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The pollsters Medián scored a coup in our civil war-struck political environment. They managed to unite government and opposition parties in Hódmezovásárhely against them.

That's no mean achievement. This temporary ceasefire was inspired by some questions that Medián asked in a survey. They asked the opinion of residents of the Fidesz bastion on the southern Plain whether they could imagine János Lázár, the city's mayor, or his Socialist opponent, Pál Bacsa "behaving aggressively with their colleagues, physically abusing members of their families, obtaining property illegally or behaving hysterically in the city assembly." And suddenly a kind of national unity was achieved. The city assembly rose as one to support a condemnatory resolution moved by an outraged mayor. Not since the commercial TV stations were excluded from parliament has their been such agreement between the parties. If Medián asked the same question in the remaining cities then we could achieve the consensus for which so many yearn.

But let's try to stay serious, however difficult it may be. The contested questions take us onto very slippery ground. Let's ignore for a moment the city fathers' proclamations: that's just political hissy fits.The questioners didn't ask whether the two politicans were violent or corrupt. All they wanted to know was whether residents could believe such allegations. And that's the rub. Allegations about celebrities aren't decided on the basis of evidence, but according to people's beliefs. Nobody was interested in the points of law in the cases against OJ Simpson and Michael Jackson. For fans, both stars remain as white as the riven snow even if they're caught with a bloody knife, their pants down, or even red handed enjoying a young boy's company. And those who hate them for their skin colour or anything else will think them guilty regardless of their acquittal. It's safe to assume that the same would apply in the case of Socialist or Fidesz politicians. The faithful will make excuses, the opponents will condemn, and the truth will be of interest to nobody. Those who despair at politics will say: "What does it matter what I think? It makes no difference anyway!" Or they'd say all public figures were malign, regardless of party affiliation. Medián rendered a good service by highlighting this particular neurosis.

The local potentates are angry, but they'll calm down sooner or later. The mayor speaks of a whispering campaign and imagines conspiracies organised from outside the town. The Socialists insist that they aren't to blame, becaue they are just as angry. János Lázár suspects that only the Socialists can be behind this act. If we carry on with the conspiracy theories, we'll probably conclude that János Lázár himself was behind the affair, in a complex act of self-assassination.
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