Electoral fraud in Baja: More details emerge

The by-election in Baja is still not over, at least if it depends on the opposition. The public is learning more and more about the characters involved in the alleged electoral fraud. It looks as if the orchestrators of the highly suspicious results in one of the polling stations came from the ranks of Fidesz party activists who are responsible for campaign strategies. Moreover, these party workers have a track record of manipulating the voting process if they think that Fidesz needs it in order to win.

Let me start the story with two men who can be seen on a video rudely interrupting Gordon Bajnai, the former prime minister and co-chairman of Együtt-PM, as he is listening to the complaints of an elderly woman. They badger him with accusations of wrongdoings that he allegedly committed when the company for which he was working was involved with a business that ended up in bankruptcy. Since the business had something to do with raising geese, these “civic” demonstrators recruited by Fidesz usually arrive with either live or rubber geese and drown Bajnai out with loud cackling.

This encounter was no different except for the fact that the “demonstrators” were Fidesz employees. One of them was Máté Kindlovits, the personal secretary of Gábor Kubatov, who is the brains behind Fidesz’s campaign strategy. Kindlovits is no stranger to Hungarians who follow political events. He could be seen on a Fidesz video leaked to the public about the party’s preparation for the 2009 mayoral by-election in Pécs.

The other man was Tibor Csörsz Elszaszer, who can be seen on the same video. Elszaszer was caught by the police as he was taking mostly Gypsy voters to their polling station in Pécs. The police found a long list of names and addresses in the car. Elszaszer’s explanation was simple minded: the men in his car were on their way to go fishing but they stopped off to vote. I might mention that Elszaszer was originally active in Jobbik, and in 2006 he tried his luck as a MIÉP-Jobbik candidate in the Érd municipal election. Magyar Narancs found photos of Elszaszer with Jobbik’s Előd Novák of kuruc.info fame.

These two men, however, could not alone ensure a Fidesz victory in Baja. They solicited the help of some local Roma leaders. One of them, Tibor Ajtai, the chairman of the county’s Roma self-governing body, is an “expert” on chain-voting. In January of this year a tape recording surfaced in which Ajtai admits that he was the one who helped Fidesz’s candidate, Krisztián Kapus, become mayor of Kiskunfélegyháza. He managed to devise a “beautifully executed chain-voting scheme,” but he was greatly disappointed because, although Kapus initially gave him and another Roma leader jobs in city hall that were to last until 2014, they were terminated in September 2011. One can only wonder what kind of promises were made to Ajtai for services rendered in Baja. Ajtai also seems to be engaged in usury. According to some of his victims, instead of giving monetary assistance from funds available to the Roma organization, Lungo Drom, he lent the strapped men money from his own resources and then demanded that they repay him two or three times the amount he lent them.

The second Roma leader who was most likely involved is Szilveszter Horváth, who actually lives in the district. His wife was strategically placed inside the polling station where apparently with the help of sms messages back and forth she could report on the progress being made inside.

Tenytar1

And finally, here are a couple of charts from TénytárThe first one shows the results in this particular electoral district between 2006 and 2013. The red bars represent MSZP and its partners and the orange Fidesz. The chart shows the results of the national and local 2006 and 2010 elections and the 2013 by-election. As you can see, even with the likely voting irregularities, the opposition doubled its support compared to 2010 in this pro-Fidesz district.

Tenytar2

The second graph compares the results of the 2006 and 2013 municipal elections, broken down by the five polling stations in the district. Ténytár opted to compare this year’s results with the results of 2006, when the left fared much better than it did in 2010. You may notice that a third party (brown) ran in the 2006 elections. That was the MFC Roma Unity Party.  Even if you take the total of the Fidesz and Roma votes in 2006 (and it does not make a lot of political sense to do so), it still falls short of the 97 votes cast for Fidesz this year.

The National Election Committee is unlikely to accept the complaints and decide that balloting should be repeated in this particular polling station. At least this is the widely held view in Hungary. But the opposition parties could still go to the courts and see whether the “independent” justices might be convinced by the available evidence that a repeat is warranted. If this case is swept under the rug, Fidesz might pay dearly for a small win in a by-election when it comes to determining the validity of the results of the next national election. In fact, there are some people who doubt the existence of electoral fraud in Baja because they simply can’t believe that Fidesz would risk that much.

On the other hand, Zsolt Bayer, the far-right Fidesz journalist, is not shy. In his weekly column he “humbly thanks the upright Gypsies who with their votes assisted in this victory,” adding that “Lungo Drom did a fantastic job.” It sure did, but if I were Bayer I wouldn’t be proud of it.

Advertisements

20 comments

  1. Lately I am having a hard time to read the Hungarian papers or to listen to any news out of hungary. The situation – in my opinion – is hopeless. Even if the opposition could work together, which they can not, there is no chance FIDESZ would let them win. They would use any dirty and illegal means to win. Lo and behold they may not need any tricks there are enough blindfolded people who still live there voting for them.
    I fear they may even have the 2/3 majority again.

  2. Nonononono. If there was a fraud, you need to prove it, ok?

    Evidence must not only make a fraud possible or even probable, but must prove it beyond doubt (as defined by the Fidesz-loyal electoral board and courts) and that absent such fraud the end result would have been different.

    So if you can prove 50 fraudulent Fidesz votes at Baja (right now the video proves nothing, only a possibility), even in this case it would not change Fidesz’s win, so bad luck.

    Fidesz has prepared and prepared in time. Why do you think they needed to own – among others – the Roma ethic national organisation, why, oh, why? Now, you know.

    MSZP and Együtt will only now realize the sophistication of Fidesz, as they go along. It’s way too late.

  3. Perhaps, a short introductory won’t be out of place for those too naive, or too honest to imagine the ingenious invention of the Fidesz election technicians, widely known in Hungary as the “chain voting,” mentioned in the article.
    This is how it is done.
    Victim #1 is set into the car to be ferried to the polling station. (This ferrying is outright illegal under the law.) On the way a filled-out ballot paper, prepared in favour of Fidesz, is thrust into his hands with the instructions. He hides the paper under his cloths. When he enters the polling station in a few minutes, there his ID is checked and receives a blank ballot paper in an envelope which he is taking inside the voting booth that is covered by a curtain. Inside the booth, he takes the prepared ballot, places it into the envelope and hides the blank one under his cloths. He exits the booth, drops the envelope with the false ballot into the polling box. His job is done, he can return to the car. Once in the car, he hands the fresh ballot paper over to the driver, who either pays him on the spot, or just pats him on the back, than takes him home.
    Victim #2 is already primed by some Fidesz activist, who got his name from a secret (and also illegal) voters’ list, and is waiting next door to be taken into the polling station. While he gets comfortable in the car, the driver fills out the fresh ballot. On the way to the station he repeats his instructions to #2 who goes in the station and repeats the exercise.
    Now, in a small town, or village, where the distances are short, one of these turns can be executed in 5-6 minutes, per victim, at least 8-10 voters an hour. If we multiply this number with a few hundred cars in a few districts over an eight hour day, surely some uncertain districts can be made certain and that will decide the election.
    A new and more worrisome development is that the hundreds of thousands of “public workers,” many of whom are the poorest Gypsies, whose meager employment depends on local Fidesz potentates, can be easily blackmailed into participating in this scheme, as they are told that unless they do it, next week they are out of their job. The price of resistance is starvation. With the deployment of this fear, Fidesz doesn’t even have to pay for those services rendered anymore.

  4. Yesterday in the Parliament:

    “Rogán Antal: Most kell kétharmadba betonozni a rezsicsökkentést, amíg van kétharmad.
    Vágó Gábor (bekialbál):Félsz, hogy nem lesz?
    Gaud Nagy Tamás (Jobbik): Nyugodj meg Gáborkám, velünk lesz meg.”

    Translation:

    Antal Rogán (Fidesz): We need to pour the utility price cuts into concrete [i.e. amend the constitution to contain the utility price cuts], until we have the 2/3s.
    Gábor Vágó (LMP) shouting in: Are you afraid that you will not longer have the 2/3s?
    Tamás Gaudi Nagy (Jobbik): Keep calm, my dear Gábor, they will have the 2/3s with us.

    Yep, that is how they calculate and it is very likely. Fidesz will govern with Jobbik in one way or another, but this is what people want.

  5. Sándor:

    Exactly. Fidesz used this method earlier, as we know from 2010 reports by ÉS, which spotted very odd voting patterns in favour of Fidesz in certain precints predominantly inhabited by very poor romas, often illiterate.

    But now all the infrastructure is there. Fidesz essentially owns for example Longo Drom, a Fidesz co-opted Roma organisation (previously MSZP managed it, but they were amateurs as usual and LD people realized that real reliable power comes from Fidesz so they switched sides), which has a nation wide network — remember that Fidesz always wants to take over nation wide organisations, as they give them the access to information and connections. (Fidesz even sets up such organisations, like the obligatory national teachers’ trade union, a kind of Mussolini-inspired national corporative orgnanisation).

    For American readers: in Hungary there has never been a single grass-roots Roma civil rights movement, almost all roma organizations are co-opted by the Fidesz/state (some minor organisations exist of course, but have no political influence).

    Lungo Drom is the oldest Roma organisation (and one wonders if its founding was not helped by the state in 1991 one way or another) and its leader Flórián Farkas has been a roma politician continuously since before the fall or communism and in 1998 under interesting circumstances (the file was classified for 30 years) he got a pardon from then president Árpád Göncz. Lungo Drum has been spectacularly unsuccessful in helping the roma in any way in the last twenty something years, yet the leadership and the organisation are there — to be taken advantage of by Fidesz.

    Try to imagine you want to go to a small village from Budapest and want to repeat this game? You, as a smart Budapest politician like someone from Együtt, have no connection to poor romas, hell, no connection to anyone outside of Budapest. But Fidesz has the churches and Lungo Drom and others. They can figure out very quickly who is reliable, how to organize these shady deals so that they could not be proven before court.

    Fidesz realized that networks, especially nationwide networks are paramount, so they pay for, purchase, manage and help these networks. And with Fidesz it is not a coincidence, you know who were the biggest users of networks, which organisations appreciated networks way before facebook or iwiw and six degrees of separation?

    The left never realized the importance of networks and now they suffer and will for a long time.

  6. Tappanch — what proof are you talking about??

    The people on the tape will say that they were joking, which may or may not be true. There is no proof.

    Proof would be filming the handover of the money with some accompanying conversation and supported by testimony by other people as well as documentary evidence. What you have is a media story, funny, but does not prove a thing before a court.

    Fidesz is a party of lawyers, and surprise-surprise Papcsák himself is a practicing attorney (besides being a mayor and a member of parliament, in fact he ‘makes’ a lot of money from his practice, which by the way is simple, but most legal money laundering). Fidesz-people know how to handle supposedly scandalous tapes (see Baja voting fraud investigation). There is not even a reasonable suspicion based on this tape.

    Moreover, the police will not do anything because Papcsák himself is one of the most connected people in the Fidesz empire, he knows too much about a lot of people. He’s smart and he is protected.

  7. If we want to believe in the polls and feel ourselves frustrated, Fidesz is now on a two-year high according to the Fidesz-leaning (but less than Századvég or Nézőpont) Tárki with some 50% of those who: (i) were available for the poll, (ii) who decided to answer the poll in substance, (iii) who said they have a party in mind and (iv) who stated they they would surely vote at an election it they were held this Sunday.

    Fidesz has never measured below a 40% national average since 2002.

    Of course with the present election system the results are tricky, because a national average of 50% would mean that they will win almost all of the 106 electoral districts plus 50% of the party list spots. Fidesz must go below 40% for the opposition to have any meaningful chance to win a majority (not a 2/3), but they would have to be pushed below 35% to be sure given other factors such as Jobbik, or the dividedness of the left.

  8. @Dalton

    Tarki’s poll shows that the democratic opposition is not appealing to the electorate, while Fidesz maintains 27% support.

    Poll taken September 11-19, sample size= 1000 people

    Fidesz: 27%
    Jobbik: 8%
    democratic opposition: 16%
    no answer: 50%

    http://www.tarki.hu/hu/news/2013/kitekint/20130925_valasztas.html

    The democratic opposition MUST elect new leaders,
    Mesterhazy & Bajnai are not energetic enough to beat (Orban + fraud).

    Botka (MSzP) + Konya, Karacsony (E14) + Vadai (DK) should take over.

  9. Dr Balogh writes: ” They badger him with accusations of wrongdoings that he allegedly committed when the company for which he was working was involved with a business that ended up in bankruptcy. Since the business had something to do with raising geese, these “civic” demonstrators recruited by Fidesz usually arrive with either live or rubber geese and drown Bajnai out with loud cackling.”

    Bajnai, in fact, was one of the principal owners of the subject firm and not a simple “employee”. His family was also involved with the firm which went bankrupt causing many farmers in NE Hungary to go broke. It appears that Bajnai did not suffer financially from the bankruptcy. Dr. Balogh consistently see financial chicanery when non-excommunists are involved, but does not see or consciously distorts similar events committed by her favorie leftniks.

  10. The Baja thing was interesting from a couple of points of view.

    Firstly, the role that modern media tools could play in revealing any attempt by Fidesz to cheat in the next election.

    In this case, the video online has very much strengthened the suspicion that Orban will stop at nothing to win a 66% at the next election . No video and we would have been relying on heresay.

    Similarly the Tass video of the despicable Fidesz nazi scum on the ground in Szilvasvarad and elsewhere debating the rights and wrongs of integrating our fellow citizens into “normal” (sic) society greatly pushed the national party into doing the right thing. Why, even Gyurcsany’s video of the Felcsut mafia has got it itself over a 1/3 of a million views on youtube.

    Second, connected point is the complete moronic character of Fidesz representation out in the country below the middle-management level. If I were Orban, I would seriously be considering introducing an intelligent test before local bumpkin thugs were permitted to represent my party. They are thick enough not to realize the consequences of their idiotic actions in the modern 24/7 social media world.

    I remain skeptical that the average Hungarian voter will step up to the plate next year and send the Fidesz mafia and its leader off to their rightful resting place (ie prison) but if any of his PR puddles are reading, I am still pretty confident (;)) measures are in place to record the cheat, fraud, intimidation that will inevitably be used to further Orban’s reign.

  11. It is time to distribute the Gene Sharp http://www.aeinstein.org Democracy pamphlets in Hungary to mobilize the good people of Hungary to vote the opposition back to power, to defeat the favorite party of deep thinker mr. l. kovach

  12. “Dr. Balogh consistently see financial chicanery when non-excommunists are involved…”

    May I remind you, dear Kovach, of the troubling fact that OV himself was an official of KISZ (which stands for Kommunista Ifjusagi…)?

  13. As for whether anything can be done about the Baja fraud. First, it is the “victims” of Sandor who could collectively testify, and thereby make the fraud “true”. I understand this is unlikely, otherwise they would not have done it. But second, I think that oneill has a point. Certainly Fidesz would not manage to use some “envelope system” in the whole country. There might be quite a number of gullible people in need of additional income, but there are also these 50 % undecided. It is not impossible that these people and voters of the opposition combined have more votes than Fidesz, in particular if Fidesz has to control their voters individually.

  14. Kirsten :

    “Dr. Balogh consistently see financial chicanery when non-excommunists are involved…”

    May I remind you, dear Kovach, of the troubling fact that OV himself was an official of KISZ (which stands for Kommunista Ifjusagi…)?

    Moreover, Bajnai wasn’t even KISZ-member.

  15. To return to the original topic of the article, i.e. the election in Baja, the opposition should remember that none of the illegalities they are upset about now will be illegal in 2014, when the new electoral law takes effect. Baja gave us a preview of what the big election next spring will be like. Not only will the new election law allow busing people, feeding them, even giving them gifts, the new law doesn’t sanction election fraud.
    The opposition will should by now understand what they will be up against, and yes, they too will have to bus, feed, and entice voters in ways that any true democrat would consider corrupt and abhorrent.

Comments are closed.