Budapest municipal election: MSZP-LMP deal?

I think it’s time to pay some attention to LMP which, against all expectations, managed to garner 5.34% of the votes on April 6 and thus will be represented in parliament. LMP is a relatively new party. Its origins go back to a group of environmentalists who were responsible for the nomination of László Sólyom, himself an ardent environmentalist, for the position of president in 2005. Several members of this civic organization, called “Védegylet,” came up with the idea of forming a new political party which, as the party’s name indicates, would be a different kind of political actor. Obviously pure as the driven snow. This message resonated with many voters who were convinced that all politicians are corrupt and all politics outright dirty. The party received 7.48% of the votes in 2010 and was able to send 16 of its members to parliament.

The LMP delegation which represented the party was very active. Women comprised half of the delegation, a welcome addition to the otherwise monotonously male makeup of Hungarian politics. Their ambitious leader, András Schiffer, had great plans. Eventually, he wanted to have LMP be the premier party. A party that could win elections by itself. Therefore, he always refused to tie LMP to any other opposition party. It was this stance that eventually led to a split within the party. More than half of the party’s parliamentary delegation left LMP. They considered Schiffer’s position injurious to the democratic opposition which should have united to concentrate their efforts against Viktor Orbán, whom they considered to be the greatest danger to Hungarian democracy. When Schiffer and six other people in the caucus rejected their argument for unity, they left and joined Gordon Bajnai’s Együtt 2014. At the time Schiffer accused these people of selling their honor for parliamentary seats. As it turned out, none of the former LMP politicians who joined Bajnai managed to get into parliament, whereas the rump LMP will be represented by six MPs in the new parliament.

In comparison to 2010 LMP lost a considerable number of votes. In 2010, 383,876  people voted for Schiffer’s party while in 2014 that number was only 269,414, a loss of about 30%. In Budapest, however, they did a little better than four years ago. They were especially strong in the center districts. In districts I and V, which are known to be conservative areas, they received over 10% of the votes, one percentage point higher than in 2010. Schiffer is certain that this slightly improved performance means that he is making headway with conservative voters. I somehow doubt that this interpretation holds water. LMP’s fiercely anti-capitalist rhetoric shouldn’t appeal to conservatives.

Whatever the case, according to reliable sources many members of the MSZP leadership are thinking of enticing Schiffer to cooperate with MSZP in the forthcoming municipal election in Budapest. MSZP’s original candidate for the post was Csaba Horváth, who lost to István Tarlós (Fidesz) in 2010. At that time LMP had its own candidate, Benedek Jávor (who got 9.98% of the votes), who today is the co-chairman of Együtt 2014-PM. (The Jobbik candidate, it should be noted, received 7.27% of the votes.) At that time, right after the large Fidesz victory in the spring, it was clear that the Fidesz candidate was practically unbeatable. Since then, polls indicate that Tarlós can be beaten, but MSZP believes that LMP votes are necessary for a victory. Thus, apparently, some people came up with the idea of dumping Csaba Horváth and instead making a deal with LMP: Schiffer’s party can name its candidate for lord mayor (főpolgármester) and MSZP will support him/her.

Apparently, MSZP is ready to abandon Horváth because Együtt 2014-PM refuses to support the MSZP candidate. Moreover, I am almost certain that important MSZP politicians consider Horváth a weak candidate and hence are quite ready to look for someone else. The cooperation would work the following way: MSZP and LMP would start the campaign with their own candidates but eventually the MSZP candidate would throw his weight behind the LMP person. A generous offer, but it looks as if LMP politicians are not crazy about the idea. They feel that in the long run any kind of electoral cooperation with other parties will harm LMP’s prospects.

Critics of the idea of MSZP-LMP cooperation in the Budapest municipal election, especially those who don’t think much of LMP and András Schiffer, have already announced that the MSZP leaders lost their minds. LMP wouldn’t be able to come up with a viable candidate. Well, I could come up with a name: Péter Róna, the American banker and economist. Róna left Hungary with his mother in 1956 when he was 14 years old. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and received a law degree from Oxford University. Lately, he threw in his lot with LMP and seems to be in LMP’s inner circle. I’m not surprised at Róna’s attraction to LMP: he considers himself a socialist and, despite the fact that he headed an investment bank before returning to Hungary, is a fierce critic of banks and capitalism in general. Róna also seems to be popular among those who are regular listeners of Klubrádió and ATV. It is another matter whether Róna, who is over 70 and has no political or administrative experience, would accept the nomination.

Péter Róna

Péter Róna

Today a caller to György Bolgár’s program, “Let’s talk it over,” announced that the opposition should simply give up the city and let Tarlós continue in office. If the candidate of a united opposition wins, Viktor Orbán will make sure that Budapest is “bulldozered.” Whoever the new mayor is, his life will be hell as will that of the city. Let Fidesz have Budapest for four more years. Sooner or later the Orbán regime will collapse because such a system cannot be maintained for too long. Maybe there is something in that argument.

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49 comments

  1. They should nominate Ágnes Somfai to be mayor! She ran for LMP’s nomination for mayor in 2010 (but lost to Jávor), and she currently sits on the Budapest City Council.

    Unfortunately, since she was part of the splinter group that broke away to form PM, he name is probably mud in LMP nowadays 😦

  2. If the best candidate the opposition can come up with is Rona, then yes, I agree with the idea of just giving up the city. Rona would be a catastrophic choice. Horvath is not a good candidate either. What’s going in Hungarian politics is a really painful tragicomedy. Come on, there are so many bright people in the opposition… they should be able to find somebody who could be a competent leader for the city and take on Tarlos.

  3. I thought Peter Rona had a very tenuous relationship with LMP and András Schiffer at best. Now I admit I recall this from around November of last year, or am I confused about this?

    Moreover didn’t the National Bank of Hungary (MNB) has file a criminal complaint against Peter Rona yesterday, who is a member of its supervisory board, for publicly stating that some of the bank’s decisions had been unlawful. The National Bank also sued news website Index for claiming that the bank spent large sums of money on non-essential items without sufficient transparency or control. See http://www.politics.hu/20140423/central-bank-sues-board-member-for-slander/

    Is this a preemptive attack on Rona or coincidence?

  4. An :

    If the best candidate the opposition can come up with is Rona, then yes, I agree with the idea of just giving up the city. Rona would be a catastrophic choice. Horvath is not a good candidate either. What’s going in Hungarian politics is a really painful tragicomedy. Come on, there are so many bright people in the opposition… they should be able to find somebody who could be a competent leader for the city and take on Tarlos.

    An, you know what I think of Róna. I don’t remember who it was but someone respectable enough said that he is a “kókler.” That’s my impression also.

  5. Eva, exact same thing I heard… coming from people who know economics. The were dumbfounded to see how little understanding Rona has of macroeconomics, yet he is posing as an academic expert. He may have had a successful career in investment banking, but his grandiose, populist economic ideas are dubious.

  6. An :

    Eva, exact same thing I heard… coming from people who know economics. The were dumbfounded to see how little understanding Rona has of macroeconomics, yet he is posing as an academic expert. He may have had a successful career in investment banking, but his grandiose, populist economic ideas are dubious.

    Meanwhile I suddenly remembered who said about Róna that he was a “kókler.” Péter Felcsuti, former head of the Banking Association. I did some research on his academic background and he seems to have not much of an economic background. He actually majored in economic history not economics. To be an investment banker you don’t really need an economic background. I had a student who majored in history; went on to law school and he is millionaire now as an investment banker.

  7. No sane opposition can avoid having a candidate, a serious, plausible contender. Fidesz nominated law professor Ferenc Madl already in 1995 against Arpad Göncz and Madl accepted the nomination knowing full well that he will lose against Göncz given the mathematics in the Parliament which elected the president. In 2000 Fidesz – when it had the majority – thanked Madl for his nomination and nominated him again and Madl was elected.

    If the whole Budapest municipality is rearranged than the opposition mayor can protest and resign, but at least it should show that he/she can win (if he/she can). I agree that Rona is a kókler and it shows that impotency and visionlessness of the left that they cannot come up with better names.

    Of course this shows something else too. Few people dare to get shredded by the mighty Fidesz political machine and get associated with the left-wing openly. The lefties are just not committed as much as the right wingers are, they care way too much about their reputation and about what people might think about them.

    Winning against Tarlos will not be easy for anybody. Long gone are the days when Demszky could win easily. The majority of Budapest is now Fidesz leaning just as the whole of Hungary is (perhaps a bit less so).

  8. I think this was a very cleverly devised step from Mesterházy. He knew LMP would outright refuse the offer. An LMP mayor would absolutely be exposed to either a Fidesz or MSZP dominated representative board (sitting duck in both cases) but he or she would have to be the one taking the fall for an innefficient governance. On the other hand now MSZP looks like the one who’s willing to give up their own selfish interest for the greater good. Smart.

  9. In purely practical terms, I think the anonymous caller is right. Even if an opposition candidate could win, it would be a devastatingly pyric victory. Let sleeping Orbáns lie.

    Entirely OT – one of the reasons I haven’t been on HS much recently is that I was taken quite seriously ill whilst in Hungary (the other reason is that I have little to say!). As a result, I spent some time back under the tender mercies of the Hungarian health service.

    My previous experiences of Hungarian health care have ranged from OK to outright terrible, so this was something I was facing with some trepidation. But I needn’t have worried, my care was second to none. From the initial doctor’s conclusion that she wasn’t entirely sure what was wrong but she was worried and was sending me to hospital, to being given a barrage of tests, was unbelievably smooth and quick. The attention I got was at all times caring and friendly (with many staff speaking English), and there was very little of the traditional waiting in corridors.

    All in all, I was very impressed. It was at least up to the standard of the English NHS, if not better – and with its speed and lack of bureaucracy, it was way ahead of the NHS. Also, almost every person I saw was Hungarian (and mostly young) – in the NHS, you are very lucky to see any British doctors or staff. The buildings were all in good decorative state and clean, and the equipment was modern. My symptoms were pretty frightening and I was badly shaken by my sudden illness, so it was wonderful to be looked after so professionally and caringly.

    Of course, this being Hungary, and Orbán’s Hungary at that, there is a coda to this. A couple of days after returning home, I was deemed well enough to go outside for a brief walk, so I took the opportunity of taking the rubbish down to the communal bins. Our bins back on to the bins of the much larger block next door – which aren’t kept locked. And there, in full sight of anyone walking by, was a man and a woman (neither old or particularly poor looking) methodically working through the bins to see what they could find.

    So which Hungary is Orbán’s – people scavenging in bins, or a health service as least as good as England’s?

  10. Jano :
    I think this was a very cleverly devised step from Mesterházy. He knew LMP would outright refuse the offer. An LMP mayor would absolutely be exposed to either a Fidesz or MSZP dominated representative board (sitting duck in both cases) but he or she would have to be the one taking the fall for an innefficient governance. On the other hand now MSZP looks like the one who’s willing to give up their own selfish interest for the greater good. Smart.

    Tarlós is just there and he is waiting — until the casting show is over and all the media hype settles and then he can easily win.

    People respect calmness and firmness and (perceived) vision. With this lefty bunch, winning will be a piece of cake for Tarlós.

    This is not leadership on the left, people will not buy into that.

    They only see that MSZP is yet again wavering, has no vision or any plan.

    The left is splintered, is going against each other, it’s the usual lefty game (wirtschaft), trying to find candidates via personal ads. Ridiculous. People will vote for the corrupt but will not vote for the stupid. People can sometimes rationalize away corruption (at least the roads are built etc.) but cannot rationalize away stupidity, which they themselves regard as pathetic. They want leadership, charisma, serious people, these are such times.

    This is not clever at all, but it could have been Mesterhazy’s idea, I give you that.

  11. Monday Morning Quarterbacks

    Yes, the opposition seems to be pretty gormless — but the pundits who keep harping on this seem to forget that the opposition has been up against a government that is incomparably worse than gormless: it is profoundly corrupt, utterly unscrupulous and has the power to subvert elections, property, pensions, the constitution, the judiciary, laws and the media. And it is doing all of this, and more, full tilt, with the approbation of a brainwashed (and likewise gormless) populace. Let the pundits recall that nowhere has a user’s manual been written for what an opposition should do under such conditions. Those who are closest to the truth are probably the ones who say that the opposition has no choice but to wait for the government to implode under its own iniquities and their ultimate consequences.

  12. Meanwhile, those who yearn for justice for Hungary should refrain from adding oil to the shameful fire with which Fidesz has fried the opposition, otherwise it’s just self-immolation.

  13. @Paul: Glad you are feeling better. Welcome back.

    Hungarian healthcare can be a hit-or-miss. Sometimes it’s pure luck, sometimes it’s who you know. Most Hungarians rely on an informal network of friends and if you get referred to a doctor through some kind of acquaintance, your care is more likely to be better. I don’t know if that was a factor in your case, or you were just lucky this time.

    The problem is that you cannot trust that there is a persistent quality to the system.

  14. Paul :
    in the NHS, you are very lucky to see any British doctors or staff.

    Why would you be lucky to see British doctors or staff? Is there something wrong with non-British doctors?

    Paul :
    And there, in full sight of anyone walking by, was a man and a woman (neither old or particularly poor looking) methodically working through the bins to see what they could find.

    Yes, I see this every day in Budapest.

  15. Logodi,

    “People respect calmness and firmness and (perceived) vision. With this lefty bunch, winning will be a piece of cake for Tarlós”

    You obviously don’t live in Budapest.

    Those who don’t consider Tarlos to be an homophobic, racist, Orban-poodle merely regard him as a pathetic, pompous, characterless moron. Even Fidesz/Jobbik make fun of him.

    I would be tempted to let the idiot win while the fascist still runs the country- look at the example of Esztergom where the regime punished the whole town for daring to vote out the corrupt Fidesz scumbag of a mayor. We can wait for the day that both he and his master get their just reward for their crimes.

  16. Paul I would not making sweeping judgments on the Health Service of any country only based on my personal experience.
    So you believe that the Hungarian Health Service is better than the British. However, Hungarians flock to the UK and not vice versa. Looks like more than half a million Hungarians prefer to risk to be treated by the British, German or Austrian Health Services. And I have heard other stories about the Hungarian Health Service.

    Back to the proposal that LMP name a mayor for Budapest. Having heard yesterday Bernadette Szél at Egyenes Beszéd, I had the impression that she is very interested in continuing Gyurcsánozás. Most of the disappointed in Fidesz-KDNP will – I am afraid – rather vote Jobbik than LMP. Hungary will go from bad to worse.

  17. “I would be tempted to let the idiot win while the fascist still runs the country- look at the example of Esztergom where the regime punished the whole town for daring to vote out the corrupt Fidesz scumbag of a mayor. We can wait for the day that both he and his master get their just reward for their crimes.”

    It would at least signal that Fidesz are not invincible, and it seems that in Hungary perception of the chances of victory and momentum are hugely important in determining the resolve and participation of people… it would also provide a chance to build up NGOs which would help the people most affected by the government on the ground – remember, this is not just a political game, despite how Fidesz play it! It would have symbolic, and international importance.

  18. whoever :
    “I would be tempted to let the idiot win while the fascist still runs the country- look at the example of Esztergom where the regime punished the whole town for daring to vote out the corrupt Fidesz scumbag of a mayor. We can wait for the day that both he and his master get their just reward for their crimes.”
    It would at least signal that Fidesz are not invincible, and it seems that in Hungary perception of the chances of victory and momentum are hugely important in determining the resolve and participation of people… it would also provide a chance to build up NGOs which would help the people most affected by the government on the ground – remember, this is not just a political game, despite how Fidesz play it! It would have symbolic, and international importance.

    It would have a symbolic importance, for sure.

    But Esztergom is a great example not because Oneil says but because it just voted resoundingly for another Fidesz candidate (ie. despite Meggyes). The local democratic opposition candidate had no chance despite Meggyes.

    People, especially in rural places became quite pragmatists (i.e. those who are not hard core right-wingers like most of Western Hungary or Bács-Kiskun). Do we want constant clashes with Orban? When Orban can punish us, as he indeed can and always do? No. Let them have it and life will be good again.

    People are smart after all, they get the message these days pretty quickly, so they behave.

    And this is the message to Budapest as well.

    Tarlós will deliver. Sure, Vigszinhaz will suffer as other cultural programs for the godless liberals will too, but at least you will have a new tram line and order, not constant clashes and quarrels with the government. Who would want that? Besides, do you really care about the theatres? There you go. Mologyec.

    I think this is the time when the incumbent’s power is really strong.

    Tarlós – despite him being an idiot – will be hard to beat, especially by this motley crew (csipet csapat).

    It is one thing that Oneil would want to have the stupids in power, it is quite another whether the majority shares this wish. I doubt it. I don’t feel as though Budapest is in the mood to show it to Orban. It is in the mood for giving up and bowing before power. Exactly as Orban planned it and as he expects it.

    In no time Orban will move into the Castle District so that everybody can feel – if it wasn’t clear already – who is on top and who is at the bottom.

    Finally the urban budapesters will be tamed and the rural kid will teach them a lesson. Perhaps those haughty urban SZDSZ-ers should have been more welcoming to the ‘Vidéki Béla’s, like Orbán and Simicska, when they first arrived. Now they know.

  19. The problem with just letting Fidesz run things until the system implodes is that as long as Hungary is in the EU, the system will not implode, and as long as Orbán is alive, Fidesz will continue to make sure that it rigs the system to stay in power. Ask Belarusians if the waiting game works. In Venezuela, the opposition stood no chance until Chavez died, and now things might change. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe decided to destroy the country rather than give it to the opposition, and he is still in power.

    Don’t count on the EU to kick Hungary out, either, since Orbán is shrewd enough to keep from crossing their red lines, and Hungary just isn’t important enough to worry about for long. I’m convinced that resistance must continue whenever and wherever possible, just to show that Fidesz is not as strong as they seem. If they lose Budapest (and why wouldn’t they, look at how many districts they lost in the general election), it may just further alienate the city from the rest of the country, but it would buttress Szeged and Miskolc in their stubborn resistance. The sky didn’t fall in on Szeged, by the way, and in Esztergom, the people voted pragmatically, knowing that their city is too small to resist. Besides, Esztergom isn’t leftist, they just couldn’t stand such incompetence.

    Fidesz might not bother to punish Budapest, since they probably don’t want to alienate them further. That is where much of the money and industry is, and most of the foreign regional headquarters, so it’s not in their interest to push all that into the opposition camp. Finally, the mayor doesn’t really have much power anyway, because of the district governments. I believe it is important to unite and beat Tarlós, even if LMP gets a huge boost from the effort.

  20. @Paul: Good to have you back, best wishes for your health!

    We also know from experience how erratic the Hungarian health service can be …

    OT:

    Somehow I missed the number of female members of the new parliament – are there any at all? mayor (Mayoress?) for Budapest be a great idea – is there any chance for a candidate from the better sex?

  21. Most people seriously underestimate the resilience of various organizations, systems, regimes.

    Dictatorships, authoritarian systems are very resilient and will not collapse so easily as people think, or, rather, hope.

    Nether Iran will collapse even if the sanctions caused inflation, nor North-Korea will collapse, nor Russia even if oil production will decrease in about five years, nor Hungary even if it is dependent on the purchase of its debt by foreigners (as due to the never ending QE, there will always be buyers for its debt and foreigners will finance Orban till the end if the EU monies would not be enough to allow him to operate easily).

    Slobo Milosevic’ system did not collapse until Serbia was bombed in connection with Kosovo.

    People were OK with Berslusconi for 20 years, despite the decline. And the list goes on.

    A lot of people genuinely admired Hitler all over Europe (ie. in Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, not just in Hungary) in the thirties, it was not just a German phenomenon at all. People at times want to find somebody whom they can admire. This person is now Orban for about 35% of the Hungarian population. That is more than enough to give him a majority or even 2/3s in the Parliament for as long as he will live.

    Orban’s staying power is extremely huge, anybody who underestimates him is making a big mistake. If he is healthy, he can stay as long as he wants, he will still stay when Merkel or Obama are long gone (but not Putin who will also stay, as the pros do it).

  22. “If he is healthy, he can stay as long as he wants, he will still stay when Merkel or Obama are long gone (but not Putin who will also stay, as the pros do it).”

    The way the fascist’s girth is expanding perhaps a heart attack is not that far off.

    Obviously no decent person on this blog would wish that (or even a bullet in the back of his head fore that matter) but it would, however, solve a lot of problems in the long run…

    The rest of his regime are bullies, cowards and as in Tarlos’ case, idiots. Occasionally a mix of all three. Once their Fuhrer is gone, his regime will crumble.

  23. Paul, I’m glad that you are well and had a good experience with Hungarian healthcare. I have the feeling that there are huge differences among facilities. My cousin’s husband had an operation on account of which they had to perform a biopsy. He had to wait 5 weeks for the results.The growth turned out to be benign but imagine the man’s psychological state while waiting. He himself is a retired doctor.

  24. Karl Pfeifer :

    Back to the proposal that LMP name a mayor for Budapest. Having heard yesterday Bernadette Szél at Egyenes Beszéd, I had the impression that she is very interested in continuing Gyurcsánozás. Most of the disappointed in Fidesz-KDNP will – I am afraid – rather vote Jobbik than LMP. Hungary will go from bad to worse.

    Until now I had a fairly good opinion of Bernadette Szél but her performance yesterday made me change my mind.

  25. @ oneill

    “Once their Fuhrer is gone, his regime will crumble.”

    You underestimate the ‘backers’–the boys behind the scenes, as well as foreign power support. Hungary is now ‘in the bag’, and the above forces will seek to keep it that way,
    so they will find a suitable frontman when Orban is gone.

  26. googly: “Don’t count on the EU to kick Hungary out, either, since Orbán is shrewd enough to keep from crossing their red lines, and Hungary just isn’t important enough to worry about for long.”

    Maybe Hungary isn’t important enough, but dictatorship is. The people in EU countries that pay the bills will sooner or later want to quit a club that embraces dictators. The anti-EU feelings are already on the rise all over. The EU will fall apart if the dictator is not thrown out.

  27. There is a wonderful article about he March of the Living, the one Fidesz should be participating in versus their useless and divisive Peace March.
    There are many relatives of the victims, and many relatives of the guilty who participated in the March. THey made peace with each other, they accepted each other, and the whole thing is just so nice. There are HUngarians who do take responsibility what their relives done, and does not try to put the blame, like Orban and his band does, on “outside” forces (idegenkezuseg). I think it is very important to note that there are Hungarians who do take responsibility, who do apologize.

    Orban should listen to Simonyi Andrea, and the likes of Gries Andrea, not to crazies like Kerenyi, and Bayor and Balog.
    http://nol.hu/belfold/nemet-bocsanatkerok-az-eroltetett-menet-utkovein-1458287

  28. “Don’t count on the EU to kick Hungary out….” almost 100% sure they won’t throw the fascist out. that’s not how they do business. Cutting off or reducing the funding which keeps his tinpot regime and his poodles in clover is another question.

  29. Hungarian Gerontocracy – The rule of the ancients on the Hungarian Left

    We have to face a harsh reality. Even here on this blog. There is a generational war going on within the Hungarian Left. I think this article hits the nail on the head I suggest everyone to read it

    “Menjenek már nyugdíjba!”
    http://hvg.hu/velemeny/20140415_Menjenek_mar_nyugdijba

    I don’t want to repeat the main points of this article because I agree with all of them, but I want to call attention to a somewhat different fact. Here on the blog we often see discussion about groups: the critics and the criticized.

    The people who criticize and the people who are being criticized.

    For example who is being criticized out of Left wing politicians. Andreas Schiffer, Attila Mesterhaz, Zsolt Torok, Csaba Horvath, and many similar ones. What is common between them? That they are all very young as far as politicians go, 30 somethings or early fourties. But what about the people who criticize the first group?

    Agnes Heller age 85, Gyorgy Konrad age 81, Gyorgy Bolgar age 68, Zsofia Mihancsik age 64, Julia Langh age 72, it would be very easy to continue the list even Stevan Harnad, a commenter on the blog could be included at age 69.

    Some of these are the influential opinion makers in Left wing Hungary, some are just critics of the young leadership of MSZP but if someone were to investigate closer it would be clear that there are two groups within the Left. A young group and an old group who are battling each other for dominance and the right to decide who gets to rule. Opinions, articles and commentary are the weapons in this fight. But the young group already established itself in positions of power within MSZP. What can be done to oust them?

  30. Hungarian Gerontocracy :

    Hungarian Gerontocracy – The rule of the ancients on the Hungarian Left

    We have to face a harsh reality. Even here on this blog. There is a generational war going on within the Hungarian Left. I think this article hits the nail on the head I suggest everyone to read it

    “Menjenek már nyugdíjba!”
    http://hvg.hu/velemeny/20140415_Menjenek_mar_nyugdijba

    I heard this young man in an interview situation. Surprisingly inarticulate with a very small vocabulary and primitive thoughts. If he and his likes would like to take over, then the country is in bigger trouble than I thought.

  31. @Hungarian Gerontocrac: it’s a false dichotomy and typical Hungarian ageism.. Andras Schiffer, Attila Mesterhazy, though relatively young, are bad choices,… and then you have some “young” titans in Fidesz (Lazar, Rogan, etc) who were socialized into and continue with worst Hungarian political traditions (cronyism, corruption, elitism, authoritarian style leadership). Also, there are young promising politicians like Karacsony Gergely or some others in Egyutt-MP who are fresh air in Hungarian politics… they are just not prominent and they are not in MSzP.

    I share most of the views of those you mentioned as “old” above and I’m a closer in age to the “youngs” of MSzP you listed.

    New generations are not necessarily wiser than old ones .. if that was true, history wouldn’t repeat itself. I have to add, just because somebody is older and experienced, that doesn’t necessarily make the person wiser, either. You need to look at the individuals,their ideas, actions, not their age.

    Yes, MSzP needs somebody who brings in a new approach and reforms the party.. but it seems that Mesterhazy is not the right person for the job,

  32. An :
    @Hungarian Gerontocracy: it’s a false dichotomy and typical Hungarian ageism.. Andras Schiffer, Attila Mesterhazy, though relatively young, are bad choices,… and then you have some “young” titans in Fidesz (Lazar, Rogan, etc) who were socialized into and continue with worst Hungarian political traditions (cronyism, corruption, elitism, authoritarian style leadership). Also, there are young promising politicians like Karacsony Gergely or some others in Egyutt-MP who are fresh air in Hungarian politics… they are just not prominent and they are not in MSzP.
    I share most of the views of those you mentioned as “old” above and I’m a closer in age to the “youngs” of MSzP you listed.
    New generations are not necessarily wiser than old ones .. if that was true, history wouldn’t repeat itself. I have to add, just because somebody is older and experienced, that doesn’t necessarily make the person wiser, either. You need to look at the individuals,their ideas, actions, not their age.
    Yes, MSzP needs somebody who brings in a new approach and reforms the party.. but it seems that Mesterhazy is not the right person for the job,

    Although it did not necessarily have to be so, it happens that most of the younger members of the democratic opposition are not very bright. Moreover, most seem to have been far too ambitious personally to unite behind the leader who would almost certainly have had both the expertise and the integrity to steer Hungary out of the mess she is now in — and he happens to be intermediate between the two age-groups: Gordon Bajnai (age 46).

    So what is all this empty babbling about numerology?

  33. So what is all this empty babbling about numerology?

    … and from moles and trolls and assorted punters who are hiding behind (ageless) false identities…

  34. Wasn’t there some asinine fellow who said that Konrad Gyorgy should be quiet because “life has passed him by”? What idiocy. There was a time when the elderly were the repositories of wisdom. No more. Modern marketing has infected the minds of the young–anything old and ‘used’ is worthless. I’m afraid Liberalism has had a hand in this: the call for ‘new ideas’ never ends. Obama was a man with new ideas. Unfortunately, he had no idea how to handle government, certainly not foreign affairs, any way.

  35. Petofi,

    “You underestimate the ‘backers’–the boys behind the scenes, as well as foreign power support. Hungary is now ‘in the bag’, and the above forces will seek to keep it that way,
    so they will find a suitable frontman when Orban is gone”

    Are they going to invest their trust and billions in a brain-dead moron like Kosa or Lazar? If not, them who exactly could take over the (political) reins from Der Fuhrer? Seen some of the wife-battering, alcoholic, racist bunkós that keep his regime ticking over in the countryside?

    Nope, Orban goes, then his Fidesz shell goes as well. Not to say his oligarchs and his supporting foreign power also call it a day, just that they’ll not bother continuing with the rape of the democratic system to consolidate their power.

  36. googly: “If they lose Budapest (and why wouldn’t they, look at how many districts they lost in the general election), it may just further alienate the city from the rest of the country, but it would buttress Szeged and Miskolc in their stubborn resistance.”

    Very good point. You have to start somewhere, and the results of the national elections indeed made it quite clear that it is possible to substantially weaken Orban – if people who oppose him, and even without the support of Jobbik, accept that they have common interests in democracy and should have some common strategy, work as a team and find ways how to deal with the many complicated issues in the past, including personal animosities.

    But: even if the system might implode soon (which I would not rule out) or after the long reign of King Viktor I., to make the best of such a moment (which will be terrible in any case because of the costs of the national pipe dream that will become clear to most people, so the earlier the better), it will be best to have a cooperating team and a programme at hand. Otherwise those who are prepared will take over (because they offer “leadership, charisma, serious people”, wow, I was impressed that there are people out there believing that this is what Fidesz currently stands for, perhaps “serious” in plundering the country), so currently probably Jobbik.

  37. Kirsten :
    But: even if the system might implode soon (which I would not rule out) or after the long reign of King Viktor I.

    Please, do not scare us with the possibility of a II., III., IV. and who knows how many more…

  38. Well, that’s a very generous description of the Bajnai-led “opposition’s” very questionable, nasty tactics… if I may… 🙂
    Basically LMP was riding high back in 2012 Summer, close to 10%, its best-ever poll numbers, Fidesz was well below 40% and MSZP was around 30% (?)… ss Schiffer later put it there was a real chance to replace Orban and the Fidesz – only if the newcomer wannabes could have control their greed and hubris…
    …control, they did not: Bajnai, with literally no party or organization or membership behind him (he had a small think tank writing essays for him), offered “cö-operation” to LMP which, understandably so, Schiffer immediately ruled out.
    Bajnai and his ilks didn’t give up and after months of backstabbing and low-brow accusations and dirty tricks eventually they were able to blow up the LMP, by essentially promising two things for the ‘separatists’: 1. they will get ‘safe’ positions on the party list (ie seats in the new Assembly, shrank by a third of its previous size) and 2. Gyurcsany (‘indestructible’ previous ex-Socialist oligarch PM of Hungary, widely reviled both in left and right opposition parties), the head of Democratic Coalition will NOT be on part of this election alliance in any way.
    Both turned out to be false, the “grand alliance” of DK-Egyutt-PM-MSZP (old guard+separatists) suffered a devastating defeat in the election, literally decimated, while the LMP, after spending most the following 12+ months on rebuilding itself from almost the ground up, was able to “pass through the eye of a needle” as Schiffer eloquently put it, even if just by a hair – this was a real justification his non-aligning stance and a public humiliation for the entire ‘alliance’ and especially painful for Bajnai after risking everything on his truly disgusting-despicable Bolshevik-style backstabbing maneuver that amounted to nothing (probably made the opposition results even worse by taking away votes from the only party with any credibility, the LMP.)

  39. As for Rona for Mayor, sure, I would support him – but unless he’s insane he wouldn’t even consider it and as he’s one of the few smart minds with fresh ideas among economists I highly doubt he would suddenly lose his mind… 🙂

  40. “There was a time when the elderly were the repositories of wisdom. No more.”
    Well, Konrad is the shining example of that – and in his own rights, not because of the ” marketing has infected the minds of the young–anything old and ‘used’ is worthless” (sic!)… Konrad, smart as he is, clearly has no clue about the country outside of his comfy little bubble, otherwise he would not go on the record suggesting Bajnai, Bokros or Kuncze for Mayor, highly-visible disgraced left-wing ministers or PM of the previous social-liberal coalitions, famous for crashing the economy, epidemic corruption etc, practically the very reason why people dumped the left en masse. Oh and the same true for Agnes Heller, the other self-appointed know-it-all philosopher, with absolutely no experience in politics, no clue about running any government whatsoever, economy or anything even remotely relevant to running a country (but having a safe retreat in her Manhattan apartment if anything would go wrong, along with her teaching career across NYC, spanning decades.)
    The wording was stupid – Zsolt Torok, MSZP was the one who bursted out after Konrad’s hilarious suggestions on TV – but he has a point: not only these people have absolutely no experience in politics (nota bene: being a famous writer or philosopher does NOT make them beyond their field any smarter than anyone else) but actually they are the same people who convinced Bajnai on a late Fall evening in an apartment in Budapest to step down and revoke his bid to be the candidate for PM in the alliance – a grave mistake, essentially leaving the candidacy to Mesterhazy, this lukewarm nobody (in the eyes of the electorate), leading the ‘old guard’ party (MSZP.) Clueless old people, with dangerously big egos and comfy pensions and backgrounds, they should really shut it for now.

  41. Well, Szlevi, if you were correct in your assumption that only people with political experience can talk about politics then you shouldn’t be allowed to say anything concerning politics either. If you were right, you couldn’t express your opinion about LMP, Róna, the corrupt MSZP politicians, or the old fools in general because, I assume, you have no political experience. Surely, Konrad and Heller have every right to tell what they think about the state of Hungarian politics as long as there are people who are interested in their opinions. And, it seems, several media outlets domestically and abroad are curious about what these people think.

    Just as you and I have every right to express our opinions and share our insights, so do they. On what grounds would you deny that right from Konrad or Heller?

  42. Eva: Konrád and Heller do indeed have every right to say what they think. I think Szlevi’s criticism should be directed at the environment who makes these opinion important way out of proportion. They probably have a very good network that keeps them afloat in the media, but that doesn’t mean that how they use their influence is actually beneficial for anybody. You yourself have been discrediting and downplaying people and their opinions on the basis that they lack expertise or obvious fundamental misunderstanding of the world around them, e.g. Róna most recently (on which I happen to agree with you). That does apply to Konrád and Heller too.

  43. “He maybe smart (I wouldn’t know) but his economic theories are questionable.”
    Ohh pleahhse… not more so than all the IMP-friendly ones’ who never managed to come up with one SHRED of original idea, all they did was parroting whatever was pleasing their corporate audience. It’s quite obvious worldwide now that globalization destroys the middle class and accelerates the wealth accumulation at the top, it’s tearing apart societies everywhere and especially in smaller, less influential countries with highly exposed economies, with no natural resources to fall back on.
    Quite literally ALL the “theories” that were deployed during the past 30-40 years in Hungary were all worse BY FAR than anything Rona have suggested as far as I know.
    Those amateur bunglers (Medgyessy, Bekesi, Jarai, Laszlo, Bokros, Varga, Matolcsy etc.) literally killed over a million jobs and practically reduced the entire economy to a giant open playground for global companies, now offering mostly low-level jobs, with salaries reduced to almost Chinese level.
    Last year Peter Rauschenberger (of LMP, not surprisingly) published an excellent reply on Beszelo to the essay “Arrested Times”, written by none other than Janos Kis, SZDSZ-founder, eloquently explaining just how these single-focused, foreign investment-centered crazy ultra-lassez-faire policies of the past 20+ years literally destroyed even the chance for a vibrant, prosperous economy in Hungary: http://beszelo.c3.hu/onlinecikk/arccal-a-sarban-%E2%80%93-hozzaszolas-kis-janos-cikkehez-a-koztarsasag-bukasarol
    Here are the most relevant parts about this (sorry, I have no time to translate it):
    “Minden rendszerváltó ország gazdasága átesett az átalakulási válságon. A szocialista vállalatok körül hirtelen megszűnt az a védett közeg, amelyben korábban működőképesek voltak, technológiai és vállalatirányítási szempontból messze előttük járó, a nemzetközi gazdaság szelekciós nyomásának régóta kitett, a nemzetközi munkamegosztásba régóta integrálódott versenytársakkal kellett volna felvenniük a lépést ahhoz, hogy fennmaradhassanak. Rengeteg vállalat megszűnt, átalakult, apróbb-nagyobb fragmentumokban próbált tovább élni, rendszerint a hatékonyság növelésében, a munkaintenzitás csökkentésében érdekelt új tulajdonosokkal. Ez minden átalakuló országban foglalkoztatási krízishez vezetett. Ezek mélysége és tartóssága azonban meglepő mértékben változatos. Magyarországon a gazdasági visszaesés mélypontjáig, 1993-ig, a foglalkoztatottak korábban durván ötmilliós létszáma visszaesett 3,7-3,8 millióra. A gazdaság visszaesése nem volt tartós. 1994-ben a GDP már nőtt az előző évhez képest, 1999-re elérte az 1990-es szintet, és egészen 2007-ig, tehát szűk másfél évtizeden keresztül a növekedés folyamatos volt.[1] Amiben a legtöbb új demokráciától különbözünk, az az, hogy ennek a növekedési időszaknak alig, illetve az időszak nagy részében egyáltalán nem volt foglalkoztatási hatása. A foglalkoztatás néhány évvel később érte el a mélypontját, mint a GDP, 1993 és 1996 között tovább csökkenő foglalkoztatás mellett növekedtünk, majd az 1996-os mélypontot követően, amikor az aktív korú népesség mindössze 52%-a dolgozott, egy körülbelül ötéves időszakon keresztül a foglalkoztatás nagyon lassan visszanőtt alig valamivel az 1993-as szint fölé, és ott is maradt. Ezzel a foglalkoztatotti létszámmal lépett bele a magyar gazdaság az előző kormányzati ciklus második felében a válságidőszakba, és százezres nagyságrendű ingadozásokkal ugyan, de a 2010-es választásokhoz is ezzel a foglalkoztatási szinttel értünk el. Ezzel a legutolsók voltunk az Európai Unióban a foglalkoztatottaknak a teljes aktív korú népességhez viszonyított arányát tekintve.”
    (…)
    “A hazai kkv-szektor pangása annak az átmeneti-fejlődési modellnek a korlátait jelzi, amit az ország az 1980-as és 90-es évek fordulóján választott – hasonlóan például Észtországhoz, de eltérően például Szlovéniától, Lengyelországtól és Csehországtól. Ennek alapja az a percepció volt, hogy a hazai gazdaság fejlődésének a legfontosabb akadálya a tőkehiány, amit a külföldi tőkéhez való hozzáférés azonnali biztosításával kell elhárítani. Ennek eszköze a liberalizáció mellett a gyors privatizáció volt, amelynek következtében a 90-es évek közepéig a régió legnagyobb tőkevonzó képességű országa voltunk, majd, miután a privatizálható vagyon javarészt kimerült, a zöldmezős beruházások ösztönzésével az évtized végéig sikerült fenntartani a dinamikus működőtőke-beáramlást. Az első két ciklusban a volt keleti blokk 14 országába beáramló működő tőke több mint egyötöde Magyarországra jött. A második kormányzati ciklus végére már a GDP 75-80%-át magántulajdonú vállalatok állították elő. A hazai gazdaság fejlesztésére kidolgozott stratégia hiányában azonban a gazdaság nemzetközi tulajdonban lévő, nagy tőke-ellátottságú, magas termelékenységű része lényegében elszigetelt zárvánnyá lett a magyar gazdaságban. A hazai tulajdonban maradt vállalatok jellemzően az erőforrások szűkössége által determinált utat jártak be. A végtermékgyártók alulmaradtak a nagy multinacionális cégek termékeivel szemben, visszailleszkedésük a nemzetközi munkamegosztás rendszerébe jó esetben is csak alacsony szinten sikerült. Ahhoz, hogy a nálunk termelőkapacitásokat létrehozó nemzetközi nagyvállalatokon keresztül sikerrel tudjon kapcsolódni a nemzetközi munkamegosztáshoz, az alacsonyabb termelékenységű, munkaintenzív és tőkehiányos hazai kkv-szektornak egyszerre kellett volna megküzdenie a számára nagyon kedvezőtlen adóstruktúrával és a kiépülő pénzügyi közvetítőrendszer tartózkodó hozzáállásával, amelyek közül az előbbi a jövedelmezőségét, felhalmozási képességét állította be nagyon alacsony szintre, az utóbbi pedig a külső forrásbevonást nehezítette meg. Az eredmény egy sebezhető, duális gazdaságszerkezet, amelyben a gazdaság két, egymástól elszigetelt szegmensének radikálisan különböznek a növekedési képességei, és amelyben a munkapiaci integrációból és a költségvetés bevételeinek biztosításából is az oroszlánrészt a növekedési lehetőségektől jobbára megfosztott szegmensnek kellene biztosítania.”

    I rest my case – I think these numbers perfectly sum up the “performance” of those “unquestionable” economists…

  44. PS: to make it clear I’m NOT against globalizing/global access to markets etc per se but the current, unregulated, free-for-all model is clearly a disaster – just like the “trickle-down” nonsense these swindlers were pushing for decades.

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