The Hungarian Two-tailed Dog Party is known by many people mainly thanks to its anti-government poster campaigns, for which it collected more than HUF 30 million in donations last year. “Dog posters” have begun popping up again ahead of the October 2 migrant referendum. President and founder Gergő Kovács tells what it’s all about.
How many posters will the party (Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt, MKKP) have and what are the messages?
We printed 100,000 in A4 and A3 sizes and in 27 versions but there will be more. Our main goal is trying to mock the government’s fear campaign by showing that actually you can be afraid of almost anything. This is why we have a poster that states how many bear attacks there were in the 16th century and how many people died in Mongolia last year after tripping on a banana skin. Other posters illustrate how easy it is to influence opinions if we only present facts from a single point of view. The government is trying to pose every migrant as a potential terrorist. This is why we made a poster that says: “Did you know? The most corruption is committed by politicians.” This does not mean that all politicians are corrupt, even if it sometimes looks like that. Finally, we have posters presenting facts that seem to be avoiding the Prime Minister’s attention, like for example there is a war going on in Syria. We even have messages that are simply trying to create a better atmosphere in the country, such as “Did you know? Life is beautiful.”
How serious are you about turning against the government?
I think that we are doing an important job. The government is spending fortunes to spread hate and this will have unbelievably bad effects for the whole nation. We would be happy if the referendum would result in being invalid, and we are so serious about this that we would like to submit as many invalid votes as possible.
Do you think there is a realistic chance of this?
Opinion polls show that about 50-60% of the population are planning to vote. If 500,000 people submit an invalid vote, then we can prevent four million valid votes.
Is MKKP planning to enter the parliamentary election in 2018? Would you like to win, or is your goal more about showing how serious you are about your activity?
Of course we want to win. Finally this is exactly why you found a party: to win elections. We will have enough candidates and I am not worried about collecting the number of required signatures either. However, working in Parliament is not really our final goal, it’s just a tool, same as painting the cracks in the asphalt or the weathered benches in the city. We have finished eight benches along the Nagykörút (Grand Boulevard), and if we could reach 1-2% at the elections, one day we could renovate all the benches along the Nagykörút and build a roof over all the bus stops where the planner “supposedly” forgot to [using the financial support provided by the state for parties entering the elections. The MKKP cobbled together a temporary roof for a bus stop in District VIII that had been constructed for a lot of money but the designers only built three little metal plates as an inefficient “roof”.]
Wouldn’t it be your primary goal to get into Parliament and carry on your political activities from the opposition?
That is not for us to decide. We will enter the elections and see whether we get 2% or 97% of the votes.
What will be the essence of your campaign?
Probably “Eternal life – Free beer – Tax reduction for everyone”. Or maybe: “Let’s build a space station in Felcsút [the home village of the Prime Minister].” We are looking for land to rent there, since we always keep our promises. So at a point of time there will be free beer as well.
What exactly are you planning in Felcsút?
Our explicit goal is a space station. As the first step we would like to launch the skin of a two-tailed dog into space. We will see what’s next. However, this is a very important issue, since this small village is completely underestimated and neglected. First we will build our space station on the rented land, and then when we have won the elections, we will move it to the local stadium.
How many “passivists” do you have?
Actually, everyone is our passivist, they are just not aware. We just started to organise a club about discussing the problems in the city and even finding solutions. Fifty to 100 people are continuously working with us and more than 1000 people volunteered for the poster campaign. So there are many of us. I am especially happy about the fact and I also think that it’s very important that everyone is working for us free of charge. Even the lawyers are working pro bono. The only expenses we have are operating expenses. I think this is very important, since we only want people among us who think what we are doing is important and for whom it’s not about money.
This sounds a lot like a civil organisation.
Yes, partly it is. We are also working together with a lot of civil organisations. For example, you best ask the civil organisation when there are still problems with accessibility throughout the city for people in wheelchairs. I think this is also very important, since the other parties are very distanced from the civil organisations. There are many reasons why that happened but there is nobody, either in the Parliament or in the general political scene, who would represent the civil organisations. I am very happy that we are still in a situation where we can keep up our co-operation with these organisations.
Do you think society needs a party like MKKP?
The fact that 4000 people wired money to us proves they must think what we do is good and important. The Hungarian political scene is going in a terrible direction, it’s all about which party should you hate the most. When I founded the dog party in 2006 it was all about mocking the promises. I remember that there was a promise-counter set up on index.hu and the party that made the most promises in their electoral campaign won. Today it’s not the same anymore. Today even the government is not making any promises anymore. The last electoral campaign was titled “We will continue this way”. They did not promise even such a popular thing as cutting the utility costs. Today politics is about getting the most people to vote against somebody and this is why every party is striving to make the other ones objects of hatred in the eyes of the voters. We do want to stay out of all that. My aim is not to make people hate Fidesz or MSZP even more than before. I think it would be much more important that people could discuss things again and the atmosphere in the country would finally improve and change back to normal. At the moment they are spending tremendous amounts of money for raising hatred.
What would happen if you managed to get into Parliament? Would there be a possible coalition partner for you?
We would not like to form a coalition with any of the current parties. Maybe we should found a few more parties until that time, so that we get a number of possible coalition partners.
What would be the first law you would introduce?
Absolute and general tax cutting, of course. Taxes must be decreased to zero and the Parliament must move to the Cayman Islands immediately. It simply costs too much for the representatives to commute between their home town and Budapest, so everyone should be living there. The most important thing would be probably that Parliament should move as far away as possible.
Is there any law that you as a private person consider as insufferable?
I have more problems with how the system works. The government operates based on layer-populism. The two to three million people who voted for Fidesz once are asked for their opinion, what they want and how their mood is. The government bases its policy on these people. If let’s say for example 40% of society hates gay people, then within this group their ratio is probably 90%. The situation is the same in the case of the refugees. When the crisis began last year the opinion surveys were showing a completely different picture. However, these two to three million people were surely already thinking, “Stupid refugees!”. Since the government is targeting its electoral campaign and its poster campaign solely for this group of people financed from a whole lot of money, the whole society is influenced to turn in this direction and think this way. I think the most serious problem is that there is a permanent search going on for an enemy. Everything went great while the opposition could fill the role of this enemy. Everything was blamed on the MSZP, however there was not a lot of damage done by that. In the meantime the opposition became so boring that they had to look for new enemies, ranging from gay people, homeless people, drug addicts, the European Union, banks, foreign companies and so on – the list goes on and on and on. Viktor Orbán is the happiest person about the refugee crisis. You can see his face lighting up once he found a new object for hate. You might say that it was a lucky twist of fate that Orbán directed the hate of people on such a group, with whom we are not coming into contact. Refugees are not beaten up in Hungary, simply because there are none.
How do you want to stop the hatred within society? This sounds like a really huge thing to do.
Yes, but that is the key to everything. The government still has not managed to completely destroy society, there are still millions of people who are thinking differently and this is why I think that our campaign is important. This helps people see and present that there are still a lot of people who managed to stay normal.
You could almost say that the MKKP is something like the good conscience of the society. What do you think about that?
Yes, perhaps it really comes down to that a little bit. But it’s really a serious problem that the parties in the opposition don’t seem to be able to give an answer to the things done by the government. Among other things this is one of the reasons why we started this new poster campaign. It looks like the other parties are simply confused by the refugee crisis and they are just speaking about it in a confused way. I would actually be happy if we could be the good conscience of the country, of course.
Is that your plan?
Now this is how the situation evolved. It’s important to realise that politics is not only about telling who should we currently hate for what, and the government should not be keeping itself busy with only bringing out the worst of more and more people. They are going to continue the same thing right up to the elections. There are about two million people today who are accepting this hate campaign in a good way. If the government goes on like this, there could be even three or four million by the elections. And then we will be living in a country where everyone hates everyone. Something has to be done to prevent that.
It’s easy to criticise but can MKKP also deliver some solutions?
It depends on what we are talking about. In the case of the refugee problem, this is not about refugees but the phenomenon that Viktor Orbán created from this topic. As a short-term solution we started our own campaign. Regarding the question of the quota, namely whether 1300 people should be received in Hungary or not, one thing is for sure: there must be at least so much humanity in a country that this is not a question at all. In addition, the war in Syria must end. We have already ordered tanks and we will clarify that next. We would also like to enter the next elections in Syria, but it seems there will be no chance to do that in the near future.
The MKKP is often described as a mockery of a party. What do you think about that?
This is a misbelief! I don’t know why they call us that. We are no funnier than any other party.
Not a lot of parties state that they want to attack another country with tanks…
Ok, then, sometimes we do make jokes. However, that does not make our goals any less serious.
Don’t you see that as a disadvantage? Won’t all this have a negative effect on your political success at some point?
The fact that we are making jokes? I don’t know, I think that this is rather a positive thing. For sure, there must be voters who are taking us less seriously due to the jokes. However, with time they will also see that they have been wrong.
Do you think other parties have reason to be afraid of you?
No, I would not like anyone to be afraid of us. The referendum will prove to what extent we are able to influence things. I would be really happy if the end result would be invalid. If we can contribute just a little bit to that result, I am sure Fidesz won’t really be happy about it.
Where do you see the MKKP within the system of parties?
Rather outside and over the system. Basically we are a demagogic, populist central party. However, we are not a second version of Fidesz. Fidesz is not populist enough for that. The Publicus Institute has just concluded a survey that shows clearly that the majority of the population does not want a referendum about the quota. So it’s absolutely clear that Fidesz is interested in layer-populism, while we are focusing on total populism.
How do you see Fidesz at the moment?
It’s gradually losing the voters who think that morality is an important question. A party that includes a Zsolt Bayer in its intellectual elite has to calculate with the consequences at some point. I can imagine that they would be even able to win an election like that, but in the long term this will even hurt Fidesz. They are dragging the country more and more to the right. I can still remember when we were on a talk show together with a Jobbik representative, and the Jobbik representative said that they don’t even need an electoral campaign anymore, since Fidesz already put everything on their posters.
As you mentioned television, how is your relationship with the state media?
We have no relationship with them at all. We know from people working there that we can’t be mentioned on state media, but it’s also clear to see. We simply don’t appear on public TV or in state news agency MTI. Quite often news about us appears on BBC or Euronews without the Hungarian public television mentioning it ever. This is interesting especially because probably a lot of tax income is invested in the public operating company MTVA. I can imagine what would be reported about us. Once we would be mentioned on M1, Chancellery leader Lázár would say that the government posters are cheaper, when our posters cost only a third of those ordered by the government.
How are you planning to keep up renovating benches and beautifying public spaces?
This is our main profile. Unfortunately we don’t have time for it at the moment due to our poster campaign, but from October on we will continue. For me personally this is the most important part of the work that we do. More and more passivists are coming to join us, and I think it’s very important that a party do something together with its activists, something that has sense and is fun and is making the city more beautiful. As far as I can tell, the other parties have a problem with this, namely keeping their activists busy. Clearly, when there is an electoral campaign going on it’s easy to find work for the activists, but when there is none… When for example some activists from the countryside apply at the party they are simply told: “Organise some discussion forums.” They do that about twice and then they are out of breath and that’s it. Although I told you something else before, for me the elections are not the main focus at all. For me the most important thing is our club, where people who want to do something meaningful are finding a place, where they can do something meaningful.