The Hungarian liberal media, the little there is left of it, has been buzzing ever since last night when an article appeared in Index, a popular online paper. It reported that a speech by Viktor Orbán was published in a relatively new weekly called Nagyítás (Enlargement). I must say that I had never heard of Nagyítás before, but it turned out to be a Fidesz publication. The editors advertise the connection: on the cover there is the famous orange circle that is Fidesz's symbol. The weekly's publisher is the Foundation for Central-European Culture that is governed by a board headed by Sándor Csoóri, an eighty-year-old poet who started off writing hymns to Stalin but who by now is the revered old man of the right. His name was specifically mentioned by Viktor Orbán at the beginning of his "assessment speech." In fact, Csoóri's name was uttered right after that of the former president, Ferenc Mádl. Who is funding it the paper? The Foundation for Civic Hungary, the István Barankovics Foundation, and The Foundation for Civic Culture. They are all foundations close to Fidesz or possibly even financed by it with the possible exception of the István Barankovics Foundation that is most likely a Christian Democratic organization. I tried to find out more about the Foundation for Civic Culture because I had never heard of it, but it has a most peculiar website: it looks like a functioning website except it is empty.
Let's get back to the speech. In the online version one couldn't read the whole speech, only a summary, but Index obviously got hold of the published paper and summarized the speech that was delivered on September 6, 2008. The outcry on the liberal side was incredible. Suddenly people discovered that Viktor Orbán is actually planning to put an end to the multi-party system and envisages basically a one-party system. Well, it wouldn't be a dictatorship, there would be other parties in existence except they wouldn't amount to anything. They would be made perfectly insignificant for a very long time to come. Orbán was talking about a twenty-year rule for himself and his party. Ildikó Lendvai, chairman of MSZP, this morning announced that until now she believed that Orbán was a democratic politician but after reading this speech, she is no longer convinced.
As soon as I read the summary I said to myself that if my memory doesn't fail me this is not really fresh news. I read about it in the Hungarian media and even wrote about it on this blog. Soon enough I found my post of September 8, 2008, entitled "Viktor Orbán's vision for Hungary." The last paragraph was devoted to this speech. Let me quote myself in connection with Orbán's speech at a "civic gathering" at their usual picnic at Kötcse.
"Kötcse is a picturesque village about nine kilometers from Lake Balaton. Only members of the 'friendly' media were invited, but even through the right-wing media the future outlined by Orbán sounded absolutely horrific. The conclusion was that 'in essence the chairman of Fidesz wants to have a one-party system.' At least this is how Népszava summarized his speech. I don't think that this is an exaggeration because Orbán was talking about the undesirability of a 'dual system' in which the opposition is doing nothing else but 'counter-governing.' He talked about 'governing in the interest of the nation' when Magyarország will be 'magyar ország.' A rather frightening prospect. He emphasized that 'political fights' are injurious to the country. The two sides argue about different 'values' and surely only one political force and only one value system can exist. He envisaged that his party will be in power for fifteen or twenty years. 'There will be only one big government party.' A phony kind of democracy à la István Bethlen's strategy when there were some small parties and one big Egységes Párt (Party of Unity) that governed almost all through the Horthy period."
How is it possible that Fidesz's political opponents didn't discover this article in Népszava? I looked up the September 7th issue in .pdf form; the article was front-page news with a font size that was almost blinding.
During the day all sorts of hypotheses were proposed about the reappearance of this speech. Some people put forth the idea that perhaps Fidesz is testing the waters. They want to know what the reaction is. Some other people thought that perhaps it was just a mistake. I suspected from the very beginning that a Fidesz paper wouldn't just publish a speech of Viktor Orbán that was not available on his own website without Orbán's consent. And indeed, later in the day I discovered that the text of the whole speech was made available on line on Viktor Orbán's own website.
Let me quote László Kéri's description of what this new Hungary will look like. Kéri, a political scientist, has been moving closer and closer to Viktor Orbán whom he knows from Orbán's university days. In fact, he is one of those commentators who thinks that a two-thirds victory for Fidesz would be beneficial to the country. So let's see what Kéri had to say about this happy new Hungary.
There was a conference yesterday organized by the Association of Employers and Manufacturers. There were two speakers, Kéri and István Stumpf. The text of Kéri's answer to a question was published by Zsófia Mihancsik on Galamus Csoport's website. The text is a transcription of a video on Ustream.
Let me quote Kéri's vision of the Hungarian future under Fidesz rule and please keep in mind that he is a friend of Orbán. Stumpf, Orbán's right hand man in his government, praised him for his common sense and was pleased to hear that Kéri wasn't trying to create hysteria unlike others such as Tamás Bauer or József Debreczeni. So here is the world without any hysteria whatsoever.
"There will be depolitization to a large extent. The whole process will be quite smooth. It will proceed by itself because Fidesz has already managed to occupy every corner of society that is capable of political action…. A lot of people switched sides already and those who made the mistake of not doing so will move later. There won't be any other possibility. I don't know what 'active resistance' means, but put it this way, to belong to the left or to the liberal camp will not be a pleasant situation after April 11. … I am not saying that it will be like in the Horthy regime. Perhaps these people will not be persecuted but they will not be favored for sure…. There won't be a dictatorship, but those political forces that don't belong to the mainstream will not get any help. … In any case, I believe in future serious depolitization of society after the elections. The situation will resemble the period of consolidation after 1963 until the middle of the 1970s: those who don't question the regime can live and work in peace. They can travel. There will be plenty of time to read fiction and listen to music. It will be a familiar kind of life for many."
I would like to remind everybody that it was in 1963 that János Kádár announced that "those who are not against us are with us" and the regime greatly encouraged turning away from politics. Just stay at home, build your weekend house, and trust us with governance.
I'm not sure whether the publication of this speech was such a good idea. Today even Nézőpont, a public opinion poll financed by Fidesz, announced that by the second week of February Fidesz had lost a lot of potential voters. A few more descriptions of the future like the one that Kéri gave and perhaps those who don't like Orbán will actually go out and vote.