Hard times ahead for the Hungarian government

Just as I suspected, by yesterday the politicians of the European Union had already heard about the infamous speech of Viktor Orbán. One really must be an unquestioning true believer in the Fidesz propaganda to think that the Hungarian prime minister's attack on the European Union was not a grave mistake. Yesterday László Kovács (MSZP), former EU commissioner in charge of taxation, received a few telephone calls from former colleagues who already knew about the details of the speech. Since then more and more embarrassing details have come to light.

The five hundred college students who were paid to cheer was bad enough. By today people were asking in comments to newspaper articles on the subject whether the cheering crowds at previous Fidesz meetings were also compensated. Or who paid those people who went to disrupt the speeches of Ferenc Gyurcsány or the mayor of Budapest, Gábor Demszky?

Then came another bombshell. At the official celebration in front of the National Museum a woman recited an abominably long and not a very good poem by Sándor Petőfi entitled "15-dik március, 1848" written on March 16, 1848. Neither Petőfi's name nor the title of the rather obscure poem was mentioned. But there are diligent journalists who took the trouble–and nowadays it is not even a difficult task–to find the poem in the Hungarian Electronic Library's collection. It has 19 four-line stanzas; six were omitted in the recitation. Unfortunately the very first stanza that was left out started with "Freedom of the press … no longer I'm worried about you, my nation." Then there was the stanza asking "the youth of the country to act, to break the lock that was put on our sacred press by godless hands." And another stanza talks about the no-good parliament in Pozsony (Bratislava). Very unfortunate, I would say.

In the prime minister's speech, as I wrote earlier, was a strange paragraph that somehow didn't fit with the rest. Orbán said that no Hungarian can be found among those who came up with the ideologies of national socialism and communism. Therefore, Hungarians won't tolerate any lecturing and they demand respect. To whom was he addressing these strange words?

It seems that others caught on a lot faster than I did. Orbán was telling the Germans off. Who are the fathers of communism? The Germans Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Who came up with the ideology of national socialism? Adolf Hitler and fellow Germans. So Orbán is telling the Germans: don't preach about democracy and don't tell us that we are not a democratic nation. You have no right because you had plenty to do with both communism and national socialism. We were not the ones who are responsible for the two most deadly ideologies of the twentieth century.

Considering how important Germany is to the well being of the Hungarian economy, such an unfair attack on today's Germans is ill advised at any time, but since Pál Schmitt is just making his "maiden voyage" to Germany as the president of Hungary it is most unfortunate indeed.

Schmitt first met with Christian Wulff, the president of Germany, who made it clear that the Germans will be paying special attention to the freedom of the press in Hungary. Wulff also talked about the new Hungarian constitution, stressing that thoroughness is much more important than speed. He also said that with such a large government majority comes a special responsibility for the Hungarian government. In brief, Wulff was preaching.

Schmitt didn't fare too well at his next stop either, at the office of the German chancellor. Angela Merkel "understands the levying of taxes on certain companies, but she thought that in the long run they cause more harm than good." So Merkel was preaching too.

And just imagine what kind of preaching will be waiting for the Hungarian government when the European Commission finds out that the promised 3.8% deficit for 2010 was not met. According to unnamed but reliable sources it will be more like 4.5%.

All in all, things are not going well for Viktor Orbán. Troubles are brewing at home and abroad, and loud and antagonistic speeches will not help the situation.

 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Öcsi
Guest

Very interesting that Orbán would attack Germany. It looks like his strategy for uniting Hungarians behind him is to conduct a war on all fronts. Someone should tell him he’s going to lose.

Rigó Jancsi
Guest

So the re-writing of history doesn’t even stop at Petőfi’s poems. How very short-sighted are actions like this omission or the rented cheers? And Orbán still believes that the language-barrier allows him to speak in two different ways abroad and in the EU. That simply doesn’t work.
Brushing off critics from Germany with such a lame argument doesn’t help either. We have learned our lessons from both ideologies, so on the contrary, we are the best experts to lecture Orbán on the dangers of the spirits he’s calling. Apart from that, I am sure if you dig deep enough, you will find that both Hitler and Marx had Hungarian grand-grand…grand-grandmothers. It always turns out this way.

Ron
Guest

A little bit off-topic. A few days ago I watched HirTv (actually it was more zapping) a little bit of the no comment part of their programs. This was about the Kossuth Prize ceremony. I noticed that there was a lot and hard clapping. However, when the camara showed the hall (1-2 sec.) nobody was clapping.
Ever since I try to find that part of the program, but could not. Anybody else seen this?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

I just took off Johnny Boy’s latest in which he used unacceptable language about one of our readers and contributors.

Johnny Boy
Guest

And since then all others too?
Just for the sake of the freedom of speech?

GW
Guest

Johnny Boy,
Freedom of speech means that you’re free to write whatever you like — short of incouraging violence or libel — on your own blog and here, on Dr Balogh’s blog, she has the right to insist that those commenting keep a civil tone, which may include editing or excluding your comments.

a3t
Guest

Oh dear Johnny. For all that many of us may have suspicions about who you are, we recognise that it’s better not to pepper other people’s blogs with nasty slanders about you.

Johnny Boy
Guest

a3t: none of you can have any founded suspicion on who I am.

Jim
Guest

Johnny Boy, you are correct. We’ll leave it to you to keep records on everybody. Based on the above, it looks like you have a lot of practice doing it.

Adam LeBor
Guest

@ Johnny Boy. You seem to know so much about me (a familiar mix of half-truths and smears). Why don’t tell us who you are instead of hiding behind a pseudonym? Then I can answer your points.

Johnny Boy
Guest

My name tells nothing to you, and to none of you. I’m not publicly known.
But I’m not interested in the details of your private life. What I’m interested in is that looking through your work as a journalist, your claims about Hungary are many times untrue and slandering, the same way your affiliated political group does.

Member

Johnny It seems in your definition of Hungarism the proper mating choices are also important. We should not only pick the right gender but we should also watch the party affiliations … Let freedom ring.
@Adam It’s an honor … would you sign my post? 🙂

Adam LeBor
Guest
@johnny boy Well for someone who is not interested in my private life you seem to think you know a lot about it, albeit almost twenty years ago, and ready to repeat unpleasant smears. But lets move on. The journalism you refer to was written about the MDF, back in the early 1990s. I certainly never called either Antall or Boross Nazis because they were not. As a novice foreign correspondent I did write one article that was over the top about Boross, calling him authoritarian. But we all learn as we go in our jobs. And that was 18 years ago. I think that my more recent work is much more nuanced and shows a greater undestanding of what is happening here. If you want to take a look at my website: adamlebor.com you can see recent articles. Before you start about bias, I say freely that it reflects the perspective of the papers I work for, the Times and the Economist, which are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, probably very socially liberal by Hungarian standards. But I like to think that my reporting does not fit into the standard left-right paradigm here. One piece I wrote last year… Read more »
Johnny Boy
Guest

Mutt Damon: if the case were the other way around and a Christian journalist would state that he’d never date with a Jewish woman, you’d be crazed in screaming “anti-Semitist”. If it’s not against Jews, you find that perfectly acceptable. That tells a lot of you.

Member

@Johnny No I would not. As a matter of fact I’m a church goer Catholic and I would still happily date anybody (mostly girls, but for Mick Jagger I would make an exception). But I’ve been married for 25 years (same woman). No what?

MM
Guest

“He who repeatedly stated he would be unable to date with a woman who wears a cross at her neck. No hatred for Christianity here, obviously.”
That’s not because he is a bigot, that is because he’s a vampire.

Kirsten
Guest

@Rigo: We… are the best experts to lecture Orbán on the dangers of the spirits he’s calling.
I am sure that you did not mean in as uncompromisingly as it sounds taken out of context by me, but I think that Germans should not “lecture” on democracy anywhere. The transitions to democracy in Germany after 1945 (in the West) and 1990 (in the East) were very much guided, much more so than the transition e.g. in Hungary. Constructive support for the democrats (as I understood there was something of the kind in Spain in the 1980s) seems more appropriate and I do not doubt that this is what you are trying to do currently.

John G
Guest

Oh, dear, another interesting post successfully hi-jacked by Johnny Boy. Heaven help the post itself should be discussed .
@MM very funny 🙂

GDF
Guest

The troll:”Yet his cousin, Benjamin Lebor gained considerable real estate assets in the V. district.”
Typical nazi tactics. Put up a fact (whether real or not, who knows), imply that it is based on illegality or corruption. Then make it the business of the person you attack, because he is the cousin of this almost alleged criminal.

MM
Guest

John G. I’m not joking. Vampires view Viktor Orban’s accession to power with mixed feelings, which accounts for ALB`s mixed reporting. They are worried about an increase in holy symbols in the public space, but hope that Fidesz-KDNP`s moral rejuvination will increase the number of young virgins in Budapest.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Johnny boy, if you don’t stop your slander, I will kick you off this blog. Understood?

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Adam LeBor: “As a novice foreign correspondent I did write one article that was over the top about Boross, calling him authoritarian.”
Adam, I don’t think that you were far off on that score. I also came to that conclusion by collecting of Boross’s numerous interviews on Napkelte where he was a very frequent visitor. I wrote an article about him in Galamus.The article was for a while one of the most frequented sites: http://galamus.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=24831:boross-peter-szinevaltozasa&catid=49:cssbalogheva&Itemid=77

Johnny Boy
Guest

Mr. Lebor, I unfortunately cannot access some articles from you that have appeared in The Times (namely, ‘Artist carpeted for weaving Hungarian jingoism into her work of art’, and mainly ‘Profile of Viktor Orbán: A charismatic and ruthless political operator’) which would be very worthy to comment. However, reading through your latest articles in the Economist, I must admit you have diverged considerably from other journalists known for propagating false and slandering information from centralized SZDSZ-sources, one example of these is the article in The Spiegel which you countered in another article.
While you are certainly no friend of Orbán’s government, disclosed by your frequent negative qualifiers attached to references to the government’s members and Orbán, I think most of your recent work, usually not going beyond summarizing the critics’ opinions, are within the limits of correctness.
I made the mistake of still regarding you as a member of the gang of persons like Gregor Mayer, Nick Cohen or Florence La Bruyere, whom I fully detest, and for what please accept my apologies.

Jo Peattie
Guest

Look under the bridge- there might be a troll. Just ignore him- he will get very annoyed…..

Józsi Bácsi
Guest

Just curious. What is the purpose (if any) of this blog? Why would a bunch of people spend so much time reading and commenting on the obviously one-sided views of someone who doesn’t even live in Hungary, and have no interest in its well-being? What motivates anyone to put so much effort in supporting a morally bankrupt, fallen MSZP/SZDSZ?
Do you really believe your anti Orban tirades will help anyone who doesn’t belong to the corrupt interest group of the old regime? What’s your goal? What is it you’re trying to accomplish with your attacks on Hungary? Why don’t you write about something closer to you, like the abysmal performance of your indecisive “yes we can” president? Hungary will be fine without your input, believe me, I actually live here.

a3t
Guest

“I made the mistake of still regarding you as a member of the gang of persons like Gregor Mayer, Nick Cohen or Florence La Bruyere, whom I fully detest, and for what please accept my apologies.”
WTF is Nick Cohen doing in this list? He’s a dreary and repetitive London-based columnist who writes bugger all about Hungary. The other two speak very good Hungarian – they don’t need “SZDSZ-sources”.

GW
Guest
Józsi Bácsi, Speaking only for myself, as a non-Hungarian who had the pleasure of living for six years in Hungary (2000-2005 and returning regularly since), during which time I came to love the country and its people. I wish for Hungary to thrive as a modern democracy within the EU and as a competitive economy within the world and I am honestly distressed that current developments will not allow that. I read this blog because it reliably conveys data and opinion that corresponds, more often than not, to my own experience of the country as well as the experiences of many trusted Hungarian friends. I am not, in western European terms, a person of the left, but a conservative, a small-d democrat, and I view a free market economy as the lesser of all evils in terms of creating wealth and freedom for the greatest number of people in a society. I have no enthusiasm for the last governing coalition in Hungary, but my sober — and, to me, surprising — assessment is that, for all of its faults, it was doing a better job of moving Hungary forward as a modern European market-oriented democracy than the present government, which… Read more »
Member

@Jozsi Why are you so hung up on our zip code? We have lots of relatives at home, we visit Hungary 1-2 times a year, we call every week for 7 cents a minute, we exchange a few emails a day with our old friends and most importantly read a lot of the Hungarian press on the internet. Believe me. Emigrants see things better, despite not living in Hungary, because they can compare. So please stop this “you don’t leave in Hungary” excrement tauri. Also we, and professor Balogh, criticize the present government because we have a very strong interest of the well being of our home country. Try to take a deep breath, close your eyes, and try to imagine that the people who disagree with you may have a point. Most importantly we don’t “attack” Hungary, we believe we are helping Hungary. Lastly believe or not most of us in this blog agree with you regarding the “abysmal performance” of the previous government.
Capish?

Member
Józsi Bácsi, It is an excellent question. I have left Hungary in 1988. I left because I had no choice and no future at the time as I “worked” against many corrupt individuals in the system as well as modestly contributed to the political opponent activities. So I was told that I cannot continue with university education. As a “small time reporter” I was also forbidden to publish. I like to flatter myself in believing that what you could enjoy today Jozsi Ba, in a small way has to do with my doing too. Enjoy it! You were certainly not in my shoes, otherwise you would of have to live too. At the same time my parents and my sister and her family is still there, and what I helped the country to accomplish, I do not want to go to waste. I did not do it for Orban or for Gyurcsany for that matter. I did it for my friends and family. SO, why post here? For example, because all civilized society should know that there are a large group of Hungarians that are contrary to what the current government wants the World to believe. not all Hungarians are… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

@Jozsi: Hungary will be fine without your input, believe me, I actually live here.
And do you know what is the best? Because we do not live in Hungary you can easily be fine simply by just not reading this blog. For people such as me, with a rather poor command of Hungarian, this is a great source of information, both Eva’s blog and the comments of the readers. If you read it more often, you will see that the opinions on some subjects can be quite varied, in particular on MSzP.

wpDiscuz