The by-election in Baja is still not over, at least if it depends on the opposition. The public is learning more and more about the characters involved in the alleged electoral fraud. It looks as if the orchestrators of the highly suspicious results in one of the polling stations came from the ranks of Fidesz party activists who are responsible for campaign strategies. Moreover, these party workers have a track record of manipulating the voting process if they think that Fidesz needs it in order to win.
Let me start the story with two men who can be seen on a video rudely interrupting Gordon Bajnai, the former prime minister and co-chairman of Együtt-PM, as he is listening to the complaints of an elderly woman. They badger him with accusations of wrongdoings that he allegedly committed when the company for which he was working was involved with a business that ended up in bankruptcy. Since the business had something to do with raising geese, these “civic” demonstrators recruited by Fidesz usually arrive with either live or rubber geese and drown Bajnai out with loud cackling.
This encounter was no different except for the fact that the “demonstrators” were Fidesz employees. One of them was Máté Kindlovits, the personal secretary of Gábor Kubatov, who is the brains behind Fidesz’s campaign strategy. Kindlovits is no stranger to Hungarians who follow political events. He could be seen on a Fidesz video leaked to the public about the party’s preparation for the 2009 mayoral by-election in Pécs.
The other man was Tibor Csörsz Elszaszer, who can be seen on the same video. Elszaszer was caught by the police as he was taking mostly Gypsy voters to their polling station in Pécs. The police found a long list of names and addresses in the car. Elszaszer’s explanation was simple minded: the men in his car were on their way to go fishing but they stopped off to vote. I might mention that Elszaszer was originally active in Jobbik, and in 2006 he tried his luck as a MIÉP-Jobbik candidate in the Érd municipal election. Magyar Narancs found photos of Elszaszer with Jobbik’s Előd Novák of kuruc.info fame.
These two men, however, could not alone ensure a Fidesz victory in Baja. They solicited the help of some local Roma leaders. One of them, Tibor Ajtai, the chairman of the county’s Roma self-governing body, is an “expert” on chain-voting. In January of this year a tape recording surfaced in which Ajtai admits that he was the one who helped Fidesz’s candidate, Krisztián Kapus, become mayor of Kiskunfélegyháza. He managed to devise a “beautifully executed chain-voting scheme,” but he was greatly disappointed because, although Kapus initially gave him and another Roma leader jobs in city hall that were to last until 2014, they were terminated in September 2011. One can only wonder what kind of promises were made to Ajtai for services rendered in Baja. Ajtai also seems to be engaged in usury. According to some of his victims, instead of giving monetary assistance from funds available to the Roma organization, Lungo Drom, he lent the strapped men money from his own resources and then demanded that they repay him two or three times the amount he lent them.
The second Roma leader who was most likely involved is Szilveszter Horváth, who actually lives in the district. His wife was strategically placed inside the polling station where apparently with the help of sms messages back and forth she could report on the progress being made inside.
And finally, here are a couple of charts from Ténytár. The first one shows the results in this particular electoral district between 2006 and 2013. The red bars represent MSZP and its partners and the orange Fidesz. The chart shows the results of the national and local 2006 and 2010 elections and the 2013 by-election. As you can see, even with the likely voting irregularities, the opposition doubled its support compared to 2010 in this pro-Fidesz district.
The second graph compares the results of the 2006 and 2013 municipal elections, broken down by the five polling stations in the district. Ténytár opted to compare this year’s results with the results of 2006, when the left fared much better than it did in 2010. You may notice that a third party (brown) ran in the 2006 elections. That was the MFC Roma Unity Party. Even if you take the total of the Fidesz and Roma votes in 2006 (and it does not make a lot of political sense to do so), it still falls short of the 97 votes cast for Fidesz this year.
The National Election Committee is unlikely to accept the complaints and decide that balloting should be repeated in this particular polling station. At least this is the widely held view in Hungary. But the opposition parties could still go to the courts and see whether the “independent” justices might be convinced by the available evidence that a repeat is warranted. If this case is swept under the rug, Fidesz might pay dearly for a small win in a by-election when it comes to determining the validity of the results of the next national election. In fact, there are some people who doubt the existence of electoral fraud in Baja because they simply can’t believe that Fidesz would risk that much.
On the other hand, Zsolt Bayer, the far-right Fidesz journalist, is not shy. In his weekly column he “humbly thanks the upright Gypsies who with their votes assisted in this victory,” adding that “Lungo Drom did a fantastic job.” It sure did, but if I were Bayer I wouldn’t be proud of it.