Even the socialist MEP objects against the EU sanctions (Mandiner)

Csaba TabajdiAccording to Csaba Tabajdi the measures aimed at punishing the Hungarian people would be unfair. The leader of MSZP’s EP delegation has called attention in a statement to the fact that the suspension of subsidies from the EU cohesion fund could lead to the formation of an anti-EU front of unity among Hungarians.

Csaba Tabajdi has objected in a statement against the fact that the European Comission plans to suspend the subsidies from the EU cohesion fund. According to the leader of MSZP’s EP-delegation “an anti-EU union front could be formed in the Hungarian society”.

The member of MSZP said: he turned to EP president Martin Schulz and to Hungarian EC member László Andor for this issue. “I will ask Martin Schulz and László Andor to make use of their influence to make the European Commission take into account the EP’s last week’s resolution, and to immediately back down. The Orbán government can be criticized, but it’s unacceptable to punish the Hungarian people” – Tabajdi’s statement reads.

“We consider even the proposal itself as an unreasonable, bad political decision, which is unfair against Hungarian citizens. This decision would punish the Hungarian local governments, the Hungarian people and the Hungarian entrepreneurs instead of the Orbán government” – stressed Tabajdi while reacting to an EC spokesman’s announcement about proposing the suspension of the cohesion subsidies within the excessive deficit procedure initiated by the EU’s proposing-executive institution.

(Image source: MTI)

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21 Responses to Even the socialist MEP objects against the EU sanctions (Mandiner)

  1. The Hungarian people (well over 50% of those who voted in the last general election) chose Orbán so they deserve to be punished. Don’t Hungarians realise that the rest of the EU doesn’t care if Hungarians become anti-EU? In fact, many would prefer if it could be arranged for Hungary to leave the EU as soon as possible.

    • The Hungarian people gave Orbán a carte blanche on the grounds that Orbán will fix the Hungarian economy which’s still in a terrible state. I’d say that the people didn’t expect him to apply a couple quick fixes (e.g. nationalization of pension funds, levying a couple “extra” taxes) and leave it like that (and neither did the markets). What the people should be punished for is rather the fact that they don’t feel the need to apply more pressure on Orbán to keep the budget spending in check.

      You claim to have an English-sounding name, yet you obviously haven’t heard of the common law’s peculiarity called “precedent”. Otherwise you’d know that even though continental Europe doesn’t use precedent in its judiciary system, but the psychological precedent DOES exist. So the fact that Hungary leaves the EU could create a VERY bad (psychological) precedent: it’d show that the EU isn’t as nice as it pretends to be and its unity/reputation would be severely tarnished too. And that’d affect all the other EU members too. And the same applies to anti-EU sentiments: if they’ll strengthen within Hungary, it’s likely that they’ll strengthen within the nearby EU members too. And that’d be bad for the rest too.

      • No, I do not “claim to have an English-sounding name”. I have never claimed ANYTHING about my name on this forum – I have no idea what gave you that ludicrous idea. I DO know what precedent means so I don’t need the lecture from you about this. Hungary leaving the EU is NOT a fact. At the moment it is not even probable – it is just a possibility. And, I believe, a remote one.

      • “What the people should be punished for is rather the fact that they don’t feel the need to apply more pressure on Orbán to keep the budget spending in check.” I agree. But they* DID vote for Orbán/FIDESZ and so they MUST take responsibility for having done so – that is a fundamental basis of representative democracy. Having voted for Orbán, the people* deserve whatever that brings – whether it be praise or punishment or anything else.

        *Of course, I realise that many voted against Orbán – they do not deserve what is happening to their country.

      • “it’d show that the EU isn’t as nice as it pretends to be” – not necessarily. More probably it would show that Hungary doesn’t deserve to be a member of the EU. In fact, other countries deserve EU membership even less – Greece comes first to mind – but there has never been a mechanism to eject members and so the club has accumulated a few members over the years that it probably now wishes it had never allowed in.

        • Once again: precedent. Any ousting attempts made by EU leaders would send a bad signal to everyone (especially the markets). You see nobody likes an unstable political system, and Europe is no exception. So even if it’d be Greece to leave the EU, that’d be bad for the rest of us as well. Regardless of whether you agree with this or not.
          As for Hungary the root of problems is once again the people’s reluctance to take responsibility for Orbán’s mishaps (like I said in my previous comment). And while I agree that at least SOME voters DO deserve the consequences of voting for Orbán, I object to measures that will cause collateral damage to the whole of Hungary, regardless of anybody’s stance towards Fidesz or Orbán. This would not only be counterproductive (in economical sense), but would push the people toward more extremist parties with heavy anti-EU rhetoric. And once again that’d be a VERY bad signal for the whole region.

          • I think there is a general consensus that no country should be expelled from the EU – so we all agree with you on this. But, I believe that there should be some mechanisms that ensure that all members follow the fundamental rules of the organisation.

  2. Hungarian Reader says:

    Scott H Moore said: “The Hungarian people … chose Orbán so they deserve to be punished.”

    How dare the Hungarians elect someone that Scott H Moore does not approve of? Don’t they understand the basics of democracy?!

    • You miss my point entirely. The Hungarians exercised their democratic RIGHTS by voting for Orbán and so now they need to fulfil their democratic RESPONSIBILITIES by accepting the consequences of voting for him. I am all for people being allowed to elect whoever they like – what I dislike is the subsequent whingeing. The Hungarians did a lot of that after re-electing Gyurcsány. So, yes, many Hungarians do not understand their own democratic system.

      • Hungarian Reader says:

        Your point about accepting responsibility for whom we voted in as PM is absolutely right.
        But you are wrong about Gyurcsany – he was never re-elected. He was a minister in the cabinet of Peter Medgyessy, then stabbed him in the back and became PM after a parliamentary vote, not general elections. He did win the next general elections in 2006, but the main reason for that was (by his own admission) that they lied day and night, to the population and the EU, withholding and distorting stats about the real state of the economy. So while it’s a valid point that many Hungarians do not understand their own democratic system, this is true of most nations and is no excuse for the actions of any politician.
        The bottom line is that the words are yours – you said Hungarian people deserve to be punished for choosing Orban. I just cannot accept that.

        • I understand your point about Gyurcsány not being re-elected – it is just a case of us using different definitions for the concept of re-election. I meant that the election resulted in Gyurcsány being voted back into power. Not that he was elected more than once.

          Yes I agree that the people of most democratic nations do not understand their own democratic systems. But there is a qualitative difference between countries. In the “mature” democracies people have a better understanding of the systems thanks to democracy being embedded in the culture. In the “new” democracies, only direct education can build an understanding among the people.

          Well, we can agree to disagree on whether or not the Hungarian people should be punished. It was an overly generalised statement that I made – I don’t believe that all Hungarians should be punished, and by punishment I mainly mean that they should be subject to the consequences (whether positive or negative) of their actions.

          • It seems to me that you still seem to ignore the fact that the problem with Hungary’s politics in the last 10 years is that people had almost zero chance of making a wise (well-informed) decision, simply due to the fact that one could hardly pick up any meaningful information about the politicians even from the most objective media establishments (let alone MSZP’s or Fidesz’ sockpuppet media). Gyurcsány DID mishandle the economy, which’s MUCH more problematic than the fact that the confession of his about this has been published (yeah, the Őszöd-gate). And Fidesz wasn’t better either: like I said, the people have given them a “carte blanche”, because nobody had any chance of finding out ANYTHING about Fidesz’ intentions (not even the most prominent party members). So how do you expect the people to make a wise decision in such case?

            • No, I don’t ignore this – neither is it a fact. There IS plenty of openly available information about the MSZP, SZDSZ and FIDESZ – i.e. their track records while in national government as well as their records in local government! It seems to me that are trying to provide excuses for lazy voters who do not inform themselves or who choose to ignore the evidence before their eyes. You are also ignoring that there are other ways to have an influence on politics besides voting.

              A wise decision, given than it was not possible to find out anything about Fidesz’ intentions, would have been NOT to vote for Fidesz. Or, put the other way, it was unwise and, indeed, irresponsible to vote for Fidesz – if parties can win elections without any manifesto then why should they bother to write one, let alone communicate it to the public and then enact it when in power?

              • Hungarian Reader says:

                Fidesz’s track record in national government between 1998-2002 was actually very good. We had a stable, livable country that was paying back the national debt, and the future looked promising. Even the incoming socialist PM in 2002 admitted that things were generally going in the right direction, his only criticism was that more money should be distributed to the people (via state wages, pensions and benefits). So if you compare those 4 years under Fidesz to the next 8 under MSZP-SZDSZ, it was clearly a no-brainer back in 2010. But why don’t your share your wisdom – you say it wasn’t wise to vote for Fidesz, so what should we have done? Surely not Jobbik?

              • You’re right. There’s in fact MORE than plenty of information available about any of the Hungarian parties being in politics since 1989. And it didn’t do much to help in making the right decision either. Why you might say? Let’s see some history about the parties you’ve mentioned:
                Fidesz: their name originally stood for “Fiatal demokraták szövetsége” (=Alliance of Young Democrats), which isn’t used anymore. In the first few years they DID start out as a radically (semi-)liberal party. In fact they’ve made nasty remarks such as “csuhások, térdre, imához!” (monkeries, on your knees for a prayer!). Then they’ve made a U-turn: they’ve stopped using their “full” name, added the “-mpsz” (Magyar polgári szövetség=Hungarian Civil Alliance) acronym, admitted quite a few of the old comrades rejected by MSZ(M)P and became conservative hardliners coupled with a leftist-populist agenda.
                MSZP: their time-serving is even more spectacular than that of Fidesz. It’s the de facto successor of the former communist state party MSZMP. And yet it has managed to enact not only big-time state welfare measures, but also some particularly harsh and strict financial reforms led by Lajos Bokros.
                SZDSZ: they’ve called themselves liberal right until the end, but in fact the only liberal agenda they’ve pushed persistently were gay rights. They’ve either given up the rest as the years passed by or never had them in the first place. Oh and they were notable in another aspect as well: they always failed to agree with MSZP on any important issue (hell they’ve even wasted their constitutional majority because of this).
                And now the rest: Jobbik is notorious for its anti-Gypsy and Marxist agenda, LMP and MDF were as vague in their programme and propaganda as possible and that’s basically it.
                Given the track record of the parties above, do you still think that it’s easy to make a wise decision on Hungarian politics? Besides, both MSZP and Fidesz kept changing their agenda on a regular basis. How were you supposed to know which “mode” would each party choose after they get elected into the government? And besides, saying that people shouldn’t have voted for Fidesz is as good as an afterthought, given that in 2010 it seemed to be (and unfortunately still seems to be) the lesser evil (by far). The MSZP would’ve been fine if Bajnai would’ve opted for a second term, but he didn’t. SZDSZ was already finished (basically destroyed by internal clashes), Jobbik’s agenda was (and still is) despicable and LMP’s agenda was a very vague leftist mixture that didn’t sound the least bit appealing. So like I said: the people (even the well-informed ones) had next to zero chance of making a wise decision in 2010.

  3. I disagree that Fidesz’ track record was “quite good'”. I was living in Hungary at the time and I remember that there was a lot of populist rhetoric but that very little was actually done. The best that can be said is that Orbán didn’t mess things up. But he did NOTHING to reform the tax system, the health system, or the bloated public bureaucracy. And I’m not saying that the next government was any better, because it clearly wasn’t.

    I would never tell people how to vote. I stated that it was not wise to vote for Fidesz and I have lots of evidence to back up that belief. Any votes for parties other than Fidesz would have resulted in a better outcome and, yes, even votes for Jobbik if that prevented Orbán from having the two-thirds majority in the parliament.There was never any danger of Jobbik forming a government so a few more seats for them would not have been any worse than the situation of the party being in the parliament in the first place. A major problem that many Hungarians seem to have is that they cannot think beyond a bipolar political system – there is more to choose from than just one of the “big” parties (MSZP) or the other (Fidesz).

    • Hungarian Reader says:

      There are a lot of countries with a bipolar political system, and I don’t think it’s due to the thinking of the population. I mean Hungary has 5 parliamentary fractions (OK, let’s agree on 4 as KDNP is just an alter-ego of Fidesz), how does that compare to the US, for example? I think a _lot_ of people in the US are tired of the GOP / DEM duality but the system is so skewed that it’s impossible for a third force to arise. It may have to be done through one of the two (see Ron Paul), but I can’t see it happening.

      In the 22 years since the end of communism in Hungary, we’ve had 4 different combinations in power: MDF-FKGP (90-94), MSZP-SZDSZ (94-98, 02-06, 06-10), Fidesz-MDF (98-02) and Fidesz alone (10-?). I wouldn’t call that bipolar. And come to think of it, the only period when they “didn’t mess things up” was 98-02.

      Populist rhetoric and very little being done – hey, welcome to Hungary at any moment in time…except for today! We have populist rhetoric but a _lot_ being done, perhaps a bit too much at once. Orban is now reforming exactly what you missed in 98-02: the tax system, the health system, the bloated public sector, etc.

      I would really like to understand some of your evidence for why a vote for any other party would have been better. Knowing the track record of MSZP between 2002-2010, why should I have voted for them, rather than Fidesz? Why would I reward MSZP with my vote after they messed things up so royally? This ‘anything but Orban’ view sounds more like a phobia than a statement based in fact.

      • I know that lots of other countries have a bipolar political system. Lots of other countries also suffer from corruption, Byzantine tax codes, ineffective legal systems etc. The fact that Hungary shares many of its problems with other countries does not make them any better.

        What would have been a better outcome of the previous elections is if Fidesz had not gained the two-thirds majority needed to change the constitution. The party has spent so much time and effort on this, as well as the new Media law, that I simply cannot believe that it has devoted much thought to more pressing problems such as those you state that Orbán is now tackling. Introducing the flat-rate tax was a good first step, but so much more needs to be done to improve the tax system that it is far too early to say whether any reform has yet taken place. As for health care, I remember very clearly Orbán effectively sabotaging the reforms that the MSZP-SDSZ government tried to introduce. So his track record in this area is negative. I don’t suffer from any phobia regarding Orbán. I simply base my opinion of him on his record to date: his personal hijacking of what used to be a movement of young reformists (ie Fidesz – the clue to its distant past is in the name), one largely wasted period in government, numerous examples of two-facedness (and don’t bother to point out that this is a common trait of politicians – I know) and his personal corruption: when he was Prime Minister in 1998-2002 he solicited a very large bribe from at least one foreign company.

        Once again I will write – I have not suggested that anyone should vote for the MSZP. Why do you keep asking this question? I am not and never have been a supporter of that party and I believe that it has done a poor job in government. You seem to be suffering from a delusion that I all-too-frequently encounter among Hungarian supporters of Orbán – if you don’t support Fidesz you MUST be a supporter of MSZP/SDSZ/international-left-liberal-Jewish-conspiracy-against-Hungary. So, you have beautifully illustrated my point about Hungarians being unable to think beyond the two main political parties!

        • Hungarian Reader says:

          Bipolar election system, corruption, etc – I agree with every word you say. Yet we still need a government, so we have to vote for one party or another, right? The system is far from perfect, but that doesn’t mean we should not exercise our right to vote.

          So why I asked about MSZP in particular? Not because I’m deluded, but as an intellectual exercise. You said Fidesz did not mess up between 98 and 02 (which is some compliment considering the last 22 years of Hungarian politics); and that MSZP-SZDSZ did a poor job in government. You also suggested that a vote for any other party but Fidesz would have been better in 06. That just doesn’t add up!
          Nobody knew beforehand that Fidesz would have a 2/3 majority. But let’s suppose they did know – and everyone took your advice and voted for another party, say Jobbik. Fidesz would not have won a single mandate, and Jobbik would now have the 2/3 majority. This logic is flawed, surely you see that?

          It’s the easy way out to criticise every party and government, to make it appear as if one was just as bad as the other – especially easy post festa. But this is a fundamentally undemocratic stance unless you show a credible alternative. I believe one should vote, follow the actions of whom you voted for in the next 4 years, and then maybe vote differently next time.

          • Nobody knew that Fidesz would get a 2/3 majority, but the opinion polls may have suggested it (I don’t know, I didn’t follow them at the time). The chances of no one voting for Fidesz in 2010 were zero, so your scenario is purely hypothetical. Voting takes place in the real world, so I base my own voting on real world conditions. I don’t always vote for the party I favour because, especially with the UK’s voting system, it can often be a wasted vote. So, I sometimes engage in tactical voting. I was not allowed to vote in Hungary’s general elections, as I’m not a Hungarian citizen, and so I didn’t think much about which party I might have voted for (in a hypothetical world where I would have been enfranchised) in the 2010 elections. And, to be honest, it is a waste of time now to give advice on which party I think Hungarians should have voted for in 2010, because we now have the benefit of hindsight. And I must admit that when Fidesz won the elections even I was somewhat optimistic – I thought that Orbán might have changed his spots and that he should be given the benefit of the doubt. Based on the evidence that I have read and heard since then, I am now pessimistic about Hungary’s future. It would take a lot of contrary evidence to convince me that Orbán is the man for the job. To date, I have neither seen nor heard much evidence from either the government or its supporters that the government is taking Hungary in the right direction.

          • “It’s the easy way out to criticise every party and government, to make it appear as if one was just as bad as the other – especially easy post festa. But this is a fundamentally undemocratic stance unless you show a credible alternative.” I don’t see your reasoning here. What is undemocratic about criticising bad governments? You don’t need to present a credible alternative to criticise a leader or government. After all, no government can be better than a bad one. I don’t think many people criticise every party and government and, in any case, what have they got to do with our discussion? I certainly don’t always criticise. For the Bokros package alone, I credit the 1994-1998 MSZP-SZDSZ government with making a positive contribution to Hungary. Whoever has been running Debrecen during the past several years (a Fidesz mayor I think) has done a very good job from what evidence I have seen. Ditto for Szolnok during the past few years.

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