The Újpest election: A large gain for the left

Some people might argue that the socialist win in the parliamentary election that had to be repeated in Budapest’s 11th electoral district was a foregone conclusion and is not even worth talking about. At least this is what Fidesz wants its supporters to believe. The new election in Újpest was occasioned by the death of Péter Kiss, an important and beloved politician within MSZP, on July 29 at the age of 55. Before the national election in April the party knew that Kiss had cancer and might not live to take his place in parliament, but by endorsing his candidacy they wanted to lift his spirits. Újpest is an old socialist stronghold where Kiss won time and again, and he won again this time although with a smaller margin than in the past.

Imre Horváth, the elderly gentleman as András Schiffer called him

Imre Horváth, the elderly gentleman, as András Schiffer called him

MSZP named a locally well-known man, Imre Horváth, a former officer in the border guard, to run for the vacant seat. During the campaign it was discovered that Horváth, like all border guard officers, took a half year course in Moscow under the aegis of the KGB. Naturally, the opposition was up in arms. As a result, the Demokratikus Koalíció and Együtt-PM withdrew their support. Yet it seems that this campaign against him made nary a dent. Horváth won big.

After receiving the final results, Fidesz announced that “nothing has changed.” After all, a socialist won last time and it was expected that the new socialist candidate would easily win the district. A closer look at the numbers, however, reveals a considerable loss of support for Fidesz and a large gain for the left.

First, let’s take a look at the figures from the April national election. Péter Kiss received 40.7% of the votes while Fidesz’s candidate got 35.2%. And here are the new figures. Horváth received 50.62% of the votes while his Fidesz opponent, Antal Hollósi, got only 30.67%. It seems that in the last six months Fidesz lost about 5% of its voters–or at least the party was unable to mobilize them. Jobbik and LMP also lost support. In April 12.7% of the voters chose Jobbik and LMP garnered 7.1% of the votes. These figures also shrank despite the fact that Jobbik’s candidate was a popular soccer player for the Újpest team. This time Jobbik received only 9.8% and LMP only 5.1% of the votes.

Horváth’s win was impressive. He won at every polling station with the exception of one, in which he and the Fidesz candidate got the same number of votes. That station in October, at the municipal election, was Fidesz territory. At one of the polling stations Horváth received twice as many votes as his opponent. Voting participation, as usual at by-elections, was low but not lower than average.

Speaking of Újpest, I read with some amusement András Schiffer’s assessment of the situation in this district. According to the chairman of LMP, the stakes in this particular election were high. The question was whether a new era is beginning in Hungarian politics; if so, the results may even influence the outcome of the 2018 election. Schiffer may have been right, but of course he was thinking about his own party’s candidate, who ended up with 5.1% of the votes.

There will be another election sometime at the beginning of next year in Veszprém, where Tibor Navracsics’s seat will be contested. Tibor Navracsics, earlier minister of justice and and then minister of foreign affairs and trade, became Hungary’s commissioner on Jean-Claude Juncker’s European Commission. Thus he had to resign his seat. If the left were to win that seat, Fidesz would lose its two-thirds majority. That’s a long shot. Navracsics won in April with 51.85% of the votes while his socialist opponent, Béla Pál, got only 24.99%.

Lately there have been two national polls, and both indicated a loss of support for Fidesz. Nézőpont Intézet, a firm close to Fidesz, showed a 3% loss between October 14 and November 3 for the ruling party and a considerable gain for Jobbik and LMP. Two days ago Ipsos came out with a new poll that indicated an even greater loss for Fidesz–a full 5%, which means 500,000 potential voters. Ipsos’s results showed practically no gain for the other parties. Those who would no longer vote for Fidesz moved over to the large camp (35%) of undecided voters. I suspect that Fidesz’s downward spiral will continue given the mood of the country.

It is hard to tell whether the results of the Újpest election indicate a real change in the political landscape or not, but one cannot ignore a 10% gain for a candidate who was not nationally known and who had never been in national politics.

59 comments

  1. Mutt writes: “I have never been this happy for a KGB agent!”

    I never thought I’d see the day when people sing the praises of a KGB agent. And analyze in long long texts how the election of a KGB agent is not only good, it is great. The voters probably had no idea he was KGB and only turnout was incredibly low anyway. But to know his past and be “happy” about it…

    That is some new type of disgusting.

    I wonder how this person got nominated in the first place? There are tons of MSZP politicians who wanted to enter parliament, like Laszlo Kovacs (former foreign minister, party president), Ildiko Lendvai (former party president) and countless others.

    Not to mention that they could have given the seat to one of the other parties, who only have 2-4 people in parliament.

    Instead, they had to nominate someone who is only known about being a KGB agent and nothing else. Can someone explain that to me?

  2. When we saw the election results yesterday evening on ATV (banners running below the regular program on JFK etc) I was already wondering what the media would make out of that – totally ignore it or make it into a “KGB win”.

    This is especially funny in a way since Fidesz has not opened the archives so nobody really knows how many “KGB agents” are amongst them.

    From experience in Germany we know of course that practically everyone was tainted in a way in communist times – you couldn’t have a career or even get a place at the university and later a job if you weren’t related to the party somehow.

    I’ve probably already told the story of my wife who did have no career in the önkormámyzad – because she would not become a party member. But even to keep her lowly job as a typist/secretary she had to take those Marxist lessons in the evenings – that was the minimum …

  3. Orban is the greatest KGB agent of all. Putin via Orban flipped Hungary from being an ally of the West to a staunch ally of Mother Russia. In that context Mr. Horvath is a nobody. Mr. Horvath succeeded to win in one of the few compartmentalized leftist districts. Good for him. Veszprem, however, is an absolute minimum for the opposition to win if it ever wants to gain majority, and it is a rather long shot. The problem is that the opposition would have to win in Zala county, Győr-Sopron, Vas, Bács-Kiskun and several other counties, districts where it has never won.

  4. Fidesz wants to maintain its 2/3 in Parliament at all cost.

    The prosecutors will charge the MSzP MP from district 13 with bribery.

    They use secret service info (wire tapping) claiming that the MP told somebody two years ago, before his election something like this:
    “give me $20,000 and you can rent that store from the local government”
    The prosecutors admit that MP Hiszekeny did not get any money.
    So the bribery did not actually take place, but he is charged with it.

    http://mno.hu/magyar_nemzet_belfoldi_hirei/vademeles-elott-hiszekenyek-ugye-1259828

    Fideszniks will not be prosecuted for actual (not attempted) bribery worth 1000 times as much.

  5. This is what I gathered about new MP Horvath.

    The border guards (HÖR) were under the Ministry of Interior in the Communist era.
    (Remember from history that they had green epaulets as opposed to the blue ones
    of the AVH [Rakosi’s equivalent of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards])

    As military officer, he was sent to a course in the Soviet Union in 1984 [? check the year]. The course may have been run by the KGB, but even this is not clear.

    Does this make Horvath a KGB agent?

  6. Just this once won’t hurt – I disagree with the analysis in this post.

    The turnover was down by half from 66 to 33%; that’s more than 25,000 voters less. This is usually the case of by-elections with little stakes.

    While the Left can indubitably be satisfied as they ‘only’ lost 37% of their votes (compared with Fidesz losing 56%, Jobbik 60% and LMP 67%), from my point of view it can hardly be considered a large gain.

  7. @tappanch

    As we know from Putin himself there’s no such thing as a former KGB agent.

    (Nor is there a former III/II, III/III and so on agent.)

  8. “banned” stands for the agricultural products that cannot be imported from the EU to Russia by the order of the Russian government since August 7, 2014.

  9. MB
    November 24, 2014 at 1:46 am
    Mutt writes: “I have never been this happy for a KGB agent!”
    I never thought I’d see the day when people sing the praises of a KGB agent.

    So, I must assume you will be there again on January 6th to protest against Orban, who sing the praises for Russia and Putin.
    The funny thing is that Horvath never has been a KGB agent (not as far as we know), but Putin factually has been a KGB agent.
    Mutt wanted to be funny, while Orban is dead serious. Jobbik also supports Russia, has members who were accused spying for Russia, and it is suspected that they receive large amount of money from the ex-KGB (as you would call them).
    So, I am just not really sure where you stand MB?

  10. Front National just received a EUR 9m loan from a Russian bank. It’s pretty open. I wonder how much Jobbik gets. Of course Fidesz has EU funds to tap, but fideszniks get a lot from the energy deals they cut with Russian companies.

    I agree with Jean-Micheal de Waele that Orban is much more pro-Russian than the members of the Hungarian politburo were in the 1980’s.

    But I would go further. The Hungarian populace is much more pro-Russian than it was in the 1980’s.

    Russia is seen as a beacon, a champion of anti-enlightenment, a last hope against unbridled capitalism and modernity. True for Hungary, and true for Europe.

  11. @some1, you know exactly where MB stands. He is pro-Fidesz. He’s been loitering at this blog under various names and he’s been very consistent. Very disciplined. Well-selected. His job is to denounce the left-wing, knowing that many readers here are “anti-communist” (whatever that means). His message is that the left wing is just the same old bunch of ex-communists. The GOP people as well as CSU, the British Conservatives and so on all eat this. Since they don’t really understand Hungary, they don’t get that Fidesz is full of ex-communist security type people with extensive Russian connections or that Orban is indeed more pro-Russia than the communist parties of the Eastern Bloc were in the 1980’s. For them, Fidesz is just a conservative, right-wing party, a beloved member of the EU People’s Party. It’s extremely easy to gain points with these clueless foreign conservatives. MB is satisfied with scoring these little points, he as no bigger ambition at the moment at this blog.

  12. @MB – I agree with you on KGB agents, but considering the fact that the Fidesz government has made Mr. Tasnadi (a former communist secret police officer) state secretary, and since Fidesz gave Mr. Tasnadi a seat on the State Security Committee, I wouldn’t be too hard on the electorate.

  13. Here is what the Fidesz daily “Magyar Nemzet” produced on November 3rd, when it started the by-election campaign against the MSzP candidate.

    It shows that the 5-month long “border guards commander” course was organized by the KGB. It must have taken place mostly in the second half of 1983, since the the document is dated 01-27-1984.

    I do not know whether the document is authentic or not, the stamp and the signature are not legible:

    (and we know that Fidesz recognizes only signed and stamped documents, especially if they are personally handed over by an American diplomat)

  14. A question to the experts:

    Isn’t it strange that the Russian text uses the Hungarian name order (family name first) ?

  15. tappanch: how did MN obtain this document, assuming it’s genuine? How could it have the know-how to forge such a document or have connections to people how have such knowledge? Well, Magyar Nemzet, a Hungarian government mouthpiece is a consistently pro-Russia daily with extensive ties to secret services both Hungarian and Russian.

  16. Second observation about the document:

    The soft foreign “h” is usually transcribed by “g” in Russian, but here we see the hard kh (“x”) transcription.

  17. @tappanch – No, it isn’t strange in general terms for a Russian text to use “Hungarian name order.” It’s a little odd in that document because generally the word “familia” would be entered before the family name, and “imya” before the given name. Otherwise, on official documents throughout the communist world it was common to give family-name first. This was (and is) always done in military and security organizations and prisons – I wouldn’t be surprised if this practice dated from Tsarist times. That name order is still used in Russia and Romania (I’ve heard it, personally), and perhaps other countries in roll calls (in prison, the army, etc.). The person being called is cued first by the family name “Putin!”, then by the given name and patronymic “Vladimir Vladimirovich!”, at which he responds.

  18. What is interesting about this result is that although the turn out was much lower, Fidesz failed to mobilise its own supporters. Which is unusual. And MSZP seems to have got its own people to the polilng stations, which is also unusual.

    Having said that, Horváth is an abysmal choice and if he had been standing for Fidesz, I don’t think people on this blog would be defending his dubious past. Surely there the MSZP must have more inspiring candidates …. but clearly not.

  19. @tappanch – I have to disagree – H is very often transcribed as “х.” It certainly can be transcribed as “г”, but that is not universally done.

  20. MB,

    You wrote: “I never thought I’d see the day when people sing the praises of a KGB agent.”

    Do you not follow the news in Hungary at all, then? Orbán himself admires the way Russian is run, and there has been a KGB agent in complete charge of the government for well over a decade. Jobbik also sings the praises of Russia, and sends “election monitors” to Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Surely you have seen praises they have sung of current/former members of the KGB.

    Perhaps you are just troll, who wants to spread disinformation and obfuscation, in order to gain some sort of twisted, perverse pleasure, or you just do it because you are paid to do so and have no morals or conscience. If you are a troll, I hope you aren’t a Christian, because you would be breaking quite a few rules of your religion.

  21. Isn’t it odd that these little documents and charges from Fidesz appear before elections, after which the charges somehow disappear and only the stench remains? I’m sure many of us will recall the accusation that the Jobbik MEP Bela Kovacs is a Russian agent. That seems perfectly plausible – but where is the evidence? Why haven’t they released it? Before the elections Fidesz promised it would produce the evidence to Brussels to start the process to remove Kovacs’s immunity from prosecution. Not a shred of evidence has been produced to Brussels or the press. Indeed, the evidence Fidesz allegedly brought forward in closed committee sessions in Budapest has been made a state secret. Quite odd — and I note that, by contrast, the French government and press has found no difficulty in producing proofs that Front National under Marine Le Pen has received millions in Russian support. Story here: http://euobserver.com/foreign/126638

  22. Third observation about the purported KGB document in Magyar Nemzet:

    The printed name of the signature is “N. Makarov”.

    The Russians always write their patronymic. It is missing here

  23. Probably this story like many others will fizzle out (that’s the right proverb?) or as we say in German “es wird im Sande verlaufen”.

    Isn’t there somewhere a collection of all those cases where Fidesz accused some people with great fanfare and nothing came out of it?

    The first case I remember that was discussed here a few years ago were the accusations against Agnes Heller and others – there was a great outcry about their embezzlement – but when they were found completely innocent …

    And what about Simon and the guy who died in a police car – you don’t hear a word about that case …

  24. @Tappanch re Bakondi. I wanted to mention his case but it didn’t quite fit into the flow of the text. What I find rather disgusting is that Bakondi had to review his professional training. It is hard to imagine that one just forgets a six-months training in the Soviet Union.

  25. @Webber

    Re: h= “х” or “г”.

    You are right. This is what the transcription handbook 1985 says:

    In new words, use “х”, traditionally “г”. ( Гайдн, Гейне, Гитлер ).

    But Harry Potter is still “Гарри”

  26. @Zsolti of a whole slew of names. You cannot be more wrong about Mutt! He is a wonderfully witty member of long standing of the Hungarian Spectrum team. I don’t know how you dare to label people about whom you know nothing. This is not tolerated here.

  27. @Webber

    The Makarov you found has always been in the Army, no KGB is mentioned in your reference.
    He seemed to serve in Eastern Siberia (beyond the Baykal) between 1981 and 1991 – he is not our Makarov (a very frequent Russian family name).

  28. zsolti885326 writes: “The GOP people as well as CSU, the British Conservatives and so on all eat this. Since they don’t really understand Hungary, they don’t get that Fidesz is full of ex-communist security type people with extensive Russian connections or that Orban is indeed more pro-Russia than the communist parties of the Eastern Bloc were in the 1980′s. For them, Fidesz is just a conservative, right-wing party, a beloved member of the EU People’s Party. It’s extremely easy to gain points with these clueless foreign conservatives. MB is satisfied with scoring these little points, he as no bigger ambition at the moment at this blog.”

    So continues the Hungarian theory that the Republican Party in the USA is somehow pro-Orban because Fidesz shares an ideological affinity with the GOP conservatism. Orban has zero in common with the deregulation and low tax agenda of the Republicans in the USA. It may come as a surprise but a new generation of Republicans in America don’t live in the past, many only know communism from their text books and really live in the present. As has been discussed on this blog before Hungarians live and think in a historical framework that spans hundreds of years, in the USA there is very little such historic thinking. Someone like Senator McCain is now a historical anomaly within that party, but even he recognizes Orban’s eastern wind doctrine is very dangerous. The conservatives at least here in the USA will become Orban’s greatest enemy as he continues to drift towards Russia, because the state Orban has created violates all the principles of the free market these conservatives hold dear.

  29. @Istvan

    It will take some time until this is understood by fideszniks. I know that a lot of hope is being placed on the ascending Republican Party within Fidesz.

    Fideszniks still feel that they have friends there, who similarly hate the communists (abortion, gays) or that they will always be able to find some common ground (we’re also Christian like those evangelical Southerners) which will be enough for Orban to continue his deals under the radar. Orban really doesn’t need anything from the US, only that he could continue to suck up to Russia and operate freely over his domain, Hungary.

    You’re right in principle, but until there’s no clear message from the GOP, fideszniks will believe otherwise and act accordingly. They think they will have a clear support if a Republican president is elected, I’m sure that GOP lobbyist lady assures the Szazadveg people that they have friends there, after all Guniean or Turkmen dictators also got be friendly with the US. I hope these fideszniks are proven wrong, but they sure still haven’t given up hope.

  30. @Istvan and @ Naomi

    Over the near-term, the next two years, it doesn’t matter whether or not US Republicans would be more sympathetic to Fidesz (I do not think they would be), they will have no influence on Obama’s foreign policy towards Hungary and the workings of his administration’s State Department.

  31. @Istvan

    But the GOP ideologues must be salivating over the “flat” personal income tax in Hungary.

    Here is another example, an excerpt from OECD’s November 2014 report:

    “When comparing current social spending levels with
    pre-crisis levels in 2007, public social-spending-to-GDP
    ratios are more than 4 percentage points higher in
    2014 in Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Japan (2011),
    Luxembourg, Spain and, particularly, in Finland.

    Only in
    Hungary are public social-spending-to-GDP ratios now
    lower (by almost one percentage point) than in 2007,

    while Canada, Germany and Israel have public social
    spending-to-GDP ratios that are within 1 percentage
    point of 2007 levels.”

    p. 2.

    Click to access OECD2014-Social-Expenditure-Update-Nov2014-8pages.pdf

  32. Totally OT, but maybe IMPORTANT???

    There is a security risk in all versions of wordpress before 4.0 – javascript code can be imbedded in user comments,
    look here:
    http://klikki.fi/adv/wordpress.html

    I’m sorry but I can’t see which version our hostess uses – can anybody help? I hope the blog is safe. Also:

    “WordPress was notified on September 26 and has released patches correcting the problem. At the moment of writing they have been deployed as automatic updates to WordPress users. The advisory is available here. “

  33. wolfi that refers to people who put the WordPress installation on their hosted servers, so it doesn’t really affect people who use wordpress.com, like this site. But I do have a couple of websites with wordpress on them, so this information is quite important to know!

  34. Sorry for flushing out MB … They always dive like a swarm of flies on a piece of you-know-what when they sense a shred of agreement.

    It took some time to type the correct Cyrillic on my iPad, then I didn’t have the time to write more. Of course he’s not a KGB agent! The FIDESZ is full of ex-communists, like Orban and Kover, just to mention the most most prominent ones. How does that compare to a 7 month job training in the SU?

    FYI, MB, he was selected to win. And boy he did! My communist is better they yours!

  35. @tappanch re: Goodfriend

    Unbelievable, that article on hirado.hu. They throw in a bunch of nasty slurs about Mr. Goodfriend and pretty much out and out accuse him of plotting to overthrow the Hungarian government for good measure. State propaganda masquerading as “news.”

  36. @buddy, tappanch

    hirado (the official news show of the state media) is becoming totally insane, just like Putin’s media. I think these fidesznik media gurus will soon similarly start to invent completely fake stories and shoot films with actors to show them as supporting evidence. Lying and manipulation are only the beginning.

    “with friends like these…”

  37. I don’t get why valasz,hu or hirado.hu would spread the idea that Goordfriend might be recalled, essentially creating false hopes among die-hard fideszniks who are their target audience.

    Unless heti valasz knows that Orban is contemplating requesting that the State Department recall Goodfriend so that he’d be spared being declared persona non grata by Orban.

    A brand new ambassador without Goodfriend won’t be too hard to handle, Orban figures.

  38. Antal Rogan, one of the most corrupt of fideszniks (and Fidesz is itself a machinery for corruption) is going to Germany as part of a very intensive political campaign to persuade any Germans who would listen (and there are still quite a few) to leave Orban alone, let him continue with his dictatorship. He’s not asking for much, only that he could continue in peace.

    Never underestimate the rats when they feel cornered.

    http://hvg.hu/itthon/20141124_Rogan_puhitja_az_Orbant_fegyelmezo_nemet

  39. tappanch here in Illinois we have a flat state income tax and it has been in place since the 1970s. It has been supported by both Democrats and Republicans and it is in ARTICLE IX of the Constitution of the State of Illinois following a constitutional convention. Forty-three states impose an income tax on individuals on top of the Federal graduated income tax. Of these 43 states, 8 have a flat tax including my state of Illinois.

    I was involved last year in an effort to eliminate the flat tax in Illinois and move to a graduated income tax with a proposed amendment to our Constitution. It failed completely. There was considerable opposition among Democrats to the proposal, but all Republicans in the Illinois General Assembly (state legislature) opposed it. Ross Perot in 1992 proposed a 17% Flat federal income tax and it was not at that time supported by either the Republican Party or the Democrats. Perot had to create a third party to promote the concept and it failed.

    In the last presidential election cycle Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and Mike Huckabee all candidates in the Republican primary advocated variants of the flat tax, but really it did not gain traction at the federal level. Overall many Republicans like the flat tax idea, but even some Democrats here have been know to support it. Just like in Hungary, Americans want the state to provide some common services and most Americans don’t want to pay much in the form of taxation for those services. Orban is very American like in how he preaches low taxation, but imposes high taxation on citizens in a wide variety of ways. He is very un-American like in his business taxation policies and business regulation practices.

Comments are closed.