Soul searching in the Hungarian Socialist Party

On Saturday the MSZP committee of important party leaders (választmányi bizottság) gathered to evaluate the situation following the disastrous showing of the United Alliance. Apparently the at times heated debate lasted almost six hours. The gathering began with a forty-minute speech by party chairman Attila Mesterházy who, according to those present, repeated what he had already said publicly in an interview with HVG. First of all, he announced that there is no need for hasty action. It takes time to assess the situation. In any case, according to the party’s by-laws, there will be an opportunity to vote on possible personnel changes after the October municipal elections. At that time he will be a candidate for the chairmanship.

Otherwise, Mesterházy admitted that they didn’t listen to the demands of the people, that they ignored Jobbik, and that they didn’t appeal to sentiment, which is more important than rationality. In brief, at least in my interpretation, Mesterházy thinks that they should more or less have followed the path Fidesz chose in the last eight years or so. That is, let’s be as populist as Fidesz is, but let’s do it better. If Fidesz operates with highly charged nationalism, let’s be nationalistic. If the people want law and order, let’s create a law-and-order MSZP and by extension, because Mesterházy admitted that cooperation among the democratic parties is necessary, a law-and-order Unity Alliance. Mesterházy even dragged in the latest tiff between Brussels and Budapest over the distillation of pálinka. He stands with Viktor Orbán on that, he would also fight Brussels on the issue. But the European Union doesn’t want to forbid the distillation of pálinka, as Mesterházy implied. The argument is over taxes. The EU doesn’t want to allow Hungarians to brew pálinka without paying excise taxes on their product.

All in all, I believe that what Mesterházy outlined is no remedy for the ills of MSZP or the Unity Alliance.

The party leadership didn’t call for Mesterházy’s immediate resignation, a good decision considering that the EP campaign has already started. In fact, Tibor Szanyi, who will lead the MSZP delegation to Brussels, is hard at work and managed to get the necessary 20,000 endorsements in record time. Yes, now is not the time to get rid of the whole top leadership, although apparently there were voices demanding such a radical step. There was, however, plenty of criticism of Mesterházy’s leadership techniques. One of the main complaints was that he tried to imitate the leadership style of Viktor Orbán and hence created a highly centralized MSZP, which goes against socialist tradition.

In the wake of its 2010 defeat MSZP tried to reinvent itself to portray a younger, fresher image. The selection of the new leadership was based on age instead of experience and merit. In its rejuvenation campaign the old leadership was pushed into the background. Mesterházy somewhat naively thought that Fidesz politicians would no longer be able to call MSZP a bunch of commies. He should have known better. The name calling continued unabated.

Ildikó Lendvai, one of the critics of MSZP's present strategy, is arriving at the meeting Photo: Simon Móricz-Sabján/Népszabadság

Ildikó Lendvai, former chairman of MSZP, is arriving at the meeting
Photo: Simon Móricz-Sabján/Népszabadság

Antal Rogán and Gergely Gulyás are now offering MSZP a (poisonous) olive branch. They are talking about the possibility of reaching an understanding with MSZP as long as the coalition gets rid of Ferenc Gyurcsány. Orbán is fixated with Gyurcsány; he wants the former prime minister out of politics for good. The Fidesz leadership doesn’t really care whether MSZP is full of old apparatchiks or young Turks; they’ll attach the “communist” label in either case. But  they’ll gladly work hand in hand with these so-called communists to achieve their goal of silencing Gyurcsány.

I mentioned that the EP campaign has already started. It was DK that organized the first street demonstration. While Mesterházy is ready to fight Fidesz for the same voters, Gyurcsány blissfully ignores “the psyche of Hungarian society” which, according to Mesterházy, MSZP misunderstood. He doesn’t have to make compromises in the hope of competing with Viktor Orbán for the same votes. He can ignore the nationalism of the majority and stand for a United States of Europe, which might not be a popular position in the present nationalistic atmosphere created by Fidesz. Although he made a compromise for the sake of unity, the party’s official position is that no new Hungarian citizens in the neighboring countries should be able to vote. While Együtt2014-PM was ready to bargain with Fidesz over the new constitution, Gyurcsány could simply announce that, if it depended on him, the new constitution would be thrown out as soon as he is in power. Yes, he can say all these things because at the moment he is in no position to translate his ideas into action.

As for his ideas on the European Union, besides wanting to have a stronger central power Gyurcsány also seemed to indicate that more financial help would be necessary to avoid the kind of political climate that produced the growth of the extreme right in the eastern fringes of the Union. I’m trying to interpret what Gyurcsány had to say on the subject. Surely, he cannot hope for larger EU subsidies. Perhaps he contemplates using the EU convergence monies not only for building roads and paving city squares but for eliminating poverty. He said that it is not enough to have free travel and the right of entrepreneurship; “people must feel that poverty can be eliminated in the long run and the gap between rich and poor can be narrowed.”

I don’t know how the Hungarian left will improve its standing among the Hungarian electorate. But listening to the demands of the people as they have been shaped by powerful government propaganda is not a formula for success. Steve Jobs famously said that “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” The left has to create its own unique product line, one so attractive that people will decide that it is something they simply have to have.

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35 comments

  1. “All in all, I believe that what Mesterházy outlined is no remedy for the ills of MSZP or the Unity Alliance.”

    I think it probably is. It will be just a whole new circle of hell for the country itself.

  2. Eva,

    One of the lessons MA seemed to adopt from Jobbik’s campaign was the strive for orderliness (however one would want to translate “rendpartisag”). What I think the best attributes of Jobbik’s campaign was in 2014: staying away from ideology battles – for the sake of resorting to pragmatics. This is the lesson MSzP and their allies should learn: not just staying away from ideology battles but spelling out: this is the local communities’ decision (e.g. the standoff on Szabadsag Ter memorial, etc), our job is to stay away from it, and rather focusing on a good operational environment for the economy, or in simple speak: pragmatics.

    I quite like the blogs of Tokfalvi Elek on hvg.hu (based on the obvious translation of the name) and I would link one of his latest for Hungarian speakers especially calling attention to the (Jakab Andor) link within the link: http://kapitalizmus.hvg.hu/2014/04/10/miben-van-igaza-schiffernek-es-miben-nincs/. The subjects he brings up in this writing could represent one of the more significant high balls MSzP failed to take advantage of: cooperating with the venture-inclined folks who don’t want the state meddling in business but still preferred Fidesz over MSzP being unclear about the directions of the latter other than doing away with the single-rate taxation. There were a couple (few?) hundred thousands of well-to-do people who might have traded a higher tax bracket for more favorable and transparent policies towards small businesses.

    And for the sake of pragmatics, crying out loud, would someone tell Ildiko Lendvai – the Hungarian Nancy Pelosi – not to show off in front of Audis with a French designer shop bag in her hands for publicized meetings after a lost election where MSzP failed to address millions of poor!!! In case I miss the context, my apologies but this is the impression the photo posting makes.

  3. Jano April 14, 2014 at 6:11 pm | #1 Quote
    “All in all, I believe that what Mesterházy outlined is no remedy for the ills of MSZP or the Unity Alliance.”
    I think it probably is. It will be just a whole new circle of hell for the country itself.

    ===========================================

    Mesterhazy can see the future in its dark colors. I hope he will resign now. I appreciate his efforts, but the nation which lost its freedom again, needs smart new brains, and new forces to escape the orban era.

  4. “And for the sake of pragmatics, crying out loud, would someone tell Ildiko Lendvai – the Hungarian Nancy Pelosi – not to show off in front of Audis with a French designer shop bag in her hands for publicized meetings after a lost election where MSzP failed to address millions of poor!!! In case I miss the context, my apologies but this is the impression the photo posting makes.”

    Exactly my first thought on seeing the photo. Had it not been captioned, “chair of the MSzP” would have been the last thought to enter my head.

    Also, a bit rich (pun intended) for Gy to call for the reduction of the gap between the rich and the poor. Orbán has carefully nurtured his ‘man of the people’, ‘one of us’ image, whereas Gy is almost universally seen as someone who got rich suspiciously quickly after 1989 (and is far too clever and slippery, with all his talk, to be trusted anyawy).

    The left don’t stand an earthly. Possibly, after a (very) long night of wailing and gnashing of teeth, they might re-emerge as a party ready to take on Orbán and govern the car-crash that Hungary will be by then. But if that is ever to happen, they need to get on with it tout bloody suite.

    Which bit of the last 8 years do they fail to understand?

  5. Entirely OT – for which apologies – but I have just been involved in an argument about Hungarian income tax. I was under the impression that there was a flat tax these days, but I am being told that if you earn above a certain amount there is a higher tax band. Is this so?

    I would be very grateful if someone could give me a brief explanation of how income tax works in Hungary.

    Thanks

    PS – our time in Hungary last summer exactly coincided with me breaking my foot and being in plaster, so I never encountered the new transaction tax. So, it’s been quite a shock this year to discover that I’m paying 2.7% on every bank transaction. I usually pay for most things by card, but, when I discovered what was happening, I switched to cash – only to discover that I also pay and extra 2.7% to withdraw money. With the usual £2/2% bank charge, it now costs me nearly £5 to withdraw £100 (37,000 Ft).

    There would be riots over something as sneaky as this in the UK, I can only assume that the average Hungarian doesn’t use banks very much.

  6. There’s something seriously wrong in Hungarian politics. Here in the blog, everyone is deeply contemplating their navel about ‘left’ and ‘right’ and ‘extreme right’. What about examining the way the opposition conducted their campaign? It’s highly suspect to me.

    There were at least 5 issues, anyone of which, hammered daily, should’ve been enough to highlight the failures of Fidesz:
    –freeing the Azeri under shady circumstances
    –Malev ticket fiasco
    –pension money confiscation
    –Anygan and the mafia land grab
    –Horvath and the tax avoidance with the government investigation of the whistleblower himself

    I can’t remember a systematic hammering of the government on these points by every member of the united opposition. Any ONE of the above issues would’ve sunk a politician in the US, in Canada, in Britain, France, and Germany.

  7. Paul :
    Entirely OT – for which apologies – but I have just been involved in an argument about Hungarian income tax. I was under the impression that there was a flat tax these days, but I am being told that if you earn above a certain amount there is a higher tax band. Is this so?
    I would be very grateful if someone could give me a brief explanation of how income tax works in Hungary.
    Thanks
    PS – our time in Hungary last summer exactly coincided with me breaking my foot and being in plaster, so I never encountered the new transaction tax. So, it’s been quite a shock this year to discover that I’m paying 2.7% on every bank transaction. I usually pay for most things by card, but, when I discovered what was happening, I switched to cash – only to discover that I also pay and extra 2.7% to withdraw money. With the usual £2/2% bank charge, it now costs me nearly £5 to withdraw £100 (37,000 Ft).
    There would be riots over something as sneaky as this in the UK, I can only assume that the average Hungarian doesn’t use banks very much.

    The beauty of this is that you pay the exorbitant fees (not the tax) to the bloodsucking banks. People feel they are outta control.

    The banks pay the tax, but people blame the banks.

    Isn’t this a work of a genius?

  8. Sunyilo12:

    I think you are mistaken about the venture inclined folks. There is literally nobody from this group who would not want state meddling, only they want it to their benefit. Unfortunately, I think in most cases in Hungary entrepreneurship means only dealing-whealing to get access to state(EU)-sponsored deals.

    Look: there is no business which can potentially bring as much return as a fixed EU-project. You (provided you are a fidesznik who has proven his loyalty, which is not so easy) may work on it for a year, pay back 25% to various people, as you do these days, but you still can get access to hundreds of millions, about a third of which can be stolen (as a EU project is usually sold at double or more of the real price). Why bother with real business when it’s pretty difficult to produce a widget better than what the Germans have been producing for 150 years.

    There is only a minuscule, though much-hyped start-up scene. Despite all the hype it is much smaller than it is in Prague or Warsaw or even in Bratislava, which is really just the outskirts of Vienna. This scene at least keeps the independent entrepreneurship spirit alive, but they are extremely coolness-obsessed. MSZP can do whatever the ***k they want, they will forever remain the dusty commies and the butt of jokes. End of story.

    These start-up people may potentially vote for Bajnai, but again, this entrepreneurial group is almost impossible to measure, and in my estimation at least half are actually fidesznik lifers, as they come from the Buda suburbs as naturally it is they who have the education and curiosity to try to jump the coolness bandwagon (for a Jobbik voter rural working class person coolness means at most being able to purchase a cheap smartphone, as even Samsung, let alone IPhone is out of the question). As Jobbik is lacking, Fidesz is over-represented among these people.

    All the other entrepreneurs are life-long Jobbik and Fidesz supporters as these parties promise and often deliver protection from the multinationals. At least Fidesz and Jobbik torment or promise to torment the multinationals which gives credibility when it comes to Hungarian entrepreneurs.

    I guess one of the problems is that people like Mesterhazy, Velez, Molnar and apparently their advisors have zero vision. They are not creative, do not read or travel, lack ideas. Tölgyessy at least saw that: these people are intellectually zeros. At least the old fideszniks at one point were smart, intellectually ambitious students even if they got to be power-mad drones. It is thus not a surprize then that the MSZPniks have no vision which they could implement, at best they can follow Fidesz, but just as a company which is a follower rarely wins over an innovative one, they will have hard time showing they can do better what Fidesz has already been doing. I am more and more inclined to believe a commenter here who said that MSZP will be Peyer-like loyal-opposition to the Fidesz-system, and essentially Fidesz will keep MSZP alive somehow, just barely, so that the MSZP people can at least play politics and the illusion of a real democracy could be maintained.

  9. MSZP is beyond repair. Remember Laszlo Kovacs? He was Hungary’s first commissioner at the EU Commission (and previously a foreign minister and chairman of MSZP).

    He is now 75 years old, he was 65 when he was sent to the Commission. Surely, the Commission is often a place where old politicians are dumped, they get one final nice job.

    That could have been, however, a great opportunity for MSZP but it is just incapable of getting “long term vision”.

    MSZP obviously should have sent – despite the conventions – a young politician who could have returned to Hungary, now strengthened with his EU-network and who thus could have been used by the left. No, they sent Laszlo Kovacs, who is now retired and completely useless (and of course he is not an elder statesman type of person, he is a old-school szoci).

    Right now the commissioner is Laszlo Andor, who is probably not a politician type at all, but at least his relatively young, he can be potentially of use to the left.

    But compare Kovacs to Tibor Navracsics who will head to Brussels and charm everybody and defend Fidesz and be Fidesz’ point man when the Commission wants to deal with a Hungarian infringements. Navracsics will settle those issues and meanwhile people will like him in Brussels, after all, he is a real gentlemen, isn’t he? When he comes back he can be a – 100% loyal – president who can defend Orban in the EU, now armed with his EU experience and thick rolodex. That is long term vision.

    But I rememeber that when MSZP still had the chance also nominated old people to the Constitutional Court who given the former age limit of 70 years could not potentially fill out their tenure, which of course upset the balance of the court. MSZP also sent a loyal constitutional court judge Otto Czucz to the Luxemburg court which again upset the balance of the court, which then further induced others (like the Socialist Mihaly Bihari) to commit to the now winning side (Fidesz/conservatives) which contributed to many, now it seems mortal, wounds MSZP received. MSZP just could not get strategy and vision.

    MSZP is hopeless, if they survive somehow, it will be only thanks to Fidesz’ machinations.

  10. I don’t think the Party grandees arriving in sackcloth and ashes, whilst vigorously practicing self-flagellation, would exactly help the MSZP’s situation @sunyilo12. For crying out loud, she’s got a shopping back from a standard Hungarian precinct shop, not Prada! What are we demanding here, exactly? Whatever it is, it ain’t relevant.

    Not only that, but the idea that a ‘business community’ exists in any meaningful sense in Hungary smacks of fantasy. Maybe in the science/tech field, there is a *little* bit of a scene, but ultimately many of these glorified sole traders are running inadequate and outmoded retail outlets, or angling for a slice of government contracts. I think the MSZP was quite specific, in any case, with its plans for insulating public buildings, etc… many of these plans were very small-biz friendly. But ultimately, this wasn’t an issue and the sector didn’t (or couldn’t) vote according to its best interests, mirroring the regional working-class.

    Far more relevant is what petofi wrote – that MSZP politicians failed to communicate on an epic scale, and failed to drill home a number of points. I would add 27.5% AFA to this discussion, and the way it is illogically and regressively applied, eg e-books are at 27.5% whilst paper books are 10% AFA. A lot of this simply makes no sense whatsoever and illustrates that Fidesz are primarily a product of the 20th century.

    Ultimately this is an election which got away from the opposition and the growing tide of dissent in the MSZP, which currently looks like sweeping Mesterhazy away, does at least indicate a recognition of this, and a sense in which the MSZP has to own this defeat. There are multiple weak spots in Fidesz which the opposition barely wrestled with. Incidentally, Eva is right about the old people being prematurely bundled aside. As Stanislaus writes, where the MSZP had some leads in areas of its weakness, it has squandered them. József Gráf, for example, regions and agriculture minister in the Bajnai administration, should never have been allowed to simply go back home, without at least contributing to a long-term agricultural strategy.

    Even now, the MSZP can make a massive political difference – I saw an interview last night on ATV with Gergely Karacsony, who seemed to be interested in running for the mayoral election in Budapest. By supporting Karacsony as an independent candidate the MSZP would both demonstrate its commitment to unseating Fidesz candidates wherever possible, and show it can handle playing a supporting role on occasion. Both of these factors were almost entirely absent from its disastrous election campaign. By the end of the year, we’ll know for sure if there is any life left, or whether it is little more than an ego-ridden annexe – a comfy place for the paper opposition to the Fidesz state.

  11. @whoever

    To continue with my suspicions, what has bothered me more is the sense that all the ‘tools’
    that were at hand for MSZP were not utilized during the campaign. It seems to me that a half-hearted effort, at best, was put forward…suggesting that the MSZP back room boys were
    quite comfortable with whatever form of profit-sharing existed with Fidesz. What’s more,
    I think a deal was probably struck to keep MSZP as the opposition rather than to have Jobbik
    rise above them. It all seems a fixed game, with little portly, Orban moving the pieces here and there.

    The above scenario also suggests that co-opting Gyurcsany was a brilliant move preventing him from turning his guns on MSZP. Same for Bajnai: inclusion meant nullification.

    Only the creation of a new party by Bajani–sans the toadying that he was at first guilty of–could eventually break the stranglehold of Fidesz on the country’s politics. Sadly, by the time that is done, the country will be hamstrung with debts to Russia.

  12. @all commenters:

    Thanks for the valuable insights!

    Now the results of the election don’t look too good but if you just look at the raw numbers I feel Orbán and his mafia must be very disappointed!

    Even though they have almost total control over the media (any one remember North Korean state tv?), had those million people marches, squeezed the banks and those ugly multinationals with extra taxes and gave a lot of presents (“regie”) to the populace, produced those hundreds of thousands extra “jobs”, reaffirmed those traditional Christian values etc etc …

    In the end they only got 44 % of their votes – and more people stayed at home than last time!

    Only the New Citizens showed their gratitude by voting with 95 % for their saviour.

    And 30 % for the left opposition (incl LMP) is not too bad – I remember several cases in Eastern Europe where once formidable parties were totally destroyed – not getting into parliament the next time.

    Also I think we should wait for the results of the elections for the EU parliament. Is it true that the voter turnout for these elections is even lower, usually under 40 %?

  13. “A nagyobbik kormánypártban viszont most már attól tartanak, hogy a baloldal esetleges összeomlása egy-két cikluson belül komoly vetélytárssá hizlalja a Jobbikot.”

    “In the bigger governing party [i.e. Fidesz, not KDNP] it is now feared that the left-wing’s potential collapse can in an election cycle or two fatten Jobbik into a serious rival.”

    Excerpt from a HVG.hu article, which shows nicely how long-term Fideszniks calculate. They naturally prepare and plan for election cycles ahead, 5-10 years plans are constantly updated when new info is available. Meanwhile on the left, they are clueless.

  14. Klag: “The beauty of this is that you pay the exorbitant fees (not the tax) to the bloodsucking banks. People feel they are outta control.

    The banks pay the tax, but people blame the banks.

    Isn’t this a work of a genius?”

    Haha. Normally the word “tax” is already directing people to what it probably is. But in case it is indeed impossible for people to grasp that the banks are imposing a “fee” due to a “tax”, and given that people were able to link the utility prices with Orban although public utilities are also provided by companies for “fees”, I suggest another “work of genius” at the banks, marking the fee due to a tax in red also. Or VAT on every receipt.

  15. Éva: “Mesterházy thinks that they should more or less have followed the path Fidesz chose in the last eight years or so. That is, let’s be as populist as Fidesz is, but let’s do it better. If Fidesz operates with highly charged nationalism, let’s be nationalistic. If the people want law and order, let’s create a law-and-order MSZP”

    With an MSzP so inventive, soul searching can go on for some time. The role of MSzP has remained as dubious as before. But what worries me most is that it appears to be all about “strategy”, not about real objectives. What do they want Hungary to be in a few years? A country of nationalists and law and order? Objectives or goals typically set in other countries involve a definition of living standards, or of the efficiency of government, or environmental goals or social goals and the financing of the social systems. In Hungary, the main issues are only vaguely related to what politics in a democracy should or even could achieve. The politicians appear to be searching for “what people actually want”, while the job of political parties and movements is also to identify and set an agenda, and suggest ways how to achieve it. (We believe this is best for us and perhaps also for many more people and that is why we work towards this goal.) Otherwise the most convenient of all approaches towards politics, seeing it as a consumption good to be provided by the politicians (we want all at the same time but without having to contribute, and politicians ask us what we want, so we want an easy life) will always win. But it will never deliver because it is perhaps a good “strategy” to win over votes, but not a programme that can materialise and achieve progress in the longer term.

    About the bag of Ildiko Lendvai. It is indeed remarkably placed on the photo. Independently of whether this is an expensive or not store, why arrive with a bag from a fashion store, presumably after a shopping tour, at the meeting? I was thinking whether she is paid for the advertisement. (Probably not, but it shows how provincial politics can be.)

  16. Kirsten :
    Klag: “The beauty of this is that you pay the exorbitant fees (not the tax) to the bloodsucking banks. People feel they are outta control.
    The banks pay the tax, but people blame the banks.
    Isn’t this a work of a genius?”
    Haha. Normally the word “tax” is already directing people to what it probably is. But in case it is indeed impossible for people to grasp that the banks are imposing a “fee” due to a “tax”, and given that people were able to link the utility prices with Orban although public utilities are also provided by companies for “fees”, I suggest another “work of genius” at the banks, marking the fee due to a tax in red also. Or VAT on every receipt.

    The banks are explicitly forbidden to transfer the tax further onto the clients. It is just that banks surprize-surprize all decided to increase various fees to ‘compensate’ for the losses caused by the taxes and the National Bank looks the other way (as part of the deal with the government).

  17. Klag: “The banks are explicitly forbidden to transfer the tax further onto the clients.”

    And the utility companies are forced to mark price decreases. Why then is it “imprecise” to call the Hungarian regime authoritarian?

  18. sunyilo12 :
    And for the sake of pragmatics, crying out loud, would someone tell Ildiko Lendvai – the Hungarian Nancy Pelosi – not to show off in front of Audis with a French designer shop bag in her hands for publicized meetings after a lost election where MSzP failed to address millions of poor!!!

    That’s business as usual for the Hungarian “left.”
    Like Gyurcsány going on “hunger strike” wearing a Ralph Lauren shirt.
    They just don’t get it.

  19. Stanislaus :

    But compare Kovacs to Tibor Navracsics who will head to Brussels and charm everybody and defend Fidesz and be Fidesz’ point man when the Commission wants to deal with a Hungarian infringements. Navracsics will settle those issues and meanwhile people will like him in Brussels, after all, he is a real gentlemen, isn’t he? When he comes back he can be a – 100% loyal – president who can defend Orban in the EU, now armed with his EU experience and thick rolodex. That is long term vision.

    Well, about Navracsics’s charm. I’m not so sure that he will be such a hit. He had some nasty encounters with some of the important EU commissioners.

  20. “people must feel that poverty can be eliminated in the long run and the gap between rich and poor can be narrowed.”

    How about narrowing the gap between politicians and the average Hungarian?
    In other words, the country’s number 1 problem is unpunished corruption playing havoc with
    the public purse.

    More EU money? (I’m starting to get a queasy feeling about Gyurcsany…)

    How about greater law enforcement regarding politicians and public servants?

    The country has enough money, and enough potential to make more, provided that it is run honestly, and for the benefit of its citizens.

  21. Tyrker :

    sunyilo12 :
    And for the sake of pragmatics, crying out loud, would someone tell Ildiko Lendvai – the Hungarian Nancy Pelosi – not to show off in front of Audis with a French designer shop bag in her hands for publicized meetings after a lost election where MSzP failed to address millions of poor!!!

    That’s business as usual for the Hungarian “left.”
    Like Gyurcsány going on “hunger strike” wearing a Ralph Lauren shirt.
    They just don’t get it.

    While the Hungarian right build stadiums as playgrounds in there backyards as playground from taxpayers money? I vote for Lendvai shopping from her own money wherever she wants versus Orban’s pet projects from my money!
    http://atlatszo.blog.hu/2013/08/14/felcsuti_stadion_nem_csak_maganadomanybol_epul

  22. Re Ildiko Lendvai’s shopping bag. Fidesz politicians are not exactly modest men satisfied with second-hand shirts. Enough to look at Szijjártó’s shirts or his monthly salary.

  23. There is heavy historical burden on almost all Hungarians, our fathers lived the lives of prisoners without freedom.

    Let us try to be different. When we are fathers, we must be free. Let us promise this to our children.

    (Mothers can be substituted for fathers, and we will arrive to an even sadder account)

  24. I think there needs to be a serious discussion in Hungary over who is actually poor and who is systematically under reporting income. Zoltán Imre Nagy wrote a very serious academic article in 2011 about this issue that can be read in English at
    http://www.uni-obuda.hu/journal/Nagy_28.pdf

    Now I am not saying that in any way that many of Hungarians who are hiding probably 20% of their incomes are not poor. But many honestly think they are beating the system. The current perversity of the Hungarian economic system can not be laid at the door of Fidesz alone, the problems go beyond that. For example the legal tax paying part of the pornography industry is certainly central to Hungarian society and economy, relative to other countries. By 2005, 300 of the 1,200 pornographic films produced in Europe were of Hungarian origin. In 2008, the industry generated around € 636 million a year, making up around 0.5% of the country’s GDP. The non-tax paying part of this industry is extensive and is directly linked to the non-legal part of Hungarian prostitution and sex trafficking.

    Any one who thinks the MSZP can take on Orban’s corruption had better look at how extensive corruption is in Hungary and in other Central European nations. Convincing the people that there can be an honest government in Hungary will be no small task.

  25. OT
    As we all know, no country was so fast and keen about the opening of new improvements (like a change room) than Hungary for the last three months, coincidentally before the elections.
    It turns out for no surprise for the more intelligent and wise that most of those remarkable projects were not even finished, or ready (including gas lines). We also know that many of those projects would of been impossible to even start with without the money received from the EU that Orban / Fidesz and COF / Peace March adamantly lobbied against!!!

    So it comes as no surprise that many of those projects closed couple of hours after the opening in order to be finished. This includes the Castle Park.

    Castle Park is different from all, as Fidesz actually, first time in its history was able to show something that sums up what Fidesz is all about in a single plaque.
    Etched in marble, the plaque placed on the site of the Castle Park contains a spelling error most children after third grade would not make
    – épületegyüttes the plaque says instead of épületeggyüttes
    This represents the efforts of Fidesz regarding education reform, their new language preservation efforts, and at last but not least shows respect to Fidesz’ own Pal Schmitt, Hungary’s ex-President who turned out be a fraud, next to any other things.
    – April 3rd, 2014 is date on the plaque, but we all know that the opening took place on the 6th
    This represents Fidesz’ efforts on acting retroactively on anything they feel like
    – We also know that Castle Park closed the next day, since it is not ready.
    This represents all the Potemkin Village efforts of finances, communication, etc.

    We can only hope that the marble stays, and when the Hungarian people finally become enlightened, thy can put a second plaque up with the truth.

  26. @Some1: ” épületegyüttes the plaque says instead of épületeggyüttes”
    Sorry, but I do not get it. Which one is the correct spelling version in your view?

  27. “Some1: OK, I see the unfortunate mistake now: hogy épületegyüttes helyett “épületegyütest” sikerült odavésni.
    This could be corrected easily by replacing the marble sign. Nevertheless, can you see how easy to make a mistake??

  28. Kormos :

    @Some1: ” épületegyüttes the plaque says instead of épületeggyüttes”
    Sorry, but I do not get it. Which one is the correct spelling version in your view?

    Nitpicking? Nitpicking? Yes, the spelling was wrong it was épületegyütes. That is considered a gross spelling error in Hungarian. But apparently, the new Kossuth Square is full of signs with errors.

  29. Kormos :
    “Some1: OK, I see the unfortunate mistake now: hogy épületegyüttes helyett “épületegyütest” sikerült odavésni.
    This could be corrected easily by replacing the marble sign. Nevertheless, can you see how easy to make a mistake??

    No, I can’t. Not if this is someone’s job, who is getting paid for it. Not if the Prime Minister opens up a project with ah huge fan fair. Someone had to put down the text, someone had t approve it, someone els had to approve it again, someone had to etch it, someone had to read and approve what was etched, someone had to install it, someone had to approve if it is installed well, someone had to open up the building and read it. Did our Prime Minister read the thing? It is not a third grade assignment in the school hall. It is not a Blog feedback with people typing away without checking what they scribble. How about the date? What is that all about?

  30. Kormos,

    I think the intellectual degradation during the Orban government is pretty obvious. Started with Pal “Alamfő” Schmitt, with a fake PhD, who is practically illiterate.

    The best to measure the stupidity is reading the school books that came out of the regimes intellectual orifices experts. Like that latest history book that compares “our European God” (sic!) to the Greek Gods and tells the moon does the same thing every 28 days as women do. I guess this adds to the term “blood moon” we had yesterday a whole different meaning …

    They are stupid as hell. Stay away from them Kormos!

  31. Eva S. Balogh :

    Kormos :
    @Some1: ” épületegyüttes the plaque says instead of épületeggyüttes”
    Sorry, but I do not get it. Which one is the correct spelling version in your view?

    Nitpicking? Nitpicking? Yes, the spelling was wrong it was épületegyütes. That is considered a gross spelling error in Hungarian. But apparently, the new Kossuth Square is full of signs with errors.

    As Eva said, and you can see the photo too, here:

    http://urbanista.blog.hu/2014/04/15/_szupergaz_az_orban-emlektabla_a_varkert_bazar_oldalan_foleg_hogy_egy_marha_nagy_helyesirasi_hiba_is?utm_source=cimlap&utm_medium=link&utm_content=2014_04_15&utm_campaign=index

    indeed the same word have been chiseled into stone with two different spelling, the double t right: “épületegyüttes”.
    Amazing, really.
    Particularly since nowadays the manufacturing usually computerized too, (CNC router making the “chiseling” work) so it won’t be that hard to do a spellcheck at least.

    However, the symbolism invaluable!

  32. In my opinion Mesterházy arrived to a wrong conclusion regarding “what the people want” hence his effort trying to emulate their more successful opponents only will lead to another failure.
    Successfully following Orbán would need to build up a cult of personality, to have believers and worshippers, and a lot of disciplined members who dutifully following orders, no questions asked – so, if he manages then there is no MSZP any longer, but another party of zombies.

    Figuring out, that the really appealing factor in case of Jobbik is that they will provide a more ” orderly” society is another of his faulty assessments.
    After all, can you imagine MSZP-gendarme too, in a bowler hat and a cock tail on it?
    Jobbik’s obsession with “order” working only in one direction and this is against the Roma. The driving force behind not even the craving for a peaceful countryside living, but the open and racially loaded hatred – how on Earth can anyone even thinking along these lines?
    If Mesterházy want to score by taking a stance regarding law and order, why don’t he announces a ‘holy war’ on corruption?
    I bet, it would gain quite – albeit outside – a support!

    Countless times I already expressed my dismay about their totally impotent communication, and I agree with Petofi, it was just bad, even to their means they performed very poorly.
    Unfortunately it goes to the whole democratic side, while there were- and still is wide open communications opportunities which hardly, if at all has been utilized.
    Just look at, how Jobbik managed to shift their whole image in a few weeks time, while I hardly can imagine that they have substantially more funds than the while Unity Alliance, but apparently they used it on the right way to their purpose.
    I mean, it could have be done, there is no real excuse, why didn’t they done it right.
    (Before anyone will come up with the limited media, I would like to call the attention, that Jobbik didn’t have more of that either, so we can compare it freely at will.)

    In short,not enough that they managed to screw up, now they hurrying toward the wrong path. In my opinion the balancing act what Mesterházy tried so far, like trying to compromise with the old way and renewing a little, trying to be socialist even social-democrat while leaning to the supporters of the right, etc. will never work.
    In this light I respect definitely more Gyurcsány’s no-compromise attitude, it represent much more straight character. To me, as I said. After all, he left the MSZP, remember?

    Actually having steady principles may turn to be one of the things “the people” really want, who knows?

  33. Tonight on the M2 news there must have been a long report (full of Fidesz counter-propaganda) on MSZP – my wife immediately switched channels but when she switched back several minutes later it was still going on …

    Seems Fidesz is following the rule:

    After the elections is before the elections …

    They’re already on full speed preparing for the EU elections!

    Will the news ever return to normal operting – not for a long time probably …

  34. Well, as you are in Hungary all the news will be filtered and orbanised, so you better get used to it. As it seems now, for an ext couple of decades.
    Try to relax and take it easy wolfi, that’s the way how “the majority wanted it.
    – Or so it turned out anyway…

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