Orbán’s mistakes?

Some people think that Viktor Orbán has made an awful lot of political mistakes lately. It was a mistake not to make conciliatory gestures at the National Summit, not to show up at a high-level meeting of politicians and experts on the economic crisis, not to take an active part in the hustle and bustle of everyday politics. He stayed aloof and sent emissaries to meetings.

A few days ago he decided to speak up. However, according to analysts, it would have been better if he had kept his own counsel. Here is an example of the criticism about what Fidesz and Viktor Orbán personally have been doing lately; it appeared in the English version of Portfolio.hu. "The main opposition party is frantically trying to escape even the appearance of having anything to do with the crisis management of the Socialist Party (MSZP). But what it will really accomplish with its shoddy communication is the brick-by-brick destruction of its professional credibility that it has been building up for years in opposition. Portraying Hungary's stand-by credit agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a hugger-mugger deal is a mere blunder; the rejection of the fiscal responsibility package is a mistake of historic proportions and the call on the central bank to cut its base rate immediately to 6.00% is pure madness."

I think in one respect the analyst here is too kind. I don't see the professional credibility that Fidesz has been building up for years. There were no constructive suggestions to remedy the terrible situation in which Hungary found itself by 2006. The government tried its best and pretty well succeeded in decreasing the incredibly high deficit. Fidesz couldn't suggest anything to replace the austerity program that is "too hard on the Hungarian people." Here and there the party offered silly ideas to reduce taxes and thus further increase the deficit but nothing constructive. What happened with the IMF stand-by credit deal was definitely more than a "mere blunder." It was embarrassing. First there was the condemnation of the whole deal. Hungary didn't need IMF money. That early criticism was followed by emphasizing the "shame" that had befallen the country: Hungary was now somewhere between Pakistan and Ukraine! Once the stand-by credit agreement was a done deal and the document of intent signed and sealed, Mihály Varga, the economic expert of Fidesz, kept insisting that there must be some secret deal. When the IMF itself declared that there was no such thing Fidesz madly searched for a "contract." And when it turned out that there was no contract Varga tried to get out of hot water by claiming that that since Gyurcsány made references once or twice to "a contract" he must be a total nincompoop who doesn't even know that no contract had to be signed. If all this nonsense had been uttered only once or twice, it would have been bearable. But the sound bites are repeated over and over. A new messenger, the same message. So the same blahblah on Napkelte in the morning is heard again at noon, in the evening, and late at night. Mistakes are thus magnified.

The latest blunder was Orbán's "demand" to the Hungarian National Bank and the government to immediately lower the interest rate from 11.5% to 6.0%. In one fell swoop. This news first appeared in a regional paper called Észak-Magyarország. Instead of denying the report in an effort to maintain credibility, he repeated this nonsense in Veszprém where Fidesz bigwigs got together for a meeting. Here he added that lowering the interest rate might help Hungarian enterprises get credit more easily. Needless to say, the media jumped on the story because even those who are not too savvy in financial matters know that such a sharp reduction in the interest rate would have catastrophic results. The questions multiplied. Does Orbán really know so little that he can seriously suggest such a move? Doesn't he know that the Hungarian National Bank is independent of the government and the government, even if it wanted to lower interest rates, couldn't do it?

It seems that this latest suggestion caused consternation even within the party. Fidesz is a very well disciplined organization. What Orbán says is Holy Writ. Everybody follows. No cracks in unity. But his call for the immediate reduction of the interest rate by almost 50% was more than his followers could take. Even the very right-wing Magyar Hírlap called it "perhaps too sweeping a suggestion" and suggested a more cautious, step by step, reduction of the indeed very high interest rate. Mihály Varga repeated the same and Zsigmond Járai, former minister of finance and head of the National Bank who did everything in his power to keep interest rates high and thus make the Gyurcsány government's situation very difficult, also explained that such a reduction must be gradual. (Mind you, I remember when Járai raised the interest rate by 3-4% for no apparent reason.)

Orbán apparently had another brilliant idea: to have a referendum to stop the privatization of the Budapest Gas Works (Főgáz) pretty well decided on by the city. After all, with the same strategy he defeated government plans for healthcare copayment and tuition. But the likelihood of a successful referendum today is very much in question. Fidesz's popularity has plummeted of late in the capital. Moreover, it seems that István Tarlós who was narrowly defeated in the mayoral contest two years ago and who is now the head of the Fidesz caucus in the city council is dead set against a referendum; apparently he managed to gather nearly the entire inner circle of Fidesz against Orbán on this issue. Another sign that Orbán's hold on the higher echelon of party leadership might be loosening. A few more mistakes would certainly help those who deep down are worried about the future of the party as long as Orbán is leading it.

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Sandor
Guest

Hello, this is your friendly Cassandra speaking.
The unavoidable feeling I have expressed here several times, was creeping up on me again this morning as I was looking at the latest polls of party support. (http://nol.hu/belfold/nagyot_bukott_a_fidesz__nem_nyert_az_mszp)
The slow determined climb the socialists performed before the 206 election seems to be in evidence again. However in 2006 the fidesz had a steady performance until the last few weeks when they spoiled it somehow.
This time they are already loosing support well ahead of time. Partly because they are ideologues, towards whom the weary population has low tolerance, and partly because Orban is gradually becoming a liability. The guy has no shame and no ideas.
Generally speaking, the fidesz is intellectually bankrupt. The only thing giving them any food for thought is the relentless hatred of Gyurcsany. That by itself is very refreshing to them, but precious little to the country to go on. It is a very slim diet.
I think the fidesz probably lost the 2010 election this very month.

Sandor
Guest

Hello, this is your friendly Cassandra speaking.
The unavoidable feeling I have expressed here several times, was creeping up on me again this morning as I was looking at the latest polls of party support. (http://nol.hu/belfold/nagyot_bukott_a_fidesz__nem_nyert_az_mszp)
The slow determined climb the socialists performed before the 206 election seems to be in evidence again. However in 2006 the fidesz had a steady performance until the last few weeks when they spoiled it somehow.
This time they are already loosing support well ahead of time. Partly because they are ideologues, towards whom the weary population has low tolerance, and partly because Orban is gradually becoming a liability. The guy has no shame and no ideas.
Generally speaking, the fidesz is intellectually bankrupt. The only thing giving them any food for thought is the relentless hatred of Gyurcsany. That by itself is very refreshing to them, but precious little to the country to go on. It is a very slim diet.
I think the fidesz probably lost the 2010 election this very month.

Sandor
Guest

Sorry, the double posting was unintended.

Op
Guest

Sandor, I think you mixed them up.
Gyurcsany is a skinny pathological liar with glasses and speech impairment.
He’s a disgrace.
Orban is the other guy, with a rescue plan.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Op: “Gyurcsany is a skinny pathological liar with glasses and speech impairment. He’s a disgrace. Orban is the other guy, with a rescue plan.”
I don’t like this kind of talk. Like pathological liar and nonexistent speech impairment. Orban has no rescue plan I know of.

isti
Guest

I find OP’s comments refreshing – though I’m not sure about the ‘speech impairment’ part. Instead of a constant stream of opposition-bashing, why can’t the party in control be held to account and judged by its performance so far?
I would like to add the following: By many international standards, MSZP is not a party of the ‘left’.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Isti: “I find OP’s comments refreshing – though I’m not sure about the ‘speech impairment’ part.”
Well, it’s not enough to be refreshing. One has to stick to the facts. Compared to Fidesz, MSZP is still better fit to lead the country at the moment.

Sandor
Guest
That Gyurcsany is a pathological liar is a claim from Orban, the man who has never lied yet. Not when he claimed to be a liberal commi basher, just before converting to conservatism, not when he accused the Antall goverment of lying, not when he claimed to be Antall’s direct successor, not when he denied any connection to the ultra-right, while being supported by them in parlament, not when he denied having financial interest in Tokaj, etc. It certainly requires a special kind of mind set to believe to Orban, regardless of whatever Gyurcsany may say, who has travelled an entire trajectory from liberal to conservative. Not to mention that the man has at least two separate and opposite personalities: the public populist and the private conniver. As to isti’s assertions, what is refreshing about an unsustainable claim? The government is constantly called to account in Parliament and in the public opinion. And if the latest public opinion surveys are any indication at all, though the government is not gaining, nevertheless the fidesz is rapidly loosing support. I am not familiar with those “international standards” you refer to, (I wish you would be less parsimonious with the details) but the… Read more »
isti
Guest

I presume this is a fact of yours: “priest-infested, backward looking, Horthy-toting fidesz.”
Incidentally, I know of good people who have an allegiance to both Fidesz and MSzP. My experience tells me there are intolerant people in both parties – take a walk around any of the outlying areas of Budapest and you’ll hear MSzP supporters referring to Orban, openly and in a derogatory manner, as a ‘cigany’.
As was pointed out in another thread, Gyurcsany always manages to ‘go ahead’. It is this mindset (hyper-consumption, business-is-everything, market-based problem-solving) that place his vision and his party outside of what one would typically call socially-conscious or left-leaning. The SzDSz is a more extreme example of this.
You constantly refer to facts, which you never let get in the way of your opinions. Fact: The opposition government has not been in control for six years.

Op
Guest
“One has to stick to the facts. Compared to Fidesz, MSZP is still better fit to lead the country at the moment.” Based on what “facts”? I must have missed something, so please tell me. My “speech impairment” comment is based on the fact that I actually listened to Mr. Gyurcsany speak. His “impairment” may not qualify as a medical condition, but it is extremely annoying. If we pay attention to what he says and how he speaks, we will notice some obvious patterns. These include frequent and misplaced pauses in the middle of sentences, and also the difficulty of forming those sentences. I could also quote many lies and intentionally misleading statements from the PM. I don’t have a preset preference of left or right, I don’t belong to either side, I just want what’s best for the country, and GY.F. is not the one. It’s pretty sad that after his infamous 2006 speech he’s still in power, and some people even support him. I just listened to an hour-long interview with Orban. He is a lot easier to listen to, he seems to have a clear view of not only what’s wrong but also how to fix it.… Read more »
Eva Balogh
Guest

Op: Quoting me “One has to stick to the facts. Compared to Fidesz, MSZP is still better fit to lead the country at the moment.” Based on what “facts”? I must have missed something, so please tell me.”
You have your opinions, I have mine.

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