The Janus-faced Viktor Orbán

More and more critics of the current Hungarian government claim that Viktor Orbán has completely lost his sense of reality. I don’t agree. No, in my opinion he is simply lying to the Hungarian people in the hope that perhaps the old political trick will work. The more you repeat certain slogans the more likely they will stick.

No, Orbán knows that he is in big trouble and that’s why he talks so much about “success,”  “victory,”  and the bright future that awaits Hungarians. One just has to wait a few more years and Hungary will be richer and happier than Denmark.

And I think that he does believe that his remedies will bring this earthly paradise to Hungary. One just has to wait a little longer and his and György Matolcsy’s “unorthodox” economic policies will produce tangible results. But in the meantime he and the Fidesz government must keep up the spirit of the population.

Orbán would be the happiest if Hungary were not part of the European Union because then there would be no one telling him what to do or not to do. However, he desperately needs the European subsidies without which Hungary by now would be bankrupt. So, he very reluctantly reduced the budget deficit to under 3%, but beyond that he doesn’t want to move an inch as he made it quite clear already on April 27 when in an interview he claimed that he had told José Manuel Barroso that ” we are not taking anything back, we are not suspending anything, we are not changing anything.”

Indeed. He was as good as his word. He refused to make the necessary changes in the bill on the central bank although he should have known that no IMF negotiations can begin without them. Although the European Commission was not satisfied with the media law, the law that parliament passed the other day didn’t address any of the objections of Brussels. So, even though the cohesion funds will be available to Hungary if next month Ecofin agrees with the recommendations of the European Commission, there is a long list of demands concerning other issues: education, taxation, public works, and monetary policy among others.

As I see it, Orbán is trying to show that Hungary is in compliance with EU rules while he is doing everything in his power to avoid compliance. This tight-rope act is a tricky business, and the jury is still out on whether Orbán can pull it off.

How well is Orbán performing? There are times when one must admire his cleverness at fooling others. There are other times, however, when one is amazed at his crudeness, his provincialism, and his lack of diplomacy. Today was one of those days.

It was two years ago that Fidesz-KDNP, led by Viktor Orbán, won the elections. To honor the half-way mark of their first term the government organized a conference which high government officials, businessmen, and foreign diplomats attended. About 300 in number. It was here that Orbán made a speech which will not be forgotten for a while in Brussels.

The speech covered a lot of ground, including laudatory words about his own performance and the economic policies of his administration. A lot of people would question his assertions, and I wonder how many people chuckled when they heard that Orbán and his team are actually a “humble”  lot!

What I found much more interesting was Viktor Orbán’s preoccupation with the insecurity of his own position. He seems to be convinced that outside forces are trying to remove him from his post.

This is not the first time that he has alluded to that possibility. Last December he mentioned a conspiracy aimed at his removal that he managed to avert. Now he again returned to this theme, twice in two days.

Last night he gave an interview on MTV’s “Az Este,” an evening program that airs interviews with leading politicians. During this interview, without any prompting, Orbán began talking about his belief in democracy. He wasn’t talking about democracy in the usual sense of the word but rather about democracy as the opposition to the alleged undemocratic ways of the European Union. Specifically, he blamed the current Greek crisis on the decision of the European Union leaders to force a government change in Athens. He posited himself as the embodiment of democracy as opposed to the evil undemocratic forces of the European Union.

Today he continued along the same theme. He managed Hungary’s stabilization in such a way that he said “no” to “the European temptation that would have pushed us toward giving up our democratic ways.”  What was this temptation? According to Orbán, the European Union encouraged the countries in economic trouble to get rid of their democratically elected leaders and to run their countries with technocrats. But the Hungarian people in their eternal wisdom “managed to throw together a two-thirds majority.”

No doubt, Orbán is preoccupied with his own survival. Whether his answer to this alleged threat is the best way of dealing with it, I doubt. In my opinion, it would be wiser to be more cooperative and then perhaps there would be less daydreaming in Brussels about the miraculous disappearance of the pesky Hungarian prime minister. However, Orbán didn’t follow that course. Just the opposite. If I understand him correctly, Orbán is planning a new confrontation with Brussels.

In his opinion Hungary must reject the European answers to the economic crisis because “the steps suggested by the bureaucrats of Brussels would be injurious to the country.”  However, Hungary cannot outright say “no” to the European Union’s demands. Hungary must follow “a series of complicated tactical operations.”  Hungary must present its rejection of the remedies of the European Union in such a way that ” it looks as we wanted to remain their friends.”  For example, if  the Union presented Hungary with seven demands, the Hungarian government would give the nod to two or three–issues that had already been adopted by the Hungarian government but Brussels didn’t notice yet–while the rest would be rejected. He added that this was a complicated game but obviously he is ready to play it.

I have no reason to doubt that this is exactly what the Hungarian prime minister is planning. It would fit well with his general political behavior, the center of which is intrigue. The only thing I don’t understand is why he is sharing his strategy with the European Union, whom he is planning to fool.

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An
Guest

Eva, you wrote , “The only thing I don’t understand is why he is sharing his strategy with the European Union, whom he is planning to fool.”

I think it’s because he has lost his sense of reality. He does instinctively feel the impeding doom, you are right in that, but it is not the same as having a sense of reality.

If someone is lying that much constantly, the border of reality and lies becomes blurred, especially, for the person who is lying. Because he is not only lying to us, he is lying to himself, too. It all boils down to protecting his ego. For one, nobody is going to tell OV what to do, and second, he can do no wrong (that’s why all the obvious mistakes are still touted as huge achievements).

He does not dare to face reality, because then he’d need to admit, at least to himself, that he messed up a few things and that he is not omnipotent. But since he does not dare to face reality, he starts live in a fantasy word of lies and distortions. And you are bound to make mistakes if you live in a make-believe word.

Thomas
Guest

An, You beat me I the same thing, as well.wanted to quote Eva the same way you did, and say. Good job, mind reader!

Thomas
Guest

oops my keyboard died, messed up my word order but hopefully I still made some sense. It should have read:
An, You beat me I wanted to quote Eva the same way you did, and say the same thing what you said, as well. Good job, mind reader!”

Dubious
Guest

I think Orbán just gets carried away. When he is around Hungarians speaking Hungarians he just plays to the domestic audience. Away it is a different persona. I’m sure he knows intellectually that the EU will know what he says domestically, but he either doesn’t care, or it just doesn’t seem that important to him.

I don’t think it is a necessary vote winner for him. Especially things like the media law and central bank law, the average person on the street would understand or get why he is making a big deal about it. Things like the taxes and allowing foreigners to buy farm land may be a different story.

But to sum up, I’m consistently surprised how inept the government is.

Member

He plays for Hungarians, but I am sure he reassures the EU the same way as he reassured foreign diplomats before “Don not listen to what I say..” He is crook of the worst kind.

Rodolfo, a famous Hungarian magician used to say when he did his tricks “Csak a kezemet figyelje!”, “Only give attention to my hands!” We all knew there is a trick coming up, but he always managed to pull it off. He was great! Orban is not so great. Rodolfo was all about entertainment and Orban is playing with “real cards”.

LwiiH
Guest

Sorry but you can’t play to a domestic crowd one way and Brussels another. It’s hypocrisy, it’s lying to someone and it does nothing to build the trust that is needed to work together. OV should get it by now that he can’t rely on the obscurity of the language he speaks. As they saying goes, sitting on the fence will leave you with splinters in an unpleasant place.

Guest

For those who can read German:
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/ungarn-rechtsradikale-aus-orban-regierung-pflegen-horthy-kult-a-835958.html

A very bitter report on all the latest develpments that we have discussed here: The Horthy-cult, the antisemitism in Hungary, the story of Nyírö and Kövér …

Really damning for Fidesz and Orbán – and the Spiegel is read by many people …

LwiiH
Guest

Slightly OT…

“Parliamentary President Laszlo Kover declared that the planned re-burial would take place sooner or later, even if was against the will of the “uncivilized, hysterical, paranoid, barbaric” Romanian government. He added that the people, “who had a son whose ashes were feared,” would be “victorious.””

http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15991580,00.html

How can this person possibly remain in parliament? Why are people not screaming for his resignation??? What is so broken in Hungary that people like this can hold power and get away with making provocative hateful comments such as this one?

Member

LwiiH :
Slightly OT…
“Parliamentary President Laszlo Kover declared that the planned re-burial would take place sooner or later, even if was against the will of the “uncivilized, hysterical, paranoid, barbaric” Romanian government. He added that the people, “who had a son whose ashes were feared,” would be “victorious.””

I think he is as crazy as Orban. I am not sure what kind of drugs those guys are taking, but this is so unacceptable in so many levels. I think these buffoons forget that they are not representing their delusional theory of an island where I wish they would be cast off to, but represent Hungary. Hungarian people are not such an arrogant dimwitted bunch as these are. I think Kover owes an apology not only to Romania but for all Hungarians who’s name he is dare to speak of.

LwiiH :
He added that the people, “who had a son whose ashes were feared,” would be “victorious.””

If this idiot would of been slightly concerned about what families think, maybe he would of advised and ask the opinion about the whole reburial mayhem idea the Nyiro family itself, that they forgot to do

Thomas
Guest

He added that the people, “who had a son whose ashes were feared,” would be “victorious.”

And I would add, that even victorious people will and up being nothing but ashes (they might be asses). And furthermore, even Viktor will end up as a pile of ash, (dont misunderstand me, I am not wishing for that to happen, I am just saying).

Thomas
Guest

Not yet, but I am sure it will be available on Spiegel’s English site soon.http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,archiv,00.html

Odin's Lost eye
Guest
Professor you wrote ** “As I see it, Orbán is trying to show that Hungary is in compliance with EU rules while he is doing everything in his power to avoid compliance. This tight-rope act is a tricky business, and the jury is still out on whether Orbán can pull it off.” **. From the point in time in 2008 when it became obvious through the local elections that the then government was unpopular the Viktator first went to Brussels to get the EU to bring about a change of government in Hungary. He was sent home with a flea in his ear. He then took to the streets to try to bring down the government. That failed and since then his ‘black propaganda’ has been running at ‘full bore’. His legislation and his diversional tactics are all designed to perpetuate his rule. The business of the re-planting of József Nyirő a person of whom the ‘Speaker of the House’ said that that this man was so great that the present Romanian Government was terrified by this great Hungarian. Actually it was an attempt by the Hungarian Government to impose its rule over that part of Romania. @ LwiiH you… Read more »
LwiiH
Guest

@Eva, I just heard a rumor that Budapest Bank is up for grabs for the princely sum of 1HUF. Do you happen to know anything?

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