Reading the “conservative” Magyar Demokrata

A few weeks ago a friend of mine made a quick visit to Hungary and bought some magazines for me–Élet és Irodalom, 168 Óra, Magyar Narancs, HVG, Heti Válasz, and Magyar Demokrata. For those who are not familiar with the political orientation of these magazines, the last two are to the right while the others are to the left of center. Heti Válasz, begun on government money supplied by the first Fidesz government, is the more moderate of the two on the right. Magyar Demokrata, whose editor-in-chief is András Bencsik, one of the organizers of the Peace Marches who also had a hand in the organization of the Hungarian Guard, is a far-right publication known for its anti-Semitic references.

Quickly enough I read all the magazines, with the notable exception of Magyar Demokrata. I kept postponing reading it until this morning when I had a routine doctor’s appointment. Knowing that I invariably have to wait a long time before seeing my doctor, I decided to take along Magyar Demokrata. Let me share some of its content.

József Szájer graces the cover because the issue features a long interview with him about the attacks against the new Hungarian constitution (more below).

András Bencsik, who writes a short op/ed piece in every issue, promises that “the Peace March will continue,” although this time on the Internet. He asks supporters of the Hungarian government to send letters to foreign journalists, politicians, and representatives of civic organizations with the message of Hungarians who feel that their country is being attacked for no good reason. “The truth of a nation is like the blinding sunshine that sends light through the fog of lies.”

Magyar DemokrataAs for the Szájer interview, he and other members of the Hungarian government have repeated often enough that there is absolutely no basis for criticism of the constitution or its amendments. But here he goes further. “As far as sovereignty is concerned, I told members of the Venice Commission it is not the president of the United States, the secretary-general of the Council of Europe, or the president of the European Commission who has the right to adopt Hungary’s Basic Laws.” They will listen to suggestions but they “will not accept that instead of the members of the Hungarian parliament who were democratically elected others want to decide what is in our constitution.” Hungarians who were dependent on foreign powers during the last five hundred years are very sensitive on that issue. “We don’t like it when Comrade Brezhnev tells us what to do. Our current partners must be very careful on this score because otherwise very bad historical parallels might be conjured up.” Otherwise, Szájer couldn’t come up with anything new about the possible causes of western antipathy toward Hungary.

Another article entitled “The Secret” is by Gábor Bencsik, a nephew of András Bencsik who is a Jack of all trades. He’s written about onions as well as Miklós Horthy. He styles himself as a newspaperman and historian and is a proud graduate of Gödöllő, Hungary’s foremost agricultural school. In this piece he tries to discover why liberal intellectuals have such good connections abroad while their right-wing counterparts don’t. The left-liberal intellectual elite in the West was ready to overlook the shortcomings of the Kádár regime but sympathized with the democratic opposition of the liberals. They understood each other’s  language. The right-of-center opposition never developed a close-knit group. They did have a few meetings but then they went home. And they had no connections abroad.

Well, this is a somewhat distorted view of what happened. The sad fact is that there was no right-of-center opposition to the Kádár regime, and therefore it didn’t even occur to the few people who could perhaps be labelled “narodnik” writers to get in touch with western critics of the socialist order in Eastern Europe. Moreover, let’s face it, most of these people were isolated even linguistically. A friend of mine who lives in California told me that he was flabbergasted when he found out that the poet Sándor Csoóri spoke no language other than Hungarian. My friend served as his interpreter when he was in in this country. Well, under such circumstances it is difficult to develop a network with western supporters. Bencsik admits that the Hungarian right still has no avenues that would lead to foreign contacts but “there is hope.” Time will solve the problem; the liberals will get older and eventually die.

Up to this point the tone of the magazine was acceptable. One might not agree with Bencsik and Szájer, but one cannot criticize them for using unacceptable language or expressing racial prejudice. Another op/ed piece by László Gy. Tóth, a political scientist and chief adviser to the prime minister, however, borders on the unacceptable. It is about “Gyula Horn and History.” Here Tóth uses words that are especially objectionable from a so-called political scientist who is an adviser to Viktor Orbán. The article, which is basically a book review, looks at a biography of Gyula Horn by Árpád Pünkösti. First, Tóth describes Pünkösti as “a not too significant left-wing journalist” who tries to make an important politician out of Gyula Horn when in his opinion Horn was no more than “an uneducated communist apparatchik [and] the greatest socialist wordsmith of nothingness.” Horn is described as an immoral and unscrupulous politician who sold Hungarian national wealth to foreigners. This one-sided portrayal is jarring and demonstrates the author’s incredible bias.

When we come to István Gazdag’s article entitled “Red Danny and the Children,” Magyar Demokrata’s anti-Semitism surfaces. Gazdag goes into great detail about Daniel Cohn-Bendit’s sexual aberrations and comes to the conclusion that, although child molestation is a serious crime everywhere in Europe, most likely Cohn-Bendit will not have to worry about jail time because his fellow politicians, including Angela Merkel, will shield him. After all, most likely nothing will happen to Dominique Strauss-Kahn as nothing happened to Roman Polanski. Continuing in an ironic tone, Gazdag writes: “Only a vicious anti-Semite could possibly think that all this has anything to do with their belonging to ‘that nonexistent lobby‘. Naturally, such a claim is without any foundation. Honni soit qui mal y pense.”

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40 comments

  1. To the people who still insist that the Fidesz is not an anti-semitic party. Szajer, the Fidesz big wig, gives an interview to this anti-semitic rag. This still doesn’t prove it?

  2. The old Horthyism is becoming a Hungarian universal faith, and people flock to it in the hope of economical gains.
    The old formula is at work.
    The government loyalists will be empowered to loot the infidels.

  3. I happen to know that Daniel Cohn-Bendit has never been a child molester. For a non-liberal and uneducated readership he might have been too open about his experiences in an avant-garde day-care centre where children were allowed to experiment with their own sexuality (who doesn’t remember similar things at that age?). This was in the late 60s, early 70s when new societal forms were tried out in Germany. To criticise or condemn him is either ignorant or hypocritical.

    One has to read his book to really understand the circumstances and the role he had. He has never been a pedophile.

  4. Gutter-journalism is very popular in Orbanistan. To write, that the German chancellor is protecting somebody from criminal investigation is to project Hungarian practice on Germany. See http://www.parlament.hu/naplo39/138/n138_114.htm

    The German Historian Detlev J.K. Peukert wrote about the National Socialist utopia of the Volksgemeinschaft : “The image of ‘the Jew’ as the root of all evil, ‘pulling strings’ behind the scenes, was an ideological synthesis of diffused anxieties about civilization and separate, selfcontradictory racialist notions, all focused on a political target. The very diversity of actual modern Jewish experience was taken to point to the existence of the mythical hate-figure of the essential ‘Jew’ lurking behind the most disperate appearances…
    The more the Nazis’ unmasking of racial enemies failed to deliver the promised concord of Volksgemeinschaft and the solution of society’s real problems and contradictions, the more radical and ruthless had to be the destructive pressure exerted against the ‘community aliens’. “

    Well there will be no racialist elimination in Hungary. However propaganda is directed against ‘idlers’, ‘asocial’ homeless, homosexuals, the disabled, and the ideal of Orbanistan is social-Darwinist practice. “Aliens” are political opponents, the ‘asocial’ and as Sándor Lezsák called them “cosmopolitan parasites.”
    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2008/10/26/ottokar-prohaszka-and-antisemitism/

  5. Demokrata is simply Fidesz’s party media for the extreme right voter segment.

    It is a party mouthpiece, nothing more.

    Heti Válasz is for the “moderate” (i.e. 100% loyal) Fidesz voters, Demokrata is for the militant, fanatic, Jobbik-sympthatizer Fidesz voters.

    There are other voter segments for which there exits Fidesz media obviously, like the free Metropol (the successor of the free Metro daily) which is for the unsuspecting average joes and the list goes on.

    It is a sophisticated media strategy, that’s all.

  6. Headlines from Budapest

    1.
    It was not the Jobbik faction but Mayor Tarlos himself who wanted to name something public after anti-Semitic writer Tormay.
    2.
    Margitsziget is still closed by police, although there is no damage and the water level does not justify this. Will it be declared a private playground for Fideszniks?
    Will Orban and Tarlos announce in a joint press conference on the island on July 1 that hundreds of trees will be felled, so they prevent a repetition of Taksim square by occupying the island in advance?

    3.
    It seems that Tarlos can also establish his special military police unit.

    Premier Orban has TEK since 2010,
    Speaker Kover has Parliament Guards
    President Ader has his own guards

    and today

    Mayor Tarlos formed FORI (Fővárosi Önkormányzati Rendészeti Igazgatóság).

  7. I recall, 11 years ago, a series of articles in Demokrata that insinuated Mossad involvement in 9/11 (though this was through their habitual long, convoluted sentences that may have meant nothing at all). I was shocked THEN that Demokrata was a mainstream publication widely available on every newsstand. I am even more shocked now that, unchanged in style or conviction, it is an official government mouthpiece. Hopeless. Utterly. Hopeless.

  8. 4. There is no money for a lot of things in Budapest, but Tarlos found money for

    David Vitezy, a relative of Orban’s and a son of an oligarch, who heads the [unneccessary] public transport company BKK, created for him that oversees the actual transport company BKV.

    32% yearly bonus (more than 6 million HUF added to his 19+ million salary)

    Another 22 milllion went to 5 other well-placed apparatchiks.

    http://www.napi.hu/magyar_gazdasag/sokmillios_jutalmakat_osztanak_budapesten.556340.html

  9. “Tóth uses words that are especially objectionable from a so-called political scientist who is an adviser to Viktor Orbán”

    This “so-called” political scientist is, unlike you, a political scientist by his university degree. You are absolutely not in the position to question his education.

  10. tappanch :
    4. There is no money for a lot of things in Budapest, but Tarlos found money for
    David Vitezy, a relative of Orban’s and a son of an oligarch, who heads the [unneccessary] public transport company BKK, created for him that oversees the actual transport company BKV.
    32% yearly bonus (more than 6 million HUF added to his 19+ million salary)
    Another 22 milllion went to 5 other well-placed apparatchiks.
    http://www.napi.hu/magyar_gazdasag/sokmillios_jutalmakat_osztanak_budapesten.556340.html

    Vitézy, unlike your span Szalainé Szilágyi Eleonóra with her 100-million stolen severance pay, did an incredibly good job in managing BKK, the transport holding of the city.
    Budapest developed more in the last 3 years than in the previous 20 years combined.

  11. @Johnny Boy

    I do not defend the individual contract Szalayne had been allowed to sign.
    But she had to give back her excessive severance pay she received after, say 30 years of work.

    Vitezy on the other hand, will not give back any money. He is an example of the rampant, systemic Fidesz nepotism. The company created for him is absolutely not needed.

    “Budapest developed more in the last 3 years than in the previous 20 years combined.”

    List me any positive development in the last three years.

    Even if you live in Gül Hill, aka Rózsadomb, you cannot claim this with straight face.

  12. Johnny Boy :

    tappanch :
    4. There is no money for a lot of things in Budapest, but Tarlos found money for
    David Vitezy, a relative of Orban’s and a son of an oligarch, who heads the [unneccessary] public transport company BKK, created for him that oversees the actual transport company BKV.
    32% yearly bonus (more than 6 million HUF added to his 19+ million salary)
    Another 22 milllion went to 5 other well-placed apparatchiks.
    http://www.napi.hu/magyar_gazdasag/sokmillios_jutalmakat_osztanak_budapesten.556340.html

    Vitézy, unlike your span Szalainé Szilágyi Eleonóra with her 100-million stolen severance pay, did an incredibly good job in managing BKK, the transport holding of the city.
    Budapest developed more in the last 3 years than in the previous 20 years combined.

    When I was 4 weeks ago in Budapest I saw a lot of shops closed and a lot of decrepit buildings. I could not see that Budapest developed more in the last 3 years than in the previous 20 years including the four years 1998-2002 when Viktor Orbán was the primeminister.

  13. Update: “green card” bond scandal [my term]

    Foreign applicant —-> 290,000 euros —–> Offshore company
    Offshore company —-> 221,000 euros —–> Hungary

    In return, Hungary gives a nominally 250,000 euro bond to the Offshore company and
    a permanent Hungarian, therefore European residence permit to the investor/applicant.
    The [unnecessary] intermediary receives a hefty 69,000 euros in profit for each investor.
    40,000 euros in fees and 29,000 in price discount.

    in 5 years:

    Hungary —-> 275,000 euros ——> Offshore company
    Offshore company —-> 275,000 euros [??] —-> foreign applicant

    The actual cost of the bond corresponds to 4.5% yearly interest for Hungary, since 1.045^5= 1.246 is about 275/221= 1.244.

    The market yield of a 5-year government bond bottomed at 4.6% on May 20th.

    The actual cost of the European “green card” for the investor/applicant is just 15,000 euros.

    The intermediary receives [at least] 24%= 69/290 of the money, a nice rate of profit.

    Will any of the profit go to Fidesz apparatchiks or oligarchs that selected the intermediary offshore company?

  14. I just heard on radio that Premier Orban wants to move his offices up to (Royal) Castle Hill.

    When will he crown himself?

  15. Endre Hann, a pollster (at Medián) says that half of Fidesz voters are abolutely OK with a Fidesz-Jobbik coalition.

    Now that is a lot of people.

    Not that I had any doubt that Fidesz will cooperate with Jobbik (they have been doing so in municipalities for years) both in government (even if Fidesz would be in minority) or especially if the constitution needed to be amended (which could be important even to Fidesz which prepard the fifth amendmnet since it pushed through its new constitution in 2011; the opposition simply cannot govern with the current constitution).

    Anyway, we haven’t seen nothing yet.

    Meanwhile: the left is absolutely nowhere in the media. Even in the minuscule non-Fidesz party media they do not exist. It’s actually a kind of weird how invisible they are. This is a lamness of unprecedented proportions especially when compared to Fidesz’s activity in opposition.

  16. There has been far too little talk concerning the prospects of a Fidesz/Jobbik coalition. It has been obvious for a long time that this would inevitably happen, if the electoral maths demanded (as they may very well do). Such a scenario may even lead to hardened anti-Fidezs types voting for Fidesz, as the polls stack up, in order to an open return to the forties.

  17. Johnny Boy :
    “Tóth uses words that are especially objectionable from a so-called political scientist who is an adviser to Viktor Orbán”
    This “so-called” political scientist is, unlike you, a political scientist by his university degree. You are absolutely not in the position to question his education.

    ESPECIALLY, if that honored degree was earned in HUNGARY, the home of plagiarism and the purchased degree as to special order!

    Oh, you medieval saps!

  18. Jobbik is a creation of Orban and Fidesz, partially to act as a foil. It is similar to Russia’s two pro-government parties, United Russia and A Just Russia. Once Putin was selected by United Russia, he set up the other party as a place to park those who fell out from United Russia.

    Orban, whether he admits it or not, is a student, if not more, of Papa Putin.

  19. petofi :

    Johnny Boy :
    “Tóth uses words that are especially objectionable from a so-called political scientist who is an adviser to Viktor Orbán”
    This “so-called” political scientist is, unlike you, a political scientist by his university degree. You are absolutely not in the position to question his education.

    ESPECIALLY, if that honored degree was earned in HUNGARY, the home of plagiarism and the purchased degree as to special order!
    Oh, you medieval saps!

    Doesn’t happen to often but I agree 100%. Hungarian degrees have been degraded, thanks to Fidesz. Maybe they need a new designation Sch. THis way we can commemorate Pal Schmitt forever, and it would also show how much Fidesz achieved the last few years.

  20. Ivan :
    There has been far too little talk concerning the prospects of a Fidesz/Jobbik coalition. It has been obvious for a long time that this would inevitably happen, if the electoral maths demanded (as they may very well do). Such a scenario may even lead to hardened anti-Fidezs types voting for Fidesz, as the polls stack up, in order to an open return to the forties.

    It was always a “good cop”, “bad cop” game. Only the blind id not see it, and those close to it, refused to see it.

  21. tappanch :

    I just heard on radio that Premier Orban wants to move his offices up to (Royal) Castle Hill.

    When will he crown himself?

    To be precise he wants to move into the Sándor Palace that used to be the office and apartment of the prime minister before 1945. This is old cherished dream of his. In fact, he practically rebuilt the palace that was heavily damaged during the siege and was ready to move in when he lost the elections. He doesn’t give up easily. The man knows no bonds.

  22. Some1 :

    petofi :

    Johnny Boy :
    “Tóth uses words that are especially objectionable from a so-called political scientist who is an adviser to Viktor Orbán”
    This “so-called” political scientist is, unlike you, a political scientist by his university degree. You are absolutely not in the position to question his education.

    ESPECIALLY, if that honored degree was earned in HUNGARY, the home of plagiarism and the purchased degree as to special order!
    Oh, you medieval saps!

    Doesn’t happen to often but I agree 100%. Hungarian degrees have been degraded, thanks to Fidesz. Maybe they need a new designation Sch. THis way we can commemorate Pal Schmitt forever, and it would also show how much Fidesz achieved the last few years.

    Didn’t Schmidt promise to return to university?
    I’d love to have a picture of him behind a desk, listening to a lecture…

    Wasn’t there a character in the lil-abner cartoons that walked around with a cloud above his head?

  23. Just saw the “North Korean State News” on M2 – among other propaganda Orbàn opening a new production line or something in Györ at the Audi facility – of course it was only his marvelous work that lead Audi to invest and hire several 100 people …

    My wife got so angry, she’ll probably watch no Hungarian news for the next week!

    At least we have the Spectrum and National Geographic channels when we’re to tired to read …

  24. Eva S. Balogh :

    tappanch :
    I just heard on radio that Premier Orban wants to move his offices up to (Royal) Castle Hill.
    When will he crown himself?

    To be precise he wants to move into the Sándor Palace that used to be the office and apartment of the prime minister before 1945. This is old cherished dream of his. In fact, he practically rebuilt the palace that was heavily damaged during the siege and was ready to move in when he lost the elections. He doesn’t give up easily. The man knows no bonds.

    Yeah and the tax payers of Hungary need to pay for no having bonds. http://www.tax-news.com/news/Hungary_Confirms_Tax_For_Unexpected_Financial_Obligations____61052.html

  25. tappanch :
    @Johnny Boy
    I do not defend the individual contract Szalayne had been allowed to sign.
    But she had to give back her excessive severance pay she received after, say 30 years of work.
    Vitezy on the other hand, will not give back any money. He is an example of the rampant, systemic Fidesz nepotism. The company created for him is absolutely not needed.
    “Budapest developed more in the last 3 years than in the previous 20 years combined.”
    List me any positive development in the last three years.
    Even if you live in Gül Hill, aka Rózsadomb, you cannot claim this with straight face.

    You are kidding, right? Each and every sentence of yours is the exact opposite of the truth.
    She did NOT give back her severance pay because the Constitutional Court nullified the retrospective tax law that was tailor made for her case. And she was re-employed immediately after getting the severance pay. This fact clearly proves that the action was pure theft.
    Vitézy is the head of the transport holding that frankly saved investments worthy cca 200 billion (!) HUF. That money was almost lost. They dragged back the Alstom contract from the edge of the cliff, saved the almost lost EU funds for subway line 4, re-negotiated with Siemens to save the city from having to pay most of the indemnity, and pretty much consolidated the running costs of BKV. Tarlós, in addition, won the lawsuit to save a few bln again in the CET investment. And these are just quickly from my memory, this is only a tiny part of the list.
    Check your sources, get your facts straight.

  26. @Johnny Boy

    Let me start by stating that I am not an expert in the topic and the previous mayor must have made a lot of mistakes in overseeing the public transport company..

    —————
    Re: Alstom contract

    It was AFTER the Fidesz takeover that the metro carriages were rejected, so Alstom sued.
    Fidesz solved the problem Fidesz created.

    Chronology:
    http://autohirek.hu/tart/cikk/i/0/162547/1/auto/Az_Alstomszerzodes

    —————-
    Re: Eu funds for metro #4

    EU has never threatened to withhold the money if Hungary fulfills the terms of the contract.

    http://vastagbor.blog.hu/2012/06/19/dugodij_nelkul
    ———–

    Re: BKV deficit

    There was a deficit before 2010, there is a deficit now.

    http://nol.hu/belfold/20130220-hianyzik_a_bkv_tobb_tizmilliardja

    ————

    Look at the new Mercedes buses. Instead of leasing the buses straight from the Mercedes company, we have 2 intermediaries.

    Mercedes <——- oligarch Szeles's company <——– BKK <————– BKV

    Don't you think Szeles makes a handsome profit on the deal?
    Of course, he had to be repaid for the media support and for the "peace" march he provided to Fidesz.

  27. Johnny Boy :
    Vitézy is the head of the transport holding that frankly saved investments worthy cca 200 billion (!) HUF. That money was almost lost.

    Say what? How does the head of the holding “save investments” ?? Care to elaborate?

  28. Mutt :

    Johnny Boy :
    Vitézy is the head of the transport holding that frankly saved investments worthy cca 200 billion (!) HUF. That money was almost lost.

    Say what? How does the head of the holding “save investments” ?? Care to elaborate?

    Was the money not HUF 15 billion, due to the fact that BKK first approved Alstom train, and then they said the braking system was faulty. Subsequently, BKK went to court in France and lost, but only in appeal the won. In the end they had to pay anyhow.

    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2011/05/11/budapest-and-the-alstom-transport/#comments
    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/the-illfated-budapest-metro/

    Were the remaining HUF 185 billion is coming from, probably unorthodox accounting.

  29. I think Prof Scheppele and the Venice Commission will answer this 17 page document of counterarguments by the Hungarian government above, let me just pick on one thing:

    p. 5
    “The only restriction that applies is with regard to commercial radio and TV advertising. This, as underlined in the Background Document, is driven by the legitimate demand that the differences in the financial power of parties should not distort the electoral campaign.”

    The government can and will advertise in the commercial media, only the parties are banned to do so. This way the election campaign will be completely lopsided.

  30. Some aspects of human experience are lost over millennia.
    Primitive cultures understood the need to expiate for past wrongs by a timely human sacrifice.

    The rising of the Duna was one such call of Nature. Modern times may not accept this…but the heaving of a particular politician into the turbulent waters of the Duna would’ve settled
    matters…and the river…immediately.

  31. Johnny Boy: “Tarlós, in addition, won the lawsuit to save a few bln again in the CET investment. ”

    Is Tarlós personally involved in a lawsuit in the CET scandal, or is he just the personification of Budapest municipality? Lawsuit against who? Where? When?

  32. Funny that people here will regularly watch the “North Korean TV” (ie. Hungarian State TV Channels or even HirTV, Fidesz’s news channel) and its propaganda (as a kind of mazochism I guess), whereas a real Fidesznik will never ever attempt to read or watch anthying which may be characterised as opposition-leaning (admittedly there are not too many such media outlets any more).

    A real right winger consciously protects themselves from liberal media which may infect them.

  33. Gyor Calling!

    Poli Given that I don’t understand Hungarian – the odd word – I sometimes watch TV at friends’ houses when it is on in the background (something I would never inflict on my guests btw – but maybe I’ll leave the music on!).

    I am struck as to how parochial it all is – so ‘parish pump’ – I rarely see any international coverage’ (except the pope was well covered).

    And you suffer the same soap opera disease that we do in England.

    It is not a good incentive to learn the language through watching.

    Maybe the ‘moat’ is in my own eye – I was weaned on Radio 4 and the World service of the BBC.

    Enjoying the village and people here would not be possible without these lifelines – I felt so ‘contained’ and yes, even oppressed trying to get true information about the floods.

    For people who might want to learn English, these are rich English language resources – I have yet to find the Hungarian equivalent.

    We have the ‘Sun’ and ‘Mirror’ newspapers which anecdotally have a reading age of 12 which can be a good ‘entry’ into the language, as the picture-rich narrative helps.

    I have tried Blik but didn’t get very far past the celebrity rubbish and flesh tones – which are also prevalent in our ‘red tops’.

    So I can exist with sanity preserved, but only in my English ‘bubble’, with no thanks to the Hungarian media – when things could be so different.

    I should have been here in the thirties, maybe, when Hungary’s culture and media were world class and influential (I think!).

    Regards

    Charlie

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