Dissension in the already weak Hungarian opposition

It is time to talk again about the opposition parties, especially since next week Együtt – A Korszakváltók Pártja (Together-Party of the New Age) will begin negotiations with MSZP. In case you have no idea who on earth is behind this “new party,” this is the same old Együtt 2014-PM Szövetség (Together 2014 Alliance) that was established months ago by Gordon Bajnai, Péter Juhász of Milla, Péter Kónya of the Solidarity Movement, and the former members of LMP who decided to join Együtt 2014.

But what happened to the party’s name? It took the court that was supposed to give its blessing to the name seventy days of deliberation to decide that the name proposed by Bajnai-Juhász-Kónya was unacceptable for at least two reasons. First, a few days before the Együtt people proposed the name of their movement a couple of people had already turned in a request for the name. Second, the court objected to the word “szövetség” (alliance), although Fidesz’s official name is Fidesz Magyar Polgári Szövetség. So, the group around Gordon Bajnai “temporarily” adopted this ridiculous sounding name. The way the registration of this party is proceeding it could easily happen that by the time elections roll around the party will still not be a party. Bajnai of course tries to act as if all these name changes didn’t matter, but of course they do.

While the hassle over the party’s name was going on Péter Juhász, head of the virtual Milla movement, gave a press conference in which he compared Ferenc Gyurcsány to Viktor Orbán as symbols of oppressive regimes and corrupt politics. Juhász went so far as to call the pre-Orbán times part and parcel of “the current mafia-government.”

vadai agnes femina.hu

Ágnes Vadai / femina.hu

Well, this was too much for the fiery Ágnes Vadas (DK), who addressed an open letter to “Dear Gordon” in which she inquired from him whether he approves such statements from his co-chairman. After all, in this case “you must have been a minister of this oppressive regime for three years; you accepted a position in the government of a man who put an end to democracy in Hungary and you served without raising your voice against this corrupt regime that was in the hands of a political mafia.” The letter is politely but strongly worded. Vadai wants to know what Bajnai thinks of Juhász’s attack on Ferenc Gyurcsány. As far as I know, no official letter reached Vadai as of yesterday, but Bajnai tried to explain his own position without completely distancing himself from Juhász.

Juhász has been the target of severe criticism from many quarters, and criticism was also leveled against Gordon Bajnai for getting involved with him. Back in November 2012 a portrait of Juhász appeared in Origo with the title “A good-for-nothing  activist.” Not the best recommendation for an important post at a crucial junction in Hungarian political life.

Since then others have joined Ágnes Vadai in their condemnation of Péter Juhász. Blogger “Pupu” wrote that he considers Juhász an agent of Viktor Orbán. Another popular blogger, Piroslapok, is less harsh; he doesn’t consider him an agent, just a not very smart man who likes to moralize using false postulates.

Others, like Ferenc Krémer, describe him as a dangerous dilettante who stands in the way of unity in the opposition camp. Juhász makes assumptions about “the political usefulness” of certain strategies without knowing much about the intricacies of the present political situation. In the last few months he succeeded only in driving a wedge between the different opposition parties. So, says Krémer, Juhász is serving the interests of Fidesz because the government party wants to have open disagreements in the opposition camp. According to several commentators, the best solution for the opposition would be the removal of Juhász from Együtt 2014. Then he could expound his theories as a private person. These commentators are sure that the right-wing media would welcome him with open arms.

It seems, however, that Gordon Bajnai is not ready to get rid of him. Or at least this is what he said at a meeting of the Budai Liberális Klub where he had a conversation with Zsófia Mihancsik.  But Bajnai ought to realize that the democratic opposition shouldn’t in a servile fashion follow “the narrative of Fidesz,” which also includes Viktor Orbán’s desire to push Ferenc Gyurcsány into the background.

Meanwhile Együtt 2014 or whatever it is called now is languishing  just as MSZP, LMP, and DK are. Why? Not because people are worried about whether Gyurcsány is part of the joint opposition but because they see disunity, confusion, and a struggle for primacy.

Yesterday Együtt 2014’s visits across the country ended in Budapest. Bajnai had earlier refused to negotiate with MSZP because he first wanted to undertake a campaign tour that was supposed bolster his and his party’s popularity. Ipsos’s May poll results don’t show any great change. In fact, the party dropped from the 4% support it had in April to 3%. I doubt that the June figures will be very different. Yet Bajnai is still stalling. Yes, he will start talks “next week” but the conversations will begin only on Friday. What on earth is he waiting for? A miracle? It won’t come, especially if he sticks with Péter Juhász for much longer.

63 comments

  1. Just for a historical memory.
    The Szabadelvu Part of the Deak era has been most of time awful.
    http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/Szabadelv%C5%B1_P%C3%A1rt
    phd.lib.uni-miskolc.hu/JaDoX…/displayContent?
    The leaders could not act together.
    They were even decent, but a bunch of amateur.
    At the end the party disappeared.
    There is no hope for democracy on the Hungarian historical foundation.
    A return to an absolute monarchy is the other good option.

  2. While we’re on the subject of Fidesz agents, I often entertained the idea that it was Gyurcsany who is the secret Fidesz agent. He was the one who handed them the super majority. Have you noticed how a picture of Gyurcsany is always in the Magyar Nemzet, usually with Bajnai. The attention they give him far outweighs his significance. The editors know more Gyurcsany = less votes for the opposition. He is Fidesz’s secret weapon. But that aside, Egyutt and the MSZP need to field joint candidates in key areas and Bajnai has to agree to be Meszterhazy’s deputy.

  3. Discredited policians in left and right still want to convince the electrorates about their agenda. The whole political class in Hungary is a compromised bunch of people, the same old faces masquerading in different costumes, while the country goes to the dogs. Without properly functioning institutions of checks and balances they merely resemble to a white collar organised crime syndicate – and indeed they function as such.

  4. I tend to agree with Dan. Gyurcsány is a discredited and failed politician and this has nothing to do with whether or not one likes him (I happen to like him, but that doesn’t alter the fact that he is an enormous political liability.) I know this, 90 percent of Hungary’s population know this, Bajnai knows this,, the MSZP knows this, Orbán knows this (Orbán and the FIDESZ want to have him in Bajnai’s corner, who is, by the way, the only politician Orbán worries about, which is clear from the amount of attention and money they spend on discrediting him), and what those bloggers mentioned above think in this regard proves that they are totally disconnected from reality. I know for sure that I will not vote on a formation that includes Gyurcsány, not because I dislike him (quite the contrary), but because that this would only energize the large number of crazy hoodlums this country has and that is exactly what Orbán wants.

  5. “..Fidesz’s official name is Fidesz Magyar Polgári Szövetség. So, the group around Gordon Bajnai “temporarily” adopted this ridiculous sounding name”.

    It is not only this ridiculous sounding name what they adopted. They adopted also, and only temporarily, part of Orban´s agenda – Hungarian citizenship of ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries – as we heard from Bainai when he visited Slovakia recently. He talked something about specific position of Hungary in this respect and that national identity of Hungarians whereever they live is an important national aim.

    Why should people vote for this substitute and not for authentic Orban´s agenda?

  6. szomszéd :

    “..Fidesz’s official name is Fidesz Magyar Polgári Szövetség. So, the group around Gordon Bajnai “temporarily” adopted this ridiculous sounding name”.

    It is not only this ridiculous sounding name what they adopted. They adopted also, and only temporarily, part of Orban´s agenda – Hungarian citizenship of ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries – as we heard from Bainai when he visited Slovakia recently

    I don’t know how other liberal voters think about this issue but I’m dead against voting rights for ethnic Hungarians in the neighboring countries.

  7. First you register an entity, then you can change its name. That’s 101 for lawyers.

    But again, with Tordai the chief lawyer and the amateurs of Együtt, they have no idea. They just stand there in the abbatoir like the cattle about to be slaughtered.

    They did not even suspect that Együtt’s name was gonna be ‘stolen’ so that another bunch of people (I guess smart Fideszniks) would submit their application with a similar name just before Együtt can do so.

    Oh my god, the dillettantism — these guys would seriously go agains the Orbán-Handó-Polt-Áder-Szájer- Constiturional Court power front??

    Juhász is a lose cannon to say the least, he is probably nuts too. Either you have a 100% loyalty and staying on message like you have at Fidesz or at Obama’s campaign or forget about politics.

    Fidesz does not have to do anything, the left will self-destruct before it could take off. I guess we will have a nice summer holiday while the left commits seppuku.

  8. Ervin :
    Gyurcsány is a discredited and failed politician and this has nothing to do with whether or not one likes him (I happen to like him, but that doesn’t alter the fact that he is an enormous political liability.)

    All true. But you leave out that Gyurcsány was wrongly discredited, by Fidesz smear tactics and FUD that have since become Fidesz’s signature tools of trade.

    Is this what those who repeatedly (and validly) accuse the opposition of naivete would like to see them imitate?

    Fidesz is certainly giving Realpolitik a whole new flavor: a Hungarian dish that hardly does the nation — ostensibly so starved for an unjustly denied glory — any credit.

    I’d say that as long as Gyurcsány continues to be successfully portrayed and perceived as a pariah, Hungary remains in the demagogic thrall of Viktor Orban — Hungary’s real historic liability — and it is Hungary that will remain the pariah.

  9. I’d say the biggest lie of all was that Gyurcsány was trying to compound corruption rather than combat it. As long as this lie persists, Hungary is (in) a state of deception.

  10. Steven, agreed completely. That Gyurcsany ‘speech’ at Balaton was actually one of the most positive and honest speeches ever made in Hungary, possibly the EU. I refer, of course, to the full text, not the remixed Fidesz version – which is the only version 99% of people have ever heard (the hysteria was like the old hysterical book condemnation by people who hadn’t – and refused to – read the tomes in question). The ‘betrayal’ by leaking the speech should not really be an issue, therefore, but the misrepresentation of the speech, with the stamp of authority, to an ill-informed population, was a disgrace. All modern Hungarian political problems, stem, in some way, from those events.

    I and others have already drawn attention to Gy’s (very successful) attempts to root out corruption in the health service. The people, steered by Fidesz, overwhelmingly rejected these reforms in a referendum, seemingly happier to carry on the traditional old illegal ways.

    Worst of all, these comments made here cannot be shared openly in today’s Hungary (as I know to my cost). Any less-than-negative comment on Gyurcsany MUST be the product of the pan-global-liberal-conspiracy-going-back-to-the-dawn-of-time against Hungary – for everyone KNOWS he’s guilty … of EVERYTHING!

  11. Botka (MSzP)
    Konya (Egyutt)
    Vadai (DK)

    A winning trifecta. They are the least wishy-washy in the opposition.

  12. The horizon is dark. The leadership should be in the hand of Ferenc Kremer. Jozsef Debreczeni, Agnes Vadai, or Niedermuller. These people see clearly the Hungarian failures and the objectives.
    Gyurcsany, Bajnai, Mesterhazy, Juhasz, and Konya are just talking about many subjects superficially, but can not phrase moral and political goals.
    The Orban rule is held together by force. He has the freedom to spew so much nonsense, and spread so much confusion, while his backers assure his rule by force.
    His future is a picture from the Mubarak, Erdogan, or Assad book.

  13. Gyor Calling!

    Bajnai, Vadai and Gyurcsány should form a tripartite team and form the ‘Restore Party’- forget the fact that Gy may be regarded as poison ivy – and devise an intelligent manifesto of ‘recovery’ and democratic ‘repair’ – fully compliant with EU principles and values.

    100% compliance with the spirit and letter of the rules of the club. 100%.

    All egos should be swallowed – the primary objective is the manifesto.

    I am sure the population will recognise their genuine values and yes, integrity, as Orban’s government turns increasingly rancid in the run up to the next election.

    By contrast, the ‘integrity’ premium of the Restore Party will grow, slowly and inexorably.

    There are already many undercurrents of dissatisfaction and even if the press is shackled there would be quite an effective alternative ‘communication tree’ in operation – there must be with all those ‘undecided’ voters.

    Only those who reside in Hungary – a definition of which should be a top priority – but should exclude those who are resident in other countries as a matter of principle, should be eligible to vote.

    This will NOT win the election – but will be a precursor to the possible intervention of the EU and the appropriate ‘democracy’ agencies.

    The EU needs to know the ‘asymmetry factor’ of the political climate so they can evaluate the most effective sanctions.

    Regards

    Charlie

  14. I add that the Gyurcsany speech in Oszod was a bright spot.
    An honest outcry.
    He has governed Hungary according nice principles.
    Just failed to pull Hungary out of the turbulent waters.
    He could not find the inner decisiveness to combat the dark forces of the other Hungary.
    He was a prophet on a narrow path.
    The unfortunate nation needs a little more to end hundreds of years of self-destructive acts.

  15. The commenters on HS and possibly also the opposition politicians in Hungary seem to be divided between two mutually exclusive approaches with regard to handling a type like Orbán.

    Adherents of approach #1 will be conciliatory, support parts of Orbán’s policies, suppress their own views, and abstain from telling the voters what they really think about Orbán’s doings. All in the hope of reaching an understanding with him.

    Adherents of approach #2 will confront Orbán on all issues. They are convinced that he considers conciliatory talk as weakness. They will tell the voters that Orbán is a criminal who should be prosecuted as soon as possible, and his revolution should be immediately undone without regard to legal niceties.

    Let us call approach #1 the Chamberlain approach and approach #2 the Churchill approach.

  16. Eva S. Balogh :

    szomszéd :
    “..Fidesz’s official name is Fidesz Magyar Polgári Szövetség. So, the group around Gordon Bajnai “temporarily” adopted this ridiculous sounding name”.
    It is not only this ridiculous sounding name what they adopted. They adopted also, and only temporarily, part of Orban´s agenda – Hungarian citizenship of ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries – as we heard from Bainai when he visited Slovakia recently

    I don’t know how other liberal voters think about this issue but I’m dead against voting rights for ethnic Hungarians in the neighboring countries.

    Of course, purely on historical grounds…didn’t the Americans fight a war for ‘no taxation without representation’?

    Of course, brilliant Hungarians no better: now they will (or, already have…) introduced ‘representation without
    taxation’. This is Orbanic ‘genius’ in a nutshell…

    Hajra, Magyarok!!

  17. Stevan Harnad :
    I’d say the biggest lie of all was that Gyurcsány was trying to compound corruption rather than combat it. As long as this lie persists, Hungary is (in) a state of deception.

    This, of course is correct. But there was/is no greater threat to the political cabal of Fidesz/MSZP than attempts to reform. Hence the so-called ‘revelation’ of Gyurcsany’s speech, which of course, was no secret anyway, only Orban and some MSZP backstabbers made it seem so. Gyurcsany had to be got rid of and both parties were complicit in achieving that. For the media to have gone along with that, and for the people to have believed it, is what makes hopefulness in Hungary’s future well nigh hopeless.

  18. Yes. The Chamberlain approach seemed to work fantastically well for Britain, in the very very very short term … But pragmatism trumping morality caused untold suffering for so many … and didn’t work in the long term anyway. History teaches.

  19. @3014-free

    “He was a prophet on a narrow path.”

    True.
    Unfortunately, PROFIT doth not in such a direction lie.

  20. Gyor Calling!

    Yes Ivan “I have in my hand a piece of paper signed by Herr Orban….” will not bring ‘democracy in our time’…..

    It has to be ‘Churchill’. (Thanks Jean!)

    (Maybe ‘Attraction’s’ art work was prophetic!)

    Regards

    Charlie

  21. I don’t know how other liberal voters think about this issue but I’m dead against voting rights for ethnic Hungarians in the neighboring countries.

    I strongly disagree with Ms Balogh on this. A great many democratic countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, consider voting to be a fundamental right of a citizen, regardless of foreign residence or having (dual) citizenship of another country. If you think about it, the most fundamental act of democracy is voting. Everything else stems from it.

  22. Sackhoes Contributor :

    I don’t know how other liberal voters think about this issue but I’m dead against voting rights for ethnic Hungarians in the neighboring countries.

    I strongly disagree with Ms Balogh on this. A great many democratic countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, consider voting to be a fundamental right of a citizen, regardless of foreign residence or having (dual) citizenship of another country. If you think about it, the most fundamental act of democracy is voting. Everything else stems from it.

    Actually if I could I would recommend rescinding the citizenship rights of people who were not born Hungarian citizens. US citizens abroad can vote at US elections because they were born in the United States. The problem in Hungary started when citizenship was granted to Romanian, Slovak, Serbian, etc. citizens. The damage is done but to the original sin one shouldn’t add another. I know it might sound heartless but I think it is simply not right that people who don’t have to face the result of their votes may decide the fate of a country they don’t live in.

    I was born in Hungary and therefore I could vote in a Hungarian election but I don’t because doing so wouldn’t be right.

  23. Eva S. Balogh :

    szomszéd :
    “..Fidesz’s official name is Fidesz Magyar Polgári Szövetség. So, the group around Gordon Bajnai “temporarily” adopted this ridiculous sounding name”.
    It is not only this ridiculous sounding name what they adopted. They adopted also, and only temporarily, part of Orban´s agenda – Hungarian citizenship of ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries – as we heard from Bainai when he visited Slovakia recently

    I don’t know how other liberal voters think about this issue but I’m dead against voting rights for ethnic Hungarians in the neighboring countries.

    Completely agree, Eva!
    The whole idea was/is phoney and dishonest from day one. If the Hungarian government would really care, what- and how the over the border ethnic Hungarians really really think, how they would like their problems treated, they would have been provided with a possibility to delegate their own PM to the Hungarian parliament, not a possibility to interfere with domestic policies. But, of course it wasn’t the case.

    From my point of view Bajnai is dead wrong jumping on this populist track, partly, because the whole voting sucks altogether, none the less, Orbán doing this so much better anyway, that Bajnai has no chance to beat him in his favourite game.

    Furthermore the way, how Bajnai trying to equidistance himself from both Felcsút and Öszöd makes him even more characterless than he really is – there is no mellow and lukewarm middle way in the present days polarised Hungary. Totally wrong assessment to think, that the undecided people want someone who neither Gyurcsány, nor Orbán, but right in between.
    As I see it, the people waiting – besides a miracle to happen – a charismatic person with clear political and ideological view, who don’t hesitate, don’t play hard to get, don’t try to please both side, etc., – and they still have quite a time to spend waiting.

  24. Sackhoes Contributor :
    A great many democratic countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, consider voting to be a fundamental right of a citizen, regardless of foreign residence or having (dual) citizenship of another country. If you think about it, the most fundamental act of democracy is voting. Everything else stems from it.

    Well, if 250,000 Mexicans were given US a passports for this Christmas, I believe the your views would suddenly change drastically on voting rights.

  25. Don’t be too obsessed with truth and moral. The only thing that matters is VOTES in 2014. So try to see (and support) Bajnai’s efforts from this perspective.

    The voting rights is an awful idea, Professor Balogh is right … but if they are willing to vote against the Fidesz … then god bless my Hungarian brothers. Consider that the 90% of the Hungarians in Romania support the RMDSZ and they don’t take orders neither from Budapest or Bucharest.

    The same logic could be applied to Juhasz. He’s wrong when he is moralizing about Gyurcsany, but hey, talk to the average Hunky. If Juhasz can rake in votes with this bullshit … then why not.

    Every vote counts. If we win, there will be a coalition of anti-Fidesz forces. So don’t be negative. Only criticize things that gives votes to Orban. What are you worrying about? The MSZP gets less? So? The point is to get in the parliament. There will be one round of voting so make sure all forces reach the limit to get in. Don’t preach about the disagreement on the left. You are fueling it. Yes, you …

  26. Gyor Calling!

    People who willingly choose to become a member of a country, having satisfied residency rights, should be allowed to participate in that country’s politics. If they pay, or have paid, taxes then they should be entitled to a say in how the country is run.

    They may even be a member of a minority – but they should be treated equally – that is the key.

    Residents outside the country should invest their democratic ‘shilling’ in their chosen country of residence.

    The phenomenon of allowing residents in other countries, as opposed to just being domiciled temporarily, to vote, is a Triannonite trick to subvert treaties set in stone and is just a fraudulent device – causing friction in the region.

    Butter wouldn’t melt in Orban’s mouth – Oh! No! Szajer and Orban really do know what they are doing – this should be factored in to the eventual EU sanctions.

    And the Baj-Vad-Gy trio need to get a move on.

    Regards

    Charlie

  27. I was travelling to Germany today so read HS just perfunctorily – sorry …

    Still I have some comments to make regarding voting rights:

    One shouldn’t overlook the EU rules here! I’m not an expert but I know that the EU differentiates between country of residence and citizenship – and to make it more complicated: You can have several countries of residence – but only one primary residence!

    So even though I am not a Hungarian citizen but have my second residence there, I can vote in local elections …

    I could also vote for the EU parliament in Hungary – but then they would write a letter to Germany that I’m not allowed to vote there too!

    This might get complicated for the people with two EU country citizenships – I don’t know the rule there but I believe the EU doesn’t want one person to vote twice.

    Anyway voting without paying taxes is not a good idea – afaik the USA requires every US citizen to pay taxes or rather to at least file a tax form – so if you’ve been living abroad and just “discover”/claim your citizenship without having informed the IRS you might get into trouble.

    PS:

    The EU also has (on paper …) strict rules about primary/secondary residence, you are only allowed to register a car in your primary residence. I’ve been thinking about buying a car in Hungary and registering it there – but no way …

    Some similar solution should be found for tose people with two citizenships like two residencies imho …

  28. @Wolfi. Maybe I wasn’t clear but I was talking about national elections. Local elections in communities where a foreigner is a resident certainly he can vote. Naturally, the same is true about EU elections.

  29. Jean P, I personally do not mind Ferenc Gyurcsany or Gordon Bajnai. But I am not personally affected and I do not have voting rights. I follow the Hungarian malaise because I think that the country should return to a “modern, European” way of political life asap. I believe that the biggest stumbling block is not that a part of the society has went back to anti-semitic, monarchic etc. Hungarian “traditions” recently. That this has become so relevant I consider to be an unlucky outcome not only of Fidesz’ propaganda but also of the unfortunate reality of Hungarian democracy before 2010, which some party in particular that has been quite important during these years has been unable to admit so far. For me the biggest stumbling block is the absence of a sense for cooperation and common interest. I am buffled by the daily repetition of who cannot work with whom, and which compromises are completely out of the question etc. That makes me sceptical about the suitability of G, and that makes me believe that trying to address “undecided” people and those who are currently more or less supporting Fidesz (because of lack of alternatives) is correct. But, for this strategy to be also successful, it needs some shared vision and here I am not so sure whether this exists. If it does not, the most useful thing currently is not wining elections but working on a shared vision of the opposition.

  30. OT: Orban’s reaction to the Venice Comisin’s criticism: “The EU “is abusing its power and is asking of us things it doesn’t have the right to ask and expects of us things it doesn’t expect of others,” Orban said in an MR1 state radio interview today.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-06-14/hungary-rejects-democracy-criticism-as-commission-meets.html

    This is an outrageous comment… the EU hasn’t yet done anything, just asked the Venice Commission to compile a report… based on what they may start some kind of monitoring procedure if the the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on its June 24 meeting decides to do so (the procedure, btw, has no real consequences).

    The Orban government, however, after the report of the Venice Commission was released, rapidly modified three (but not all) of the recent Constitutional modification that were criticized by the Venice Commission, voluntarily, as the EU did not use any legal pressure or power to make the Hungarian government do that. (it doesn’t have such power anyway)… This is not an abuse of power on part of the EU.

    What Orban does in Hungary, is an abuse of power, though. Not to mention all the lies he feeds to the Hungarian people.

  31. Kirsten, I appreciate your analyses of the situation, which are calm, reasonable and logical. Hungary, however, is none of these things at present. I would ask how a strategy of addressing, and cooperating with, Fidesz supporters, is in any way practical? How does one go about this without actually degrading oneself? We must remember that in Hungary, in general, an openly non-Fidesz voting person is usually viewed as an outright traitor – and is usually scared to even reveal their views (I also felt it prudent to hardly comment here for almost two years, such is the level of fear at present). And, as I have learned, during numerous attempts to cooperate on practical day-to-day issues with Hungarian voters from the hard right, anti-Semitism and/or xenophobia always raises its ugly head at some point, and tends to ruin everything. How does one ignore that? How does one “cooperate” with that?

  32. Kristen, if it happens like you said “… the most useful thing currently is not wining elections but working on a shared vision of the opposition” there wouldn’t remain a single thing of a democratic Hungary but that shared vision, if anything at all.
    If Bajnai going to do the deed, about high time to do it, otherwise someone else will take perhaps premature steps, because of the unclear signals.

    Time to act responsively and skip such nonsense like communicating through the press instead of face to face, come on..!

  33. Ivan, I completely understand your frustration. I hoped actually that there is a part of the society that is not on the “hard right”, even if it is still preferring Fidesz to the “opposition” or if it is “undecided”. But as my main argument is that the opposition is not attractive enough, due to its many interests and apparently mainly personal aversions, I see the biggest challenge in a cooperative approach and a shared vision, while this vision should be able to appeal to the “soft” Fidesz supporters and the undecided. The first step for this is a mobilisation of more people who are willing to work in or with the “opposition”, so that the undecided get some idea of what the opposition is able to DO for Hungary.

  34. spectator, you wrote before: “As I see it, the people waiting – besides a miracle to happen – a charismatic person with clear political and ideological view, who don’t hesitate, don’t play hard to get, don’t try to please both side, etc.,”. For me this sounds as a quasi-king from the left. Given the loads of people that believe in hard-core Hungarian nationalism currently (as I read here on the blog), I wonder how this charismatic leader will manage to introduce democratic and respectful policies. I think that he needs the support and the cooperation of at least a majority of Hungarians, and acceptance on the part of the rest. I believe this is easiest if the concept of the opposition is more or less convicing so that people need not be forced to accept this new “king” but that they do it because they find it acceptable. Perhaps we do not have too different opinions on the desirable disposition of the future “charismatic politician”, I just think that the broad public should participate more in the process, so that “democracy” eventually acquires some practical meaning.

  35. Ivan :
    I would ask how a strategy of addressing, and cooperating with, Fidesz supporters, is in any way practical? How does one go about this without actually degrading oneself?

    Practical? To achieve what? “Cooperating” with your opponent IS almost always degrading yourself in some way. That’s the whole idea. Ask yourself! What exactly do you want?

    By the way if we would march against the parliament 500,000 strong they will stop calling us traitors. A “crowd” of 300 people at a demonstration is by definition traitors.

  36. Mutt, Bayer would just get his “Peace Marchers” out, and they would almost certainly outnumber. Also, I don’t think it is degrading to cooperate with one’s political opponents. But I don’t agree that questions of one’s ethnicity or religion should even enter into politics in a supposedly free country. Neither should hate. No compromise there.

  37. spectator, also assume that the opposition wins the elections and then is unable to form a coalition government because of its unability to agree on a common programme or an insurmountable aversion to some people from the other parties…? This is what I have in mind when I say “shared vision”.

  38. Ivan :
    Mutt, Bayer would just get his “Peace Marchers” out, and they would almost certainly outnumber. Also, I don’t think it is degrading to cooperate with one’s political opponents. But I don’t agree that questions of one’s ethnicity or religion should even enter into politics in a supposedly free country. Neither should hate. No compromise there.

    No they will not outnumber us. It’s worth trying … 🙂

    Ethnicity and religion is unfortunately part of the politics in Hungary. It’s a racists country. So let’s take it from there.

    Regarding hate … let’s see what 500 thousand middle fingers can do and then we can talk about hate.

  39. Kristen, I agree with your assessments, no problem there. Where our opinion converge is the way to reach the same goal.
    There is no time to waste – as I see it – and the democratic opposition badly needs a charismatic leader, whom people could attach to, nothing near to a “king”, btw.
    Think Gyurcsány before they destroyed him, that kind of “charisma” what I try to find.

    I honestly hope, that they shift a higher gear soon, otherwise remains only a dream.

    One more thing: there are issues, where no way for compromise, as Ivan said. Not now, not ever.

  40. I respect Ms Balogh’s personal choice of voting or not voting. But I would like to make a minor correction to her statement about US citizens being able to vote outside the US, BECAUSE THEY WERE BORN IN THE US. Actually, even I, who was born in Hungary and became a naturalized US citizen later can vote anywhere in the world. The one single restriction the US imposes on me is my ineligibility to become President of the United States.

  41. @Sackhoes Contributor: Unlike in Hungary, you are also required to pay tax on your worldwide income in the US, no matter where you live (you’ll get a tax credit after the taxes you paid in a foreign country, but you are still subject to US income tax). Taxation= representation.

    In Hungary, this is not the case. These new citizens who lived all their lives in Slovakia/Romania etc. are not required to pay any taxes in Hungary (nor any Hungarian citizens who live and work abroad with no income from Hungary).

    I think the old Hungarian election law stated that you had to have a permanent residence in the country to vote… and I think that makes a lot of sense. Vote if you live and pay taxes in a country, as the choice of the government will directly affect your life… but don’t if you don’t live and pay taxes there.

    Also, Mutt made an excellent point in #25.

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