Monthly Archives: July 2010

“Place in the sun for the hopes of Hungarians”

This is a loose translation of the title Viktor Orbán gave to his speech at the opening of the New Széchenyi Plan. The original is actually more emphatic. He "demands" a place and since it wouldn't make much sense to demand hopes for Hungarians from Hungarians, I came to the conclusion that this demand is addressed to the outside world. In a way he is not much off target because, after all, the whole New Széchenyi Plan will be financed from European Union subsidies. That is, if they keep coming.

The pamphlet that … Read the rest

The New Széchenyi Plan

More than a year ago I devoted a whole post to Count István Széchenyi, "the greatest Hungarian," as his political opponent Lajos Kossuth called him. In it, I said a few words about Viktor Orbán's brainchild, the Széchenyi Plan. I indicated then that the "success" of the Plan was more psychological than anything else. Fidesz is known for its excellent communication techniques. Fidesz politicians appreciate the persuasive powers of Madison Avenue more than most and have never skimped on their advertising budget. As a result, I'll bet, there are few adults in Hungary who haven't heard about the famous … Read the rest

Viktor Orbán and the “western type of capitalism”

Viktor Orbán, it seems, lovingly embraces inconsistency. There is first of all his inconsistency over time, well documented in József Debreczeni's second book Arcmás, published last year. Debreczeni painstakingly collected important Orbán quotations that show his about-face from radical liberal to radical right-winger. Orbán, by the way, would most likely vehemently deny both labels because he now claims that he and his party are beyond "ideologies."

Of course, one could say that no one can expect absolute consistency over time. Times change, a person's outlook changes. Moreover, we all know that once … Read the rest

Literature and politics: Endre Ady (1877-1919)

Endre Ady is one of the most famous Hungarian poets. Literary critics perhaps would place him next to Attila József (1905-1937) in order of greatness. He was born in a God-forsaken village called Érmindszent in Szilágy County (now Adyfalva in Satu Mare County, Romania). Today the village is clearly dying. It has 177 inhabitants; 80 of them are Hungarian, the rest Romanian speaking. In Ady’s days it was a larger village of almost 800 people, divided almost equally between Romanian and Hungarian speakers.

The Ady family was an old noble … Read the rest

About István Stumpf, a new judge on the Hungarian Constitutional Court

In a way, I'm glad that Viktor Orbán decided to let members of parliament take a break for a few weeks and that the avalanche of bills has stopped, at least temporarily. Just to get through the Hungarian News Service's daily reports took hours. Since July 23 the traffic has slowed considerably. At last we've arrived at the silly season (or cucumber season in Hungarian). Of course, there are still the reverberations of the failure of the IMF-EU negotiations which may flare up again; even though financial markets traditionally slow down during the summer they don't … Read the rest

Economy, schmeconomy… The world according to Viktor Orbán by György Lázár

György Lázár, the author of today's post, is a Hungarian-American investor. In the past he was senior consultant for Silicon Valley technology firms, Wells Fargo Bank, and Bank of America in California.

When recently an IMF delegation arrived in Budapest to discuss the sad state of Hungarian finances, they expected that Hungarian officials would be ready and willing to discuss the budget numbers. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had other things in his mind. He flew to South Africa to watch the World Cup soccer final with his pal, OTP boss and … Read the rest

Attacks on the constitutional order in Hungary

The legal watchdogs Transparency International, Helsinki Committee, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, and Károly Eötvös Intézet found serious problems with some of the new pieces of legislation that, in their opinion, undermine the very essence of democracy–the institution of checks and balances without which democracy can't exist. That is quite explicitly stated in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. According to the critics of the parliamentary activities of the Orbán government, a great number of the bills passed and sent on for the signature of the president violate … Read the rest