Viktor Orbán declared war on the national debt and it seems that Ferenc Gyurcsány declared war on Viktor Orbán. Orbán has been on Facebook for almost a year, and I was surprised that Gyurcsány didn't show up on Facebook, which is becoming a national pastime in Hungary.
It looks as if Gyurcsány has thrown himself into politics again. Today it will be decided whether MSZP's leadership is ready to accept his Democratic Coalition platform (with over 4,000 members including non-party members) and thus accept the challenge of reforming MSZP. According to all accounts there will be no question about the embrace although I have no idea what the party will do with the anti-Gyurcsány forces headed by László Puch and Tibor Szanyi.
In any case, once Gyurcsány makes up his mind about something he tackles the task head on with incredible energy. Once he discovered that Viktor Orbán had "declared war on the sovereign debt" on Facebook he decided to write a letter to him on the same subject, also on Facebook.
The tone of the letter is ironic and scathing. Gyurcsány gathers that Orbán would like to understand why the national debt has grown in the last ten years and also wants to know who is responsible for that growth. He would like to help Orbán. "If you answer the questions below, I promise you that you will get closer to the truth. Within a few minutes an entirely new world will open before your eyes. Believe me!"
Here is a rough translation of the text.
(1) Is it true that your government raised the salaries of government employees by 70%?
(2) Is it true that you initiated a subsidy program for the purchase of apartments and houses that cost the budget more than 300 billion forints a year?
(3) Is it true that money spent by your government on infrastructure was not calculated into the budget in order to hide the real deficit?
(4) Did you ever figure out that the Orbán government during 2001 and 2002 left behind a deficit of about 450 billion forints which in eight years would have amounted to a deficit of 12% if your successors hadn't trimmed the budget?
(5) Did Fidesz vote for the thirteenth-month pension for pensioners which cost 300 billion forints every year?
(6) Did Fidesz support the government's proposal in 2005 to introduce built-in guarantees that would have made the growth of sovereign debt impossible once and for all?
(7) Did Fidesz support the 50% raise in state employees' salaries?
(8) Did Fidesz object to giving an extra month of child support?
(9) Did Fidesz raise its voice against the largest and thus the most expensive road construction in the history of Hungary?
(10) Did Fidesz vote against the tax reduction program in 2006?
(11) Did Fidesz support the steps taken between 2006 and 2010 aimed at reducing the deficit and putting an end to the growth of the national debt?
(12) Were you the ones who initiated a referendum that deprived the state of a sizable income and at the same time put an end to reforms designed to create public and individual responsibility?
(13) Did you personally raise your voice against those Fidesz politicians who with their stupid statements weakened the forint and thus increased the sovereign debt?
(14) Did the new government use the past nine months for bettering the national economy or, following the worst traditions of the country, try to figure out how you could possibly further increase the national debt?
But no need to continue. However, to assist your understanding of the issue I summarize here what has happened since 2001.
(1) You, Mr. Prime Minister, in 2001 and 2002 decided to irresponsibly spend an extra 450 billion forints.
(2) Péter Medgyessy's "one hundred day program" created a deficit of 850 billion forints.
(3) My own decrease in the value added tax in 2006 cost the budget an additional 200 billion forints.
(4) Your own tax cuts this year cost us another 600 billion forints every year.
If I recall properly, then you and your party enthusiasically supported all these expenses or, even worse, some of them were actually initiated by you.
When we tried to correct our own stupidities your reactions were the following:
(1) When Péter Medgyessy suggested cutting expenses at the end of 2003 and 2004 you cried "the death of the nation" (nemzethalál).
(2) I was radically decreasing the deficit from 2006 on, and by 2008 we reached 3.8%. During the fall of 2008 I proposed further legislation in order to cut the deficit further. You and your party rejected all my steps.
(3) Gordon Bajnai from the spring of 2009 on announced further reductions to handle the crisis. You and your colleagues didn't support the prime minister in his endeavors.
Mr. Prime Minister,
You are an irresponsible and cowardly man. Always at the forefront of spending or lending your support to spending but never daring to assist or initiate unpopular cuts in expenses. But now you're in trouble. You know that there is no way of avoiding some hard decisions. You don't have the courage to look the situation squarely in the face and admit that you have made wrong decisions….
Since you rejected the reform package of Lajos Bokros in 1995 you have been behaving in a most primitive and most irresponsible way. You promise all sorts of things to the people, you inflame their passions and desires, but shirk from real governing. In my opinion there is the need for self-examination. I suggest that as a first step go into the bathroom next to the study of the prime minister; there is a nice mirror there and please look into it. Then think! Finally judge! But not just others, yourself as well. That could be the most promising day of Hungarian democracy, the beginning of the closing of the last twenty years. Not with revolution. … With sobriety.
Ferenc Gyurcsány, February 25, 2011, Kötcse