Hungarian skeletons return

Late last night Viktor Orbán had a half hour conversation with Csaba Azurák, reporter on TV2's "Tények este" (Facts at night). The conversation covered a lot of topics from the local elections to "renationalization." But the topic that raised a lot of eyebrows was the prime minister's assertion that the deficit at the moment is 4.4% because the Bajnai government's  budget "was full of falsification, wrong numbers and mistaken calculations." According to Orbán the country is sweating blood in order to honor the promised deficit of 3.9%. "Because of the international environment the country cannot possibly change this number and therefore we must collect the missing income in the form of surtaxes."

Not surprisingly the reporter wanted to have concrete examples of these falsifications and tricks with the numbers. The answer was somewhat confused, I assume purposely so. According to Orbán "if we talk about the year 2009 there it is obvious that the numbers are false." Which year are we talking about? Surely, not about 2009 but about 2010. So, what is the prime minister's point? He claims that expenditures that were supposed to be taken care of in 2009 were moved forward to be paid in 2010.

The reporter was still not satisfied and inquired, "Where do you see that?" Meaning which specific items are we talking about? But by virtue of the way he formulated the question "Hol látják ezt?" (Where can one/you see that?) Orbán could get out of a sticky situation by claiming that "they see this for example in Brussels and that's the problem…." It is safe to say that Viktor Orbán is not telling the truth (unless, of course, he is using "Brussels" to refer to the Fidesz delegation to the European parliament rather than the EU officials who are overseeing Hungary's budget) because both the IMF and the EU maintained all along that there were no skeletons, no tricks in the Hungarian budget. But he continued in this vein: "We here at home can be clever but in Brussels unfortunately they see clearly. In fact, everybody who is familiar with the workings of the Hungarian economy can see it clearly." Again, I would like to remind everybody that only Fidesz and later the Orbán government claimed that the budgetary figures were false. All those foreign experts claimed exactly the opposite. And again, he talks as if he were speaking a language that no one understands and that this whole conversation remains a secret to the outside world.

The nasty reporter wanted to know more and inquired how much money we are talking about. It is a fairly substantial difference, was the answer, half a percentage point. So, instead of a budget deficit of 3.9% it is at the moment 4.4%. And he added, "we will be forced to report this to Brussels." In order to plant an impression of gravity and urgency he told the reporter that "the experts are working all night in order to analyze the differences and find out the consequences of all this."

And once again comes the confusing communication. A few hours later György Matolcsy set out to calm nerves by saying that "we are naturally not happy about the 0.5% increase in the deficit, but we are not scared either." In monetary terms this means a gap of about 120-130 billion forints which can easily be taken care of. He also revealed that next week he is going to Washington to take part in the IMF's yearly meeting where he is going to explain that today's Hungary is in a very different place from where it was three or four months ago. He will tell the IMF that "we made all the necessary hard decisions by which we will consolidate Hungary's finances without any austerity measures." Moreover, soon enough they will embark on lowering Hungary's debt load. At the same time they "will begin economic growth and [they] will do their best to raise the level of employment." As if it were that simple!

Well, these words were primarily for foreign consumption. At home, with local elections imminent, Fidesz politicians continued to harp on the sins of their predecessors. Péter Szijjártó, Viktor Orbán's personal spokesman and a master of exaggeration and even outright lies, was in his element. "Today what we have suspected all along became fact: the socialist governments of the Gyurcsány era manipulated the budget data." So here we go again! Antal Rogán, who has lately been parading as an economic expert, was already talking about the "mistakes, sins, and responsibilities" of the Bajnai government because the 2010 budget "was born in a lie." While Matolcsy says "no sweat," there is enough money to fill the hole, Rogán is talking about "solutions the government must present to parliament." Gordon Bajnai as well as Péter Oszkó denied all the accusations, but their explanations surely don't reach as many people as an interview with the prime minister.

So, again, the Fidesz government is spinning a financial tale that can negatively affect Hungary's international standing to make political gains at home. The whole thing seems superfluous and petty. Fidesz will win big on Sunday at the local elections. There will be very few towns that will have socialist leadership, but then why risk a possible run-in with Brussels? It's hard to understand. It is most likely the pathological hunger for power that leads Viktor Orbán. The other side must be totally destroyed. However, he should know that politics doesn't work that way.

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Paul Haynes
Guest

I’m sure we’re all waiting with breath bated for Szilárd’s response.
But, before you start, Szilárd, can I make a personal request – can you please refrain from abuse, personal attacks, and accusing Eva or anyone else on here from lying?
Not only would thid make your replies easier to stomach, but you will find the rest of us will treat your thoughts with much more repect that way.
You are the only poster on here who resorts to these attacks, so please desist – for your sake, as well as ours.
Thank you.

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

@Eva: “It is safe to say that Viktor Orbán is not telling the truth”
As the Central Statistics Office (KSH) has also reported the missing 0.5%, it is safe to say that it’s you not telling the truth.
For readers interested in the truth rather than this pathologic hatred-speech against Orbán, see this short analysis (in English):
http://www.portfolio.hu/en/cikkek.tdp?k=2&i=20961

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

@Paul: sorry, I read your response too late.
However, I hope you are not frightened very much as I used Eva’s own but untrue words turned into a situation where they become true.

Pásztor Szilárd
Guest

@Eva: and please don’t lose your patience over my choice of words. If you kick me out of here, who will your faithful readers call then liar, anti-Semite, a believer in the worldwide Jewish plot, a blind Fidesz follower, or one without a clue in History?
For their sake, don’t do it.

Paul Haynes
Guest

Don’t worry, Szilard, most of us would urge Eva not to ban you, should the situation arise. This blog would be a bit boring if we all agreed with each other all the time. I just wish you’d disagree with everyone a little more moderately.
I read the portfolio link you provided and can see nothing there that supports your statement that “As the Central Statistics Office (KSH) has also reported the missing 0.5%, it is safe to say that it’s you (Eva) not telling the truth.”
You need to understand the difference between the reporting of raw data and the intepretations placed upon it. One is fact, the other is just opinion.
Unless you meant the OV link, of course, but that’s just the usual unsupported Fidesz anti-Socialist guff, so of no value at all in this debate.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: “most of us would urge Eva not to ban you, should the situation arise. This blog would be a bit boring if we all agreed with each other all the time.”
I wish Szilárd would realize that here he represents the Hungarian Right. Readers will judge Fidesz, Orbán, and the present Hungarian government on the basis of his appearance on these pages. If he is ignorant, if he is rude, if he is trying to present Hungarian history a way that is incorrect, readers will form an opinion about the whole Hungarian right in a unfavorable light. So he should be very careful.
First and foremost I suggest that he reads a reliable book on 20th-century Hungarian history. I would recommend Ignác Romsics’s book entitled Magyarország története a XX. században. It is a middle-of-the read interpretation of the History of Hungary in the twentieth century. At least then he would be able to argue his side more intelligently.

Paul Haynes
Guest

“The other side must be totally destroyed.”
Reading this reminded me that the other day my wife reported, via her mother, that Orbán was apparently complaining that it was difficult to govern without an effective opposition!
As for our friend Szilard, I fear he IS actually quite typical of Fidesz supporters. His opinions and ‘method’ of argument when faced with facts and analysis he doesn’t like, are very similar to the passionate Fidesz supporters I know.
It would be interesting indeed if he read Romsics’s history, as it struck me as a thorough and well balanced account. But I must admit I found it hard going, the way it is structured is not easy reading for the layman.
On the same topic, I’d be interested in what books (in English) Mark, as a historian, would recommend. I’ve found it very difficult to find good Hungarian histories in English. Most are either very difficult to get hold of or/and very expensive. Something reliable that covered the period after 1990 (at least the first 10 years) would be good too (although I appreciate the historians’ dislike of delving to deeply into recent times!).

Sandor
Guest
Szilard: “For readers interested in the truth rather than this pathologic hatred-speech against Orbán, see this short analysis” Szilard, there is nothing pathologic, or even unreasonable about detesting Orban and his merry men. In fact all you need is a bit of learning, (nothing strenuous to be sure), and a bit of benevolent skepticism. If you could master those, you could not help either detesting this poseur, this untalented epigon of Benito Mussolini, or even worse, the slavish imitator of mussolini’s real epigon: Berlusconi. Imitating an epigon; now that almost takes a talent! Paul: “I’ve found it very difficult to find good Hungarian histories in English. Most are either very difficult to get hold of or/and very expensive.” Paul, don’t be surprised if the good ones are expensive. It is a natural consequence of how difficult it is to write a good comprehensive book of history. For myself, I recommend Peter Hanak’s book, although I cannot remember how far it goes. Certainly not up to the nineties, since Hanak died before. On the other hand it was published in English as well: A History of Hungary – Hardcover (Dec. 1990) by Peter F. Sugar, Peter Hanak, and Tibor Frank Buy… Read more »
Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Pásztor Szilárd, please do not pretend to be a martyr, who is called without any reason all kind of names.
In German we say those who distribute must be able to receive. So given your style of writing, you can’t be surprised that you get sometimes also the answers you deserve.
And probably it would be really useful, if you take the good advice and read the books of serious historians.

Passing Stranger
Guest

@I would recommend Ignác Romsics’s book entitled Magyarország története a XX. században@
It has been published in English, under the title “Hungary in the twentieth century”.

Longstreet
Guest

Just a reminder to those folks with short memories, to recall the greatness of the fallen hero of the liberal, democractic Left, whose bravery was so great that he could utter these fateful words in a secret speech reserved only for his party comrades. What feat it must have been to be there:
“We were lying in the morning, in the night and in the evening!”
And
“We f*cked it up – not just a little, but a great deal.”
Then the finest moment:
“I almost kicked the bucket in pretending to have governed in the last one and half year.”
Hungary will be eternally grateful to those who have delivered us from this parasitic bunch of useless comlib thieves. And if Orban and his folks have had their share of corruption, they will be out of power, too. But first, let’s just settle the bill with the usurpers of the past 8 years, and we can worry about what is to come afterwards.

Longstreet
Guest

For Sandor:
“If you could master those, you could not help either detesting this poseur, this untalented epigon of Benito Mussolini, or even worse, the slavish imitator of mussolini’s real epigon: Berlusconi.”
And this is when you are being reasonable and free of any hatred.

Longstreet
Guest

“It is most likely the pathological hunger for power that leads Viktor Orbán.”
Wow, a psychoanalyst, at last. What’s your view on Gyurcsány dancing in his office imitating Hugh Grant (between two hot-off-the-oven actual plans of god-only-knows how many steps, or the tale on finding a wandering girl in his street, or the envy of France, Germany and the rest for Hungary’s economic conditions, just a couple of years ago (when we were assured that [1] there is no financial crisis, and [2] even if there is, it won’t affect Hungary)? Or was it the liberal phenomenon Kóka, who got elected as party chairman of SZDSZ in a fraudulent way? These comlib cheaters are so hard to distinguish.

Odins lost eye
Guest
Pastor Szilárd, I do wish that you would not blame the messenger for the message. If it comes to a choice between the reports produced by the IMF/ECB and those from the Hungarian Central Statistics Office (KSH), I for one would choose those from the IMF/ECB. My reasons are that these people are bankers and are firstly trying to help the wretched Hungarian people out of the mess their governments (all of them, since 1948) have gotten their people into. As you must know bankers are not charities, they were looking at Hungary to see how Hungary could repay the loan in a reasonable time and what actions the Hungarians would have to take to be able to do so. At the same time the bankers were looking to see what path the Hungarian Government would have to follow to set their finances into good order. Because of the ‘diktats’ of ‘The Mighty One’ (Orban Victor) the folk at Hungarian Central Statistics Office (KSH), fearing for their jobs, will produce any figures they are told to. I know which figures I trust. The idea that a ‘loan’ is in reality a ‘gift’ is all too prevalent amongst Hungarians and therefore… Read more »
Longstreet
Guest

The idea that a ‘loan’ is in reality a ‘gift’ is all too prevalent amongst Hungarians and therefore ‘loans’ need not be repaid.
This fairly generalizing and patronizing notion tells it all – you have no grasping of Hungarians regard these loans. These are but chains, placed upon us by our former Commie leaders (like Fekete János), leading us to massive debt, just to prolong their comrades’ ruling) and their ilk, continuing to force Hungary under foreign ruling, be it either the Soviet Union or the IMF.

Paul Haynes
Guest

“These are but chains, placed upon us by our former Commie leaders (like Fekete János), leading us to massive debt, just to prolong their comrades’ ruling) and their ilk, continuing to force Hungary under foreign ruling, be it either the Soviet Union or the IMF.”
Meanwhile, back on planet reality…

Paul Haynes
Guest

“But first, let’s just settle the bill with the usurpers of the past 8 years, and we can worry about what is to come afterwards.”
And meanwhile, let’s not worry about the less important things like democracy, the economy and telling the truth.

Longstreet
Guest

If it is “democracy” that is defended by blinding people with a spray of rubber bullets, if it is “economy” that runs to IMF to bail out for 7 straight years of mismanagement, and if it is “telling the truth” that is the diametrically oppopsite of what had been propagated (and what was blamed on the opposition) then to hell with it.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Longstreet: “But first, let’s just settle the bill with the usurpers”
If I recall these “usurpers” won the elections.

Longstreet
Guest

Yes. So did Hitler in 1933 or the communists in Hungary upon Soviet bayonets in 1948.

Member

Is anybody still on this blog who is not Hungarian? Probably Mark was the last one …
Do you see now why is this shitty little country not going anywhere?

Longstreet
Guest

One would think that debate brings about improvement and solution… and actually yes, with the previous regime’s corrupt politicians marching in one way towars the prison, I would think that Hungary does go in the right direction.

Paul Haynes
Guest

Sandor – thanks for the recommendation. Unfortunately it’s £16 on Amazon over here. But maybe Mikulás will look kindly on my shoes.
Mark – what is your opinion of the other easily available history of Hungary – ‘A History of Hungary: Millennium in Central Europe’ by Dr László Kontler?
I have read this (or most of it!) and found it fairly easy to read and understand and (as far as I can tell) balanced. Personally, I’m not so interested in Medieval times, so that part was a struggle, but I found it an easier read that Romsics’ book.
Is there anything of your own work that is available and not too expensive?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Longstreet: “So did Hitler in 1933 or the communists in Hungary upon Soviet bayonets in 1948.”
Your logic is faulty here. After they won the elections the socialist-liberal government didn’t introduce a one-party dictatorship. As for your second example, the country wasn’t under occupation in 2002 and 2006.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Open Dog: “Is anybody still on this blog who is not Hungarian? Probably Mark was the last one … Do you see now why is this shitty little country not going anywhere?”
A lot of people. More than you think. What is your problem with this shitty little country? That not everybody supports Viktor Orbán?

Paul Haynes
Guest

Longstreet – we have a saying over here, which may well be common in other countries – “None so blind as those who will not see”.
I hope you enjoy the Hungary that will be left after 4 years (or longer) of OV’s orgasm of supreme power. But, personally, I weep to see what the poor deluded citizens of my adopted country have brought upon themselves.

Longstreet
Guest

It is not my logic that fails, but your reading – I did not make any comment on the afterwards, but merely pointed out that winning an election is not a guarantee for anything, and indeed, the post-2002 regime’s cheating, lying and their cover-up by the servant media does amount to an interesting appreciation of the concept of democracy.

Longstreet
Guest

“That not everybody supports Viktor Orbán?”
That’s a self-promoting description of acting as a mouthpiece for the failed regime. Most independently and fairly, of course.

Longstreet
Guest

“I hope you enjoy the Hungary that will be left after 4 years (or longer) of OV’s orgasm of supreme power.”
So much interested in Orbán’s orgasms, are you? Ask his wife about such issues. Or change the country’s electorate (they are genetically anti-Semite scum anyway), they simply don’t deserve the greatness and success this past 8 years have brough upon them.

Pete H.
Guest

Longstreet, you have set up a false dichotomy. There is no reason people shouldn’t keep a critical eye on the new regime. Without a vocal and active opposition governments tend towards tyranny. Orban’s crew have taken some steps that appear from outside of Hungary to look very anti-democratic. Saying so in no way precludes dealing with any real crimes the past regime may have committed.

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