Our 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.
Published on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 12:56
Last week, when the former prime minister held his state- of- the nation speech, everything seemed to be perfect. The speech was good and Mr. Bajnai seemed to have found his rhetorical skills. However, the „Együtt 2014" movement is in deep trouble. Its popularity has been plummeting since last October, it is, seemingly, not able to address the main issues which are important to the voters. Mr.Bajnai also has got his fair share in the bad fortunes of his movement. He should have made clear his intentions for the prime ministerial office right away. Without this statement, people can't really make anything out of this triple alliance. His policy of uniting the opposition has failed spectacularly. Instead of bringing the parties closer, Mr. Bajnai further fragmented them. As well as that, the former PM, unwittingly or not, contributed to the dissolution of LMP, thus further reducing the chances of a regime change in 2014. He was also surprised by the solid performance of the leader of the MSZP, Attila Mesterházy. Mr. Mesterházy, who was written off as a dour and boring politician, managed to boost his chances by making his party the biggest and the most united on the political left. Also, Mr. Mesterházy now seems to have turned the tables on Mr. Bajnai by taking the initiative and forcing him into an alliance. Nevertheless, Mr Bajnai's speech on Saturday was a good performance, a prime ministerial, if you like, with lots of references to hope, and the wrongdoings of the prime minister. But he needs to step out of the shadow of petty arguments that is happening between the opposition parties, and most importantly he has to fight Mr Orbán and not Mr. Mesterházy. It seems that the tactic of Mr Bajnai is one, which is usually not too successful: trying to win over all the votes from his own side and, at the same time, running the risk of being pushed from the middle. He can talk about his feelings about Hungary, about how he would not let the past catch up with the present, as long as he is sharing a platform with Gábor Kuncze and his ilk, he is just proving that he doesn't understand the concerns of the people.
Published on Sunday, 10 February 2013 18:16
The head of the 'junk government' is communicating with full force how much money he managed to get for Hungary as a result of recent EU financial negotiations. However, the amount that he "achieved" is in fact a failure. All the analogies and comparisons as to how great a train should be to contain that sum of money are in vain. The truth is: Ferenc Gyurcsány once again surpasses Orbán.
Hungary will receive much less money after 2014 than the amount that former premier Ferenc Gyurcsány successfully lobbied for his country in 2005 – gaining an additional EUR 1 billion at the last moment. Orbán is lying as he always does. The reason he communicates the result in HUF is that because of the weak Forint the lower amount in EUR seems to be more in HUF. On the other hand, he emphasizes the per capita amount because Hungary's population is decreasing and so thus it results in a more favorable per capita figure. Even so, the essence is unchanged: Hungary received much less than what Gyurcsány had achieved back then. What is really funny is Orbán's allegation that the greatest result of the negotiations is the 15 percent minimal retention rate, which was already 15% in the past seven years as well. All Orbán achieved is that nothing has changed in this respect.
The retention rate did not improve, whereas the amount decreased. Gyurcsány also surpasses Orbán if one looks at the proportion Hungary received from the pie. Everything else is pure sand and babble.
Published on Wednesday, 06 February 2013 15:12
30 January 2013 Brussels
I started the day by giving a lecture to the Bruegel Institute, a think tank specialising in economics. No doubt they were very keen to hear about our new brand of economics in Hungary, where we have dismissed the old established economic wisdom and have had the guts to question and depart from the free market.
Unfortunately during the discussion that followed, I let slip the fact that the IMF actually turned down our application for a standby loan. We have always told the public that we were the ones who told the IMF where to go, when in fact it was the other way around. Anyway, I'm sure the Hungarian news agencies will not dare to report that.
Later I met Jose Manuel Barroso head of the European Commission. I am hoping that they will release Hungary from the excessive deficit procedure now that out budget deficit is below 3%. Barroso would give me no definite answer to this, muttering something about our fiscal position being unsustainable in the longer run.
31 January 2013 Moscow
I remember making a speech last year in which I said that Hungary would not be dictated to by Moscow or Brussels! And here I am visiting both places in consecutive days.
I've never really liked the Russians, and can't say that I was delighted to be coming to Moscow. Sadly now that our relations with the West have deteriorated, we have to seek friends elsewhere. And they will supply us with Gas too!
My 15-minute meeting with Mr Putin was forced smiles and polite comments on both sides. Putin made a comment about us naming a street after Lev Tolstoy, which I guess is his way of telling me that he is aware that Moscow Square is no longer called Moscow Square. I made some sycophantic comments about how Russia is a great country.
I was hoping that Mr Putin would give me some hints on how to make sure that I win the next election. I understand that the results of the last Russian Presidential election had been decided before the first vote had been cast. If only I had that power!
1 Feb 2013
Back in Budapest, thank God! I made a joke on my weekly Radio show about the fact that I had been to Moscow, and had managed to come back alive, which I'm sure the listeners found amusing.
4 Feb 2013
Another anti Gyurcsány Bajnai campaign! Once again a "private organisation" has initiated another poster campaign with pictures of the two previous prime ministers of Hungary, reminding the people that they ruined the country. So the election campaign is going full swing now.
6 Feb 2013
I've been grooming Matolcsy to take over as next governor of the Central Bank in March. He will be much more compliant than the existing governor. No announcement has been made, but Matolcsy has been touring the major financial centres of the world where he has been promising "should I become the next head of the central bank, I would not liquidate its reserves."
We decided to test market reaction, so yesterday we leaked the fact that I had indeed decided that Matolcsy is the man. Sadly as soon as this happened, the forint dropped like a stone on the financial markets, so we had to issue a statement denying the rumours. Looks like Matolcsy needs to do some more charm offensives.
I received a challenge from Bajnai this afternnon for a TV debate. No fucking way! The last thing I want to do is to talk about policies. We won the last election without giving away anything. I don't want to scupper the next one by agreeing to discuss policy. There is no policy. We just do what we want.
Freehungary; February 6. 2013.
Published on Wednesday, 06 February 2013 09:00
It is quite awkward that Viktor Orbán did not have any signed contract relating to the purchase of the company managing the Hungarian natural gas wholesale when he shook hands with Putin. Probably, it was not planned so when his trip was organized. The prime minister tried to hide the mistake by speaking about the purchase of E.ON in past tense already in Moscow. It was really an adequate, Russian-like approach to the sales transaction: we have already agreed upon the essence of the deal, there are only a few minor details still to discuss but they are the task of lawyers. This must be at worst annoying but does not change the essence: we cannot have any special doubt that this deal will be established.
But, is it good value for us that the state pays nearly HUF 300 billion for a gas wholesale and storage company? This company has a special strategic value for the prime minister: it is the main holder of the trade contract determining the Hungarian gas prices fundamentally and for the long run. Orbán has always regarded the supervision of this, and thereby that of the gas price and the domestic gas trade as a strategic issue. And, for this particular reason, he regarded the situation detrimental where the Hungarian government has no "official" insight into this contract, and consequently, has no direct influence on its terms and conditions.
He is of the opinion that, as long as this document is not in the prime minister's drawer and he is not the one who carries on negotiations on its basis with the Russian president and the CEO of Gazprom, he, as well as the country, is exposed to the Russian-German bargain. And within this bargain, the Hungarian contract is just a card in the pack; what is more, it is not the most important one for E.ON. Contrary to Orbán who is the prime minister in a country where gas price is treated by the politics as a primary issue.
However, the country will not benefit by the fact alone that, from this time on, the Hungarian prime minister will carry on negotiations about gas purchase with the Russians. It is an advantage that for him, the "real" question is the Hungarian gas quota, but this is also a disadvantage because he is not as large a customer as E.ON in bargaining with the Russians. Negotiating from its own customer position and knowing Germany's weight behind it, the German giant is, theoretically, able to achieve more favourable conditions at Gazprom than a single Viktor Orbán. On the other hand, it is both a question and a risk, how much Gazprom wants to allow from this preferential treatment to Hungary and particularly: how much in terms of prices and not from its own profit.
The other version seeming to be attained is that Viktor Orbán will be the one who negotiates the Hungarian gas price. Albeit, this is a matter of "life and death" for him, but he is not considered to be a really big customer for Gazprom. However, Russians will not give a good price to him just for a kiss. He needs to offer them something more, which they are interested in. This something more is Paks. The renovation and extension of the Hungarian nuclear power plant. This is such a big bite that Putin will also be interested in. But not only will he be. Without nuclear energy, they only give a smile to Orbán, but with nuclear energy he can be even taken seriously. Hungary's energy independence also declared by Orbán can be achieved in this way. With Russian gas and Russian nuclear energy.
Levente Tóth; Népszabadság
Published on Monday, 04 February 2013 11:47
Fidesz will probably steer towards the centre. So far PM Orbán has been busy preventing any of his followers from defecting to the far right Jobbik party. By now, the limits to Jobbik's appeal have become clear: while it does address issues that are relevant to a large proportion of the public, it has no answers that could be translated into policy. Once Fidesz feels that its right flank is safe, the party may turn towards the centre, where there are a million people who have already voted for it in the past and at least half of them have not found a new political home. Therefore, PM Orbán's main concern over the remaining 14 or 15 months before the elections will be to preserve peace and stability. It is dountful however that the Premier will be successful in that effort. On the one hand, the administration is extremely inefficient in handling certain crucial issues. Only half the EU development funds available to Hungary from 2007 till the end of this year have been used so far, and the new electronic motorway toll system that should be in operation by July and yield 75 billion before the end of the year, is nowhere in sight. The government reacts to such shortcomings with abrupt interventions and reshuffles which will prove damaging to the desired image of stability. On the other hand, Fidesz is a broad conglomerate of disparate forces and some of them will inevitably come forward with their own bright ideas that might stir up public controversy. The Christian Democrats are fighting for their own vision of the family, excluding unmarried couples (despite the fact that half of all births are to unmarried mothers); while some radical minded right-wing pundits regularly produce diatribes that provoke unfavourable reactions at home and abroad. To cap it all, Fidesz will have to keep political tensions at a high level, in order to motivate its core constituency. Taken together, all these reasons dictate against an easy path back to the political centre, if that is what the Prime Minister intends. Finally, it won't be easy for the disparate opposition forces to coalesce, given their own divisions and the inability of the Socialist Party to grow. What Fidesz has today may be largely sufficient to win a comfortable majority in 2014.
András Keszthelyi; Magyar Narancs
Published on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 16:11
It is not easy to determine who is right in the internal party battle, which is unfolding at the moment. Is it perhaps András Schiffer, the old-new leader, who is determined to keep the party on an independent course, and, thereby, giving Mr. Orbán another chance for a possible 2014 election victory? Or is it Benedek Jávor and his entourage, who are convinced that the only way to get rid of the prime minister and his government is to enter into an alliance with the democratic opposition? To be honest, I don't understand the LMP. They are or were supposed to be a green party, but I haven't seen any green issues coming from the party yet. They are like Werder Bremen of Germany or Betis of Spain: The may wear a green dress, but that does not make them green. Even the fact that they were close to László Sólyom, the admittedly environment conscious former president, does not make them green. In short, I cannot see the point of this party. Mr. Schiffer is saying that LMP was established to give a new alternative to voters who had had enough of the previous governments, including that of Messrs. Gyurcsány and Bajnai, and that he wants to keep the independence of his party. Is this a legitimate argument? Yes, I think it is. In contrast, Mr. Jávor is saying that the conditions have changed, and the most pressing concern is to get rid of the government. But, in order to achieve this goal, the party has to give up its independence and enter into an alliance. Do I think that this argument sounds about just as legitimate as the previous one? Yes, I do. To confuse matters even more, polls show that two-thirds of the LMP sympathizers would gladly vote for the Democratic Coalition as well! If there are any lessons to be learnt from this saga, then the newly established alliance of Együtt2014 (Together2014), led by Gordon Bajnai, should learn it very well. Mr. Bajnai and his foundation cannot deny the past. He cannot deny the fact that he served as a minister in the government of Mr. Gyurcsány. And the crisis management program that he implemented as prime minister could not have been possible without Mr. Gyurcsány. It is of no use to surround himself with small parties and organizations, because it will not change that fact that Messrs. Gyurcsány, Mesterházy and Bajnai will be all needed if the opposition is to win the next election. Let's hope that, come March 15th, the parties of the opposition will understand what is at stake.
Published on Wednesday, 30 January 2013 10:56
Thursday 24 January 2013
Another battle with the European Union! Now they have initiated infringement proceedings over us relating to the tax on telephone calls that we introduced last year. We charge a tax of HUF 2 per minute, and HUF 2 per SMS message. The EU are saying that this goes against one or other of their bureaucratic rules.
If we have to repay the taxes that we have collected, we are up the creek!
I wish we could threaten the EU with a referendum on membership, like the British government. Problem is, our economy would sink without EU subsidies.
Friday 25 January 2013
I went to the new Mercedes factory in Kecskemét today, where I had the honour of driving the first car off the production line.
Afterwards, I made a speech, in which I said that the Mercedes factory shows two success stories. One is the traditional success story of Mercedes itself. The other is the renewal of the Hungarian economy.
Of course, I did not mention the fact that Mercedes made the decision to build the factory on 2008, while Gyurcsány was Prime Minister.
Sunday 27 January 2013
The opposition parties have been busy today. I was delighted to hear that the LMP has now split in two: half of the party want to join the "get rid of Fidesz at all costs" movement (Together 2014) which has been founded by former PM Gordon Bajnai. The other half, including the leadership, want to remain independent. So the half that wants to join Bajnai left the party. Great news. We need a divided opposition at the election.
The Democratic Coalition also had their conference. They are desperate to join the Together 2014 movement, but it seems that Bajnai does not want them. I guess he feels that Gyrucsány is too unpopular. I was also amused to learn that all of the cars outside the Democratic Coalition conference were wheel clamped today. How funny!
Bajnai is right. Unless the opposition unites at the election, we will probably win again. And the chances of the opposition uniting are looking pretty slim!
Monday 28 January 2013
Today the IMF published their monitoring program of the Hungarian economy. While they did praise us for managing to reduce the government deficit, they criticised us for the way we did it. They said that our ad-hoc measures, such as the bank transactions tax are not sustainable in the short run, and that our unpredictable policy measures have lead to a reduction in private investment, which is now at historic lows.
I'm not going to get upset about this. Everyone knows that the IMF is just the tool of the big multinationals (or at least that is what we tell the Hungarian people). We will not adopt the IMF policies, and will not allow Hungary to become the playground of the multinationals. (Apart from my friends at Mercedes, and those other 40 multinationals with whom we have signed strategic agreements).
FreeHungary; January 30. 2013
Published on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 16:34
Thursday 17 January 2013
The main objective of the government over the next 15 months will be to ensure we win the next election. We have come up with the following plan to do this:
1. Force the utility providers to reduce their prices further. This will cost the government nothing, but will be popular with the voters. (We've already made them reduce prices by 10% as of 1 January!).
2. When the current head of the central bank András Simor's term of office ends in March, I will replace him with somebody who is prepared to support the government more, by cutting interest rates, and using tools such as quantitative easing, instead of being so obsessed with inflation targets and a strong forint. This will lead to higher investment by local businesses that will bring economic growth, hopefully before April 2014.
3. Increase pensions and have a 13th month pension at the end of this year. That should win us the grey vote.
4. Use the reserves of the central bank to pay for all of these pre election goodies. The EU requires us to keep our budget deficit below 3%, so we can't finance them by increasing government borrowing.
5. Ensure that the state run media continue their excellent one-sided coverage of the news. The message has to get out there that we are doing an excellent job – which of course we are. Well, sort of.
Friday 18 January 2013
Spent the morning on my weekly "interview" at Kossuth rádio. I always have to be bullish during these talks, to give the impression that things are going according to plan. I told the audience that 2013 will be a year of harvest, after two years of sowing. And so it shall. The fact that we will be harvesting crops that have not actually been planted yet is irrelevant. The electorate must feel that things are going well.
I also told the audience that we are replacing the central bank governor with somebody who is not an "Offshore Speculator." It's important that I drag Simor's name through the mud, because he is likely to be critical of our central bank policies after he leaves office. So we must destroy his credibility in the eyes of the electorate.
Saturday 19 January 2013
In the early 1990s, after the change of regime, my generation all thought that the market economy would bring riches to everyone in no time at all. The fact that this did not happen is obvious now. What actually happened is that foreign multinationals came into our country and acquired all of our assets. It seemed that we had rid ourselves of one foreign oppressor, only to become masters of the western multi nationals. This made me very angry.
Our Political opponents take a pragmatic approach to this. They say that if we cooperate with the multi nationals, and make Hungary an easy place to do business, we will all be better off. They will bring capital, expertise and jobs to Hungary, allowing our economy to catch up with the western nations.
I totally disagree with that attitude. I want the multi nationals out of our country. As Prime Minister of Hungary, I will not be dictated to by any foreign organisations – be they multi nationals, the E.U. or the I.M.F. I am on a crusade to turn Hungary back into an independent country. And I am winning.
I am currently having a battle with some of the foreign owned energy companies. I am demanding that they sell their assets back to the Hungarian government again. There is some haggling over prices. A typical discussion goes like this:
"We will pay you HUF X billion Euros for your business!"
"Its worth more than that, Mr Orbán. Last year our profits were X billion."
"But you are making a loss now!"
"That's because you are forcing us to swallow a 10% fall in energy prices. That is not legal!"
"Don't tell me what's legal, I write the laws in this country!"
Eventually they give in! I love it, I love it!
Tuesday 22 January 2013
Great news on the economy! We confirmed today that our Budget Deficit for 2012 was down to 2.1% of GDP. And that was before taking account of revenues from the seizure of private pension funds. There were a few odd things in there though. In spite of increasing the rates of many business taxes, the receipts from these fell, for example. Anyway we have gained some more credibility.
Lets not mention the fall in GDP of 1.4% or the inflation rate of 5%! Or the fall in foreign investment. People don't need to know about that.
FreeHungary; January 23. 2013.
Published on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 16:06
It is not pointless to know who the key sinners are in the Orbán administration. Zoltán Balog (Minister of Human Resources) and Rózsa Hoffmann (Minister of State for Education) have top places on this list. They cause the utmost damages to the country. It is feasible to write a new constitution and to rebuild the system of checks and balances relatively quickly. The fortunes hoarded up in an undue way can be investigated. The Orbán era can be turned into a bad memory with these provisions.
What about the issue of education? The importance of religious studies grows, meanwhile IT education and science decrease. The running of bilingual schools is set back by government actions. Furthermore, the developed system of institutions for children with special needs is being demolished. How can all of these be redeemed? What can we tell to our fellow citizens who will feel the effect of poor education for the rest of their lives?
The action carried out by Zoltán Balog and Rózsa Hoffmann is far more than a mistake. It is a sin. They are just puppets with limited competence.
Ceterum censeo: Orbán has to leave!
János Dési; Népszava; January 21. 2013.
Published on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 11:11
During the recent Pusztaszabolcs by-election, the Democratic Coalition (DK) was the only party to have its own candidate while all the other contenders ran as independents. With about 45% of the votes, the Fidesz party secured victory, followed by the candidate of the DK, Péter Miklósi, who came up to 24%. The candidate of the socialist party came a close third, while parties such as Jobbik or the LMP did not even participate in the by-election. The lessons that can be drawn from the election are manifold. Firstly, we can say that in a predominantly Fidesz influenced area the candidate of the ruling party could have been beaten, had there been a cooperation between the socialists and the DK. Secondly, all the polls showed that the DK would not be doing well at the election. This proves the unreliability and the bias of different polls and think-tanks. Thirdly, the media has now been saying for a long time that there is no future for the DK with Ferenc Gyurcsány as its leader. Contrary to all claims, the DK did well at the election, and considering the fact that the former PM played a huge part in the campaign, he proved himself to be an asset to the party. This is now the third consecutive success for the party, which was taunted as the party of the pensioners. Although the Democratic Coalition finished second, the example of Pusztaszabolcs says clearly that the only way to get rid of Fidesz is wide-ranging oppositional cooperation.
Published on Wednesday, 16 January 2013 14:33
Monday 7 January
Had a wonderful evening attending the FIFA Ballon D'or in Zurich. My excuse for going was that one of the biggest prizes of the evening was the Puskás prize for the best goal of 2012, which was awarded to Mirosalv Stoch.
It was great to get away from Hungarian politics for an evening. I'm still depressed about the constitutional court decision to cancel our law requiring voters to register.
Tuesday 8 January
Everyone is getting excited about some comments made by my friend and member of Fidesz, Zsolt Bayer. He wrote an article in the Fidesz newspaper (Magyar Hirlap) in which he said that gypsies are animals, and it is intolerable that we must live among them.
Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics today condemned Zsolt's remarks, saying that there was no place in a democratic party for a person who holds such discriminatory views. I totally agree with Tibor on this. However, since Fidesz is not a democratic party, I see no reason to expel him.
I have not condemned Zsolt's comments. We have an election next year, and I need to try to win some voters back from Jobbik. I'm not going to do that if I am seen to be too lenient on gipsies.
Wednesday 9 January
I'm furious. I always liked to see Football as a place where I could escape from politics. But today I discovered that even in Football, we have some enemies.
Last year, the Hungarian Football Team played against Israel in a friendly. Some of our fans shouted anti Semitic chants at the Israeli players, and they took offence.
Today FIFA announced that they are punishing the Hungarian Football Team. No fans will be allowed to watch our next match against Romania! I have written a letter to FIFA asking them to reconsider this outrageous decision. We have also issued a story that the fans that made the chants were planted there by enemies of Hungary (i.e. MszP). After all, nobody in Fidesz would ever make a discriminatory remark would they?
Friday 11 January
In Limasol in Cyprus today. President Nicos Anastasiades is standing for re-election, and asked if the European Peoples Party leaders could come and do some campaigning for him, thinly disguised as a party conference. All the big wigs were there, including Barosso and Merkel. I wonder if they will do the same for me in 2014?
During the meeting we discussed the economic crisis. Most of the other leaders seemed to be pro free market, and in favour of the E.U. working closer together. I sometimes wonder if we have joined the wrong group of parties.
I made a speech in which I said that 2012 had been a year of consolidation for Hungary. We will see growth in 2013! The fairy tale continues.
Sunday 13 January
I had to laugh today. Gyurcsány organised a demonstration outside of our party office in Lendvay Street to protest about the fact that we had not expelled Zsolt from the party. He invited all the other left wing parties. It seems that the leaders of MszP and Bajnai could not be bothered to come.
Gyurcsány is definitely the greatest talent that the left wing has. Thankfully, over the years, all of our negative campaigning seems to have worked. Even Bajnai is trying to avoid being seen with Gyurcsány. And the left is still divided in spite of Bajnai's so called "together 2014" movement! We still have a good chance of winning the next election.
FreeHungary; January 16. 2013.
Published on Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:39
Something is happening here. Only few days ago József Szájer and Antal Rogán vigorously pushed for the electoral registration. Although I assume that before Christmas Fidesz had information that their idea, which would tread on liberties, would be cut off, because I had also written about this in my blog in the days before the feasts. So if I had information, they should have had even more. In addition to this a couple of years ago after that kind of decision of the Constitutional Court the same Fidesz would have called every judge of the Constitutional Court communists noting that with this teeny-weeny cavilling the system of national corporation cannot be forced to retreat. And now the same Antal Rogán stands up and says that the case is closed, there will be no registration in 2014. What could happen?
Of course the magistrates' judgement retrospectively legitimizes the hunger strike of Ferenc Gyurcsány, Csaba Molnár, István Kolber and Péter Niedermüller, which first drew the national and international community's attention to the baseness called registration. The DK has protested most strongly turning to international organizations, with a human chain around the Parliament. So the abolition of this shame is partly the success of the Democratic Coalition definitely.
However from the annulment of the registration it could even follow that Fidesz is preparing for an early election. Here are some reasons, which for Orbán point to having voting in early June 2013:
– According to the researchers until now the Fidesz has still remains the most popular party. (Especially with Jobbik they would have majority.)
– To February they promised the final electoral law, after that only the Parliament should be dissolved, then 90 days and the voting could take place.
– Over the boarder – who knows why – they keep the registration. (The incoming votes will be recorded and summarized by an only Fidesz members containing OVB.)
– The opposition have only just started to negotiate with each other. There's no way to make an agreement till June about the joint program, candidates, especially the candidate for the prime minister. (Perhaps an early election would rather smash the negotiation up than accelerate it.)
– Fidesz has already been campaigning (posters at public spaces which are defaming Gyurcsány and Bajnai, another "peace march" in the air, declining charges of the public services, once again promised rise of the teachers' payment, lightning-fast lifting back of the maximum limit numbers...)
– With the early election at least hundreds of high school students of nowadays, whose future becomes precarious, can be kept away from the voting.
– Orbán's system has built up: with a kind of control of the election the party hacks, who were appointed to reliable district leaders, has taken up their position. (The representatives, who will lose their mandates, have also got their parachutes, which can be opened safely.)
– In March Orbán can fit his party hack to the head of the MNB, so he will access to the reserves of the monetary bank for a last-minute dispense.
– There's the Kubatov list and Simicska's billions, the dominance in the Media, after a potential electoral victory the appointed party hacks' mandates can be renewed again.
Of course the question arises, how could the Fidesz explain this decision? It is simple:
"The Government of the National Cooperation decided to confirm the confidence towards itself in an early election. In the last three years we have built up a new a world in Hungary. We have given a new basic law to the Homeland. We have given voting right to the Hungarians who are living abroad, with that we have unified the Nation. We have abolished the economic dependence of the country. We have defended the Hungarian enterprises, we did not let them make us a colony. For this we had to make great sacrifices, but the new system has been built up: Hungary has become strong and self-confident. The transformation, which involved conflicts, has ended. The country is about to reach economic growth again. It's the time for social, economic and cultural consolidation. Fidesz as the guardian of democracy and the rule of law asks for confidence and a new mandate to continue its work after the election... and so on, etc."
Well so... The danger exists.
Published on Friday, 11 January 2013 09:40
For background I suggest reading a few posts that appeared on this blog in the last couple of years. It would be a good idea to start with "What can happen to investors in Hungary" and continue with "The never ending story of Sukoró." Moreover, I have the feeling that this is not the last time that we will talk about this land swap that the current government thought could be used to convict Ferenc Gyurcsány in a court of law. That attempt failed, as I reported at the end of 2010.
The media on both the left and the right believe that the real target of the prosecutors is not the five men who are accused of a breach of fiduciary responsibility but Ferenc Gyurcsány. Right-wing publications add the name of Gordon Bajnai. Magyar Nemzet and Barikád, Jobbik's weekly and Internet paper, agree that the "big fish" weren't caught and that the wrong defendants are sitting in the courtroom today.
But if the wrong people are being accused, why bother to carry on with this charade? The answer is fairly simple. Fidesz and the right-wing media whipped up such a frenzy over the billions and billions of forints the Hungarian state would have lost if the Sukoró deal had gone through that they couldn't just shamefacedly admit that they don't have a case. I'm convinced that if the prosecution had found enough evidence to move against Gyurcsány the five people sitting in a courtroom in Szolnok wouldn't be in this situation.
But they didn't find anything on Gyurcsány. The prosecution, however, didn't just drop the charge that the former prime minister adversely influenced the staff of Magyar Nemzeti Vagyonkezelő (MNV), the office in charge of sales of state properties. They pretty well indicated that they remain convinced that Gyurcsány is guilty but unfortunately can't prove it.
And they persist. In the current indictment one of the points against the accused is that it was Gyurcsány who instructed the employees of MNV to make a deal that favored Joav Blum, the Israeli-Hungarian businessman who made the mistake of wanting to build a huge wellness and casino complex in Hungary.
The very idea that the alleged instigator (Gyurcsány) was not found guilty by the same prosecutors who now in the case against the officials of MNV use his person as proof of abrogation of fiduciary duties is more than bizarre.
I also would like to call attention to the fact that the case is being tried not in Budapest but in Szolnok, allegedly because it is such a complicated case and the Budapest court is overworked. The truth is that Tünde Hagyó, the head of the Judicial Office, seems to move "political" trials to courts where the judges may be sympathetic to the government and rule accordingly. The trial of former deputy-mayor of Budapest Miklós Hagyó was moved to Kecskemét. This trial, which is potentially even more politically important to Fidesz, also had to be moved out of the capital.
In order to show how complicated the case is, the prosecutors collected 40,000 pages of material. However, according to Miklós Tátrai, one of the accused, there are probably only about 3,000 pages that have anything to do with the case. The same testimony is sometimes repeated fifteen or sixteen times. The evidence includes the testimony of 150 people, most of whom have no connection to the case at all. For example, the prosecutors interviewed a neighbor of Joav Blum, who testified that he was a very nice man and took part in the activities of the small community of Sukoró, participating in table tennis competitions. Tátrai even found a recipe for cookies that was on one of the computers that the police confiscated.
Another peculiar aspect of the "investigation" is that the prosecution never bothered to get in touch with Joav Blum, the man who was supposed to be the beneficiary of the officials' breach of fiduciary duty. The prosecution also has no proof that the accused officials ever received any compensation from Blum for their alleged "favor." So, as one of the accused said in a television interview, they must have decided to cause financial damage to the Hungarian state just for the heck of it.
After reading the 30-page indictment, Miklós Tátrai, former head of MNV, testified. His testimony was long. About eight hours. He accused the prosecution of conducting a political witch hunt. He insisted that what's going on in Szolnok is a show trial (koncepciós per; a case based on preconception) which naturally the prosecutor in charge of the case denied. He said that show trials can be conducted only against politicians and that, after all, the accused are simply former government officials. A brilliant retort!
Published on Sunday, 06 January 2013 17:10
So there won't be any registration of voters after all – and we are right to be happy about it. But only up to a point – as the essence of things has not changed.
We can be happy because, it seems, Fidesz could be beaten into retreat on at least one important issue. And – contrary to what some observers are saying – this indeed was a victory for the opposition. For all those, who had protested, who walked out, went on strike, to protest, stood in the human chain, wrote articles, went on TV to give interviews, or made noises in any other way. A victory for those who cared, and stood up for their opinions, and were not frightened of the eggheads who sought to make fun of them, or – in the name of a "balanced view" or "objectivity" went as far as to say that the whole issue of registration was "overrated".
Nevertheless, our democracy is still where it was a week ago – on the verge of being non-existent. The next elections will still be held under gravely unjust conditions. The election law is full of provisions which provide advantage to the current ruling parties. The implementation rules of the elections are also gravely doubtful, indeed. And chances are, that by the time we actually can go to the polling stations, they will be even worse.
Fidesz may well have backtracked this time, but they are still very much in command. They have occupied all democratic institutions – severely weakening them, or even making them obsolete. We have as much of a constitution as we did between 1949 and 1989. Parliament is in no way a counterweight to the government. The independence of justice has severely been weakened. The prosecutor general and the president of the court of auditors are both party soldiers. There are less people who believe in the fairness of public procurements than in Santa Claus. The public media service has ceased to exist. Instead of a national TV, radio or news agency, we only have propaganda. The commercial media are under constant political pressure, and a poor shadow of their earlier selves. In a couple of week's time the independence of the National Bank will also be a thing of the past. And the list could go on.
All of that has not changed because of a single decision of the Constitutional Court. Indeed, I do not think that we could even rehabilitate the Court itself. They deserve credit for this decision, but the times when we could blindly trust in the constitutional judges curtailing any overly ambitious government measures, are long gone..
Our party and our government are still the same as they were last week. They are working against us, not for us. Watch their hands, they are cheating. Still they do. And even if we do not need to register, we will still need to go to vote. Not a bit: a lot.