Conservative critics of the Orbán regime and its “new” constitution

First and foremost I would like give a link to Professor Kim Scheppele’s latest article, “The Fog of Amendment,”  about the latest changes to the Hungarian constitution adopted less than a year ago. She who worked at the Hungarian Constitutional Court during its most heroic period, right after the change of regime in the early 1990s, is most worried about the castration of the court.

László Sólyom, former president and chief justice who was one of the authors of the constitution the Fidesz government replaced with its own, decries the death of a democratic constitution and its replacement with one in which the separation of powers is destroyed with the introduction of the so-called “fourth amendment.” Sólyom argues, correctly I believe, that the amendments, fifteen pages in length, fundamentally change the spirit of the constitution.

I would like to spend a little time on Sólyom’s arguments. I think I should mention that I considered Sólyom a disaster as a president. He didn’t even try to hide his political sympathies; he openly favored the man, Viktor Orbán, and the party that was responsible for his election. Sólyom would gladly have continued as head of state, but the new prime minister had other ideas. Sólyom was a pain in the neck as far as the socialist-liberal governments were concerned, and there was every likelihood that he would continue in the same vein and find almost every new piece of legislation unconstitutional. The members of the court naturally obliged. After all, the former chief justice knew the constitution he himself helped write. And, naturally, this was the last thing Viktor Orbán wanted. So instead came Pál Schmitt. He had no objection to anything. He most likely didn’t even read the documents. Too bad for Orbán that his faithful servant in the Sándor palota (the office of the president in the Castle District) was found to have plagiarized and had to step down.

Sólyom points out that both the constitution of 1990 and even the one that replaced it were based on the principle of a separation of powers. In that system, the constitutional court ensures the sanctity of the basic laws while the parliament represents the public will. Each is the highest organ within its own domain. By contrast, in the communist system the parliament was the single “power” over the affairs of state. “Unrestricted parliamentary powers in Hungary as well as in Central Europe have never been democratic and bring back very unpleasant memories,” writes Sólyom.

The move to place parliament and through it the government over and above the constitutional court did not start with the adoption of these latest amendments. From the moment Viktor Orbán and Fidesz won the elections it was evident that the power of parliament was going to be enhanced at the expense of the judiciary and the constitutional court. They began to use the constitution as an instrument of political power. Between June 2010 and January 1, 2012 they changed the old constitution thirteen times, affecting twenty-six paragraphs. Between January 1 and March 11, 2013 they changed their own new constitution four times. This time they practically created a new constitution. According to Sólyom, the “Basic Laws” enacted by parliament in April 2011 could still be considered to be a democratic constitution. With these new amendments, however, Hungary has ceased to be a democracy because from now on the parliament has the last word as far as constitutionality is concerned.

We arrived at this sorry state of affairs as a result of the government’s decision to ignore the rulings of the constitutional court that found several of the so-called “temporary measures” unconstitutional. Yesterday the Fidesz faithful in parliament voted to incorporate all those unconstitutional measures into the main body of the constitution. And at the same time it forbade the constitutional court from examining the constitutionality of these provisions.

Gábor Török, not exactly a liberal commentator, pointed out that perhaps the most worrisome passage in this newly amended constitution is Article 2(3), which reads as follows:

“(3) The Speaker of the House shall sign the adopted Fundamental Law or the adopted
amendment thereof within five days and shall send it to the President of the Republic. The
President of the Republic shall sign the Fundamental Law or the amendment thereof sent to
him within five days of receipt and shall order its publication in the Official Gazette. If the
President of the Republic finds a departure from any procedural requirement laid down in the
Fundamental Law with respect to adoption of the Fundamental Law or any amendment thereof, the President of the Republic refers such departure to the Constitutional Court for a revision. Should the revision by the Constitutional Court not verify the departure from the requirements, the President of the Republic shall immediately sign the Fundamental Law or the
amendment thereof, and shall order its publication in the Official Gazette.”

From here on the government through its two-thirds majority in parliament can do anything its heart desires. There is no control over the laws they put into the constitution. Because, let’s not fool ourselves, unless Orbán is stopped ever new amendments will enable him to do whatever he wants.

This latest rape of Hungarian democracy is too much even for some so-called conservative writers. Like Bálint Ablonczy of Heti Válasz who complains that the Orbán government has lost its sense of reality. He calls the constitution a “legal lasagna” and says that “it is not the least bit consoling that there is no horse meat in it.” Ablonczy argues that “those Fidesz politicians who came up with this scandalous procedure not only cause damage to themselves but  further tear into the already unstitched fabric of our common affairs.” Ablonczy finds it incomprehensible that the Orbán government is ready ignore the danger signs coming from the Council of Europe, the European Commission, the American administration, and the German foreign ministry. “It is time to think a little bit.” Surely, the editorial board of Heti Válasz had to approve this article. Maybe they want to send a message to Viktor Orbán.

Even more outspoken criticism came from Dávid Lakner, a member of Mandiner, an online site for young conservatives. They also seem to be waking up to the fact that the ideology of the Orbán government has nothing to do with conservatism in the classical sense. This is an undemocratic, authoritarian system heading toward full fledged dictatorship.

The German conservative paper Die Welt described Orbán, after the enactment of the “new” constitution, as a man “who no longer trusts the free play of democratic forces and instead relies on unfettered power…. Orbán isn’t protecting his country. He is leading it into a dangerous rigidity. But things that are too brittle break all too easily.”

Finally, Barbara Stamm, president of the Bavarian parliament, cancelled her scheduled meeting with László Kövér. This must be a real blow because if Viktor Orbán’s regime had one steadfast supporter, it was Bavaria’s governing party, the Christian Social Union (CSU). Viktor Orbán loved visiting Munich where he was always welcome. And Bavarian politicians came to Budapest to sing the praises of the Orbán government. No longer, it seems.

Advertisements

50 comments

  1. The HUF risked collapse today. Europe (even the CSU) is turning its back on Orban. And now, Viktor has chosen to skip out of his own 3/15 celebrations to be suddenly at a crucial summit abroad. It is always darkest before the dawn. I am not yet optimistic, but I sense that (as he has done before) Orban at his moment of maximum power has overstepped, and the repercussions are now going to be felt. While the EU can’t it seems sanction Hu, they will sit back and watch the HUF go into a tail spin and try and isolate and humiliate Orban. It might not work in the short term, but it can one hopes help weaken his authority and his image in Hu of invincibility.

  2. Money talks. I don’t like it but I was cheering the fall of the forint today. It’s collapse may be the only way to get rid of the political fringe that has taken over the Hungarian government.

    On a related note, I sure hope Péter Erdő doesn’t become Pope. If he did, the right-wing, nationalist nutbars would go into overdrive with misguided patriotism–and hatred for anything not magyar.

  3. The bloggers at Mandiner (the collective blog for the younger generation of conservative/right wing pundits) and the younger people of Heti Válasz (which is otherwise a weekly reliable mounthpiece of Fidesz) are in a special situation.

    Under the 2006-2010 period young kids adored Fidesz and it was cool to like Fidesz and it was cool to hate Gyurcsány the MSZP.

    However, these days it is not the case any more.

    Younger people nowadays are either Jobbik fans (yes, and especially kids from the country side) or the somewhat more well-off – even in the Buda circles – are fans of these ‘non-denominational’ oppositon groups (like those who staged the Lendvay utca demonstration or the one in front of Sándor palota yeasterday) or lmp or even Bajnai.

    In other words it’s certainly not cool to be associated with Fidesz. Older generation folks don’t feel that, pereferences have matured.

    But for ‘kids’ it does matter to be associated with cool people. So no surprise that it is the younger generation of the abovementioned journalists that feels that suddenly it’s no longer cool to go to a party and appear essentially as a representative of Mandiner or Heti Válasz (that is Fidesz). Among people of ages 16-30, Fidesz is a party to avoid.

    NWO: please don’t fool yourself, no foreign pressure ever worked with real dictators. It’s a Western myth (why this myth persists, I don’t even know, because I can’t think of even one occasion when it worked against determined bastards). And it’s not just Milosevic or Mugabe who were reelected while their respective countries were (are) in a hopeless decline, but remember Austrians also reelected Waldheim. (Yugoslavia was prior to 1990 the most developed Socialist country, to go to Yugo was to go almost to the West, fast forward 23 years and Serbia is probably poorer than Albania or Moldavia, thanks to Milosevic. But the voters, the majortiy, wanted the war. Hungarians are on their way to such a decline too). People don’t like it if foreigners try to tell them what they should like or should do. Bombs and armies (can) work, everything else, pressure and blockade and what have you, don’t.

    So Orbán’s authority will not weaken just because CSU is a bit aloof these days.They don’t care, Fidesz politicians are not a friendly, social bunch anyway. Only a much more organised and disciplined Hungarian opposition and/or an economic crisis could change things.

  4. Eva S. Balogh :
    Öcsi, I agree with you. Orbán and gang understand only that kind of reaction.

    Orban doesn’t give a hoot–he’s got his multi-millions (euros not forints) already. As for his friends, they’re already cemented in either lucrative, long-term government positions; or advantages business situations where their competitors have taken flight.

    What Orban likes is to fry the populace…you figure it out why.

  5. Isn’t it interesting that Hitler, Stalin and Orban had one thing in common in their childhood:
    their fathers beat them a lot?

    If you beat your son a lot you might create a monster.

  6. The summary of the agenda of the EU for this week can be found here: http://blogs.wsj.com/brussels/2013/03/11/the-eu-week-ahead-march-11-15/

    I think Orban lost any moral ground to vote, to make decisions or even contribute to the discussions and decisions of the EU. Orban dismissed the request of the EU to delay the dealings with the Constitution, he took out full age of advertisements to attack and lie about the EU, he welcomed and encouraged people who marched against the EU, and assured them of his full support.
    With its current constitution Hungary couldn’t become a member of the European Union. The Fidesz and its Troopers do not want to be members of the EU, and they very clearly advertised that over and over again. The EU should not let Orban into its headquarters, as he is a fraud, and he has no business to sit through any more meetings as a representative of a country. He should be sent back to his country to celebrate arguably the most important day in Hungarian history March 15.

  7. Modestly adding, the orban myth has been funded by violence.
    His handlers guaranteed his freedom of stupidity with a promise of backing it by force.
    No police, court, uprising can touch him.
    How did Milosevic tossed Yugoslavia into a grave? With Immunity from accountability,
    The same recipe is at work in Hungary.
    Only the blind diplomats of Europe and American can not see it.

  8. dalton :
    Younger people nowadays are either Jobbik fans (yes, and especially kids from the country side) or the somewhat more well-off – even in the Buda circles – are fans of these ‘non-denominational’ oppositon groups (like those who staged the Lendvay utca demonstration or the one in front of Sándor palota yeasterday) or lmp or even Bajnai.
    In other words it’s certainly not cool to be associated with Fidesz. Older generation folks don’t feel that, pereferences have matured.

    I have to agree with this, though I’d put it differently. I know many people in their 20s, 30s & 40s who probably support Fidesz, but they don’t talk about it. I always assumed that the didn’t have to talk about it since 2010 since they are comfortably in control in the Parliament. But when push comes to shoves, they still don’t want to raise a finger to support their party.

    The only people who have actively challenged my criticism of Fidesz are older.

    What’s the Hungarian word, politikozni? Now that dalton mentions it, the younger Fidesz crowd doesn’t want to get pulled into political discussions. But me and my left-of-Fidesz/Jobbik friends are getting louder.

    Call me infected with American optimism, but it’s looking to me that Fidesz support is shallow. It’s still leading in the opinion polls (for what they are worth), but I can see Fidesz/Jobbik as beatable in 2014.

  9. Dalton-
    I don’t think i am necessarily fooling myself or naive. But I think Orban continues to crave acceptance in certain European circles, and still desperately needs EU money. For a long time, there has been within the CDU at least a distaste for Orban, but there was also a great fear that if they pushed him too hard this would only benefit Jobbik. The CSU on the other hand has been more openly friendly to FIDESZ. Now if the CSU is changing its view (and Merkel is willing to take more of a stand–a big if), then it is possible that the EU will keep the pressure on the only way it can: by finding an excuse to threaten “Hungary’s money”.

  10. Gardonista: I think that the silent 30-40’s Fidesz supporters will continue to support Fidesz. I know a number of these younger generation conservative econosmists HVG wrote about a couple of weeks ago. They are educated, nice, cultured, reasonable, intelligent. But they will never vote for anything like Bajnai, LMP, let alone MSZP. These guys have a world view which is completely set and in that MSZP and Bajnai are the ‘post-communists’, the baddies. Sure, they know that they can’t maintain this view openly, like they know racism is not acceptable or politically correct in certain circles, but nevertheless this is how they think. It’s exactly that when push comes to shove, they will support Fidesz – as the only real conservative/right wing party in their view.

    In a first past the post system, it is always two parties (coalitions) against each other (some UK districts with LibDems are the rare eexceptions). And thus the question will be, and this is Fidesz’s goal: Fidesz/Jobbik or the Communists? Fidesz knows that this is a fantastic game, because the right wingers are always surer, more disciplined. While lefties from time to time vote for right wing politicians, a right winger never votes for the the left, ever. These 30-40’s professionals, at least those I met, many named in those HVG articles, simply could not sleep with the knowlegde that they voted – directly or indirectly – for MSZP.

    Fidesz averaged – in the pary list portion of the old election system – something like 42-44% in 2002, 2006 and 51% in 2010 (when MSZP fell to 17%). That means that they were able to hold together alone almost half of the population for more than 10 years. They have an extremely deep and sophisticated network and support base. Commitment is unbelieveable (as you can see not a single voice was raised re the amendmens from anybody from Fidesz).

    It is interesting to see voting data from pre WW II tmes (even though the system was completely different and very restricted). The patterns are similar, Hungarians are conservative and right wing, the majority has this disposition (most of Budapest is an exception). The left needs to understand this.

    Sure everybody is beatable, but looking at the 30 founders of Együtt, Bajnai’s party, I was mad as perhaps there was one lawyer (and she is a hopeless scholar) againt Orbán/Lázár/Polt/Győri Tibor/Handó/Áder/Kövér/the CC and so on, I could list 20 other top very ifluential names?? Until the opposition first understands comprehends what they are up againts, they have no chance of winning.

  11. NWO with the exception of Austrian vice-chancellor M. Spindelegger, Orbán has no real friends in the conservative parties of the EU.
    Orbán who climbed a tall tree will have to choose between climbing down and staying. His peacock dance (pávatánc) is not misleading EU-politicians.
    Some young Hungarian conservatives think already how to get rid of Orbán in time, so their careers do not suffer.
    My guess: Before subventions are suspended the EU will probably suspend the right to vote of Hungary.

    Just heard Austrian radio. Orbán wants to nationalise foreign banks.

  12. Karl Pfeifer :
    Just heard Austrian radio. Orbán wants to nationalise foreign banks.

    He wants 50% domestic ownership.. the way things are going he’ll get it without a fight. CIB is sending in a team to restructure and reduce presence.

  13. Nick :
    What does the dictator himself feel about all this?
    http://www.freehungary.hu/comments/1831-the-secret-diairies-of-viktor-orban-ruler-supreme-of-the-nation-of-hungary

    And who are you Nick? Sorry if I missed your posts before, but it is very rude to come here and place an advertisement for any blog before you give some intro. Your opinion should be posted here that you can support with links, but do not come here and post a link to an other “blog”. That is called spamming, it is very annoying, regardless how good or bad the content of your link is.

  14. Orbán could purchase any foriegn-owned bank if he wanted them. Almost all are for sale, but nobody wants to buy them (for obvious reasons).

    As Orbán purchased Rába etc. now that he has (or could have if he wanted to) money from Matolcsy at the NBH, he could purchase any banks to get his 50% quota.

  15. LwiiH :

    Karl Pfeifer :
    Just heard Austrian radio. Orbán wants to nationalise foreign banks.

    He wants 50% domestic ownership.. the way things are going he’ll get it without a fight. CIB is sending in a team to restructure and reduce presence.

    Watch how the foreign banks will start packing. Castro pulled something similar (OK maybe worst). Hungary is becoming a dead ringer for Cuba, and Orban for Castro. History repeats itself, if dictators do not get what they want, they will take it, like Castro did from July 1960 (nationalization of foreign owned oil refineries). The Fidesz troopers of course hate “communists” while they do not realize (or maybe they do realize) that their beloved leader and its party IS it.

  16. Nick :
    @Some1. Apologies. I did not intend to spam. Please remove my post if it offends. I just tried, and couldn’t.
    I am not the owner of the blog. It is only my opinion. Your perfectly entitled to post here as anybody else, just provide some info about your angle. That is all.

  17. Nick and Eva, thank you for your hard work to provide objective and true reporting on Hungary.

    Our task is really to move our other Hungarian friends in the USA to freedom, and end the sick influence of the conservative exile Hungarians on the current Hungary after the collapse of the Horthy-Szalasi era almost 70 years ago.

  18. “Unrestricted parliamentary powers in Hungary as well as in Central Europe have never been democratic and bring back very unpleasant memories,” writes Sólyom.

    Sólyom is not right. In former Czechoslovakia – in Central Europe – there were (unlike in Hungary) functional standard parliamentary powers in the period between the WWI and WWII.

  19. Fidesz wants to investigate officialy and analyse the young demonstrators of last week.

    Fidesz’ private investigators perhaps would not be able to do it legally, but with the police (see below) they will be able to do a thorough research. Once Fidesz’ machinery starts, they tend do a thourogh job.

    The aim – with old tricks the internal security used against dissenters – is eventually to break and eliminate the organisation of the these, lets face it, naive young people. They may be enthusiastic now, but may not last much once their internal structure is mapped, and anybody related to them have been checked. It does not take much to intimadate these kids. At atlatszo.hu (a kind of Hungarian wikileaks) you can read a witness statement of a young university student who was picked up by the police and was singing raight away and not requesting any legal help.

    Like I said, Fidesz will use any means necessary to take control of the opposition, especially the budding new organsiations.

    Fidesz presses charges against the demonstrators of last week. http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20130313-feljelenti-a-fidesz-a-szekhazfoglalokat.html

  20. II guess full amnesty only apply for football hooligans from Fidesz. Fidesz dropped all charges against those who put cars on fire, broke into the Television, etc. in 2006, even though those hooligans did cause personal injuries and propery damage. Of course Fidesz was very lenient as likely they were the ones who started the riot in that time. The 2006 rioters take preferential treatment compared to the 2013 university student protesters. I wonder who the criminal Selmeczi and corrupted Orban would like to see in their house the 2006 or 2013 crowd?
    All power for the 2013 protesters. They did the right thing!

  21. szomszéd :

    “Unrestricted parliamentary powers in Hungary as well as in Central Europe have never been democratic and bring back very unpleasant memories,” writes Sólyom.

    Sólyom is not right. In former Czechoslovakia – in Central Europe – there were (unlike in Hungary) functional standard parliamentary powers in the period between the WWI and WWII.

    I’m pretty sure that Sólyom knows that.

  22. Re: full amnesty for those football hooligans. I’m sure that they had been promised that much from the beginning: if we come, you’ll not suffer any legal consequence.

  23. @some1: “And who are you Nick? Sorry if I missed your posts before, but it is very rude to come here and place an advertisement for any blog before you give some intro. Your opinion should be posted here that you can support with links, but do not come here and post a link to an other “blog”. That is called spamming, it is very annoying, regardless how good or bad the content of your link is.”

    With all due respect to all, it is not spamming to post in an unmoderated blog without introducing yourself, nor to post a (relevant) link. The only requirement, as far as I know, is to register. Moreover, what is an “introduction” among contributors most of whom (including @some1) are anonymous?

  24. How about the guy who threatened to throw acid in the demonstrators face. Will he face charges? Is that considered assault in Hungary?

  25. @Stevan Harnad on March 13, 2013 at 10:34 am
    Maybe you wre not posting yet on the board yet at the time when we had a few visitors who put up links to other “news” , and the motives of their intentions very questionable. I am sure you were not visiting Eva’s blog at the time, otherwise you would understand… There were blog owners who tried to drive traffic to their site w/o reciprocal intention, there were Jobbik supporters with questionable content, and so forth. Eva can back me up on that. I did not requested a biography from the poster, or his/ her full name or address, so I have no idea how this came into the picture. I simply asked to provide some background to the info. Let me put it this way, I never ever visit kuru info or similar sites, simply because I do not want to drive traffic. I am not going to be part of their success. It is my choice, as we all “vote” on the net with our fingers. It is your choice to click on any link you choose to, it is my choice to click on any link I choose. I only click on links I trust (security reasons too). After Eva said she is familiar with the site I visited. You wish to proceed differently that is fine, but my opinion is my opinion. By the way, I did like that site. An other note, maybe you do not know my full name, but Eva does. If there is a problem from me, she would know who is responsible. That is my online etiquette.

  26. “Pete H. on March 13, 2013 at 10:35 am
    How about the guy who threatened to throw acid in the demonstrators face. Will he face charges? Is that considered assault in Hungary?”
    Not if it is Fidesz supporter.

  27. The HUF is falling and there are lines at the currency exchange kiosk. Get this. People are selling not buying.

    Not sure why is that. I think they were continuously selling to support themselves and now they just want to sell more currency until the price is good.

    There is certain logic to it. Every time Matolcsy said something steep and the HUF had a hiccup it bounced back. Until now …

    OT (but funny): Pal Schmitt wants to be an ambassador (no location yet). Yep. Let’s send thieves and cheats to represent us around the world. What a brilliant idea. A true Hungaricum.

  28. Some1 :

    “Pete H. on March 13, 2013 at 10:35 am
    How about the guy who threatened to throw acid in the demonstrators face. Will he face charges? Is that considered assault in Hungary?”
    Not if it is Fidesz supporter.

    Don’t worry. Nothing will happen to him.

  29. I guess you’ve heard that Orban has cancelled his March 15 speech and will be going to Brussels instead. Rather odd, after all the fanfare on the Hungarian news about the forthcoming speech. Any ideas why?

  30. European Parliament will not even discuss the Hungarian question this week despite Guy Verhofstadt’s request.

  31. Mutt, a lot or people have some euros (say, 50 or 300 or 2,700) and are also in need of cash (to spend it in Hungary). These are unsophsicticated people with some, but not too much foregn currency. They simply take opportunity from the weak HUF. Plus at cash exchange booths you may exchange money free of charge (no transaction tax unlike at banks) as most transactions are not booked.

    Those more sophisticated people who really have money and savings which may be lost, were converted to foreign currency and have transferred outside Hungary long ago. They don’t care about what’s going on at the moment.

    One can’t feel a real panic among ordinary people yet.

  32. “Plus at cash exchange booths you may exchange money free of charge (no transaction tax unlike at banks) as most transactions are not booked”

    – you are charged at least in the centre, 250 forints minimum. Rates are much better than at the banks.

  33. From the Free Hungary blog – very funny and very depressing at the same time:

    The Secret Diairies of Viktor Orbán: Ruler Supreme of the Nation of Hungary – Wednesday 6 March 2013

    On Monday, Parliament will pass the fourth amendment to the constitution. This is what I have sent to parliament for them to agree to:

    1. We don’t recognise gay marriage or unmarried couples as families, so they won’t get any family allowance. A bit old fashioned I admit, but we have to keep our partners, the Christian Democrats happy.

    2. The state only recognises certain religious institutions as churches.

    3. The Hungarian Socialist Party (MszP) and the Democratic Coalition (DK) as successors to the Hungarian Communist party can be found guilty for any crimes committed by the communist party. So by the time of the next election, all opposition politicians will be in prison.

    4. This is the best part. . So now we can pass any law we want. We of course being me, as I know that those sheep that we call Fidesz members of parliament would never question law I write.

    Soon I will have absolute power. Parliament is just a rubber stamp. The constitutional court and the president will have no teeth. I control the media and the central bank. The revolution at the ballot box will be complete!

    http://www.freehungary.hu/comments/1831-the-secret-diairies-of-viktor-orban-ruler-supreme-of-the-nation-of-hungary

    “The constitutional court no longer has the right to challenge any laws on the basis that they are unconstitutional” – actually a precise summary of this madness.

  34. We need to take these forint fluctuations with a fairly large dose of só.

    Things look fairly dramatic at the moment, but we’ve had several equally dramatic fluctuations (both down and up) since Orbán came to power (and before), and the forint is actually still quite a bit healthier than it was not much over a year ago.

    For instance, from July 2011 there was a fairly continuous, and steep, drop in the value of the forint, until it ‘peaked’ at 320 to the Euro at the end of the year (16 Ft worse than it is today). But then it recovered dramatically, gaining over 30 ft (to below 290/€) in just a month and a half. This recovery continued, albeit erratically, to a peak of 275 in August.

    The forint then more or less held its value at around the low 280s until November, when the current drop began. Since then it has gradually lost value – but nothing like as steeply as it did towards the end of 2011.

    So, this may be the beginning of a crash, but equally it may just be another typically wild forint fluctuation. It looks bad, admittedly, but it looked a lot worse in the last months of 2011 (and even worse in early 2009), but in both cases it recovered equally dramatically – although settling at a lower average than before each ‘crash’.

    The value ‘the market’ places on a currency, especially minor ones like the forint, seems only loosely related to what’s going on politically and economically.

  35. Anyone taking bets on the new pope ?
    We’re just watching the “news” – it’s a really silly show with all that pomp …

    Richard Dawkins wrote a book “The God Delusion” – what about “The Pope Illusion” ?

    Back to Hungary:

    Just returned to Hungary and was “happy” to get around 30.000 HUF for my measly 100 €s cash …

  36. gggert :
    Mutt, a lot or people have some euros (say, 50 or 300 or 2,700) and are also in need of cash (to spend it in Hungary). These are unsophsicticated people with some, but not too much foregn currency. They simply take opportunity from the weak HUF. Plus at cash exchange booths you may exchange money free of charge (no transaction tax unlike at banks) as most transactions are not booked.
    Those more sophisticated people who really have money and savings which may be lost, were converted to foreign currency and have transferred outside Hungary long ago. They don’t care about what’s going on at the moment.
    One can’t feel a real panic among ordinary people yet.

    Janos Martonyi just said the HUF is too weak which means people smell support from the government which always equals free money…

    Most ordinary people don’t directly feel the exchange rates as they only work in HUF. The devaluation only hits them as an inflationary force. Companies hedge against this by buying HUF on the futures markets. It’s the only way they can provide any sort of price stability in an economy so resistent to planning

  37. Győr Calling!

    I have been in Hungary for some time now – keeping an eye on HS.

    I have been unable to comment on any of the recent happenings – because, as a son of the mother of parliaments all this is beyond my understanding.

    I just can’t get my head around this ‘version’ of ‘democracy’ as it now stands – and can’t believe that all the world’s proper democracies can just sit and watch it happen.

    Democracy, it patently isn’t.

    I have protested to Barroso – and got no response.

    And here in Hungary more people are losing their jobs – or resigning because they are doing the work of three and can’t stand the pressure. And more and more are desperate to leave – even whole families.

    But you know all that.

    To watch Hungary fester with some of the video footage on here – just watching a population of ‘I’m-all-right-jack’ old farts is unbelievably depressing and yet quite a spectacle seeing older people corrupting themselves with such indignity and ‘religiousity’ – not to mention just plain depravity.

    It’s impossible to know how it will all end.

    But it is a Kafkaesque nightmare – and fear is palpable.

    Regards

    Charlie

  38. …and I forgot to mention – people’s salaries are being delayed – and whole departments are running out of money in September.

    I have heard this salary-delay happening in dodgy companies – but at government level?

    Beggars belief.

  39. Eva S. Balogh :

    szomszéd :
    “Unrestricted parliamentary powers in Hungary as well as in Central Europe have never been democratic and bring back very unpleasant memories,” writes Sólyom.
    Sólyom is not right. In former Czechoslovakia – in Central Europe – there were (unlike in Hungary) functional standard parliamentary powers in the period between the WWI and WWII.

    I’m pretty sure that Sólyom knows that.

    So am I.

  40. Gyor Calling (again!)

    Completely O/T:

    I have had a long running dispute with ‘Immigration’ over an abortive attempt to get an address card after five visits.

    Twice my MEP has submitted a question to the EU parliament and twice they have ruled that Immigration MUST destroy the unnecessary storing of my information.

    They refuse to comply.

    In one of my emails to my MEP – I said “I had lost the will to live” after the abortive fifth visit!

    From a strange, unexpected source I got the following narrative in another email yesterday:

    Dear Sir,

    In your e-mail informing me that you were displeased with the office routine of the Office of
    Immigration and Nationality in Gyor and you had given up the will to live in Hungary.

    l would like to call your attention to the fact that under the Hungarian law everyone is obliged to have the identity card or passport with his or herself. The identification document is not replaceable by a bank card or a copy of the original one

    The fact that you gave up your will to live in Hungary does not authorise the Office of immigration and Nationality to destroy your records and in lack of official power I can not gave order to do,

    Article 30, Subsection (2) of The Fundamental Law of Hungary (hereinafter referred to as the
    Fundamental Law) states that “The Commissioner for Fundamental Rights shall inquire into those improprieties related to fundamental rights that come to his or her knowledge, or have those improprieties inquired into, and initiate general or specific measures to remedy them.

    Examining your application, I have not found infringement of any fundamental rights
    therefore I closed up my procedure without any further actions.

    I am very sorry that I could not be at your assistance this time.

    Yours sincerely

    I’m not sure how much of this to blame on Google translate!

    Very strange.

    Regards

    Charlie

Comments are closed.