An unassuming potted plant (see below) below found herself in the middle of a political power struggle on Thursday. Frightened Fidesz councilors used her as a shield against the opposition, after the bloodthirsty non-Fidesz councilors became the majority and threatened to vote.
Fideszniks clearly have no clue how to handle this democracy thing. Or why they even should. Fidesz MPs are no longer picked by Orbán for their ability to act like it’s a democracy, or even to be able to act out a debate with a powerless opposition. They have clearly lost patience with even pretending. Since the last elections they silence opposition MPs in parliament, fine them, switch off their microphones, kick them out of committees, or reschedule votes to keep them away. On a local level, they are even more amusing.
The local Fidesz representatives of Szombathely have locked themselves in the meeting room in panic, blocking the door with a potted plant, after they lost their majority in the town council on February 28. According to the live feed on nyugat.hu they have been waiting for their Fidesz MP to arrive from Budapest to tell them what to do.
Not even a single opposition motion shall pass against Orbán’s will, apparently, not even if the Fideszniks have lost their majority and can’t help being voted down. That is clearly not a good enough excuse in front of their higher-ups.
This is the mental state of the country in 2019.
The Fidesz councilors were so frightened, they didn’t allow the meeting to proceed at first, then they spent a long time blabbering about migration – which is not even an issue. Not in Szombathely, nor in the whole of Hungary. The opposition wanted to discuss corruption, transparency, political influence in the media, and – most importantly – the budget was also on the agenda that day.
It wasn’t the first time though that Fidesz councilors refused to play democracy. Before the Thursday vote, they regularly stayed away from council meetings altogether to render them invalid. But in January Fidesz lost the deputy mayor (during the vote against the local implementation of the so-called “slave law”). They then tried to remove him for the “betrayal” (because voting against the party line is unthinkable among Fidesz democrats) but they failed. So on Thursday, the Fidesz majority was lost and the opposition stood to pass some motions, even to interfere with the budget.
So the potted plant happened.
After the door blockade the meeting resumed and the opposition gleefully passed a number of motions, including transparency drives such as including non-Fidesz representatives on the public procurement committee. Which means there wasn’t one before.
They also discussed corruption, like the poor quality LED streetlights the town bought from Orbán’s son-in-law despite having no need for them, and incurring massive debt. (Orbán’s son-in-law’s street light racket, Elios, had been investigated and exposed by OLAF, but never investigated in Hungary. Instead, the Orbán-government agreed to repay the disputed 12 million euros to the EU, just to avoid European prosecution. Szombathely was one of the towns ripped off.)
The Fidesz MP (who arrived in the meantime) had only one thing to say about everything: that the non-Fidesz councilors are pro-migrant traitors. That was his official reaction to the Elios-discussion as well, while the Fidesz-fraction of Szombathely issued a press release with the title “The pro-migrant opposition is conducting a political purge“. They didn’t react to what was spoken, just kept repeating “migrant” and “traitor”. The meeting was adjourned at 11PM, and they didn’t discuss the budget. Fidesz won time until March 13 to regain their majority and composure. And possibly to take vengeance.
The potted plant is reportedly fine and returned to its peaceful daily routine of gathering dust after the ordeal.
UPDATE 6 March – The deputy mayor who “betrayed” Fidesz by voting against the introduction of the so-called “slave law” in his town has been punished. He was the reson Fidesz lost majority for the above mentioned council meeting. The Fidesz mayor couldn’t fire him because the new opposition majority voted it down at the famous “potted plant” council meeting, but he could take away the deputy mayor’s salary. So he did.
That’s how we roll these days. Meet Fidesz, Hungary’s savior from the EU.