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Last Build Date: Mon, 21 Dec 2009 04:57:51 -0600

Copyright: Copyright 2009

Former Finance minister Bokros challenges Far Right leader Vona to Open debate

Mon, 21 Dec 2009 03:04:43 -0600

MDF candidate for PM challenges Far-Right leader

Former finance minister and the candidate leader for the MDF in the upcoming elections, Bokros Lajos, has challenged the far-right leader (and Jobbik's candidate for Prime Minister) Vona Gábor to an open debate.

According to the one time finance minister (from March 1st 1995 to February 29th 1996, during the Horn government), he will be able to demonstrate in under one and a half hours that Jobbik's far right policies will ruin Hungary and sell-out the nation.

The Jobbik are acting against the interests of the nation when they state that they will not pay back the IMF loans. Loans which were secured last year to rescue the nation from the depths of the world-wide financial crisis.

Further Bokros states that Jobbik are acting against the interests of the nation when their leaders scribble derogatory messages about Jewish Hungarians that "they should better play with their circumcised tails" - a reference to Jobbik's MEP Morvai Krisztina who earlier this year wrote such a message (in ruder language). That Jobbik damages the interests of the nation when they refer to 'Gypsy-crime'.

In Bokros's opinion, none of this serves the interest of a peaceful society or of the nation's development. Rather it undermines development and causes chaos. Jobbik are acting against the interests of the nation when they openly lead people on with ridiculous promises and with clearly no ability to fulfill these. In the open letter from Bokros Lajos to Vona Gábor it is stated that Jobbik are acting against the interests of the nation when they beguile and confuse embittered Hungarians with their promises.

According to Bokros Lajos Jobbik's populist demagoguery is ruining Hungary.

The MDF's candidate for Prime Minister, Bokros, has asked Vona Gábor to suggest a time suitable to him, anytime during the first two weeks of January, when they will be able to meet and debate the issues in a round table discussion.

Jobbik have yet to provide an outline of their policies and plans for the upcoming elections. Jobbik insiders have stated that their election manifesto and detailed policies are to be announced and released on January the 16th.

ref: Bokros kihívta Vona Gábort

Namazu - Catfish - Harcsa

Tue, 8 Dec 2009 12:52:09 -0600

So why the sobriquet/nom de plume (írói álnév) 'Catfish'? Well, it's true that before I came to Hungary I certainly never ate catfish (can you believe it but there are whole websites dedicated to catfish recipes), but it's pretty common here due to the lack of access to fresh salt water fish - not my favorite dish, to be honest. In Hungarian culture, apart from recipes and as a name for a type of mustache (through a visual bon mot), the 'catfish' isn't much of an emblem or symbol of anything. There is the phrase 'öreg harcsa', which literally means 'old catfish', but is army slang for an old soldier or veteran. Apart from that it doesn't have much social or cultural resonance. Self-important (puffed-up) government officials However in Japanese culture the catfish (鯰 なまず namazu) has, since the 15th Century, been used to symbolize disorder, both physical and social. During the Meiji (明治時代 めいじじだいfrom 23 October 1868 to 30 July 1912) and Taishō (大正時代 たいしょうじだい from July 30 1912 to December 25 1926) eras the catfish was used in political cartoons to stand for self-important (puffed-up) government officials, sometimes symbolizing upheavals such as a shake-up in the cabinet. Namazu-e (鯰絵 なまずえ) Catfish were used to depict upheaval, particularly earthquakes and marked social unrest, which led to a genre of Catfish paintings or 'Namazu-e' (鯰絵 なまずえ) paintings. You can see a reasonable selection of these on Google's image search for 'namazu-e'.  Often the paintings depict someone trying to pin a catfish down with either a stone or gourd. This represents the effort and determination needed to achieve something seemingly impossible as, due to their slippery skin, catfish are not the easiest things to get hold of. Such images of namazu (catfish) suppressed by a bottle gourd date back to 15th Century, but became much more popular in 17th century in Ōtsue (大津絵) folk paintings - named after the city port of Ōtsu (大津市) which is the capital city of Shiga Prefecture (Japan, of course). Gourd-namazu (hyōtannamazu 【瓢箪鯰】 ひょうたん.なまず) The image of someone, typically a monkey, trying to contain and pin down a catfish with a water gourd was so common that it lead to the phrase 'gourd-catfish' or 'hyōtan namazu'. Hyōtannamazu is a contraction of the phrase 'hyōtan de namazu wo osaeru' meaning 'to pin down a catfish with a gourd'. It still has this meaning in modern Japanese: hyōtannamazu 【瓢箪鯰】 ひょうたんなまず would be something equivalent to 'as slippery as an eel, evasive, hard to pin down' in English. Hungarian words and phrases along the same lines would be: dörzsölt, agyafúrt, ravasz; nehéz megfogni, elkapni, elcsípni, kézre keríteni; mindig kicsúszik valakinek a kezei közül. Catfish: destructive and restorative kinds At about 10pm on November 11, 1855, in Edo 江戸 (meaning bay-door, 'estuary'; Edo is the former name of the Japanese capital Tokyo, 東京) the ground shook violently. An earthquake with a magnitude estimated between 6.9 and 7.1 was in progress and would be followed by aftershocks over the next 80 days. An estimated 14,000 structured were destroyed in the initial concentrated Ansei Earthquake, with around 7-10,000 people perishing. However the damage caused by the Great Edo or Ansei Earthquake was not evenly distributed. Due to geography many of the richer districts, those with prime real estate, were decimated, whilst poorer districts suffered comparatively little. The working classes had in fact been through years of hardship, whilst the affluent class had prospered. With the earthquake there was more work and, due to scarcity, prices for their labor, services and goods rose - again profiting the poor more. At that time, understanding of the causes of earthquakes ranged from an imbalance of the five elements or in an imbalance in the forces of yin 陰 and yang 陽, to the movement of an[...]

What do Hungarians give a damn about?

Fri, 27 Nov 2009 08:18:34 -0600

What do Hungarians give a damn about? Not much it seems. The government can collude with opposition parties to rob ordinary Hungarians of their favourite radio stations, Roma and the Hungarian Guard can start a civil war, endless meetings can be held to decide which further cuts to make to public services, local mayors and officials can sell off historic properties to their friends... none of this matters much at all. On all of those topics just mentioned a maximum of 5% of the population gives a damn.

Still, at least 50% feel that the H1N1 may have something to do with them and 10% were interested in a triple murder case from early November. Apart from these, apathy reigns.

By political persuasion MSZP ('left') are three times more likely to be concerned about wider social and political factors than Fidesz ('right') supporters. Jobbik (far right) supporters seem most concerned about the Roma clashes and 'Rádiógate' - the replacement of the two favourite radio channels with consortiums close to Fidesz and MSZP.

n.b. Results come from research carried out by Századvég-Forsense.

Hungary and energy independence

Wed, 25 Nov 2009 04:29:31 -0600

According to this morning's HVG Orbán is looking to Russia to help Hungary achieve energy independence. The claim is made there that he met with Putin on Saturday during the United Russia party congress in St. Petersburg. He was invited to speak by duma speaker Boris Grizlov.

Energy independence is one of his favourite themes at the moment, which is not surprising given how little Gyurcsány did to exploit existing natural resources.

Still it is difficult to see how Orbán can argue that he is making progress towards energy independence when the South Stream pipeline agreements worked out by Gyurcsány will likely conflict with these aims - even if it isn't expected to be ready before 2015. South stream is a venture between Gazprom (Russia) and Eni (Italian), so I don't see much energy independence there.

Persona non grata?

Tue, 24 Nov 2009 10:57:29 -0600

It seems my attempt to use too many references and links in my blog post comment in a response to "A Hungarian wrestling champion: Dr. Péter Kende by S.K." resulted in the spam filter deleting my comment. Which is weird as they are allowing the spam viagra comment adverts to stay, but deleting mine. I also note my link using trackback is marked as 'spam' by them. It seems I can post a comment if I pretend to be someone else and hide my computer, going via Hokkaido etc... Which is all really silly. If I want to comment and engage in discussion I don't expect to have to use anything more than an average person would know how to. Anyway, I thought, since I wrote the thing already I'd post it here. I'd welcome discussion, corrections, objections and reasoned debate. This was my comment: Comment start -----  @S.K.:I haven't read Kende Péter's latest book yet on the ongoing Kulcsár business ("Nesze neked, igazság! - A Kulcsár-ügy" published by Hibiszkusz Könyvkiadó, 2009), but I will be interested to see how balanced this is. Overall I would say he is pretty balanced, but he can't help himself but lean to the left a bit. Has he ravaged the MSZP or SZDSZ as much as they deserve and their electorate has? No, not yet. But maybe this is the book.After all he will have lots to go on. Back in August 2005 HVG published lots of details from the central defendant Kulcsár's depositions on their website. They were sent the details anonymously and took a few days to think about the consequences, after which they went ahead - knowing that this would be uncomfortable reading for lots of politicians. As the article in Origo ( ) at the time stated, (paraphrasing) these details would make things difficult for a considerable number of well known people, MSZP politicians amongst them, who would be brought under suspicion ("Kulcsár vallomásaival számos ismert embert, (MSZP-s) politikust hozhat nehéz helyzetbe, több személyt a vallomásának köszönhetően már gyanúsítottként kezelnek.")In particular there were details of million of forints often being sent through an acquaintance (Gyula) via taxi to Baja Ferenc (State Secretary, in charge of e-Gov in the Prime Minister's Office). Sometimes only a few million forints was sent, at other times, when the secretary himself went up to Kulcsár apartment, 30-50 million forints was taken. ("...számos alkalommal adott, vagy egy taxis ismerősével (a Gyula) küldött pénzt Baja Ferenc államtitkárnak, az MSZP volt pártigazgatójának. Volt, amikor csak kisebb összeget, néhány milló forintot küldött, de a vallomása szerint volt pálda arra is, amikor az államtitkár jött fel a lakására, hogy átvegyen tőle 30-50 millió forintot").Lots of other MSZP people are implicated in the scandal (e.g. Puch László...). Kulcsár's full depositions ("A Kulcsár-jegyzőkönyvek") can be found on the HVG website at: I did ask a question of your blogging companion ESBalogh on November 11th, but she neglected to reply to it. I wonder if you have any opinion on this, as it also relates to Kende Péter's statements and work:Quote start-----@esbalogh: As you believe Péter Kende to be " my opinion the best investigative journalist in Hungary", so you also agree with his views about corruption in MSZP and in particular the role of Gyurcsány and László Keller?In an interview for Index he was asked which three people need to be cleaned from public life, he offer two József Torgyán, well we know his fate, and...'...László Keller. It's insupportable that a person who was the Public Finance Minister placed three members of his own family into positions close to the party or those owned by the state. It is criminal that Gyurcsány never created a great stink out of this.' ("...Keller László. Tűr[...]

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