freelogoOur objective is to provide English speaking readers interested in Hungary with a well balanced view of political activities in Hungary by featuring contents from various printed and online sources together with our own commentaries. We are convinced that Hungary is built on all sorts of different ideas, thoughts and opinions and, despite of the new Media Law, our aim is to provide an alternative and reliable source of information – contrary to the one-sided press of the government – for those who want to hear the voice of a free Hungary.


The case when Bajnai, Mesterházy and Rogán do the same

(Gordon Bajnai, former prime minister and leader of Together 2014 political movement, Attila Mesterházy, president of the Hungarian Socialist Party and Antal Rogán, Fidesz fraction leader gave a speech at an anti-Nazi rally held in Budapest last Sunday. Such a broad co-operation is unusual in Hungarian politics . The rally was organized after a Jobbik MP suggested listing Jewish politicians and citizens.)

A part of the issues on the political agenda is really asymmetric. There are some which evoke the same reaction from different political powers as most of the citizens share a similar opinion. National successes and disasters are usually such cohesive cases since the majority is not against the homeland. The matter of anti-Nazism is similar as nobody wants to appear anti-semitic with the exception of some radical minority. This does not mean that all powers share the same interest even though they might share the same stage.

The metaphor may be strange, Mesterházy used the same strategy last Sunday's anti-Nazi rally as Orbán did in his famous 1989 speech at Imre Nagy's reburial. (Imre Nagy, leader of 1956 anti-Soviet uprising, was reburied in 1989. Viktor Orbán as a young politician gave a speech at the event. His thoughts were really radical regarding the then communist regime which had its last days in 1989.) Both of them were more confrontational in a cohesive issue as it had been expected before. We can say Mesterházy was the winner of the rally as he criticized the government and his proposals were echoed later. He met mostly leftist and liberal opposition's expectation. Bajnai might be celebrated by journalists and ambassadors after this event, but the real beneficiaries in political terms were rather Mesterházy and Rogán. Both of them gave some added value to their image and could use the issue to their aims.


Hungary's Depressingly Familiar Anti-Semitism

More than 10,000 Hungarians jammed Budapest's Lajos Kossuth Square on Sunday to express revulsion at resurgent anti-Semitism.

They have reason to worry. Last week, an increasingly open climate of racism and xenophobia in Hungary took another turn for the worse when Márton Gyöngyösi, a member of the Roma-baiting Jobbik radical nationalist party, declared in Parliament that Jews in government and the legislature were a "national security risk" and demanded that their names be compiled in a registry. Later, in what he described as an apology to his "Jewish compatriots," Gyöngyösi said he had been misquoted: He had only meant to warn of the danger posed by Hungarian Jews who serve "Zionist Israel."

No one was fooled by this depressingly familiar strategy, adopted by many European far-right movements -- and groups on the left, too: clumsily camouflaging the vilification of Jews as legitimate criticism of Israel's policies or supposed concern for the Palestinians. The U.S. Embassy condemned Gyongyosi's "outrageous anti-Semitic remarks," representatives of the Hungarian Jewish community said they would consider bringing charges of incitement against the lawmaker, and both the ruling Fidesz Party's parliamentary leader and opposition politicians spoke out at the rally Sunday.

Disturbingly, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán took almost a week to add his voice to the reprobation with a vow to protect his country's 100,000 Jews, though he didn't denounce Jobbik by name. Unfortunately, the delay wasn't much of a surprise: In solidifying his hold on power, Orban has shown a disquieting tolerance for Jobbik, the third-biggest party in Parliament, and for its bald appeals to the politics of resentment.

The far-right party has encountered little resistance from the government to its creeping animosity toward the Roma minority and its escalating efforts to rehabilitate unsavory figures such as Admiral Miklos Horthy, the country's pro-Nazi leader during World War II, whose regime colluded with the deportation -- and subsequent murder -- of at least 430,000 Hungarian Jews in 1944.

Earlier this year, the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel returned Hungary's highest award, the Grand Cross Order of Merit, to protest the participation by government and Fidesz officials in a ceremony honoring the founder of the pro-Nazi and viciously anti-Semitic Arrow Cross militia.

For too long, the European Union has tended to trivialize groups such as Jobbik or the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn in Greece as unfortunate symptoms of the growing pains that accompany the transition from communist tyranny, or as extreme popular reactions to tough economic times that will disappear with renewed prosperity or greater integration in the EU.

This wishful thinking reflects an increasingly obvious institutional flaw in the EU, which has few tools to force its member states to defend the democratic values the union claims to embody. This weakness was most prominent in 2000, when the far-right Freedom Party became a partner in the Austrian government. The EU discovered that while it could exert pressure on countries that were applying to join, it had very little influence with countries that were already members.

Orbán has brushed aside European criticism of his appeals to nationalism and his shaky embrace of democracy, including a new constitution that infringes on freedom of the press, the central bank and the independence of the judiciary.

We can hope that Hungary's 2014 elections will make Jobbik an embarrassing historical footnote and sanction Orbán's authoritarian bent. In the meantime, however, a failure to harshly condemn these extremist movements -- along with governments such as Orbán's that seem content to tolerate them -- will validate and embolden the bullies.

By Max Berley;; December 4, 2012.

The Gyurcsányists have beaten Fidesz

These are not glorious days for the dear leaders and for the NER (the Hungarian abbreviation for the system of the national cooperation). After the downgrade and the perspective of the absolutely trimmed funds from the European Union they achieved zero at the weekend while Gyurcsány's party got two points and Jobbik another one in the mid-term election. While losing against the Gyurcsányists is a sign, great conclusions cannot be drawn from it, and nor can tendencies be spoken of in the case of mid-term elections. But if I mentioned the compulsory victory at Lázár's town, it can be treated as a symptom at least.

If I only were a fly on Orbán's wall when he was told that in Vámosszabadi the Gyurcsányist candidate had beaten the Fidesz candidate, which sits in the assembly of the county. Of course we have the right to make faces. I would also have much better liked it if the mayoral candidate had announced his sympathy and membership in advance to so uhhh... what does it look like to groan afterwards that the winner is non other than the founding member of the DK, and never denied his sympathy, just it only has got much sense as if a male boar has nipples, because the one who was supported by the Fidesz was launched as independent just like the Gyurcsányist. On that, they have the same track record and the same opportunities, the results shouldn't be explained, even though the DK has lost with this situation.

I do not know how many spin doctors the Gyurcsánys have, but either there is no one or they have been out of their head from a dinner coma and that is why the chance was missed about what could be the recent period's most ridiculous gag. If I were the DK's Árpi Habony, then not just "our guys, boo" communiqué would stand alone on the website, but provide the whole front page a "thank you Laci, thank you Viki for the approximately hundred million free advertisement, thanks, thanks, thanks" smiling banner or gift as well.

Let the civil sphere have a strike at its shame, Orbán's stalking-horse, Csizmadia and his boss too. It could be an appropriate lesson about counter-productivity, and should be salutary for the next 17 months. Instead of this there is nothing but general poverty in ideas, which is not just DK's specific, but also of the whole opposition. Dear everybody, just ask yourselves the question, if you cannot kick the ball into the empty goal from five meters, then in 2014 on a sloping field on gerrymandering halves under desultory rules with the Fidesz's judges and trackmen, with pre-registered limited ticket-buyers how would you like to win the match?

If from the penetrating of the CÖF (the Hungarian abbreviation of the Forum of Civil Collaboration) it hasn't been clear, so I tell you Orbán has launched the campaign. Wake up bunnies!


Antisemitism: A short history of responsibility

Zsófia Mihancsik, editor-in-chief of Galamus, outlines her view of how and why Hungarian society ended up in a state where an openly racist neo-Nazi party, Jobbik, managed to get 800,000 votes in the last elections. Although a lot of people, especially on the right, denied the seriousness of the early signs of the growth of the extreme right, Mihancsik is convinced that it was this underestimation of the problem that was one reason for the present situation. In addition, in her opinion it was a grave mistake for the Hungarian right to consider communism and fascism equal dangers for Hungarian society.

Those who underestimate the danger of the extreme right, in Mihancsik's opinion, include Fidesz, László Sólyom, SZDSZ, LMP, and finally the "doctrinaire human rights protectors" who paid no attention to the content of words uttered. She considers András Schiffer one of these "fundamentalist defenders of human rights" who while working for TASZ, the Hungarian equivalent of the American Civil Liberties Union, fought for the freedom of racist and antisemitic speech and did everything to prevent any police action against the neo-Nazis."

Mihancsik considers Schiffer "the most responsible man among active politicians on the democratic side for the defenseless state of Hungarian society against racism and antisemitism." In her opinion, Schiffer's attitude and actions are "a much greater sin than any uncertainties, errors, mistakes, and weaknesses of all the socialist-liberal governments before 2010."

Many people will find it unacceptable to limit free speech, however odious. Others will take the view that the American view of free speech is simply not applicable in Hungary, a country with a history that includes the deportation of 600,000 Jewish citizens. Or that has such a history of discrimination against the Roma. Others, as some of the SZDSZ liberals often repeated in the past, believe that the problem cannot be solved by legal means. The society's attitude must change. The question is indeed very complicated.


Zoltán J. Gál: War

galjIt looks like that, after the failed European budget talks, we will be almost HUF 2000 billion short of the planned sum, dreamt up by the government. This cycle includes the period of 2014-2020, roughly the period, which, according to our chancellor, should be the start of recovery and economic growth. Once a loser, always a loser, as the saying goes, and one can already see the turnout of this process. Hungary will be denied billions of development money, which is a huge problem, knowing that everything is built from this development money. Now it is the PM's turn. Our freedom fighter has to show that he has got what it takes to be considered a serious statesman. He will be negotiating alone in the Red Zone, where no one, except the 27 head of states, will be allowed to participate. No prompt machines, no whispering in the ear, just him and the stark reality. So, what are the choices? The PM could ask for solidarity. It is the responsibility of the European Union to cater for the needs of its poorer members, is it not? This is not good enough, since the "oppressors" from Brussels could reply that it is Orbán himself, who lacks solidarity. It is him who doesn't give a damn about the EU rulings. And it is him, who is using the name of the European Union as a byword for swearing. What else can he do? He could ask for more money, saying that Hungary has been doing great with the use of development money. He could corroborate that with data and statistics. But that is not going to work, either. In order to get access to the money, you have to prove that the money is well spent. There is a list which ranks the member states according to their financial prudence and their way of using the development money. Just a few years ago, we were in the top five. Now, we can't even make the top twenty. He could still try referring to the future, saying that we have great plans for the times ahead. It's just that there is no plan. Our minister for development, a certain Ms. Németh, will not be even bothered to take a trip to Brussels so that she would be at least known to the people there. No need. Mr. Matolcsy has got the job, with the flipside that he is very well known. According to a list on the credibility of financial ministers, our very own George finished last but one. The PM is left with the heroic struggle then. No weapons, but a strong will to fight. Just a few years ago, when former PM Ferenc Gyurcsány managed to rake in more money than expected, Fidesz shouted the lack of expertise and they called for an individual negotiation for the Hungarian case. Now they got it. Let us hope they and we can get out of it unscathed.

Source: Vasárnapi Hírek

The Secret Diaries of Viktor Orbán

Wednesday, 21st November

Travelled to Esztergom today to sign a "Strategic agreement" with Suzuki. I've signed a few such agreements over the last few weeks, with big investors. In reality the agreements are pretty meaningless. The government promises to fill the holes in in the roads around the factories, and the investors agree not to pull out of Hungary. It's just a propaganda exercise. I am trying to give the impression that we are a business friendly government.

I must admit, the roads are looking pretty full of holes. They were in excellent shape in April 2010, when Gyurcsány and Bajnai left the country in ruins, but we have been pretty slack at maintaining them since we came to power. Too busy rebuilding the country to bother about maintaining the roads!

Thursday, 22nd November

Back in Moscow (I mean Brussels) for the Budget meetings. It was nice to see David Cameron from the UK being the party pooper for a change, and refusing to play ball with the Eurocrats. I just sat back and enjoyed the show!

Friday, 23rd November

More bad news on the Economics front. Our bonds have been downgraded from BB+ to BB by S&P. This was actually unexpected. S&P claimed that it was due to the unclear policy situation.

I had a chat with the clown (Economics Minister Matolcsy) to ask his advice about how to respond. He told me that S&P are just lying! They are all connected with the speculators and banks who have been trying to ruin our country and bring down my government. Actually the economy is doing fantastically, and the fairy tale is just about to begin. I'm sure the guy is suffering from delusions, but he is the economics minister, so who am I to question his sound advice?

We published our response to the press based on this scenario!

Monday, 26 November

Another debacle in Parliament! Jobbik member, Márton Gyöngyösi made a speech in which he claimed that Hungarian foreign policy towards Israel must have been influenced by Jews within the government, and he demanded a list of all politicians who are Jews. He should have been expelled from parliament for such a disgraceful speech!

Anyway, I have a file about Gyöngyösi. I am sure his nationalist supporters will be a little disappointed to learn that he was educated in Dublin. Or that in spite of his tyrades against foreign capital, he used to work as a tax advisor for two of the big international accounting firms advising these horrible multi nationals on how to avoid paying their taxes to the Hungarian state! I shall enjoy passing this file to the newspapers just before the next election.

On a positive note, Parliament passed the updated version of the new amendments to the original amendments to the electoral law (the Lex Bajnai). If people want to vote, they will have to register in advance! I'm sure many people will think that it is not worth their while to go and queue at a notary to register to vote. And low voter turnout has always favored Fidesz! After all, we may have two thirds of the seats in Parliament now, but we certainly did not receive votes from two thirds of the electorate at the last election – not that I would admit that publicly of course.

Onwards and upwards!

Source: FreeHungary

Gréczy-blog: The Democratic Coalition and the two new mayors

greczyLast Sunday was an extremely important day in the Democratic Coalition's short history. Two Democratic Coalition members won the mid-term local government elections on the 59th anniversary of the famous 3:6 Hungarian football victory at Wembley. I cannot say that Viktor Orbán would now feel like the then English coach after the soccer match when the upcoming return fixture was 7:1 to Hungary. Fidesz's failure in these two towns is more painful as the winner's are from Gyurcsány's party. (Democratic Coalition was formed by Ferenc Gyurcsány, former prime minister.)

Democratic Coalition members won in Pácin and Vámosszabadi. The attendance rate was high in both places (59% and 50%). It is also notable that the two towns are situated far away from each other. László Majoros got 52,7% in Pácin, which is 16% more than the second candidate got. Furthermore, Pácin was governed by MIÉP (former far right party). Csaba Réti in Vámosszabadi won with 45%. The second candidate, a Fidesz member in the county council got 6% less. Both Réti and Majoros were independent candidates, in spite of their Democratic Coalition membership as is the general practice in smaller towns and in villages.

This success should not be overrated of course, but it sends the message that Fidesz is not invincible under present conditions and electoral law. It is unknown whether it is invincible after the electoral reform tailored by Fidesz to its current 'needs'.

Source: Facebook/greczyblog; November 26. 2012.

Speech by Ferenc Gyurcsány on the occasion of March 15, 2012

Hello All! Thank you for coming!

Petőfi would disdain Orbán. And he would have every reason for doing so. Because Orbán does not believe in what Petőfi believed in, what the Youth of March believed in. If all that burst out, streamed forth from the hearts of the best of the Hungarians was a revolution, giving more freedom to the nation and more freedom to its citizens, then all what Orbán is doing is a counterrevolution.

Jókai said that this day, the day of March 15, was the day of Petőfi. If that was the day of Petőfi, then this day cannot be the day of Orbán at the same time. It cannot be the day of Orbán because, even though we ought to celebrate, and we might even be preparing for a celebration in our souls, but still, let's face it (and this is one of the reasons why I dressed in black myself): we could rather bury and mourn the achievements once already attained in 1848, revealed and presented as a model for Hungary and, for a long time, for Europe. Orbán came to bury all that in 2010, and it cannot be denied that he shows, and I quote, „an excellent performance" there, to the detriment rather than to the good of the nation, and to his own shame.

In 1848, the month of March brought about the freedom of press, and Orbán brought the censorship to the press. 1848 belongs to József Eötvös who spoke about churches as private companies, who said that in a free state, the church shall be free, that is it shall have nothing to do with the state. In contrast to that, what is emerging today is a new, conservative, Christian formation of state, equipped with privileges and positioned through prerogatives.

1848 brought more freedom, potential for the poorest of the country, it liberated the serfs. As compared to that, Orbán creates tens and hundreds of thousands of new miserables. On this celebration day of March 15 in 2012, Hungary is not a country of hope, not a country of potential, but a country of hopelessness and a country that ran out of potentials.

We accuse Viktor Orbán, here and now, in the heart of Budapest, that he has stolen 1848, he renounced to it and blurred it away. He is the last person who has a right to celebrate; he is the last person who can refer to Batthyány, Széchenyi, Táncsics, Eötvös, any of them. Batthyány is ashamed seeing that he has such a successor.

Petőfi spoke about a country with a "dog's humbleness". And we don't want to be as humble as a dog, we don't want to have a Hungary with the humbleness of a dog. This slip of tongue was almost like the case with "junction". But that I could leave easier.

In the past two years, we have repeatedly explained what we thought about this world. By now, we have already told everything about Orbán's government what can be told. We can still go on analyzing a bit, but that won't bring us into a better position. We can repeat many more times what we think about this government and about Orbán's system but, in my view, these gentlemen and ladies won't be touched by that. Many of them can waggle a bit more, with a better or mediocre quality, one can show off, but this will be less and less sufficient here.

What I would like to say is that all those people who talk about the last twenty years, or last eight years, those who do not see that even though previous governments were not faultless but they always had their heart and mind in the right place in the case of the most essential issues: in safeguarding freedom, in preserving the third republic, in protecting human dignity.

And then, a new government came, a new government, the government of Viktor Orbán, where the trouble is not that they make mistakes here and there from time to time, they have faults. Because that may happen sometimes. People and governments commit errors and make mistakes. The trouble is that this government is about to take away our common treasure, the democratic Republic of Hungary, the third Republic of Hungary from us. This is the real problem.

But we shall make it clear that going on with repeating our criticism in a morning-noon-and-night show will not be sufficient. The tool for Orbán's counterrevolution is Orbán's constitutional coup. Hungary's previous constitution says, and this is what Orbán's present constitution also says: nobody's activity may aim at the acquisition or exercise of exclusive power. This is a constitutional obligation, this is a safeguard for the majority's pluralistic democracy.

At the same time, Orbán's activity aims at the acquisition and exercise of exclusive power. Orbán also said so: this is the policy of the central force field. But the constitution speaks clearly about that. It says that everyone has the right and obligation to step up against such ambitions. It is your obligation, an obligation of each of us, an obligation of all institutions in Hungary.

But if this is an obligation of all of us, then there is somebody, there is at least one institution that carries eminent responsibility for that. This institution is the Constitutional Court of Hungary. The reason why illustrious men and women sit in this institution is to safeguard the constitutional fundaments for a democratic Hungary.

Our friends, our political allies in the Freedom and Reform Institute prepared a submission to the Constitutional Court. A submission requesting the Constitutional Court to declare that with a multitude of cardinal laws, with a distorted application of assignment rights, Orbán's people intend to hold an exclusive constitutional power, therefore, the Constitutional Court shall declare that this power is not simply illegitimate, but it is also illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful.

The Constitutional Court rejected the submission without making any genuine assessment of it. After this rejection resolution, a few days ago, the Freedom and Reform Institute submitted a constitutional appeal against this. They did it right. From this place we would like to tell the Constitutional Court that they cannot fly away from that. Their high positions were not granted to explain away what is inexplicable, but to provide a last shelter for the guardians of constitutional democratic order, for the democratic many.

We would like to request the members of the Constitutional Court not to be cowards and not to turn away. We request them to put the constitutional claim onto the agenda, and to provide a genuine assessment of that submission. We would like to tell to these illustrious men and women that if they reject that submission within 30 days, or if they do not put it onto the agenda upon its merits, then, in thirty days from now, we will put the Constitutional Court's building under a constitutional blockade.

We might believe that it is impossible, it cannot be that a country goes bust because people whose task would be to safeguard the constitutional base for that country are scared of performing their tasks. We call them to do their duty, and we will show them that there are sufficient numbers of people in Hungary who are ready to make personal efforts as well for that purpose. And if we are ready for that, we request them to be also ready to do the same.

My dear Friends!

In Hungary, we have a coalition government. Not the government you think of. I mean not the government of Orbán and Semjén, I mean the government of Orbán and Simicska. In Hungary, we do not have a Fidesz-KDNP government but a separate world being built by Orbán, together with the guys from Szolnok, i.e. with Nyerges and with Simicska. It is not simply that Orbán is reconstructing the democratic world of Hungary, but he is building something else in addition. He is building something, an organized upper world, a wealth in shadow business, emerging in the shadow of the political power of Fidesz, with one ultimate goal: to serve and support Orbán's policy through the economy, through the world of business, to assist this policy providing that antidemocratic policy with business, financial resources of their own.

For twenty years, we have been witnessing what was happening in Hungarian politics. For twenty years. For twenty years we have been shy about this matter. In these twenty years we came across several cases of political corruption, but what we see now is something different. Namely, political corruption seen until now originated from the misuse of power by certain dishonest people. The specificity of the present situation is that political corruption became a direct source for and partaker of the exercise of power. This is not a coincidence, this is not an mistake, but it is the essence of the system how something is built in the shadow of politics, making use of the tools and resources of the state's power, something that nobody talks about, nobody wants to unveil; and normal rules of business do not apply in this world.

I would like to ask help from you, all of you, brave men and women, economists, lawyers, engineers, anybody who is not afraid, to set up the Clean Hands Committee and show Hungary what is the background behind the shadow business world of Fidesz. Let's unmask it, let's expose it, let's make it clear that the power that is being built up here is an immoral one.

Quoting a conservative German politician, Robert Schuman, the prime minister says that either Europe will be Christian or there will be no Europe at all. I believe you are wrong, Prime Minister. Namely, when Robert Schuman said that, he clearly meant Christian values and principles. He meant the appreciation of goodness, love, the ability to forgive, the human strength in paying attention to the poor. When Orbán speaks about Christianity, he is not speaking about these. He speaks about the power of the priests, about the power of the Vatican, about prerogatives and about privileges. If Europe will be Christian in that sense, then there will be no Europe. At least not in the sense as we would like to see it. Therefore, we reply to him: if Europe will be Christian, there will be no Europe.

My dear friends, who are celebrating now or who rather feel the pain of a burial! This country has been experiencing, for six consecutive years, that life is growing harder and harder. That even paying the electricity bill is a tremendous difficulty for many people. That paying for medicines requires calculation, more and more often already at the beginning of the month. While the life is such for many, there are people who have no worries and troubles and who profit from privileges. Is it all right that whilst all people pay car tax, the clergy does not pay car tax at all? I think this is not right. Is it all right that whilst the public burden is increasing, the clergy pays less public burden than anybody else on their income, earnings, in an official, legal manner, due to allowances provided by the law?

Why are they special as compared to all other Hungarian citizens? Why do they have more privileges than anybody else: all the people who evidently are forced to share the deplorable lot of this nation? I would like to request the reverend archbishops and bishops to open, in the spirit of 1848 when the privileged had enough strength to waive their own privileges, their archiepiscopal and episcopal palaces, to open their episcopal gardens and to initiate a renouncement of their privileges.

On the basis of holy teachings, we would like to see them demonstrate humbleness, the validity of love instead of showing how one can live a life full of privileges, far remote from the people of Hungary. We would like to see them sharing the lot of this nation's citizens, we would like to be proud of the historical churches of Hungary because they struggle as much as we do, because they act for the community as much as we do, instead of withdrawing into their palaces and rectories.

Dear Friends!

Yesterday we received the news that Orbán and his world do not wish to allow the Democratic Coalition to have an own parliamentary group. Do I look like somebody to be afraid of? Does Csaba Molnár look like a person to be afraid of? Well, at most, Ági Vadai may be such a person. But we will handle her.

Of course, while I am trying to resolve the tension about this, let me tell you that all this is not about us. This is not about those ten persons. It is about a situation where it became evident that Viktor Orbán, who spoke in 1989, in the name of Hungary, at the memorial service of the martyred Imre Nagy and fellow martyrs, had no problem with dictatorship (I see somebody wrote about that); his problem rather was that he was not the dictator. He did not want to change the regime; he only wanted to change the dictator. This is not right.

Of course, I note with sadness that we might not be here, might not have ended up in this situation if my former friends, colleagues, partners in the Hungarian Socialist Party would not have played that shameful action in last October. It may well be that we wouldn't have a parliamentary group anyway, but at least they would not have made the job easier for Fidesz. I am sorry. I am not angry with them, not even a little bit. And what I think about them, I won't tell you now. Not a lot of nice thoughts.

I would like to ask from you, from the democratic Hungarian public, from the democratic public life in Hungary and from the parties of the democratic opposition to raise your/their voice against this shameful intention. One cannot intervene retroactively and ex post into the public law system, modify the rights attributable to members of the Hungarian parliament. In October, the Hungarian parliament stated that these MPs would be entitled to set up their own group. The Hungarian parliament spits in its own face, spits in the face of the democratic Hungary if it acts this way. What we say is that they shall not act that way.

If they still act this way, and if this will be the end of the story, I will request everybody, all parties, all forums of the public, newspapers, the radio and TV channels to treat these MPs, to look at this group of MPs as if there were a parliamentary group; to handle its leader Csaba Molnár as if he were the head of this group. Because, according to the law and according to righteousness, this parliamentary group will not be, it is already there.

Before I say goodbye to you (but only for today), le me tell you that we do believe in a liberal, social democracy, in a Hungary that accepts such principles. What we think is that the source for this country and for the country's strength is our multitude and our diversity. That everybody is free to become the person they want to be, based on their internal motivations. That liberalism does not mean libertinism, does not mean lying about the basic human values, but rather the deepest respect for human beings with their own choices, consent to pursuing the way selected. In this sense, and only in this sense, I believe that liberalism has no alternative in Europe.

But there is no alternative for another thing that we represent consequently, ever since we entered the political scene. This is the endeavour to make it clear that we bear responsibility not only for ourselves but also for other persons, that we shall share their sufferings and that our responsibility extends beyond our own boundaries and those of our families. We have things to do for our cities, our nation and yes, we want to be and remain Hungarians on the basis that we feel ourselves at home in Europe. Yes, together with Széchenyi, Batthyány, we want to have a European, liberal, social, democratic Hungary. This is what I mean when I say: for Hungary and for the Republic.

Thank you very much.


Gábor Halmai: Towards an illiberal democracy

Hungary's new constitution contradicts European democratic standards on numerous counts. It allows the current government to set in stone its economic and social policy; it excludes other nationalities living within Hungary while entitling "ethnic" Hungarians beyond its borders; and, most starkly anti-democratically, it undermines the independence of regulatory institutions ranging from the national bank to the constitutional court and media.

Read more on:


Sins of Orbán’s government

Destruction of the former constitution and drafting a new, single-party system constitution without political consensus. Mr. Pál Schmitt in the Sándor Palace. Civil servants threatened with observation, plus retroactive taxation with a tax rate of 98 per cent. Destruction of the Constitutional Court, which now has limited powers to check and balance (provided that it still wants to do so). Fidesz party soldiers in the Fiscal Council, in the State Audit Office, in the Media Council and in the leadership of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office. A flagrant media law, which is, in effect, nothing else than the introduction of censorship. Government biased public media news broadcasting. Impeding the activity of the press in the Houses of Parliament, and a former home DJ now appointed as (super)intendant of public TV stations.
We live worse than a year ago: food is much more expensive, petrol prices are sky-high, inflation is going up, a growing number of people are struggling with buying their daily food and paying off their overhead costs. What’s more, due to the flat tax rate introduced by the current administration, three quarters of Hungarians saw their net income declining. On the contrary, Orbán and his cronies could post a nice increase. Not a little, but a lot.
The social sensitivity of Orbán’s government is characterized pretty well by (their) monthly salaries that exceed HUF 2 million (EUR 7,400/USD 10,200), by filthy lavish government cabinets and exclusive rental cars that each cost HUF 600k per month (EUR 2,200/USD 3,000), whilst local governments are drowning in debt, and there are taxpayers who are sometimes even charged with the court costs of government cronies. Contracts for hire are being crafted for pals: examples are the one that was concluded in Zugló (the 14th district of Budapest) amounting to HUF 40 million (EUR 150k/USD 205k), and another one relating to the National Development Agency (commonly referred to as NFÜ) which is worth HUF 2 billion (EUR 7.5 million/USD 10.25 million). Auditors of equivocal reputation are now pressing charges against a number of people in the country, but they stand aside in the case of (currently MP) Tamás Meggyes, the previous mayor of Esztergom. Finally, the creation of the so called Counter-terrorist Unit, which is, in fact, much like their private Homeland Security.
Zsolt Gréczi, Népszava, February 28 2011.

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