Viktor Orbán: “We are not nice guys from the mainstream”

The Hungarian government responded to a very tough letter from José Manuel Barroso by making a couple of new amendments to the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The first states that the limitation on political advertisement on commercial electronic media will be restricted to national elections and will not apply to the European parliamentary elections. The second amendment prohibits the president of the National Judicial Office from moving cases from one court to another when the case raises an issue of European law.

According to legal experts, this was a shrewd move on the part of the Hungarian government. By removing amendments that would have been in direct violation of European laws, Hungary has made the European Union’s case against it much harder. Most non-legal types, of course, think that this move only highlights the Hungarian government’s cynical authoritarianism. The opposition will be unable to campaign effectively while the government, with its practically unlimited ways of advertising itself, will dominate campaign rhetoric. And sensitive (especially political) cases will still be referred to government-friendly judges.

But while the Orbán government put on its cooperative face (or mask) in order to avoid what seemed only a few days ago to be unavoidable armageddon in Brussels, it also launched an aggressive PR blitz. Just today three different Orbán interviews appeared: in the German Die Welt and Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and the Austrian Die Kurier. In all three he said that for the time being he has no interest in a dialogue with Brussels. “Once they read it … we can talk about the concrete issues.” For good measure he added that “we are democrats who believe in the force of reason.”

Die Welt entitled its interview “Orbán holzt gegen die EU” (Orbán plays rough against the EU). Orbán’s latest favorite expression is “We are not nice guys from the mainstream” (Wir sind keine netten Kerle vom Mainstream), something I don’t think he has to explain to the politicians of Western Europe. For good measure he added that he is a civilized man; after all, “he can eat with a knife and fork.”

So, it seems that Orbán is getting the idea that some of his colleagues abroad look down on him. It is these cultural differences that a Hungarian journalist explored when analyzing Barroso’s latest letter to Orbán. According to him, Barroso learned a lot in these last two years. He now knows that he cannot treat Orbán as he does the prime ministers of other European member countries. “It took the Roman emperor some time before he found out that the king of the Visigoths lies even when he poses a question and that it is much more effective to smash his head with an ax. But by then Roman civilization had had it.”

Orbán then began his usual tirade against the deficiencies of Europe. In our changed world the European model is no longer competitive. The current economic system that “allocates functions between market and state is simply false,” which is a roundabout way of saying that the solution to our current economic problems is greater state ownership. Later in the interview he was a bit more direct about the connection between  market and state. “In the neo-liberalism of the past two decades the market had priority and the state was deprived of important areas.” Unfortunately, we can already see signs of his grandiose plans for nationalization in Hungary.

In the FAZ interview he talked at length about the importance and strength of the nation state. He went on and on about the European Union’s being too rigid and inflexible when it is perfectly clear that European politicians have no solution to Europe’s current problems. As for Die Kurier, he tooted his own horn as is his wont. He is a problem solver. Hungary is a success story. The trouble is that the figures don’t support his contention, but the spin sounds good and perhaps some people believe it. And that’s enough for him.

Orbán spent yesterday and this morning in Spain. Yesterday he delivered a lecture on Christian Europe and this morning he talked with Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy. From the descriptions of the meeting I gather that there was no joint press conference; it seems that Orbán talked only to Hungarian journalists after the meeting. He told them that he had made it clear to Rajoy that Hungary “insists on going on its own way as far as economic policy is concerned and as long as Hungary doesn’t belong to the eurozone.” In brief, the European Union should dole out the money and they should be able to do anything they want with it.

Finally, a few words about Orbán’s lecture at the conference on “Catholics in public life” held in Bilbaó. Orbán is not a Catholic; presumably he was baptized as a Calvinist. His wife is Catholic, but when they were married in the late 1980s they didn’t see the need to get married in a church. Moreover, their children were not baptized as infants. By now, however, he finds great support in the Hungarian Catholic Church and portrays himself as a religious man who wants to transform all those non-religious Hungarians into practicing Christians. Preferably Catholics, it seems. I suspect that his attachment to the Catholic Church is mere political calculation. After all, it is the largest religion in the country.

Christians in Europe and elsewhere, 1900-2050 The trend doesn't support Viktor Orbán's vision for Christian Europe

Christians in Europe and elsewhere, 1900-2050
The trend doesn’t support Viktor Orbán’s vision for a Christian Europe

So, let’s see what he had to say about European society and religion in this lecture. Europe is the only continent in the world where a large part of the political elite thinks that they are able to organize their world without God and divine providence. “Today in Europe an aggressive secular political vision reigns” which is called progress, and in Brussels most of the politicians think that “this should be the future.” These people, wittingly or unwittingly, are building a society without God; they think that religion is only a supplement to individual lifestyle. “The European people can’t get rid of the Christianity in their heads and therefore there is no use forcing a new common European identity on them that doesn’t accept the fundamental fact that it is the Biblical story that is the moral foundation of European life.”

I could go on and on about Orbán’s vision for a Christian Europe, but most of it is not worth repeating.  One sidenote, however. According to Orbán, “Europe needs a religious revival because otherwise it will not be able to be economically competitive again.” I wonder whether Orbán ever read Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. I doubt it, but if Weber’s theory has any foundation Orbán shouldn’t be looking for it in Catholic Spain.

One more interesting slip of the tongue by Orbán. He received a question about the new constitution. He admitted that the majority of the population didn’t want a Christian constitution, but eventually he was able to convince them to accept a constitution based on Christian values. He managed to achieve this through national consultations. In plain language, Hungarian society is secular and most Hungarians would have been quite happy with a secular constitution, but with its two-thirds majority Fidesz managed to push it through nonetheless. Well, yes. This is exactly what happened.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Member

At a meeting of MEPs from the European People’s Party yesterday, Orban was reportedly applauded.

http://hvg.hu/itthon/20130416_Orban_Europai_Neppart_Strasbourg

Petofi1
Guest

——Later in the interview he was a bit more direct about the connection between market and state. “In the neo-liberalism of the past two decades the market had priority and the state was deprived of important areas.” Unfortunately, we can already see signs of his grandiose plans for nationalization in Hungary.

Well, I’ll be damned if this isn’t the ‘Russian model’.

Putynism, anyone?

cheshire cat
Guest

Orban only met Rajoy, because he was in the country for this Catholic conference. It is standard diplomatic practice to see your counterpart if you are in a country other than on private holiday. I doubt anything important was discussed.

It is standard Orban tactics to suddenly try to prevent some planned action against him by doing something radical in the last moment. Last winter, when the Commission had already decided to propose sanctions against Hungary because of its excessive deficit, and Rehn was about to announce it, Orban suddenly faxed Barroso a letter with some quick numbers like x billion cut from the medicine budget etc. Olli Rehn had none of it and went ahead anyway.
Let’s see whether the EP will get confused by these sudden amendments in the Constitution…

cheshire cat
Guest

Petofi 1
Interestingly, as Germany is becoming tough on Hungary, it is getting tough on Putin.

http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21576155-vladimir-putin-comes-under-fire-abroad-repressive-laws-home-put-his-place

cheshire cat
Guest

(OT but do the pro-Putin Russia commenters remind you of something?

“Putin was elected by the majority Russia people in transparent democratic election monitored not only by western observers but also by anyone due to web cams installed in the voting centers.

And he enjoys 62% popularity in his country, much higher than any of the brainless bunch western politicians in their broke and sinking western crapholes.

Your powerless whine is laughable and demonstrates that you are nothing but a sour looser angry to the fact that Russia implemented the US Foreign Agents Registration Acts and now uses the US-made law to expose the US-paid agents like yourself, heh, heh, heh”

or

“This is why the western idiots prefer to support the Russia COMMUNISTS as opposition to super leader Putin – they are pissed off to the fact that Putin Russia after Putin get rid of the western international companies who robbed Russia white grows prosperous and powerful while the west rots in US-made recession and huge debt, heh, heh, heh” )

Member

@cheshire cat

Fidesz do not plan to modify the 4th amendment of the “Basic Law” an iota, they will just modify lower-level bills like T/10593.

So EU does not have to delay any judgment on the “Basic Law”, because the 4th amendment to it will not be amended.

petofi
Guest

cheshire cat :
Petofi 1
Interestingly, as Germany is becoming tough on Hungary, it is getting tough on Putin.
http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21576155-vladimir-putin-comes-under-fire-abroad-repressive-laws-home-put-his-place

Of course, the somnambulant Hungarians of the mustachio/Fidesz ilk would hardly take notice. They have no idea what’s coming. Here’s a little case of ‘deja vu all over again’…

When we were in Moscow real estate transactions were conducted in cash: the banks didn’t use cheques. So, regardless of the value–and many apartment sales were over $1 million in value–would be conducted at the bank. One such transaction was for over $3 million. Problem was, someone squealed to the boys with masks. Consequently, after the deal was consummated, and the seller was trying to make his getaway in one of those posh 4-wheelers with the darkened glass, he was stopped by an even bigger suv. Quickly some hooded fellas, brandishing machine-guns subdued the guards (who may, or may not, have been on the whole gig) and the hapless fellow had to surrender his $3 million cash. The getaway was effortless. Later, the police said that they couldn’t find them because of the traffic.

No cheques and the year was 2009!

Viktor, Viktor, whereto are thou leading us?

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

The journalists asked also about Viktor Orbáns good friend Zsolt Bayer.
Orbán admonished Bayer to revise his opinion that Roma are animals, which he did.
The Hungarian prime minister also said the anti-Semitism accusation against Bayer is not serious. “Antisemitische Einstufungen dieses Journalisten halte ich für unernst, wenn man sich die Schriften ansieht”
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/ausland/europa/im-gespraech-viktor-orban-ungarn-braucht-zur-zeit-keine-netten-jungs-12149848.html

I wonder if the members of the WJC congegrating in May in Budapest will ask Orbán about Bayer’s publications.

http://hungarianspectrum.org/2013/03/02/for-you-only-death-is-the-proper-punishment-zsolt-bayer-on-jews-and-liberals/

http://hungarianspectrum.org/2013/01/09/fidesz-and-zsolt-bayer-a-close-connection/

//hungarianspectrum.org/2011/01/05/zsolt_bayer_vents_against_hungarian_jews_and_the_foreign_press/

http://forward.com/articles/135121/storm-tossed-hungary-gets-a-schiff/

Member

The European Parliament devoted a grand total of one hour to the Hungarian issue today.

The video recording is embedded here:

http://index.hu/belfold/2013/04/17/igazsagot_magyarorszagnak/

Member
Ron
Guest

Eva: For good measure he added that he is a civilized man; after all, “he can eat with a knife and fork.”

Well we need to take his word for this. As far as I noticed; him was eating, nuts (in Brussels), sunflower seeds (him watching a game) and a sandwich (before speech somewhere in the country). None of them involved fork and knife.

Ron
Guest

tappanch :
The European Parliament devoted a grand total of one hour to the Hungarian issue today.
The video recording is embedded here:
http://index.hu/belfold/2013/04/17/igazsagot_magyarorszagnak/

Thanks for this link. I was looking for this.

Ron
Guest

tappanch :
@cheshire cat
Fidesz do not plan to modify the 4th amendment of the “Basic Law” an iota, they will just modify lower-level bills like T/10593.
So EU does not have to delay any judgment on the “Basic Law”, because the 4th amendment to it will not be amended.

I agree it is a total waste of time. In the link Tappanch provide it is depressing to hear Vivian Reding stating:
-We wrote a letter last year.
-Last year we stated,
-The Court of Justice made last year

What happened nothing, nada, semmi. If the Commission learned a lesson, it is not showing.

Semion
Guest
Orbán is necessary for the People’s Party, simple as that. Orbán will remain and will rule Hungary for years to come (as he did even from opposition with his weird, mafia-like, quasi-veto powers). Try not to underestimate the European Right’s hatred againts the Left. Orbán’s leave would upset the balance of power and move it towards the Left, so it is unlikely Orbán will be excluded. (At least this is what Orbán hopes). I just read a good saying (supposedly paraphrasing Max Planck) that sience advances one funeral at a time. I guess politics is a similar. Plus Reding realised ( I guess I read this in Origo) what has already been mentioned on this blog, that is that Art. 7 is the nuclear option. Since failure to use it, that is not being able to get it approved or get it enforcement would eliminate its deterrent completely, it is so much better for the EU not even to initiate the using it. Unless there will be shooting and concentration camps, the EU will do nothing (although in Bosnia they failed even under such circumstances). By the time the EU can get anything approved/done, after which it is appealed and… Read more »
Semion
Guest

Conscience. etc. Sorry, I write too fast.

petofi
Guest

I suggest that the EU is not powerless…that they are doing their level best not to give Orban his hoped for excuse, or excuses, to justify leaving the EU. Orban’s tactics were obviously directed at
having Hungary expelled. The EU will not give him his wish. Atleast, they seem to have decided to await the next election results. Surely, Bajnai and his opposition members will have the brains to make EU membership one of the focal points of the election. I don’t remember Orban promising, in 2010, to remove
Hungary from the EU. I believe Hungarians, in the main, are still
pro-Europ, regardless of the color of the patch on their ass.

LwiiH
Guest

petofi :
I don’t remember Orban promising, in 2010, to remove

Do you remember him promising to change the constitution?

Hungary from the EU. I believe Hungarians, in the main, are still
pro-Europ, regardless of the color of the patch on their ass.

I think they see EU membership as their saving grace!

Member

Non-government jobs in Hungary – 1st quarter 2013 vs 1st quarter 2012, in thousands:

Budapest (39% of jobs) 996 vs 1,001
Pest county (12% of jobs) 309 vs 313
elsewhere (49% of jobs) 1,239 vs 1,261

Hungary total 2,544 vs 2,575 (1.2% decrease in the last year)

As one can see, although earnings of Hungarian employees are almost the smallest in the EU, the new jobs fail to appear.

http://www.vg.hu/vallalatok/tetszhalott-a-magyar-munkaeropiac-itt-a-megyenkenti-adatok-401810

petofi
Guest

tappanch :
Non-government jobs in Hungary – 1st quarter 2013 vs 1st quarter 2012, in thousands:
Budapest (39% of jobs) 996 vs 1,001
Pest county (12% of jobs) 309 vs 313
elsewhere (49% of jobs) 1,239 vs 1,261
Hungary total 2,544 vs 2,575 (1.2% decrease in the last year)
As one can see, although earnings of Hungarian employees are almost the smallest in the EU, the new jobs fail to appear.
http://www.vg.hu/vallalatok/tetszhalott-a-magyar-munkaeropiac-itt-a-megyenkenti-adatok-401810

The number of jobs may have remained about the same, but how many jobs changed hands? i.e.. to Fidesz supporters…

Joe Simon
Guest

Hungary`s problems are daunting. Many people are nostalgic about the Kadar era. People feel the multi-national companies are ripping the country off. the EU offering no protection. Gyurcsany split the oppositiion. Who else is there but Orban.

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

If the multi-national companies are ripping the country off, I can’t understand, why Orbán is doing everything in his power to get those companies to invest again in Hungary?

petofi
Guest

Ron :

tappanch :
@cheshire cat
Fidesz do not plan to modify the 4th amendment of the “Basic Law” an iota, they will just modify lower-level bills like T/10593.
So EU does not have to delay any judgment on the “Basic Law”, because the 4th amendment to it will not be amended.

I agree it is a total waste of time. In the link Tappanch provide it is depressing to hear Vivian Reding stating:
-We wrote a letter last year.
-Last year we stated,
-The Court of Justice made last year
What happened nothing, nada, semmi. If the Commission learned a lesson, it is not showing.

Calm yourselves.
This is not gutlessness but patience: the EU must allow Orban to hang himself. It seems fairly obvious that
Orban is trying to goad the EU in kicking Hungary out. They won’t oblige. Good for them: never do what the opponent wants.

Yan
Guest

Karl, silent producers who export are good, service providers who are in direct contact with voters are bad.

petofi
Guest

Joe Simon :
Hungary`s problems are daunting. Many people are nostalgic about the Kadar era. People feel the multi-national companies are ripping the country off. the EU offering no protection. Gyurcsany split the oppositiion. Who else is there but Orban.

This is pure nonsense: what split the opposition was the ‘sacrilege’ of Gyurcsany trying to reform MSZP.
That brought the ‘Et tu” crowd out. They served up Gyurcsany and Orban did the rest.

Decency and integrity are rare commodities in Hungary
and hardly useful in the corrupt waters of its political life.

oneill
Guest

“suggest that the EU is not powerless…that they are doing their level best not to give Orban his hoped for excuse, or excuses, to justify leaving the EU. Orban’s tactics were obviously directed at having Hungary expelled.”

I disagree on both counts. The EUcracy is so dysfunctional that it is incapable of coming up with a unified strategy in situations like this. Admitedly, the EU has never been faced with the creation of a potential dictatorship from within an existing memberstate but still…

Secondly, Orban needs EU money to feed the corrupt business scumbags that are the true basis of his power (forget the electorate, he could inform them money will be growing on the trees on the Varosliget in the event of a Fidesz victory and enough sheep would believe him to cause a stampede on Dozsa Gyorgy Ut). No EU and Orban is yesterday’s toast. He knows that and really, by now, the EUcracy should as well.
Cut the fascist dwarf’s only reliable money supply and he will be begging to Brussels on his knees

petofi
Guest

@oneill

“…begging to Brussels”–No, the only time you’ll find Orban on his knees is one of those Catholic pilgrimages, in Viktator’s attempt to impress the new Pope.

I think there’s something dark and dastardly in the background that we no little about. It’s hard to understand why the forint hasn’t sunk when it had countless opportunities. My theory (or suspicion) is that there’s Russian money behind the Orbaner, and that, folks, is limitless.

Kirsten
Guest

Semion: “And the best thing: even the Hungarian left is furiously against the application of any sanctions against Hungary. Your very enemies are defending you. How cool is that?”

I completely understand this interest. Being excluded from the EU means that Orban can indeed take decisive action on his opponents.

“(in a way, Orbán knows that these Western politicians secretly envy his complete, unbridled power).” “Orbán is necessary for the People’s Party, simple as that.”

For me the best thing for OV is that Hungarians even with OV (or perhaps because of OV and his “great power play”) believe that Hungary is of such importance for Europe.

Member

In deed Hungary is important to the EU. Hungary is the first nation that puts the EU’s capabilities on trial. Hungary’s doing will set a precedent on how much, what, when, and how the EU can do as a union in unison. THe EU has no means to stop one of its member’s undemocratic actions. As much as Hungary is “insignificant”, it is still a member. What the Jobbik is for Hungary, Fidesz is for the EU. Accepting that Hungary is insignificant is like accepting the Jobbik has no bearing on Hungary.

spectator
Guest

Well, he should work a bit on those rural manners, no doubt. Not to mention his questionable advancements in civilized interactiion with food…
After all, he is the Peime Minister of Hungary, its about time to learn adequate table manners, don’t uou think?

Otherwise who will ever believe, that he really knows, how to use the cutlery..?

http://www.blikk.hu/blikk_aktualis/hajnali-kettokor-kebaboztak-orbanek-2124777

Kirsten
Guest

What I meant is that OV appears to make too much of an impression even on people who may dislike his policies. OV is an annoyance for Europe but most likely not a source of envy.

Hungary is perhaps the first country that violates EU principles so bluntly but there is no lack of precedents that show that principles have been violated frequently. The EU is a political project, with all its flaws and complications. Hungarians are EU citizens, so they are also asked to shape how it functions. Specifically welcome would of course be suggestions on how to get the country back on track for democracy.

wpDiscuz