Some Personal Impressions

  • February 20, 2022
  • István

Today I want to do something very different. No review of things I collected from different news outlets, or social media, or other public sources, today I would like to write about a personal experience. Yesterday afternoon Péter Márki-Zay held a gathering in Szekszárd, not too far away from the place I live and although not my own electoral district I took the chance to have a personal impression from nearby. I might have to add that I am not regularly visiting this kind of gatherings.

Szekszárd is as entire Tolna, the county of which it is the capital, traditional FIDESZ land. For the 3 electoral districts in the county Unity for Hungary needs a miracle to win. BTW the 3 districts of Tolna are all less inhabited than the 15 % below average the electoral law allows. Tolna 2 and 3 are the smallest of all Hungarian electoral districts, Tolna 1 is the 5th least populated district. In 2018 FIDESZ won these 3 districts with between 51.56 and 58.45 %.

On the central square in the historical part of town, where about 31 000 inhabitants live, stood a small stage. In front of it just a few hundred people gathered in the drizzle. Márki-Zay went through the rows of the audience to shake some hands and exchange a few words. He had a friendly and committed demeanour, without any shyness or airs and graces. A serious and people-interested behaviour. As short as the time for this impression was, compared not only to my local mayor a very pleasant person. I personally had some reservations because of earlier statements of MZP, but I am positively surprised of the person without having a microphone in front of him.

Before getting the word a member of a local association spoke a few words, thereafter Tamás Harangozó (MSZP,) the local district candidate and vice chair of his delegation in parliament. To be honest, I am not impressed by his words. I remember better statements of him. As far as I know this was the 4th speech Péter Márki-Zay held only yesterday and he was as combative as a week before at the campaign opening event. This man shows a lot of energy. For me it was the 5th speech during this week I listened to in full length and none of them were the same or just similar. Of course the themes were repeated, the slogans were the same, but the details were very different again! And while in cases he answered questions he read the questions either from a piece of paper or his phone and he had papers to prepare his evaluation of the year, he spoke completely free yesterday. Free and fast. That he is a fast speaker I also was scared about when translating passages from videos. When listening to Orbán I think “come on, say something,” while for Márki-Zay I am constantly need to jump back in a video, because I can’t stop just in a tiny break, but he is already in the midst of the next sentence, when I am able to hit the pause button.

In content the main topics were similarities between Szekszárd and Hódmezővásárhely. Both have been victims of Elios lightning, the former company of Orbán’s son-in-law István Tiborcz, who was allowed to ask high prices for not working public lightning as only bidder in public tenders. And he spoke about similarities between the local FIDESZ deputies Horváth and Lázár. To be honest, I knew the former minister Lázár, who became too powerful for Orbán and was sent to the back bench, while I am not aware what the other “brave man” would have done – besides serving as brave voting machine for Orbán. Being prepared for the special situation of a single district – 1 of 106 nation-wide – is impressive.

As some of you might know I have spent a long period of my live working for a foreign family owned company and was among other things responsible for hiring. Doing this for a long time one develops a sense for the difference between what people say and how they behave, the difference between show and reality. Perhaps you also might remember that I was hoping Gergely Karácsony would win the primaries and that after he stepped down I voted with a heavy heart for Klára Dobrev. Since I know that there are no alternatives through our rigged electoral system and because I respect the democratic decision in the primaries, I accepted already months ago that MZP is the only democratic candidate having the chance of winning the elections and that he needs everybody’s help. Yesterday my personal impression changed, I would hire Péter Márki-Zay. I changed my mind about him from having in some aspects a problematic to having just a complex personality. It is human to make mistakes, it is human to say something without thinking well before – and in opposite to FIDESZ voters often expecting faultless saints I am already happy when a politician is an honest person who does not abuse power. I went home with the relief that understanding and feeling merged.

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February 20, 2022 11:59

Interesting to see your impression of Márki-Zay. I travelled to Tolna County for work reasons last weekend (Bátaszék, Szekszárd, Pincehely) and was surprised to see quite a few opposition billboards in Szekszárd along with the usual Fidesz placards of course.
I was a reluctant MZP voter in the second round of the elections and, at the risk of being naive, I’m quite impressed with his campaigning so far.
He’s not afraid to say what he thinks and turns the attack back on to Fidesz when required. Of course there are things that I disagree with (like his threat to out gay politicians in Fidesz, so far not carried out), but you can’t defeat Fidesz by reasoned argument alone and he’s definitely a good campaigner. I might have posted this before but I like his response in this video to a question from State TV about Karácony’s alleged plan to sell the City Hall building (scroll down to the video, his reply starts at about 42 seconds):

Istvan (Chicago)
Istvan (Chicago)
February 20, 2022 16:50

Much to the credit of Népszava this story has appeared:, the long and short of which is that Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has been made to appear the idiot who said Hungary could fully defend itself and needed no US combat units on the ground in Hungary. It appears that the US is sending around 200 American troops and Stryker armored fighting vehicles to Hungary, according to the article. As far as I can tell this development was not covered in any of the Fidesz controlled media. I am assuming that the deployment is similar to the one that took place in Romania last week discussed in this article .

I have to say being a regular reader of Magyar Nemzet I would say this article which admits that the Russians lied completely last week about it beginning a withdrawal of troops surrounding Ukraine was interesting. The article by MTI stated “Due to the escalation of tensions due to the conflict in Ukraine, the Belarusian-Russian military exercise, originally planned until Sunday, will be continued, the Belarusian defense minister announced on Sunday.” The article also stated without framing it as some form of madness on the part of the USA, that “U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was even more concerned about the possibility of a Russian attack after news of the resumption of the Belarusian-Russian military exercise, and said the development showed the world was facing a Russian invasion of Ukraine.” 

We need only recall a few days ago how Russia’s Hungarian allied on the pages of Magyar Nemzet were touting that the Russians were pulling back from the borders of Ukraine and that the CIA, Biden and the whole of the US intelligence services were basically war mongering idiots. What ever direct more highly classified evidence has been provided to team Orban by the US NSA, CIA, and other NATO intelligence agencies has given them pause in their pro-Russian campaign. 

To the post about Péter Márki-Zay’s campaign stop, did he have nothing to say about a possible Russian invasion of neighboring Urkraine and the apparent complete lack of preparation on the part of Hungarian Defense forces to deal with that possibility?

Istvan (Chicago)
Istvan (Chicago)
February 21, 2022 02:15

I believe the NY Times confirmed within the last hour my suspicions that Hungary and other NATO nations have been provided with additional high level intelligence about Russian invasion plans in an article titled “Blitzkrieg or Minor Incursion? Putin’s Choice Could Determine World Reaction” by David Sanger (a journalist with extensive CIA links).

Sanger writes: ” When President Biden declared on Friday he was convinced President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had decided to attack Ukraine “in the coming week, in the coming days,” the skeptics among American allies suddenly fell quiet. Hours before, Mr. Biden had informed them that American intelligence agencies had just learned that the Kremlin had given the order for Russian military units to proceed with an invasion.” This was obvious in the tone of Magyar Nemzet today.

Orban was gamed by Putin, as was Macron, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz right to their faces. Whatever it is that the US intelligence services made public also has panicked Zelensky who desperately wants economic actions taken against Russia immediately in the hope it will cause Putin to back off.

One apparent strategy that was possibly discussed with the NATO allies was the idea of a “minor incursion” might be like paramilitary activity, that would be “a prelude to a traditional invasion reminiscent of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Hungary in 1956 or Czechoslovakia in 1968.”

Orban is highly familiar with the evolution and history of 1956 and such direct references could be rattling for him. Orban is definitely a guy who sees the past as prelude.

Luis G. Prado
Luis G. Prado
February 20, 2022 19:10

In mi opinion, the primaries worked the political miracle of placing as candidate for prime minister of the united opposition the person who seems to be more adequate for the role… Not necessarily the role of prime minister, mind you: the role of candidate.

By selecting this openly right-wing politician, the opposition destroyed without moving a finger the many propaganda efforts that Fidesz had prepared to counter the presumed opposition candidate.

The fictional movie showing Dobrev to be behind the police response to the riots of 2006? Pointless: Dobrev is not the candidate.

The carefully crafted “kompromat” about Karácsony wanting to sell the Town Hall building? Useless: Karácsony is not the candidate.

The endless campaign about former prime minister Gyurcsány pulling the strings of whoever would be the candidate, now morphed into a grotesque presentation of Márki-Zay as his clone? It misses the bullseye by a mile, since Márki-Zay is a) a newcomer to politics, untainted by association with any previous governments, and b) politically as far from Gyurcsány as can be imagined.

Moreover, the candidacy of Márki-Zay points out to a rising anger and determination within the opposition-voting public, which at this point in the consolidation of the Orbán regime understandably would rather follow a hard-talking, at times demagogic politician who calls a spade a spade than a Western-style soft-spoken candidate who would pretend that Hungary is still a democracy.

Since being apathetic is a widespread trait among Hungarians that Orbán exploits to his own benefit (one only has to listen to the intellectuals’ Byzantine debate about whether it is actually worth it or not to remove Orbán from government!), Márki-Zay represents a fundamental change in attitude: roughly speaking, half the Hungarian voters are very, very fed up, scared and disgusted with Orbán, and they now have an outlet for their anger.

Finally, it has to be said that among the possible candidates for prime minister, Márki-Zay was the one who showed more will to actually become prime minister, even in the impossible circumstances that Orbán has concocted were he ever to lose government. Márki-Zay just seems to want it more, while the others had more tactical reasons to run, or could benefit in some ways from running and losing. Márki-Zay wants to win. Voters perceive this and reward it.

Márki-Zay may not be the ideal candidate for many of us, because of his politics. He may not be the very dependable politician we would like to see governing in a consolidated democracy. But he seems to be the candidate that the situation requires. He’s just the person for these times and this place.

Last edited 1 year ago by Luis G. Prado
Don Kichote
Don Kichote
February 20, 2022 19:27
Reply to  Luis G. Prado

Good aspects, I agree.