The end of the Hungarian summit

Oh, how wrong I was yesterday when I thought that Fidesz would tone down its attacks on the government and would be willing to sit down and in a rational manner discuss the steps that should be taken in the next few months to avoid a lengthy recession. Yes, I was very wrong. Viktor Orbán's speech was outright vicious. Zsolt Semjén, who spoke after him, like a parrot repeated the same words as his boss because, after all, the Christian Democratic Party is not really a party but an appendix of Fidesz.

Maybe I am once again naive when I think that perhaps by the end of the six-hour session Orbán sensed that he might have chosen the wrong strategy. He had to notice that almost everybody else at the meeting was ready to cooperate. It must have been a blow to him that one important businessman after the other emphasized that at this time no tax cut can be introduced. After all, in his fifteen-minute speech he told his audience that Hungarian businessmen are behind him in his demand for drastic tax cuts. The camera rarely went to Orbán while others spoke, but here and there I could catch his expression that changed from contemptuous to morose. At the end, more and more morose. He and his colleagues from the party who spoke after him were strangely out of step. He had to notice that.

Among the sixty-odd speakers there were some, especially by the end, who could not come up with anything worth considering. The agrarians wanted more attention paid to Hungarian agriculture, the representative of the small businessmen wanted to have financial assistance for mom and pop businesses, one trade union representative harangued about the sacrifices Hungarian workers must make to help the rich bankers. However, there were some very useful suggestions. Perhaps the most hard-hitting and most specific was Ibolya Dávid. No tax cuts but tax reforms, suspension of paying an extra month of pension for a year, freezing salaries of state employees again for a year. Even SZDSZ gave up the idea of a tax cut. So, all in all, I got the impression that there can be at least a three-party agreement on many issues. But these suggestions are drastic and the population would accept them only if there was support of the leadership across party lines. Moreover, some of the suggestions need the support of two thirds of the parliament to become law, and without Fidesz nothing can happen.

So it seems that compromise, even in the most difficult times, cannot be reached in Hungary. Most Hungarians were hoping for an agreement at the summit, the details of which could be worked out in parliament. I wonder what these people will think now and whom they are going to blame. The Hungarian political elite's reputation is very low as it is. After a failure it will be even lower.