What can we expect?

Political analysts hold entirely different views on the subject of what to expect from the new Orbán government. There are those whose independence is questionable and who are certain that the new government will bring Eden to Hungary. These people believe the Fidesz propaganda, but more objective observers know that the tasks facing Viktor Orbán and his government are enormous. And they are not sure whether Orbán and his team are up to it.

The reason for their doubts about the chances of the new government are based on Fidesz's less than successful four years in power between 1998 and 2002. Let me quote Ervin Csizmadia in HVG, who is actually quite sympathetic toward Fidesz. He is especially critical of the Orbán government's foreign policy in those days, pointing out that the Hungarian government during this period made far too many enemies. These mistakes stemmed from inexperience and the radicalism of Fidesz politicians. Radicalism in internal politics spread into the field of foreign policy that ended in Viktor Orbán being more or less an outcast. However, says Csizmadia, Fidesz politicians have learned a lot since then and have managed to develop good relationships in the last eight years with the United States, Germany, Israel, and most importantly Russia. Csizmadia somewhat optimistically states that "unilateral moves have been replaced by compromise and bilateral negotiations, and haste by deliberateness." I must say that I haven't seen too many signs of these changes. Moreover, Orbán's latest visit to the United States just before the elections wasn't exactly a success story. I think it's enough to mention his much heralded visit with the elder Bush in Maine that came to naught. The visit to St. Petersbug was also not without its question marks. As for the relationships with the neighbors, specifically with Slovakia and Romania, they might not be without their problems given the party's announced plans for dual citizenship for Hungarians living in the neighboring countries.

Csizmadia is less sanguine when it comes to the question of Orbán's relations with international financial organizations, especially with the IMF. One of the most important Fidesz messages, for home consumption at least, was the introduction of an entirely new economic policy. They will do exactly the opposite of what the Gyurcsány and Bajnai governments did in the last three or four years. That means no more austerity but a policy of stimulating the economy. This policy will require higher expenditures but the question is from what? The only person who has been officially named is the country's foreign minister, János Martonyi, who announced yesterday that the new government is planning to renegotiate the IMF loan. Will the IMF be ready to oblige? There are some financial experts who are certain that the IMF will not budge and, even if it did, the forint would get weaker, investors would pull their money out, and Viktor Orbán would be in very deep trouble.

The other problem that is facing the new government is the extreme polarization of the country that is largely Fidesz's doing. Viktor Orbán pursued a policy of total negation of everything the government was doing. Politically this strategy was successful, but it resulted in the creation of two Hungarys. How will he manage to have at least a modicum of cooperation between right and left? Orbán in his international press conference on April 12 talked about "the unity" he is planning to create, but even the sympathetic Ervin Csizmadia thinks that he didn't mean cooperation with MSZP but rather unity within his own party. If this is the case, the present antagonism, nay hatred, between the two sides will continue. By now it doesn't seem to serve any purpose to keep up this "internal cold war" atmosphere, but can the Fidesz rhetoric change? I for one don't think that Fidesz politicians can suddenly be all sweetness and light.

And finally, can Fidesz stop corruption? Not just corruption committed in MSZP or SZDSZ circles but in their own circles. That is a real question because we mustn't forget that the Orbán government was infamous for its far-reaching corruption, starting at the top. Let me quote from an article written right after Viktor Orbán, to everybody's surprise, lost the elections in 2002. According to Miklós Haraszti, the author, the Orbán government "siphoned off immense resources from the taxpayer's money to the private accounts of 'friendly' companies, thus ending any possibility for the public to exert any control or supervision; then solidified this outrageous lack of transparency by using loopholes and executing an unconstitutionally majoritarian institutional and legislative coup. In a word, Orbán's rule was utterly nepotistic." And at that time Haraszti didn't yet know how the Orbán family enriched itself by illegal or semi-legal means.

The more pessimistic sorts, like József Debreczeni, are certain that by the overwhelming vote for Orbán and Fidesz "the Hungarian people made clear that they had enough of democracy." Let's hope that he is not right, but if Fidesz continues its past and current policies the future doesn't look too bright.

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John T
Guest

Eva – the old adage “by their deeds shall you judge them”. I’m no fan of Fidesz, but they have a massive mandate from the people. If they govern well in the next 4 years and bring healing and prosperity to the people, then I will be as happy as anyone. So, lets see what they can do. But, I do hope they have leart some things from their previous period in office, where they governed poorly.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

John T.: “If they govern well in the next 4 years and bring healing and prosperity to the people, then I will be as happy as anyone. So, lets see what they can do. But, I do hope they have leart some things from their previous period in office, where they governed poorly.”
I feel exactly the same way. One can only wish that they would be better than last time. The task is much more difficult now. Then they took over a relatively healthy economy and still the results were anything but great. The situation is much more difficult now. So, we will see what they are really capable of doing besides good communication techniques.

Pál Marosy
Guest

Fidesz and Viktor Orbán shall drop all those projects which could create concern in the neighbouring countries.
Granting citizenship automatically at once to all ethnic Hungarians in the neighbouring countries is not feasible. Today any ethnic Hungarian can apply for citizenship which is granted on a case by case basis. I did obtain in this manner the Hungarian citizenship.
As far as Mr. József Debreczeni is concerned, he can only accept a democracy where he’s favorits are ruling.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Pál Marosy: “As far as Mr. József Debreczeni is concerned, he can only accept a democracy where he’s favorits are ruling.”
I bet you haven’t read Debreczeni’s book about Viktor Orbán. The book is full of quotations from Viktor Orbán which support Debreczeni’s opinion that Orbán is no democrat. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. You may change your mind. Orbán in his own words must be a good enough source.

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