There is always something that raises eyebrows in Hungary. Lately Viktor Orbán himself has made a few remarks that were most unfortunate and that, alas, can be considered somewhat typical of the man. After days of futile talks between Sándor Pintér, minister of the interior, and the representatives of the trade unions of police, soldiers, firefighters, and prison guards, it became obvious that Orbán's minister cannot make any decision whatsoever without getting permission from the prime minister. Eventually the trade union leaders smartened up and demanded to talk with Orbán himself. That meeting was equally pointless because Orbán talked for about twenty minutes, during which he outlined the dire state of the Hungarian economy which–for this occasion–according to him is close to bankruptcy. He urged the trade union leaders to accept the government's decision to retroactively wipe out the eligibility of early retirees; this measure, he claimed, was an absolute necessity given the state of the economy. The trade union leaders also had a few minutes to voice their opinions, but it was clear that this meeting wasn't called together to discuss anything seriously.
At this point the trade union leaders asked Orbán to meet the members of their unions who were standing outside the parliament building. Orbán declined, saying that in his stead he would only send his undersecretary for clown affairs (bohócügyi államtitkár). The trade union leaders didn't find this comment amusing and right after the meeting they told the story to the reporters waiting outside and repeated it at every subsequent interview. One newspaper drew the conclusion–not without reason–that Orbán called the members of the armed forces clowns.
So, he wouldn't talk to clowns (or, more precisely, about clown affairs) but earlier he promised to talk with the trade union leaders "man to man." This is also a very typical Orbán-Fidesz attitude. Fidesz as a political formation started out as a "boys' club." Macho soccer-playing guys with some girlfriends who either became their wives or left the group because they were not really welcome. Most of the original Fidesz leaders have large families, and their wives by necessity take care of the brood and run the house. According to some people Anikó Lévai, Orbán's wife, was considered to be the more talented of the two, and she is still teaching financial law at the University of Gödöllő. At least according to Viktor Orbán's web site. However, she is rarely seen at political functions and almost never accompanies him on his travels. The only exception I can remember was the audience with the pope. This macho attitude can also be seen in the composition of the Fidesz parliamentary delegation where one can barely find a woman. Or in the government where there is not one woman minister. I'm sure that Orbán feels more comfortable with guys, and when he picks a woman to fill a position these women are light-weights. This man-to-man talk says a lot about Orbán. I'm sure that he, who cannot take any criticism even from men, must find it unbearable to submit to a woman. As György Bolgár pointed out in an sarcastic opinion piece today, it would be interesting to know how Orbán manages to have a conversation with Angela Merkel, for example. As man to man?
And finally, Orbán invited himself to the soccer match between Barcelona and Manchester United held in Wembley Stadium in London on May 28. Or at least this is what people suspect. He was seated among all the important people in the world of soccer in the grandstand. No other European politician was there, and Hungarian soccer fans are convinced that he used his position as prime minister of the country that holds the current European Union presidency to wheedle a place in the grandstand. Because, let's not forget, the League of Champions is organized by the Union of European Football Association (UEFA).
Péter Szijjártó claimed that the Hungarian prime minister was invited by Michel Platini, a former French football player and manager and current president of UEFA. The Budapest Report, established in 2009 by unnamed Hungarian journalists, claims that "in Hungary PM Orban is referred to as the 'Magyar Messi' of Hungarian politics after (as head of the centre-right party FIDESZ) he played tactically to sweep away the general elections last spring." Not only that, but Orbán "was also allowed to shake the hands of his icons alongside UEFA President Michel Platini, watched by hundreds of millions of football fans worldwide. Political anaysts say that he couldn’t have received better political advertising for his future ambitions as an EU politician as Hungary is currently heading the presidency of the European Union." A bit of an exaggeration, I would say.
Well, real soccer fans can't get over the comparison of Orbán to Lionel Messi, "the greatest soccer player of the world." Moreover, the mysterious reporter's claim that in Hungary Orbán is known as the "Magyar Messi" is the figment of the gentleman's imagination.
So, all in all, within a few days Viktor Orbán managed to alienate a lot of people: members of the armed forces, women, and soccer fans. People also wonder on whose money he is flying to South Africa, Sweden, London, and who knows where else in the future to attend soccer games. He might not have time to talk to the representatives of the IMF or trade union leaders, but he always has time to watch a soccer game. It's all a question of priorities.