Two assessments of Hungarian politics and economics

My day was pretty hectic and I don't have time to write anything substantial today. However, I would like to say a few words about two articles that appeared in The Economist and The Financial Times. The former, entitled "Hungry for Power," is especially hard hitting. It made quite an impression in Hungary where it is making the rounds in the Hungarian media. Some newspapers simply took over the MTI version but others went to the original and did their own translation. The MTI version softened the message a bit by adding, for example, "according to critics," a turn of phrase that didn't appear in the original. The opinion was that of The Economist and not some unnamed critics. So, please read it.

The Financial Times article was written by Kester Eddy, and it is rather amusing. He makes fun of György Matolcsy, whose latest is that he will turn Budapest into an international financial center, the "Luxembourg of Eastern Europe." He said that a day after the Moody's downgrade.

And finally, a funny story from me. Just a little over a year ago I wrote about the new Fidesz mayor of Pécs and the French company, Suez Environment, that provided drinking water for the city. The post was entitled "Foreign investors in Hungary beware: Pécs and Suez Environment." It was a complicated story, but the upshot was that the city of Pécs forcibly took over the management of the company in which it had a minority stake. The new Fidesz mayor claimed, among other things, that in order to expand beyond the city limits the company charged too much for the water.

What did I hear yesterday? The new city-owned company is raising the rates by eight percent starting January 1, 2011. Isn't that interesting.

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Kevin Moore
Guest
My, my. Look at that picture or Orbán in the Economist article. Isn’t it sweet? I’m fascinated how those journalists maintain their independence and objectivity. I bet you don’t see anything wrong with that. But for everyone with eyes and a sane mind, the aim of the articles is immediately obvious. And it revolves around the frightening recognition that Orbán wants power. I’m also very frightened when I see a politician wanting power. I think all election systems in the world should be changed in a way that it forbids such politicians to enter the arena and allows exclusively candidates who DO NOT WANT power, do not want to be persons in charge. Sigh. Where are these shocking idiots manufactured at such large numbers? The Moody’s downgrade is so ridiculous it doesn’t even deserve many words. It is an obvious attempt to put pressure on the government to continue serving international financial institutions. It is clear from the facts that Hungary’s budget deficits is and will be one of the EU’s lowest, our government debt will hugely drop because of the nationalization of the private pension funds, and our GDP growth in 2011 will most probably surpass the EU’s average.… Read more »
barni
Guest

the Economist article is fair in my opinion, as well as concise and well-written so it’s a shame the picture distracts from it and gives an ‘out’ to those who wish not to consider the points raised in the article and dismiss it as biased.

Kevin Moore
Guest

barni: the article is in perfect accordance with the picture. Terribly biased.

Vladimir
Guest

I agree with barni that the photo in The Economist was horrible and distracts from the balanced content that takes a very dim view of the Socialist years that one wouldn’t generally get from this blog.
Interestingly The Economist talk to the justice minister and not the one of OV’s mouthpieces or perhaps a minister with more direct oversight of economic matters. Perhaps is the Justice Minister figuring more prominently in this cabinet in economic matters than would be in a well-run and open democracy?
OV, if he doesn’t mind himself well during his inherited EU presidency, could have many more of his pugnacious photos being chosen by European photo editors.

kormos
Guest

Almost entertaining!
You can even purchase that picture; framed if you wish. Clever photographer managed to form a dreaded Arpad-striped flag out of the Hungarian Flag. Independent journalism? Sure.
Yes, the new Hungarian Government has learned from the mistakes of 1998-2002 and step by step destroys the old network. They blow up the (so called socialist) beaver dam. Is it painful to the 1945-1989 newly minted aristocracy? I bet you it is.
Finally someone stepped on the tail of coyotes and they are crying.

Kevin Moore
Guest

How on Earth could this Economist article be fair when it is presenting its own horrific opinion in several chapters, then just as a side note in the last chapter, mentioning the positive key factors which basically determine a country’s situation?
Meanwhile meticulously forgetting to mention the completely unreal criteria forced on Hungary by the EU and IMF while systematically denying all measures to fulfill those criteria.

Bálint
Guest

Emollient? Pal Schmidt’s ghostwriter really gets around.

Jo Peattie
Guest

Such an article as the one in The Economist would probably incur a major fine if published here come 2011. It is sad that an analysis of the current situation in Hungary which criticizes the current Government will soon be left only to the foreign press. By the way is your name really Kevin Moore?

Joe Simon
Guest

The focus of this Blog is extremely narrow. Orbán might ultimately fail but not on account of his political and moral shortcomings. Hungary’s probelms are daunting. Consider Ózd and Diósgyőr, ‘hazánk ipari fellegvára’ under Kádár. Walk around in the factory districts and North Korea comes to mind: dreary, rusting wasteland, crumbling infrastructure. In vain one would look for a public swimming pool, tennis courts, green parks or recreational areas. The place looks as if the tartars have just left: a legacy of the almost half-century of misguided socialist policy. Tens of thousands working for the state producing low quality products to be sold mostly below cost. Finally the system collapsed. Yet many people donot see this and long for the good old days when things were ever so simple. No unemployment, no inflation, yet the country was fast falling behind countries like Austria. This is what Orbán faces. If more power will change all this, so be it. Hopefully he will know that in a democracy there are limits.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Joe Peattie: “By the way is your name really Kevin Moore?”
What a naive question! His name is Kevin Moore as mine is Elizabeth Taylor.

Thomas
Guest

The picture is in perfect harmony with the article. Am I biased? You bet I am, and so are most people who commented in this blog. I am a conservative liberal, which of course would be labeled as a leftist liberal in Hungary. Conservative in fiscal government and liberal in social issues and definitely liberal when it comes to freedom of speech. And as such I am terrified of what is happening in Hungary, even though it does not affect me personally.
By the way, the end of the article is paints a rosy picture of the plans of the current government helping the Roma. That of course is totally bogus. This government, as well as all the others before in Hungary, has done nothing and plans to do nothing to help the situation. In that FIDESZ and the Socialist are exactly the same, a hair better than Jobbik. At least they are not openly racist.

Kevin Moore
Guest

Jo Peattie: being biased is not the problem. Pretending to be fair and balanced while being strongly biased is.

kincs
Guest

It’s interesting to note, ‘Kevin,’ that you don’t take issue with any of the facts detailing Viktor’s power grab.

Paul
Guest

Not only is his name obviously not ‘Kevin Moore’, but his writing style veers wildly all over the place. One minute he is a ‘genuine’ Hungarian citizen, incenced by the bias of this evil blog and falling over his imperfect English, the next he writes fluenly in a style that many native English writers couldn’t match.
As I’ve said many times before, I am constantly surprised that Fidesz get their trolls so wrong. They are instantly obvious for what they are.
Although some marks for trying a new tactic with ‘Joe Simon’ – the moderate man who thinks OV might fail, but not for the want of trying. How long before he follows in the footsteps of the last ‘moderate’ Fidesz troll, ‘Johnny’?
I really do expect more from such a slick spin department. They hypnotised most Hungarians into voting to shoot themselves in both feet, but they can’t get a simple blog troll right.

An
Guest

@Paul: The saddest thing, Paul, is that I don’t think all of these characters are planted trolls. Maybe some are, maybe none of them are. They may actually truly believe all the stuff they are writing…

Paul
Guest

An, you may be right about ‘Kevin’, he reminds me of the dear, departed Szilárd at times, and I think he was real, he gave away too much abot himself. But I think ‘Kevin’ is at least encouraged by Fidesz, if not an official troll.
‘Joe’ (and his former incarnation ‘Johnny Boy’) are definitely trolls though. They simply know too much that an ordinary poster couldn’t/wouldn’t know.
Add toi that that all these posters only ever appear on threads where they consider Fidesz under attack – education, food – not a peep out of them – (and, most damming of all, none of them so much as commented on Mark’s death), and I think you have TROLL in pretty big letters.