I'm afraid that the political leaders of the Hungarian opposition are behaving in (1–SZDSZ) an irresponsible and (2–Fidesz) a scary manner even as the ever-widening financial crisis starts to affect Hungary around the edges.
Let's start with the leaders of SZDSZ. Once again, they seem to be out of touch. Preoccupied with their petty games concerning their position vis-à-vis MSZP. They talk as if the Hungarian government's most important task would be "reforms." Reforms that ended, according to them. And therefore, isn't it wonderful that they left the coalition? As if today, mid-October 2008, when the whole financial world is teetering on the brink of collapse these so-called reforms will make or break Hungary. And there are the tax cuts.Two hundred or three hundred billion forints? This is what they are arguing about. Wake up man, I wanted to shout this morning when Gábor Horn went on and on about all this on Napkelte. However, even if he heard me it wouldn't matter because these guys are simply too dumb. Yes, too dumb, I'm coming to the conclusion. Meanwhile, these petty squabbles weaken the government's efforts to keep the country's economy in balance and avoid panic. It's important to pass the budget and move on. Because there's going to be a lot of hard work ahead.
Then there is Fidesz's chief, Viktor Orbán. He tried to explain to a group of important business leaders yesterday that Hungary's economic problems would be solved within three months if there were early elections and he became prime minister. He would turn the economy around. Alone, in Hungary. Of course, the problem is that in a global economy no country is an island. One way or another Hungary will be affected. Less so on the front lines than some other European countries because Hungary's banks are not awash in toxic paper and Hungary was not the favorite destination of currency traders and hedge funds. But the first signs are already here. Opel's sales are down, so the Hungarian Opel factory will be closed "for a while." However, Orbán claims that his economic team is ready with all the answers: drastic tax cuts, less bureaucratic handling of tax collection, decrease of bureaucracy and corruption, a smaller parliament, well organized public administration, and better handling of finances. Laughable? No, under the current circumstances this small-mindedness shows a lack of vision.
What is even more worrisome is that Viktor Orbán thinks in black and white when it comes to the root of the current crisis. He is certain that "liberal economic policy" is the cause of the problem and he spoke enthusiastically about those countries where democracy is not exactly in full bloom: China, Russia, some of the Islamic countries. Those are the successful ones, not the liberal democracies in the West. According to him the problem of liberalism is that it believes in "a mistaken anthropological notion" that man is born good and should be allowed to act freely. But man is greedy and corrupt and hence the current financial crisis. The West must learn from countries where there are restrictions. As for Hungary, the budget must be withdrawn and "a new contract must be drafted among the different interest groups" and in ten years, with his help, there will be one million new jobs.
It boggles the mind. But at least the truth is out. Orbán evisages a regime similar to Putin's Russia or communist China. However, as Tamás Bauer, an economist and former member of parliament, said, very rightly, Russia's (fading) economic boom was due solely to very high energy prices while other segments of Russian economy were stagnating. China's spectacular growth was the result of massive foreign investment and cheap labor. Not because they have more or less authoritarian regimes. God save us from a little Hungarian Putin.