Recent Hungarian by-elections

I assume most readers want me to say something about the Putin visit, but I think it’s better to postpone writing anything more on that subject until after the meeting itself. Instead, I’ll spend some time on another “hot topic,” the extreme-right Jobbik party and recent election results.

According to Ipsos, Jobbik has gained considerable strength since the beginning of 2014. And since October 2014 its rise has accelerated: it gained another 4%. At the same time Fidesz lost about 12% of its voters. Most of the disenchanted Fidesz voters moved over to the large undecided bloc. With the exception of the Demokratikus Koalíció, parties of the democratic opposition seem to be unable to capture the voters’ imagination.

The fear of a Jobbik resurgence was reinforced by the party’s success at the municipal elections on October 12, 2014 when they captured fourteen mayoralty positions as opposed to the three they won in 2010. Most of the towns Jobbik won were small and insignificant on the electoral map, with two exceptions. One was Ózd, near Miskolc, where the Jobbik candidate won over the incumbent Fidesz mayor by a margin of 66 votes. The Fidesz leadership, with the blessing of the Debrecen Appellate Court, decided to contest the result. It was a big mistake. The citizens of Ózd were outraged and decided to show their dissatisfaction with the “arrogant, condescending and corrupt” local Fidesz leadership. While in October only 10,214 people voted, for the second round 15,982 showed up. Jobbik’s candidate in October received 4,214 votes. In November he got 10,299 votes. The DK-MSZP candidate in October received 2,238 votes, in November only 520. Most local citizens voted for the Jobbik candidate not because they were committed Jobbik supporters but because they were convinced that he was the only person who had a chance of unseating the Fidesz incumbent.

The situation was different in Tapolca, which is located not in the underdeveloped area of Hungary where Jobbik has traditionally been strong but in the relatively affluent Transdanubia. Between 2010 and 2014 the Fidesz government had been generous to the town and funded a lot of improvements. So, even Jobbik supporters were stunned when it turned out that the Jobbik candidate, Zoltán Dobó, had unseated the incumbent Fidesz mayor in the 2014 municipal election. The margin was small, 146 votes, but the win was significant. It indicated, at least at first blush, that Jobbik was extending its influence into the better-off regions of the country. Reporters talking with locals, however, found out that some of the people who voted for Dobó didn’t know he was a member of Jobbik.

So, what happened? It seems that the Fidesz mayor didn’t keep his finger on the pulse of the electorate. He shut himself off from the voters. By contrast, Dobó, a council member since 2010, kept a high profile. And then there was a local affair that stirred up deep sentiments: the fate of Tapolca’s little hospital, which the government wanted to either close or strip of most of its functions. The local Fidesz leadership naturally supported the government’s decision–until it was far too late. By that time Zoltán Dobó and Lajos Rig, another Jobbik city father, had taken over the fight for the local hospital. Apparently, that was the main reason for Dobó’s success at the polls. The town itself, which has been in Fidesz hands since 1998, still has a predominantly Fidesz city council. On the eleven-member city council Jobbik won only four seats.

Mezőkövesd is another interesting case. Two candidates for a seat on the city council received exactly the same number of votes. If I wanted to be charitable I would call János Kötél, the Jobbik candidate, a man of limited abilities who is also a racist. For instance, a day before the repeated election a journalist for Index discovered that on Facebook Kötél had called the Roma “the biological weapon of Jews.” Yet he gained supporters between the two elections and ultimately prevailed. Were the voters endorsing his views? Most likely not. I suspect that the voters decided to gang up against the Fidesz candidate the second time around. The Mezőkövesd case reminds me of Ózd. The slogan seems to be “anyone but the incumbent Fidesz guys.”

All in all, since the local elections held on October 12 not one Fidesz candidate has managed to win a by-election. And now it looks as if Fidesz might even lose the Veszprém and Tapolca parliamentary by-elections, which must be held because of Tibor Navracsics’s departure to Brussels and the death of Jenő Lasztovicza, a member of parliament for the Tapolca district. If either of these two by-elections is lost, Fidesz will no longer have a two-thirds majority. How serious a blow that would be to Fidesz is a matter of debate. Some commentators claim that the lack of a super majority would make no difference because there would always be some people in Jobbik who would be glad to vote with Fidesz-KDNP. Others claim that the lack of a two-thirds majority would prevent Fidesz from transforming the present parliamentary system into a powerful presidential one, with Orbán at the helm. In either case, a Fidesz defeat in one or both of these districts would give an immediate boost to the democratic opposition and further damage the governing party.

Tibor Navracsics’s seat in and around the city of Veszprém will be decided on February 22, while voting in Jenő Lasztovicz’s district in Tapolca and environs will take place on April 19.

Source: Index / Photo Orsi Ajpek

Source: Index / Photo Orsi Ajpek

A few words about the election in Navracsics’s district. Veszprém’s first district traditionally votes Fidesz. At the last national election Navracsics beat the MSZP candidate by 20% (47% to 27%), with the Jobbik candidate receiving 16%. After a lot of hesitation, Fidesz decided to nominate Lajos Némedi, the deputy mayor of Veszprém. About a week ago a secret opinion poll was taken, with surprising results. Zoltán Kész, an independent candidate supported by all the democratic parties except LMP, is doing extremely well. In fact, he is leading in the city of Veszprém, though trailing in the villages. As it now stands, Némedi has 43%, Kész 37%, Jobbik 11%, and LMP 4%. Jobbik seems to have lost voters since last April. The poll showed that the majority of the people think that the country is moving in the wrong direction (61%). Left-leaning voters are solidly behind Kész. Even 6% of Fidesz voters plan to switch their votes, and 31% of LMP voters say they will opt for Kész. Kész has a slight lead even among younger voters. Voters with only an eighth-grade education prefer Némedi (64% to 25%), but among university graduates it is 49% to 28% in Kész’s favor. In this latter group only 2% would vote for Jobbik.

In the last few days Fidesz changed the campaign slogan. Earlier their orange-colored posters read “Trust Fidesz!” but it was decided not to advertise Fidesz too much. Now the poster reads: “Trust Némedi!” Meanwhile, the anti-Kész campaign is in full swing, and  Fidesz is promising that fabulous government projects will be built in Veszprém if the district votes for Fidesz. We’ll see whether the voters of Veszprém take the bait.

Advertisements

63 comments

  1. Hungarians–all Hungarians–are fully invested in the criminal mindset. They know it: they understand it. There are no surprises.

    Remember the lessons of Esztergom!

    Hungarians have a lot to be ashamed of, but fully giving in to criminal blackmail at every level
    is the worst.

    Hajra Magyarok!

    (The assholes of the world.)

  2. If, if there indeed was a deal between he US Gov and Orban about Goodfriend and the “reset”, then it’s also a sign that the US Gov doesn’t think that the current leftist coalition can possibly win any elections, ever.

    Not just because the election system is already geared toward Fidesz and moreover Fidesz can at any time amend it when it sees it necessary (as it did just before the municipal elections), but also because the lefties fail to inspire people with their longstanding preoccupation with “marginal” issue like poor people, antisemitism, gipsies, gays, now immigrants. For the plurality these are useless marginal issues, and they obviously punish the left for its lack of willingness to deal with popular issues.

    DK is indeed slowly coming up, but its future is limited by Gyurcsany. The rest are thought to be a motley crew of lightweight amateurs against the disciplined machinery of the Fidesz-mafia.

    I mean the other day there was an MTI picture of József Tobias (the ‘powerful’ chairman of MSZP) standing in front of a CBA grocery shop somewhere in the outskirts of Budapest with a colleague and reading up a speech against the impending Sunday closure of shops (except for small CBA shops, a chain supported by Fidesz and which is supporting Fidesz/Jobbik, which may be open) and the picture was more than pathetic. It reeked of utter hopelessness.

  3. Fidesz without a super majority, let the games continue!

    In the back of my mind I’ve been thinking, if Fidesz falls it’s very apparent that Jobbik is the only party positioned to win. Unless Jobbik snatches a loss from the hands of victory…. The question now becomes, how bad will or can Jobbik be? So far the Greeks have done exactly what I expected them to do, throw the biggest tantrum the possibly can and avoid tossing the toys out of the pram because they know, if they do, there will be no one there to pick’em up and put them back in. The opposition may holler but governing is different. Still, Jobbik? My my, how low has the rest of the opposition fallen that they can’t even offer a decent replacement for Gy.

  4. A bit OT re the loss of Fidesz votes to Jobbik:
    Something similar happened in the local parliamentary elections in Hamburg last Sunday – the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) lost around 5% to the Alliance for Germany (AfD) – if that party’s name reminds you of “Hungary for Hungarians only!” that’s not a coincidence …
    And now the good news:
    CDU and AfD together got around 21% – the rest went to the Left/Liberal/green/Communist parties …
    And Hamburg is in principle one of the most conservative towns in Germany – but of course most of our conservatives have learnt their lesson – it’s not like in 1933 when the Christian Zentrum party voted for Hitler’s laws …
    So maybe there is hope for Hungary too – it’ll just take a long, long time!

  5. Hungarians are singularly unsuited for civilized, political, activity. Everything begins and ends
    in self-interest. Hence, at the opportune time, when a sellout is called for, the Hungarian politico does it without a smidgen of regret.

    If you try to follow a proper route, well then..you get Angyanized; or, in the case of Vago Gabor,
    you step away with your dignity intact. (I was tempted to write Vagyanized…)

    I suppose it’s a case of giving toys to children they’re not ready to use yet–

  6. Orban cannot possibly lose the 2/3s. The notion itself that Fidesz fell below 2/3s will be a blow to his image, sure, but Fidesz will get that 1-2-3-4 votes in one way or another. There are various opposition candidates already lined up, often it’s enough if they get sick and fail to show up for voting.

    Fidesz has thought about that for long, worry not. This system is very resilient and was designed with the possibility of a formal lack of a few votes to 2/3s in mind. The lefties would be very worried in a similar situation, but Fidesz has been preparing for this for years. Fideszniks are calm. Moreover, the Orban-system can seamlessly work for a few years without 2/3s, as in all positions of power Orban has personal loyalists entrenched for 9-12 years.

  7. It was already mentioned that origo.hu the second most popular internet site behind index.hu which is owned by Magyar Telekom (in turn owned by Deutsche Telekom) fired its editors and – as part of a grand bargain with Orban – became a consistently pro-Orban site.

    Not only that, apparently a pro-Russian one too.

    Yesterday on the main page at the same time featured articles with titles “Putin spanking Obama” (the main article), “Russia is progressing well with building stadiums for the football world championship” (good to know in Hungary about this relevant item), “A few hundred people demonstrated against Putin” (when it was a way bigger demonstration) “The supporters of the Sunday shopping ban will be revealed” (when the opposition to the ban is much-much bigger, but one would never hear about it on origo.hu).

    A usual day on the Hungarian “private and independent” media scene.

    http://kettosmerce.tumblr.com/post/111207767392/mikor-lett-habony-ujsaga-az-origobol-putyini

  8. @Eva – On G.W. Bush’s ex-girlfriend, and much later Ambassador April Foley — she was initially seen as pro-Fidesz, true (headline in MN: “imádja a magyarokat”), but later, not so much. I won’t hunt down the attacks against her just now, I’ll only remind you (and others) of what she said before she left Budapest, and before the 2010 elections – when Fidesz was already projected to win: “We’ll deal with any lunatic you Hungarians elect, but first you need to suffer.”
    N. G. Brinker – I too wondered if her Jewishness had anything to do with attacks against her. After Foley said what she said (above) a lot of anti-semitic comments were made about her by anonymous trollers.

  9. @googly – (here as well, in case you didn’t see it in the previous post)
    Since you didn’t get it (the mushroom bit was poetic), my point was that you do not and cannot know what the “great Hungarian public” feels about the issue you were discussing. Ask 100 Hungarians and you might get 100 different answers. A sociological study based on 1,000 responses would only tell you which percentage thinks this or that, and even a sociologist would say this is just an estimate (such as, how many prefer coke, how many pepsi, and how many traubi), and would certainly tell you that there is no unanimity. But you claimed you knew what most Hungarians think about something so irrelevant to most of their lives that most of them probably haven’t thought of it at all (that would be perfectly normal, and respectable).
    By claiming to know what must Hungarians think, you were either naive (to put it politely), or you still believe you know, in which case…
    The same goes for your “knowledge” about what motivated the State Department or Goodfriend, only for different reasons. Here – unlike public opinion – there probably is some identifiable reasoning. There has been a public announcement of reasons. My assumption is that “they” aren’t lying. You claim to “know” differently.
    Are you privy to information direct from the State Department?
    If not, see my comment above about naivete.
    If you find that insulting, I apologize.

  10. Responding to Leslie Manyoki: if there was an informal “deal” between the United States Department of State and the Hungarian government to remove Mr, Goodfriend it would be a political disaster for the Obama administration. The reason is Senator McCain on the floor of the Senate gave a strong endorsement to Goodfriend and Victoria Nuland State Department’s Assistant Secretary for European Affairs also publicly fully backed Goodfriend. Therefore what could be called the downside political risk of such a “deal” would be enormous for the Obama administration and simply not worth taking.

    Unfortunately Central Europeans, not just Hungarians, spend endless time trying to figure out various intrigues that may or may not exist. Occasionally things can be what they are said to be by government officals. If there is a “reset” then PM Orban has somehow indicated to Ambassdor Bell he will stop,all further extorion attempts by Fidesz bureaucrats of US owned firms operating in Hungary and has given private assurances that the so called eastern opening has very defined limits. The so called reset would not be based on the removal of one State Department officer. Even with such assurances I would speculate that Victoria Nuland and many others in my government would have their doubts about such promises on the part of Orban’s government.

  11. @Webber re Foley. I believe you but I would be surprised if Foley ever turned against Fidesz and Orbán. She still supports the present government even when everybody turned against them in Washington. Fellegi’s Friends of Hungary lost Katarina Lantos, George Pataki, and many others but Foley is still there.

  12. I hope readers don’t forget to follow the price of crude (Brent for European readers), it’s at its maximum this calendar year.

    Just as quickly Putin was losing important revenues, he could be getting them back soon.

    His 600bn rainy day fund could cover him for long.

  13. Istwan writes:

    “Responding to Leslie Manyoki: if there was an informal “deal” between the United States Department of State and the Hungarian government to remove Mr, Goodfriend it would be a political disaster for the Obama administration. The reason is Senator McCain on the floor of the Senate gave a strong endorsement to Goodfriend”

    However Istwan is highly delusional. The fact that half a year ago Senator McCain says half a sentence about Goodfriend is absolutely a non-factor. Nobody cares about Hungary in US internal politics let alone the minute detail of which official is the second, third and fifth after the Ambassador.

    They barely care about who the ambassador, and the ambassador is the one who is the boss of all the others.

    And then if the Obama administration did make a deal to remove Goodfriend how would it be a disaster? Who would ever find out about such a deal and why would they care if the US gets in return was worth it? Again this is delusional thinking and nonsense speech.

    “The so called reset would not be based on the removal of one State Department officer.”

    One thing is sure, with Goodfriend (who not long ago faced official charges for alleged criminal conduct) remaining there could have been no reset. Goodfriend either became a liability and was withdrawn OR it was the ambassador who fired him, because she wanted to be the actual ambassador and not deputy asisstant to Goodfriend. Which is how she would be perceived if Goodfriend remained with Goodfriend’s celebrity status, fan pages and numerous websites dedicated to the Goodfriend personality.

    He had to be removed for the ambassador to effectively do her job. Even if there were other reasons, this must have been part of it.

  14. My wife, a Veszprém native, stunned me just a few minutes ago by saying that she doesn’t plan to vote for the Fidesz candidate in the election this weekend.

    This is a really big deal, as I don’t think she’s ever voted non-Fidesz in her life, but I suspect she’s going to chicken out in the end. She said her mother would be really disappointed in her if she didn’t vote Fidesz, so I bet that will be the deciding factor. Kind of shocking that she feels parental approval is needed to cast her vote, but there you go.

  15. Tim is the latest troll – and a very stupid one too: ” faced official charges ” Ridiculous!
    Btw writing someone’s (Hungarian) name wrong consistently is impolite or rather idiotic for another Hungarian …

  16. buddy – a friend of ours (British) has been married for some years to a Hungarian woman (they have two children and have lived in the UK for years). They spent some time choosing a carpet for their living room, eventually settling on one they both really liked.

    She then rang her mother, back in Hungary.

    Eventually the mother, after considerable consultation with the rest of the (Hungarian) family, chose a different carpet.

    Guess which one they ended up with…

  17. Gabor Török says that the Merkel-Putin meetings were on balance a positive series of events for Orban. He appeared important, sought-after, and equal to great leaders. I agree. Sure, he chained Hungary to Russia (now giving them a lease on the gas storage, it appears), the cost of Paks 2 now 12bn euros, but his only goal was not to get damaged and come out clean. That he did.

    Orban is on a foreign relations roll (was in Minsk, Serbia traveling to Poland). I guess this is one his strategies to improve ratings, to appear as an important European factor.

  18. @Minsky – “foreign relations roll”?? The man who went to a NATO event uninvited, and was cold-shouldered?
    Minsk…. Subotica… a “roll”?
    I have no idea what Orban will be doing in Poland, but can’t imagine the Polish government will be terribly happy with him.
    He has just tied Hungary more tightly to Putin’s Russia. Putin has said repeatedly that NATO is Russia’s enemy (just look it up if you don’t believe me). Hungary is a NATO member. How do you imagine all this is perceived in the capitals of other NATO states?
    Foreign relations roll? On his back?

  19. @Wolfi – Tim might not be Hungarian. Mixing up the v and w is just too bizarre. I’d guess another nationality.

  20. @Paul: Wow. I’d never consult with my mother about carpet issues. Or about who to vote for. I guess I’m not a real Hungarian 🙂 Or is that a Fidesz non-Fidesz divide, I wonder.

  21. @Webber

    You are right, he is indeed binding Hungary to Russia ever more thoroughly. Actually index.hu (owned by a Fidesz-loyal oligarch) seems to be getting pretty conscious about this process and has been raising serious doubts about the wisdom of it. But why would Orban travel back and forth these days, if not as a kind of substitute act, to appear important, to gain the most from this ‘foreign policy discourse’, if anyway the last few weeks were framed by (the anticipation of) meetings with foreign leaders. Normally he would be expected to stay in Hungary and do something with his sinking popularity, Simicska, (perhaps work on policy matters), instead he’s been traveling in the region (he was also in Munchen for a weekend, if I remember correctly).

  22. HVG has a good summary of the meeting between Orban and Putin.

    What surely will remain in the future is MET AG’s license to make a net profit upwards of 200m euros a year without any investment or risks, to the detriment of the state-owned MVM Zrt. and the Hungarian taxpayers.

    Orban and his pals won’t have to worry about their kids’ tuition fees, that’s for sure. I’d be very surprised if by 2018 they wouldn’t own everything worth owning Hungary especially as they acquire assets not with cash, but with a promise to arrange an EU-funded subsidy deal from which the seller can get its compensation…I hear they have hard time signing up new fronts (legal owners on paper), there’s so much money to be invested.

  23. @ If Hungarians had found the ancient, 2,000 gold in the Isreali port of Caesarea….

    (The Jewish divers who found it, can you believe it, turned the find over to government officials.)

    1–there would be teeth marks all over the coins

    2–suddenly, there would be 10 dead bodies

    3–no one would ever have heard of the find

  24. Here is the quarterly “deep” number of the Hungarian macro economics:

    Growth of the NET debt of the central government in 2014: 10.67%

    Growth of the NET debt of the general government (central+local+social security) in 2014: 9.45%.

    Source:
    http://www.mnb.hu/Root/Dokumentumtar/MNB/Statisztika/mnbhu_statisztikai_idosorok/mnbhu_hazt5/ahtadatok_hu.xlsx

    (This is a disappearing link. The national bank reveals the data on its website only for some time.)

  25. The past numbers have also changed!

    Net debt of the central government on December 31, 2012, as reported in February 2014: 17502.1 billion forints.

    >> Net debt of the central government on December 31, 2013, as reported in February 2014:
    19750.5

    >> Net debt of the central government on December 31, 2013, as reported in February 2015:
    22428.4

    Net debt of the central government on December 31, 2014, as reported in February 2015:
    24821.2

    So if we compare the 2014 number with the 2013 number as reported a year ago, the growth of the net debt of the central government has been a staggering

    25.67%.

  26. @petofi –
    Ha! You have a point – just look at the Hungarian Vatera (Hun. ebay), and look up gold and silver Roman coins, fibulae, and all the other stuff on sale. Where did all that come from? We’ll never know. People are digging, but not talking – and doing this goes way back in time. In his memoirs, the communist politician Istvan Dobi mentioned treasure-hunting in Roman graveyards in his youth, and that peasants in his region (near Komarom) sold finds on the black market.
    But I should add that if an American had found gold, he would have quietly sold it piece by piece on ebay. Just look at what happens to American Indian artifacts – people where I’m from who find arrowheads never report them.
    Hungarians aren’t worse than most people in this regard.
    To be serious: The problem in Hungary is the law. If you find anything valuable on your land in Hungary, you’d be a fool to report it for several reasons. First, you will not be able to keep it. Second, the authorities you report it to might just filch it (accidents do happen, as you suggested). Third, if authorities don’t steal it, and if its significant, the state can seize your property to carry out digs there (the same goes for finding oil, coal, whatever). So, if you find a Roman, Celtic, or Avar grave in your garden, you would be wise to keep it quiet.
    If Hungary had a law like the British one, in which people are required to report treasure found, but (here’s the difference) are generally afterwards either allowed to keep the treasure (and get a certificate showing it is theirs) or are allowed to sell it and keep the proceeds (the state/Crown has right of first purchase), people in Hungary also would report what they find. Since Britain passed that law (can’t recall the year) the amount of treasure found and reported in that country has just grown and grown. The law protects finders if they report things to authorities, and so a lot of archaeological finds are recorded that otherwise would simply disappear into the black market (or even be melted down, if gold).
    Given what’s on Vatera, it’s obvious that people digging foundations for buildings, plowing, digging ditches, or whatever, are finding things. It’s certain some people have discovered very significant things on their property. And it’s clear that hardly anyone is reporting finds.
    Since human behavior can’t be changed, the law should.

  27. For those who read Hungarian an extremely important and long article about the media empires of Simicska and Orban.

    This article shows that the EU or whomever can analyze media laws to death, the important issues aren’t decided in abstract statutory texts (important those may be), but through complicated ownership structures, personal relationships, state capture and the like.

    http://www.kreativ.hu/databanya/cikk/hogyan_mukodott_orban_es_simicska_mediabirodalma

  28. Re Bcker:

    It must be noted that Fidesz came to power in 2010. By that time its media empire was extremely big underscoring Fidesz’ uncompromising strategy to obtain and any all media and even establish new ones. The strategy is still alive and fideszniks have continued to purchase all available media (lately via front companies mostly) and found new outlets. On the top of that the budget of the state media increased year after year to insane levels.

    Note that the management, organizational know-how experience is priceless. Fidesz-loyal oligarchs have been operating these outlets for over a decade accumulating important know-how which a startup obviously lacks (for example if the left wing decided it wanted its own media).

    Meanwhile the disintegrated, enfeebled, clueless left-wing had no media strategy whatsoever. The leftists believed that just because ÉS or Magyar Narancs can still sell with great difficulty some 6-8,000 printed copies a week to urban intellectuals that will be enough — although mostly nobody thought anything. The lefties just didn’t care. Not surprisingly, the left has been in terminal decline sine 2007 and has been unable to create its own discourse.

    Fidesz forced the entire opposition (although that happened way before 2010) to follow its discourse, its language, its values, its unwritten rules. The defeat of the left wing is total.

  29. The New York Times says in its title “Hungary Keeps Visit by Putin Low-Key as It Seeks to Repair Relations With West”.

    Is this part of the reset with the US?

    How was yesterday visit low key?

    Electricity at the ELTE Liberal Arts campus on Muzeum Körút was shut down for 4 hours (classes were canceled), manhole covers were welded down, subway stations closed down, public buses going to the airport stopped en route (with their foreign tourist trapped inside, missing their planes, information was given on the way and only in Hungarian), the entire Hungarian media had been about Putin for days etc. etc.

    How could a 5-hour long meeting be any more showy?

    Are these NYT reporters as clueless as those who recalled Goodfriend based on some idiotic hope in an understanding with Orban? I guess so.

    Also, people repeatedly say Orban was embarrassed, that it was Putin who wanted to get invited and so on. Well, it certainly looked like Orban was having a jolly good time, and certainly a way better time than with Merkel. To me it’s obvious that he was happy and made good deals.

    Paks 2 is sacrosanct to him and got reassurance that Putin will pay (though not EUR 10bn, but now 12bn), also the MET deals will continue. What more could he hope for anyway?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/18/world/hungary-keeps-visit-by-putin-low-key-as-it-seeks-to-repair-relations-with-west.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1

  30. Eva have you tried deleting and then reposting the Putin blog to see if the comment feature reappears. If that does not work, perhaps you could post a stub post just for comments on the visit.

  31. Well, Political Capital (Péter Krekó) has to be friendly with Fidesz, who else could potentially give them juicy mandates? It’s not a think thank but a bunch of political operatives for hire. Of course New York Times should have done a better research, but probably Hungary isn’t worth too much investment.

  32. HVG is apparently not an enemy media any more, of course HVG only writes down what Orban feeds down, after all why would Orban lie?

    Orban said by the way that certain elements who disliked Fidesz infiltrated the State Department but now just left.

    Orbán szerint a Fidesszel nem szimpatizáló személyek erősen beépültek az amerikai külügybe, de most kikerültek onnan. Ellentétben az előzetes bírálatokkal, el kell ismerni, hogy Colleen Bell amerikai nagykövet nagyon tehetséges, elég abba belegondolni, hogy ha Amerikában valaki sikert ér el, ahhoz mindenképpen kell rátermettség és tudás. Budapesten azt látni, hogy sokkal kevésbé ideológiailag orientált, mint André Goodfriend ideiglenes ügyvivő volt.

    http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20150218_Orbanhatter

  33. One important point is that Orban wants to build the new South Stream by any means. There is now a plan to jointly build it with Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.

    Since it goes without saying that Orban’s (and Csanyi’s) Olajterv/OT Industries would build the pipelines and Orban’s MET would receive the capacity to fill the pipeline with gas, Orban would support any project by any money.

    Only the hopeless Western people want everything to be profitable and rational. More successful leaders just decide and then execute.

    Attila Ara-Kovacs had again some good observation on mancs.hu

  34. “The Paks project is underway. Isn’t it interesting that we have to learn this from a Russian source?”

    Yes, and the Hungarian people will not know the details of the contract for decades. When the business a government enters into is made secret, democracy dies, for the people have no oversight from which they can make wise decisions in future elections.

  35. Birdynyamnyam: the problem with Orban’s analysis is of course the fact that Nuland has expressed the same position on Orban’s political ideology, Eva even did a blog post about Nuland’s comments. If there has been a reset then Orban has made promises to be good and restrain his people from both extorting US firms and publicly bashing the foreign policy objectives on the United States. We shall see how that evolves won’t we. As to Tim’s post, it’s true Hungary is not high on the US radar screen. But it also exceedingly rare for a US Senator to publicly commend a diplomat as he did Mr Goodfriend.

    I known Europeans in general like to dismiss Senator McCain as a mad war hawk, he is not seen that way in the United States. In fact even his position on using additional US ground forces to fight the Islamic State is gaining support in this country. His perspectives should not be ignored as much as many Europeans dislike them and his party is now the majority in our Congress. I may disagree with some of the Senator’s positions, but his first interest is that of my country and not what Europeans may think of him. I respect him for that.

  36. birdynyamnyam

    “Orbán szerint a Fidesszel nem szimpatizáló személyek erősen beépültek az amerikai külügybe, de most kikerültek onnan. Ellentétben az előzetes bírálatokkal, el kell ismerni, hogy Colleen Bell amerikai nagykövet nagyon tehetséges, elég abba belegondolni, hogy ha Amerikában valaki sikert ér el, ahhoz mindenképpen kell rátermettség és tudás. Budapesten azt látni, hogy sokkal kevésbé ideológiailag orientált, mint André Goodfriend ideiglenes ügyvivő volt.”

    What about Charles Gati? He hates Fidesz and was previously influential through his personal connection to Goodfriend. Now that Goodfriend is gone for good, people like Gati, who do not dislike but actually hate Fidesz and Orban, will have less of an influence on the foreign policy.

    Goodfriend was an ideological warrior, while Ambassador Bell is a pragmatist. To meet Goodfriend’s requirements Fidesz would have had to change into a left-liberal party and adopt left-liberal values. I suspect to satisfy the new American position Fidesz will have to change a few but important things. First is the support for Ukraine, for example Orban traveled to Kiev just a few days ago and loudly supported Ukraine and its territorial integrity. I would not be surprised if this trip was strongly suggested or put together by Bell or someone in the staff of Bell.

  37. @crai

    I am sorry but what you write is BS on several levels. First, Goodfriend was not fired from the State Department and in fact we don’t know about any relevant personnel changes there. Orban at most is trying to appear well-informed about policy changes at State, whereas I don’t see any evidence to that effect (even assuming Goodfriend was recalled by his bosses as part of a deal). Gati retired years ago, he is over 80, it’s inconceivable that he could have any direct influence on the State Department.

    Orban could not have been more servile to Putin, I think the US would have to be imbecile to believe that Orban would change or that he will suddenly support Kiev (where the Hungarian ambassador is a known pro-Russian personal friend of Orban) against Moscow.

    Orban knows well that Moscow will win in Ukraine, it will occupy (already has occupied for practical purposes) part of Ukraine and won’t ever leave, why would he support the EU or the US in this matter? For him it’s a no brainer, if Putin anyway won, why would you argue with him on that one?

    Orban was not invited to Kiev, he was invisible and totally superfluous, I can imagine that he wanted to go, but would the US be so stupid as to recommend him to go there (and do what)?

    Orban supports Russia in practically everything, if the US or the anybody from the EU think that Orban would change, than they are indeed hopeless fools who can’t even learn from their own mistakes. Orban is on Putin’s direct payroll and he does believe ni Alexander Dugin’s decadent West ideology.

  38. Sorry, back to Goodfriend’s departure… I am more and more inclined to think that there could have been some kind of a deal between Orban and the US. Today Orban himself suggested that Hungary should militarily support the fight against ISIS. Unfortunately, the Fidesz parliamentary delegation did not support the idea and Orban said it will be a difficult to get this approved as it needs 2/3 of the votes in the Parliament.

    http://hvg.hu/gazdasag/20150218_Orbanhatter

    Oh sure, we know how difficult it is to get 2/3 in the Hungarian Parliament nowadays. Orban is playing his games again. You cannot strike deals with a character like this. When is the West going to learn?

    It was a capital mistake to let Goodfriend go. I am very disappointed in Obama for sending this ambassador to Hungary. When Obama ran the first time, he promised changes in Washington… well, when it comes to nominating ambassadors, there is no change that I can see.

  39. “Let’s pause here a bit because this cemetery became the object of great interest. Buried in most of the thousands of graves on this site are soldiers who died during the siege of Budapest during the winter of 1944-45. In addition, there are graves that belong to soldiers who died during the revolution in October 1956. In the cemetery there are monuments to their heroism during “the counterrevolution.” Most likely not too many people noticed these forgotten relics, which survived the regime change. But now, especially since belittling the greatness of the 1956 revolution is a punishable offense, most anti-government commentators are appalled.”

    The cemetery issue is very appalling. The Soviet soldiers who are buried in the cemetery are those who saved the lives of every single Jew in Hungary. The fact that 1956 Russians and 1945 Russians are buried in the same cemetery does not change the ratios. About 200 000 Russians died during the fighting in Hungary. Maybe it was not their goal but they did in fact save the lives of all of the Jews.

    So in fact commentators who are “appalled” may very well have hidden antisemitic agendas. They try to pretend that commemorating fallen Russian soldiers is such a horrible thing to do… for the President of Russia. One hidden reason could be that they would have preffered the Germans to win against those Russians, and all of the Jews of Hungary to be destroyed…

  40. Foreign policy always changes especially when the situation changes. It is total BS that the foreign policy of Hungary will never change. It has already changed. Orban traveled to Kiev, there were meetings with opposition leaders, there were meetings with opposition media reporters. These things were unheard of before.

    And the US has many cards in hand with which they can recommend or strongly suggest different changes to Hungarian foreign policy. Maybe removing Goodfriend was such a card, for which they got something in return (something we do not know).

    And let us not forget, Hungary always voted for all the sanctions that were put on Russia, this includes new rounds of sanctions recently implemented.

  41. @be… oh well, so the US is trying to beat Orban at his own game (making deals, trading in cards, I guess that’s what’s called politics). It won’t work because Orban plays this game better and he plays it dirty.

    It is very easy to see who or what can pose a real challenge to Orban. Those people the Fidesz machinery attacks the most. There is a reason they attacked Goodfriend so vehemently. The US just withdrew one of its strong figures from this chess game. Ridiculously stupid, sorry, whatever cards the US holds.

  42. @Hahn, No, I don’t think that there is an anti-Semitic agenda here. 56 is a very touchy subject. The problem is not with the graves of the soldiers who died in 56 but the inscription: “counterrevolution.”

Comments are closed.