Meaning: it is a debacle from the point of view of Viktor Orbán. Yesterday I briefly mentioned Dr. Mikola’s unfortunate slip of the tongue about dual citizenship for Hungarians in Romania and the consequent full-proof victory of the right in Hungary. This supposition is most likely correct. It seems to almost everybody, including me, that the Hungarians of Transylvania are much more conservative and much more nationalistic than those in Hungary proper. I assume that their nationalism derives from their minority status.
Fidesz was always interested in the Hungarian minority in Romania. Of the perhaps 2.5 million Hungarians in the neighboring countries, they are the most numerous at about 1.5 million. They also seem the most receptive to Fidesz rhetoric that emphasizes the unity of the nation as one living body. The relationship between Hungarian governments and the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries has always proved tricky. Left-liberals pin their hope on the European Union. Although borders will not disappear at least they will lose some of their importance.
I think the EU solution is about as good as it gets and that Orbán’s “confused rhetoric,” as Ferenc Gyurcsány called Orbán’s latest speech, was no more than a series of empty gestures. The speech turned on the distinction between the Hungarian Republic and Hungary [Magyar Köztársaság/Magyarország]. The venue was Tusnádfürdő in Transylvania, to which the Fidesz leaders make a yearly pilgrimage. Orbán claimed that the current government emphasizes the republic but that Hungary is larger than the current republic. (I wonder what the Slovaks and Romanians think of this!)
Tusnádfürdő is the place from which “the preacher of doom”–as Ildikó Lendvai (MSZP) called Orbán–usually sends all sorts of political messages homeward. It was here, for instance, that he announced that the left always attacks the nation, it was here that he began talking about the lies and therefore the illegitimacy of the government. So it’s always a much anticipated event. Well, this year’s message was somewhat of a disappointment although the right-wing media announced that it was a “most substantial” speech.
Outside of the right-wing media commentators think otherwise–that the speech simply tried to avoid admitting that Orbán’s Transylvanian policy had failed. I don’t write about Transylvanian affairs often because my knowledge of the region’s politics is limited. However, it is clear even to me that for one reason or other Orbán’s relationship with RMDSZ (Romániai Magyar Demokrata Szövetség/Hungarian Democratic Association of Romania) and its leader Béla Markó soured. I’m sure that someone will correct me if I’m wrong in thinking that Fidesz most likely took RMDSZ for granted since, after all, RMDSZ is a moderately conservative party. After Fidesz lost the election perhaps Orbán hoped that Markó would turn against the socialist-liberal government. Of course he didn’t; he’s no fool. The Hungarian government, be it socialist or conservative, is the source of sizable subsidies to the Hungarian community in Romania. Moreover, the current government’s position is that the Hungarians of Transylvania know best where these monies should go, and therefore RMDSZ has a much larger say in the allocation of subsidies than under Orbán.
In any case, Orbán decided that perhaps with the help of another Romanian-Hungarian party his problems with RMDSZ and Markó could be solved. He encouraged the establishment of a new party, Magyar Polgári Párt (MPP/Hungarian Bourgeois Party), whose eventual leader was Jenő Szász, a man from the Szekler region of Transylvania where Hungarians are in a solid majority. A few months ago local elections were held in Romania and for the first time MPP’s politicians pitted their strength against RMDSZ. RMDSZ did very well while MPP managed to elect only a few mayors and members of local councils. Both Orbán and the hero of the Romanian revolution, László Tőkés, campaigned vigorously for Jenő Szász and his party. Despite their efforts, Szász himself didn’t manage to get elected. National elections will be held in Romania in the fall, and Markó very generously suggested a coalition between the two parties: 85% of the seats received would go to RMDSZ and 15% to MPP. It is not clear where things stand now. Markó refused to go to Tusnádfürdő where Orbán talked about a “coalition of equal partners.” I assume instead of the 85-15% split Markó imagines.
Anyway, things didn’t work out in Romania the way Orbán had hoped. He must have been quite disappointed because in his speech he mentioned that his followers shouldn’t get too cocky and think that at the next election a Fidesz victory is certain. Quite a melancholy gathering it had to be, although Orbán is normally very good at acting upbeat on such occasions. When he is really down he simply disappears for months on end.