Coming to an understanding with Viktor Orbán and his followers?

Yesterday’s post didn’t excite too many people. But how can one compete with Trianon? Who cares about the LIBE Commission’s report and the 500 some proposed “amendments,” mostly from Fidesz MPs and their Hungarian friends from Slovakia and Romania? On top of it all some people didn’t even get the details although I gave a link to the amendments that are available on the Internet.

But isn’t it the case that these amendments are a hundred times more relevant to the fate of the Hungarian people than absolutely useless discussions of a treaty, however just or unjust it was, that cannot be altered? Revisionism was the cornerstone of Hungary’s interwar foreign policy and some people were convinced, as was John F. Montgomery, U.S. ambassador in Budapest in the 1930s, that “the Hungarian people were not quite sane on that subject.” Well, it seems that some Hungarians are returning to the very same insanity that led Hungary nowhere except to another lost war, the loss of millions of its people, and a series of absolutely tragic events. But there are always people who are incapable of learning from past mistakes. Just like the Bourbons.

So, discussing Trianon endlessly and crying over Hungary’s misfortunes are dead ends. The Venice Commission’s opinion and the LIBE Commission recommendations, on the other hand, are of the utmost importance. The outcome of the investigations of the Hungarian government’s reshaping of Hungarian democracy into an authoritarian or even worse regime affects the very future of Hungarian democracy.

Let’s talk a little bit about the fate of Hungarian democracy. Some people are convinced that true democracy no longer exists in Hungary due to Viktor Orbán’s “renewal” of the country. I know that a lot of the readers of Hungarian Spectrum are certain that Viktor Orbán and his ilk will be running Hungary for the next twenty years. They are certain that Fidesz is unbeatable because the party communicates better, because all the state institutions are in party hands, and because the new electoral system is designed to keep them in power. By contrast, the opposition is fractured and lacks a charismatic leader. So why bother to do anything?

This defeatist attitude may be misplaced, especially since almost half of the electorate at the moment either doesn’t know or doesn’t divulge its political preferences. The various social groups that have been injured in one way or the other by the “renewal” measures of the Orbán government are numerous: civil servants, teachers, doctors, judges, university professors, artists, writers, and people receiving the minimum wage. One could go on and on. At the moment all these people are shaking in their boots, fearing for their jobs. They are afraid to go out to demonstrate. Surely, hidden cameras will reveal their identity. Fear has returned to the country.

But there might be a tipping point when all the grievances converge and serious opposition to the government breaks out. Who could have said on October 21, 1956 that in two days there would be an open rebellion against the Rákosi regime in Budapest? Or two weeks ago who would have thought that there would be street fights between young Turks and the police? Most likely nothing that drastic will happen in Hungary, but the possibility of a broad common front cannot be ruled out. Therefore, the opposition must be ready for such an occurrence. Moreover, the democratic parties have to come to some kind of an agreement concerning their attitudes toward “the accomplishments” of the Orbán government. Of course, I’m using the word “accomplishments” ironically.

What I mean is: can there be some kind of compromise between Fidesz and its democratic opposition? Because if not, says one school of thought on the subject, the present political division will only be perpetuated. Others are convinced that there is no way any kind of compromise is possible: Orbán’s autocratic rule cannot be “balanced” by those who believe in liberal democracy. Oil and water don’t mix.

Let me go back a bit to history and linguistics. I use the word “compromise” for “kiegyezés.” Indeed, when we talk about the historical “kiegyezés” of 1867 between Austria and Hungary in English we use the word “compromise.” The Compromise of 1867. However, the German word for the same event is “Ausgleich,” which means not so much compromise as “settlement.” Austria and Hungary settled their differences. So, according to a number of politicians, including Gordon Bajnai, the opposition must sit down with the politicians of Fidesz and settle their differences.

A settlement in the offing? / calgaryfoodpolicy.blogspot.com

A settlement in the offing? 

Bajnai, in an interview with Die Zeitenvisages an electoral outcome in 2014 in which the united opposition achieves a modest victory which “would be an opportunity for a kind of national agreement for fair negotiations.” He wants “to cross party lines to reach a consensus” and has no intention of turning everything back to the pre-Orbán period. After watching Viktor Orbán up close and personal ever since 1998, I would like to see just one occasion when he was ready to come to a “national agreement.” We all remember when in 2002 Péter Medgyessy, then apparently on the advice of Ferenc Gyurcsány, tried to extend a hand to Viktor Orbán. He called this approach “filling the trenches” or “burying the hatchet” in English. He got nowhere. He was only rebuffed.

The latest attempt at “appeasement” (at least this is what I call it) on the part of Gordon Bajnai is asking for forgiveness for the referendum of 2004 when the Fidesz-supported idea of giving citizenship to Hungarian nationals living in the neighboring countries was rejected with the active support of the government parties. Since then the Orbán government’s super-majority voted for citizenship, which includes voting rights. Bajnai feels that this right cannot be revoked. Thus, the citizens of Hungary must live with perhaps a million extra votes of people who have no real stake in the outcome of the election and don’t have to bear its consequences. That is a very large number when only about four million people vote at national elections.

Bajnai, in the hope of extra votes from the other side, is giving in on many other issues as well. For example, he made special mention of the Day of Unity (in other words, the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Trianon) where he talked about three-fourths of the territories and two-thirds of its population Hungary lost. Of course, these numbers are correct, but failing to point out that the majority of this two-thirds were not Hungarians was a mistake. Talking about Trianon as a “tragedy” is again only adding oil to fire. He is hoping to come to an understanding on “the trauma of the Soviet occupation” and “the trauma of the Holocaust.” No wonder that the headline in HVG declared: “Bajnai compared Trianon to the Holocaust.” I don’t think that the loss of territories and the loss of lives can cause the same trauma. The last sentence of Bajnai’s communiqué stated that “we will have to close the period that meant the silence and abuse of Trianon.” That to me means that he promises the Hungarian nationalists that Trianon will remain a topic of debate. Keeping Trianon alive will also stoke the self-pity that is so injurious to the Hungarian psyche and that should be discouraged.

But that’s not all. Gordon Bajnai said the following about anti-Semitism and the Orbán government in Berlin the other day. “There are many problems with the government but one cannot claim that it has anything to do with antisemitism and racism.” One doesn’t have to go that far in seeking “national consensus” or “settlement” with Viktor Orbán and his followers. After all, Orbán’s attitude towards both is far from unequivocal.

That is the Bajnai approach, which in my opinion is utterly mistaken. Devoted Orbán followers will not vote for the democratic opposition because Bajnai supports the voting rights of Hungarians in the neighboring countries. It is also unlikely that a devoted supporter of Fidesz will be terribly impressed with  all that mea culpa on the issue of Trianon. But the voters of the democratic opposition may lose trust in him.

In the next few days I will outline some other ideas about what the opposition should do concerning the Orbán government and its supporters.

97 comments

  1. I was glad you posted information about all those crazy amendments yesterday – even if I didn’t comment on it at the time. Today’s post is good as well – disappointing to hear about Bajnai’s statements in Germany re: Trianon and Antisemitism.. looking forward to tomorrow’s post..

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your assessment Eva. Bajnai must have some very bad advisors and fails to recognize the true nature of Orban Viktor. It is impossible to compromise with him or with anyone in the Fidesz leadership (just look at how everybody who sat down to negotiate with him was duped). I don’t think Orban’s followers, or the “silent majority” will be impressed with such efforts, either. Because the true followers are like religious zealots,whatever Orban says they just follow… it’s personality cult, it has nothing to do with the actual issues.. so compromising on these issues won’t achieve anything. As for the silent majority, it is hard to see where they stand on these issues, but wherever they stand, it is very unlikely they feel very strongly about them to sway them either way.

    I think what Bajnai is trying to do is to court an imaginary conservative voter who may not be a fan of Orban’s autocratic ways. I doubt there are very many of those, but if there are, it would be a better strategy to actually sit down with some more prominent moderate conservatives who are not sided with Orban (left or fallen out of the bandwagon) and involve them somehow in the campaign (for example, conservative economist Mellar, the ex-head of the budgetary council, etc… there are a few figures like that)..

    The way I see it, Orban and the current Fidesz leadership is like poison in the well, and they’ve been poisoning political discourse in Hungary for quite some time. Until they are removed from politics (and not just from power), they will continue to poison the well (the minds of Hungarians), and efforts to create some kind of discussion or compromise between the two sides of the political spectrum is bound to fail.

  3. Very well, by all means go ahead and outline those ideas.
    But in the meantime I should like to state clearly my opinion (before you might convince me otherwise), that this bunch of yahoos in Fidesz are completely discredited for the purposes of a compromise. Not to mention that they are not showing any interest in a compromise themselves.
    It would be my pleasure to roll off the list of evidence to that effect, but it is unnecessary, they are commonly known all over. Orban has never been in the compromising mood, the damage he caused is immense and I would not trust him even half as far as I could throw him. How about you?
    Would you buy a used car from any of them? How about buying a worn-down, bled-out, overused country? Would you be partners with them in reviving that country? Now, you see?
    My idea, to precede yours, is that they should soundly defeat them, investigate their wrong doings, from the over-throwing of the Constitution to the public tenders,’ land and tobacco boondoggles, charge them and take them to court. Let justice take its course. Not only that, but try them under their own hastily improvised legal system: they had the good of it first, then they should have the burden of it too.
    A compromise with crooks would undermine the legitimacy of any democracy. And a compromise with these crooks would undermine the entire country. Sorry, but I am loosing faith in Bajnai rapidly. The way I feel in the last few weeks the only possible candidate for leading the country is Agnes Vadai. The only person who could beat Orban and good enough for the job.
    Agnes Vadai for prime minister!

    (Thank you and god bless…)

  4. Éva: “But the voters of the democratic opposition may lose trust in him.”

    The whole post is very interesting, only when reading this sentence, I was thinking about how large a group you may be speaking about. Surely such people exist, but whether they will be VOTERS, or who exactly (and how united) the “democratic opposition” is, I am not too sure currently. The threat from losing these votes appears not too big considering the “exemplary” cooperation between the opposition parties and the widespread belief that “nothing can be done” and “Bajnai is a second Gyurcsany”.

    I hear that even people who have never before spoken about “Jewish conspiracies” etc., are starting to repeat such nonsense. I am unable to judge from own experience from current Hungary, but for me it is not entirely wrong to try to speak to these people also. I think currently “democrats” should not be too picky about how “pure” their strategy should be. The programme and the idea what type of Hungary they envisage should be clarified, no doubt, and because we live in the 21st century, Trianon and other “highly topical issues” should not dominate the programme. But you need also be first able to REACH people whose votes and whose support is a precondition for implementing such programme. I do not know to what extent people who currently engage in conspiracy theories of all sorts are just reacting to the prevailing atmosphere and in particular the lack of perceived workable alternatives. If this is only current fashion, it could return to the fringes of society quickly if the tide turns. I read here that these people may be deaf to any programme from the left. How then could it be tried to address these people? Of course one strategy is to stick to the “pure” programme and hope that OV will soon run out of luck, and people will therefore turn to the democrats. But then comes the problem that democracy will not work if there is not some mutual respect for people with other opinions also, and people who are willing to engage in public matters. I cannot imagine how a working if not cooperative atmosphere should be created in the Hungarian society and politics if people will not be accepted despite their current views on the past, or their current support for the national cause. For me it sounds as if Bajnai for the moment fully accepted the general mood in the society – because the creation of a cooperative atmosphere is the foremost objective, without which, democracy is doomed to failure in any case.

  5. Now that I read Sandor’s comment, I understand that the suggestions of Bajnai might be understood as some serious offer from Bajnai to cooperate with OV after the next elections? I do not know of course whether this is a tactical move or meant seriously, but I think it cannot be anything different from tactical because with the new election law, Fidesz will not need any coalition partner after the next elections, and in the unlikely event that they might need such partner, OV will rightly consider this a major failure and certainly will not stay boss of Fidesz. So for me these offers of Bajnai can be only directed to the Hungarian voters, of which many currently repeat the national crede, and who still should be won for a less stupid programme than that of OV.

  6. I just lost all my respect for Bajnai, if I ever had any. There is not one politician who stands on principal in Hungary. ( For that matter they be extinct everywhere).

  7. Thomas :

    I just lost all my respect for Bajnai, if I ever had any. There is not one politician who stands on principal in Hungary. ( For that matter they be extinct everywhere).

    I’m very disappointed. He is not really a politician and his advisers lead him in the wrong direction.

  8. Sándor: “Very well, by all means go ahead and outline those ideas.
    But in the meantime I should like to state clearly my opinion (before you might convince me otherwise), that this bunch of yahoos in Fidesz are completely discredited for the purposes of a compromise. Not to mention that they are not showing any interest in a compromise themselves.”

    Why do you think that I want to convince you otherwise? I myself don’t believe that such a compromise could be possible. How can one combine democratic principles with an autocratic structure? I don’t think that it is possible.

  9. Wooow. There were some 8 commenters, who raised their voices that – at the anniversary of one of the most shocking traumas of the XXth century Hungarian history – perhaps You, as a historian, should pay more attention to Trianon. An entire blog entry, maybe… given the fact that there are restrictive laws on Hungarian minorities in the neighbouring countries, so Trianon and the peace treaty of Paris have their own negative legal effect to us. And You got to the conclusion that the FIDESZ followers are insane, because they do not care much about some guy’s report which will be amended at least 300 times in a legislative body, which is not really a legislative body, but a consultative one, and the report itself focused on such legal issues, that can be hardly explained even in Hungarian.

    The problem with this blog is, that You have a strong preconception towards this region (the revival of nationalism + antisemitism due to Orbán and Hungary.) and You only pick up sources which prove Your point. Absolutely no empathy, will to understand the thinking of the opposite side from the inside. Why don’t You write an article on the minority rights of the Hungarians in Slovakia for example? Jewish renessaince in Hungary? You don’t want to explain or understand the politics of Mr. Orbán – this, revival of nationalism, etc issues explains nothing. What would You do here as a politician? Or at least why don’t You come home and give lectures here at the universities?

    And yes, perhaps Tormay Cecil was not the brightest writer of her own time, or of the Hungarian literature, but her book is important because it clearly shows that shock of the Hungarian society during the events of 1918-1920, and how PEOPLE reacts (not only Hungarians) to terror (scapegoat-finding, generalisation from the fact that 17 out of the 18 commissioners were Jewish, therefor Jews were responsible for everything etc). We must face this and learn from it to cope with similar future situation. But it is a shame that from this date, 4th of June, all You were able to do is devoting an article to her who was almost killed,almost raped, got terrified and had obviously bad psychological condition. All You did was mocking her, as if in her exile she should have known alternative historical explanations and top secret infos which were only decades later became public.

    In the past, in the Communist regime only one opinion was allowed: it was fascism here, Hungarian fascists, and the neighbouring countries agreed etc and keep repeating it surely granted academic careers in the US, cause it fitted in the US mainstream culture. Things are bit different from here.

    Now the pendulum swings back, repressed ideas come up and maybe it gives You the impression that there is a rewriting of the history. Please don’t bring up some C-class stupid politician/ “historian” to prove Your point, that fascism is rising – official school history textbooks does not contain that shit . There were so many fractures in the XXth century in the Hungarian History, that we lost the continuity, lost our traditions, the past must have been forgotten etc and the present conservative government – just like ANY conservative government – tries to pick up those elements of our past which we can be proud of, or we can not forget even though they are unacceptable today. Guess what – there won’t be Tormay street in Budapest. I got the impression that You hate the entire Hungarian conservativism and uses every possible occasion to mock it.
    if You describe only one side of the story – of any story – obviously You provoke harsh reaction, which is basically good ’cause You can give lectures to undereducated people and win…

    And no, there is no relativisation of the Horthy regime – people simply do not care much about it. And as time goes on, and emotions are cooling off historians are trying to reevaluate things. What options had Hungary/Hitler got in the WWII? With a population of some 500000 Germans in a war, where Hitler invaded his former ally, Poland, just because it didn’t give free motorway to Danzig(German city!), and the British and French did simply nothing. And no, the Hungarian war criminals must have been punished. But reports of the Soviet Secret Service on the massacres of the Hungarian troops in the USSR? From the very same Secret Service which carried out and later denied the Katyn massacre? Which carried out murders charging people with collaborating the nazis, just to intimidate Soviet citizens during the the civil war in the Soviet Union during WW2 (not everyone loved MR. Stalin even among the Soviets). You must be kidding… Is this a rewriting of the history? And yes, Mr. Károlyi was a jerk, totally incapable of governing a country falling apart, later got totally fancy about communism, – even Mr. Jászi was shocked how stupid he got – and resigned only after the Rajk-trial (communist internal war), did not give a shit about the peasants, in 1919, he partitioned some of their land to the other peasants, cause he simply did not know where his lands were… Is this rewriting?

    Finally, trust me, I read the new constitution of Hungary, it is not that bad, compared for example to the Austrian where they fixed at a constitutional level how the taxi prices should be calculated or some similar “very important issue” … And I don’t care about the newest hero of the opposition, Mr. Tavares and his lousy report, no matter how much his image is being built up.

  10. Eva S. Balogh :

    Thomas :
    I just lost all my respect for Bajnai, if I ever had any. There is not one politician who stands on principal in Hungary. ( For that matter they be extinct everywhere).

    I’m very disappointed. He is not really a politician and his advisers lead him in the wrong direction.

    Yeah, good king bad advisors…

  11. Eva S. Balogh :

    Why do you think that I want to convince you otherwise? I myself don’t believe that such a compromise could be possible. How can one combine democratic principles with an autocratic structure? I don’t think that it is possible.

    Phew! I was worried.
    So, How about my candidate? Would you join me in supporting her candidacy? Might as well since you have came this far.

  12. Sándor’s candidate. I like her and apparently she is the most popular woman politician in Hungary. But, let’s face it, there are very few of them in the first place.

    She has one problem and that is a big one. She belongs to Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Demokratikus Koalíció and as you know Orbán managed “to amortize” Gyurcsány to use Zsolt Semjén’s expression. “To amortize” in this sense means “to liquidate.” My feeling is that eventually Gyurcsány will be a player in Hungarian politics but not now.

  13. London Calling!

    Eva – a very very good analysis of your readers views – and a perspicacious summary of the sins of the opposition.

    “This defeatist attitude may be displaced…”

    As one of the ‘defeatists’ – obviously, I would like to pre-empt you just a little as Sandor has done. And I look forward to the next instalment.

    I believe that the only way Orban will be defeated is via his right hand – who is now governor of the bank – and via his Finance Minister.

    Yes – It’s the economy stupid.

    There is an unusual phenomenon occurring in Hungarian economics – I would say unique. And it is so unique I have coined a word.

    Ungrowth.

    While Orban is so desperate to encourage growth in the economic sphere – his political actions more than overwhelm the smallest ‘green-shoots’ of growth. They are swamped. (Just like my house might be soon!)

    Yes the Hungarian economy is being swamped by ‘Ungrowth’.

    Demographically the young are leaving – and their disposable income – however small is lost. Ungrowth. As the aged demographic statistically grows they have less money to spend. More Ungrowth.

    As Orban nationalises the energy companies and reduces energy bills, any extra disposable income goes on the desperate pay-back of disastrous foreign currency mortgages. Which worsen because Matolcsy lowers interest rates inexorably which weakens the forint. Ungrowth.

    All those who converted their mortgages may not be exposed to currency risk – but their forint mortgages are much more expensive. Ungrowth.

    Growth is really Demand. And Ungrowth negates it in Hungary in a way that has never occurred in other countries. This is why inflation is so low and interest rates can be lowered. Ungrowth.

    There is no inflation because there is no demand – a very bad way of lowering it!

    Yes other countries have failed spectacularly – but Orban’s ‘Ponzi’ scheme is still finding ‘investors’ – and the only question is when it will collapse.

    He hopes to make it to the elections – and many of us ‘defeatists’ believe he will.

    My Ungrowth list could be much much longer – and many on here will have other examples.

    But the economy is the Achilles heel of Fidesz – and that’s the only place a united opposition should concentrate their weaponry.

    The only place – it’s the economy stupid, Bajnai and Mesterhazy et al.

    …and that unique Hungarian ‘Ungrowth’.

    Regards

    Charlie

    PS By all means pull me to bits! – I won’t be able to defend myself – I’m flying out tomorrow to get the furniture in the attic – the water is very near the top of the dyke!

  14. leaveyourcommenthere :

    Yeah, good king bad advisors…

    I usually don’t believe in such a proposition but in this case I think I’m right. Bajnai doesn’t have enough political acumen to realize that the advice he is getting is wrong. I did meet quite a few people in my life who were very interested in politics but everything they said about it were all “off the wall.” At least in my opinion. It can happen.

  15. leaveyourcommenthere :

    The problem with this blog is, that You have a strong preconception towards this region (the revival of nationalism + antisemitism due to Orbán and Hungary.) and You only pick up sources which prove Your point. Absolutely no empathy, will to understand the thinking of the opposite side from the inside. Why don’t You write an article on the minority rights of the Hungarians in Slovakia for example? Jewish renessaince in Hungary? You don’t want to explain or understand the politics of Mr. Orbán – this, revival of nationalism, etc issues explains nothing. What would You do here as a politician? Or at least why don’t You come home and give lectures here at the universities?

    No, my dear leavyour…, the problem of this blog is that you have the audacity to come back here again with your unbelievably primitive, left-handed lies, idiocies and ignorance when exactly the very same bilge was roundly rejected just a day ago. To say nothing of your pompous, pious, holier than thou manner that makes me puke.
    You look, taste and read like a mouthpiece for the Christian Democratic party of Tömjén Zsolt: a disgusting hypocrite and an ignoramus, just in case you would not be sure what I mean.
    Get the hell out of my face, while I am this nice to you

  16. “…democracy is doomed to failure…”

    Sad to say, this seems to be the case in Hungary for a host of reasons: I don’t think I should repeat the arguments about twisted education; the over-sized role of the Catholic Church in the life of the country; the predilection of Hungarians to fall for simplistic, romantic nonsense about their uniqueness and greatness–none of these factors tend towards accommodation and a preparedness to compromise, without which a democracy just does not function.

    So then, let’s have a dictator….but could we at least have a dictator who has the interest of the country at heart rather than a thin coterie of his buddies and backers; and who, strangely, harbors some sort of secret hate to Hungary and Hungarians…(Hmm, this sounds like Rogan, doesn’t it?)

  17. BTW, a prelude to the above is my agreement with Sandor in having lost faith in Bajnai. His recent pronouncements are awful. To me, he sounds more like petitioning Orban for the role of second banana, ahead of Mesterhazy.

  18. leaveyourcommenthere :
    Wooow. There were some 8 commenters, who raised their voices that – at the anniversary of one of the most shocking traumas of the XXth century Hungarian history –

    Get over it! We had at least twenty different threads about the subject, the last one two days ago. You want to read more about Trianon on this blog?
    Scroll up to “Search this blog with Google” on the top right, and Enter “Trianon”. Enjoy.
    Now the rest of us can get back to the current affairs of Hungary, thanks to Eva!

  19. Eva S. Balogh :

    She has one problem and that is a big one. She belongs to Ferenc Gyurcsány’s Demokratikus Koalíció and as you know Orbán managed “to amortize” Gyurcsány to use Zsolt Semjén’s expression. “To amortize” in this sense means “to liquidate.” My feeling is that eventually Gyurcsány will be a player in Hungarian politics but not now.

    But that is her ticket exactly! Besides being an experienced and forward-looking politician, she represents the dynamism of DK and yet, she is not Gyurcsany.
    Bajnai and Mesterhazy are neither fish, nor foul people, despite their sympathetic bits. Vadai is a new, fresh dynamic energetic woman with the wise and measured manner that is a politician’s wont. She is also very smart by staying in Gyurcsany’s shadow until her day comes up. She is my candidate. And soon Bajnai and Msterhazy will fall over each other to curry favour with her. Atta girl!

  20. London Calling!

    Leaveyourcommenton……

    Get one thing straight:

    No bordering country will ever cede one square millimetre to ‘undo’ I Rant On.

    Not one millimetre in your lifetime, your children’s lifetime or your children’s children’s lifetime.

    Suck it up.

    Many of us believe Hungary got what it deserved.

    Doesn’t that make you rage, rage, rage into the night?

    Now go.

    Regards

    Charlie

  21. Sandor :

    leaveyourcommenthere :
    The problem with this blog is, that You have a strong preconception towards this region (the revival of nationalism + antisemitism due to Orbán and Hungary.) and You only pick up sources which prove Your point. Absolutely no empathy, will to understand the thinking of the opposite side from the inside. Why don’t You write an article on the minority rights of the Hungarians in Slovakia for example? Jewish renessaince in Hungary? You don’t want to explain or understand the politics of Mr. Orbán – this, revival of nationalism, etc issues explains nothing. What would You do here as a politician? Or at least why don’t You come home and give lectures here at the universities?

    No, my dear leavyour…, the problem of this blog is that you have the audacity to come back here again with your unbelievably primitive, left-handed lies, idiocies and ignorance when exactly the very same bilge was roundly rejected just a day ago. To say nothing of your pompous, pious, holier than thou manner that makes me puke.
    You look, taste and read like a mouthpiece for the Christian Democratic party of Tömjén Zsolt: a disgusting hypocrite and an ignoramus, just in case you would not be sure what I mean.
    Get the hell out of my face, while I am this nice to you

    Mint minden kezdet, ez is nehéz volt, de manapság már 400-500 olvasója van a Hungarian Spectrum-nak. Amire igazán büszke vagyok az a kommentek magas színvonala és az a stílus, amely jellemzi őket. A magyar internetes hozzászólok tanulhatnának belőlük.

    http://galamus.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=48&Itemid=76

    Seriuosly, it gives me this impression:

  22. CharlieH :
    London Calling!
    Leaveyourcommenton……
    Get one thing straight:
    No bordering country will ever cede one square millimetre to ‘undo’ I Rant On.
    Not one millimetre in your lifetime, your children’s lifetime or your children’s children’s lifetime.
    Suck it up.
    Many of us believe Hungary got what it deserved.
    Doesn’t that make you rage, rage, rage into the night?
    Now go.
    Regards
    Charlie

    Mint minden kezdet, ez is nehéz volt, de manapság már 400-500 olvasója van a Hungarian Spectrum-nak. Amire igazán büszke vagyok az a kommentek magas színvonala és az a stílus, amely jellemzi őket. A magyar internetes hozzászólok tanulhatnának belőlük.

    http://galamus.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=48&Itemid=76

    Moderating herself would be fun….

  23. London Calling! (Finally!)

    100% O/T – Just a conumdrum. My dilemma.

    Saint Orban says the dykes will hold.

    The (Government) scientists say the Danube will peak at 920cms – at a dyke which can take 960cms.

    The floods in Passau have never been experienced since firstly the 14th century – then 12th century.

    And the Hungarian dykes have never been tested to the predicted 920cm level (the previous record high was 875cms).

    With a 40cm ‘safety’ margin.

    Unknown unknowns.

    So if a (Government) scientist really believed (or analysed the data) such that the water was higher than the dykes…

    And against Saint Orban’s fiat….

    Would he be brave enough to say? And risk loosing his job? What is the ‘fear’ factor in this equation?

    Interesting times ahead.

    Regards

    Charlie

  24. I still have faith in Gordo. And only in him.

    Congrats to the HVG for the irresponsible headline. What he is saying is that we all have our pet traumas, but we have to respect each-other’s problems. You commemorate whatever is your favorite – just don’t don’t let the government decide which is the “good” one.

    This Zeit article is by the way 3 month old. Nothing new in it.

    What he is promoting is a compromise but not with the Fidesz but with the right wing voters who are disappointed. I think it is obvious for him that there is no way to negotiate with Orban. The target is the growing number of Fidesz refugees.

    This is a very sad thing. Both the MSZP and the Fidesz are fighting now the only man who is trying to unite the nation. Their logic is simple. Get more people to hate the other side and they’ll win.

    Forget the MSZP! Support Gordo!

  25. I like Vadai. But considering the brain washed masses in Hungary there is no way that anything that is associated with Gyurcsany can gain serious support. This is a tragedy but also a reality.

  26. Mutt: I agree with the first comment. I’m curious to read Eva’s suggestions. The traditional left-wing approach that used to work for MSZP pre-2006 has utterly failed. Bajnai is at least trying something new. Maybe it won’t be successful or not immediately but at least it’s not just reciting lines from the big old MSZP playbook like a parrot. Plus, it is indeed clear from the interview that he’s talking about reaching over Fidesz’s voter base. Even if this is an effort in vain for 2014 the principle is right. This endless hatred between the political sides has to end eventually.

    I can’t come up with any reason why anybody would vote for Mesterházy/MSZP other than that he’s not Orbán/Fidesz. Pretty slim reason for election.

    I don’t like Vadai though, I find her spectacularly theatrical and annoying. I first read Eva’s comment about the most popular female politician and I had no clue who she was talking about. I think DK is overhyped by the people who love Gyurcsány, but if they don’t sneak themselves into a deal with one of the other opposition parties then we’ll be hearing much less from them in the following years.

  27. Bajnai reaching for dissatisfied Fidesz voters is nonsense. He was best to stand by his record–geese or no geese–and repeating, time and again, his successes during his brief tenure as leader. At least he would’ve presented a clear alternative to Orban. Let the disaffected come to HIM, rather than him stooping and groveling.

    I think he has shot his bolt straight up in the air and it has landed in his own foot…

  28. Ok, since we live in fantasy land…

    Anjan as President,
    Bokros and Bekesi as joint leaders…how’s that?

  29. petofi :
    Bajnai reaching for dissatisfied Fidesz voters is nonsense.

    It is if you word it like this. They are not just dissatisfied Fidesz voters. They were not Fidesz fans when they voted for them in 2010. They just sucked in all the bs that Orban told them about the “other side”. Now they are comparing the 20B HUF dividends this year of the Simicska companies to Zuschlag’s measly 70 million and quietly bang their heads into the wall.

    There is something that can be characterized as conservative right in Hungary that is immune to the Fidesz mind tricks. But you have to give them something. By the way this freakin Trianon thing is something we can give them. Aight! I sing your crappy apricot song with you after the Szekler anthem! Lets drink to greater Hungary! Just help me to get rid of corruption or we go down together like a lead balloon …

  30. Mutt: “By the way this freakin Trianon thing is something we can give them.”

    There’s more to it. If we actually entered the conversation with some genuine input, we might eventually be able to get it back from the right/hard-right. There is so much we gave to them. The other day my girlfriend and I were talking about tattoos. I’m not a big fan but the point is that she said, you should put something on that reminds you of your home. That got me thinking.

    Obviously I’d automatically associate putting anything Hungary related on my body with being one of those Hungarist morons. Why is that? Why is it that all our national symbols are monopolized by the right wing?

    Then I realized that this could only happen because we let them take it from us. When they said put on the kokárda and they did and we didn’t, we gave it up to them. There are so many more examples. Maybe it’s time to take it back.

  31. Petőfi: MSZP winning in 2014 is just as much nonsense so I think I’ll just roll with my favorite nonsense and you roll with yours.

  32. Orban can be beaten. It’s possible to find a way to reach an electoral victory over Fidesz. I have no idea how, but we need to figure it out.

    At this point, maybe we should stop worrying about the great charismatic leader that will save Hungary. We all have to become that leader collectively.

    Let’s work with what we have. The democratic opposition is divided, so we should find ways to turn that into an advantage.

    Orban’s greatest weakness, judging from the polls, is that most Hungarians are completely disgusted with all political parties. Most Hungarians don’t want to talk about politics, but that does not mean that they are rabid Orban supporters. The average person is not like you are I- they don’t get upset by the Louis Kovaches and the Letos- they ignore them.

    We will never convince Orban of anything, but we don’t have to. We need to focus on our base of voters, expand out to the apathetic majority, and let Fidesz be their own worst enemy. If we eke out a victory, then Fidesz will want to compromise.

  33. Jano :
    Petőfi: MSZP winning in 2014 is just as much nonsense so I think I’ll just roll with my favorite nonsense and you roll with yours.

    What ever gave you the idea I was for MSZP?
    Perish the thought! I dislike Mesterhazy, who seems
    to me to be an ideal front for the same old back room boys.

    Right now, I’d back either Bekesi or Bokros.

  34. @gardon

    “It’s possible to find a way to reach an electoral victory over Fidesz.”

    No, it’s not. Corruption is rife; and Orban and Fidesz have the run of the country. They won’t give it up. If Orban doesn’t believe in democracy, what makes people believe that he believes in the integrity of the voting system? You forget the 1,000,000 votes ex-patria…which are to be ‘counted’ by Fidesz government officers…enuff said.

  35. petofi :
    @gardon
    “It’s possible to find a way to reach an electoral victory over Fidesz.”
    No, it’s not. Corruption is rife; and Orban and Fidesz have the run of the country. They won’t give it up. If Orban doesn’t believe in democracy, what makes people believe that he believes in the integrity of the voting system? You forget the 1,000,000 votes ex-patria…which are to be ‘counted’ by Fidesz government officers…enuff said.

    Ya know, I don’t really know if Fidesz has rigged the next elections or not. You might be right….. but I refuse to wallow in defeatism.

    Let’s learn some lessons from Orban. He seemed completely defeated just a few years ago, and he came back. A bit of over-optimism can be a powerful tool.

  36. Poll by median, sample taken between May 24 and 28, sample size =1200.
    May 2013 [May 2012]

    Fidesz 29% [22%]
    Jobbik 10% [11%]
    democratic opposition 27% [23%]

    don’t know/don’t say 33% [42%]

    Level of positive sentiment of party leaders:

    Orban 35%
    Mesterházy 33%
    Bajnai 32%
    Vona 27%
    Vadai 26%
    Schiffer 25%
    Gyurcsány 21%

    Is Hungary heading in the right direction in general?

    Yes 26% [16%]
    No 66% [76%]

    Do you want the Orban government to stay in power after the 2014 election?

    Yes 33%
    No 56%

    http://median.hu/object.71e5f611-7c3f-4fa6-bd9b-5687855b224a.ivy

  37. I might be wrong but my understanding was that Bajnai had only referred to the citizenship of Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries, and never said anything about their voting rights. Since I do not see how that citizenship could now be revoked, this seems to me as the only realistic approach. Otherwise I think very highly of your blogs, and this was the first one I did agree with a 100 percent. I am going to vote for Bajnai, not because his is an ideal candidate, but because given the alternatives and the timeframe there is simply no alternative. The truth is even I know very little about Ágnes Vadai, and I spent quite a lot of time reading about Hungarian politics. I would love to see a female politician as the Hungarian PM, and the sooner the better, but not an MSZP candidate who would have to deal with that terrible MSZP parliamentary faction, and I certainly do not believe that ten month would be enough to present a new face in Hungarian politics as a serious contender for the job of the prime minister.

  38. I tend to disagree with this assesment. First, Bajnai (or anyone for that matter) should tell the truth-even if it seems to be pandering to the right. For example, I have said on this comments page a number of times that for all of the manifold faults of Orban and FIDESZ-overt anti-semitism is not one of them. And focusing on this issue is self defeating. It is sensible to attack and vilify JOBBIK, but to focus on Jews and the Roma is a losing strategy (and as far as the Jews are concerned-just a wrong one). Second, Bajnai (I think) believes that FIDESZ is not monolithic. In fact, we all know that is the case. We also know that the resentment towards Orban and his clique within FIDESZ is growing among lower level officials/members. The main reason for this is that the spoils of the historic levels of corruption are not being shared at all. Bajnai wants to message these people not to fear a total blood letting if the opposition wins. This may not win over a lot of votes, but the key is to keep the grass root members from being so scared of a change in Government that they work really hard for the Victator’s re-election. Third, there is an element of the population who remain deeply nationalistic but are losing out economically (think -again only as a small example-the thousands of small shop owners that lived of cigarette sales). A decent number of these middle and lower middle class types need to be converted to have a chance of winning.
    Unfortunately, Bajnai has two much more real problems. (1) He is a great guy, but not such a great politician (in the retail sense of the word). He also has a small political staff that are not particularly popular (or in my opinion super competent). (2) The MSZP-maybe not Mesterhazy (though possibly him also)- do not want Bajnai. They do not want Orban, but they might just actually prefer FIDESZ, with the MSZP as the sole effective opposition than a non FIDESZ led Government that is not headed and controlled by the MSZP. If nothing else, the inability of the opposition to come together will protect FIDESZ. I think Eva can show us (as she has done so well in the past) petty infighting among so-called allies have doomed Hungarians many times during this country’s inglorious history.

  39. Kristen, I’m sorry to say, but nothing will cause Orbán to lose control of his party, and to him, I believe, symbolism is highly important. So as long as he is in control of Fidesz (which is to say, as long as Fidesz exists), he will be its acknowledged leader, which means Prime Minister if Fidesz is in government (even as a junior partner). Anything less would injure his image of himself and his bloated pride and vanity.

    Eva, its possible that the number of comments on your last post are not indicative of the amount of interest it drew, but rather the lack of controversy it generated. I read it and felt no need to respond to it or to the comments accompanying it, since it was very straightforward and did not cause me to question it. Just because nobody argues with you doesn’t mean nobody heard you.

    As to the content of this post, I would say that it does make some sense to try to seize the middle ground and at least sound conciliatory and cooperative, since Bajnai is not the motivation for people on the left to vote – rather, Orbán provides their motivation. Whoever opposes Orbán from his (Orbán’s) left, even if it’s from the center or slightly to the right of center, will win the votes of those who are outraged by what Fidesz has done. Meanwhile, every vote will count, given the new electoral system, so trying to appeal to those who would normally have voted for MDF or SZDZS, but who voted for Fidesz last time, is a sound political strategy, I think. Normally, you would be right, it’s important to not only motivate your base to get out and vote, but also to convince their less-political friends to do so. However, in the next election, I believe that such motivation will be there as long as there is a decent, non-polarizing alternative who stands a chance, such as Bajnai. Not everyone who voted for Fidesz in the last election is part of Orbán’s base, as the polls have shown consistently for 3 years. Get them to vote for Bajnai by appealing to the issues that matter to them, and also keep from labeling them as irrelevant, and you might just gather enough votes to beat Fidesz.

  40. Ervin :

    I might be wrong but my understanding was that Bajnai had only referred to the citizenship of Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries, and never said anything about their voting rights.

    That is not my understanding. Mesterházy doesn’t dare to say anything about it but I heard Szigetvári who is the political strategist behind Bajnai to say that Együtt 2014 supports the status quo. Gyurcsány was the only one that naturally their citizenship cannot be revoked but they shouldn’t be able to vote.

  41. leaveyourcommenthere :

    Sandor :

    leaveyourcommenthere :
    The problem with this blog is, that You have a strong preconception towards this region (the revival of nationalism + antisemitism due to Orbán and Hungary.) and You only pick up sources which prove Your point. Absolutely no empathy, will to understand the thinking of the opposite side from the inside. Why don’t You write an article on the minority rights of the Hungarians in Slovakia for example? Jewish renessaince in Hungary? You don’t want to explain or understand the politics of Mr. Orbán – this, revival of nationalism, etc issues explains nothing. What would You do here as a politician? Or at least why don’t You come home and give lectures here at the universities?

    No, my dear leavyour…, the problem of this blog is that you have the audacity to come back here again with your unbelievably primitive, left-handed lies, idiocies and ignorance when exactly the very same bilge was roundly rejected just a day ago. To say nothing of your pompous, pious, holier than thou manner that makes me puke.
    You look, taste and read like a mouthpiece for the Christian Democratic party of Tömjén Zsolt: a disgusting hypocrite and an ignoramus, just in case you would not be sure what I mean.
    Get the hell out of my face, while I am this nice to you

    Mint minden kezdet, ez is nehéz volt, de manapság már 400-500 olvasója van a Hungarian Spectrum-nak. Amire igazán büszke vagyok az a kommentek magas színvonala és az a stílus, amely jellemzi őket. A magyar internetes hozzászólok tanulhatnának belőlük.

    No thanks to you, if that should be the case. But it is not.
    In fact, if that were the case it is despite your, and your ilk’s, incredibly transparent, sweaty effort to scuttle it.
    By the way, that you lie is obvious again, in as much as the readership of this blog is in excess of 60,000 monthly according to my latest information that is several months old. It is also rising steadily.
    Well, my dear leaveyourcommenthere, if I had my druthers, you would soon leave not your comment, but your pelt here. And not a minute too soon!

  42. Sándor’s figures are correct. The number of visitors daily is around 2,000 but March, for example, was a busy month. Hungarian Spectrum had 77,596 visitors.

  43. When was Obama successful with his appeasement/reaching out politics towards the Republican party? Or the Hungarian left’s? Was Gyula Horn’s Vatican treaty (to finance Catholic institutions from taxpayers money) reciprocated or that he bailed out Magyar Nemzet to held the right wing media?

    Bajnai is mistaken, he and the people around him (his advisors are mostly Buda-side ‘enlightened’ burgeois people) are the quintessential weak left-wing politicians who always give in to the right, who lack leadership and, most importantly, vision.

    They will get nowhere with Fidesz.

    If Fidesz has learnt anything, it is exactly that being aggressive and ruthless always pays off: they triumphed over the EU, the IMF, killed the Hungarian left, are killing the Romanian RMDSZ (the Secler nationalists supported by Fidesz are ascending) and so on.

    Fidesz tamed the media without much fight, they took advantage of the foreign investors who accepted the nationalisations, extra taxes, onerous regulations without a peep (in fact many investors are now going to the government to offer their energy assets like GDF-Suez etc.).

    Why would be in Fidesz’ interest to have any kind of compromise with Bajnai or MSZP? Although to be honest, Fidesz could force these lefty guys into a compromise which would be a fantastic victory for the Hungarian right, I am pretty sure, Bajnai and MSZP would enter into any deal as is their wont.

    Bajnai and the left want to have the self-image that they are open, flexible and generous, so European. The problem is that they are giving up everything in terms of policy and constitutional values (if they had any).

    But being weak, indecisive, visionless, anti-charismatic are the defining characteristics of the current Hungarian (or global) left.

  44. Re the flood. Orbán, after the disaster of the snowstorm, is trying his very best to look competent and be on top of the situation. He doesn’t want a repeat performance. From the television reports it looks as if they managed to get an awfully lot of people to help.

  45. I think Bajnai is trying too hard to be all things to all men. On the one hand he wants to attract the disenchanted voters – thats fine. But then he goes into alliance with MSzP, whom many of the disenchanted voters would never consider voting for. I realise that MSzP brings with it potentially 20% of the electorate, but what % of disenchanted voters do they put off?

  46. Eva S. Balogh :
    Re the flood. Orbán, after the disaster of the snowstorm, is trying his very best to look competent and be on top of the situation. He doesn’t want a repeat performance. From the television reports it looks as if they managed to get an awfully lot of people to help.

    Yes, just take a look at this video. Notice the very low camera angles to make Orban look tall. And the adoring, clapping children near the end!

  47. The issue of Orbán and anti-Semitism is a very tricky one. On the one hand, he and his government say all the right things about zero tolerance for anti-Semitism in Hungary. On the other hand, the government and its close political allies espouse author and rump Arrow Cross parliament member József Nyirő and anti-Semitic writers such as Albert Wass, Dezső Szabó and Cécile Tormay. (The apparent retraction of their original intention to include the former two authors on Hungary’s National Basic Curriculum and to name a public space in Budapest after the latter is part of Orbánism’s frequently used “good cop-bad cop” routine: propose something to appease the extreme nationalists, then revoke it in order to portray itself as the defender of equality and justice). Orbán is clearly prepared to dip into Hungary’s deep well of anti-Semitism in order to legitimize his quest to gain and maintain power, if needed. When a journalist asked Orbán at the time of the formation of the Hungarian Guard in 2007 if a distanced himself from the manifestly radical right-wing, Jobbik-supported organization, he gave the following answer, according to the Fidesz website: “That is a bad expression—I am distanced from you, and from you as well, as you see. That is, you are you and I am myself. The Hungarian Guard is what it is, while we are here.”
    http://www.fidesz.hu/index.php?CikkID=83327

  48. Bowen :

    video … http://most.444.hu/2013/06/06/orban-viktor-uj-filmje-az-arvizrol/

    One would have thought that after the first propaganda film which was the but of jokes they would give up on this sort of films. But no. On top of everything else, in composition this second one is practically the carbon copy of the first. Orbán is in Felcsút. Indicates that he is leaving. He drives the car with other officials. He asks weighty questions but often gets mixed up concerning the details.

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