Viktor Orbán is a bit self-centered but hugely self-confident

Öcsi observed that in the short paragraph I quoted Orbán used the word "I" or "me" seventeen times. This paragraph was especially laden with Orbán's self-references, but considering that the whole speech was rather short (750 words) the first person singular appeared quite frequently. Those of you who are familiar with the Hungarian language know that because of the nature of Hungarian grammar one rarely uses pronouns in Hungarian. Therefore counting instances of the first person singular wasn't as simple as searching for the word "én."

The result is that Orbán used the first person singular 28 times in six paragraphs. In the fourth paragraph he switched to the first person plural in reference to members of parliament. For example, "People expect us to conquer the inheritance of the regime that was just replaced. So, we will conquer it. We will conquer crime, we will conquer unemployment, we will conquer the hopelessness of youth, the defenselessness of the old. We will conquer the mentality of 'let us dare to be small,'* we will conquer the politics of divida et impera, we will conquer the kind of arrogance that declares that one can leave the country if he doesn't like it.** We will conquer the real estate frauds and the running away from responsibility. We will conquer the practices of off-shore knights*** and payment for work not performed. We will conquer the corruption and waste that ruined the nation's capital. We will conquer the past because Hungary undivided decided that these things must be conquered (huge applause)."

By the way, the old regime according to Orbán is being replaced by the "regime of national collaboration." One can laugh about all this, but unfortunately it is a deadly serious business. In a democratic regime there are divergent opinions that are represented by parties and in parliament by the representatives of these parties. There are those who govern and those who are in opposition. If we try to replace this by a "regime of national collaboration" we are no longer talking about democracy but some kind corporative system similar to the regime of Mussolini.

We will see how much of this "regime change" materializes. I guess a lot will depend on whether the "revolutionary" Fidesz government is able to conquer all those evil things Orbán inherited.


*"Let us dare to be small" is allegedly a reference to something László Kovács said, but I can't find the origin of the saying.

**"One can leave the country if he doesn't like it." There was a discussion about tax cuts between Ferenc Gyurcsány and some very wealthy Hungarian businessmen who threatened to leave the country because in Slovakia the tax rate is lower. Gyurcsány lost his cool and said that if their patriotism extends only that far, please go.

*** The phrase "off-shore knight" was used by Viktor Orbán in connection with András Simor, chairman of the Hungarian National Bank, who at one point had a business registered in Cypress.

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The main question is, if Orban can suppress dissent in the lower middle class, that helped him to power, that can switch to MSZP or to Jobbik. I think, suppressing will not be possible, in the internet age, media power is not limited to TV.


@ESBalogh: The use of ‘we’ can also be counted as first person references in many circumstances. In linguistics there is also the term ‘nosism’ which is used to describe the situation where a person uses the first person plural (we) to refer to oneself. Typically this is seen in three common situations: 1. English royalty, the Queen never uses I to refer to herself 2. As a negotiating gambit where one wishes to disperse blame, responsibility… 3. To claim (more) authority in a matter; typically more than can reasonably be proven/supported by the facts (e.g. ‘as we all know…’ contrast this with ‘as far as I know…’)
Orbán’s use of the second person plural pretty much always has the implicit undercurrent of nosism.

S Rogers

Dear Balogh Eva,
I am a research student at the Universiteit van Amsterdam and am
currently writing about the effects of external austerity
programmes and if they give rise to political expressions of
nationalism. I am using Hungary and South Korea as case studies.
I have read many of your blogs on the Hungarian Spectrum and have found them to be most informative.
I would like to ask you, as an expert in the field, if in your opinion
the IMF-led austerity programme has incurred feelings of nationalism
within Hungary, particularly with refernce to the Fidesz & Jobbik party and their campaigning for the 2010 election.
Also, are there any other works, to your knowledge, which could aid me
in any way?
Any help you could give me would be very much appreciated.
Yours sincerely,
Samuel Rogers,
Universiteit van Amsterdam

Eva S. Balogh

Vandorlo: “The use of ‘we’ can also be counted as first person references in many circumstances.”
Sure, but let’s give Orbán the benefit of the doubt that he really spoke about members of parliament here. Of course, one must keep in mind that Fidesz is highly hierarchical organization at the apex of which is V.O. Nothing can happen within the party and hence in the future government without his OK.

Eva S. Balogh

To Samuel Rogers, I will write you personally. OK?

S Rogers

To Balogh Eva,
Thank you very much for your reply. I look forward to your pending email.