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A slip of the tongue

July 22nd, 2011

There is little sympathy in the media for the Fidesz MP who boasted that towns and villages which want to succeed in their applications for public funds should be on good terms with him.

József Balázs, Fidesz deputy for the Gyöngyös constituency in north-central Hungary first denied the alleged comments, made to Oszkár Juhász, the newly elected radical right-wing mayor of  the ethnically-troubled village of Gyöngyöspata. Then Mr Juhász produced a tape-recording of their phone conversation, in which the Fidesz MP can be heard threatening to prevent him receiving public funds for his projects. The tape represents quite a coup for the new mayor, and is deeply embarrassing for Fidesz. The deputy has now been criticised by the floor leader of Fidesz János Lázár, for “not having put things right.” Mr Lázár said there would be no political discrimination in allotting state subsidies.

In the left wing daily Népszava, József Veress suggests however, that the unfortunate MP expressed what amounts to a nationwide practice. “Fidesz works like a company in which local managers are supposed to produce profit.” The affair will inevitably “arouse compassion towards the victim,” that is, the mayor and his party, the left wing commentator predicts, adding that the radical right wing Jobbik party already has too much support among the inhabitants of Gyöngyöspata.

András Stumpf, an award-winning young commentator at the moderately conservative Heti Válasz believes Mr Balázs should resign. All attempts at protecting him, on the grounds that his words have been quoted out of context, are doomed to failure. It is up to Fidesz to decide whether they will bite that particular bullet, or will instead dodge the issue, “by wishing fruitful co-operation with all parties concerned.” If that happens, Stumpf suggests, “then there will have been no progress at all in the World….and let us not be quite that cynical.”

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