Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Hungarian Election is rapidly approaching. Though the Fidesz Party is expected to easily win - perhaps even with a two thirds super-majority - the campaign period up to the election will nonetheless be a bloodbath. Hungarians will shed their apathetic masks just long enough to sling sh*t at each other for two months (sorry to swear, but there is no better description).

As with any campaign, massive amounts of money is spent on advertisements. The first of these started appearing after the holiday season. MSzP (the Magyar Szocialista Párt), the party currently in power, has been running a series of baseball-card-style ads in which they show a portrait style photo of a politician (or two, or three), their name, and the party emblem all in front of a red, white and green striped background (the flag of Hungary - essentially an Italian flag turned horizontal). The design is quite simple and makes no mention of any platform or role the politician on display might hold, not even the word 'szocialista' is written out.
I took the above photograph a few weeks ago, after a few days of snow had left a quiet blanket over the city. It was still early in the election season (Hungary does not have a long, drawn out, eighteen month marathon but a quick, bloody six week battle), but Hungarians were still making sure their opinion was seen, and not heard. You may notice that the faces in the billboard above are pocked with snowballs.
Today I returned to the scene on my way to work (actually, I return almost every weekday). The snow has melted, but bright yellow paint was left in its place. Along the mens' chests, someone had spray-painted "HÁZA ÁRULÓK" - 'national traitors,' or more literally 'traitors of their own home.' By the time I walked home, the political advertisement was gone, an advert for Aldi's weekly special on chicken meat in its place.

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