You will remember that Ferenc Gyurcsány's problems began with a passionate and not too diplomatic speech to the MSZP parliamentary delegation at Balatonõszöd in which he tried to convince the reluctant socialists that an austerity program had to introduced. Without which, he argued, economic collapse would be inevitable. As usual he didn't speak from a prepared text but improvised, and some of the sentences were–how shall I say it kindly?–more than sloppy. Outright misleading. He said things that could easily be turned against him.
Well, today János Kóka was, I think, close to the truth when he said that Orbán's monologue (apparently it was almost impossible for the students to ask questions) will be his Őszöd. The more that leaks out the worse it sounds. And it seems that an ever increasing number of the students present (who, by the way, were sworn to secrecy) are "telling all."
By now the date is known. Index was vague: a few weeks ago. It turned out that the speech took place on April 30th. We even know that it was an early meeting because Orbán, the soccer player and avid soccer fan, wanted to be home to see a game on television. Orbán came not alone but accompanied by István Stumpf, the "independent political scientist" and his former cabinet minister and college dean, who tries in public appearances to make us believe that he has no connection to Orbán. Orbán arrived in jeans and was in a jolly good mood. He was relaxed and was sipping wine between sentences. He was self-assured, nay, at times outright conceited. At times he made condescending remarks about the competence of his audience in political matters.
As reported earlier, he praised Gyula Horn, his predecessor, as an astute politician who based his power on the old folks, the inactive population. For example, said Orbán, Horn wasn't trying to find out too much about who was and who wasn't eligible for disability payments. He, on the other hand, relied on the active population and helped, for example, the smaller entrepreneurs with the Széchenyi Plan (about which I said a few words yesterday). He tried to establish a base by paying attention to those who worked and who already had some financial background. Ferenc Gyurcsány (whom he consistently referred to as the "current prime minister") abandoned the alliance between MSZP and the inactive population but made no "social contract" with others. Thus, Viktor Orbán got a free pass.
He spent some time on Gyurcsány's speech at Balatonőszöd and in this connection called the prime minister "a stupid idiot, let's face it." He concluded that Gyurcsány is not a pro because a really good politician cannot lose his cool. With him nothing like this could happen. (Well, we will see!)
He considers his tenure (1998-2002) an outstanding era in Hungarian history. He is very satisfied with the results of those four years. He again brought up the National Theater and the Széchenyi Plan. Why did he lose the election after such a successful term? The reason was wrong Fidesz strategy. They were sure that those active people whom they favored could win over the older inactive socialist base. They were wrong. He also confirmed the rumors circulating about him after the lost election: "he fell apart and didn't quite recover for about six months."
How did he explain the lost election in 2006? In fact, Fidesz didn't want to win because they already knew in what bad shape the economy was. (Of course, if they really knew in what bad shape the country was financially, why did they promise an additional month of stipends–a 13th month–to the pensioners?)
If someone had asked Orbán in 2006 when he would be prime minister again he would have said in 2008. In the intervening months he often thought that the end was near and in fact he is very surprised that Gyurcsány is still in power. He is now confident that Gyurcsány will not survive until 2010. The rope is around Gyurcsány's neck already, and his feet are laden with stones. (Is this the Fidesz version of concrete shoes, à la the Mafia?) By remaining in power he is pulling down the whole socialist party with himself. They will sink together to the bottom of the ocean.
As for the future, Orbán is certain that if they win now they will win at least two more times. So the country can prepare itself for a twelve-year stint of Orbán and his friends. His governing will be divided into two parts. The first two years will be hard. Austerity measures will be introduced. Pensions will be frozen. He will have an easier time introducing these austerity measures than Gyurcsány did because in 2006 people didn't really believe that these measures were necessary. But since then the population has been hearing nothing else from the prime minister but that the the economy is in bad shape and so they are already somewhat prepared. Moreover, from him the population would accept these austerity measures. Unlike from Gyurcsány.
His government would again give preference to the middle class and those who are active in the country's economic life. As for health care, they would change the system but they don't yet know how. But people will have to pay more for health care. Fidesz is in favor of long-term plans. He mentioned a ten-year plan. (Even in the Kádár regime there were only five-year plans!) Fidesz politicians, it seems, are also taken with the ideas of an economist who is warming up an old idea of "Garden Hungary," a hobby horse of the populists between the two world wars. He claims that Hungary has plenty of water that will be in short supply in the future. All the water that floods the country in the spring should be stored and used for agricultural purposes. This should be Hungary's economic niche. (I personally don't think that this is a viable solution for healthy economic growth.) The dry, barren lands between the rivers Tisza and Duna should be flooded with water, creating a green paradise from a wasteland. He thinks that Hungary's future lies in tourism and agriculture.
As far as the Hungarian Guard is concerned: it is a reaction to a real problem. The state is weak, especially in the countryside. There are not enough policemen. The innocent population is not defended. Therefore the answer is (beside slapping the guardists around and sending them home) to strengthen the police force in the villages.
Finally, at the end, he praised himself profusely. He is the only important politician today who was already an important figure at the birth of democracies in the Eastern European countries. Vacláv Hável is too old, Péter Tölgyesy (SZDSZ/Fidesz) abandoned politics, Iván Pető (SZDSZ) has spent himself, László Sólyom at the time of the change of regime was not in the center but rather on the periphery of political life. For at least fifteen years he will remain the leader of the Hungarian right unless he makes a very stupid mistake.
Is it possible that this pro already made his first mistake?