We can no longer speak of democracy in Hungary. I'm not exaggerating. In fact, reading through some of my earlier posts about what I expected if Viktor Orbán wins the elections, I realize that I was too optimistic. Not in my wildest imagination could I have predicted what has been happening in the last few months. The rapid passage of bills submitted by individual members and thus not requiring any preparation or public discussion was followed by filling all the so-called independent posts with Fidesz men. The government's accounting activities are supervised by a party hack, the president is the puppet of the prime minister and stupid to boot, the budgetary council is on the verge of extinction. Individuals' savings have been illegally seized, the constitution has been changed six times, laws have been tailored to suit members of the inner circle, the constitutional court has been castrated, and smear campaigns are launched against people who criticize Orbán and his government. One could go on and on.
But what happened today really boggles the mind. I think I mentioned earlier while discussing the budget that the government not only expropriated fourteen months' worth of social security taxes paid into private funds; it also considered it essential that practically all of the current investors in these pension funds move over with all their savings to the state-run social security system. We are talking about an incredible amount of money. The "success" of the budget depends in no small measure on the willingness of people to move back to the state system. The government needs their money, not just for paying current pensioners but for all sorts of unnecessary things that Orbán considers important for political reasons.
But it looked as if the Hungarians who have money in these private funds were not so easily swayed. Many of them came to the conclusion that it might not be advantageous. Századvég conducted a poll on people's willingness to switch, and it turned out that György Matolcsy, who was counting on 90% returning to the state, was as usual too optimistic. Only 51% were contemplating such a move, 37% said that they definitely want to remain with their current private fund, while 17% didn't know or didn't want to answer. Something had to be done.
Well, the government did something. Today Matolcsy announced that anyone who decides to remain with his private pension fund will not be eligible for a full pension even though the employer pays social security taxes on his behalf. He will get only whatever he and his employer pay into the private fund. That is called blackmail and is clearly illegal. Or at least it is illegal at the moment. Tomorrow they will make it legal. It is only a question of a couple of hours. Someone will submit the necessary bill and the Fidesz-KDNP machine in parliament will vote yes.
The Constitutional Court has no jurisdiction over the matter. In the first place, it was just deprived of its right to rule on issues concerning the budget. Second, considerations of the sanctity of property were not included in the bill governing the jurisdiction of the constitutional court. Thus, the constitutional court is powerless. But let's assume that the brave judges ignore all this and rule that this move was unconstitutional. So what?
By now I think we can safely talk about a concerted attack on democracy and the rule of law in Hungary. And this is not the end. László Sólyom was right when he talked about the slippery slope. Hungary is inevitably sliding into a state where "democracy" will be mentioned only in the constitution. Or perhaps not even there.