Well, that is something new. One could say unheard of. More than surprising. Viktor Orbán doesn't normally visit an opposition party's parliamentary caucus. He surely wouldn't accept the invitation of MSZP because only today he labeled them the representatives of a tiny minority, 20 percent of the population, who didn't want change. Eighty percent, including Jobbik and LMP supporters, voted for the kind of change that is taking place right now.
It is also unlikely that he would visit Gábor Vona's Jobbik caucus because it wouldn't look too good. It is true, as Jobbik politicians often remind the country, that Fidesz steals their ideas and puts them forth as their own. But one must consider European public opinion, which would be taken aback by any perceived cozy relationship between a so-called right-of-center party and another that most foreign papers call neo-nazi. So, that leaves the LMP. They invited Orbán and Orbán accepted the invitation, and by that move he showed that he is willing to sit down with an opposition party because after all he is the leader of the Regime of National Cooperation.
I think that LMP made a huge mistake by extending an invitation to Viktor Orbán because it was only Orbán and the government who could use the occasion to their advantage. LMP gave Orbán the opportunity to look magnanimous while LMP got nothing out of it. Okay, let's not be unfair. Gergely Karácsony, deputy head of the LMP delegation, said that the meeting had one positive result: they found out that Viktor Orbán is not planning to reorganize the whole political regime by turning the Hungarian parliamentary system into a half-presidential one. Well, I guess one must be grateful for small things.
The meeting took place today. Right after the meeting Orbán gave a press conference during which he gave the impression that LMP and the Fidesz-led government are on the same side. He made use of a word play on the name of LMP (Lehet Más a Politika/Politics can be Different) and announced that "Lehet más Magyarország, meaning "Hungary can be different." He added that he realizes that LMP wants to have less of a difference, but they both want to introduce changes and therefore he accepted their invitation gladly. He admitted that there are "differences of opinion in not insignificant questions" but he made light of these differences.
Otherwise, let's face it, Viktor Orbán didn't give an inch. LMP wanted to slow down the frantic pace in parliament, wanted to have more time to prepare and discuss proposals, wanted to have thorough ministerial preparation of the legislative proposals. Orbán brushed all these aside. For the time being legislative work cannot slow down. Perhaps "after the members return from their vacations … or rather after the local elections" sometime in October there might be a slower pace.
Well, that wasn't much. But, I thought, perhaps LMP's press conference will be more revealing. Yes, we learned a little more, but again it seems that LMP didn't manage to convince Viktor Orbán that the government's economic ideas might be counterproductive and actually might hurt the economy. Apparently the LMP politicians said that they consider the regime change of 1989 to be an important victory for democracy and they have trust in the current constitution. To the question of whether this meeting made a difference in the relationship beween the government and LMP, the answer was no but they added that "there is a desire on both sides for some kind of cooperation." LMP deputies also expressed their dismay at the public display of the infamous manifesto, but as we learned from the description of the meeting on Fidesz's website Orbán vigorously defended his decision. The prime minister added that "next spring when the country will have a new constitution perhaps its preamble can replace the manifesto." That announcement caused quite a stir because the public was informed earlier that the constitution would not be introduced until 2012. LMP members hoped that it was just a mistake, that Orbán mixed up the dates.
I suggest that those who read Hungarian compare the announcement that followed the meeting on two different websites: one that appeared on Viktor Orbán's website that closely follows the MTI article and the other that can be read on Fidesz's homepage. In the latter the emphasis is on the manifesto and the new constitution. The editors of the website proudly announced that indeed it is not a mistake: the constitution will be ready by next spring. As for the manifesto, according to this description, Orbán claimed that "the government indicated its decision elegantly when it stated that the manifesto must appear only where state employees work." Because, as Orbán said, he "will not rest until all state employees learn that things cannot go on as they had in the last eight years. No more stealing, no more arbitrary measures, no more treating citizens as subjects." Therefore, he insists that all state employees see this document every day.
Well, somehow I don't think that these words will warm the hearts of state employees. Moreover, it seems to me that Orbán got carried away in trying to justify that cursed manifesto which turned out rather badly for him. Now he tries to explain it away as a manifesto that would change state employees' attitudes toward their fellow citizens and their work. But if one reads the text of the manifesto it is clear that it has nothing to do with good behavior at the workplace. Or that one should not steal.
All in all, I can only suggest to LMP not to repeat this get-together too often. It is clearly not to their advantage.