The newest plan named after a former finance minister and prime minister

Viktor Orbán's governments love making plans, and if there are plans they have to be named after historical figures. In fact sometimes the name comes first and only afterward the details of the plan. This is the case with the Semmelweis Plan, named after Ignác Semmelweis (1818-1865) who found that the unclean hands of physicians had something to do with puerperal fever. The name is in place, but the plan that is supposed to fix the ills of Hungarian healthcare is very hazy.

István Széchenyi (1791-1860) has been always a favorite of Hungarian conservatives, mainly because he was juxtaposed against Lajos Kossuth (1802-1894), the revolutionary nationalist. Széchenyi's priority was not independence from Austria but rather the country's economic development. Thus he was very much in favor between the two world wars, whereas after 1945 the darling of the regimes was Kossuth. It was no surprise that during the first Orbán government György Matolcsy's economic stimulus plan was named after Széchenyi. Last year György Matolcsy and Viktor Orbán jointly announced the launch of the New Széchenyi Plan. The first Széchenyi Plan actually had relatively little influence on Hungarian economic growth and I very much doubt that the new plan will be any more effective.

And now we have the Kálmán Széll Plan that allegedly will dramatically lower Hungary's sovereign debt and will usher in a spectacular economic boom. Although few people probably remember Kálmán Széll's name from their studies of Hungarian history in the eleventh grade, Széll (1843-1915) was a much heralded minister of finance (1875-1878) and later a greatly respected prime minister (1899-1903).

The Széll Plan is the Orbán government's answer to the demands of the international markets to improve the precarious economic and financial situation of the country. Although Viktor Orbán while in opposition promised a bright future without any belt tightening, after nine months in office he had to admit that without a serious structural reorganization there can be no sustainable economic growth. The question was how to package this austerity program without calling it austerity. Thus was born the Kálmán Széll Plan for the Reduction of the Sovereign Debt. Like the first attempt at appeasing the European Union in June 2010, this is a numbered list. The first program had twenty-nine points, including such key decisions as permitting the brewing of pálinka at home. This new program has only twenty-six points.

What can I say about the Kálmán Széll Plan? Most of it is as advertised, simply a plan for promised future action. Admittedly, the first point is a concrete change, however modest. From here on ministers will have shorter vacations: instead of two months, only one. In the second point they promise that by July 1 they will work out the details of a freeze on current expenses of the state bureaucracy. But wait a minute, I remember that they promised that already in June 2010. In fact, they promised that they would save 15% on salaries. Of course, we know that in fact the expenses of the government have grown since Viktor Orbán became prime minister.

Similar promises are made about changes in public works programs, disability payments, early retirement, sick pay, drug subsidies. All by July 1. By September 1 they will enact new laws concerning public and higher education. By December 1 they will have put the whole system of social security on a new footing. By the end of the year they will completely restructure the debt load of the Hungarian State Railroad. Then a new world will await the population on January 1, 2012, when all these preparations will be translated into action: a new system of pensions, a new system of public works, and a new system of public transportation. The laundry list sometimes gets a bit confused over tenses: point 21 mentions the freezing of subsidies for parties at the 2011 level, but that freeze, to the best of my knowledge, already took place. Some numbers are serious political targets: in 2014 there will be a parliament of only 200 members!

There are some rather disappointing announcements. First, the extra levy on the banks will continue at the same rate for three years. The government promised earlier that in 2013-2014 business taxes would be lowered from 19 to 10 percent. Well, they will not. Instead there are new, totally unsupported promises of a bright economic future for Hungary. By 2014 the national debt will be only 65-70% of the GDP as opposed to the current 80%. According to the ever optimistic Matolcsy, with the help of the Kálmán Széll Plan and the New Széchenyi Plan there will be an economic growth of 4-6 percent a year. With this spectacular growth there will be 300,000 new jobs created. The Hungarian economic miracle will be "an breakthrough in economic history."

Not surprisingly, investors and analysts were hoping for something more concrete. The reaction was immediate. The yield on government notes due February 2015 climbed 12 basis points. And although it was a weak day across the board for European bourses, Hungary's performance was about twice as bad. London analysts considered the Kálmán Széll Plan vague on the expenditure side and "the timing of the implementation is also not clear." According to Ilan Solot, emerging-markets strategist at  Brown Brothers Harriman in London, the Hungarian government's "plans seem to focus on tax hikes rather than spending cuts … and unless more details on spending cuts are announced, the forint will be vulnerable."

Foreign analysts complain that "the government keeps promising big announcements all the time and then fails to deliver." Unfortunately Matolcsy is no Kálmán Széll.

 

 

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GDF
Guest

“Some numbers are serious political targets: in 2014 there will be a parliament of only 200 members!”
Get rid of the opposition MPs, they don’t count anyway, get rid of the Christian Democrats, they just complicate things, and we are almost there…

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Here is a video of Agnes Heller’s speech in Brussels yesterday.
http://www.greenmediabox.eu/archive/2011/03/01/agnesheller/
Interesting.

Johnny Boy
Guest

“Here is a video of Agnes Heller’s speech in Brussels yesterday.”
This video is the very definition of “hate speech”.
Preceded by the lie in the introduction that she is being discriminated because of her Jewish origin (none of her opponents brought this up as an ‘argument’, only her!), this speech is what you will find in the dictionary if you look up ‘hatred’.
It is frightening to see how some people, when losing power and position, let their feral instincts come to surface and lose control, threatening every adversary in sight.

Sandor
Guest

As a matter of fact, Heller never spoke of her Jewishness, simply she didn’t need to. The facts speak for themselves.
You can also start getting frightened for loosing position and power, because that is exactly what you are staring in the face. Heller has no reason to be afraid, because her position is well established and is based on merit, not hollow rhetoric. The very fact that the international community pays attention to her, while ignoring and deriding the Fidesz hacks, tells volumes about the uneven struggle you seem to espouse here.
You can spew all your government-issue boilerplate ’till you are blue in the face, no Jew-baiting, no patriotic mumbo-jumbo, and no xenophobia will shake her unassailable international reputation or scholarly authority.
Too bad.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Sandor: what you call ‘international community’ is a small zoo-like echo chamber of the so-called ‘liberals’ who never tolerate any opinion differing from their own.
The only fact that speaks for itself is that Heller hopes that her Jewish origin will acquit her of the law. And you simply lie when you say he never spoke of her Jewishness. That’s all she’s preoccupied with.
She also denied the proven fact that people were shot in the eye during the 2006 riots. She is a shameful liar.

Rózsa
Guest

Do not feed the trolls!! Please!!

Johnny Boy
Guest

Why, ‘Rózsa’, aren’t you hungry?

John G
Guest

And my Dad can beat your Dad! So there!!

Kirsten
Guest

At least Fidesz detected the real problems (budget, employment). If perhaps someone remembers that: is that programme similar to what the Bajnai government would have intended to do if they had stayed in office?

Member
Agnes Heller’s speech very much sums up what is happening. I love how they introduce her, so it puts things into perspective. (She was against communism, hence her age she lived through WWII as a Jew, she left Hungary in the 70’s and returned). She is very emotional to begin with, but from the 10th minute it is a great summary. I like how she reaches out with great diplomacy to Fidesz members who would like to better the current situation. A true diplomat is who leaves a door open to others to retreat (one of the many thing Orban is incapable of). She talks about the retroactive taxes and retroactive legislations, the centralization of power, accusations of liberals of creating a crises around the media law, criminalization of the previous government for any price, replacement of the intellectual elite. She also notes that the conservative intellectuals do not support the kind of “measures” Orban does, and points out that, the same people who served Kadar now declared themselves as the right wing elite as they try take part of the prosecutions. It is frightening to see Krisztina Morvai around minute 35. My goodness, isn’t she a a piece of… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

someone: “Agnes Heller’s speech very much sums up what is happening”
She is a gutsy lady.

Johnny Boy
Guest

someone: “She lost credibility when she started to “quote” things from Heller’s speech, and Heller had to correct her saying, that she never said such things.”
Heller was simply lying. Hankiss was referring to the interpreter’s Hungarian translation who said that, according to Heller, “senkit sem lőttek le vagy kínoztak meg”. Heller lied about it because she knew that for an interpreter’s words she could not be held accountable. But originally she said, “nobody was shot or tortured”. As we see, the interpreter translated faithfully and Hankiss was right. Heller lied.

Kata
Guest

I wonder what Gy Schopflin meant by saying that the internal debate in Hungary was ontological. I think it is rather powerological.

Member

Johnny: I have no idea what are you talking about.
Heller never mentioned anything to Hankiss about the shooting of people. What script are you reading?
In any case, this is what Morvai had to lie: “why did the Liberal-Socialist Coalition Government had to shoot Hungarians in 2006? Why did they had to cause serious injuries to hundreds of Hungarians? WHy did they had to put hundreds of people into prison and torture them in prison? Why did they had to do it on and on and on between 2002 and 2010?”
Heller’s reply was that no one was shot, no one was tortured. It is obvious that she responds to the exaggerations made by Morvai. What Morvai was referring to is ongoing torture and people are being killed by bullet. Least that is the effect she wanted. It is a lies and Heller made that clear, but that had nothing to do with Hankiss.

Kata
Guest

@someone and JB
Just for the record 😉 Sounded like Heller was diminishing the degree of casualities a little bit and Hankiss was exaggerating them. Divide and multiply and you’ll find the truth in the middle. Even best blame it on the interpreter!
Casualities due to police force during peacful demonstrations also receive much media attention in western democracies.

Jano
Guest
“Not surprisingly, investors and analysts were hoping for something more concrete.” So was I. This is again the same old we will do something, we promise. Yes it recognized most of the problems, but after 8 years in opposition with at least 3 years as a clear favorite on the next election this is N-O-T-H-I-N-G. Clearly it was not only Gyurcsány who didn’t do anything useful in the past 8 years. This “plan” (I would call it a first sketch) is clearly not ready, but they couldn’t postpone it again (remember, it was promised to be announced at Febr. 15!) so they had to come out with this. Kirsten: It is nice that they recognized the problems, but these problems have been already realized. The problem is that everybody tried to force their own short lived half-quarter-solutions everywhere and the involved people doesn’t even trust anybody since whenever somebody came to do something they ended up wishing they hadn’t come. The healthcare situation is e.g. very well described in this article (sorry again non-Hungarians): http://index.hu/belfold/2011/03/02/oriasi_nagy_gaz_van_az_egeszsegugyben/ Recognizing these problems without having a solution is a nice tool to create the impression of competence, nothing more and this obviously doesn’t take a… Read more »
Johnny Boy
Guest

Kata: no, Heller was outright denying any casualties. She can’t be that stupid as to not know what happened in reality, so she simply lied.

GW
Guest

Johnny Boy,
For once, why don’t you try articulating a defense of your government’s policy or proposed policy instead of simply attacking people who hold viewpoints different to your own. I would really like to read a cogent defense of these plans, or even the most modest argument in favor of moving offices around during a time of extreme budget stress or allowing whole government departments to sit inactive for months at a time.
I strongly suspect that you are not making these arguments and resorting to character assaults simply because these policies are indefensible.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Mandiner also posted an article on how the rotter Heller lied about what happened in 2006.
They quote the lie and counter it with photographic and video proof:
http://mandiner.blog.hu/2011/03/03/heller_agnes_hazudik_2006_oszerol_ilyen_orszag_pedig_nincs_cclix?utm_source=ketrec&utm_medium=link&utm_campaign=index
How does it feel to uncritically support someone who is proven to lie on political grounds and is accused of stealing public money?

Johnny Boy
Guest

GW: first tell your friends here to stop labelling me a troll only because I have different opinion here. Until that, there’s no point in my putting any effort into genuine discussion, I’m merely restricting myself to uncovering the lies posted here.

Member

Johnny Buy; It is you who are lying. Heller denied the shooting of the people and the torturing of the people by the Social Government!
By the way, what do you think about the Secret Documents that came out very recently about the Fidesz’s point of view regarding the events in 2006 at the Television. Nyitrai (Fidesz) demanded to know that Why the police was forbidden to use its firearm, and who gave this instruction. Nyitrai felt that the police had the cause to shoot.
http://tinyurl.com/4deabq6
http://atv.hu/belfold/20110225_a_fidesz_2006_ban_meg_szerette_a_rendoroket

Member

@Eva. How is your friendship with Heller? I would suggest that she should prepare for an occasion like this in Brussels with someone who can second the details. Maybe a third person to do some research. Don’t get me wrong: I watched all the 80+ minutes of it. It was awesome! But she fell into the same ditch with the “rubber vs. metal bullets” for instance. Maybe a reharsal and prozac/palinka before whatever works for the courage. Considering the intelligence of the Hungarian delegates it’s pretty easy to be predict what they will throw at her. Also easy (this maybe just my cynical self) to predict the “circus” when they run out of time so Heller can take advantage of that too. You can see here how easy target Kenny is in this blog …
Again, congrats to her for the courage!

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

I don’t know Heller personally but we have many friends in common.
I didn’t watch the question and answer period but I thought that by the end of her speech she was getting tired. It was difficult to follow the story although I’m familiar with all the details. I assume that the members of her audience who know a great deal less about the events lost the thread by the end.
I agree with you that she should have been better prepared for the very obvious accusations that were to come from Morvai and Hankiss. It was inevitable that there would be talk about 2006 September and October and all the horror stories half of which is not true.
She is impulsive, fiery, passionate. These can be very effective qualities but this kind of delivery has its pitfalls. And Morvai is clever and has an excellent conduct of English.

Johnny Boy
Guest

@Mutt Damon: congrats for her courage? To piteously deny proven facts that don’t conform her sickening views?
You have an interesting concept of morale!

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Johnny Boy/Kevin Moore: “her sickening views.”
What are her sickening views? That she believes the the rule of law and democracy?

Member

I did not find Morvai convincing at all. She came across arrogant, one who does not respect anyone else, but her rules, she was mad in every sense. Beside the far right she made no new friends. She was lying, and if anyone’s interest will turn to the Hungarian events after this debate, they will learn very fast about the farce of the Jobbik and the Fidesz. The interseting news is that the Jobbik now jumped against the Fidesz, because of the released documents I have mentioned above.
Fidesz has shown it true face, and this is an other layer that just fall off. THere is a Hungarian saying that “meg annak az ellenkezoje sem igaz amit mond”, “even the opposite of what he is saying is lie”. Well that is very true for Fidesz and for Johnny Boy.

An
Guest

Johnny Boy: Morvai said that people were shot and tortured in 2006. Now any English speaker who hears that would assume that shot means shot by firearms. Nothing that sort happened. Some people got injured because they were shot with rubber bullets.
Torture – again, this word implies premeditated act on part of the police to inflict most possible harm on people. Yes, there were instances of police brutality, when police got carried away. And yes, some people got hurt in the whole mess, who were not trouble makers. That is true. But to say that people were shot and tortured is not a true description of the events.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Ann: “And yes, some people got hurt in the whole mess, who were not trouble makers.”
What I will never understand is why “peaceful demonstrators” decided to get mixed up with the not so peaceful demonstrators. I would have avoided it the whole thing.

Member

I think Heller and many of us here respond in a wrong way to these guys. We should acknowledge everything as much as it possible and then with a quick jab turn into a Yerevan Radio news. Something like “Yes, you are absolutely right, the riot police got heavy handed here and there, shooting the crowd with rubber bullets. But what does this has to do with the government?” Do you see what I’m saying? Take the “You are absolutely right. By the way it is BS. Anyway What’s your problem?” approach. Never oppose them.
Watching the debate and comparing our fellow Hungarians in the room with others somehow the word “immature” came to my mind. We should grow up (and learn languages).

Member

@Johnny Say what? Morale? There was an article yesterday in the HVG about a certain company in the security business which is steadily gaining monopoly in Hungary. The juicy deals are sticking on them like flies on the flypaper. Guess who was the previous owner? Drum roll … Sandor Pinter, Orban’s minister of the interior. He sold his firm just before Orban picked him for the post. Eva had a post a year ago about the sale: http://bit.ly/hxUWzV. This is the HVG article: http://bit.ly/haj4De (in Hungarian).
Let me guess. According to you “morale” everything is fine and dandy. Well this is Johnny country! Ain’t that right, boy?
I can imagine that getting close to the pork barrel is not cheap. We have to keep an eye on the fellow. Sooner or later he has to earn his badge.

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