Thu Oct 5th, 2006 at 09:15:56 AM EST
As things are heating up again, time for another update on the Hungarian situation.
First I recap the main events of the last three weeks (if you followed my reports just skip this):
- Two-and-a-half weeks ago, an expletive-laden speech of PM Ferenc Gyurcsány to MPs of his party was leaked, in which he tried to shore up support for his planned 'reforms' by stating that "we lied" about the state of the country.
- What followed was (relatively small) protests and riots by the right-to-far-right. The riots produced a backlash for the opposition in public opinion, but the government was already unpopular enough because of the 'reforms' before.
- Last Sunday, there were local elections, won in most places by the main opposition party, right-populist Fidesz.
- Hungary's (figurehead) President László Sólyom held a speech scolding all sides for their behaviour. The most important parts were a call for a return to politics in parliament (for the opposition), and a suggestion to the governing parties to depose the PM.
- Both sides responded, but both responded only to parts of the speech: the PM called for a vote of confidence on himself (a just symbolic measure), while Fidesz announced they will leave the Parliament for that vote (a theatrical move they applied several times over the last five years), and announced a mass rally for Friday if Gyurcsány is not deposed and replaced with an expert government until today (Thursday). If Fidesz calls for a rally, it will be greater by one or two orders of magnitude than anything in the last three weeks.
This is where we stood yesterday morning. Since then, the following happened:
- Sólyom issued an open letter, again scolding both sides in no uncertain terms, telling them they didn't change anything, and this time he focused on the opposition: he wrote staying away from the confidence vote in parliament is not democratic.
- So Fidesz was forced to step back on that one. Also, an instant poll by polling firm Medián shows that only 32% support the idea of a mass rally, while 60% oppose it, including even 28% of Fidesz supporters. Not that the government would be off the hook: in a multiple-choice question, only 27% want PM "I lied!" Gyurcsány to stay, 17% want a new PM from the governing parties, another 17% want an expert government, and 21% want new elections.
- Then today Attila Körömi 'levelled the field'. Körömi is a nationalist former Fidesz MP who left for far-right youth movement Jobbik. He declared that when he was in Fidesz, then PM Orbán held speeches of the exact same style and content before the Fidesz MPs, e.g. expletives, "we lied to the people and did nothing", and psychological pressure on MPs. (Note that there was big laughter ten days ago when Orbán told CNN that he "never lied".)
- Orbán held kind of another such speech -- trying to appease businessmen in a confidential meeting yesterday, which can only mean that the quasi-socialist/protectionist part of his rhetoric on the economy is anything but honest.
Finally, Gyurcsány's "I lied!" speech also develops into a spy story
I wrote earlier that the leaked tapes of Gyurcsány's speech were of rather high quality, e.g. no simple dictaphone records. There are also rumours that the tapes were offered for a six-figures sum in Euros days before the leak. Yesterday the conclusions of technical tests were announced, saying that the leaked tapes were definitely not copies of the official recordings. The only possible scenario is a bug directly in the speakers' microphone.
Who could have done it? I see three possibilities, though each has its problems:
- former Hungarian spies (could be risky for them as there aren't that many for collagues to find the culprit),
- renegade active Hungarian spies (but there is no history of them),
- foreign spies (if this is a destabilisation attempt, who would be interested, and why would they bother with first trying to sell it).