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 self-destruction of the Hungarian Left

For many years now, the issue of immigration to Europe from third world countries posed a huge problem to the European Union. Shamefully, and uniquely, the European Union is the only Western place in the world which has been unable to handle the crisis. The paper-pushers of Brussels organise a summit now and then, when it seems that the situation is getting out of hand, but after that, there is nothing. The Eurocrats , apart from issuing useless quotas, and which are rejected by the European population, don't have the foggiest idea about what should be done. This appalling dilettantism, it seems, is very much liked by the Hungarian Left, that has so much discredited itself with the issue of immigration that it may just have delivered Mr Orbán his next four years in office. You don't have to possess the political vision in order to see that the pressure caused by illegal migration will cause huge problems and may endanger the existence of the EU itself. However, Ms Kunhalmi, Mr Tóbiás and Mr Botka, all three of them members of the moribund socialist party, do lack all kinds of vision. Mr Botka and Mr Tóbiás accused Mr Orbán that the prime minister himself created the problem of immigration to divert attention from his policies. As the two Socialists politicians were accusing Mr Orbán, migrants at the border with Serbia refused to allow the police to have them registered. A week later, migrants in Debrecen wreaked havoc over a religious conflict from within the refugee camp, which then spread to the streets, ending in atrocities against the locals. It is clear that, both Mr Botka and Mr Tóbiás was aware of the scale of the problem, they just tried to use it to suck up to the liberal establishment in Brussels, which are as clueless as their Hungarian counterparts. Seeing the ever growing pressure and the uselessness of Brussels, the Hungarian government decided to construct a wall to try to stem the tide of the migrants. The wall has come under fire from the Hungarian Left. It may not be the best solution, but this is what the Spanish, the British, the Bulgarians and the Greeks did at their respective borders. The fact alone that EU members are obliged to construct walls proves only the absolute dilettantism of the European Union. The Left has also accused Mr Orbán with deliberately calling refugees illegals. The truth is that in order to establish who is a real refugee and who isn't, there has to be a working border police controlled by the Hungarian authorities. If it were up Ms Kunhalmi and her friends, anyone could gain entrance to the territory of the EU, without the chance of verifying if a given person was really entitled to the refugee status. According to György Nógrádi, the best known security analyst in Hungary, who spent time in Serbia to observe the crisis, the migrants come in an organized way, they know when and where to cross the border. They use their smart phones to pass information to their friends. It is clear that the migrants are very well versed in evading the authorities, they know their rights and they know what to say if apprehended. This information was given to them by human traffickers who earn themselves sick at the expense of the locals. The Hungarian Left, when it is accusing the government of hate campaign, should know that what they are doing is encouraging organized crime by supporting human traffic. Many people do not like the present government, the corruption and the increasing poverty. However, the opposition, by lying into the face of their voters, will only contribute to our suffering by giving an additional four years to the prime minister.
László Társi

Can We Call Them to Account? -Gréczy’s blog

greczy    This is one of the most important questions of the post-Orbán world. These days, however, many might dismiss it by saying 'come on, just look how far we are from this'. Even so, the question is unavoidable.

Read more: Can We Call Them to Account? -Gréczy’s blog

Immigration and the Hungarian Left

In the past few weeks and for the next few weeks, the most important political issue has been and will be the question of immigration. Until very recently, Hungary was a country that didn't know what it was like to have this problem. Now, just as in Western Europe, the political life is focusing on how to look for the best solution to stem the tide of the immigrants. The EU certainly doesn't look as though they were in control since Italy, which receives the biggest portion of the migrants, called on Brussels to not just sit with arms crossed, but do something to ease the tensions. This has not happened so far and the result is that more and more countries will take unilateral decisions in the face of an incompetent Union. We know what is happening in Calais on a daily basis, we saw how the French police turned back the migrants at Ventimiglia and we know that more and more politicians think of getting rid of the Schengen borders. In Hungary, the ruling Fidesz decided to close to southern border of the EU by building a fence and with this step, incurring the wrath of the liberals and other left of centre parties, such as the main leftist opposition MSZP. Members of the socialist party have even gone as far as making such ludicrous statements that the " problem of immigration was created by Fidesz to divert the attention from its political scandals". This one utterly ridiculous statement should be enough to discount MSZP as a serious party, but , as it seems, anything goes when it come to political expediency. György Nógrádi, one of the best known security experts in Hungary, said that when it comes to choosing between moral and politics, a political party will always choose politics. That statement is true, not just for Hungary, but for the entire world. No matter how much people would like to help these people, accomodating immigrants in such numbers is impossible without creating social tensions. So when the Hungarian Left is voicing its concern about the rise of Jobbik, it should have a look how matters look in the refugee camp in Debrecen. When they say that there is no pressure at the southern border, they should go and have a chat with people from Magyarkanizsa in Serbia. They should ask the Bavarian government why they consider bringing back the regular vigilance at their border. Unfortunately, they won't do that. Attacking Fidesz for everything they do, let alone when it is clear that their policy on immigration is very much like that of Western Europe, is morally wrong, and utterly stupid. Because denying that there is no immigrant problem and telling people that the whole issue was invented by Mr Orbán, is either pure ignorance or a big lie, both of which should be enough to disqualify people from taking part in politics.

My Thanksgiving to Viktor Orbán

greczy  The Commanding General turns 52 today. I cannot celebrate a mass, but I can thank him in writing as well for having ruined his country. No one since Szálasi and Rákosi [two Hungarian dictators of the 20th century - ed.] has ever caused so much suffering to the Hungarian people.

Read more: My Thanksgiving to Viktor Orbán

Gyurcsány reaches out to the poor

The chairman of the Democratic Coalition (DK) announced the new political platform of his party. He opens not only to the left but tries to attract the voters of MSZP. And, presumably, also those voters who in 2002 and 2006 believed in MSZP but since then have begun to believe that Jobbik is the best party to stop Hungary's backward slide. When mentioning the latter, he presumably does not seek the true Nazis but only people who need to feel safe.
Some interesting speeches could be heard on May Day. LMP also promised the increased subsistence level as a gesture to the left. As such, DK and LMP may also have some common goals. József Tóbiás of MSZP spoke about almost everything except the world of work. He mentioned Europe, the fight against extremists but the red colour disappeared even from the stage background. Gábor Vona tried to get ahead of Orbán again by initiating a parliamentary debate about the death penalty. Incidentally, the chairman of Jobbik commended LMP, saying that they and Schiffer's party are the two parties of the 21st century. Now, what belongs together tends to grow together.
At any rate, the most unexpected statement came from Gyurcsány. He wants the minimum wage to rise to the level of the minimum subsistence cost of living (as determined by the National Statistical Office - editor). This means that, if someone has a job and works eight hours a day, he shall not get into a situation that, while acting responsibly, he is unable to pay the utility costs and cannot give food to his family. In other words: he, who works should be able to eat.
The second promise is a less detailed one and problems may arise there for him. Gyurcsány suggests that the general manager of a company shall be required to pay all wages due for work performed and he shall be liable for that with his personal assets! In the world of circular debts it occurs frequently that the work performed is not paid at all or is paid only partially. It is not known yet how it can be regulated that the owner of a small enterprise shall be liable for unpaid wages. With his own car, perhaps? However, the intent is understandable - if someone has done work, he must be paid.
And finally, there is the promise of justice in utility costs. Drinking water should be free up to 2 cubic meters and electricity up to 50 kilowatts. This is roughly the quantity which is necessary for drinking, washing, cooking or lighting. This social tariff is an equitable proposal, especially when taking into consideration that the planned progressive system would encumber the average consumer in the same way as currently, while those who have a swimming pool, would pay much more. The proposal lessens the burden on those at the bottom and increases it on those at the top. At least this is the goal. Nobody should have to be hungry or thirsty and nobody should need to sit in the dark where, for example, their child cannot write his homework. The idea will not destroy public utilities and does not make necessary any budget spending either. It requires rich people to subsidize the minimum living conditions of the poorest people.
The chairman of DK spoke about six million forgotten voters, people who have been left out since the change of political system. The package and its proposer will likely be labelled communist but if it is heard by understanding ears, it may give a new topic and new direction to left-wing discourse in Hungary.
The route is risky but the old one was not practicable. If someone wants to govern this country, then he needs to find a way to win the hearts and minds of the four million poor and a further two million who are in fear of falling behind. Orbán' unfair but well-packed utility cost reduction is evidence of that. However, his gunpowder seems to be running out. Jobbik feels this and PM (Dialogue for Hungary party) is also looking into this direction. The latter is, however, only voted for by its own family members; their voice is not even heard in the next village.
Jobbik can only be stopped with authentic social promises. One has to find those who are in fear of losing the safety of living. Gyurcsány is now attempting to do so. The question is how much strength will he have and whether he has sufficient credibility to achieve this goal?

Free water and silliness

greczy    I see many were surprised by the speech of former PM Gyurcsány on 1st May 2015. People expected him to hold a speech berating Orbán as usual. Socialist leader József Tóbiás and even LMP talked about social problems, too. The main point of Gyurcsány's speech was to provide free water and free electricity for the poorest in an amount that is necessary to light, to drink and to have a bath. The costs would be paid by people who fill and warm up their swimming pools. Additionally, work that has been performed must be paid and in the next five years the minimum wage should reach the subsistence wage. It means that everybody who is working should be able to afford to eat and to pay their bills. Is this populism? Isn't it the essence of the political left? I am looking forward to this debate. At last the democratic opposition has a real initiative instead of the permanent fear of Jobbik and of how big a thief and traitor Orbán is. The political left should wake up and see that without the real representation of the poor the left wing wouldn't exist and a change of government could never be achieved. The discussion about left wing policy and a social Hungary appears to have been opened on 1st May.

Will Gyurcsány take back the political left?

gyf 1   While the two largest parties of the extreme right (Fidesz and Jobbik) are fighting tooth and nail for votes supporting xenophobia and the death penalty, on the other side a race has started to determine the leading leftist party. On May Day Friday, Ferenc Gyurcsány announced a genuine leftist program, through which he wants to take over the initiative from the moribund MSZP.

According to the Chairman of Democratic Coalition (DK), the 25 years that have passed since the regime change have left two-thirds of the population unsatisfied as the coveted prosperity still hasn't been realized. Gyurcsány said that it is necessary to do these people justice, and therefore he launched "The program for the forgotten 6 million people" which (for now?) consists of three points.

1.) Within the next 5 years, the statutory minimum wage must rise to the level of the minimal living wage.

2.) The employers must pay for the work done, and they are to be held accountable through all of their assets.

3.) The cost of water and electricity should be raised gradually, and within this, the first couple of cubic meters and kilowatts should be free.

Concerning the minimum wage, it is important to know, that currently one million people live below the poverty line in Hungary. This is the number of our fellow citizens who get up every morning to go to work for at least 8 hours, and still earn less money than it is necessary to live a decent life. We agree that this is scandalous and intolerable.

It is also on the positive side that Gyurcsány, unlike the increasingly present neo-communist minimum wage movements, doesn't want to give away free money to those happily living off unemployment benefits but stands on the side of those who actually work for a living.

He is quite aware that the only way Hungary can prosper is through the long-awaited moral and financial recognition of those whose work adds value to the community. And society should look at the working man as an example to be followed, and not as a pathetic loser.

How he will manage to increase the minimum wage by 40% without causing turmoil in the labor market and angering employers remains a question for now. However, it is already obvious that it won't be an easy task and can only be achieved gradually. In any case, it is reassuring that he did not promise to solve the question of the minimum wage within a period of two weeks.

As for gradually increasing utility prices, reported in the press as "free water" and "free electricity": as a pro market economy blog, we believe that social policies should not be exercised through water and electricity, and it is only fair if the cost of goods and services used are paid by everyone equally.

However, attention must always be paid to circumstances and the way that Orbán's government has run amok in the past 5 years, dangerously impoverishing the lowest layers of society, cannot be ignored. In the Hungary of 2015, hundreds of thousands are left to fend for themselves without water and electricity, which are considered to be basic needs in most countries.

Gyurcsány's program entails that the minimum consumption of the poor would be paid for by the wealthy and thus the proposal would not (or only minimally) interfere with the total income of the utility services, and would only restructure those.

The whole program is more of a gesture towards the poor. It sends the message that we are not so well off that we can give money away for cigarettes and booze, but everyone deserves a few cubic meters of water and a few kilowatts of electricity. Western Light (Nyugati Fény) can support this proposal in the spirit of the most elemental humanity.

In any case, this program is more just than the undifferentiated utility cost reduction that saves only a couple of forints for the needy, but lets the more affluent keep tens of thousands. Gyurcsány has long been an advocate of the principle of "where there is more of an opportunity, there is more of a responsibility". The question is whether people can believe of the politician who has fought his way up from poverty to wealth, that he can still remember his roots and genuinely wants to create a more just country.

In any case, it is now clear that Gyurcsány, at the head of a now stronger party (Tárki:11%, Medián:10%, Nézőpont:12%) is ready to become the leader of the political left. Whether he is able to succeed is an equation with many unknown variables. His success depends not only on his competition, but also on his own self.

The impotent leftist competition and the two-faced Fidesz, which only talks about supporting the "hard-working common man" but in reality supports the rich, are both playing into Gyurcsány's hands. The only question that remains is whether "Feri" learned enough from his past mistakes to get it right this time?


Against populists

In addition to economic and structural reforms, investments are also necessary within the European Union - wrote former Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai in his guest commentary in the German business paper Handelsblatt. In his article titled 'Against populists', Gordon Bajnai explained how the initial hope and later the reality of rapidly catching up to the West led to the "great disillusionment" within the countries of the former Eastern bloc, and how this was followed by the appearance of nationalism and "identity issues", and how the EU was turned from an icon into a scapegoat.
One reason for the disappointment is that the EU is "grappling with and trying to redefine itself", and in this process, technocrats and populists are on opposing sides - wrote Gordon Bajnai.
He added that due to the global financial crisis, millions of people lost their position in the middle class and therefore it is hardly surprising that in almost all of the EU countries, populism has gained momentum, especially "in the form of nationalism."
The question remains: how does this situation affect the "three key topics of European economic policy, namely structural reforms, investments, and fiscal measures" - wrote the former Prime Minister, emphasizing that in order to reduce the national debt, it is necessary to be reasonable and fiscally prudent, but structural reforms are also long overdue in most EU member states.
In order to overcome the crisis, the EU is in need of "some restrictions, and much stronger structural reforms", and even more importantly, investments - opined Gordon Bajnai. He emphasized that believing that the only way to make investments, while lacking resources, is through the increase of debts, is erroneous. Citing a survey, he added that private investors have made investments in infrastructure of a trillion US dollars, which they managed to triple in five years.
The investment potential is available but there aren't enough suitable development projects, and the management capacity necessary for their implementation is lacking - wrote the former Prime Minister.
He stressed that it is necessary to have the "fertile triad of" austerity policies, structural reforms and investments, and also, "good politicians" who organize "public support" necessary for all this. This way, Europe would "finally draw courage and act effectively against populist tendencies" - wrote Gordon Bajnai.
Source: Handelsblatt


The restoration of liberal democracy

I believe the current political system to be illiberal, where many international and universal norms are violated. Since 2010 a select group of people have monopolized all means of power in an unconstitutional manner through legal, but illegitimate measures.

Read more: The restoration of liberal democracy

The Secret Diaries of “Geci” Viktor Orbán

orbn karikatra Lajos has betrayed me.                          

Friday 30th January 2015
I called the Prime Minister's office this morning, just to see what's going on. I don't spend much time there these days – I leave the running of the country to Janos Lazar, who is doing an excellent job. He's ruined relations between Hungary and the US, Norway, Ukraine and of course the EU. I couldn't have done it better myself.

Read more: The Secret Diaries of “Geci” Viktor Orbán

A Farewell to Viktor Orbán

greczy   I do not think that he will fail because of Lajos Simicska's diatribes. Instead, it started with the two-thirds majority brought about by election fraud – to be more precise, this is how things speeded up. Orbán falsified reality.
The nation might have had entrusted him with forming a government once again – here, I wish not to go at length about the problems of the opposition –, but the Hungarian people did not want four more years of autocracy, and especially not the institutionalisation of robbery. Furthermore, if Fidesz-controlled news programmes (disguised as public media) had provided nothing but objective service, many things could have gone different.
The biggest problem of Orbán – apart from his behaviour, which seems to be increasingly perplexed – is his total burnout. He is the old-timer of Hungarian politics, a person who never did anything except politics – besides him, there are such (or similar) people only in the ruling Fidesz party or from its environs: Kövér, Áder, Szájer, Deutsch, Fodor & co. Everyone else either arrived later, or at the same time, but have since retired, effaced themselves, or have been forced to the fringes.
The Leader, who has a great deal of sophistication in the techniques of power, has lost all kinds of control. He knows that no criminal trials will be held against him – friends, pals and already bribed people are everywhere. As regards the others, their dossiers are lying in wait, hence the power of threats. And what Simicska is talking about is, in fact, dictatorship, and it tells everything about Orbán's regime. The one-time dorm roommate, who was the former treasurer of Fidesz, is now saying that he might get killed by a car.
Since they know each other, Simicska must know what he is saying.
Even though Orbán's regime is completely rotten, he could still care about things or could have ideas. But he cares more about the Golden Ball gala than about poverty or the emigration of doctors. He belies national sentiments, and he belies the Hungarian interest. He is only interested in power and money. A burnout man has no ideas. And now, he can no longer blame his bad decisions on anything. There is no 'past-eight-years', no worldwide crisis, still, he will bequeath only ruins to posterity. His name is being cursed in education, health care and in the world of work. He is scolded by youngsters, entrepreneurs, the have-nots and public workers. There is no one anymore who would tell him that what he is doing is bad. The people around him either treat him like a demigod (treasuring his Coke can as a fetish), or are terrified to speak out. Just do not tell me that "but a great mass of people is standing behind him": others also had great masses standing behind them – both before and after 1989. Masses come and go. And the height up to where Orbán struggled himself up by means of political talent, intrigues, villainy and unclean monies, this is the place from whence one might fall big time.
If he launched any kind of structural reform, all of his earlier statements could be turned against him. That is also why he does not make any moves, but instead he is running TV ads telling lies. He has stupid ideas on stickers, Internet tax..., while he is talking rubbish about plebeian politics at the same time as he is drowning in corruption. He is making up unimportant, marginal stories, not to mention that even those stories are unpopular.
The confinement remains; it is an increasingly narrower tunnel. If you take a step back, you might even find this hopeless drifting funny. However, there is unfortunately the danger that the cornered man will do anything. This time, it was his former friend that said plainly what he thought about him [Orbán]. Not that this friend would be any better than him, but the stab went deep indeed, and gave birth to an epic attribute. It will be a painful farewell, and especially for the country. We will have to rebuild everything from very great depths.

Editorial: Europe Must Defend Itself From Itself

europemust1   The recent days have shown that civilization and humanity can go backwards. It has shown that the values that we fought two bloody wars for, can be slowly turned back and eradicated. It has shown that even in the European Union, which likes to think of itself as the beacon of democracy and freedom, people die for values which we thought we would never have to die for again. The massacre of an entire crew of a satirical weekly made clear many things. Firstly, that you can die for just expressing your opinion. Secondly, that a lot of people do agree that Charlie Hebdo went too far, and, for this reason, we should capitulate to the dark forces of religious fundamentalim and change our policy on free speech.

Read more: Editorial: Europe Must Defend Itself From Itself

Gyurcsány: Reckless despair

gyf 1  The first days and weeks of the new year are ideal for making promises and explanations, and perhaps also for posing questions of great importance, i.e. strategic questions. This is all the more so in the discourse of leading Western European politicians. On the one hand, the beginning of the new year, and, on the other hand, the tragedies and challenges that happened in the first days of this year have drawn their attention - just as their voters' - to a number of questions. For this very reason, they have been mainly occupied with European issues, while putting their own domestic policy issues onto the back burner.

Read more: Gyurcsány: Reckless despair

Neither Foreign Affairs, Nor Minister – an Article by Nóra Hajdú

In the past few weeks, more articles appeared in the printed and online press about Hungarian foreign policy than altogether since 2010. The public's long-time indifference towards the subject is one of the reasons of the current crisis of foreign policy, and that is also why the topic demands now – with full force – to make it to the front pages.

Read more: Neither Foreign Affairs, Nor Minister – an Article by Nóra Hajdú

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