Reactions to the proclamation of national cooperation

There seems to be a general consensus outside the circle of the party faithful that the proclamation is historically inaccurate, muddled nonsense. Most historians and political scientists discovered several inaccuracies as well as facts that were purposely twisted in order to fit Viktor Orbán's preconceived ideas about his own "revolution" that he himself labelled as "historical." Historians very rightly pointed out that one can call an event "historical" only from the perspective of historical distance. Critics label it historically inaccurate and politically dangerous.

It is hard not to notice that the last twenty years, which are described in the most negative terms, also included four years of a government headed by the same Viktor Orbán who now claims to have overthrown this regime. Only a few months ago Orbán talked about the period between 1998 and 2002 in glowing terms and criticized only the following eight years, but now it seems that he is throwing even the first Orbán government into the dumpster. Rudolf Ungváry, a man of conservative vews, has such a low opinion of the proclamation that according to him "one shouldn't even spend any time on it," but he added sadly that it seems that about 30-40% of the voters find it acceptable. In my opinion most people don't have either the historical or the political knowledge to put this proclamation in its proper place: the wastepaper basket.

Yes, it would be easy simply to forget about the proclamation. It is even possible that Viktor Orbán, in spite of all protestations to the contrary, will only pay lip service to the document after a while and that eventually everybody will forget about this embarrassing piece of writing. I see signs that even some Fidesz politicians, the more intelligent kind, are retreating from the original position that was expressed by Orbán's personal spokesman, Péter Szijjártó. Szijjártó, a day after the proclamation was made public, stated categorically that this muddled nonsense is the very foundation of the Fidesz government's program. János Lázár, who after all must thank Viktor Orbán for his new job as head of the Fidesz parliamentary caucus, enthusiastically follows the chief's lead but while defending the document got himself into trouble.

A good example of the contradictions that cropped up in the debate on the proclamation comes from the following encounter. Some Jobbik politicians criticized the Hungarian judiciary and compared it to the judicial system of the Rákosi regime. At that point Lázár pointed out that comparing the Rákosi regime to the last twenty years is highly inaccurate because Hungary has been a democratic country for the last twenty years; he added that the presence of Jobbik's representatives in the Hungarian parliament is "the fruit of this democracy." So, after all, even Lázár admits that there was a change of regime from dictatorship to democracy in 1990. Then who is telling the truth–Orbán or Lázár?

It must have been equally uncomfortable for Lázár when Tamás Gaudi-Nagy, Jobbik's legal expert and a representative on the committee on constitutional questions, said that Orbán's proclamation bears a strong resemblance to the ideas of Benito Mussolini. Gaudi-Nagy intended this as a compliment, but Lázár wasn't appreciative and protested loudly. The fact is that Gaudi-Nagy was right.

Gábor Vona called the proclamation "foggy" while Gaudi-Nagy pointed out that Fidesz received no mandate to set up a Regime of National Cooperation (already labelled as NER = Nemzeti Együttműködési Rendszer), that in fact the voters had no idea what they were voting for since Fidesz refused to divulge their plans concerning their future policies. Vona also noted that although Fidesz politicians talk about the two-thirds majority, in fact the party received only 52% of the votes while 47% of the voters opted for other parties. MSZP claimed that the "revolutionary" mandate Orbán is talking about simply doesn't exist. Fidesz this time received only 17,000 more votes than MSZP and SZDSZ received in the last two elections or in 1994.

MSZP made it clear within twenty-four hours after it became public that they will not sign the proclamation. It took LMP a little longer, but in the last two days they announced that they will not vote for it either. We don't have the final word from Jobbik, but my hunch is that they will not sign. MSZP actually rewrote the whole proclamation and turned it in as an alternative they would sign. The MSZP version bears no resemblance to the Fidesz proclamation. It clearly states, for example, that there was a definite break in 1990: the country abandoned the one-party dictatorship of the Kádár regime and embraced democracy.

Jobbik also seems to be offended by the references to "revolution" and the comparison of a political landslide to the glorious revolutions of 1848 and 1956. This is a degradation of those real revolutions. Moreover, said Vona, revolution usually means chaos and destruction. Jobbik rejects revolution, a statement I find rather funny.

Clearer heads in Fidesz are trying to tone down the import of the proclamation. The proclamation is no longer the very foundation of the Fidesz program as Szijjártó labelled it but "a guide" or a "preamble" to forthcoming legislation.

József Debreczeni in an article in Népszava argues that the whole proclamation is a denial of democratic values. Ferenc Gyurcsány in his blog wrote that "one would hope that Viktor Orbán spoke only in jest. That this is just a joke." However, he fears that it was written in all seriousness and therefore it must be taken seriously. He thinks that these ideas are based on wrong assumptions and wrong facts and thus Orbán must believe that the people are stupid. But surely, he continues, they are not and perhaps as a result "the one-man change of regime will soon come to an end."

Well, I wouldn't be that optimistic, but the beginnings of this "new regime" are very rocky. And we haven't talked of the Slovak mess or the IMF's most likely reaction to the ideas of the Mihály Varga-György Matolcsy duo. The former is seriously threatening the Hungarian minority's peaceful coexistence with the majority Slovak population.

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Joe Simon

I really donot think that FIDESZ threatens the peaceful coexistence of Hungarians and Slovaks. This relationship has been pretty rocky in the past. Now Hungary is trying to stand up for the minority there,
giving them some recognition by dual citizenship. First of all, in principle
it cannot be challenged in the EU context.
Dual citizenship exists everywhere. It is an important psychological boost to Hungarians living beyond our borders.
Joe Simon, Diósgyőr

One thing is for sure. Regardless of what Orban thinks, the Hungarian people consider the last 20 years a failure (72% saying in a recent PEW survey (link below) that they are worse off now than under communism and 42% saying they do not approve of the change to a free market economy (46% approved) and even an astonishing 35% disapproving of a multi-party system) [ Sadly, it seems Orban does understand what Hungarians are thinking and believing. Let’s face it(all of us who fervently believe in democracy and a free market economic system and liberty), we are losing the argument. And just to be clear, Hungary is different. On all of these matrix, Hungarians’ views differ substantially from the Czechs, Poles and Slovaks. This, whatever one wants to say, is a sure sign of the failure of the political class, and particularly the MSZP which squandered its opportunity over the last eight years to create a different society. Sadly, Orban has and will exploit this. Sadly, his views mirror those of the population at large. So yes, maybe this is a revolution unfolding now and yes maybe Hungarians are really as stupid as the most cynical people believe.
John T

Hungarians have always been different. Its the rest of the world that has it wrong 🙂


NWO wrote: “One thing is for sure. Regardless of what Orban thinks, the Hungarian people consider the last 20 years a failure…”
I wouldn’t give these polls too much credence. After all, being pessimistic about EVERYTHING is the sine qua non of being Hungarian. Of course they think they were better off under communism. And in five years the polls will show that Hungarians think they were better off under Gyurcsány than they are under Orbán.

After flooding the country with incendiary politics Mr. Orbán now talks of national cooperation. That seems curious, but his speech makes it clear that those who do not support him are no longer part of the nation. His words must be very intimidating to many Hungarians, and they are probably meant to be so. He seems to offer just one more opportunity to join his victorious revolution, or else … These misled or criminal opponents may still live in the same country, but logic dictates that this is an anomaly that somehow must be corrected in the near future (maybe the Slovak government could help out with an offer of citizenship?). On another level we may understand his concept of national cooperation as a plea (or a command?) to keep the unity his private nation showed on election day. This, of course, is a pipe dream. In the coming months Fidesz´ secret program must at last be revealed and the party apparatus will certainly start fighting over the spoils. Many Hungarians will be unpleasantly surprised and Jobbik (if not emigrated yet) will have a field day using Mr.Orbán´s proven tactics, now against the ´revolutionary´ government itself. A third thing that… Read more »
Kathleen Szikra

Very interesting comments.
The issue is, that the “message” gets completely lost in the way this party (FIDESZ) communicates. (I mean who chooses an Orange as a symbol for a Hungarian national-sided party? – as did FIDESZ. And who wonders, when the other national sided parties come up with apples in red-white-green grown in Hungary?)
Or let me ask the following question: can we believe in someone’s true intension, who cannot deliver a message in a proper way? Yes we -theoretically and generously- could, if the person would not be a trained politician, a former leader etc.
I think, there is no excuse left for this…