Is the Demokratikus Koalíció a liberal party?

A few days ago Gábor Fodor announced that he will establish a new party called Magyar Liberális Párt. SZDSZ is no more, he declared, and it mustn’t happen that Hungary has no liberal party.

I’m not familiar with the personal relationships among SZDSZ politicians, but former colleagues who once sat in the same parliamentary caucus hardly speak to and refuse to cooperate with one another. Although the various splinter groups have divergent ideas, they seem to have one thing in common: nobody wants anything to do with Gábor Fodor.

As for the existence of a liberal party in Hungary, I propose that there already is one. It is called Demokratikus Koalíció. I venture to say that the bulk of DK voters and party members come from former SZDSZ supporters and/or members. This is only a hunch, but I suspect that a public opinion poll that would tease out the correlation between former SZDSZ and current DK followers would lend credence to my contention.

At least two well-known SZDSZ politicians are on board in DK: Tamás Bauer and Mátyás Eörsi. Both were founders of SZDSZ and both served as members of parliament. Eörsi between 1990 and 2010 and Bauer between 1994 and 2002. Bauer is an economist while Eörsi has a law degree.

liberalism by brexians flickr

Liberalism by brexians / Flickr

Here I would like to summarize an article by Tamás Bauer that appeared yesterday in Galamus. The title of the piece is “Someone who can’t stop attacking Gyurcsány” (Aki a gyurcsányozást nem bírja abbahagyni). Even from the title it is evident that Bauer is coming to the defense of Ferenc Gyurcsány. The great virtue of the article, however, is that Bauer is thoroughly familiar with the details of behind-the-scenes party politics  about which we outsiders know practically nothing.

Bauer’s article is an answer to an opinion piece by András Böhm, an SZDSZ member of parliament between 2002 and 2010, in HVG entitled “The One Who Cannot Stop” (Aki nem bírja abbahagyni). Böhm maintains that Gyurcsány’s political activity turns away hundreds of thousands of voters from the democratic opposition. Böhm made a long list of  political blunders committed by Ferenc Gyurcsány, from the “tax burlesque” of 2006 to his resignation in 2009 that, in Böhm’s opinion, was too late. In the article Böhm makes Gyurcsány solely responsible for the two-thirds majority victory of Viktor Orbán. Or at least this is how Tamás Bauer interpreted the article.

Bauer finds this argument more than odd, especially coming from someone who became a member of parliament in 2002. At that time the new parliamentary majority, instead of correcting the economic mistakes of the first Orbán government, added to the problems with Péter Medgyessy’s two 100-day programs that further increased the deficit. András Böhm, as an SZDSZ member of parliament, voted for all these government programs.

As for the “tax burlesque” of 2006, Gábor Kuncze, chairman of SZDSZ at the time, tried to convince the SZDSZ caucus to give up the idea of decreasing the personal income tax burden as well as the VAT, but Kuncze’s effort was in vain. The majority of the SZDSZ delegation insisted on the decrease. Gyurcsány apparently did the same during his negotiations with the board (elnökség) of MSZP. He got nowhere. Gyurcsány “had to deliver the speech in Balatonőszöd to convince his fellow socialists” to agree to change course. In addition to a mistaken economic policy, political corruption was another reason for the failure of the socialist-liberal governments. Again it was only Ferenc Gyurcsány, says Bauer, who fought for transparent party financing. After he failed, he left MSZP in October 2011 to establish a new party, the Demokratikus Koalíció.

According to Bauer, Böhm’s only concern is what Gyurcsány did or didn’t do between 2004 and 2009. He pays no attention to what the Demokratikus Koalíció is doing today in Hungarian politics. The question is whether DK has a role to play on the Hungarian political spectrum. According to Bauer, the answer is a resounding yes.

Bauer reminds Böhm that SZDSZ was the only party that refused to vote for the so-called “status law” that would have provided Hungarians living in the neighboring countries special privileges inside of Hungary. The members of SZDSZ’s parliamentary caucus were the only MPs who refused to vote for a resolution condemning Slovakia in connection with the language law and its treatment of President László Sólyom.

It is DK that is continuing this tradition when it comes to policies concerning Hungarian minorities. After 2010 both the MSZP and the LMP caucus voted for dual citizenship, with the exception of Ferenc Gyurcsány. Today DK is the only party that continues the former policies of SZDSZ when it comes to the Hungarian minorities. Citizenship yes, voting rights no.

It was during the 2006 campaign that Viktor Orbán first came up with the idea of decreasing the price of natural gas. MSZP tried to outdo him and promised even greater decreases. It was only SZDSZ that refused to follow suit. Today MSZP promised support for the government’s decision to lower utility costs. DK is against the measure.

In 2008, on MDF’s insistence, MSZP voted to repeal the inheritance tax; SZDSZ had the courage to vote against the measure. Today DK’s party program spells out its insistence on reinstating inheritance taxes on estates over 20 million forints. Bauer points out that today MSZP is talking about absolutely free higher education; it is only DK that is calling for tuition fees across the board combined with financial assistance for the needy. Once upon a time it was only SZDSZ that wanted to renegotiate the agreement between Gyula Horn and the Vatican. Today it is part of DK’s party program.

All in all, in Bauer’s opinion, DK is the only party representing a liberal economic policy, liberal legal thinking, liberal higher education, liberal national policy (magyarságpolitika), and liberal policies concerning church and state. There is no other party among the opposition groups that represents these ideals.

Bauer concludes his article by saying that it is not enough to win the elections. It is also important to know what kind of Hungary will be created after the victory. And in that new Hungary one must have a party that represents “these liberal values that neither MSZP nor Együtt14 is ready to stand behind.”

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40 comments

  1. Rule no 1 in politics: Avoid the “L-word” like the plague.

    Gábor Fodor with his new party, with all due respect, is a complete jackass, he is delusional. I can imagine the heads of Tamás Deutsch or János Áder when they heard about this, asking is this guy out of his f***ng mind?

    The first aim of Hungarian politics should be to reach the ideological level of the German Conservatives (Christian Democrats). But they are radical, red banner leftist-liberals for most of the Hungarian voters.

    It does not matter whether DK is liberal or not, only whether they can collect the votes of the ideologically liberals (that is 5-6% of the voters, ie who voted SZDSZ in 2002 and 2006). Since LMP and Bajnai also compete for these votes, not to mention MSZP with which a vote has the biggest chance to not get lost in this merciless election system, DK is in a tough fight. The system is set up so that the left/liberal side is as fragmented as possible. Until Fidesz remains the dominant party of the right it will continue to have a field day (as the election system is calibrated to the dominant party of the right).

    The opposition has an opportunity to win only, only if ithe votes cast for the opposition exceed those cast for Fidesz/Jobbik by 7-8% points. That is the advantage of Fidesz and currently it does not look that opposition would be leading by such an advantage, even assuming significant problems with polling (which I do).

    DK has one advantage though obver LMP and Bajnai, they are organising tirelessly. This may give them some minimal hope. But at least they know that the are fighting an uphill battle.

    Many people seem to think that you need 5% of the votes to get into Parliament. Wrong.

    You need at least (!) 30-35% to get one mandate from the possible 106 local mandates (based on the first past the post system). A 5% average across the board popularity (provided such a party can actually enter the elections as there are hurdles, although Fidesz is still working on the details) would get only 2-3 mandates from the 94 party-list based mandates, the dictribution of which prefers the winner of the contest for local disctrict mandates. Thus with 5% of the votes a party may get 1-2% of the mandates in Parliament.

  2. I wonder what is the use of thinking who in the opposition has an advantage over whom in the opposition. I thought the main objective should be to agree on some common principles between all parties that are democratic, agree on some broad distribution of candidates, and then to care for one’s own voters base and mobilise it in the interest of this broad coalition. I know already that this is highly unlikely because there will be only few if any candidates acceptable to all opposition groups. But that makes it even more unlikely that one of these already existing opposition parties will be able to dominate the opposition or to practically take over all others because of its superior performance.

  3. @ Kirsten. If you want to see the opposition parties to agree on some common principles, I really think it is worthwhile to first see where their ideas might overlap. This is why I find Éva’s documentation very important.

    Would you have thought, that Gyurcsány’s DK consists mostly of liberal positions? I wouldn’t, and I think it’s surprising and important to know – because there may be a reservoir of liberal voters left.

  4. @Minusio. Although naturally I didn’t ask my friend for whom they had voted in the past and whom they are supporting now, I am 99% sure that they voted for SZDSZ in before and now they support DK. The numbers pretty well support this hypothesis.

  5. As for Kirsten’s comments. Gyurcsány’s speech today was all about putting the removal of Orbán before anything else. Everything else is secondary in his opinion. I happen to agree with him.

  6. No disrespect to Éva, or anyone else who thinks that the future lies with Gy or bringing the Liberals back. It’s all interesting stuff and makes for good articles and debates – but it isn’t going to get rid of Orbán.

    And the reasons are simple: First the names ‘Gyurcsány’ and ‘Liberal/SzDSz’ are toxic and will lose far more votes than they gain – you might as well label yourself ‘Communist Jew’. Secondly, as Maxinquai points out (above), and I have tried to explain before, Hungary no longer has a proportional electoral system. There is little or no chance of there being any minor party MPs in the post-2014 parliament.

    There are only three ways Orbán is going to go: 1) Act of God/internal collapse in Fidesz/right-wing coup/etc, 2) MSzP somehow recovers enough to defeat him at a future election (as it is the only party capable of so doing), or 3) The opposition somehow manages to present a non-political united front whose sole aim is the get rid of Fidesz and the new constitution, produce a new (inclusive and agreed) constitution, and hold free and democratic elections.

    We can, of course, just sit and wait for 1), or even possibly 2) might happen, one day – although there won’t be much of Hungary left by the time it does. Or we can get on with forming a united opposition to get rid of Orbán before it is too late.

    Gy and the ex-Liberals have parts, perhaps vital ones, to play in that, but their vital function is to organise and persuade behind the scenes.

  7. Hoist on my own petard! Well, at least Charlie will enjoy that – serves me right!

    What it should have looked like was this – crosses fingers…

    No disrespect to Éva, or anyone else who thinks that the future lies with Gy or bringing the Liberals back. It’s all interesting stuff and makes for good articles and debates – but it isn’t going to get rid of Orbán.

    And the reasons are simple: First the names ‘Gyurcsány’ and ‘Liberal/SzDSz’ are toxic and will lose far more votes than they gain – you might as well label yourself ‘Communist Jew’. Secondly, as Maxinquai points out (above), and I have tried to explain before, Hungary no longer has a proportional electoral system. There is little or no chance of there being any minor party MPs in the post-2014 parliament.

    There are only three ways Orbán is going to go: 1) Act of God/internal collapse in Fidesz/right-wing coup/etc, 2) MSzP somehow recovers enough to defeat him at a future election (as it is the only party capable of so doing), or 3) The opposition somehow manages to present a non-political united front whose sole aim is the get rid of Fidesz and the new constitution, produce a new (inclusive and agreed) constitution, and hold free and democratic elections.

    We can, of course, just sit and wait for 1), or even possibly 2) might happen, one day – although there won’t be much of Hungary left by the time it does. Or we can get on with forming a united opposition to get rid of Orbán before it is too late.

    Gy and the ex-Liberals have parts, perhaps vital ones, to play in that, but their vital function is to organise and persuade behind the scenes.

  8. Eva S. Balogh :
    As for Kirsten’s comments. Gyurcsány’s speech today was all about putting the removal of Orbán before anything else. Everything else is secondary in his opinion. I happen to agree with him.

    I was reacting to the first comment, not to Eva’s post. Eva wrote that DK can be considered liberal, but at least I have not read in it that it should be considered the most important party when it comes to the elections in 2014. Perhaps I overreacted, but I understood that from the post above mine. Regarding Ferenc Gyurcsany, I am generally more sceptical about his beneficial role, not because his ideas were problematic but because he is apparently dividing society. And I still believe that it is possible to reduce these divisions among Hungarians, at least I cannot imagine how the current calamity could be overcome without some more mutual understanding and respect. So my comment was not to criticise Eva’s choice of topic, not at all.

  9. London Calling!

    Yes – I agree Maxinquai that the only way Orban can be shifted is with a big majority – ideally a 2/3rds majority (some hope!) – so that some of his most devious tricks can be undone.

    But it ain’t gonna happen.

    There is only one way to maximise the vote and that is through ‘caretaker’ government route, which I have posited before.

    This ‘single-aim’ manifesto is the only way – clearly – that the opposition could unite fully.

    ‘Anyone but Orban’.

    Once he’s gone and the democratic climate has been stabilised – then open and fair elections can take place.

    At least with this route very little agreeing has to be done – and EVERYONE has to hold their nose.

    But ‘Unity’ – and ‘Oppostion’ are mutually exclusive..

    And it ain’t gonna happen. (2)

    Regards

    Charlie

  10. Btw – the smaller parties – splitting into even smaller parties – DK, PM LMP is the opposite of what is required. Ego-itis.

    Must account for Orban’s smirk.

    Reminds me of the ditty:

    Big fleas have little fleas, upon their backs to bite ’em,
    Little fleas have littler fleas,
    And so ad infinitum!

  11. Yes, that is what is Hungary needs to solve all its problem, a new party. Soon, Hungary will certainly become a leader in something, the highest number of political party per capita.
    I think this latest move completely demonstrates the Hungarian problem, and it is that there is simply no consensus and never will be amongst Hungarians. Everyone wants to lead, and want their own ideas to dominate, and the only way they give it up if there is something “in it” for them. Hungary’s newer history proves that it is not the political ideologies that most politicians have problems with (hence Fidesz shifting left and right, hate for ex-communists, although they have the most of them), it is simply has to do with who will offer to them better access either to prestige (kutyabor) or economical gains.

  12. Some1 :
    Yes, that is what is Hungary needs to solve all its problem, a new party. Soon, Hungary will certainly become a leader in something, the highest number of political party per capita.
    I think this latest move completely demonstrates the Hungarian problem, and it is that there is simply no consensus and never will be amongst Hungarians. Everyone wants to lead, and want their own ideas to dominate, and the only way they give it up if there is something “in it” for them. Hungary’s newer history proves that it is not the political ideologies that most politicians have problems with (hence Fidesz shifting left and right, hate for ex-communists, although they have the most of them), it is simply has to do with who will offer to them better access either to prestige (kutyabor) or economical gains.

    Some1, you beat me to it: yes, that’s (one of) the big problem! That and the “us or them” mentality and seeing everything in black in white that keeps them working together.

  13. Coincidentally, I just read an article ob HVG about the Hungarian National Theatre that is taken over by the nationalists, just like the extreme right took over the Ujszinhaz. Let me quote something here, as this is exactly what is happening in the Hungarian political life, supported by masses, who still believe that this game is all about them.
    “Since the changes [1989] took place, there was no time where so many careerists found their goals is such short period. The truth is, of course, that it never caused a moral dilemma to Hungarian citizens for profiteering at the expense of the other, the looting of the common property or the depletion of the future.”
    (“A rendszerváltás óta eltelt időben még soha ennyi karrierista nem találta meg számítását ilyen rövid idő alatt. Az igazsághoz persze hozzátartozik, hogy a magyar polgár számára soha sem jelentett morális dilemmát a más kárára való nyerészkedés, a közös tulajdon zabrálása vagy a jövő felélése.”)

  14. But what is the surprise here? This is the crux of the Hungarian mentality…and why, as time goes by, I believe that Hungarians are getting exactly what they deserve with Orban, and the future collapse of the country.

    If Morality and Integrity had been taught for the last few generations, the country may not have come to this impasse; but neither M or I has shown a profit in these environs for at least 60 years.

    An illustrative story: there was a recent “kozgyules” (tenant’s meeting) at our building. After all the pertinent issues had been dealt with I bought up the issue of a neighbor and friend of ours: she lived in 135 sq.m. alone (a huge bone in the throats of other tenants) and, for 20 years, have been paying over 10,000 forints a month in water dues even though she only visits for 3 months of the year. Now of course, there are
    two issues here: one, why is a water fee attached to the size of the apartment rather than the number of tenants inhabiting? Not a tough question but we Hungarians know the answer: “let’s stick it to the rich foreigner”, and use the old commie system if need be.
    The other question is this: as stated, the lady is away 9 months of the year, so why couldn’t the building remit to her say 6 months of paid dues at the end of the year? Well of course, ‘they couldn’t’…”She could, of course, install
    water meters,” they all helpfully suggested.
    Of course, having to install 8 meters and the requisite damage and repair…she wasn’t up to it at her age (83) and why would she be?
    I questioned my learned neighbors: “What’s the point of measuring what your are not using? She has, for 20 years, only ever stayed for 3 months at the most.” Well, they
    all repeated, she must install the meters.
    She won’t. But of 15 erstwhile neighbors only one saw the injustice of it all, and agreed that nothing would be wrong in the members voting that she should receive a remittance.

    Ahem.
    Such the state of morality and decency in the land of Magyarok…

  15. By the way, the lady in question is not a foreigner, but a Hungarian who married abroad and lives outside of this country.
    Nowadays, whenever she flies between
    Paris, London, Cyprus and Budapest, she never admits to being Hungarian.

    “I say I’m Breetish”, she confesses in her thick accent.

  16. @Kirsten: ” Regarding Ferenc Gyurcsany, I am generally more sceptical about his beneficial role, not because his ideas were problematic but because he is apparently dividing society.”

    But yesterday Gyurcsány made it clear that DK is willing to work with the others without asking for participation in the government. So, here is someone who really takes the removal of the Orbán government seriously without demanding any political reward. What else can he do? Who else is willing to follow him in the other small parties. Nobody at the moment.

  17. Eva S. Balogh :
    @Kirsten: ” Regarding Ferenc Gyurcsany, I am generally more sceptical about his beneficial role, not because his ideas were problematic but because he is apparently dividing society.”
    But yesterday Gyurcsány made it clear that DK is willing to work with the others without asking for participation in the government. So, here is someone who really takes the removal of the Orbán government seriously without demanding any political reward. What else can he do? Who else is willing to follow him in the other small parties. Nobody at the moment.

    You can save your breath, Eva, Hungarians don’t understand action without self-interest.
    (Perhaps Gyurcsany is running for the papal seat….?)

  18. Petofi: You can save your breath, Eva, Hungarians don’t understand action without self-interest.
    (Perhaps Gyurcsany is running for the papal seat….?)””

    I guess, you’re right. Nobody can fathom that someone really thinks that Orbán is so dangerous for the country that one has to put aside their own selfish interests.

  19. Dear Eva,

    “Nobody can fathom that someone really thinks that Orbán is so dangerous for the country that one has to put aside their own selfish interests”.

    It is coming to the point to decide….(unfortunately)…to be nice and fair….or for the opposition to really fight aggressively (with words, aggressive campaigns, posters etc. …still full of integrity, but aggressively)..it looks like Orban is going to win otherwise easily.
    Right now it looks like he will.

  20. Kormos :
    Re(Perhaps Gyurcsany is running for the papal seat….?)
    For sure, he knows how to preach….:-)

    Sadly, no amount of preaching (of any religion) will make up the deficit in Morality and Integrity that afflicts this hapless society.

  21. Kormos :

    Re(Perhaps Gyurcsany is running for the papal seat….?)
    For sure, he knows how to preach….:-)

    You mean that he is a good speaker? Yes, he is. Here is the video of yesterday’s speech:

  22. Honestly, people, I’m sick and tired of the “someone/whoever”, who disqualified to say anything what matters – in spite that what he/she says is right, true, substantial and so on – only just because of he/she made the statement, it must be wrong by definition.

    I’m trying again, this time with names:
    If Gyurcsány says something, regarding the present situation in Hungary just can not be right – in spite of the facts – simply, because he said so? And this is all, because he said sometime in 2006: “we have lied, day and night’..?

    Does it really mean, that when he says, that “Orbán must go”, we/you will object, just because Gyurcsány will that too..?

    Come on, people, I thought, you’re a bit more enlightened than this…

    When, – if ever, – we’re going to reach the level of intelligence, that we start focusing on the task, not on the question where the idea coming from, and on the reasoning, why not it can be done, – instead of doing something, for Pete’s sake?

    Are we really have to put up a couple of more mandate-period with a wannabee dictator – the name Orbán – and his ‘right hand’, the “Dare Debil” of economy – the name Matolcsy this time, and the rest of this preposterous, but deadly ‘Ant Hill Mob’..?

    Because, if we are going on much longer like this, this is the guaranteed outcome, like it or not.

    Just to you to know.

  23. The most fundamental political goal is to disrupt the Fidesz regime, even for a second.

    Orbán simply can’t come back more powerful then he is now, he has 2/3 and in Hungary it is enough for any- and everything. There is no political downside, like it was in Slovakia (although Fico is anyway not as maniac as Orbán and he is not able to amend the constitution).

    The slow, not legal, but sociological solidification of the regime must be broken to create a precendent, that even for a second the left was able to stand up to Fidesz and somewhere below the surface there are Western-oriented, leftist, anti-Fidesz people as well.

    Also, should the left come to power in 2014, other power constituents would have an example and they could not totally ignore the left (as they do now) even if Orbán came back with a vengeance in, say, 2016, because after Orbán the left might come back again.

    The national power structure is not based simply only on laws and the constitution, but on practice, everyday custom (how to behave with a local Fidesz boss, how to win a prublic procurement tender, how to arrange a place in the local kindergarten etc,), just by living that life.

    This solidifying Hungarian life – in the center of which Orbán and his cronies are located – must be turned around even for a short period of time.

  24. The key words in my previous post were ‘toxixc and ‘behind the scenes’ – as helpfully highlighted (eventually!).

    My point was that Gy’s name is potentially very damaging to whatever cause it is attached to. If he wants to lend his undoubted skills to the cause of getting rid of Orbán, then he needs to do this in such a way that his name never appears and cannot be associated with the cause.

    If he is as pure as Éva thinks he is, he will be prepared to do this.

  25. Let’s have a realistic think about possible outcomes of next year’s elections:

    1) Orbán wins with 2/3rds majority – things continue as now

    2) Orbán wins with working majority – things continue (more or less ) as now

    3) Orbán wins, but needs coalition with Jobbik to govern (or amend constitution) – things continue as now, but possibly get even worse

    4) MSzP win most votes, but no working majority – stalemate, nothing changes – Fidesz-Jobbik refuse to cooperate, Orbán conducts intense black propaganda campaign, Fidesz voted back in at next election

    5) MSzP wins but needs coalition with small parties to govern – no small parties, so see 4)

    6) MSzP win with working majority – chaos – government won’t be able to change constitution, key posts all still held by Orbánites, Fidesz-Jobbik refuse to cooperate, Orbán conducts guerrilla war against government, Fidesz voted back in at next election

    7) MSzP wins 2/3rds of seats – ain’t gonna happen

    8) Non-political, single aim opposition coalition wins working majority – brave attempt to annul constitution, create new one, etc – Fidesz-Jobbik do everything in their power to disrupt parliament (etc), Orbán conducts guerrilla war against government – no holds barred, effective (possibly, actual) civil war breaks out

    I know this will look like the usual dystopian post people probably expect from me, but it isn’t – it is a genuine attempt to look at what would happen after next year’s election, given various possible outcomes. The fact that it looks dystopian is not down to me, it is a reflection of the reality of today’s autocratic, dysfunctional, pre-dictatorial Hungary. If anyone thinks any of my suggested outcomes are wrong, then I genuinely welcome debate on this – I would dearly love to be wrong.

    There is, of course, one possible outcome I haven’t mentioned – although it is effectively 2) or 3) – and that is where MSzP gets a lot more seats than anyone expects (but not enough to stop Orbán) and becomes a serious opposition party. The immediate outcome would be the same as above (nothing changes, or perhaps things get even worse), but the longer-term outcome is much more positive – and, I believe, holds out much more hope for a successful ousting of Orbán than the ‘combined opposition’ option.

    The current political atmosphere in Hungary is one of reluctant acceptance – I don’t like what is going on, but I can’t see how it can be changed – and Orbán depends on this mood to give ‘justification/validity’ to his government. The only way out of this is to show people that things can be changed, and an unexpectedly large MSzP vote would do exactly that. Of course, there are caveats, and plenty of them. The ‘new’ MSzP would have to have new, untarnished, capable, leaders, and it would have to convince voters that it wasn’t just going to be the same old corrupt, self-serving lot as last time. And, perhaps most importantly, it would have to be an effective opposition – not just opposing Orbán, but giving people a genuine, democratic, alternative, and hope for the future. MSzP’s platform should not just be ‘we’re not Fidesz’, it should be total opposition to Orbán and everything he’s done, and a clearly stated, non-party political, altruistic, aim to remove Orbán from power, annul the new constitution, and return Hungary to freedom and democracy as soon as possible.

    Orbán’s power is not based on his 2/3rds majority, or his total political and economic control of the country, it is based on the quiescence of the population – they don’t have to support him, they just have to not resist him. Give the hope that there is an alternative worth working/fighting for, and Orbán loses this unquestioning ‘support’. And the minute Orbán loses his hold over the people, he is lost – rather ironically, 1989 all over again.

    If MSzP can do well in 2014, if they can present a united and believable, ‘anti-Orbán/pro-freedom and democracy’ programme, and if they can build on 2014, then there is a genuine chance that, not only could Fidesz-Jobbik be defeated in 2018, but that Orbán’s popular base would be so undermined that he would be powerless to stop the post-2018 changes. His black propaganda depends on mass belief and fear – if he no longer has that, it will no longer work.

  26. Paul, I see your point regarding Gyurcsány quite clearly, I just don’t agree with you.

    Countless times I’ve asked around even here, somebody tell me, please, what exactly Gyurcsány has done, what horrible sins he committed, that he has to be eradicated from public political life, up to date I haven’t got any substantial answer, only vague references to one or other heresy, with the conclusion: “he must be dirty somehow” after all this years..!

    You certainly know as well as I do: this exactly how a character assassination works.
    Sling the mud and keep repeating relentlessly, sooner or later all what the public remembers is, that “he is dirty”, because there is no smoke without fire, isn’t it?

    The next question, how the person should react to this?
    How would you react?
    Go home, cry, and keep hiding ever after, shake it off as nothing happened, or stand up against and fight?
    It very much depends on the character of the person, I guess.
    I, for one, wouldn’t hide away, no way to give in to a bunch of spineless bastard, proving them right just as good as pleading guilty for no reason, as I see it.

    So, in this case demanding, that Gyurcsány should accept being treated guilty without anything substantial to support this claim is rather unfair, let alone that it is the ultimate goal of Orbán too. After all, the only person so far, who not only beat him in an election, but even in an open TV debate, and you can not beat Orbán and live to tell the tale, no way, so Gyurcsány has to be eliminated from the political arena of Hungary, before somehow he would gain a chance to mop up the floor with the ‘almighty leader’ again, what he more than capable to do, any time, by the way.

    Of course, there is some rather delicate strategy- and communications problem to solve, and it won’t be easy, but not impossible either – theoretically, at least – however, without being able to separate personal animosities from public interest nothing will ever work, that’s for sure.

  27. spectator – it doesn’t matter that he has not done anything (although the ‘lies’ speech was one of the stupidest things I have ever seen in politics). It doesn’t matter if a great injustice has been done against Gy, and it doesn’t matter if one day he is proven innocent and rehabilitated to rapturous applause from Éva and the other Gy supporters (possibly, even from me).

    All that matters is that Orbán has won the smear campaign hands down. Millions of Hungarians believe that Gy is a criminal (or, at the very least, was associated with criminals and did nothing) and can’t be trusted – he is deceitful, slimy, won’t look you in the eye, too ‘intellectual’, suspiciously rich, an ex-communist with ‘connections’, etc, etc – my in-laws even think he is a poor speaker and his English is worse than Orbán’s! For every sane and sensible vote you might attract by appealing to someone’s common-sense over Gy, you will lose 10, maybe 100, just for having Gy’s name associated with your cause.

    It isn’t fair, and something should indeed be done about it – but right now, and for the foreseeable future, it is reality. And we have to live with that reality. A combined opposition movement might just succeed without him, but never with him. One of the reasons for MSzP’s re-emergence as an electable party and a serious opposition to Fidesz-Jobbik, is that they are no longer ”tainted’ by association with Gy. Orbán no longer has that easy and effective weapon to use against them.

  28. Paul, this maybe all correct but I don’t have to be one of those Orbán managed to dupe. I consider Gyurcsány the best and most decent politician in Hungary today. Just as he said the other day, he may not succeed now but in thirty years historians will say: this guy was right.

  29. Thanks for the answer!

    So, at least we can agree on that a kind of religious devotion – aka blind faith – has won over reason, simply, because one can not reach those conclusions while thinking, no way!
    You just must believe, there is no other explanation.

    Obviously the “National Brainwashing Machine” deserves all the glory and the zealots get what they deserve too…

  30. spectator, but what has still not been proven is that the national brainwashing machine has worked in more areas than Ferenc Gyurcsany. At least not that efficiently. And this should be the starting poing in winning people over who might have accepted some points but who waver in others. That is the whole point in asking Ferenc Gyurcsany to work with his DK rather in the background, and possibly also what he has accepted in the meantime. The first point is to manage to motivate people to be interested in politics at all, and then to get them to accept a more varied political landscape than black and white. After this brainwash I doubt you may succeed with saying: now believe that the former black is actually white and vice versa, but it is not really much of a difference to the current brainwashing.

  31. This sentence new: “After this brainwash you may succeed with saying: now believe that the former black is actually white and vice versa, but I doubt it is much of a difference to the current brainwashing.”

  32. Kirsten, I think the brainwashing works very well everywhere. Fidesz still has a very sizable following despite everything. Just today we learned that real wages dropped last year by 3%. And yet!

  33. Kristen, I guess, that you also noticed just how overly simplified my characterization is, but believe me, please, I’m aware of the many shades of bleached minds – they aren’t all homogeneous.

    Regarding the other part of your comment, I still amazed, just how readily people able to discard their own experience and common sense thereof, in favor of pure bullshit in a nationalist gift-wrapping.
    Like in the old joke: are you believe in me, or to your own eyes?

    Another question still: is the former black was really black, or just was called black all the time, and, if one brave enough to open, even start to believe to his/her eyes, what the true colors would look like?

    Back to Earth – the DK at least trying to stir up the lukewarm pond, trying to convince the others, that you may negotiate with each other ad ternum, if you don’t start doing something, you all doomed.

    A little less conversation, a little more action, please!

  34. Eva S. Balogh :
    Paul, this maybe all correct but I don’t have to be one of those Orbán managed to dupe. I consider Gyurcsány the best and most decent politician in Hungary today. Just as he said the other day, he may not succeed now but in thirty years historians will say: this guy was right.

    Éva – I think (hope) you are right. But that is unfortunately for the future. For now the reality is association with his name loses votes. If things get really bad, you might, just might, get people like my in-laws, our friends in Debrecen, our neighbours, etc to vote against Fidesz. But never with GY’s name attached.

    It’s probably hard to believe from over there, or even from Budapest, but out in the east, and in the other ‘marginal’ areas of Hungary, his name is absolutely toxic. You can literally see people’s expression change when his name is mentioned in a conversation. I have had conversations where I have asked how come none of Fidesz’s attempts to convict him have succeeded, where I have asked people to name one thing he did wrong – but none of this matters. As far as they are concerned he “sold the country”, he lied, he was/is a communist, he “got the country in the terrible state it was in before Viktor sorted it out”…

    “Where did his money come from?” they ask. I point out that Orbán isn’t exactly poor – nor his friends and relatives, but it is water off the proverbial duck’s back. When all else fails, they simply resort to pointing out that he is a liar – “he himself admitted it”. In one memorable ‘discussion’ someone even intimated that you couldn’t trust him because he wore glasses – in Hungary, of all places, where glasses are a young male fashion statement!

    I’m afraid Orbán has done his job on GY, and done it well.

  35. I almost never leave remarks, however i did
    some searching and wound up here Is the Demokratikus
    Koalíció a liberal party? | Hungarian Spectrum.

    And I actually do have 2 questions for you if it’s allright. Is it just me or does it look as if like some of the comments come across like coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are posting on additional online sites, I would like to keep up with everything fresh you have to post. Would you list of the complete urls of your community pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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