Since a couple of days ago we finished with Tokaj and to some extent with the new house in Buda today I’ll move on to Felcsút. But first I ought to mention that although the house in Budapest looked quite modest before the Orbáns bought it, it was so thoroughly renovated and enlarged that Viktor Orbán, whose financial dealings were under parliamentary scrutiny at the time, made sure that no one could possibly see what was going on. Because it was situated far from the road, only an aerial photograph could be snapped. As you will see, this was an expensive undertaking.
The house in Buda at the time of purchase
The house in Buda after the enlargement
While this was going on, the Orbáns bought a piece of land (539,389 m2) in Felcsút worth 763 gold crowns. A gold crown is a measurement of the value of land in Hungary going back to an 1850s survey. The price was fabulous. The Orbáns paid less than 8,000 Ft per gold crown when in the County of Fejér the going price was 16,000 Ft. The seller was Sándor Bognár whom the Orbán government named to head a state experimental farm and who eventually purchased it without a competitive bid. Bognár became the lawful owner of the 54 hectares two weeks before the Orbáns received the land for half of the going price.
Six weeks later the parliament approved a government grant for Felcsút and another five villages nearby for flood control of inhabited areas. Originally, a group of experts considered the Felcsút project less than urgent. They placed it thirtieth in importance on a list they submitted to the Ministry of Interior dealing with these grants. Sándor Pintér, minister of interior then as he is now, disregarded the recommendations, put the Felcsút project at the head of the list, and the Fidesz majority on the parliamentary committee voted for it. Thus, forty days after the Orbáns bought the land, the project received the largest government grant of the year. Ahead of the reconstruction of a hospital. The grant amounted to 2.7 billion forints, which constituted 90% of the yearly budget for such projects.
Felcsút is a small place with a population of about 1,800. From this enormous amount of money the locals used a substantial sum not for flood prevention but to make the village a little jewel box of the county. A large amount of money went for stones, and who provided those? Yes, in case you guessed that it was the prime minister’s father, you were right. About forty percent of the whole amount was spent on bridges across the ditch that ran between the road and the houses, and the material for these bridges was supplied by Győző Orbán’s quarry and factory.
After this enormous investment in Felcsút real estate prices soared. The land the Orbáns purchased four years ago for 6 million forints today is worth 34.3 million. If the land were to be used for development, its worth might be closer to 400 million forints.
Felcsút is thriving. Thanks to Orbán, who is a maniacal soccer player and fan, with the help of his rich fans and surely some government money, a soccer academy was established in Felcsút. And who designed the Academy building? Imre Makowecz, the anti-semitic, super-nationalistic architect, who was until his recent death the unfailing supporter of Viktor Orbán’s vision for Hungary. The building is a typical Makowecz creation. Not to my liking, but I’m sure there are many who may find it attractive.
Viktor Orbán also managed to expropriate Ferenc Puskás as the idol of the right. I very much doubt that Puskás was interested in politics. In any case, we have no idea of his party preferences. Moreover, he was an Alzheimer’s patient for six years prior his death. But Orbán saw a great opportunity in building him up as an important part of his political career. He immediately named the academy after his hero and lately managed to get the Puskás archives moved to Felcsút. I don’t know what Puskás, who came from Kispest and played on the Kispest team, would think of all this, but the people of Kispest are not exactly happy.
It seems to me that Orbán, like other people with dictatorial tendencies, is building not only his family’s fortune but also a monument for himself. Years ago, we heard from Viktor Orbán himself that Saint Stephen had offered his country to the Virgin Mary either in or very close to Felcsút. Quite a beginning.
Even though Felcsút is flourishing thanks to its favorite son, it doesn’t seem that everybody in Felcsút is grateful to Viktor Orbán. At the last elections, the Fidesz candidate for mayor was beaten by an independent. Orbán reluctantly accepted the results. What else could he do? However, the Fidesz party machinery soon set everything right. The party leaders decided that the winner owed some money either to the town or to the government and thus was not even eligible to run. The election was repeated, and who do you think won?