To the Viktor go the spoils

There were massive protests in Budapest last weekend (2018-04-14). The people were protesting the results of the election a week prior. They were asking for:

In a Facebook post before the rally, organisers called for a recount of ballots, free media, a new election law, as well as more efficient cooperation among opposition parties instead of the bickering seen in the run-up to the vote.  (The Guardian)

The organisers of the anti-Orban protests have demanded a recount of all ballots, a new election law, a non-partisan public media, and better organised co-operation among parties opposed to the Fidesz government.  (BBC World)

The best short summary is from Wikipedia:

The election saw a large surge in voter turnout, one of the largest in post-communist Hungarian history, which benefited Fidesz despite pre-election expectations that it would help the opposition. Fidesz significantly outperformed its election result expectations, but was reported to have lost support among younger voters. There was also a geographical split in the results, with opposition parties winning the majority of seats in Budapest, while provincial towns and rural areas were predominantly won by the Fidesz coalition. (Wikipedia)

The day before, I got the following from my sister living in Hungary:


The text over the first bar says ‘The election’ and the boxes:
Orange: ‘Voted for Fidesz’-31%;. Black: ‘Didn’t vote for Fidesz’-32%; Grey: ‘Didn’t vote’-33%
The text over the second bar says: ‘Composition of the parliament’ and the boxes:
Orange: Fidesz; – 67%; Black: ‘Not Fidesz’33%

The picture pissed me off and worked me up with its obnoxious stupidity. Comparing the uncountable non-voters with the clearly countable mandates.
Fidesz won fair and square according to the existing rules.

Fidesz received 49% of national party list votes and its candidates won 91 of 106 single-member constituencies, most of them in rural areas, while leftist opposition candidates carried two-thirds of the voting districts in Budapest.

Is the system favouring Fidesz? It very well may.
But it also favoured the Democratic Coalition (DK) versus Politics Can Be Different (LMP).
DK got 9 seats with 5.37% of the votes while LMP got only 8 seats with 7.06% of the votes.
This is the system. Is this the time to protest it? Of course not. It is in place since 2011.

Calling for a recount? Seriously? For what purpose? Half of the votes would need to be thrown out to significantly change the outcome. What is happening today is a textbook replay of the “Not my president” protests after the election of Donald Trump. The Hungarian protesters have their own slogan: “We are the majority” which has even less to do with reality than the American version. FIDESZ won 86% of the FPTP (First pass the post) ridings and 96% of the Hungarian minority votes in the bordering countries.
This was a landslide by any count. Just look at the map on the top. Orange is Fidesz.

Changing the result of this election has even less of a chance then the left had in the US to change the result of the presidential election there.

The Western media

The media in the West reported it very much the way it reported anti Trump protests. Biased, deceptive, with little, if any, actual analysis. They were repeating verbatim the most ridiculous claims without pointing out how ridiculous they were. The deceptive bias had one point: insinuating the illegitimacy of the Hungarian government. Just like it happened after the election of Donald Trump. There are indications that both set of protests were instigated by Soros financed organizations.

The West

I was asked by Canadians what I think of the Hungarian election.
The problem with looking at the Hungarian election from the West is that everybody is looking at it through lenses distorted by ideology. We are projecting our own concerns and biases into it grossly simplifying the picture. The question isn’t simply globalization vs. nationalism, democracy vs. dictatorship, cultural pride vs. civilizational decline, rule of law vs. unbridled kleptocracy or economic integration vs. econo-political opportunism. It is a bit of all, some issues being more important to some voters than others.

I have seriously mixed feelings. I don’t like Viktor Orbán (personally), I don’t like the corruption and the crony capitalism. Hungary is a kleptocracy. There is nothing to like about that, but at the same time, with all the theft, corruption and bureaucracy, the country is doing far better than it did under socialist governments. I also like the speeches of Viktor Orbán. He has good speech writers and he can deliver the speeches well. I like the fact that he is standing up to the EU, and with that, we got to the heart of the matter.

The elephant in the room

…… is the future of the European Union.
What happens, when members of a community have deep ideological differences?
…..as is the case with the globalism of the EU vs the nationalism of the Visegrád group.
What happens when some members of a community are blatantly abusing shared resources?
……as is the case in the use and misuse of EU grants for Hungarian infrastructure projects.
What happens when the democratic majority is abusing the rights of a minority?
……as the EU does trying to write Hungarian immigration laws.
What happens when the abuse is perpetrated by an unaccountable bureaucracy?
……as is the case with the EU Commission changing the rules without proper democratic mandate.
What happens when the majority breaks its own laws while the minority is trying to defend it?
……as was the case with the EU declaring its own borders non-existent.

The Visegrád group in general and Hungary in particular could become the thing that breaks up the European union. Europe is in crisis. Hungary did not cause it, but it is making it very visible.

Hungary has a history of being the defender of Europe.
Hungary has a history of living on the crossroads of East and West.
Hungary has a history of opportunistic shifting of alliances between the East and the West.
Hungary has a long history of being the rebellious underdog on the periphery of empires. The Ottomans, the Habsburgs, The Germans, the Soviets and now the EU.

The libertarian point.

Everybody seems to believe that the only requirement for societal and political bliss is to find the right man who, given enough power, will be able to beat some sense into their stupid opposition.
As I described in “An autopsy of the dialog,” it is an unending source of frustration to me trying to get across a most basic libertarian argument to anybody in Europe:

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.”

It is difficult for me not to have that mix of schadenfreude and righteous indignation when listening to the bitching of the Central European left. For decades I keep telling them that it is not a very good idea to give too much power to any government because the people controlling them may change and they may not like the results. The less power a government has, the less power they can abuse. The more money they have, the more they can steal. The less of the economy they control, the less they can screw up. The more of our decisions we delegate to them the less freedom we have.

I don’t like these feelings of being vindicated. I don’t like the polarization it creates. It reminds me of the early 1930s in Germany. The left started the fight and created the conditions for Adolf Hitler. I wish we could have a better dialog, but in the end, all I can say to the protesting, bitching, leftist opposition is what I told my sister:

You wanted this. You asked for this. You wanted a government with the power to take care of everything? Now you have one. They followed the rules to get the power they now possess.
You did not seem to care much when your guys in power were corrupt, now you have to learn to live with the corruption of the ones you don’t like. YOU MADE THIS POSSIBLE, NOW LIVE WITH IT!
You have problems? You deserve every single one of them.

Notes

If you wish to check the election data, this Wikipedia page will give you all the information you need.

Here is a quick list of the useless Western media articles. I am posting them only because I found one interview (the last one on the list) that may be worth your while to watch:

Thousands rally against Viktor Orbán’s election victory in Budapest – World news – The Guardian
Protesters in Hungary demand new vote, new electoral system – The Washington Post
Protesters in Hungary demand new vote, new electoral system – The Sacramento Bee
Thousands protest in Budapest against Viktor Orban and demand new elections – The Independent
Thousands of Hungarians Protest Against Newly Elected Leader – The New York Times
Hungary- Tens of thousands march in Budapest anti-Orban demo – BBC News

The Budapest Beacon – What’s really happening in Hungary
there is an interview with Kim Lane Scheppele explaining the changes to the electoral system.

Kim Lane Scheppele is a typical EU supporting globalist leftist, but she formulates the issues of this election more clearly than any other source I found. It definitely deserves criticism, but I am not going to dissect it here. If you have questions about it, I will be happy to answer them.

2 replies on “To the Viktor go the spoils”

  1. zgh says:

    An email comment from Hungary:

    I don’t know whether it was your intention to say this, but when you said “Fidesz won fair and square according to the existing rules”, it was like saying “They would have won anyway, so it’s no use pointing out how unfair and dishonest they were”. And I can’t agree with that.

    Yes, they would have won anyway, but…

    The election system was favouring them. You said that it wasn’t the time to protest it because it has been in place since 2011. But if an unjust system had been in place for a long time, can we no longer say anything? It was clear even in 2011 why Fidesz changed the election system, but what could we do? What could any political party do, when they had the two-thirds majority? The reason why people were so upset with the opposition parties that everyone knew (and said it again and again) that the election will not be a fair game and the only chance of changing the government is if there is a coalition composed of all the opposition parties. Of course, there was practically no chance that that would happen, Jobbik and the parties on the left are so far from each other in ideology. But still, if the left would have formed a coalition or at least cooperated a bit more, they wouldn’t have got the two-thirds.

    The constant, ongoing campaign against migrants, the EU, Soros or whatever was clearly a covert election campaign, using every resource a government has (access to national tv and radio, letters to every citizen and of course a lot of money…)

    They clearly had a hand in the upsurge of fake parties, which were a great way to weaken the opposition (lots of the fake parties’ lists had the same names in the same order as theirs.) And  if we look at the ‘real’ parties – my parents and a lot of other people think that LMP was secretly formed by Fidesz, to fragment the left. Lots of people think that about Momentum too. I’m not that cynical, but still, there are people whose actions favoured Fidesz much more than their own party’s (or the opposition’s) interests.

    And there was actual cheating. I know that to some extent these things happen in every election, but just because they do happen, is it okay that they happen?

    These were just a few things that I could think of.

    One of your arguments for the statement  that Fidesz was a clear winner was the fact that they won 96% of the Hungarian minority votes in the bordering countries. We discussed what I think about the fact that those people can vote. They don’t pay taxes here, so why should they have a say in how they are spent? They get a lot financial aid from the Hungarian government, which I know they need. But I’m also sure they pay attention to make them remember where the money comes from. So is Fidesz supporting Hungarian people in need? Or are they buying votes? Of course it can’t be this black-and-white, but I don’t think that these numbers are of any importance.

     

    I don’t really believe in political protests and I also thought that the claim for new elections and such were far-fetched, but I thought that the way you talked about the protesters was uncalled for. This is kind of a different subject, one that also came to my mind when I was reading your letter to dr. Horváth, one that always comes to my mind when I read your blog. You can be pretty accusing and ridiculing in your writing. I am myself a person who has difficulty containing my emotions when I argue about something that is important to me, but in my experience if you came on too strong on people, instead of listening to what you’re actually saying, they will be paying attention on how you’ve hurt their feelings. I read your post almost month ago, and the main reason it took me so much time to reply was that I felt pretty angry and hurt by your tone. You made some points that I definitely thought weren’t right, but what’s the point in telling my side of the story to someone who already thinks that my beliefs are stupid?

    • zgh says:

      This will take some answering …….. 

      I find it fascinating to see how people react to my thoughts. After reading your letter, I had to reread what I wrote. Then read again what you reacted to. My post was prompted by the picture your mother sent me. The one comparing the proportion of the votes received by Fidesz with the proportion of the actual mandates. I was deeply incensed by its dishonesty. That is what I was reacting to.

      The point I was making was simple: if more people voted, Fidesz would have gotten an even bigger majority! That was the context I was mentioning the cross-border minorities in.

      But let me step back here a little.

      I made the following main points in the post:

      • Fidesz did not break the law. Not according to international observers.
      • The important question is the future of the EU and the role countries like Hungary will play in that future.
      • The most important point to me was the libertarian one. Not just the point, but my frustration about communicating it. Getting across the idea that I described.

      This last one was the point for your mother. She is a SOCIALIST. She is one of those who throw ‘The Social Contract’ idea at me any time I argue for liberty. My answer was: “You asked for the ‘volonté générale’? There you have it. Live with it. I did not ask for it. I warned you about it. Read and reflect on the highlighted quote in the post.”

      You did not address any of these points. The rest is just minutiae.

      But let’s look at those minor points as well.

      You say Fidesz used its power and money for propaganda campaigns. How is that different from campaign in the 2004 referendum, the one about giving automatic citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living outside Hungary? The ruling socialist government ran a serious propaganda campaign against it. Your whole family voted against it. My Transylvanian friend in Montreal was literally crying for being rejected by the nation he always considered himself to be a part of. The point is not only the fact that it was not any different, but also a practical one: how can anybody be surprised that those minorities are now supporting Fidesz, the party that embraced their cause?    

      This is what ruling parties do. Things that give them a chance to stay in power. They all play the same game. It seems that Fidesz plays the game better than the opposition.

      You also make it look as if you thought that the campaigns you mentioned were completely ridiculous. Do you really think that? Do you really think that uncontrolled migration will not have any costs and risks attached to it? Do you really think that the ever increasing centralization of power in the EU, the gradual erosion of national sovereignty is NOT an issue?

      Do you really believe that Soros did NOT give any money to groups opposing Orbán??? Seriously? I don’t know how many times I have to say that I don’t like Fidesz and its politics before people can actually hear it? I was absolutely clear about it in the post!   It is the same in America. If you were not ready to vote for the crooked, murderous, crazy and incompetent bitch, you had to be Trump lover!

      You are making the point that people who do not pay taxes should not have the right to vote. Are you serious? How many people pay income tax in Hungary? Should they also have no say in how the money is spent? I wrote about this here.

      Your LMP comment is interesting. I would not have made it. However much I disagree with your parents, I would have tried to avoid making them look this nutty.

      It takes about 30 seconds to find the history of the Party. Founded in 2009 for a European Parliament election, it is part of the European Green Party, it was campaigned for by the self-declared Marxist -anarchist Daniel  Cohn-Bendit etc. etc.….  The technical term for describing this as a Fidesz conspiracy is ‘bat-shit crazy’. Not ‘stupid’ or ‘cynical’.

      The same way, it takes only seconds to find reliable information on the changes to the election laws in 2012. (or here, in a little more depth)

      I could not find in that ANYTHING that can be considered anti-democratic. Quite the contrary. Most of the changes were made to bring the results closer to the figures of the popular vote.

      Canada has a First Pass The Post system. No lists. Theoretically, it is possible to win absolute majority with 25% of the votes. The Hungarian system is far more ‘democratic’. I don’t think that this is a good thing, but it is a fact.

      I am big on facts. Also on proper formulations. The election system was not favouring Fidesz, it was favouring the Party with the highest percentage of the popular vote. Fidesz just happened to be that party at this moment. BIG difference. We can talk about the election laws, the history of various parties; we can talk about propaganda campaigns and their finances, but if we do, we should talk about FACTS not FEELINGS. Facts and honest representations of them are the things that are missing from most of the conversations that frustrate me so much.

      In a separate conversation, we can talk about feelings too. Facts and arguments may be harsh for those who are not ready to accept them or deal with them. I don’t know how to soften them. The only thing I do know, is that emotions are not arguments. Insults are not arguments.

      Like calling me a racist, as your father did, when I am making an argument about the immorality of mass immigration.

      How about MY F@#$ING FEELINGS when I get insults instead of arguments?

      I made the same arguments to you in person. I saw the discomfort on your faces. I saw how you hated the facts of not having a counter argument, how you had no alternative explanations. How you DID understand the inevitable implication that supporting immoral actions makes you an immoral person.

      Now please understand, that hurting your feelings is the last thing I ever want to do. Hurting feelings is NEVER something I choose to do, but truth, reality, facts and morality are more important to me than hurt feelings.

      And I never ever think that you are stupid. Wrong? Maybe. Sloppy? Possibly. But not stupid.

      Don’t ever let your feelings to get in the way of figuring out what is right.

      Final thought: the Hungarian election is trivial bullshit. The questions it is raising are not. To remind you again, those are:

      • The nature of democracy and electoral systems
      • The future of the EU, globalization and nation states
      • The future of freedom, individual liberty and the limits of government power

      When you are ready, we can talk about them.

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