Listening to Viktor Orbán in action

This morning after reading the transcript of a conversation between the prime minister and István Tarlós, the mayor of Budapest, I decided to devote today’s post to it. It’s a rare piece of “documentary evidence” about the inner workings of this government. After all, even historians decades hence will not be able to hear or read what transpired at cabinet meetings. In those terrible socialist-liberal days cabinet meetings were taped and transcribed. A hundred years ago there were at least short summaries of cabinet meetings. Now only the participants know what happened in these meetings.

Let’s start with the occasion for this conversation. Budapest, thanks to the “generosity” of the Orbán government, will be getting 150 sorely needed Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses. The first fifty arrived, and today they began their scheduled runs on certain bus lines. It was a few months ago that I read with some interest that Tarlós himself decided on the color of the buses. I looked at a number of Citaro buses from different cities, and I must say that the ones in Budapest will be unique all right.

MTI / Photo Szilárd Koszticsák

MTI / Photo Szilárd Koszticsák

The ceremony began with the usual Orbán speech about a strong Hungary and a strong Budapest. He expounded on the fantastic achievements of his government and its blessings on the capital. Three years ago the city was full of stories about a Nokia box stuffed with stolen money, but now the talk is about buses. Never mind that the story of the Nokia box was a figment of the imagination of a frightened witness against Miklós Hagyó, MSZP deputy mayor of the city.

After the brief ceremony the prime minister, the mayor, and other officials and newspapermen had a fairly lengthy ride from Heroes’ Square to Deák Square. Orbán and Tarlós stood in the aisle close to the bus driver, a woman. Népszava published an article headlined “Orbán can create laws for anything.”

Here is part of the conversation.

At the Kodály Körönd:

V.O.: Hey, István, do these houses still belong to the Ukrainians?

I. T.: I didn’t even know that they were owned by Ukrainians.

V.O.: I read something about Ukrainians….

I. T.: The Ballet Institute belongs to the Portuguese.

V.O.: It belongs to a Portuguese individual and I want it back.

I.T.:  Isn’t there some kind of law that it cannot be done for twenty years …?

V.O.: Why don’t we create one? The city could propose it and I will create one.

I.T.: One must have a law for it. A city ordinance is not enough.

V.O.: Initiate the enactment of such a law and I will create one.

I.T.: Fine with me.

V.O.: Just give me a proposal. I can’t figure it out instead of you.

I.T.: Mr. Prime Minister, could we turn in a couple of bills?

V.O.: Don’t try to be too greedy. We are talking about one. Turn it in!

I.T.: Okay, we will turn one in.

A jocular conversation between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Mayor István Tarlós Világgazdaság / Photo by Katalin Darnay

A jocular conversation between Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Mayor István Tarlós  / Világgazdaság, Photo by Katalin Darnay

About facades that would need refurbishing:

I.T.: If we hadn’t built the Metro #4 we could have fixed up the facades in Districts V, VI, VII and VIII completely.

V.O.: I’ll tell you what Gábor Bethlen [Prince of Transylvania, 1580-1629] did in Transylvania. When he was elected prince he went around the country and saw that the houses were in disrepair. He declared that within one year every owner of a house must fix it up; otherwise they would see what happens.

I.T.: Will you give me such freedom?

V.O.: If it is a question of permission, we will think about it if I get a proposal from you…. Something must be done.

I.T.:  In May that proposal will be turned in.

At the Anker House:

I.T.: Look at this building. It has been in this deplorable state for the last twenty years.

V.O.: But why, István? You see this building every day…. Why do you allow it?

I.T.: The problem is that it is not ours.

V.O.: You are not the owner but you are the mayor. Order them to fix it up! [In the original: Rendeld el, hogy legyen rendben!]

I.T.: Zoli, let’s not forget that the prime minister would like an amendment to the municipality law. We will turn in a recommendation.

* * *

I know that this text sounds like something from The Onion. Alas, it’s not.

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LwiiH
Guest

This is a joke right? Please say it’s a good joke.. and you know it’s May 2nd not April 1st.

tappanch
Guest

The first part of the conversation is here:

http://index.hu/video/2013/04/30/orban_viktor_busz/?s=tag%3Abusz

Judge yourself how much of it is joking and how much of it is the sheer bravado of a tyrant.

tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest
tappanch
Guest
Pampalini
Guest

Some of it is joking, but I guess really half-joking.

These are not very humourous or funny people to begin with.

Tarlós, the mayor, comes across as a real csicska, a kind of lowly side-kick who is the butt of jokes. And Orbán is the bully, which we all knew.

The entire scene is just weird and bizarre. Weird people. Crazy town.But true to present day Hungary, I agree.

Orbán’s is puffed up and looks perhaps ten years older than his age (just turned 50, by the way I think I misseed the Catholic mass celebrated for this occassion, in the Belvárosi Church, right by the Elisabeth Bridge).

tappanch
Guest

@pampalini

The mess WILL be on his birthday, May 31.

Here is the whole conversation

http://mandiner.hu/cikk/20130501_orban_egy_buszjegyert_meg_szaunat_is_kaptunk

Klippo
Guest

For Hungarian speakers: if you wanna know what most people see from the Great Tobacco swindle here you are (see link). For English speakers: “MSZP is stealing the tobacco licenses all over the country” is repeated ad nauseam all over state media and Fidesz-related media (tvs, radios) and print such as Metropol and municipal newspapers.

What is a scandal is a real scandal only – according to Fidesz – it was the oppsoition who perpetrated it (never mind that the state is organsising the tenders, these Socialists are so stricky). So, don’t count on sacndals.

Fidesz will stay for ever as they own the media and the mindshare. Simple as that. MSZP ignored media, Fidesz built out the most comprehensive media empire anywhere in the EU (Index and Origo are read regulatly by no more than 500.000 people, that is 5% of the population out which many are anyway die hard Fidesz fan).

You can lough and get terrified but he will stay.

http://kepviselofunky.blog.hu/2013/05/02/szocialista_partkatonak_nyuljak_le_a_nemzet_trafikjait?utm_source=cimlap&utm_medium=link&utm_content=2013_05_02&utm_campaign=index&token=219129731041b4de845cbd3ed9e9da36

tappanch
Guest

@Klippo

The majority of the Hungarians living in Hungary want a change of government – despite the billions of forints spent on government propaganda. What this propaganda has indeed achieved is that people do not flock to the opposition parties.

Orban is frightened by the fact that half of the voters are not willing to tell pollsters their party preference. Orban’s only hope is in preventing people from exercising their vote in 2014.

cheshire cat
Guest

This is not really an “inside look” – Orban knew he was being filmed (which makes it even worse) and he was showing off. It is his idea of being funny, and he seems to be enjoying his limitless power tremendously. Joking with everyone, enjoying being the centre of attention.

Frightening.

Member

Orban the 5th has no talent. He only knows one thing: how to manipulate Hungarians. That is his skill. I think this was meant to project some kind of “strong man” image to the average Joe. This guy isn’t dicking around like Tarlos. He doesn’t let the evil Portuguese guy colonialize Budapest…

He knows this will win him more votes than trying to look intelligent. Unfortunately this winner image will work until the money runs out. This is the really sad part.

gdfxx
Guest

Same shirt, same jacket, same tie. I guess this is the FIDESZ uniform.

petofi
Guest

tappanch :
@Klippo
The majority of the Hungarians living in Hungary want a change of government – despite the billions of forints spent on government propaganda. What this propaganda has indeed achieved is that people do not flock to the opposition parties.
Orban is frightened by the fact that half of the voters are not willing to tell pollsters their party preference. Orban’s only hope is in preventing people from exercising their vote in 2014.

Tsk, tsk. You’ve forgotten Papa Stalin’s great dictum: “Democracy is not about voting: it is about who counts the votes.”

petofi
Guest

muttdamon :
Orban the 5th has no talent. He only knows one thing: how to manipulate Hungarians. That is his skill. I think this was meant to project some kind of “strong man” image to the average Joe. This guy isn’t dicking around like Tarlos. He doesn’t let the evil Portuguese guy colonialize Budapest…
He knows this will win him more votes than trying to look intelligent. Unfortunately this winner image will work until the money runs out. This is the really sad part.

Orban is steering the country to where Germany was in 1945, and he’ll show his mastery by doing it without a world war, too.

Guest
Ron
Guest

gdfxx :
Same shirt, same jacket, same tie. I guess this is the FIDESZ uniform.

No blue color suit and tie means they are in control. Compare this with when they were in opposition. The color then was blue and red (ties). In government it is blue and blue/green.

http://www.tie-necktie-video.com/tie-color.html

http://www.mysuitshop.com/customtailor/Shirt_And_Suit_Colours_And_Their_Meanings.htm

It is the message they want to bring to everybody.

Deak Ferenc
Guest

Fine, once again, let’s bitch away another golden opportunity to discredit the imbecile by moaning that no one cares and that Hungarians are useless no-hopers uninterested in democracy (echoing Orban’s own line, btw). Has anyone even bothered to forward the full transcript to concerned international press/NGOs?

petofi
Guest

Deark Ferenc:

I like this pro-active tone, DF, and heartily agree: it’s time to spread Orban’s Mayhem far and wide…

oneill
Guest

The Viktator doesn’t strike me as man au fait with the concept of self-parody…. but if you were wanting to show to a foreign audience what kind of borderline (?) psychopath our leader really is then you could a lot worse than to forward this onto Reuters etc.

Cakewalk
Guest

There is a good piece from Véleményvezér today http://velemenyvezer.blog.hu/ saying that this is Orbán’s Öszödi beszéd, except society is now past the point of caring.
It is all very well grumbling that government propaganda and its control of the media is impeding the opposition. But the opposition has no message and no program and would hardly attract votes (other than protest votes) if their voices were heard.

Guest

Let’s wait what Orbán has to say to the WJC whose president Lauder had some strong words to say in the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
And of course it will be interesting to see what comes out of the protests that the Hungarian Nazis have planned.

The German magazine has some ideas on that:

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/orban-wehrt-sich-gegen-kritik-vom-juedischen-weltkongress-a-897459.html

Btw that article has a “nice” picture of a real Nazi – with the SS-slogan tattooed on his head …

tappanch
Guest

According to a news report, it was former Fidesz MP & current head of the Academy of Sciences Pálinkás, who overrode the decision of the street-renaming commission and banned Karolyi, Lukacs and permitted Prohaszka.

http://www.nepszava.hu/articles/article.php?id=642502

tappanch
Guest

Yesterday, the state channel “Duna” repeated a two-and-a-half-hour long adulation movie about Horthy.

http://tv.animare.hu/tvmusor.aspx?id=d523354446c56841d3bf2dbf2ff35bcbe4

Huba
Guest

Sure, we like Jews, but they cannot decide what is good for us. The great anti-semite Prohászka is good, and Lukács is bad. Thus spoke the Hungarian nation. And we expect respect from the world., after all, we are a thousand and onehundred-year-old nation. Plus many say that the Hungarians actually predate the Sumerians (or that we are related to them?), so we are actully older than the Jews. So what do you say to this?

Istvan
Guest

Huba,
You could lead Hungary better than Horthy or Orban.
You have got humor.
You will be the next prime minister with my endorsement.
Steve

Cakewalk
Guest
Modern genetic studies have shown conclusively that there where human beings are concerned, there is really no such thing as race! So the idea that there is a “Hungarian race” that somehow predates another “race”, be it Sumerian or Jewish, is really a nonsense. Although it is counter-intuitive to many, even language is something that exists independent of specific people. Hungarian is a classic example, brought to Europe from central Asia by migrating tribes 1100 years ago and adopted by other tribes, who have no obvious connection with central Asia whatsoever. Anyone who claims to be an “ethnic Hungarian” is almost certainly talking nonsense because the people who brought the language have almost certainly intermarried and to all intents and purposes, “died out.” I often wish Hungary took the attitude of the Portuguese, who basically define their “identity” with their language. If you speak Portuguese (either as a first language, or adopted) you are Portuguese whether you are from Iberia or Angola or Indonesia. And if people like Huba could stop thinking of themselves as ethnic Hungarian (which is meaningless) and define themselves as “Hungarian speakers”, then would be making far more sense! And Hungary would be a much richer… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

@Sumer
The original inhabitants of Sumer looked like the Dravidians of South India – very dark-skinned, looked like the typical Gypsy in a Jobbik-fan’s nightmare.

Usually the same Jobbik supporters imagine the origin of Hungarians in Sumer –
so Hungarians and Gypsies are related after all. The same people promote the
“rovas” writing (no earlier evidence than the 15th century) heading from right to left,
suspicious Khazar-Jewish origin of Hungarians!

Paul
Guest

It’s easy to define who is an ‘ethnic Hungarian’:

You speak Hungarian

You are not Roma or Jewish

You support Fidesz

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