The Patrimony

In politics, everything is relatives

Tag: Hungary

A futsal cabinet

by fpman

This story is just in from Hungary (in Hungarian). It’s not really a recent development but one that gradually evolved into how it stands at the moment.

The case concerns Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s new foreign minister who as of this stage has a significant part of his futsal (or indoors soccer) team in employment either by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade or by other state agencies.

The futsal club’s name is Dunakeszi Kinizsi, so named after a town to the north of the capital Budapest (Dunakeszi) and an historical figure (Kinizsi, a military commander in King Matthias’ service in the 15th century).

By now the following people are working for the futsal affairs, pardon me, the foreign affairs ministry of Hungary:

  • Szilárd Benkő is Szijjártó’s chief of cabinet. He does not have a higher education degree which raised some eyebrows when he got the job.
  • László Monspart, another team member, is also working in the ministerial cabinet.
  • Domonkos Andréka, a former executive of the futsal club, and an intern at the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office (also under Szijjártó) back in 2010, is by now chief of protocol at MiFAT.
  • Nortbert Temesi, a team member is working under his (Andréka’s) watch, at protocol.

And, as the article we quoted here makes it clear, there are yet others from Dunakeszi Kinizsi in different positions across the Hungarian government.

Minister Szijjártó must firmly believe that people who make for an effective team in futsal can transport that performance to a whole different environment even in the absence of prior experience or training that is relevant to the field in question. In terms of nepotism, they are already scoring high – one has to wait to see how they fare in diplomacy.

futsalteamThe cabinet: the two figures circled are Szijjártó (centre) and Andréka (second from right).

Quote of the day, from Hungary

by fpman

So the head of the Hungarian national tax authority, Ms Ildikó Vida is facing some serious allegations of corruption these days. Given that she is the head of the state authority collecting a good part of Hungary’s citizens’ earnings and that this is legitimized through the state’s supposed capacity to create public good, it is slightly concerning that she might be involved in creating some private good, and consequently some public bad instead. Such allegations have emerged earlier on from domestic Hungarian sources, and now the U.S. government considers her corrupt, too, and has recently banned her from travelling to the United States.

When it first surfaced that this may be the case, Vida disappeared went on a holiday for a while. In the meantime, the Hungarian government threw in the “Russian defence” to protect her, framing their response as defending Hungary’s sovereignty from foreign intrigue. They claimed that those accusing Vida and ruling circles in general of corruption are working to undermine the sovereignty of Hungary, and that the sovereign Hungarian people will proudly defend their right to pick their leaders who can then sovereignly pick the people to serve as head of the country’s sovereign tax authority.

When news came of the definitive confirmation of Vida’s banning from the U.S., she came back from holiday and felt it was time to talk to some sovereign government-friendly press. Which is the point where she gave us our quote of the day. Promising to fight hard, she said:

“I am a tigress type, and I have two families: one my closest family and the other, NAV [Hungary’s national tax authority] itself.”

We think this is pretty amazing. When one regards one’s office as a family affair that is perhaps slightly incompatible with a desire to refute allegations of corruption. At the very least in terms of one’s communication. But who are we to tell that to a sovereign family’s sovereign mother… and as this article reveals she doesn’t speak English so writing this is of no use, anyway.

VidaThe eye of the tigress: Ildikó Vida at work

The Varholíková-Rezešová case

by fpman

We are operating here under the radical assumption that politicans, decision-makers, and their relatives are people, too. This allows us to easily accomodate the notion that from time to time these people may commit reckless deeds just like other people sometimes do, too.

Eva Varholíková-Rezešová, daughter of former Slovak minister of transport, Alexander Rezeš, has just been handed a jail sentence of nine years by a Hungarian appeals court for something of exactly this kind. On August 21, 2012, in a freak accident, she drove her BMW X5 into a Fiat Punto from the rear on a highway in Hungary, causing the other car to flip over, and go up in flames. Three of the passangers traveling in that car died instantly – a fourth victim died at the hospital.

Even though she was driving well in excess of the speed limit, and was under the influence of alcohol at the time, her defence experts did a good job, and did all that they could to present it as an extremely complex issue whether she was to blame for what happened – or if the Fiat Punto’s deceased driver may have failed to give way to her BMW, while attempting to take over a truck, leaving Varholíková-Rezešová with not enough time to decelerate and/or evade as she was speeding towards the spot in question, in the inside lane.

To deal with the crucial issue of driving under the influence, the defence at various points suggested that Varholíková-Rezešová may have taken medication containing alcohol and that she drank vodka only after the accident.

Notable as these, presumably well-paid, efforts by the defence team, seeking acquittal of the client, may be, the other side of the coin is interesting, too.

Vilifying, even demonizing, a millionaire foreign celebrity, such as Eva Varholíková-Rezešová, for putting to death by fire four citizens of one’s country, speaking from a position of authority, may seem a surefire way of gaining some popularity. When the primary court originally dealing with the case sentenced Varholíková-Rezešová to six years, at the same time ruling that she be placed from detention to under house arrest whilst waiting for the appeals court’s decision, Antal Rogán, parliamentary faction leader of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party publicly criticized the decision in the strongest terms. Interestingly enough, in the wake of his statement, the ruling on house arrest was reverted back to imprisonment, questioning, in the eyes of some, the independence of the Hungarian judiciary, even as no one really seemed to disagree with the decision to send Varholíková-Rezešová to jail.

It is also noteworthy that Varholíková-Rezešová was largely framed in Hungarian press coverage as “Slovak” or at least as a “Slovak citizen,” with her strong Hungarian roots rarely mentioned.

Press coverage in Slovakia was no less hostile towards her. This article dated August 23, 2012 already declared, immediately in the wake of the accident:

“The consequences in Hungary could be much greater than they may have been had the accident happened in Slovakia, where the highly affluent Rezes family are widely believed to have a lot of influence.”

The late Alexander Rezeš was “a right hand man” to former Slovak Prime Minister Vladimír Mečiar and oversaw the privatization of major state assets – making money along the way in the opinion of more than one critic. The story of that speeding BMW of destruction is now seamlessly woven into this narrative.

No wonder the Hungarian judge handing down the sentence is now very popular with many in both Hungary and Slovakia for her clearly worded closing remarks, addressed directly to Varholíková-Rezešová – full with a punchline befitting Horatio Caine of CSI: Miami. Quoting Judge Sarolta Stubeczky:

“You have stated that nothing is ever going to be the same as before. This you should not feel sorry for.”

HoratioCaineCSI’s title song instantly plays in my head when I think of this: “and pray we don’t get fooled again.” Meaning… I forgot.