Two more opposition politicians accept positions from Hungary’s Fidesz

A growing number of left-centre opposition politicians in Hungary are wrapping up their careers as advocates of parliamentary democracy and constitutionalism and are instead accepting positions from the government that they have long argued is an authoritarian, illiberal regime. The Orbán government has named Alexandra Dobolyi of the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) Ambassador to Moldova. Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Péter Szijjártó met with Ms. Dobolyi, formerly a Member of the European Parliament and the chair of MSZP’s Foreign Affairs Secretariat, as well as the wife of former Socialist Finance Minister János Veres, and offered her the diplomatic posting in Chisinau, Moldova. She will take over from outgoing ambassador Mátyás Szilágyi in early 2017.

As the left-leaning Népszabadság daily noted, Ms. Dobolyi was once seen by some as MSZP’s “rising star.” Ms. Dobolyi, however, has long expressed an interest in foreign affairs and it was Hungary’s former Socialist Minister of Foreign Affairs, László Kovács, who lifted her from obscurity into  political life, starting in 1998. She began her MSZP career working for the Socialist caucus’s foreign policy office.

MSZP was furious after the appointment became public. “This is a regime which, through appointments and offers, tries to compromise the opposition,” read the party’s statement. “Anyone who accepts such an offer from Fidesz turns his or her back on the community, of which he or she was a member. We are disappointed, but the person involved has to first and foremost answer to her own conscience”–the Socialist party’s statement added.

Alexandra Dobolyi

Alexandra Dobolyi

The Hungarian Socialist Party is right and Fidesz has been remarkably successful in this regard. One day after news broke of Mr. Dobolyi’s appointment, we learned that another politician, a former Member of Parliament for the Politics Can Be Different green party (Lehet Más a Politika – LMP), Katalin Ertsey, has been offered a job as a diplomat. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade noted: “the ministry’s leadership sees foreign affairs as a portfolio of national significance–having served in the opposition is not a reason to exclude someone from this work.”

The Ministry also commented, in terms of Ms. Dobolyi’s appointment, that professional skills, education, experience and knowledge of foreign languages are deciding factors when it comes to appointments. Ms. Dobolyi speaks English and German at an advanced level and has a basic knowledge of Greek. In Moldova, of course, the official language is Romanian, but Russian and Ukrainian are also widely spoken and are official languages in some regions.

In any other context, a democratic government appointing respected and competent members of the opposition to foreign affairs portfolios would not be cause for surprise. But in Hungary, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó and his immediate predecessor Tibor Navracsics both had a track record of gutting the Ministry of career diplomats and bringing in Fidesz party hacks with no foreign policy credentials or experience. As such, there is little doubt that Fidesz’s political strategy is to gradually silence and compromise the opposition by bringing its key members into the government’s fold.

In addition to Ms. Dobolyi and Ms. Ertsey, we recently wrote about how prominent liberal politician and staunch Orbán-critic Mátyás Eörsi sought and received a nomination from the Orbán government, causing an uproar in opposition ranks.

Others from the opposition to cross over to Fidesz, after receiving appointments or nominations, include János Kóka, former chair of the now defunct Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), Lajos Mile of LMP, who was appointed Hungary’s consul general to Kolozsvár (Cluj) Romania, Ágnes Osztolykán also of LMP, who worked for the much maligned Soros Foundation, but is now an adviser in the Ministry of Human Resources, István Szentiványi, a founder of SZDSZ who continued to serve as ambassador to Slovenia, even after the Fidesz purge of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Katalin Szili, MSZP’s former nominee for President of Hungary in 2005 and long-standing prominent Socialist politician.

It always takes two to tango and it is clear that many opposition politicians, who were previously apoplectic about the authoritarian Orbán regime, are just as willing to be a part of it, when offered a position.

 

19 Comments

  1. Very disappointing, and repugnant. It really makes one ask oneself whether there is any point in trying to help restore justice and democracy in Hungary. Integrity seems to be falling into ever shorter supply.

  2. Maybe the “O” that is Hungary’s oppressor and opprobrium is not (just) O for Orbán but O for the predilection toward unprincipled Opportunism…

  3. Eszter Garai-Édler says:

    Like to draw your attention to the incontrovertibly catastrophic political situation in Hungary

  4. András B. Göllner says:

    I believe, that the job of restoring justice and democracy to Hungary belongs to people living in that country. It is the job of people in Canada, and elsewhere, to stop Hungary’s unjust, undemocratic system from making headways outside of the boundaries of that country.

    One of the obvious ways we can do OUR job, is to stop promoting Hungary’s Canadian Ambassador, Bálint Ódor, as the epitomy of political decency and virtue. Those in Ottawa, and across Canada, who are opening the doors for Mr Ódor, to the corridors of power across this land, are opening the doors of Canada, to Hungary’s rule of law violators. Our job is to remind our government, the moguls of Bay Street, like Peter Munk, and our fellow citizens, that Canada should be upholding the core values of the Euro-Atlantic Community, rather than helping those that break them.

  5. Isn’t this more confused messaging from the liberal camp? When a Fidesz party member gets appointed the government gets slammed for making political appointments. When they appoint from the opposition ranks they get slammed for, er, I’m not even sure what.

    Which is it?

    It seems like a good move in the right direction to me.

  6. Long live Israel!

  7. I love the values of the North Atlantic community. Welcoming the occupation of Palestinians.

  8. And when something goes wrong with them will the Fidesz blame the opposition?

  9. What a joy it is to watch this left-liberal mumbling about the rank-breakers, apparently unwilling to realize their complete insignificance – hilariously monty pythonish.

  10. András B. Göllner says:

    Trolls of the world unite, throw down your I-Pads and admit you’re insatiable appetite for deception. Your support of the affinity fraud being perpetuated upon Jews, Roma, Muslims and people of good faith is transparent to the naked eye. George Schöpflin, Orbán’s troll in the EU parliament suggests putting pig heads on the Orbán fence along Hungary’s southern border as a means of stopping the “Muslim tide”. I suggest, putting the comments of the HFP trolls in the toilet bowl to stop the foul, stench that’s being emitted by the representatives of the Party of “love and unity” in Canada. Their rendition of “The Embassy Blues” on behalf of Bálint Ódor is every music lovers turn-off.

  11. Pig head?

    Not a Hungarian invention, that happens regularly in other countries too. Admittedly, George Schöpflin went a bit too far. 🙂 Kind of bizarre.
    But, to each his own fear. Crazy. That guy is something. 🙂

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3370142/Two-pigs-heads-dumped-outside-Muslim-school-plans-build-mosque-site-sparks-protests.html

    same URL /news/article-3208356/Anti-Islam-group-severed-pig-heads-Muslim-citizens.html

    Looks like not everybody likes being raped by people of good fate.

    BTW. Can we mention Roma, Jews, and Muslim together as if they were the same? What is Orban antisemitism comparing with what the Muslims do to the Jews? What is Orban hate mongering comparing what the Islam does in Europe?

    I’m confused, I wish I knew who to love and respect. So many people of good fate all over the world.

  12. András B. Göllner says:

    @ Richard

    Your confusion is easily discernible by anyone who reads your comments. Your self admission of being in that state is to be applauded, because it’s so rare within the empire of the trolls. I’ll celebrate it by downing some of my home made dill pickles.

  13. András B. Göllner

    Am I troll? Who are off topic all the time here making offensive personal remarks instead of commenting the issue mentioned in the piece?

    I just speak my own mind. Sometimes I agree with the writer and I get a comment that I am Chris and I’m posting for myself, other times I disagree and I am a troll. Ridiculous. Really.

    But back to the topic again, my old bad habit. 🙂

    What happened here is happening in other governments too.

    Socialists say their members betrayed them.
    Fidesz says the MSZP infiltrated them.

    I say, what’s happening here?

    • The problem is NOT that you may disagree, the problem that makes you appear as a troll, is the constant barrage of garbage fake “news”, that you impose on others here. The forcing of your hateful “opinion”, this is not speaking your mind and you do not stay on topic either, as you often drift off rambling about refugees and Muslims. Get over yourself.

  14. “a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion,[3] often for their own amusement.
    @Richard, kind of like when I told you to stop spamming the comments with links to your favorite racist fake news sites, you said you would post more. Even indicated it was for your own amusement.

  15. András B. Göllner says:

    @ Liz Aucoin

    Thank you for taking the time to educate the troll as well as others like him. It needs to be done sometimes, and you did it convincingly, smartly as well as with style.

    It is, of course, very frustrating to have the agora filled with the sounds of meaningless chatter, the public sphere filled with discourse that belongs on the back of a toilet door, but alas, this comes with the territory. The way to keep brave, socially conscious, and serious blogs like this one alive, is to ignore the riff-raff, pinch the nose tight as we sidestep the doggy poo, and submit interesting comments in response to the main article. That’s what we need more of. That’s what we have far too little of.

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