That is what Viktor Orbán said today. However, Gábor Kuncze, former head of SZDSZ and nowadays a "radio reporter," appeared on an MTV program called "A szólás szabadsága" (Freedom of Speech). The conversation focused on Kuncze's interviews of leaders of the parliamentary caucuses, among them, of course, Tibor Navracsics of Fidesz. Kuncze related that in this interview he wanted to ask Navracsics about the "program" Fidesz keeps secret. He was expecting the usual answer: either "go to our website and read our program entitled 'Erős Magyarországért'" (For a Strong Hungary) or "we have turned in hundreds of proposals that were ignored by the government." So Kuncze re-read the so-called program and looked up all the Fidesz proposals that were turned into parliament for discussion; he remained unenlightened. Moreover, it seems that he wasted his time. Navracsics, to the great surprise of Kuncze, said: "We can't get the necessary economic data and we therefore have no team analyzing them either." So, continued Kuncze, Navracsics basically admitted that Fidesz has no program.
Shortly after hearing this interview I read a transcript of a radio interview with Viktor Orbán on InfoRádió in which Orbán said that "Fidesz has a substantive program for solving the crisis." That sentence was used as the headline to the interview. Therefore, I read eagerly, hoping to find the answer. It was a fairly long interview but out of the eleven questions posed only two had anything to do with the "substantive program." From the answer we learned that in fact Orbán has been talking about the main points of the program all along. If Fidesz wins the elections they will immediately implement the program. Period. Even InfoRádió's reporter was dissatisfied with this answer and asked, "Could we hear some details of this package?" Orbán's response was that there are not enough people working in Hungary; Fidesz will create one million new jobs. "It will take some years, it will not be easy, but we will accomplish the task." When the reporter inquired how Fidesz would create these new jobs, Orbán repeated the old mantras: tax reduction, abolishing the grey economy, and reducing bureaucracy. The real problem, he repeated, is the present government. "Hungary's problems are not primarily economic but political." End of interview.
First of all, as we all know, the "program" outlined by Viktor Orbán is unrealistic. Can it even be called a program? Especially a substantive one? I don't think so. I'm afraid in this case Tibor Navracsics's admission that Fidesz doesn't really have a program is closer to the truth. By the way, contrary to earlier strict party discipline when it came to communication (the so-called parrot commando), Fidesz no longer always speaks with one voice. Sometimes György Matolcsy, the Fidesz economic expert, says things that contradict Szijjártó or Orbán. Even Mihály Varga, former minister of finance, made the mistake of saying that tax cuts are out of the question under the present circumstances. An absolute no-no in Fidesz.
As for the suggestions of the Reform Alliance, Szijjártó made no bones about it: taking away any entitlement is out of the question. Orbán was less negative: he expressed his delight that the Reform Alliance's economists adopted some of Fidesz's suggestions. He didn't specify. If you ask me, I would guess that he liked the idea of tax cuts without the corresponding cuts in social services. And that is a non-starter.
Orbán seems to be putting his energy into trying to steal the limelight from Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány who on February 18 called for a €100 billion rescue plan from the European Union for the troubled banks in central and eastern Europe. Gyurcsány also announced that he raised the idea of an informal meeting of European leaders on March 1. Orbán is now championing a similar idea, but he is no diplomat. He accused the west of "breaking the contract with Eastern Europe"but not helping out the region. I'm not sure whether this is a smart way to go. In any case, he seems to be warming up an old idea of his: a north-south axis from Poland to Croatia that would in some way compete with the European Union.
Meanwhile, as I indicated in my comment this morning, MDF and SZDSZ love the unrealistic suggestions of the Reform Alliance. A couple of SZDSZ leaders, specifically József Gulyás and Gábor Horn, didn't even exclude the possibility of early elections, saying that from the point of view of SZDSZ the date of the elections makes no difference. They are most likely right about that: in either case they probably won't receive enough votes to participate in national politics. So at the moment the outlook is rather bleak. But in the past Gyurcsány could always pull a rabbit out of his hat. I remain hopeful despite everything.