The government media on OSCE’s final report on the Hungarian elections

Judit Csernyánszky, a member of MSZP’s press corps, wrote an opinion piece in today’s Népszava with the title “The Hidden Report.” It is about the silence that surrounded the final report of OSCE on the Hungarian election of April 6, 2014.

The final report was released on July 11, 2014, but MTI was silent. On that day only an obscure organization called Alapjogokért Centrum (Center for Basic Rights) reacted to the report. This “organization” seems to be a phantom that the government calls up whenever an alleged attack on it requires an “independent” assessment. For example, it was this organization that severely criticized Kim Scheppele’s work on the Hungarian electoral system.

OSCEreportIt was only on the next day, by which time Magyar Hírlap had already published an article about the Alapjogokért Centrum’s criticism of the OSCE report, that MTI decided that it was time to deal with this unwelcome piece of news. The MTI release is an odd piece of journalistic writing because it starts not with the important news item, the appearance of the report, but with the reactions of the opposition parties to it. It is only at the end of MTI’s press release that one can read that, according to the OSCE report, “the elections were efficiently organized and offered voters a diverse choice following an inclusive candidate registration. The main governing party enjoyed an undue advantage because of restrictive campaign regulations, biased media coverage and campaigning activities that blurred the separation between politics and State.”

Here I would like to concentrate on the right-wing media’s handling of this unwelcome report. First, let’s look at Magyar Hírlap, which began its article on the topic thus: “According to 444.hu, [OSCE] found serious problems connected to the elections that gave undue advantage to the government parties. On the other hand, the Alapjogokért Központ welcomes the report that states that the Hungarian national election was well organized. However, the document contains several mistaken assertions on the details.” Clearly, the journalist responsible for this article did not read the document itself.

Another right-wing blog, Pesti Srácok.hu, copied the same 444.hu/MTI article that served as the source for Magyar Hírlap. I checked provincial sites and found only one paper that carried the same story. Mandiner, whose younger conservative journalists are occasionally critical of the government, decided this time to rely on MTI. Safer, I guess. Gondola‘s headline for the same MTI article read: “According to OSCE the elections were conducted successfully.” Magyar Nemzet decided to remain silent about the publication of the document.

What could people hear on the state radio and television stations? According to Csernyánszky, practically nothing. MTV’s evening news didn’t even mention it. On MR it was mentioned in the next day’s news program at noon, but they spent only half a minute on the topic without saying a word about the opinion of the opposition, which was brief and to the point. OSCE clearly states in the report that Fidesz’s two-thirds majority is illegitimate.

Of course, the opposition organs gave all the details and all the critical remarks of the report, but considering the relatively small audience these media outlets reach one can conclude that Judit Csernyánszky is right. The government and its servile media managed to hide the report from the Hungarian public. I suggest that you read the document. It is thirty pages long and not only includes criticisms but also gives suggestions, 36 all told. I very much doubt that these suggestions will be adopted by the government. After all, the electoral law was devised in such a way that it would produce exactly the kinds of results the April 6 election returned: the continuation of the unlimited power the government had enjoyed in the previous four years.

What do the other parties plan to do? Együtt-PM apparently is planning to compile the suggestions of OSCE and produce a list of amendments to the current electoral law. Well, this is better than nothing, but we can be pretty sure that none of the amendments will even reach the floor of the parliament.

The Demokratikus Koalíció has another plan. The party announced today that its two members in the European Parliament, Csaba Molnár and Péter Niedermüller, had inquired from the European Commission whether in light of the OSCE report the commission is contemplating turning to international courts because the Hungarian electoral law “violates the principles of democratic elections and the existing international conventions.” I am not surprised by this strategy. When I heard that Molnár and Niedermüller were heading the DK list for the EP elections, I suspected that the party’s leadership thinks that the European Parliament should be used more extensively for calling attention to the state of democracy in Hungary. Both men hold important positions in DK. Csaba Molnár was a spokesman of the party and the right-hand man of Ferenc Gyurcsány. I don’t know whether the DK MEPs will be successful, but one thing is sure: they have more of a chance in Brussels than in Budapest.

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13 comments

  1. We have such a good opportunity like this and all our media is tied down with that Egyutt provocator who tried to destroy the DK rally. Everywhere he talks about how he was beaten up, which is just not true. His face or body didn’t have any marks or signs at most he was gently pushed. I wish his parents taught him some manners so he knows how to behave. The whole issue is just so enraging I can totally understand that some people wanted to deal with the provocator properly. Next time he would learn not to go where he doesn’t belong. Unfortunately the lesson this time was too mild he shows no signs of improvement.

  2. @tuaregfan
    The subject of todays post is far more important to discuss than a street skirmish.

  3. The important issue here is what the EU does about such a report- the report has basically said that an EU state has not operated a fully free and democratic election. Orban has got away with it- how far would the EU let the election process be compromised?

    I am not sure I want to know the answer to that thorny question.

  4. I guess as long as the conservative parties tolerate Orbán and Fidesz EU will not move.

  5. Karl Pfeifer is detecting no serious forces in the EU to derail the hamas-like orban christianity colored plot, and save Hungary from its unwelcome gulyas-rulers, characterized by their excessive domicile felcsutian properties.

    Why is the EU dominated by the conservative parties? Germany an Europe needs another Willy Brandt, or minimum a Helmut Schmidt. France and England have not produced a great leader in almost 70 years. Why was Churchill also conservative? Forget America, with only Reagan as a miserable substitute of a legend, we have been punished by poor leadership, too.

    Is America not capable, to find another FDR? Who was also less perfect than Lincoln.

    Back to Hungary: A stain is a stain.

    After the Hapsburg era, the Horthy, Szalasi, Rakosi, Kadar regimes, and now, the oppressive Orban regime have been leaving another indelible stain on the history of Hungary?

    What are the people like Marton Gulyas of the Kretakor, doing in this conflict?

    Almost nothing, besides provoking an only real opposition of Hungary, Gyurcsany’s DK.

  6. The Report is not the final “doing”. Ron’s comment is not OT. THe election, the parliament and everything is set up on a way that would benefit the way of thinking and wanting by the Orban / Fidesz crowd. On Monday the Constitutional Court will decide if the new election law regarding the local elections that will take place in the Fall are constitutional or not. Do not forget this is the Court that Orban stacked with his own people. This is the court that found that taking over private properties for nationalization then redistributing them to Fidesz friends (often w/o proper tender or experience) is constitutional, as “everyone is able to submit a tender”.

    So, D7 Democrat is right! Everyone is able to draft any kind of critic, and many on this forum already done so before the Report. What can anyone do with such observation? Now, that the local elections are upon us, based on the findings is there anything that can be done? Who will do it?

    (@tuaregfan, Jean P and others: Please do not troll this subject, so people can focus!!! If you have anything to say about THIS report do so. I missed your comment regarding the SUBJECT!)

  7. Eva, you may want to remove the comments by tuaregfan and Jean P. It sad that they are not listening to what you asked.

  8. To the sick Hungarian mind, Fidesz will feed the OSCE report, and it will be like feeding red meat to lions–they will revel in the continuous victory of the great Orban vis-a-vis the powerless
    EU minions.

    I have, lately, come upon an equation of sorts, which may explain Hungarians predilection for
    Nationalism…

    It seems to me that the great sin of sending 400,000 extra jews to the camps simply to loot their belongings..has weighed upon the Hungarian conscience. In retrospect, after the deed, Hungarian conscience must have suffered great cramps at what they had wrought. There seemed to have been no escaping the dreadful guilt. But in fact there was: an escape into
    total negation by complete dedication to Nationalism and the essential greatness of Hungary and Hungarians. Thus, a complete flooding of the negative sensations of guilt. In essence, I believe that the fundamental ‘glue’ on Nationalism is the mortar of guilt. Thus an equation: the depth of Nationalism is equal to the over-riding need to quell the Guilt.

    The only solution is to bring Hungarians to the realization, and acceptance, to what they had done in 1944. Of course, that is diametrically the opposite of what Orban is trying to do with that horrid monument.

  9. Alapjogokért Centrum (probably Centre for Fundamental Rights) is a non-existing, fake entity. I guess it’s name is only used to support Fidesz (i.e. it looks as though even the civil rights people support Fidesz).

    Just like in the USA where a pro-coal mining industry, global warming-denier lobby group would call itself Centre for the Clean Environment, Fidesz has mastered this Newspeak. Fidesz created a host of fake organisations and coopted others to lend Fidesz credibility when these supposedly independent civil organisations suppoort the government’s policies.

    (Needless to say this age old trick, mastered by the Republican Party in the US or by the Russians before and after them, has never occurred to the Hungarian left wing).

  10. Origo is now clearly managed from Fidesz HQ.

    VS.hu a minor, but up and coming site was founded recently as a new competitor to index, origo and 444.hu. Vs.hu was set up by György Matolcsy’s cousin but it set the goal of being in the middle politically.

    The site was a bit boring, politics was not even its focus. Yet the editor in chief was sacked effective immediately, citing diverging opinions as regards the meaning of ‘keeping equal distance from all political sides”. This very bland, weak political editing was not enough for Fidesz, however, as it wants full compliance and the availability to use vs.hu as a propaganda channel. The site will receive a new manager (besides the new editor), just like TV2 received one, a kind of party commissioner to control the situation (for old people this person was the local party secretary of which at least one worked at all workplaces).

    Note also, that the Hungarian left-wing has not set up any media, it does not invest in its own future. This is the best sign that it is in the process of disappearing, lack of investment of any kind.

  11. The OSCE report hit the nail on the head. It says, for instance:

    The use of government advertisements that were almost identical to those of Fidesz contributed to an uneven playing field and did not fully respect the separation of party and State, as required in paragraph 5.4 of the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document.

    This is the essence of corruption: The confusion of party politics and the state. It is consistent with my root criticism of Orban, that he confuses his party with being Hungarian.

  12. OT: Another Orbán who does not seem to understand the concept of free media.

    Gáspár Orbán (the Prime Minister’s son) wrote a letter to 444 telling them not to write articles about him because he’s “not a public figure”. 444 said that if you sit in the VIP box at the World Cup final, then the media can write about you. http://444.hu/2014/07/15/orban-gaspar-levelet-irt-a-444-nek-ne-kozoljenek-velem-foglalkozo-cikket/

    Index has some good analysis of this too: http://index.hu/kultur/media/2014/07/16/ne_irjanak_rolam_nem_vagyok_kozszereplo/

    Gáspár probably doesn’t understand why the editorship of 444 doesn’t just obey his orders like they would over at Magyar Nemzet.

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