 Hungarian voters rejected granting expedited citizenship to Hungarians living in the neighboring countries. Citizenship would have enabled them to carry a “Hungarian ID” (magyar igazolvány) that would have entitled them to certain financial privileges within Hungary. In the end, the referendum was not valid because neither the supporters nor those who objected to the expedited procedure managed to reach the requisite 25% mark (that is, 25% of the entire electorate). Otherwise, those who cast their votes were split on the issue (51.57% for and 48.43% against).

In 2004, with Ferenc Gyurcsány in the lead, the government conducted a campaign against the Fidesz-supported Hungarian ID and expedited citizenship privileges for ethnic Hungarians. The reason was their fear of what has actually happened since: Fidesz would eventually grant voting rights to the new citizens who know very little about the politics in Hungary and who are by and large fully committed to the right-wing Fidesz. Viktor Orbán swore that they had no such long-range plans yet, as we know, after the 2010 elections one of the first pieces of legislation granted fast-track citizenship and with it voting rights to ethnic Hungarians.

It has been known for a long time that Fidesz counts on these new votes at the coming elections. István Mikola, minister of health in the first Orbán administration, made the mistake of divulging the party’s belief that once the Hungarians living in the neighboring countries get the vote “Fidesz will be in power for the next twenty years.” This slip embarrassed the party and in 2010 Mikola was shipped off to Paris to become Hungary’s ambassador to France.

In the last two and a half years, Zsolt Semjén, deputy prime minister in charge of the Hungarian government’s relations with the churches and with the Hungarian minorities living outside the borders of the country, has been busily recruiting new voters. By some estimates, by the time of the 2014 election there will be half a million new citizens eligible to vote if they so desire.  But lately, it seems, the enthusiasm for collecting votes from abroad has waned somewhat. There are several possible explanations for the decreased zeal. One is that dual citizenship, especially with voting rights, has never been popular in Hungary, and that includes even Fidesz supporters. The argument is that outsiders don’t have to suffer the consequences of their decisions unlike the domestic voters who do. Another is that political analysts came to the conclusion that the foreign vote might be able to influence the outcome of at most one or two seats in parliament and therefore all that effort will bring meager results. Miklós Hargitai of Népszabadság added that Fidesz doesn’t want to encourage the growing number of young  expatriates living in western European countries to cast ballots. These people “voted with their feet” already and most likely would vote again. And the party of their choice would not be Fidesz.

In any case, MSZP decided to change course and court the Hungarians of Transylvania. Attila Mesterházy and a high-level MSZP delegation traveled to Cluj/Kolozsvár to meet the leadership of RMDSZ (Román Magyar Demokrata Szövetség), the largest Hungarian party in Romania. Mesterházy formally apologized for MSZP’s opposition to fast-track citizenship procedures in December 2004. But more about the negotiations in Cluj and their reception in Hungary and in Romania later.

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42 comments

  1. Was it a slip of the keys that you described those who’ve left Hungary for sunnier climes in the West as “ex-patriots” rather than expatriates? I’m sure which one Fidesz would use….

  2. What is rather disappointing is that MSZP are clearly outflanking Bajnai and marginalising him. And who ARE the MSZP? Surprise surprise, Szekeres, Veres, Kökény … the same dismal collection of crooks who can neither run a country nor keep their hands out of state pockets and bear quite a responsibility for Orbán’s current majority.

    Depressing

  3. “Miklós Hargitai of Népszabadság added that Fidesz doesn’t want to encourage the growing number of young ex-patriots living in western European countries to cast ballots. These people “voted with their feet” already and most likely would vote again. And the party of their choice would not be Fidesz.”

    Surely this is fertile ground for MSzP? The great majority of these people are still Hungarian citizens and so no new legislation is required to allow them to vote, and, almost by definition, they are not going to be happy about what is going on in Hungary.

    Unfortunately, most of these people are young and therefore grew up during the time when Orbán was conducting his black propaganda campaign against Gyurcsany and MSzP, so they are very likely to have swallowed all that nonsense and not be very inclined to vote MSzP.

    This is a microcosm of the situation in Hungary – a failing and fading party in power, but an opposition that is a long way behind in popularity from where it should be. If, as looks likely, no real united opposition movement can be established in time for 2014, then MSzP itself has to tackle this issue and somehow persuade these people that they have changed and learned their lessons, and that the ‘new’ MSzP can be trusted to run the country fairly and competently.

    Unfortunately, this is a hell of a task. Even as anti-Fidesz as I am, were I a Hungarian voter, I would still find it very difficult to vote MSzP and just put ‘yesterday’s men’ back in power.

  4. Kingfisher :
    What is rather disappointing is that MSZP are clearly outflanking Bajnai and marginalising him. And who ARE the MSZP? Surprise surprise, Szekeres, Veres, Kökény … the same dismal collection of crooks who can neither run a country nor keep their hands out of state pockets and bear quite a responsibility for Orbán’s current majority.
    Depressing

    As always, Kingfisher says it more succinctly and in FAR fewer words than me!

  5. lutra lutra :

    Was it a slip of the keys that you described those who’ve left Hungary for sunnier climes in the West as “ex-patriots” rather than expatriates? I’m sure which one Fidesz would use….

    Sorry, only a typo. But indeed Fidesz might consider them unpatrioatic.

  6. London Calling!

    With the recent shock delivered to Orban by the ‘financial scribblers’ (not least in London!) – that if Matolcsy is the new Bank Governor then the forint will go into meltdown – (as evidenced when the clown said the Bank should adopt unorthodox measures to instil growth – and the forint momentarily tanked) – then Orban must be reconsidering Matolcsy as the new Governor.

    As much as Matolcsy is building a new NMB team – Orban must be having a fit of the colly wobbles.

    And now he (Matolcsy) is being targeted (quite rightly) by Werber – then Orban’s ‘reality check’ sensitivity must be kicking in.

    And Hoffmann is an electoral liability too.

    I expect they will be slowly allowed to fade into the background – finally!

    So it’s Gyula Pleschinger for Bank Governor then?

    Regards

    Charlie

  7. Kingfisher :
    What is rather disappointing is that MSZP are clearly outflanking Bajnai and marginalising him. And who ARE the MSZP? Surprise surprise, Szekeres, Veres, Kökény … the same dismal collection of crooks who can neither run a country nor keep their hands out of state pockets and bear quite a responsibility for Orbán’s current majority.
    Depressing

    So tell us please, how is this to work: Bajnai and MSZP agree to work together and then MSZP higher
    a foreign politico to help them….Huh?

  8. MSZP has a national network, however unmotivated, tired losers those people are (and they are, Werber has a point).

    Though note that it is Fidesz’ strategy to talk about Werber ad nauseam when talking about MSZP, as if he was Kate Middleton, there have been more artciles just on him then anything about Fidesz’ preparations or strategies for eaxmple.

    W. is not just an advisor in the eyes of Fidesz, he is the perfact villain for a “party of villains”, he is the Jewish, foreign face of the “real MSZP”. I wonder if Bibi’s advisors (who is also a larger than life, agressive politician like Orbán) will want to escalate the campaign, I dunno.

    Bajnai does not have anything nationally, dont forget that for a second. It is so simple. Given the current election system, it is impossible, even for LMP which had ample time to set up a national organisation, to get into parliament without a very well-oiled national network (and I am not even mentioning garrymendearing, when we talk about the campaign, one of the most important issues is usually left unsaid).

    So MSZP’s power is so much bigger than Bajnai’s — which is again Fidesz’ strategy, to prevent new players and continue operating in a political cartel (as Fidesz has always been successful in dealing with MSZP, with all their loser politicians to which W. referred to, MSZP usually did not even realise that they were taken huge advantage of, they were purchased, blackmailed, played against each other, whaveter was necessary).

    So you may like Bajnai and he could be the next Lincoln, but he will get nowehere without MSZP. It is so simple.

  9. Off topic, but a positive development I think.

    I hope many will act and contact these companies.

    THE WASHINGTON POST AND COUNTLESS OTHER NEWSPAPERS.

    BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungarian civic groups are calling on companies to pull their ads from a newspaper that published a column in which a member of the
    governing Fidesz party made gravely disparaging remarks about the
    country’s Roma minority.

    The appeal from Amnesty International Hungary, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and 21 other groups, including several advocating for the rights of Gypsies — or Roma, as they are also called — said the companies should
    boycott the Magyar Hirlap newspaper until it “most resolutely
    condemns” the Jan. 5 column by journalist Zsolt Bayer in which
    he wrote that “a significant part of the Roma … are animals
    and they behave like animals.”

    Among the companies petitioned by the civic groups are Vodafone,
    FedEx, IKEA, Proctor and Gamble, and Hungarian State Railways.

    So, let’s stop these degenerate racists while they are coming for the Roma and don’t wait until they come for you. Contact Vodafone, IKEA, Proctor & Gamble, and Fedex to tell them to boycott Magyar Hirlap.

  10. @Paul Wal: Was this piece on the on-line version of the Post? I get the print edition and did not see it. And when was the publication date? Thanks.

  11. And related to this issue:

    We are horrified to read again and again in Hungary media articles that incite hatred against minority groups,” said EFJ President Arne König. “The editor- in- chief of Magyar Hírlap should never have allowed such an article to be printed. This shows the urgent need for dialogue among media players, including journalists’ organisations to agree on the responsibilities and duties of journalists and editors.”

    The Ethical Committee of the Association of the Hungarian Journalists, an EFJ affiliate, also condemned the action of Zsolt Bayer, stating that “The views expressed in his article violate the rules and values of the Code of Ethics of the Association of Hungarian Journalists and are in contradiction with the 1003/93 EU recommendations on ethical journalism, as well as against the rules set by Artcile 11 of the European Human Rights Charter.”

    http://europe.ifj.org/en/articles/hungary-european-journalists-appeal-to-hungarian-media-to-keep-hate-speech-out-of-journalism

  12. Kingfisher :
    What is rather disappointing is that MSZP are clearly outflanking Bajnai and marginalising him. And who ARE the MSZP? Surprise surprise, Szekeres, Veres, Kökény … the same dismal collection of crooks who can neither run a country nor keep their hands out of state pockets and bear quite a responsibility for Orbán’s current majority.
    Depressing

    So , you are saying that their make-up is no different from Fidesz? Maybe we should have a competition on who lifted off more from the Hungarian people, who’s friends skimmed off more from Hungary. Oh those lovely state contracts that went directly to Simicska. The lovely , cushy jobs from sex magazine publishers, and the minister position with high school diploma. Fidesz certainly provides opportunity for all in exchange for doing what they want them to do. Like a simple cult. Orban, his family and his friends became wealthy on the job. hmmm How much Simicska made lately? Fidesz also did a great job alienating all other countries. Let me think.. between Fidesz and MSZP.. I would vote for MSZP in a second, except if I would really feel for the Orbans for only having one winery, one mine, and if I would think his town deserves an other football stadium.

  13. It seems that the pollsters don’t publish their findings in January

    FWIW Ipsos published their findings today. Amongst all eligible voters (living in Hungary), Fidesz leads the pack with 19%, with MSZP trailing them by 3 percentage points (no changes here). Jobbik has 6%, Together 2014 stands at 4%, LMP is supported by 3% of the electorate, while DK is stuck at the 1% mark. Amongst those with a definite party preference, Fidesz has a clear lead (41%), followed by the Socialists (32%), Jobbik (12%), Together 2014 (8%), LMP (5%) and DK (2%),

  14. I would question the methodology of Ipsos. Those who don’t live in Hungary, this may sound as crazy or terrible, but here this is an everday experience.

    If you work in a state job in the country-side and this is a great pool where there is no market-based job (schools, hospitals, municipality, museums etc.) you just do not express any political opinion, you do not talk to pollsters, to anyone but to your closest family about current events. Like in 1950’s.

    You just don’t fuel any suspicion that you may not support the Orbán-regime wholeheartedly. So there is no way a state employee (a quarter of all jobs at least) with MSZP/Együtt/LMP/DK leanings would tell this to any pollster, and this is also true for seemigly market companies in the country, they tend to get a lot of business from the state (EU but decided by local politicians), from the municiaplity, so emplyoees is small communities cannot say antyhing problematic, as they will be fired immediately. This is no exaggeration.

    That is why it is extremely difficult to build a party base in the country. People do not want to openly advertise that they are not for Fidesz. It is not worth it. In Budapest it is somewhat better, there are more jobs, one “disppears in the crowd” more easily. But in the country, oposition people just don’t talk to pollsters and pollsters cannot reach them.

    So I would venture that overall MSZP has probably reached Fidesz or even overtook them. Only the the general popularity (not among those likely to vote, which cannot be estimated correctrly one year frm now) figures make any sense. This is just a gut feeling, there is no reliable empirical way to estimate reality, neither for Ipsos, of course. But whether they would go and vote is another question, for that you need a GOTV strategy in which Fidesz is way more superior and has incomparebly more routine.

    In addition, these figures translate very specially to mandates (real percentages) under the current system, for example most Jobbik voters will vote for Fidesz district representatives, otherwise their local district vote would be lost, or otherwise it “would be tantamount to voting for the communists”.

  15. Paul Wal :
    And related to this issue:
    We are horrified to read again and again in Hungary media articles that incite hatred against minority groups,” said EFJ President Arne König. “The editor- in- chief of Magyar Hírlap should never have allowed such an article to be printed. This shows the urgent need for dialogue among media players, including journalists’ organisations to agree on the responsibilities and duties of journalists and editors.”
    The Ethical Committee of the Association of the Hungarian Journalists, an EFJ affiliate, also condemned the action of Zsolt Bayer, stating that “The views expressed in his article violate the rules and values of the Code of Ethics of the Association of Hungarian Journalists and are in contradiction with the 1003/93 EU recommendations on ethical journalism, as well as against the rules set by Artcile 11 of the European Human Rights Charter.”
    http://europe.ifj.org/en/articles/hungary-european-journalists-appeal-to-hungarian-media-to-keep-hate-speech-out-of-journalism

    Reminded me again, just how low and primitive both the editor and the author reacted to the words of Prem Radhakishun, it’s a shame to call these people journalists, really.

    Le style c’est l’homme même, – in this case once again proved true – the style indeed is the man himself, not only a provocative mannerism, as he tried to explain.
    This is the true Bayer, through and through.

    http://premtime.ntr.nl/2012/03/15/spreekbuis-fascistoide-regering-basht-prem-hongarije/

  16. Mutt :
    This is great. The MSZP + T14 + DK beats the Fidesz in both groups.

    Sarcasm? I hope so.

    No way will T14 or DK get any seats (nor probably LMP). Plus, to have any meanignful majority, the opposition has to have more seats than Fisesz AND Jobbik.

  17. RapRep, what you say is true, in as far as it goes.

    But my experience over many years of watching elections is that the undecided/won’t say invariably vote in more or less the same way as the rest of the electorate. Politics is littered with the corpses of optimists who thought they were going to win because the undecided must be anti-government (and would actually vote anti-government).

    Also, you have to ask yourself if the people who fear to express non-Fidesz opinions because of their job, etc will believe that their vote will be secret. I have often heard doubts expressed that voting isn’t really secret (the dominant belief in Hungary is that you can’t trust the authorities) and in areas where Fidesz is dominant/powerful many people won’t take the chance. They either won’t vote, or more likely, they’ll vote Fidesz (as not voting will be seen as tacit lack of support for the government).

  18. Some 1 – “So , you are saying that their make-up is no different from Fidesz?”

    I suspect that exactly how most Hungarians see it – and MSzP have done nothing to try to change this opinion (and we have to ask ourselves why they haven’t).

    OK, so Fidesz may be taking corruption, etc to new extremes, but that doesn’t make MSzP suddenly clean and trustworthy.

    It’s the difference between trusting the party who says they won’t screw you and then does, or the party that says they won’t screw you, but did.

  19. Paul :
    Some 1 – “So , you are saying that their make-up is no different from Fidesz?”
    I suspect that exactly how most Hungarians see it – and MSzP have done nothing to try to change this opinion (and we have to ask ourselves why they haven’t).
    OK, so Fidesz may be taking corruption, etc to new extremes, but that doesn’t make MSzP suddenly clean and trustworthy.
    It’s the difference between trusting the party who says they won’t screw you and then does, or the party that says they won’t screw you, but did.

    As I said, if I need to choose between the two (or throw in Jobbik for good measure) three, I vote for MSZP.

  20. RapRep :
    I would question the methodology of Ipsos. Those who don’t live in Hungary, this may sound as crazy or terrible, but here this is an everday experience.

    No. Your experience does not sound crazy and terrible, as it was discussed many times on the blog, that many people are likely would not admit that they would not vote for Fidesz or simply declare themselves undecided.

  21. Some1, I agree that MSZP are possibly preferable but this is for a dreadful reason. Their administration was stealing a comparable amount to what we witness from Fidesz now. Possibly more. BUT, they aren’t centralised. They are an umbrella organisation which doesn’t know what it’s various outposts are up to. Fidesz is worse in the sense that it is very centralised. That makes it even more dangerous in the sense that the whole country could end up in the hands of just a couple of people, one of whom is the prime minister’s friend.

    But it is pretty sad if that is the best one can say about MSZP.

    Perhaps I am wrong but don’t you live in Canada? If you know people MSZP (as i do) and lived in Hungary during their rather unsubtle reign, illusions as to their probity (as i had when they won in 2002) are very soon shattered.

  22. Kingfisher :
    Some1, I agree that MSZP are possibly preferable but this is for a dreadful reason. Their administration was stealing a comparable amount to what we witness from Fidesz now. Possibly more. BUT, they aren’t centralised. They are an umbrella organisation which doesn’t know what it’s various outposts are up to. Fidesz is worse in the sense that it is very centralised. That makes it even more dangerous in the sense that the whole country could end up in the hands of just a couple of people, one of whom is the prime minister’s friend.
    But it is pretty sad if that is the best one can say about MSZP.
    Perhaps I am wrong but don’t you live in Canada? If you know people MSZP (as i do) and lived in Hungary during their rather unsubtle reign, illusions as to their probity (as i had when they won in 2002) are very soon shattered.

    I would take (almost) anything to defeat Fidesz (Jobbik doesn’t count). As we do not have a clear alternative to defeat Fidesz but the “union” amongst other parties I will say that I would vote for MSZP if needed in order to defeat Fidesz. I am not in the business at this point in time to discredit MSZP in their effort to clean up their act and have a fresh start, especially as Fidesz does an incredibly good job doing that, even with facts that are clearly made up. I assume many of us who contribute to this blog are well informed on the subject of MSZP and/or Fidesz, so I am not exactly sure what it is me being in Canada has anything to do with my opinion. Frankly, I am sick and tired of people saying that “if you do not live in Hungary, you do not know what you are talking about”. The truth is, that as far as I see it, thanks for the incredible job Fidesz does by manipulating fact, data, the press, and information, my true impression is that most people who live in Hungary has no idea what they are talking about. Do you know what are you talking about by simply living in Hungary? If you do, and you believe that is simply enough to know everything, why are you visiting this site that is clearly written by a person who does not live in Hungary? I have the benefit of having dozens of family members in Hungary, having a home in Hungary, paying taxes in Hungary (and in Canada), visiting there often, and watching it also the reputation of the country spiral down the drain together with the quality of life, thanks to Fidesz. I am not sure who you will be going out to vote for, but staying home is a vote for Fidesz, so better if you start to make up your mind, suck it up, and vote for the coalition that could defeat them.
    Regards.

  23. Some1 :

    As I said, if I need to choose between the two (or throw in Jobbik for good measure) three, I vote for MSZP.

    I think that under the circumstances this is the only rational decision.

  24. Kingfisher :
    What is rather disappointing is that MSZP are clearly outflanking Bajnai and marginalising him. And who ARE the MSZP? Surprise surprise, Szekeres, Veres, Kökény … the same dismal collection of crooks who can neither run a country nor keep their hands out of state pockets and bear quite a responsibility for Orbán’s current majority.
    Depressing

    +1, the fact that they’ve not been able to use the considerable ammo that Fidesz has given them suggests they are incompetent. They are certainly as corrupt. If this is the best they have to offer up… I’m very sad.

  25. Some1 :
    I would take (almost) anything to defeat Fidesz (Jobbik doesn’t count).
    Regards.

    If you swap out Fidesz for MSzP, isn’t that something we’ve heard before? And, how is that working out?

  26. LwiiH :

    Some1 :
    I would take (almost) anything to defeat Fidesz (Jobbik doesn’t count).
    Regards.

    If you swap out Fidesz for MSzP, isn’t that something we’ve heard before? And, how is that working out?

    But that kind of thinking leads nowhere because in this case we should just sit and do nothing. Where does that lead?

  27. Eva S. Balogh :

    LwiiH :

    Some1 :
    I would take (almost) anything to defeat Fidesz (Jobbik doesn’t count).
    Regards.

    If you swap out Fidesz for MSzP, isn’t that something we’ve heard before? And, how is that working out?

    But that kind of thinking leads nowhere because in this case we should just sit and do nothing. Where does that lead?

    Exactly.
    There are five choices:
    #1 vote for Fidesz
    #2 do not go to vote, which equals #1
    #3 vote for a smaller opposition party, which equals #1
    #4 vote for Jobbik (imagine)
    #5 vote for MSZP or for a coalition between MSZP and others
    If there is a #6, I would love to hear it. (Jesus will come back in hundred days does not count. Let stay with reality.)

  28. People can do “something” and at the same time not support MSzP. Looking from outside, for me also, MSzP would not change much in the general direction that Hungary takes. Of course there is some difference between the government being connected to some business people while the press can more or less freely report on that and criticise it (even if nothing will change so that people are “annoyed” and “disillusioned” by this type of “democracy”) and a situation where the government is related to some businesses and it does at the same time control nearly any public sphere. But what Hungary should become is a country where the government is not generally and systematically linked to some specific businesses and business people, and where the judiciary etc. do not work in the interest of these very same people. MSzP sometimes looks as if it were a party that would like to embrace “modernity” but very quickly it resurfaces that at least some people in that party have very strong business interests, and that at least some people in that party have difficulties with accounting for the communist past. The democratic future of Hungary depends on another set of people, those with similar attitudes as Gordon Bajnai’s. An opposition united under the umbrella of Együtt is something different from an opposition “united” under the umbrella of MSzP (I only have to recall the “programme” of that party that Eva kindly presented to us some time ago).

  29. LwiiH :

    Some1 :
    I would take (almost) anything to defeat Fidesz (Jobbik doesn’t count).
    Regards.

    If you swap out Fidesz for MSzP, isn’t that something we’ve heard before? And, how is that working out?

    Well, the lesson is that Hungarians shouldn’t give any party such unlimited powers that was granted to Fidesz by the 2/3 majority. The opposition may need 2/3 to reverse the undemocratic measures of Fidesz, but that does not mean that MSzP will be strong enough to do that without the backing of other parties. Having meaningful counterbalance in the form of coalition partners and opposition parties is one way to guarantee that no other party can pull off the power-concentration and unchallenged corruption Fidesz is pulling off now.

  30. A piece of news that I missed this morning. Although the first reports on Ipsos’s latest poll said that the different parties’ support hasn’t changed much since December, it also found that 53% of the voters would like to see a different government at the helm after the elections.

  31. We got Fidesz because of the way MSzP behaved. Get rid of Fidesz and put back in a completely unreconstructed MSzP and you achieve nothing – just another 4 years of corruption and financial disaster, and then Orbán back in again – even more determined this time to stay.

    It is not enough just to say MSzP aren’t as bad as Fidesz, so I choose them, that is the logic of choosing to shoot yourself instead of taking poison. There is no point in getting rid of Orbán unless you can replace him with something a great deal better that is going to break Hungary out of this awful cycle of corruption, incompetence and lies.

    Given the chaos and disruption that would follow an MSzP victory, with a crazed Orbán in opposition (+Jobbik) and a crashing economy, one could easily argue that it’s better to leave Orbán in place until something a great deal better can replace him – better the Devil we know, etc.

    All hot air anyway, because MSzP isn’t going to win the election in 2014 for exactly these reasons. But hopefully that ‘shock’ will finally get them to get their house in order, kick out the old guard and start seriously working towards a united opposition – one that will not only get rid of Orbán, but also replace him with a new form of government.

  32. Paul,

    you’re probably right – so let’s wait and hope for 2018 …

    I’m happy in a way that all this doesn’t hurt me too much as a German pensioner (getting his money in €s), but my wife’s young ones and their (our) friends and neighbours like most people in Hungary can expect a bleak decade.

    Still they have the EU which will on the one hand put some pressure on Hungary and limit Fidesz’ excesses and on the other hand offer some opportunities – but only for a few people.

    For the others ?

  33. wolfi :
    Paul,
    you’re probably right – so let’s wait and hope for 2018 …
    I’m happy in a way that all this doesn’t hurt me too much as a German pensioner (getting his money in €s), but my wife’s young ones and their (our) friends and neighbours like most people in Hungary can expect a bleak decade.
    Still they have the EU which will on the one hand put some pressure on Hungary and limit Fidesz’ excesses and on the other hand offer some opportunities – but only for a few people.
    For the others ?

    It’s time to send Fidesz packing.. It’s past time to send MSzP packing.. or at least force them into a grand coalition via polls.

  34. “so let’s wait and hope for 2018 …”

    With all due respect, I seriously doubt that the country can stand another four years of this mindless battering, no way!

    Even if the population en large fed up with all the other parties – starting with MSZP – the only viable solution would be to make/force all of the democratic opposition to shape up for heavens sake, and clean out this bunch of arrogant, self possessed parasites for good.
    There is no other option.

    In case, the opposition unable/unwilling for unity, better start to dig some sizable pit to themselves in good time to hide away…

  35. Latest news is that MIEP is revived by two members of Jobbik, who left due to fighting in the party. It seems that Fidesz is supporting these persons. First the smallholders, than MDF and now Jobbik.

    Ok this can become ugly.

  36. An :
    Well, the lesson is that Hungarians shouldn’t give any party such unlimited powers that was granted to Fidesz by the 2/3 majority. The opposition may need 2/3 to reverse the undemocratic measures of Fidesz, but that does not mean that MSzP will be strong enough to do that without the backing of other parties. Having meaningful counterbalance in the form of coalition partners and opposition parties is one way to guarantee that no other party can pull off the power-concentration and unchallenged corruption Fidesz is pulling off now.

    Completely agree. I only worried that without 2/3 it will be very hard to restore what Fidesz demolished. Of course the coalition would work, but we cannot write out MSZP from it just because, and this is what many suggests here. Without MSZP there is no freaking way any coalition could get the required numbers to defeat Fidesz, especially if they team up with Jobbik or with disgruntled members of Jobbik. I am just surprised from the number of people who do not see this.

  37. Dear Paul, MSZP corruptions has never been even comparable to Fidesz’ instituionalised and centralised mafia state. It has always been a petty, decentralised corruption. If you had the faintest ideas how public procurments work now and worked 5-10 years ago, you’d be surprized and would think differently. Been there, done that.

    Only MSZP is a complete loser in having a media strategy (much less a media empire), while Fidesz has been very adept at creating, financing and managing a media, a seperate world. So most of HUungary’s population has literally no idea what is going on (max. that they lose their own job, but don’t hear anything about the joblessness rate, inflation, emigartion, corruption, controversies as part of a culture war etc.).

    And MSZP, like all modren leftist parties, has never been agressive and dictatorial as Fidesz is (and it is their very culture). Again if you don’t get regularly screaming direct orders and commands, you haven’t seen anything from the current state of Hungary. And the paranoia, who is reliable and who is not, my god, again you would not believe.

    I am not saying MSZP is a party of Churchill and Jeffersons, but I am sure they would be better. That said, they may tank and get shred up in a year without an agressively used 2/3.

    Bu I think the foremost goal is to disrupt, for however short period of time and with whatever political costs, the building out and solidification of the current regime, a mafia-state, where top supposedly-idependent state officials’ heads are shouted off regularly. Political power is as much practice, habit, custom as law.

    Once this curent regime (its ways and methods) gets customary it will be extremely difficult to tear it down, because the epistemolgy changes. You would have to change it from the inside. Whereas if Fidesz is voted down, there will be a point to which one can always point that and that opposition will have a point of reference (and even if Fidesz era continues afterwards, people will always know that things can change and there is, at least lurking somewhere, an opposition) so it will be one ideology against the other.

  38. Medián have also published their latest figures. According to them, 27% of all eligible voters within Hungary support Fidesz (this is significantly higher than Ipsos’ corresponding figure). MSZP is lagging them by 11 percentage points (16%), while Jobbik has 9%, Together 2014 is fourth with 6%, LMP is fifth with 3% and DK is last with 2%. Among those who actually intend to vote and have a definite party preference, Fidesz is first with 43%, MSZP is second with 27%, and Jobbik is third with 15% support. The also-rans are Together 2014 (7%), LMP (6%) and DK (2%).

  39. Oh well, who said it:

    Every country gets the government that they deserve ?

    I just found out it was a conservative i e Royal French diplomat, 200 years ago:
    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Joseph_de_Maistre
    Every nation gets the government it deserves.

    BTW in German it sounds even better:
    Jedes Volk hat die Regierung, die es verdient.

    And someone very cleverly turned it around:
    The politicians have the people that they deserve – because they are responsible for their education …

  40. Leg: “MSZP corruptions has never been even comparable to Fidesz’ instituionalised and centralised mafia state. It has always been a petty, decentralised corruption.”

    Kingfisher quite often reminds us that MSzP “robbed the country blind”. Also, there is still some memory of why MSzP lost quite big in 2010. But most importantly looking forward is that the so called programme of MSzP presented last year was nearly entirely devoted to the strategy of how to return to power instead of a programme for the society and how the current division of the society should be overcome. Also the debate here centers around how to return to power – while reality tells us that no matter what a party programme may contain or how democratic the new Hungary should be on paper, the many opposition parties are unable to cooperate because of insurmountable personal obstacles. (So how cooperation should look like in the parliament etc. of democratic Hungary of the party programmes, remains a mistery.) And finally, not to forget, the general public does not even want parties to play a prominent role in politics, as these are all full of crooks. This all makes it very difficult to believe that any strategy that uses just one party platform, or that considers one of the opposition parties better equipped than the others to make a difference in 2014 could succeed. Either the opposition manages to agree on a joint platform (the idea that this platform could be Együtt is apparently already discredited), or there might be a few individuals of MSzP in the next parliament but without great impact. The question whether MSzP was less corrupt than Fidesz currently should not be used to advertise a Fourth Republic.

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