Readers’ polls

I created a number of polls and urge everybody to cast their votes.

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87 comments

  1. net EU contribution

    2011: 4.42 (EU data), 3.66 (MNB data)
    2012: 3.28 (EU data), 3.89 (MNB data)
    2013: no data (EU), 5.38 (MNB data)

  2. The MNB data about the net EU transfers keep changing:

    2008: 1.12 [EU data] 1.24 [2010 report]
    2009: 2.72 [EU data] 2.66 [2011 report] 2.69 [2010 report]
    2010: 2.75 [EU data] 3.30 [2012 report] 3.34 [2011 report] 3.43 [2010 report]
    2011: 4.42 [EU data] 3.66 [2013 report] 3.73 [2012 report] 3.55 [2011 report]
    2012: 3.28 [EU data] 3.89 [2013 report] 4.05 [2012 report]
    2013: 5.38 [2013 report]

  3. @Sackhoes Contributor:

    Thanks for the clarifications – of course I was a bit provocative there …

    The point I wanted to make is that this system is unnecessary complicated in a way – whether it’s failsafe against fraud I don’t know. Imho it would be easier if anyone with an address in Hungary could vote anywhere or by post, whether (s)he is away on holiday or working abroad for a longer time.

    On the other hand that influx of new citizens who never contributed to Hungary but are now able to vote is worrying – afaik in the USA if you’re a US-citizen you have to file with the IRS and maybe pay taxes if you have enough income and you can’t automatically vote. Our German system is similar and of course in the long run there should be a single EU-wide system.

    Btw sorry for misspelling your name!

  4. As of Friday, March 28, 30,000 votes already arrived in mail from ethnic Hungarians with no Hungarian address.

  5. The Election Office (Iroda) started to handle the mailed-in votes this morning.

    Lots of the votes are invalid, according to the office.

    Reasons:
    1. The outer envelop was not sealed.
    2. the inner envelop containing the vote was not sealed.
    3. there is more than one ballots or declarations in the envelops.
    4. the declaration is not signed
    5. the declaration is not filled out completely

    If somebody leaves out his or her second given name or makes an accent error,
    the vote is still valid. [Such leniency was not granted to Hungarians with Hungarian address
    wishing to vote from abroad]

    I have a problem with reason #3.
    How do the election official know that the (inner) envelop contains more than one ballot?
    The inner envelops are supposed to be opened after 7 PM on April 6th!

    http://index.hu/belfold/2014/03/31/nvi_sok_lesz_az_ervenytelen_levelszavazat/

  6. The government daily de facto M. Nemzet now claims former MSzP vice chairman G. Simon had at least four foreign accounts, three in Austria (Vienna, Graz, Salzburg) and one in Switzerland (Zurich).

    http://mno.hu/magyar_nemzet_belfoldi_hirei/simon-mar-ot-eltitkolt-bankszamlanal-tart-1218741

    I would add that if this is true, it is possible that Simon handled the MSzP stash money for the election. Since he is detained, MSzP could not withdraw money for the election campaign, and that is why they could not campaign at all. [or very little].

    On the other hand, it makes it probable that the Hungarian account, set up in the name of Simon in February, using Welsz’s Bissau passports in the name of Simon’s mother’s maiden name was a secret service and/or prosecutor setup.

    Since Simon could not have been detained before an indictment, let alone a verdict for tax evasion, he was detained for allegedly using the passport found in Welsz’s apartment.

    But Welsz died or was murdered in a police car, so he will not tell us more about the passport.

  7. tappanch :

    The government daily de facto M. Nemzet now claims former MSzP vice chairman G. Simon had at least four foreign accounts, three in Austria (Vienna, Graz, Salzburg) and one in Switzerland (Zurich).

    http://mno.hu/magyar_nemzet_belfoldi_hirei/simon-mar-ot-eltitkolt-bankszamlanal-tart-1218741

    I would add that if this is true, it is possible that Simon handled the MSzP stash money for the election. Since he is detained, MSzP could not withdraw money for the election campaign, and that is why they could not campaign at all. [or very little].

    On the other hand, it makes it probable that the Hungarian account, set up in the name of Simon in February, using Welsz’s Bissau passports in the name of Simon’s mother’s maiden name was a secret service and/or prosecutor setup.

    Since Simon could not have been detained before an indictment, let alone a verdict for tax evasion, he was detained for allegedly using the passport found in Welsz’s apartment.

    But Welsz died or was murdered in a police car, so he will not tell us more about the passport.

    This whole thing is becoming something very fishy. According to Nëpszava, it was only on March 3 that Welsz deposited money in MagNet Bank with or without (that is not clear) Simon’s African passport. By that time Simon’s account in Austria had been discovered. So, something is wrong here.

  8. Nepszava is the MSZP’s apologist newspaper, so I’m not convinced how much stock one should put in its ‘sources’. The passport story may be fishy but the long and short of it is that Simon had huge amounts of money in his name and no convincing explanation has been forthcoming. The revelation has been orchestrated by Fidesz but that doesn’t exonerate Simon and underlines why any coalition with the MSZP is liable to fail: there are just too many skeletons in cupboards. Had the Kormányváltók been led by someone new and with no connections with the old political elite (someone like Éva Tétényi), then this crisis could have been managed. But does anyone really believe Meszterházy knows nothing?

  9. @HiBoM

    “Nepszava is the MSZP’s apologist newspaper, so I’m not convinced how much stock one should put in its ‘sources’.”

    In general, I find independent daily Nepszava much more truthful than Orban’s semi-official Pravda called Magyar Nemzet.

  10. tappanch, I think your description of Magyar Nemezt as Pravda is absolutely correct. And I agree that Népszava is not as bad. But I never sense it is independent (and was bailed out by Simicska with 150 million via Közgép at the end of last year in any case which ought to worry you)

  11. Wolfi: “in the USA if you’re a US-citizen you have to file with the IRS and maybe pay taxes if you have enough income and you can’t automatically vote.”

    That’s not the case. To vote, you must be registered and to be registered you must be a citizen and prove your place of residence. That’s all. Paying income tax, property tax or any other tax and if you owe any taxes or not are completely immaterial.

  12. Tappanach: “I have a problem with reason #3.
    How do the election official know that the (inner) envelop contains more than one ballot?
    The inner envelops are supposed to be opened after 7 PM on April 6th!
    http://index.hu/belfold/2014/03/31/nvi_sok_lesz_az_ervenytelen_levelszavazat/

    I’m glad you furnished the link to the story, so that I can read what the NVI chief actually said. Admittedly, the Index writers were not very precise.

    There is no evidence, based on the article, that they are opening the inner envelope, which contains the actual ballot. Rather, they are accumulating them in a separate box, after they check the outer envelope and its contents. The problem, I believe, may be that some outer envelopes (the mailer) may contain ore than one sealed ballot envelope and affidavit. This would be quite understandable if multiple family members vote and in order to save money, use just one envelope to mail. Apparently this is against the rules, most likely because they cannot match the affidavit and the ballot. Frankly, that’s a bit too much bureaucracy for me, two valid affidavits and two ballots should be OK, IMHO.

    There is another problem, however, that I experienced and I am starting to hear about other cases from the US, Canada, Australia: the cost of returning the ballots. The outer (mailer) envelope is marked for free postage and a statement in French that “Hongrie” guarantees payment. The return address does not contain the country name HUNGARY. My experience and others show that our English speaking postal clerks have no idea what to do with these strange French envelopes. I ended up paying $3.29 for stamps and added the word HUNGARY on the envelope. To send in PRIORITY MAIL, as the envelope states in French marking, would have cost me an additional $24. I declined to pay that.

    I bring up the cost factor because I can certainly understand a family wanting to avoid paying multiple postage.

    Frankly, it would have been much simpler and less expensive, if we could have mailed our ballots to our respective Embassy where they could have been bundled with other ballots delivered in person and sent to Budapest in diplomatic pouch. The cost of a First Class letter in the US is $0.49 and the mail takes a lot less time to Washington DC than to Budapest.

    There is also absolutely no reason, why ALL Hungarian citizens could not have voted by mail. It is ridiculous that someone, who has an address in Hungary and lives in Hawaii or Alaska would have get on an airplane and travel to Los Angeles in order to vote.

    The next time we are voting again is soon: the EU Parliamentary elections are coming up in May, I believe. Let’s hope some of the problems will be eliminated, although at this point it may be too late for a major redesign.

  13. I should point out a major difference between the role US absentee ballots play and the Hungarian vote-by-mail scheme.

    In the US absentee ballots are rarely counted before preliminary results are announced. The reason is that in the US we always vote for individuals and never for parties. The purpose an an election is to select one winner. How many votes they received on each party lie, is of secondary importance. Here is an example: Candidate A received 200,000 votes at the voting places, while Candidate B got 150,000. There are 25,000 absentee ballots. Clearly, even if ALL the absentee ballots were cast for Candidate B, they would not change the result. The final results, including the absentee ballots are announced 30 days after the election and the election is certified.

    In Hungary, we vote for parties and therefore each vote counts. The results can not be stated until all ballots are counted. This puts far more pressure on the system.

  14. Slightly OT Does anybody have information on the MagNet Bank? Bank seems to be incorporated in 2008 (mid of crisis in EU). Survive with help of the 6th district parking fees collecting agency, and I cannot find anything else after that. Anybody?

  15. Ron :

    Slightly OT Does anybody have information on the MagNet Bank? Bank seems to be incorporated in 2008 (mid of crisis in EU). Survive with help of the 6th district parking fees collecting agency, and I cannot find anything else after that. Anybody?

    I read somewhere that the management is close to Fidesz.

  16. @ Sackhoes Contributor :

    This is maybe getting OT, but I read on a German forum for tourists and people with US citizenship that the USA are very strict. Maybe I didn’t understand it completely. Some Germans who also have US citizenship got into troubles because they did not file with the IRS while living abroad and even when travelling to the USA on their “foreign” passport.

    In any case the Hungarian voting system is a mess!

    Re the EU elections:

    If a citizen from another EU country recently acquired Hungarian citizenship – can (s)he vote in Hungary and the other country, would that be legal?

    If not, how is this checked?

    It’s different with me e g (I wrote about this already): Hungary knows that I’m a German citizen with a primary address there and a secondary address in Hungary, so they asked me: Where do you want to vote – you decide!

    But would Germany know if someone with Hungarian ancestors acquires Hungarian citizenship – in addition to his German citizenship? I don’t think there is a general check for this or am I wrong?

  17. “I cannot find anything else after that. Anybody?”

    Ron the Magnet Bank was one of the banks used by Gabor Simon, the former MSZP 2. leader to hide money. Bank officials confirmed publicly that at least 9 persons opened accounts at MagNet bank using Bissau-Guinea passports the type that Gabor Simon had.

    You have to wonder how serious or how corrupt was this bank that it officially admits that random white guys were just allowed to open accounts waving obscure african passports without any investigation. The bank also confirmed all these people opened the account themselves (so not a third party opened them in their name but personally them)

    But if Tappanch information is correct this is oooooold news.

    Tappanch writes that MSZP Simon had accounts also in Vienna, Graz, Salzburg Zurich in addition to the Magnet Bank account in Budapest. So he had many accounts in five cities just that we know about.

    If all this is true than this can only mean that Simon was the MSZP treasurer for black money. At this point I cannot think of any other explanation.

  18. @wolfi: American citizens have to file their tax return to the IRS even if they don’t live in the US. If they don’t file, they will face penalties from the IRS. It is not tied to the right to vote, however,…as far as I know, just because you have outstanding tax liabilities , you are still allowed to vote.

  19. “If a citizen from another EU country recently acquired Hungarian citizenship – can (s)he vote in Hungary and the other country, would that be legal?”

    Wolfi the EU parliament vote is not actually tied to citizenship. If you live in Hungary and you are a citizen of Portugal you may vote in the EU election in Hungary. You don’t have to have citizenship recently acquired or not. You just have to live in the country in question and you can vote in the EU election.

    So Hungarians living in London qualify to vote in the UK EU election without having any UK citizenship. This is based on residence.

  20. Eva S. Balogh :

    Ron :
    Slightly OT Does anybody have information on the MagNet Bank? Bank seems to be incorporated in 2008 (mid of crisis in EU). Survive with help of the 6th district parking fees collecting agency, and I cannot find anything else after that. Anybody?

    I read somewhere that the management is close to Fidesz.

    If that is true, why would Simon use this bank. Something is fishy indeed.

  21. @ kommentelo :

    Now I’m confused – afaik only EU citizens can vote for the EU parliament – but they can vote in another EU country! At least that’s what my official German source says:
    http://www.bundesregierung.de/Webs/Breg/DE/Themen/Europa/EuropaLexikon/_function/glossar_catalog.html?lv2=435842&lv3=21542
    “Die EU-Bürgerinnen und Bürger können in dem Staat zur Wahl gehen, in dem sie wohnen.”

    The problem is dual residence, i e residences in two EU states (like mine) – but you’re only allowed to vote once! And here’s the info in English:
    http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/justice_freedom_security/citizenship_of_the_union/l23025_en.htm
    “EU citizens may exercise their right to vote and to stand as a candidate either in the EU country of residence or in their home country. No one may vote more than once or stand as a candidate in more than one EU country. To prevent double voting and double candidacy, EU countries must exchange information on citizens registered to vote or to stand as a candidate.”

    So if I understand this correctly, residence is not enough – you have to be a citizen of any EU member!

  22. Wolfi: So if I understand this correctly, residence is not enough – you have to be a citizen of any EU member!

    No you need to choose where to vote either in the country of residence or in the country of which you are a citizen. You may need to fill out that you declare that you will not vote in that other country if you vote in this country. At least that I needed to do the last time.

  23. Ron, sorry for the confusion!

    I at first misunderstood that “residence” (it should be primary residence imho) – the point is that you have to be an EU-citizen, then you can vote, once and only once.

    And my fear is that for people with two citizenships it may not be so easy to check that for the authorities.

  24. An :
    @wolfi: American citizens have to file their tax return to the IRS even if they don’t live in the US. If they don’t file, they will face penalties from the IRS. It is not tied to the right to vote, however,…as far as I know, just because you have outstanding tax liabilities , you are still allowed to vote.

    An,
    do not forget about other gems you have to file:

    TD F 90-22.1, aka fbar

    or, if needed

    the new Form 8938

    http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Report-of-Foreign-Bank-and-Financial-Accounts-FBAR

  25. @Jano
    I agree, it won’t be easy to govern in the next years.
    My guess is that the worst thing could happen with Orbán if he wins only with a slight margin.
    (For the arguments sake I’ll skip the Fidesz-Jobbik possible marriage, even if the love is quite obvious.)
    As I see it there is really a decent piece of accumulated financial crap about to hit that proverbial fan, and it would have rather sobering consequences even to the die hard zealots.
    If the coming opposition could keep Orbán at bay without absolute majority, Fidesz wouldn’t be able to change law at will, adjust legislation to the circumstances, they won’t be able to lie so easily as in the last four years, the dilettante government just can not cope with reality.

    Remember, so far all their financial “solutions” were more or less bogus, they paid one loan with another, robbed whoever they could for money to fill the gaps – and the countless pockets for loyalty – and there isn’t much left. This is why Paks II is the guarantee for Orbáns survival – there will be enough money to fiddle with for awhile, creating the impression of economical growth – without it their hours counted.

    The orbanist castle of cards with the phony facade certainly won’t stand one more mandate-period, and I rather will see the Great Man himself as a landlord when the quake comes.

  26. @wolfi
    Not my own, just adopted:

    – …?
    – My father is “unknown” so, he may even have been German…!

  27. The following appeared in today’s Budapest Business Journal:

    Economic sanctions against Russia would “best be avoided” because these are neither in the interest of Europe nor Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview in business daily Világgazdaság on Friday.

    Asked whether the Crimea crisis could influence the expansion of Hungary’s sole nuclear power plant, for which the country is taking out a big loan from Russia, Orbán replied: “It has not exercised influence yet, and we would like it to stay this way.”

    Continued the PM: “The European Union has decided to use a three-step system of sanctions. Now we are in the second step, which involves freezing political relations and declaring certain individuals undesirable. The third step is economic sanctions, which would best be avoided, as this is not in Europe’s interest, and especially not in Hungary’s.”

  28. Wolfi: “Some Germans who also have US citizenship got into troubles because they did not file with the IRS while living abroad and even when travelling to the USA on their “foreign” passport.”

    Yes, the US takes a dim view of citizens (dual citizenship is immaterial) who 1. do not file an income tax return every year, even if they owe no tax, 2. US citizens entering the country using other than their US passport. The consequences can be quite severe.

    No country that grants citizenship by birth or naturalization is happy about its citizens holding citizenship in another country, because it complicates things. Nevertheless, most countries, the US included, resign themselves to the fact that such things exist, although on rare occasions take steps to take away citizenship it granted earlier on good faith. For example, if a US citizen becomes a member of the armed forces of another country or accepts a political post, the US can and has started proceedings to strip the individual of US citizenship, although quite often they confirm the individual as a citizen. In may cases, the individual renounces US citizenship, to avoid a conflict of interest.

    Hungary’s ambassador to the US, Peter Zwack, renounced his US citizenship for that reason, only to be sacked by the Hungarian government. His replacement, Pal Tarr was a lot smarter: he kept his French citizenship, which did not interfere with his post in the US.

  29. Istvan :
    The following appeared in today’s Budapest Business Journal:
    Economic sanctions against Russia would “best be avoided” because these are neither in the interest of Europe nor Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview in business daily Világgazdaság on Friday.

    In fact the above was already quoted by Reuters as a news from Friday’s Vilaggazdasag.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/28/us-ukraine-crisis-russia-hungary-idUSBREA2R0CD20140328

    Today, Politics.hu quotes
    “The Hungarian government will give its full support to any sanctions approved by the European Union against Russia in connection with the crisis in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said.”
    http://www.politics.hu/20140331/hungary-fully-supports-sanctions-against-russia-says-foreign-minister/

    WE should al remember when it comes form Orban / Fidesz “Do not listen what are [they] saying to win the election.” (Orban Viktor to USA diplomats) Just watch what they do.

  30. …James Martonyi said….and then he quit.

    Perhaps, at age 70, the guilty conscience may have, finally, kicked in..

  31. Tuesday morning snapshot of the webpage of the “public” television news.

    It is a Fidesz propaganda tool – pro-Fidesz and anti-opposition headlines only.

    “Orban: strong government, victorious country”
    “Varga [Orban’s finance minister]: Bajnai [ex premier of the opposition] has no idea about the budget”
    “Hende [another minister]: we accomplished all of our promises”
    “This is the way [detained ex-opposition vice chair] Simon can save his wealth”

    http://www.168ora.hu/itthon/kozmedia-csak-fidesz-125286.html

  32. Sackhoes Contributor :
    There is another problem, however, that I experienced and I am starting to hear about other cases from the US, Canada, Australia: the cost of returning the ballots. The outer (mailer) envelope is marked for free postage and a statement in French that “Hongrie” guarantees payment. The return address does not contain the country name HUNGARY. My experience and others show that our English speaking postal clerks have no idea what to do with these strange French envelopes. I ended up paying $3.29 for stamps and added the word HUNGARY on the envelope. To send in PRIORITY MAIL, as the envelope states in French marking, would have cost me an additional $24. I declined to pay that.

    You should ask for your money back. French being the only official language of the Universal Postal Union, its use is perfectly legit for international pre-paid mail. Some clerks are just incompetent.

    Which reminds me of a trip to a British caribbean territory with a Hungarian friend at the end of 2004. According to the immigration clerk, Hungarians needed a visa (which this friend didn’t apply for, and which couldn’t be delivered on arrival). His supervisor agreed… until they checked their manuals and realized Hungary had joined the EU six months before, and thus no visa was needed for their citizens.

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