Hungarian Government Just Won’t Stop PR Offensive Against Opposition Protest

The Hungarian government just won’t stop the PR offensive against the opposition protest being organized for October 23. This time, a government-paid PR employee’s sexist writing about it got tastelessly personal and nasty.

The anti-government demonstration on October 23 is expected to be the largest mass protest staged against the government of Viktor Orbán and his party Fidesz since its election in 2010. The organizers expect to surpass the magical 100,000 mark in attendance. The protest coincides with Hungary’s day of remembrance of the outbreak of a historic event: this year, Hungary celebrates the 55th anniversary of the 1956 revolution.

At first, the government tried to counter the mass gathering by registering its own protest only a few hundred meters away from the opposition’s rally. This raised serious safety concerns, and made no sense whatsoever – plenty of other locations could have served much better to accommodate a pro-government rally, whereas the closeness of the two crowds brought back memories of violence during the 50th anniversary celebration of October 23 in 2006.

Those planning to attend the opposition rally thus complained about governmental intimidation tactics, while the organizers tried to enter into mediation with the representatives of the governing party at the police headquarters. After getting nowhere in answering the practical questions of how to secure the safety of tow crowds easily mixing while protesting either for or against the government in such proximity, the organizers of the anti-government rally moved back their event. Instead of 4 p.m., they are going to start their protest at 3 p.m., so as to prevent the two crowds from having to access (and depart from) the two locations simultaneously.

Then, having made most everything uncertain for at least 100,000 citizens who are still planning to exercise their free speech rights and attend the anti-government rally, the government cancelled its protest. As it turns out, Viktor Orbán is due at an extraordinarily important EU summit this Sunday afternoon. Karma, as they say, is [not nice]: this is what it feels like finding out that someone scheduled over your event.

Furthermore, not only Mr. Orbán, but most other Fidesz state officials are going to be abroad on Oct. 23, so a replacement speaker turned out to be difficult to locate. It looks as if this year’s celebration of Oct. 23 occasioned a veritable exodus of Fidesz dignitaries. Pál Schmitt, Hungary’s President is going to give a speech about 1956 in Vienna’s Stephansdom, while László Kövér, the president of the parliament is set to celebrate Oct. 23 in the company of Brazilian-Hungarians in Sao Paulo.

The Facebook group responsible for organizing the protest, One Million for the Freedom of the Press in Hungary (in Hungarian newspapers, they go by the abbreviation EMS) has been jubilant ever since the government’s announcement of canceling their rally. They have intensified their roll-out of video clips in which well-known public figures as well as everyday people tell the viewers about their own reasons for attending the protest.

EMS also published a video version of the song which by now is very familiar to the viewers of these clips, called “Nem tetszik a rendszer” (Don’t Like the System). “Nem tetszik a rendszer” is the official name of the protest, its generality signifies the all-inclusiveness of the crowd that is to gather at the Pest side of Erzsébet Bridge on Sunday. At first, the Facebook supporters of the cause wanted to reach 100,000 views on, but they are well above 140,000 by now. It gives a wonderful sense of the energy and the enthusiasm that motivates the protesters – it’s absolutely worth seeing (you might have to click on CC for the English subtitles if they do not automatically appear, the cuts to random faces are from the interviews mentioned above):

But the woman seen in the video, Dorottya Karsay, who is credited both for the vocals and the lyrics of the song and has become the public face of the protest also received a “love letter” published on a Hungarian website, mandiner.hu, by a certain “robin masters.”

“Dear Dorottya, you are fairly cute,” the letter starts out, and in true misogynist fashion, it jumps immediately to the abuse. “But you are also both very well-mannered and unbearably irritating, and it is a very-very sorry thing that you are so unnecessarily and nastily affected.”

As far as the friends mentioned in the lyrics of the song, who are considering emigrating in their disillusionment with the system, “they won’t be much better appreciated in the Penny Market of a south-London suburb either,” says the letter writer. Regarding Dorottya’s concern that her degree won’t be worth a thing he writes that “perhaps you should not have picked the humanities,” because “there is a career expo at Corvinus, ” (Budapest’s famous business school).

Ms. Karsay is in fact in the humanities or a related field. Media outlets affiliated with the right have already looked into her profile given her prominent role in Sunday’s protest: she was involved in the legal monitoring of Gyöngyöspata, while the town’s Romani were harassed by extreme-right militias, and she also works with mentally disabled children.

“Though you had an inkling, not even a small one, that [your degree] really is not worth sh*t, it was comfortable and easy, and you did not even try to put together a more reasonable plan,” continues the letter. So, while already on Dorottya’s “easiness,” and given that her song has so many complaints about how she might get by in the future, the author of the letter thinks it appropriate to make her a proposal. “My offer is for a satisfying time spent in company on the next gloomy afternoon of Sunday, though before then, you should really clarify for yourself the nature of your relationship with the infernal cretin who appears at 2:20 [in the video]” ends the letter.

There’s much more vulgar and derogatory in the letter, but it’s not really worth quoting: it is not exactly good writing. Its author has certainly written better . He is employed in a managerial position in the  PR department of the Hungarian Ministry of Public Administration and Justice. He is 27, his name is Gergely Böszörményi Nagy, and he is in charge of developing campaigns for the media representation of the Hungarian government. He was identified as the author of the pseudonymous post because he was proudly accepting congratulations for the writing from his friends on Facebook. According to his bio, Böszörményi Nagy was also a recipient of a fellowship from the US Department of State, and while there, he “spent months at the highly recognized Mercury Public Affairs of Washington, DC as a guest consultant, working for Republican gubernatorial campaigns from Virginia to New Jersey.” Doing not just any work: as another bio states, “he was a political campaign advisor in the USA in 2009″ – because political campaign advising is precisely the kind of work Chris Christie and the GOP would typically need from a 25-year-old visitor from Hungary.

Böszörményi Nagy is a founding member of Mandiner, an internet news aggregator and which is well-known for the participation of its bloggers in the government’s PR services. The owner of the website, Ákos Gergely Balogh maintains Viktor Orbán’s personal webpage.

In response to the public outrage caused by his post (the letter managed to upset even those who otherwise would have never supported the organizers of the protest), Böszörményi Nagy told journalists that he advocated his opinions as a blogger and private individual. This is incredibly ironic because, according to the new labor law that the Hungarian government accepted as its official legislative proposal just this Thursday, employees should be prohibited from engaging in behavior which contributes directly or indirectly to forming incorrect judgments about the employer, or which endangers the goal which the employment relationship is supposed to serve.

So, did Mr. Böszörményi Nagy’s behavior reflect negatively on his employer and were his actions contrary to his job of making the government popular? You can let your opinion known by e-mailing lakossag@kim.gov.hu (which is the e-mail address where the “populace” may contact the Hungarian Ministry of Public Administration and Justice - the protest organizers also ask you to cc: them at szamizdat2010@gmail.com ). If Böszörményi Nagy’s fabulous career in the US is any indication, they speaks English there, so please don’t hold back.

Even more importantly, if you are in Budapest, there are two protests to attend this weekend. On Saturday, there is a protest against the appointment of far-right supporter György Dörner as director of Új Színház, from 3 to 5 p.m. at Paulay Ede u. 35 (across from the Hungarian State Opera). On Sunday, “Don’t Like the System” starts at 3 p.m. on the Pest side of Erzsébet Bridge. There will be a live blog of the Sunday protest on The Contrarian Hungarian blog. If you can remember to send photos and updates to thecontrarianhungarian@gmail.com, I’d really appreciate it – last time I tried this, there were no photos to be found of the crowd to be found anywhere in the Hungarian media until the protest was already over!

You could also support the protest by donating to the costs of organizing the protest. You can send your money to the organizers at:

Torsa Mátyás
Raiffeisen bank
(from Hungary:) 12010628-00161334-00100005
(from abroad:) (IBAN): HU 79 1201 0628 0016 1334 0010 0005

They also have a Paypal account, which you can access at:
http://nemtetszikarendszer.blog.hu/2011/10/19/tamogasd_a_rendszerkritika
see Paypal “Donate” button in the right-side column.

Be safe and loud at the protest, everyone!

This entry was posted in Hungary. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Hungarian Government Just Won’t Stop PR Offensive Against Opposition Protest

  1. Wondercat says:

    Fantastic post. Thank you. — Wondercat

  2. Rigo Jancsi says:

    Thanks for this post. The Fidesz-people are bullies, and as usual, bullies are not really the brightest. In contrast, the EMS has rolled out a great promotion. Right from the first demonstrations against the press law, they have shown that they have a sincere goal AND they pursue it in a very professional manner. You can tell that there are media profis at work.

    It’s hard to send pictures when you’re in the middle of the crowd, without an “okos” telephone… :-)

  3. Gretchen Dunn says:

    Thanks! And I assume everyone reading this understands the reference to “gloomy afternoon of Sunday” to the famous ‘suicide song’ from the 30′s? So Böszörméni Nagy is suggesting she should kill herself! Unfortunately the link didn’t work, so I don’t know the ‘infernal cretin’ that appears at 2:2O in the clip.

  4. Gretchen Dunn says:

    Link just worked and I see that the singer/writer herself references ‘Gloomy Sunday’. And Nagy doesn’t like the anger of ”the cretin”. I liked very much the lines about taking responsibility for your actions.

  5. Pete H. says:

    Great post!
    There are also references to Deak, Petofi’s “János Vitéz” and “Talpra, magyar!”.
    Although in the captions they substitute Romeo for Vitez.

    From the captions:

    I don’t like it that I feel worse and worse in my country
    I don’t like it that all my friends and relatives are about to leave this place
    I don’t like it that no one is feeling whole and everyone is scared
    I don’t like it that the poor pay for everything
    I don’t like it, I really don’t, that the autumn leaves start to fall
    I don’t like it that my degree is worth nothing at all
    I don’t like it that every single day is gloomy, not just Sundays
    I don’t like it that they make stupid mistakes in my name

    I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like the system (repeat)
    I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like the whole thing (repeat)
    I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like the system (repeat)
    I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like the whole thing (repeat)

    I don’t like it that I feel worse and worse in my country
    I don’t like it that all my friends and relatives are about to leave this place
    I don’t like it that no one is feeling whole and everyone is scared
    I don’t like it that the poor pay for everything
    I don’t like it, I really don’t, that the autumn leaves start to fall
    I don’t like it that my degree is worth nothing at all
    I don’t like it that every single day is gloomy, not just Sundays
    I don’t like it that they make stupid mistakes in my name

    I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like the system (repeat)
    I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like the whole thing (repeat)
    I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like the system (repeat)
    I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like the whole thing (repeat)

    Thesis, antithesis every party has already shoved itself down our throats.
    The state goes and grabs the gun, hand you the bill, but the country finds no invoice
    They tell us, what’s the word, what’s the truth, what you should do, and what makes you Hungarian.
    And you can hardly take it?
    The”Get out!” and alike stool and urine should be the past.
    It’s you who should say what democracy should look like.
    Join the community of opposition, get started and put an end to this.
    Whether you have a voice or not, you should not be killed.
    Cos this whole thing is lame, it ain’t fun for anyone.
    We have few eskimos, and few seals, it’s not compensation and not solace,
    it is not a finished product or earthly goods;
    Let’s say, movement, Deak, Demo version!

    This should be the national standard!
    Not folk tradition, bribery, Tokaj wine or Unicum.
    They do not reach the standards, messing up, all the shit, covering it up, visceral, fallow, corruption-Hungaricum. (repeat)

    I like it when everyone does what they are supposed to do
    I like it when everyone takes their own responsibility
    I like it when politicians don’t blame others for their own mistakes
    I like it when they give us a chance to make a living
    I like it when there is hope, there is intention and we act
    I like it when no one takes to the streets, ‘cos there’s no need
    I like it when I enjoy life with all of you
    I like it when we leave all our fears behind

    I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like the system (repeat)
    I don’t like, I don’t like, I don’t like the whole thing (repeat)

    So you don’t like the system?
    Protest!

    The time has come, it’s now or never.
    It’s not important, who is stupid,
    It’s not important, who is clever,
    You are all different, not hungover,
    And you nothing but potential.
    A lot is missing, but the over-abundance is even more,
    You too have meaning,
    There should be joy and less hurting.
    Who cares, who screwed up what?
    Just let the anger go.
    Peace is here so act,
    Luck or misfortune – right or left, let it end.
    Don’t stab back Romeo, Julia will think you’re a fucking idiot.
    Revenge sucks and it’s bloody long,
    You shouldn’t feel so bad for so long.

  6. vb says:

    “considering immigrating” that should be “considering emigrating,” shouldn’t it?

  7. Tamas says:

    Indeed, the text contains a lot of references that won’t be understandable to a foreigner. I guess the most important is the title of the whole demonstration: maybe some other Hungarian will disagree, but for me that’s a clear reference to a proverb going back to socialist times: “Don’t you like the system? Make a revolution!”. (It was said to someone complaining, and the message was either to shut up or to solve the problem.)

    Another textual remark: line 2 in the translation reads “leave this place”. The Hungarian expression there is stronger than “emigrating” (cf. remark of vb). The verb “disszidal” was used during socialism to refer to people who illegally emigrated for political or economic reasons, without the hope of ever coming back. For me, the use of this word is anachronistic, if you refer to people who nowadays go abroad to work or who follow their foreign partners, knowing that they can return to Hungary any time, without any consequences. For me, the choice of this expression alludes to that the author of the text (rightly) thinks that Hungary is moving back in time, toward “socialistoid” conditions.

  8. Pingback: LIVE BLOG: “Don’t Like the System? – Protest!” Demonstration; Budapest | The Contrarian Hungarian

  9. Pingback: Hungarian Opposition Group Harassed by Tax Authority | The Contrarian Hungarian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s