An excellent article on Viktor Orbán

One often finds small errors in articles written about Hungary by non-Hungarians. Here is an exception: James Kirchick's article entitled "Hungary's Pit Bull Prime Minister: How one of Europe's most celebrated anti-communists become the bad boy of the continent."  

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/03/16/hungarys_pit_bull_prime_minister

It is an excellent summary of the current political situation in Hungary. I'm doubly proud him. He graduated from Yale and majored in history.

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tigerente
Guest

A very eloquent article. The words of Maria Schmidt concerning his similarities with Bush and Republicans in general (if the current candidates are an indication) shouldn’t be taken as a compliment but as cause for concern.

Petofi
Guest

A little too complimentary for my liking. Makes him seem nobly
combative on behalf of good causes, but what respected economist
has supported his actions? What legal mind has condoned his anti-democratic laws?
Orban is sacrificing the welfare of the Hungarian citizenry and when it is all said and done, he’ll be in the same pariah category that Hitler was in 1945.

Paul
Guest

“and when it is all said and done, he’ll be in the same pariah category that Hitler was in 1945.”
But, unfortunately, that’s where the parallels end. Orbán won’t be dead, he won’t have been defeated, or Hungary liberated – and he’ll still be ‘running’ the country.

Paul
Guest

Éva – I don’t understand your praise of this article, it reads like something Nick Thorpe might have written (on a good day).
If this was someone’s introduction to the current mess in Hungary, I don’t think they’d get any sort of real feel as to what is going on there.
He’s a little authoritarian, but basically a sound chap. And didn’t we all laugh the day he pushed my leg off the table!
And the only thing wrong with Hitler was that silly little moustache…

tigerente
Guest

I thought the article was objective and could hardly be accused (I hope!) of being an attack on Orbán and thus on Hungary, while still hinting at his delusion of being a “transformational figure” (although he may be because he’s ruining the country) and that it spoke of his hunger for power as the thing that drove him. The article might not be an eye-opener for those who have blind faith on him, but it was sound.

GDF
Guest

Interesting statement by Fitch rating agency:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/03/16/idUSWLA483020120316
The way I read it, their statement can be interpreted as follows:
– Orban is bluffing and he will fulfill all the EU-IMF requirement
– If Orban doesn’t do those things, he is crazy.

anecdote
Guest

Whatever you think of OV, when one man can dominate a political party to the extent that he has done for more than 20 years (and now dominates completely the political scene in Hungary itself), questions have to be raised (academic or otherwise) about the state of the Hungarian polity.

Francois Borginon
Guest

In Brussels, we have watched the translated resumé of Viktor Orban’s speech with disbelief. I am not really sure what he wants to achieve with his Hungary=colony/EU=USRR speech. Orban probably thought it was the smart thing to do (towards his voters) but by doing so Orban has put himself/Fidesz/Hungary in the corner with his ridiculous statements.
I understand that Orban and his supporters like to think of him as a fighter, but the rest of us considered his performance a political freak show.

lou cypher
Guest

fully agree with anecdote!
questions have to be raised (academic or otherwise) about the state of the Hungarian SOCIETY also!

lou cypher
Guest

Francois, you wouldn’t understand, you’re not Polish! 😉

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

There is one thing we should remember Orban Viktor was voted into power into power by just over 50% of the voters who voted. The voters have spoken so to my mind the Viktator can take their country to ‘hell on a handcart’. It is what the voters want.

george
Guest
Well… just to give you a hint about the Hungarian reality Average food retail prices in Hungary are about 30-35% higher, than in the UK pre VAT. Clothes, basic cosmetics and similar products tend to be 50% or more expensive. GAs, electricity, Water are also charged on a significantly higher rate. combine these and take an average 450-500 pond gross salary in Hungary. the tax due on the above gross income in the UK is close to 0( it is ). In hungary it is 250 pound. Hungarian citizens are in the corner and have been forced to be there for quite a long time by now. It really does not matter what the rest of Europe thinks about Hungary, until the above situation is solved. These days, when most of the public debt of Greek is written off and further founds are granted for them, or Spain is allowed to go over it’s set deficit level, Hungary is sanctioned.. that is more like what I call a freak show.. Most of Orban’s followers are among the struggling citizens, you like to call them drunk here. I have a bad news, they have no money to eat, let alone drink..… Read more »
lou cypher
Guest

http://nikkp.blog.hu/2007/03/24/orban_viktor_kadar_belugyminiszterenek_k
for conspiracy theory lovers – nice story line, sorry in Hungarian only

lou cypher
Guest

george
and when a country’s economic health is soooo bad, you definitely need an ‘enemy’ to blame or simply to avert attention – and the masses will subscribe…that’s just human nature, with many sad examples in history

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

Lou cypher Nice one chum. the plot thickens!

george
Guest

Lou cypher
No of course not..
Obviously the prices in Hungary are not due to high COS, caused by high ex factory prices, but consequences of extra profit gained by retailers. The Uk example was not a coincidence as Tesco is the largest retailer in the region.
Orban has been a “bad boy” since he and his government taxed the extra profit gained on these. It is quite easy to read between the lines. Hungary is on the spot, doe to these profit cuts.( only my opinion)
Their approach is the same towards the bank sector and other extra profit no-input industries.
There is no other choice, but to draw a line and pull the citizens out of poverty, otherwise they will pull out themselves and that is usually comes with casualties.
Having written these and the previous one, it was just insane to introduce a flat rate PAYE system. This is probably the worst in the EU from the average citizen point of view.

Kingfisher
Guest
George, if Orbán was succeeding in distributing wealth more fairly in Hungary, then I’d have no argument. But I don’t see that happening. We may like or dislike banks, but what has the special tax achieved? As far as I can see, it allowed Orbán to avoid making fundamental reforms (which everyone agrees are needed) and because the tax was on capital rather than profit, banks are now longer willing or able to offer credit. And without credit, no economy can expand. And the economy has to expand (i.e. for businesses to be created and existing ones grow and develop) to create jobs and raise living standards. The only people who have benefited, as far as I can see, are the already well-off, and also, the friends of the Prime Minister. Which is unfair and wrong. Food prices are high in Hungary. But food is cheaper in Tescos than any corner shop. So I’m not sure I’d blame Tescos. I think it is part of a much bigger infra-structural problem that makes manufacture, distribution etc, inefficient, and therefore more expensive. (For example, factories in Hungary are poorly insulated compared to those in Germany. Therefore, they require more fuel to heat… Read more »
Member

George,
“Obviously the prices in Hungary are not due to high COS, caused by high ex factory prices, but consequences of extra profit gained by retailers.”
The highest VAT in the EU also makes a difference.
And your point about Orban’s support/base also suffering.
I am sure some are but the middle-class that he is basing his hopes on gained mightily from the flat rate tax.
The OAPS who make a large proportion of the euphemistically titled “Peace March” do not have to worry about whether they will have a pension 20 years from now because Orban has nationalised their private one. They are also spared having to find the 150,000 k to million needed now to study at university.
I wouldn’t necessarily argue against the profit taxes whacking the banks and multis… but:
1. Has it led to a distribution of income? No.
2. Will it lead to an increasing amount of inward investment and thus jobs? Again, no.

george
Guest
Kingfisher I do agree, hence I wrote the flat tax rate example(it was obviously to favour the minority) . To be honest I do not see, how they have distributed the extra tax, but one thing is for sure, they have put far too much burden on ordinary citizens. I do not agree 100% though with your statement , we do not need loans or credit in mass (good investment can get loans anyway). Demand what we need from a capable market, therefore we need money with real value, in everyone’s hand (money which is earned from added value). A good example how credit can blow up a market and displace equilibrium is the recent credit crunch, ie property market. Financial institutions have pushed up the market by offering free cash, and all the buyers had to take on loans to finance the extra price from the same institutions, for high interest. This is a prime example how you create your own market. Branded hungarian products are cheaper in the UK, than in Hungary. That sums it up for me (the tax difference is only 7%). I have been auditing a major EU distributor’s financial(UK) for quite a few years… Read more »
george
Guest

oneill
I wrote “Average food retail prices in Hungary are about 30-35% higher, than in the UK pre VAT”
“I am sure some are but the middle-class that he is basing his hopes on gained mightily from the flat rate tax”
Quite possible, I agree..
“They are also spared having to find the 150,000 k to million needed now to study at university”
they have made plenty of bad decisions, but we can not see how they are forced by the budget to do so. (well I can’t)
My initial post was to shed some light on Hungary’s everyday reality, aiming foreign posters, who called supporters drunk or delusional. By the way I am not Orban’s supporter, or anyone else’s for that matter…

Kingfisher
Guest
George, imagine a hard-working company in the countryside, producing an excellent sausage (and Hungary produces excellent spicy sausage). It is a competitive product, one that can compete with Spanish chorizo. But to be successful, the company needs to increase production. That requires more equipment, space, and perhaps even money for marketing. And for that, you need credit from a bank. No small or medium business in Hungary has the capital to finance this themselves. And it is this sort of credit that has dried up in Hungary, very largely because of the way that Orbán has attacked the banks for populist gain. While I appreciate that the credit crunch is the result of a total madness elsewhere in the world, but yes, Hungarian businesses need loans. Actually, UK businesses do as well and my own activities are being thwarted because I don’t have the capital to expand as I’m sure I could, and banks are simply not lending now. It is a pan-European problem but I believe Orbán has been very short-sighted in this regard. I’m not an unqualified fan of the EU and so I do appreciate that Hungary does seem to be receiving unequal treatment, when we compare… Read more »
cheshire cat
Guest

George,
Greece has had to agree on 3 extremely tight austerity packages in order to have part of their debt written off.
Spain’s deadline to comply with budget deficit targets is 2013 (next year). For Hungary it was 2011 (last year).
2 years ago, when Hungary was at the same stage of the excessive deficit procedure, the EU postponed the deadline.
Hungary is not treated unfairly.
UK food prices – there is no VAT on food in Britain, or on children’s clothes. That explains 27% of the difference. (I would disagree that all food prices are that much lower in the UK.)
Also market competition in the UK is wider, which pushes prices down.
When you say Hungary needs to be pulled out of poverty, I agree. But I’d say what the EU is demanding re fiscal policy measures, is the way to do just that – eventually.

Kingfisher
Guest

Forgot to say that a relative works in the credit department of a very major bank and so has seen first hand how the bank has stopped lending and supporting business since the “special tax”. The statistics are scarey. And the sausage factory is a real example.

Guest

Re food prices:
The Hungarian situation there is really crazy and bad for the common people – many things that we in Germany take fro granted are luxury items here. Butter is at least 50% more expensive …
Of course the difference in VAT (in Hungary 27 %, in Germany 7% on food) explains part of it, but for the rest ?
So every time we “commute” between Hungary and (about once a month for the time being)our car is filled to the limit in each direction with the things that are cheaper in the other country – not only for us, but also for friends and family …
PS:
If it weren’t for Tesco and Interspar etc prices for food would be even more of a ripoff here in Hungary (where we are right now celebrating the long weekend with my wife’s family).
Only the things which are locally produced and sold are relatively cheap: vegetables in the season, meat and eggs etc …
BTW: The weather near the Balaton is fantastic right now, we’re really happy!

lou cypher
Guest

keep in mind, the negotiating power & low prices of Tesco, Auchan, etc. killed many food prodicers here (the very SME businesses who have no access to loans today).
Orban’s nationalist propaganda concentrates power and wealth in the hands of (Orban family friend) Hungarian food supermarket chain CBA (Lazar bros). Their “business empire” also held rights to kiosks and snack shops at railway stations nationwide. Now the govt is buying this back for billions of HUF to set up government information booths – and this is not the 1950’s, this is Hungary at present…

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Wolfi: “If it weren’t for Tesco and Interspar etc prices for food would be even more of a ripoff here in Hungary”
Yet, hogy Orbán government has been haunting Tesco. Almost as if they wanted Tesco to leave the country.

steve
Guest

From an intelligent start, a person can become a current dangerous clown called Orban.
The past supporters of Orban are gone.
He is glued to his desk. Just too bad that the glue is still working.
A little solvent must be found.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Wolfi: “Of course the difference in VAT (in Hungary 27 %, in Germany 7% on food”
This kind of VAT on food stuff is really outrageous. We pay no sales tax on food and until July 1, 2011 not even on clothing costing less than $50.00. Now sales tax on clothing and footwear is 6.35%.

Frank T. Csongos
Guest

It was not the Soviet Union that executed Hungarian revolutionary leader Imre Nagy. Nagy and his top aides were hanged by the regime of Janos Kadar in 1958 following a trial on Hungarian soil. Kadar was responsible for this tragedy, a historic fact that cast a dark shadow on his rule of three decades.

Kingfisher
Guest

I brought this up on another thread, but the government gathers disproportionately little revenue from personal and corporate income tax. So it relies on VAT which is why it is 27% and so widely applied (and the threshold rate, if you are a business, is very low (it was 2 million forints a few years back, not sure how much now, as opposed to 73 000 pounds in the UK)
These are not Orbán’s making but part of the deep rooted infra-structural problems of Hungary which Orbán’s majority has given him a one in a lifetime mandate to put right. But this is not happening, not will it.