Another day, another speech by Viktor Orbán

Today is the official opening of the Fidesz campaign for local elections and Viktor Orbán made another speech. It was only fifteen minutes long as opposed to his assessment of his government's one hundred days in office that lasted seventy minutes. However, the message was the same: everything is going splendidly and since the elections and the formation of the government Hungary has begun its victorious march toward prosperity. There is now hope and there is no question that "Hungary in the foreseeable future will be strong and successful."

A few days ago on Hírszerző's opinion page there appeared an assessment of the second Orbán government's performance and the prime minister's glowing description of its accomplishments. The author entitled his piece "I feel sorry for Viktor Orbán." Meaning that it must be very difficult to deliver these upbeat speeches when surely he must know that the situation of the country is quite desperate and his time in office hasn't exactly been a victory march.

I agree. He must know that things didn't work out the way he was hoping. Surely, he and his team thought that their long planned economic strategy could be initiated and that the IMF and the European Union would believe that the Bajnai government left behind all those "infamous skeletons" and, behold, the deficit is not 3.8% but 7.5%. Well, it didn't work out that way. The last three months were spent trying to get out of a very uncomfortable situation. The Fidesz government will have to continue its predecessors' policies. Orbán promised all sorts of things to all sorts of people and now here he is empty handed. He was forced to retreat on almost every front with the exception of "economic independence" where he refuses to take out a precautionary loan that would most likely be beneficial to the country. A lot of people say that odds are he will have to give up the idea of economic independence as well.

In these circumstances it must indeed be very difficult to stand there and tell the people that "in the last few weeks this government established a solid foundation" for future economic growth. It must be difficult to conjure up "an entirely different country" that came into being since the elections. Nonetheless, he looks around and what does he see? "Hope in people's eyes, not mirage-filled optimism, but sober cheerfulness." The year 2010 is an exceptional year because "after a long time, one can again experience collective success stories."

After this upbeat beginning he came to the important stuff: Fidesz voters must not be complacent. It is wrong to think that because of the party's landslide victory in April they can sit on their laurels and perhaps neglect to go out and vote again. He gave the impression that the local elections are just as important as the national elections were in April. If Fidesz is unable to show a similar landslide victory then the new government cannot finish "the gigantic task" before it. One had the impression that he is truly worried that people who voted for Fidesz, all 2.7 million of them, are today less inclined to vote than they were at the national elections. At the same time, polls indicate a somewhat renewed enthusiasm among MSZP supporters.

Surely, if MSZP does better than it did in April, Orbán would consider that result an indictment of his first three months in office. Although polls aren't showing it, perhaps Fidesz has some inside information that the enthusiasm for Fidesz is waning. Perhaps that's why the prime minister talked so much about the difficulties of turning Hungary into a successful and strong country after eight years of failure and hopelessness. I found this sentence especially telling: "I would like to reassure everybody that I know what I am doing." Someone who truly knows that he or she did a splendid job doesn't say such things.

Orbán got a bit carried away when he talked about the position of Fidesz on the political landscape. "Slowly people get the impression–rightly so–that there is only one national party, one mass party on which one can rely and which is able to take responsibility for the fate of the country." Or, "Three difficult weeks. Just think of it, decades can depend on them." Needless to say, liberal commentators found Orbán's image of decades of Fidesz rule a bit frightening.