The first one hundred days: A grade of C

At least that is what a representative sample of 1,200 people said about the first 100 days of the second Orbán government. It was Vasárnapi Hírek that entrusted Szonda Ipsos to conduct the poll, and the final result is that “the majority” of those asked considered the performance of the second Orbán government no better than a C. (C is 3 in Hungarian schools and F is 1.) This is a surprising result because recent polls indicate that over 60% of the people would still vote for Fidesz if elections were held this Sunday.

Even Fidesz voters responded that the government’s accomplishments deserve only a B. Predictably, MSZP voters would give Orbán and team a D; Jobbik and LMP voters would give them a D+. The uncommitted voters graded the government a 2.8 (that is, somewhat lower than C).

Forty percent of the sample stated that the “situation of the country” hadn’t changed at all. Thirty-seven percent claimed that it was turning around, while 15 percent thought that it got worse.

When asked about their own fortunes, 61 percent considered their situation unchanged, 29 percent claimed that it got worse, and only 8 percent announced that it got better.

As for the rest of 2010, 47 percent of the people were hopeful, 27 percent answered that it will not change one way or the other, and according to 16 percent their situation will get worse.

When asked about the most memorable steps taken by the government, the two most frequently mentioned items were the lowering of taxes and that women will be able to retire after forty years of work regardless of age.

Fifteen percent of the people welcomed all the new legislation while 7 percent found all of it objectionable.

Szonda Ipsos also simultaneously conducted a poll on party preferences. Fidesz still leads by a huge margin. In the last three months MSZP has stagnated. However, Jobbik has grown stronger. Today 15% of the population would vote for them.

I find this poll rather interesting. I guess a grade of C is not really a bad grade; it simply means “middling.” Most foreign and domestic economic experts would grade the Hungarian government’s performance much more harshly. But ordinary Hungarian citizens don’t have either the knowledge or the perspective to appreciate the fine points of international finance and Hungary’s vulnerability. Here is an amusing cartoon: “Just watch his mouth and if he opens it it’s time to sell,” says the caption.

So, instead of improving its standing in the region Hungary is moving farther and farther toward the end of the line. Something Fidesz was so unhappy about during the socialist-liberal governments. Naturally, the government doesn’t tell the truth to the population. Instead, they are making optimistic long-term pronouncements. On Friday Matolcsy gave a speech in which he predicted that by 2030 Hungary’s economic development will surpass the European Union’s average. He also mentioned reforms that the government allegedly will introduce in 2011 and 2012. He mentioned ten or fifteen “forceful structural reforms” but didn’t specify what they would be. Forceful structural reforms usually don’t bring popularity to a government, and in the last twenty years only Ferenc Gyurcsány’s second government tried making changes in health care which were unequivocally rejected by the medical profession and the public. Therefore, one is a bit skeptical about these forceful structural changes–especially ten or fifteen different ones. That would inevitably result in a decline in the government’s and Fidesz’s popularity, and therefore if reforms take place at all, they certainly will not be forceful, structural, or too numerous.

Viktor Orbán also gave a speech to the party faithful at the traditional Fidesz picnic in Kötcse. In a nod to economic reality, he indicated that the 2011 budget might be restrictive. He also said that his government will put an end to the “the left’s utopian attempts at modernization.” This sounds ominous. After all, in many ways Hungary is not really a modern democratic country and modernization is badly needed. However, already there are signs that Fidesz wants to turn the clock back to earlier times. This is certainly the case in education which was entrusted to the Christian Democrats with their very backward educational ideas. But I see similar developments in the agricultural field. It is enough to think of making pálinka in one’s own kitchen or allowing farmers to sell their produce and meat directly to nearby schools and hospitals. I understand the “buy local” movement, but at least in the U.S. agribusiness is well established. In Hungary the government seems to be fostering old and ineffective methods of agriculture.

In any case, we will see whether public sentiment will change once the summer and the honeymoon is over.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

Yes, Hungary needs modernization.
But stopping the previous governments’ “modernization” attempts is not ominous since they caused no modernization but sheer chaos, as easily predicted before.
And no, the Christian Democrats’ educational ideas are not backwards ideas, these are the ideas that have been proven to work over many centuries.
There’s nothing else going on than sanity being restored to education and this is one of the most urgently needed things at us.

Frank
Guest
“I understand the “buy local” movement, but at least in the U.S. agribusiness is well established. In Hungary the government seems to be fostering old and ineffective methods of agriculture.” I think by ineffective you mean inefficient. Do you prefer chicken factories where chickens are fed 24/7 and they can’t stand up as their leg muscles have not developed fast enough to support their weight. Or do you support the use of antibiotics. In North America about 85% of the antibiotics are fed to animals eventhough they are not sick. Or do you support the unlimited use of fertilizers and pesticides. If yo do, then the above are followed by your “efficient produces” to maximize production. In North America, more and more people are buying organic products, grown locally, for health and environmental reasons. I don’t see how this could be bad for Hungary. As for the palinka, I bet most farmers distilled their own and the current action only legalizes what went on. Quotes from Goldman Sachs should be taken with a grain of salt. Just hope that GS won’t securitize these “undervalued” assets.Or tell clients to go long when GS shorts it. “So, instead of improving its standing… Read more »
Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

Frank: couldn’t agree more. You say:
“In North America, more and more people are buying organic products, grown locally, for health and environmental reasons.
I don’t see how this could be bad for Hungary.”
The problem lies in the fact that the author of this blog is against everything that is patriotic for Hungary, be it of cultural, economic, agricultural or any other nature.
Practically all of the allegations in these posts should be multiplied by -1 and then you are pretty close to the truth.

John T
Guest

Frank – I’d agree with you that organic and free range are much better and healthier. But of course both cost more to the consumer. I have my doubts that the Hungarian consumer is willing to pay the premiums. But I would say that modernisation of agriculture is needed, some in the way that the land is managed but also in the machinery used. Often you’ll see farm workers struggling to operate clapped out old tractors or combines. Also, you can see hothouses that are in need of repair or could be rebuilt more efficient to produce better yields.
Szilárd – I would guess following your latest comment, you’d disagree with my analysis?

Karl Pfeifer
Guest
@Pásztor Szilárd@ “The problem lies in the fact that the author of this blog is against everything that is patriotic for Hungary, be it of cultural, economic, agricultural or any other nature” Who decides what is patriotic for Hungary? “Let us take a patriot, where we can meet him; and, that we may not flatter ourselves by false appearances, distinguish those marks which are certain, from those which may deceive; for a man may have the external appearance of a patriot, without the constituent qualities; as false coins have often lustre, though they want weight.” Johnson “A man sometimes starts up a patriot, only by disseminating discontent, and propagating reports of secret influence, of dangerous counsels, of violated rights, and encroaching usurpation. This practice is no certain note of patriotism. To instigate the populace with rage beyond the provocation, is to suspend publick happiness, if not to destroy it. He is no lover of his country, that unnecessarily disturbs its peace. Few errours and few faults of government, can justify an appeal to the rabble; who ought not to judge of what they cannot understand, and whose opinions are not propagated by reason, but caught by contagion.” Johnson “It is… Read more »
Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

@Karl Pfeifer: I’m not getting into a debate on how to interpret words with obvious meanings, just to intentionally shift the topic off to an area where genuine discussion can be ruled out.
If you are in doubt what “patriotic” means, I suggest a dictionary.
@John T: I may very well agree with your short analysis about the problems in Hungarian agriculture. Of course there are plenty. But there’s a thing one must always keep track of: what direction are we heading and with what intentions. Among the primary endeavours must be the support of farmers inland and a – temporarily artificial, if needed – protection of our markets to save our farmers until they can become competitive on their own.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

@Pásztor Szilárd@ I do not need a dictionary in order to recognize how some people – also in Hungary – misuse and abuse the word patriotism. Some Hungarian “patriots” of Fidesz and their orbit have been during Kádár’s regime zealous communists (some have been even informers of III/III) and became turncoats after the system change.

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

@Karl Pfeifer: your claims about Fidesz are are irrelevant as these real or unreal “facts” have no influence. Why don’t you keep an eye on what type of personnel constitutes MSZP/SZDSZ?

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

@Pásztor Szilárd@ So it is the old story, ours are the good patriotic Hungarians, because the fact that some of them have been informers of III/III makes no difference, it is completely irrelevant, if you are for Fidesz. While of course those from MSZP and SDSZ (which is not existing anymore) are the bad unpatriotic communists.
Strange logic

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

Karl Pfeifer: no, the “strange logic” is that you blame Fidesz for allegedly having a few former III/II members, and at the same time you fail to even mention MSZP/SZDSZ who were and are basically built on and of what remains from III/II and III/III.

Peter
Guest

Szilard:
I read your comments over the last few days and your non-answer to my question. If you so against Professor Balogh’s point of view and the tone of this blog, I wonder why are you hanging around on these pages?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Peter: “If you so against Professor Balogh’s point of view and the tone of this blog, I wonder why are you hanging around on these pages?”
I wonder about this myself.

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

Peter: what question of yours have I left unanswered?
As to why am I hanging around here, it is very simple: I consider it necessary to give a hint to the readers of this blog that the views expressed here are only of a very small minority (and not that it matters a lot, but practically insignificant since the demise of SZDSZ), and to give a hint that these posts couldn’t be farther from the concept of a reliable source of information about Hungary, they constantly express an extreme anti-right and globalist bias instead.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

@Pásztor Szilárd@ Your posting is making me laugh. You want me to whip dead horses (MSZP and the non existent SZDSZ) and stop criticizing the ruling party. And you are not ready even to think about the fact that many of Fidesz important men have a communist background, and that some of them have been informers of III/III.
By the way I was present at a press conference of Mr. Martonyi in Vienna, when I asked him about his famous remark, that the Hungarian ambassadors will be judged upon their countering “defamation of Hungary”, he answered that Hungarian media falsified his statement and that he does not expect the ambassadors to write letters to the editor, only in extraordinary circumstances, but he (Martonyi) expects local (Hungarian) intellectuals to write such letters. So probably you are one of those. The frequency of your posting shows, that you must spend considerable time in writing them.
Your postings show that the extreme right ideology can be expressed in English. So please continue to write.

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

@Karl Pfeifer: you are simply and promptly out of league for labelling me an extremist, as your companion is usually doing it when there is no more intellectual power for genuine discussion.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

@Pásztor Szilárd@ I did not say that you are an extremist. I said your postings show that the extreme right ideology can be expressed in English. There is a difference between the two statements. And please tell me who is my companion?

Joe Simon
Guest

Poor Pásztor Szilárd. You arwe getting it from right and left. But you are right. Hungarian Spectrum is not always impartial regarding Hungarian events. There should be more impartiality in reporting on Hungary. A hatred of the Orbán government
comes through every time. I wonder why.

Longstreet
Guest

A hatred of the Orbán government
comes through every time. I wonder why.
Because good Eva Balogh is a fanatic supporter of the now-defunct leftist liberal gang unable to accept that their time is OVER once and for all, and her ilk just follows the path. I wonder if any other nation is blessed with people fuelling such an immense hatred towards the nation they allegedely belong to, if that nation has chucked them out for good.

Joe Simon
Guest

Yes, Eva still thinks that Gyurcsány is the savior of Hungary. Yet he himself admitted that he was not competent to govern. Then his own party had ditched him. Of course that is part of politics, it
happened here in Canada when the leader of the Liberal Party was unseated. Orbán is not the savior who just came down from Heaven. But he has some good ideas and he has a chance to do some good. Blind hatred is generally not a good guide in political reporting.

wpDiscuz