Ferenc Gyurcsány will not accept alms: New rounds of negotiations?

I devoted the last two paragraphs of my last post to Ferenc Gyurcsány’s unhappiness with the deal Attila Mesterházy and Gordon Bajnai hammered out. Yesterday Gyurcsány claimed that the agreement signaled the failure of the quest for unity and that the announcement by Bajnai and Mesterházy was no more than a fig leaf that covers up this failure. My reaction to this brief comment by Ferenc Gyurcsány last night was that the deal is not as bad as he imagines it to be.

Since then Ferenc Gyurcsány has appeared on every possible media outlet, starting with Kossuth Rádió, continuing with György Bolgár’s “Let’s Talk It Over,” and finally an interview with Olga Kálmán on “Straight Talk” (Egyenes beszéd). Obviously 🙂  Gyurcsány didn’t read yesterday’s Hungarian Spectrum where I suggested that instead of public appearances he should negotiate first with Mesterházy and then with Bajnai, perhaps with the backing of MSZP.

As a result of all these appearances I think I understand what Ferenc Gyurcsány is complaining about. Over the months he has never wavered in his conviction that there must be one common candidate in all 106 electoral districts. He has also emphasized the necessity of designating a common candidate for the post of prime minister. And finally, he felt strongly about a single party list. Now he claims that none of these three requirements for electoral success has materialized. After all, Mesterházy and Bajnai divided the 106 electoral districts between themselves; they created two party lists which will mean two parliamentary delegations that, in Gyurcsány’s opinion, will result in a weak government coalition. And third, by not naming a prime minister designate Viktor Orbán will face no challenger in the campaign.

As far as the candidate for the premiership is concerned, Gyurcsány has made it clear all along that he will not present himself as a contender. At the beginning he favored Gordon Bajnai, but by the end he felt that it was more appropriate to choose the top of the ticket from the largest party. He may have shifted his position on the prime minister designate because it was becoming evident that Együtt 2014’s attitude toward him was outright antagonistic and Gordon Bajnai didn’t seem to be able or willing to go against his colleagues in the party’s leadership. Or perhaps he realized that despite Bajnai’s best efforts E-14 has been unable to achieve serious popular support vis-à-vis MSZP and therefore Bajnai’s insistence on the post was ill advised and unfounded.

Instead of a secret deal between Bajnai and Mesterházy, Gyurcsány expected a new round of negotiations in which the other parties, including DK, were represented. After all, he is convinced that DK’s support is not much smaller than that of E-14. Instead, out of the blue he was confronted with a private deal that was made in secret and against the declared wishes of MSZP that also favored a common party list. I guess he felt betrayed. And he flew off the handle. He will not go and beg for crumbs and will not accept alms. As the day went by he became increasingly radical, declaring that if DK is not offered a square deal his party will run alone and will put up 106 candidates. He will show what DK and he himself are capable of. He darkly mentioned his ability as a campaigner.

Source: Hír24

Source: Hír24

According to the electoral law, in order for a party to be able to have a party list it must have candidates in at least 27 electoral districts. That’s the reason MSZP gave E-14 more than 27 districts. In fact, as it stands E-14 has 35 districts as opposed to MSZP’s 71. As far as Bajnai is concerned, if MSZP wants to give up some of its districts to DK or anyone else it is their business. He made it quite clear, however, that E-14 has no intention of yielding any of its 35 districts. Last night Mesterházy said that MSZP would be willing to give four districts to the other opposition parties. If that is the case, we can safely say that DK would receive no more than two seats and that would not satisfy Ferenc Gyurcsány who would consider this no more than crumbs. He made that much clear today. However, by tonight Gyurcsány calmed down somewhat and indicated that he was ready to negotiate and may not insist on starting the negotiations anew in order to scrap the present agreement between Bajnai and Mesterházy.

During his interview with Olga Kálmán we learned that sometime in the afternoon Gyurcsány talked to Mesterházy and indicated that he would accept a fair offer. He didn’t mention exact numbers, but I gathered that ten or a dozen districts would satisfy him. However, he would insist on a joint MSZP-DK party list. I also gained the distinct impression that he would demand some concessions from E-14 as well. While in the early afternoon he threatened that DK would run alone, by the evening he said that if DK doesn’t get a fair shake it might withdraw and refuse to participate in the elections, an option doesn’t like and he wants to avoid DK’s running of its own.

In the last couple of weeks DK has been waging a campaign because polls indicated that most voters don’t even know that Ferenc Gyurcsány left MSZP more than a year ago and established a party of his own. The campaign has apparently yielded results. I heard from independent sources that since the campaign began the number of new party members has grown appreciably–as it stands DK has over 8,000 members–and that the party’s telephone campaign is also successful. The party claims that 15% of those phoned are willing to be included in DK’s database. So, I gather that Gyurcsány thinks that his party’s popularity is nearing that of Együtt 2014 which is around 6% among the voters. He therefore believes that he deserves a piece of the pie.

And here is an encouraging piece of news for those who would like to see unity of action. On Sunday there will be by-elections in Szigetszentmiklós.  There MSZP, DK, and E-14 together support an opposition candidate. Magyar Nemzet has already announced that a Fidesz win would be close to a miracle because Szigetszentmiklós is traditionally a liberal-socialist town where Fidesz barely won at the local elections.

Szigetszentmiklós is not the first town where MSZP, DK, and E-14 managed to cooperate on the local level. It’s too bad that one cannot find the same willingness when it comes to national politics.

Advertisements

49 comments

  1. An odd photo – Gy has clearly been photoshopped in! And where exactly is the ‘Gy’ badge suppose to be attached?

    On a more serious note – does DK have the money and resources to put up 106 candidates?

    And, given the new first-past-the-post voting system (no second round if no one gets 50%, no minimum turnout threshold – just winner takes all), it’s insanity to put up more than one left/liberal candidates in any constituency. It will just split the vote and hand Fidesz even more seats.

  2. If Gyurcsany were a true patriot, he would now gracefully bow out of the political arena and leave it for others. He is such a divisive person and his participation in any deal or list is a kiss of death. He commands a tiny fraction of the electorate yet exerts enormous influence on the left. His desperate cling to power is sad to watch.

  3. He’s looking a bit porky these days, too. The old Hungarian ‘middle-age man disease’ strikes again…

    By coincidence, on the road to ‘Airport Debrecen’ today, we passed a huge poster with Gy’s face on it. We went by too fast for my basic Hungarian to cope, so I’ve no idea what it was about, but it was very strange to see his face on a poster* – I can’t remember the last time I saw that, probably before the 2006 election?

    (*other than on a Fidesz poster, of course!)

  4. Why is Gyurcsany so sure, that the DK’s 2% will vote for an individual DK candidate should the DK run alone? I would not. We want Orban go – don’t care about the DK’s survival.

    I like Gyurcsany, especially Vadai, I wish the party had more followers, but they don’t. The FIDESZ brainwash was so effective, unfortunately, that Gyurcsany practically became a household name for bad politician. So even if he gets a few spots from the “big boys”, I would say that person will fetch less votes then the MSZP or the E14 candidate would.

    This is the beginning of the end for the DK I’m afraid.

  5. Everyone calling for a common front for the opposition is completely right. Why? Because that provides the only way to win against Fidesz-KDNP. Has the not the current government given a rich field of failures on which the opposition can campaign? Yes it has.

    When over 50% of the Hungarian population lives at subsistence level or BELOW, the opposition, united, must be out in the country reminding people that it does not have to be that way. When half a million young and productive people have left the country to escape the petty, partisan, controlling policies of the Orban government, the united opposition needs to be out in the country telling people it does not have to be that way. Then there are the broken promises and lies: “a million new jobs in 10 years”, “Hungary the engine that will drive the EU out of recession”- Orban; “You can live well on 46,000 Ft/month” – Matolcsy; “There is no Horthy cult in Hungary” – Martonyi; “We do not support anti-Semitism” – Kover; “Hungary’s debt has been continuously been reduced under Orban” – Szelmeczi Gabi and so on and on.

    What is it about the term “United Opposition” that Mr Bajnai and Mr Mesterhazy do not understand? At least Mr Gyurcsany recognizes the need. Are the others really so blind or are they just self-serving?

  6. The disharmony of the democratic opposition is really depressing!

    To us (that’s my wife , her family and me) it seems that Gyurcsany’s name for many people is equivalent to “lies, lies, more lies …” so that he really should disappear into the background and let others, younger untainted people do the fighting against the Fidesz mafia.

    PS and OT:

    We’re in Germany right now, I’ve had a small operation but it all wnet well, I’m not writing too much but reading everything.

    My wife just told me again that she’d prefer living in Germany – it’s so much nicer here and people like her and accept her – but of course her family is in Hungary and we don’t want to just skype and phone. And for them travelling to Germany regularly is way too expensive …

  7. Patent kapolcs: I have to spread some wisdom (osztani az észt), sorry. Politicians want power. And if they have it, they want more of it. That is how the system works and has worked since humans established communities more complex than the family unit.

    As a result there should be no surprise that politicians have personal ambitions which almost always turn out to be more important than proffered national interests.

    Since there are three distinct organizations here (MSZP, E-14 and DK) and Együtt has, in addition, Milla and Szolidaritás it is no surprise that the the working together of at least five “big name” politicians, meaning individually ambitious and co-equal (at least in their minds) primadonnas (you should know these guys) will be more than difficult (especially as many of them never actually governed).

    This is how Orbán planned all along: he knows firsthand that even for him with his almost unparalleled power over his domain he has to compromise at times which makes governing rather difficult and exhausting (he is much more successful in pushing through laws and constitutions than with policy).

    With five big guys, it is simply impossible to govern or agree on anything. Period. I am not surprised about the events so far, they were entirely predictable. In fact events turned out to be better than what most including Fidesz calculated with.

    But, this is really just the beginning. Try to imagine when they would have to cut spending, which (assuming they ever get to power) rest assured they will have to do, and have to vote for it and then stay on message to lie like Fidesz does — in the midst of a media shit storm Fidesz can generate with their complete control over the media. Try to imagine how long these united guys will last, especially when the constitutional court will help Fidesz.

    Anyway, any potential cooperation in the elections simply cannot last, there are just too many diverging interests of the players, whereas in Fidesz the interests are all completely aligned. It is great that they work together, but it just cannot work, they are not good and united enough to break Fidesz’ grip on power.

  8. What Carlito wrote are exactly my wife’s thoughts too:

    Hungary will have to endure another four years of Fidesz’ reign and then (maybe!) it will be time for a return to normal …

    So more people will leave the country and the rest will turn into a feudal society again with a few rich and a majority of underprivileged poor – and of course the crime rate will rise and Fidesz will claim:

    It’s all the (insert the usual suspects here …) fault!

  9. Glad your op went well, Wolfi. Always a bit worrying having to go into hospital, even for minor things – especially for those of us who are not as young as we were. You never know if you’re going to come out with more complications than you went in with!

    Interesting to hear your wife’s views. Even my Fidesz-supporting wife is starting to say things about how much better the UK is and how she’s glad she doesn’t live in Hungary any more. Although it’s funny how she can see the problems, but not understand why they’re happening.

    For instance, she moaned all holiday about the new transaction tax – every time we pay by card, we get charged £1! But when I pointed out that it was down to her man Orbán, she wasn’t convinced, blaming it instead (predictably) on the banks.

  10. So where are the Hungarian people during all this?

    – Where are the people that were ready to hang Gyurcsány for a 300 Forint fee just a few years back?
    – Where are the Hungarian people that were screaming, crying and kicking when Bajnai suggested to remove the 13th pension pay-out?
    – Where are the people that spit the left side politicians in the face while walking home because the fuel price spiked at one stage during the previous government?
    – Where are all those people that caused outrage in 2006 because they didn’t have the brains to actually read the whole ‘Őszödi beszéd’, instead listening to a single media bite?
    – Why is it 600,000 people had to leave Hungary yet they couldn’t even organize a single demonstration with at least a minimum 600,000 people?

    The questions just go on…

    It’s time for the Hungarian people to take back their country, sure the politicians can be a good tool but it wont be enough to sit back this time. At the risk of quoting a U.S. politician or two:

    “My fellow Americans (edit Hungarians), ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy

    “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

    Want the country to change? Get of your feet and walk to your local representative and ask what you can do to help even if it’s a minimum. You can be anonymous while doing this if that is what you fear.

    P.S. And last but not least in the topic of Kálmán Olga. She passed the train station called Objectivity a long time ago.

  11. A Reader :
    So where are the Hungarian people during all this?
    – Where are the people that were ready to hang Gyurcsány for a 300 Forint fee just a few years back?
    – Where are the Hungarian people that were screaming, crying and kicking when Bajnai suggested to remove the 13th pension pay-out?
    – Where are the people that spit the left side politicians in the face while walking home because the fuel price spiked at one stage during the previous government?
    – Where are all those people that caused outrage in 2006 because they didn’t have the brains to actually read the whole ‘Őszödi beszéd’, instead listening to a single media bite?
    – Why is it 600,000 people had to leave Hungary yet they couldn’t even organize a single demonstration with at least a minimum 600,000 people?
    The questions just go on…
    It’s time for the Hungarian people to take back their country, sure the politicians can be a good tool but it wont be enough to sit back this time. At the risk of quoting a U.S. politician or two:
    “My fellow Americans (edit Hungarians), ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy
    “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Want the country to change? Get of your feet and walk to your local representative and ask what you can do to help even if it’s a minimum. You can be anonymous while doing this if that is what you fear.

    Well said!

  12. Paul, in Bp the Gyurcsany posters were just announcing that he has a new party. I think that should be related to what Eva wrote, people do not know that he is not in MSzP anymore. (Strange but…)

    The changing views of your wife are reassuring, even if she does not yet see the connections to OV. In the end football stadiums will not be more relevant than education or health care or the decay of the public sphere.

    About the election law: the ‘lists’ must have some meaning, so it is not a pure majoritarian election law. But I have not yet understood either to what extent the lists can change the composition of the parliament.

    The split in the opposition is for me based mainly on the interpretation of the past 20 years. It is certainly not easy to understand why cooperation with MSzP is ‘better’ than with DK, but what is necessary is a very self-critical stance of both MSzP and DK (people in it). Just to make sure that a ‘fourth republic’ will emerge and not some third reloaded.

  13. Maybe it’s time for Gyurcsány to bow out gracefully. He is a good campaigner and I acknowledge that he has been clearer and more consistent than either Bajnai or Mesterházy in his stinging critique of the Orbán regime. I also think that DK’s political platform is much more clearly defined than that of the somewhat nebulous Együtt 2014, but this only matters to political junkies (like myself) who actually follow these developments, and we are a small minority of the electorate. If nearly two years after leaving MSZP and establishing DK, most voter still don’t know anything about the party and many don’t even realize that he has left the Socialists, maybe it’s time to call it quits. It’s abundantly clear that he is now a third wheel when it comes to the Mesterházy-Bajnai duo.

    But Gyurcsány is correct in noting that the failure to field a single candidate for PM (in fact, the failure to nominate anyone at all) is a real problem. I would not be surprised if Orbán ducks out of any televised debate, using the excuse that there is no alternative candidate for PM for him to spar with.

  14. Eva S. Balogh :
    E-14 managed to get an exceptionally good deal. 31 districts with its 6% share of the votes. Given their standing they didn’t deserve that much.

    Orders direct from the commissar: “Give them enough rope to hang themselves.”

    The dogs are barking and the natives joyously laughing in Felcsut…

  15. Totally OT (or maybe not …):

    A new parliament will be elected in Germany on Sept 22 and there’s an on line program called Wahl-o-mat where you answer 38 questions – your answers are compared with the party programs and you get a percentage of agreement for the different parties.
    Now I did this just for fun and can you imagine my percentages:
    79 % Pirate Party!!!
    78 % Left aka Communists – which I couldn’t imagine ever voting for
    77 % Greens
    75 % Social Democrats
    56 % Liberals
    and even
    45 % Christian Democrats !!!
    which just means that there are a lot of common ideas between these parties – like keeping the €, staying in NATO etc

    Only the loonies don’t want to allow same sex marriage, ask for leaving the EU and want border controls between the EU states again …

  16. OT: Why people fear? Why people elect Fidesz buddies?
    Your answer is in Esztergom. People vote for Fidesz out of fear.
    Look at Esztergom and Hodmezovasarhely. What will happen to you if you go against Fidesz, and what will happen to you when you support Fidesz? Look at the land leases, the tobacco shops, and the credit unions? All Fidesz believers are saved, while those who went against the tide were stripped off of their livelihood.

    Back to the peculiar situation of the city, Esztergom (or more so its mayor). As this has been discussed over and pver on Eva’s blog I spare you form the details regarding the conflict but I included the appropriate links at the bottom of the page. In short the city brought on itself the wrath of Orban and his busy Fidesz minions when they decided to kick out and say goodbye to the provenly corrupt Fidesz mayor and democratically elected the highly qualified Eva Tetenyi.
    If you want to learn more about Tetenyi, you should NOT read the English version of wikipedia, as with most things related to Hungary on wiki is taken over by the friends of Fidesz, who in full time boot anything that has to do with the truth. The city’s council is very much contains a group of Fidesz buddies who are busy trying to block anything the mayor wants. It is very much a reminisce of Orban / Fidesz politics when they were in opposition: block everything, vote everything off, do not participate, do lots of damage, grab sound bites, employ partizan politics, and never tell the truth.
    Esztergom probably is the only city where the government does not communicate with the mayor or involve her in decision making, or help the city out. Contrary to Hodmezovasarhely where mayor Lazar (Orban’s right hand man) created a huge debt by “gambling” away the city’s money, and Fidesz bailed out the city, Esztergom just lost its hydro to empower its street lights. Yes, Esztergom will be in the dark. Esztergom, once the capital of Hungary (without any soccer stadium and too far from Felcsut) will have to think twice to elect a non-Fidesz member for any political or non-political position if it wants any support from a Fidesz government. Yes, probably the lights will be turned back on, but the warning is out. When the parliament can be called back for emergency sessions to save Fidesz’ promises’, the Interior Minister, Sandor Polgar will not put an extra minute of work in on the weekend to deal with anon-Fidesz issue, so the lights will be off at least until Monday. I wonder if the stadiums being built have weekend shifts to assure that they will be ready in time for Orban take its seat when promised.

    http://www.origo.hu/itthon/20130830-esztergom-elsotetul.html

    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2009/10/16/mayor-of-esztergom-hungary/
    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2010/10/06/the-former-mayor-of-esztergom-refuses-to-leave/
    https://hungarianspectrum.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/rui-tavares-letter-to-the-citizens-of-hungary-and-his-fellow-european-citizens/comment-page-1/

  17. The Orbán government revived the tradition of military schools. The only difference is that before 1948 the poor boys began their studies in these military gymnasiums at age of 10, now they will start at age of fourteen. The first one just opened in Debrecen. The school accepted 70 students and apparently it is so popular that only one out of ten applicants was accepted.

    There is a picture of the incoming class in Népszabadság but I don’t see one girl among them which is strange given the fact that women serve in the Hungarian army.

    See here: http://nol.hu/belfold/magyar_kozepiskolasok_a_virtualis_hadszinteren

    Every time I think of military schools/academies I have to think Géza Ottlik’s novel about his years in Kőszeg in one of these horrible places. I wonder whether that book was ever translated into a foreign language because if yes, I can recommend it to people who can’t read it in the original.

  18. Eva S. Balogh :
    The Orbán government revived the tradition of military schools. The only difference is that before 1948 the poor boys began their studies in these military gymnasiums at age of 10, now they will start at age of fourteen. The first one just opened in Debrecen. The school accepted 70 students and apparently it is so popular that only one out of ten applicants was accepted.

    I am not sure why is this makes me feel so uneasy. I have many friends’s who’s children is enrolled as Cadets here in Toronto (http://www.aircadetleague.on.ca) and they have so much fun. I know girls too who are in the program. It is lots of fun and they learn discipline and survival technique. Why is it that I do not feel the same about the Hungarian efforts? Maybe it is because the cadets here is an extracurricular activity that becomes “full time” only for the Summer, and because the motivation has little to do with the hopelessness of finding a job after school. I am not sure what motivates so many kids to sign up to a military school in such young age.
    I know that military career is cool in England too, as Prince Harry and Prince William made it very exciting, but do kids roll in at age 14?

  19. Thank you for the recommendation, Eva. The book is available on Kindle, the English title is “School at the frontier”. I just ordered it.

  20. Margot :

    Thank you for the recommendation, Eva. The book is available on Kindle, the English title is “School at the frontier”. I just ordered it.

    I’m so glad. I couldn’t put it down.

  21. Margot :
    Thank you for the recommendation, Eva. The book is available on Kindle, the English title is “School at the frontier”. I just ordered it.

    Unfortunately, only on Kindle. Anyone know if you can read a Kindle download on an Android phone?

  22. Paul :

    Margot :
    Thank you for the recommendation, Eva. The book is available on Kindle, the English title is “School at the frontier”. I just ordered it.

    Unfortunately, only on Kindle. Anyone know if you can read a Kindle download on an Android phone?

    Paul, you can download Kindle books to your PC. Check out “Kindle for PC free download.” I have it and I just looked at it and there it is: Pride and Prejudice. I should read it again. Maybe the third or fourth time.

  23. Re Some1’s worries about military schools. It is possible that Canadian military schools have a good reputation but as far as I know the U.S. ones do not. When one hears about a military academy (basically a high school and boarding school) one thinks of a bunch of boys who have behavior problems and their parents decided that these military schools will take care of all their problems. They will come home as well-disciplined model children. I also gained the impression that these schools are academically inferior.

    By the way, Albert Wass, the controversial, mediocre and Nazi Hungarian (Transylvanian) writer who was condemned to death in absentia after the war in Romania taught in one of these so-called military academies in Florida. Hungarians not familiar with the status of these military academies thought that this academy was a very reputable institution, something like West Point. I had to straighten them out that teaching in one of these schools meant nothing. I just checked a very embellished Vikipedia entry on Albert Wass and there I learned that he got a degree in forestry at the Economic University of Debrecen. But the problem is that there is nothing on the whole internet on such a university in Debrecen in those days.

    So, even if Wass had a degree in forestry it certainly didn’t entitle him to teach God knows what in an American high school. But obviously this particular military school didn’t care.

  24. Eva S. Balogh :
    Re Some1′s worries about military schools. It is possible that Canadian military schools have a good reputation but as far as I know the U.S. ones do not. When one hears about a military academy (basically a high school and boarding school) one thinks of a bunch of boys who have behavior problems and their parents decided that these military schools will take care of all their problems. They will come home as well-disciplined model children. I also gained the impression that these schools are academically inferior.
    By the way, Albert Wass, the controversial, mediocre and Nazi Hungarian (Transylvanian) writer who was condemned to death in absentia after the war in Romania taught in one of these so-called military academies in Florida. Hungarians not familiar with the status of these military academies thought that this academy was a very reputable institution, something like West Point. I had to straighten them out that teaching in one of these schools meant nothing. I just checked a very embellished Vikipedia entry on Albert Wass and there I learned that he got a degree in forestry at the Economic University of Debrecen. But the problem is that there is nothing on the whole internet on such a university in Debrecen in those days.
    So, even if Wass had a degree in forestry it certainly didn’t entitle him to teach God knows what in an American high school. But obviously this particular military school didn’t care.

    Eva, the cadets are an extra curricular activity for kids in Ontario. In my understanding that there is no “military” high school in Ontario. My point was that the students do those kind of things after school, or on the weekends, separate from their secondary education.

  25. Paul :

    Margot :
    Thank you for the recommendation, Eva. The book is available on Kindle, the English title is “School at the frontier”. I just ordered it.

    Unfortunately, only on Kindle. Anyone know if you can read a Kindle download on an Android phone?

    Yes, Amazon has the Kindle app for Android as well.

  26. Ottlik was unbelievable man, writer and bridge player and bridge writer. I had the privilege to play bridge against him. ( of course my game was at a much lower level, nevertheless it was fun.) His book was translated into many languages. A masterpiece.

  27. Eva S. Balogh :
    The Orbán government revived the tradition of military schools. The only difference is that before 1948 the poor boys began their studies in these military gymnasiums at age of 10, now they will start at age of fourteen. The first one just opened in Debrecen. The school accepted 70 students and apparently it is so popular that only one out of ten applicants was accepted.
    There is a picture of the incoming class in Népszabadság but I don’t see one girl among them which is strange given the fact that women serve in the Hungarian army.
    See here: http://nol.hu/belfold/magyar_kozepiskolasok_a_virtualis_hadszinteren
    Every time I think of military schools/academies I have to think Géza Ottlik’s novel about his years in Kőszeg in one of these horrible places. I wonder whether that book was ever translated into a foreign language because if yes, I can recommend it to people who can’t read it in the original.

    As far as I remember military secondary schools were never eliminated. At least when I finished my primary education – in 1989 – I received a letter from the army (then it was Magyar Néphadsereg) congratulating my excellent results in school and drawing my attention to the military career. Obviously everyone with a certain result (an average of 4 or 4,5) got that letter. I never considered the offer but it was good to know that in case my plans as a historian would fail I still could find occupation in the army. 🙂

    It seems that here the whole fuss was about inauguration of a new line of education in this school and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was a clever trick of the director to go money and wriggle out some room for himself in Hoffman’s new world. This way he is subordinated to many and not one ministry (the Defence, the Economic Development and the HR ministries) which makes it easier to play out his superiors against each other. Furthermore these classes are financed by the Defence Ministry, so he got some money while other schools are seriously underfunded.

    So, he probably simply tried to make use of the regimes obvious preference for this operetta military what I initially thought to be only a toy of Hende’s, who was earlier coordinating the Polgári Köörk, a kind of civic paramilitary organization, “the army of the faithful” or the “crusaders of Orbán”, but retrospectively this kitschy patriotic-nationalist militarism is an organic part of the regime’s ideology.

  28. Eva S. Balogh :
    Gábor, I clearly remember that at the time the idea of a military high school came up it was hailed as the first such high school in recent history. However, I checked the webpage of the school where indeed they boast that they are the first and only such school. http://www.alfoldszakkepzo.hu/portal/index.php/diakoldal/tagintezmenyeink/45-gabor-denes-elektronikai-mszaki-szakkoezepiskola-es-kollegium

    Dear Éva, I must admit being very negligent regarding the fate of the secondary military education since that letter arrived, but I sincerely hope it is a pardonable sin. 🙂 Anyway, where I’m living now a similar institution existed even a few years ago, it was the place where future NCO-s were educated. Nowadays it boasts its name as an NCO Academy, but according to this short overview of its history (http://portal.zmne.hu/download/konyvtar/digitgy/publikacio/isaszegi/isaszegi_pub_2010_01.pdf) it still existed as a vocational school in 2010. The NCO Academy was established in November 2011. It seems that the wider network of military secondary schools was abolished in the early 2000s (see for ex. http://freeweb.deltha.hu/kossuthzs.ini.hu/lenkey.htm, http://regi.kozbeszerzes.hu/static/KEarchiv/9828/3514.html) and the new Kiniszi Pál Military Training Center was an institution with a wider scope. Nevertheless, it still offered secondary school level education, although not the one customary in gymnasiums. So, on the one hand it is probably true that the classes in Debrecen are a return to a practice ceased to exist in the 2000s (military education for 14 years old) but it is an exaggeration that it is the only such institution. Or such a claim is only true in the coordinates of the Hoffmann-Orbán education system that do not count these vocational training centers as entirely part of the system.

  29. The land of Deak, Petofi and Arany is being crushed again by liars.
    No bard is standing up so far to oppose the Caesar.

  30. A large group of citizens with a interest in modern democracy and claiming their rights could be more promising.

  31. Hungary has always had rendészeti szakközépiskola, feeder schools for the police, I guess. What is the difference now with a military school?

  32. Paul :
    Interesting to hear your wife’s views. Even my Fidesz-supporting wife is starting to say things about how much better the UK is and how she’s glad she doesn’t live in Hungary any more. Although it’s funny how she can see the problems, but not understand why they’re happening.
    For instance, she moaned all holiday about the new transaction tax – every time we pay by card, we get charged £1! But when I pointed out that it was down to her man Orbán, she wasn’t convinced, blaming it instead (predictably) on the banks.

    Paul, that’s an interesting experiment. actually when I have seen that stupid tabloid-like presentation of Tárki’s poll result on their website and all over the web I checked the last round of eurobarometer (http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/eb/eb79/eb79_anx_en.pdf) and what struck me most was how few Hungarians have read non-Hungarian news sources, how few of them has traveled abroad and how few of them has met non-Hungarian EU citizens compared to other EU countries. (These values are lower only in Bulgaria.) Although it is still far fetched to attribute the persistence of Fidesz’s support to one factor I think it is really an important element of it. Anyway, it seems in case of your wife the effects of being exposed to a very biased and inward looking media could gradually evaporate.
    Otherwise I would advise Éva to pay attention to this eurobarometer survey and also to that silly Tárki announcement. (I’m sure they conducted a proper survey with a lot of other questions revealing a much more complex attitude, but still it is telling how they jumped on the possibility to get headlines….) The picture unfolding concerning Hungarian’s attitudes to EU and their national institutions is really amusing.

  33. We’re in Germany now but I vividly remember everybody in Hungary complaining – not only about the really hot weather in August, but about all those crazy new rules and laws and what they cost and the difficulties they produce for the average guy …

    Just a few examples:

    Those extra fees on your bank account, those extra miles you have to walk for your cigarettes, the problems with the new tills …
    The remarks from your customers when you tell them you can’t sell them cigarettes any more …
    All the little changes in laws that mean extra bureaucracy and extra efforts – but no extra money …
    The insecurity because you never know if some laws or rules will be changed next week …
    So the business climate is really bad (except for those lucky few …) and people are reluctant to spend money on anything which they don’t absolutely need …

    Even around Hévíz we’ll have big problems when the number of tourists declines over winter – more people are thinking of leaving for a job in Austria etc …

  34. I believe every regime in Hungary (Horthy, Kadar, post-89, Orban) had schools in place that trained those youngsters who wanted to go for military and police careers. That is not the difference. I think what the Orban government wants and claims by starting “the first military school” is reestablishing the type of military school that Hungary had under Horthy… conservative, right-wing, elitist and one that indoctrinates its students in a narrow set of “right” (traditional, conservative) political beliefs.

  35. Thanks Éva and An (re Kindle)

    Gabor – I’m afraid it’s the only very small step forward she’s taken in 12 years in the UK. Her family is fanatically pro-Fidez/Orbán, and she believes anything her family says over any personal experience, facts, or opinions of mine. I’ve often wondered how common this is in Hungary. In the UK, when you marry, you start a new family, in Hungary (at least in my experience), you stay as part of your old family.

    As for Hungarians having little experience of the outside world – that is changing rapidly now that so many are working/living abroad. But will it have any effect on their beliefs? I doubt it will, I’m afraid. For a start there is little or nothing in the UK media about Hungary, especially on TV, and even fluent English speakers don’t tend to read English much, especially not the more serious newspapers.

    One of my wife’s cousins is a dancer and travels the world, hardly even spending much time in Hungary. He is fluent in English, French and German (on Facebook, for instance, you wouldn’t know he wasn’t native English). But he is still fanatically pro-Orbán.

  36. As for the new tobacco shops – I noticed this summer that already some of the small kiosks have closed. Cigarettes sales must have been a substantial part of their income. And the new (very flashy) tobacco shops have only just opened, so the impact is only just starting to be felt. I wonder how many of them will still be in business come next summer?

    When I first came to Hungary, 12 years ago, one of the things that struck me was the number of small kiosks everywhere, but these have gradually disappeared. I fear the new tobacco legislation will finish them off altogether.

    Of course, when I pointed this out to my wife, she said that Orbán had done this because something had to be done about the amount of smoking in Hungary…

  37. An :
    I believe every regime in Hungary (Horthy, Kadar, post-89, Orban) had schools in place that trained those youngsters who wanted to go for military and police careers. That is not the difference. I think what the Orban government wants and claims by starting “the first military school” is reestablishing the type of military school that Hungary had under Horthy… conservative, right-wing, elitist and one that indoctrinates its students in a narrow set of “right” (traditional, conservative) political beliefs.

    An, in the Kádár era to those schools you could only apply after you’ve graduated, after you’ve reached (nominal) maturity in other words, not before.

    In my opinion this is a significant difference, even if Orbán try his best to emulate the “good ol’ times” of Kádár, the present era is rather a mix of Horthy and Rákosi, as I see it.

    Anyhow, all this military crap is way outdated in every aspect, just as the whole “Hungarian way” of thinking.
    Or should I have said the “Orbanist way”?

  38. Paul :
    As for the new tobacco shops – I noticed this summer that already some of the small kiosks have closed. Cigarettes sales must have been a substantial part of their income. And the new (very flashy) tobacco shops have only just opened, so the impact is only just starting to be felt. I wonder how many of them will still be in business come next summer?
    When I first came to Hungary, 12 years ago, one of the things that struck me was the number of small kiosks everywhere, but these have gradually disappeared. I fear the new tobacco legislation will finish them off altogether.
    Of course, when I pointed this out to my wife, she said that Orbán had done this because something had to be done about the amount of smoking in Hungary…

    Does somebody know any smoker, who started up his/her habit purely based on the appealing sight of cigarettes/cigars/tobacco/etc. in the window of the tobacconists?

    I asking, because I don’t, and I asking, because I’ve never smoked.
    (I’ve found the whole thing stupid as it is, furthermore, it wasn’t forbidden to me – my mother was a devoted smoker, started with cigars(!) in the forties, let alone, i’ve found the other ways proving I am a man much more interesting..)

    Perhaps the Orbanist view of curtained shop-windows has something after all in preventing the innocent kids, depriving them from the view of mouthwatering packets of tobacco products?
    That’s why entering the shop is so beneficial to the underage population?

    That’s why is so logical demand, that even if the tobacco shops selling ice cream, soft drinks and toys, the people who normally interested to buy – and otherwise allowed to buy – those items not allowed to enter..?

    Am I seeing the same picture, as you do?

    Please, tell, I hardly can wait an enlightening answer!

  39. Paul :

    Gabor – I’m afraid it’s the only very small step forward she’s taken in 12 years in the UK. Her family is fanatically pro-Fidez/Orbán, and she believes anything her family says over any personal experience, facts, or opinions of mine. I’ve often wondered how common this is in Hungary. In the UK, when you marry, you start a new family, in Hungary (at least in my experience), you stay as part of your old family.
    As for Hungarians having little experience of the outside world – that is changing rapidly now that so many are working/living abroad. But will it have any effect on their beliefs? I doubt it will, I’m afraid. For a start there is little or nothing in the UK media about Hungary, especially on TV, and even fluent English speakers don’t tend to read English much, especially not the more serious newspapers.
    One of my wife’s cousins is a dancer and travels the world, hardly even spending much time in Hungary. He is fluent in English, French and German (on Facebook, for instance, you wouldn’t know he wasn’t native English). But he is still fanatically pro-Orbán.

    Paul, I did not mean reading something about Hungary in foreign languages but about the world outside this country. It is not about getting unbiased information or at least some challenging opinions but to learn a bit how th world looks like. Orbán’s strategy of fighting imaginary enemies to a large extent relies on the lack of knowledge of the outside world in both of its aspects, that’s how he is able to point out nonexsiting enemies and how he can claim that Hungary fares much better than the West etc.

  40. Eva S. Balogh :
    Did you see the article in privatbankar?It looks as if Tárki mixed up two numbers. Hence the wrong result on Hungarians’ opinion on EU membership. http://privatbankar.hu/makro/tevedett-a-tarki-nem-utaljuk-annyira-az-eu-t-260906

    Well, tappanch= myself noticed this first in your blog, Eva.

    see
    August 30, 2013 at 10:49 am | #24

    Thank you for the correction dated September 2, tarki.

    The corrected report is located at the link below:

    http://www.tarki.hu/hu/news/2013/kitekint/20130902_eutagsag.html

  41. @Eva
    “Did you see the article in privatbankar?It looks as if Tárki mixed up two numbers. Hence the wrong result on Hungarians’ opinion on EU membership. ”

    Well, tappanch= myself noticed this first in your blog, Eva.

    see
    August 30, 2013 at 10:49 am | #24

    Thank you for the correction dated September 2, tarki.

    The corrected report is located at the link below:

    http://www.tarki.hu/hu/news/2013/kitekint/20130902_eutagsag.html

  42. wolffazeredeti – I don’t pretend to understand the psychology of smokers. I was one once, in my youth, but I don’t think I started because of adverts or seeing cigarettes in shop windows – it was just something everyone did then. I gave up because I didn’t want my kids to grow up with parents who smoked.

    But, from what I’ve seen of the new shops, although you can’t see the products through the window, the design of the shops (very modern and striking, with lots of colour) means you can’t help noticing them. They are hardly hiding themselves away and trying not to attract customers.

  43. Paul :
    wolffazeredeti – I don’t pretend to understand the psychology of smokers. I was one once, in my youth, but I don’t think I started because of adverts or seeing cigarettes in shop windows – it was just something everyone did then. I gave up because I didn’t want my kids to grow up with parents who smoked.
    But, from what I’ve seen of the new shops, although you can’t see the products through the window, the design of the shops (very modern and striking, with lots of colour) means you can’t help noticing them. They are hardly hiding themselves away and trying not to attract customers.

    Sorry, I’m Gabor, and I try to post with that name. I don’t know why wordpress mixed up things…

Comments are closed.