Yesterday, on the last session of parliament, Gordon Bajnai made his final speech lasting about 40 minutes. I was unable to listen to it live given the six-hour difference, and yesterday's session is still not available on video. However, people whose opinion I value called it a "statesmanlike speech." But Bajnai's speech, which emphasized the necessity of cooperation between Fidesz and MSZP, didn't make an impression on Fidesz whose chairman didn't even bother to attend. Tibor Navracsics, head of the party's parliamentary delegation, wasn't impressed by the prime minister's somber words as this picture shows.
The chief spokesman of the party, Péter Szijjártó, most likely expressed the sentiments of Viktor Orbán and his party's position when he said that the best instrument against Jobbik is a good government and "not cooperation with an extremist party." The extremist party of course is MSZP, not Jobbik.
Bajnai outlined three goals that the next Hungarian government should try to achieve. First, Hungary should as soon as possible fulfill all the requirements for the introduction of the euro as the country's currency. The second very important task is raising the employment level. And third, the next government should continue the necessarily prudent and careful economic policy that was started ten months ago. The introduction of the euro would give Hungary financial stability instead of the current unstable situation with a national currency. As for raising the level of employment, everything depends on it: balancing the budget, the security of the pension fund, and, of course, steady economic growth. If the future Hungarian government follows the present course of action, between 2011 and 2014 it will be possible to have a 4 percent yearly economic growth. As he said in Hungarian with a play on words: "nem elosztogatni, hanem beosztani kellene" (one mustn't give away but spend sparingly). He suggested further tax cuts.
Bajnai claimed that he managed to fulfill 90 percent of the promises he made ten months ago and as a result of his policies the 1.7 million families who took out loans in euros instead of forints now pay 40 Ft less for a euro than about half a year go. The government spent 30 billion forints to save 100,000 jobs. The national debt even in 2010 will be less than the average within the euro zone. Investors have trust in Hungary and the ten-year government bonds that are on sale in the United States at the moment are three times oversubscribed. The structural reforms introduced laid down the foundations of lasting economic growth.
It was after these words that he made his reference to the frightening growth of extremism. Bajnai emphasized that there must be common ground on at least one issue between MSZP and Fidesz: trying to stop the growth of Jobbik. As he said, "Viktor Orbán is a democrat and a patriot. Attila Mesterházy is a democrat and a patriot. Perhaps that's the only common denominator between them, but that is enough to conquer the danger of the extreme right." In his opinion "from the fanatical antagonism between the two big parties a monster was born. The hatred and division fed this monster day in and day out. This monster is standing right in front of our door and will come into the room and break the furniture into bits and will smash in our faces if he doesn't like the look of them."
Well, all that didn't impress Tibor Navracsics, who called Bajnai's speech bittersweet. If the country is in such big trouble why is Bajnai leaving, why is he running away? Why doesn't he stay and do his job? What Bajnai is doing, he claimed, is running away from responsibility; he is responsible for what MSZP did, which was nothing less than leading the country into bankruptcy.
I especially enjoyed Navracsics's change of heart. Until now every second day either he or someone from his party, including Viktor Orbán, demanded Bajnai's resignation and early elections. I'm almost sure that eventually the Fidesz politicians realized that Bajnai was doing a very good job and were pleased to hear that he had no intention of continuing in politics. As Vándorló said, some of his Fidesz friends confided that if Bajnai had decided to continue they might have actually voted for the party that put him up as a candidate.
Yesterday János Avar said on Újságíró Klub (ATV) that it would be really funny if Gordon Bajnai took Navracsics's words to heart and said: "Oh, if you think that I should actually continue and take responsibility, I'm following your advice. I've decided to stay." Of course, nothing of the sort could happen, but I would like to see Navracsics's face after such a hypothetical announcement. I bet he wouldn't be laughing so heartily as on the picture that accompanies this blog.