Fidesz insiders think Orbán’s days are numbered

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day usually offers little sustenance for news junkies. But today I discovered a front-page article in Népszava with the titillating title “Does Orbán have only months left?” The paper’s “sources close to Fidesz” claimed that “Orbán is already finished” and the only “question is who will take his place.”

The article was met with skepticism, especially in pro-government circles. Válasz described the article as sci-fi and “entertaining.” Gábor Török, the popular political scientist, wanted to know what his Facebook “friends” thought about the appearance of such items in the media. Do government politicians actually say such things to reporters of an opposition paper or are the reporters only giving voice to their wishes? The comments that followed were a mixed bag but a reporter, András Kósa, who also receives information from dissatisfied Fidesz politicians, didn’t think that the article was fantasy, although it might be exaggerated. Here and there commenters thought that Fidesz will collapse as soon as Viktor Orbán is gone, but most “friends” of Török considered the article humbug. I’m less skeptical than most of Török’s friends because I’ve usually found Népszava to be reliable when it reports on information coming from unnamed sources.

So, let’s see what Népszava heard from “sources close to Fidesz.” They claim that Orbán’s “system” has no more than a few months before it collapses. Apparently Fidesz politicians are increasingly avoiding the limelight because “the fall is inevitable. In their opinion Orbán started down a road from which there is no return. Not only will he himself be the victim of his own mistakes but also his party and the country itself.”

The problems that beset the work of the government emanate from the character flaws of the prime minister: inconsistency, impenetrability, and unpredictability. Most government and Fidesz officials have no idea what course they are supposed to pursue. Orbán trusts fewer and fewer people, and the ones he still does give him wrong advice. He apparently is looking for enemies everywhere, and this is one of the reasons that government decisions are not preceded by any discussion. It often happens that Orbán himself changes his mind in the last minute, which makes consistent communication nearly impossible. Underlings parrot a line that has been superseded by a new brainstorm of the prime minister. More and more people would like to save themselves from such embarrassments.

According to these informants, serious problems within Fidesz are not new although they are only now becoming visible. Signs of trouble began to surface when Orbán decided, sometime before the April elections, to change the “structure” under which Fidesz had been functioning very well for over twenty years. Until then, Lajos Simicska was in charge of the party’s finances, but “from the moment that Orbán decided to take over economic decisions” the old dual structure collapsed and with it the well-functioning system. When Orbán again managed to receive a two-thirds majority, he completely lost his sense of judgment. As months went by, anti-Orbán murmurs in the party began to proliferate, and the Christian Democrats, realizing that Orbán was losing his grip on the party, decided to put pressure on the beleaguered prime minister. That’s why Orbán had to give in on the unpopular law that forces stores to be closed on Sundays.

What observers see is no longer a “system” but a political process based on day-by-day ad hoc decisions which, according to the saner Fidesz leaders, cannot be maintained because “it is incapable of self-correction.”

The informers seem to have less information about actual attempts to topple Viktor Orbán. Names were not mentioned, but they indicated that the people they had in mind “would be quite capable of taking over the reins of government without changing political direction.” Népszava‘s sources consider Angela Merkel’s planned visit to Budapest in February a date of great importance. I guess they think that Merkel will tell Orbán that he is persona non grata as far as the European People’s Party and the European Commission are concerned.

CalendarNépszava‘s description of the strife and chaos within Fidesz is most likely accurate. The question is what Orbán is planning to do to forestall the outcome described by Népszava‘s sources. For the time being, as we learned from the interviews of János Lázár, Viktor Orbán, and László Kövér, he will fight to hold onto power by convincing his Peace March troops that the “fatherland is in danger.” I’m almost certain that internal polls are being taken to gauge support. Would it be possible to turn out 100,000 people to defend the prime minister against foreign and domestic intrigues? I assume that the size of the planned anti-government demonstrations on January 2 will also influence Orbán’s decision about the next step to take to combat his opponents inside and outside the party.

In any case, for the time being it was Antal Rogán who was called upon to announce a countermeasure that might take the wind out of anti-government sails.  It is called the “National Defense Action Plan.” The details are secret for the time being, but it most likely includes some kind of answer to the United States’ decision to bar six Hungarian citizens from the United States due to corruption. It is also likely that a huge propaganda effort will be launched to discredit the U.S.-EU free trade agreement that until now the Hungarian government has welcomed. According to government and Fidesz sources, the “National Defense Action Plan” was put together in the prime minister’s office by Viktor Orbán, János Lázár, Antal Rogán, Péter Szijjártó, and Árpád Habony (who neither holds an official government position nor has national security clearance). These are the people who make most of the decisions in the Orbán government.

Meanwhile what are the anti-Orbán political forces doing in this fluid situation? Ferenc Gyurcsány decided to ask those followers who have been at the anti-government demonstrations all along to bring party posters and flags to the January 2 demonstration. József Tóbiás, leader of MSZP, did not respond to Gyurcsány’s request to follow DK’s lead. But István Újhelyi, an MSZP MEP, announced today a socialist “diplomatic offensive” against the Orbán government. Orbán must be stopped because his “Russian roulette” will have tragic consequences.

At the beginning of the new year there will be at least two important events. First, the mass demonstration planned for January 2 in front of the Opera House. Three years ago a gigantic anti-government demonstration also took place there, and for a whole month newspapers kept asking how long Orbán could last. We are again asking the same question. Since Orbán not only survived but thrived in the last three years, some people might come to the conclusion that the Hungarian prime minister will always triumph, even in the most perilous circumstances. But I would caution the pessimists. Three years ago the pressure came only from the inside. This time Orbán has embroiled himself and the country in a high stakes international power play in addition to alienating about 900,000 of his former supporters.

The second event will be Orbán’s new “remedy,” the “National Defense Action Plan.” Will it work? Is Orbán strong enough to rally his troops for another supportive Peace March as he did in 2012? And even if he manages, will anybody care?

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An
Guest

Eva, I do hope that you (and Nepszava) are right. The country needs to return to sanity.

2nd try
Guest
I’m reading Orlando Figes’ short book on Revolutionary Russia. When Tsar Nicholas was forced to abdicate in favor of his son those who where there reported on the Tsar’s strange lack of emotions. In a way abdication was a kind of relief after all the stress and failure Nicholas had gone through before. This episode kind of reminded me of Orban’s similarly strange reactions to his election losses in 2002 and 2006 and in 1994 (when it had seemed for a long time that Fidesz was going to win). Although Orban has been victorious in three elections in 2014 can he feel successful or happy? Of course the fidesznik/state media empire has been relentlessly pushing the stories about victorious, triumphant Hungary, but who is really happy and satisfied in Hungary these days? Orban, it seems, can’t catch a break. Apart from V. V. Putin, literally no politician or any kind of counterparty likes Orban abroad (of course we know, what Orban may deny, that Putin does not actually like Orban), and we talk about the prime minister of an EU and NATO member state. I can easily imagine that Orban will soon give it up or that his system will… Read more »
Jean-Paul
Guest

I wonder if all that is not just wishful thinking, wishing nonetheless that it happens….

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

@An: “… taking over the reins of government without changing political direction” might not qualify as a return to sanity.

göllnerandrás
Guest

I’m not at all sure, Hungary will return to sanity after Orbán. Having racked up two election victories and picked just about everybody’s pocket, and amassed a sizable fortune for himself and his family, why should Orbán want to stay in the steamy kitchen ?? He will most likely go, and retire to comfortable stud-farm, while one of his former humble servants will take over the nitty gritty and try to portrey the shift as a new beginning. It seems that neither Fidesz nor the opposition is capable of paradigmatic change, of transforming themselves in any fundamental way. And that is a very sad state of affairs. .

Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Also in February, the Veszprém by-election.

An
Guest

@Marcel Dé: No, Hungary may not return to sanity right away after Orban is out of the picture, but it would be an important first step. I don’t think whoever takes over from within Fidesz will be able to sustain the current political line much longer.

Minusio
Guest

I think we all agreed long ago that Orbán is driving Hungary against the wall. We seem to disagree about when this will happen.

As far as I am informed, all Fidesz people owe something to Orbán. So a palace revolution is highly unlikely, especially because the people around him are – by intent – not the brightest.

In addition, Orbán managed to reduce a hardly existent political culture close to zilch.

Count the people who demonstrated against the internet tax. Those are all you have. That’s by no means a critical mass to really change things.

So, the drag will go on and throw Hungary backward – year by year. It’s so sad.

There is one interesting question which is not much talked about: Is Orbán psychotic or does he have just sporadic psychological problems? This could throw over the apple cart – and shorten the process to the chaos that is to ensue.

Istvan
Guest

There are tax protesters on both the right and the left, revenue is a huge problem in numerous market economies since the onset of the 2008 crisis. If PM Orban steps aside the revenue problems will still exist and then also Hungary will have to face the reality that nationalized companies that were resold to friends are more than likely not viable and have been proped up by the state through various forms of sweet heart contracts may fail. Effectively corruption preceded the Fidesz state and if Orban goes and the Pandora’s box opens Hungary could find itself in the situation of Greece.

Once sanity comes to Hungary so come the past due bills hidden by numerous accounting tricks. PM Orban’s exit while a relief for so many Hungarians will be just the beging of the reconing in terms of fiscal problems of Hungary. Eventually it may be for the best but in the short run it could be painful.

Gardonista
Guest

Orban will fall eventually. The most likely scenario is that he’ll be pushed out by Fidesz. It’s often surprisingly easy to push out dictators. Ferdinand Marcos comes to mind. But what comes next might make these look like the good old days.

I hope we can think about a post-Orban future, because at some point, it will be an urgent question.

Guest
Orbán and his gang is just the symptom, not the disease. Hungary has no viable opposition and even if – miracle of miracles – an opposition coalition were to be voted into power, the best we could expect is what we have seen during “a zemútnyócévalat” of MSZP/SZDSZ rule, a kind of wishy-washy mini-Weimar staggering toward the next period of autocratic rule and abuse. Hungary has no liberal democratic traditions, and no ability or desire to institute and maintain a liberal democratic value system. In any case, Hungarians would need to vote into power a two thirds liberal democratic parliamentary majority to reverse the constitutional putsch and other illiberal legislation of the Orbán era, and to dislodge the Orbán cronies and diehards from each and every key position that they currently fill in the machinery of the Hungarian state. It is just about guaranteed that hell would freeze over before that would or could happen. After all, who or what can the Hungarian voter vote for these days on the opposition side? The supposed opposition party LMP, which represents the fairies at the bottom of the garden? The MSZP, which is viscerally mistrusted by most Hungarians? The DK with the… Read more »
NWO
Guest
While I can see the logic (and the appeal) of the argument being made, I feel, like others who have commented here, that change will need to be driven largely from within FIDESZ. While one can see the fracturing, I fear their common self interest will continue to override their individual greed. Maybe Rogan or someone like him is sacrificed for PR purposes and to rebalance the power between old and new generations for the moment? As for outside forces pushing Orban? The public? It is hard to see how this protest movement can save for some new significant exogenous event gain sufficient momentum to force a change three years out from an election. Merkel? I suspect the EU will be again overwhelmed by Greece (post elections), and will want to step back from further disruptions. On Russia, I think Orban has learned enough so that he will step back from over provoking the EU and USA, plus sanctions fatigue is coming to Germany anyhow so the momentum (short of Putin dangerously raising the stakes again) will be to reduce tensions and the sanctions. The big uncertainty is the economy/fiscal policy. What will be the impact on the budget from… Read more »
Karl Pfeifer
Guest

My guess is that Orbán will continue because nobody in Fidesz dares to challenge him and because as long as he propagates crude nationalism he can keep power. Today in Magyar Nemzet, the “moderate” mouthpiece of Fidesz Zoltán Kiszelly is accusing Goodfriend of violating the “Vienna agreement” because he visited a conference of DK.
http://mno.hu/magyar_nemzet_belfoldi_hirei/mar-a-latszatra-sem-ugyelnek-1264512
Of course Vienna Agreement does not hinder diplomats to do their work. However, Orbán and his ilk could use the opinion of such an “expert” as pretext to make out of Goodfriend a persona non grata.

Csaba
Guest

As was predicted, foreigners caved in to the might of the Hungarian government — as they always do.

The Swiss fund will resume sending funds to Hungarian recipients but – from now on – via the Hungarian government (which needless to say has a statutory obligation to suspend any transfers if it has a “suspicion” that the recipient “embezzels” money or commits “tax fraud” as Ökotárs is “suspected” by the government).

Needles to say, this is the fist step, the next is that part of the funds will go to government designated recipients. Mark may words.

There’s one thing you can always count on.

Western Europeans always blink first (even when it’s about their own money).

Orban and Lazar aren’t so weak after all. I think they will end up having a loughing fit after the ooohoooh Merkel meeting. What was all that fuss about with that lady?

http://444.hu/2014/12/30/civil-penzek-lazarek-megallapodhattak-svajccal/

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Foreign minister Szijjártó has only finished half of his job. We can be confident that with the help and protection of his mentor (V.O.), he will finish the other half. The postcommunist maffiastate does not need diplomats with language skills. It rather needs loyal footballers.

http://index.hu/belfold/2014/12/30/szijjarto_meg_csak_a_felenel_tart/

gabor
Guest
Hungary is becoming an “area of operations” for foreign agents according to MSZP http://index.hu/belfold/2014/12/30/magyarorszag_az_mszp_szerint_is_muveleti_terulet/ “Magyarország műveleti terület, ám nemcsak az amerikaiak mutatnak fokozott érdeklődést iránta” Hungary is an area of operations but not only the Americans show heightened interest “A Katonai Nemzetbiztonsági Szolgálat és az Információs Hivatal az ukrán válság kezdete óta számos alkalommal bizonyította a nemzetbiztonsági bizottság előtt, hogy “képben van”, előrejelzéseik minden esetben pontosak voltak – mondta Molnár Zsolt.” Hungarian agencies do their jobs, and inform the national security committee well about the Ukraine situation. All their predictions were spot on. “Az elhárítás természetesen teszi a dolgát. Azt a szövetségeseinknek sem engedjük meg, hogy törvénytelen eszközökkel megszerezzék a titkainkat” Hungarian defense forces do what they should do. We can not allow anyone including our allies to commit crimes against us and steal important state secrets. These were very important words. They mean that Decent and righteous Hungarians will always defend Hungary from enemies both foreign or domestic, no matter which party they sympathize with. Even in MSZP there are decent and righteous Hungarians who will defend Hungary, simply because they love their country. Patriotism, service and love for Hungary are traits which will help Hungary succeed as a… Read more »
Csaba
Guest
OT: The utter hopelessness of the civil sector, part 2. In an article, Ökotárs the embattled foundation stated that contrary to any appearances Ökotárs was actually involved in the deal Hungary and Switzerland hammered out re the Swiss Fund. Ökotárs co-signed the agreement, it says because it wanted the recipients to finally receive the funds they had been waiting for for 5 months. Of course, nobody cares about whether Ökotárs was pushed down or defeated. This is not the issue. Ökotáérs doesn’t even see the issue (but hey, it’s Christmas, who wants to work and deal with real issues?). The issue is that from now on there is a new era (also, Ökotárs is going down the drain, but it’s only a lovely side issue). It is what the government always wanted: which is that the government wanted legal authority to dispose over the money. Once this practice is institutionalized (the recipients have to communicate with the government, and hey those government officials – it will turn out – aren’t so bad after all, they will usually send the money in time, whoa) and apparently the Swiss gave in as one expected them to, the Norwegians will also. There is… Read more »
Karl Pfeifer
Guest

One should not blame the postcommunist maffiastate. It is acting according to the “honor of the family”.

Guest

@NWO

I concur with your assessment and the assessment of some of the others that change would need to be driven largely from within FIDESZ.

But this is also a terrible indictment of Hungarian society, Hungarian politics and Hungarian “democracy”.

Reminds me the of time after Stalin’s death in 1953, when everyone was waiting for change that would have to come from within the ranks of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (which then finally occurred, in a way, at the 20th congress in 1956).

It is pathetic and sickening that the Hungarians had managed to get only this far, only to this, twenty five years after their regime change, after a quarter of a century of experimentation with their attempt at “democracy”.

Hungarians don’t seem to be able to handle liberal democracy, nor do they seem to give a fig about it.

Shocking and horrific, really, for such hopeful beginnings to end up in such a terrible mess. But then Hungarians are historically famous for making bad choices in their politics.

HiBoM
Guest

I remember the Opera House demonstration rather differently. I can’t remember anyone seriously thinking “how long would Orbán last”, and as a demonstration, it was only massive compared to the ten men and a dog who hard turned up at previous events. It was exciting because at least some people went out on the street but it was hardly the ground breaking event that the last paragraph of this piece is implying.

Also, remember that Népszava only exists because Simicska gave them a large amount of money through advertising, so I can imagine this article is more a manifestation of the Simicska Orbán war than the truth-

TeamBritanniaHu
Guest

Reblogged this on hungarywolf.

Istvan
Guest

Gabor it should be noted that Moinar also indicated he did not believe USA had infringed on the sovereignty of Hungary. Because of alliance obligations Hungary agreed to at least some limitations on its autonomy in relation to international affairs. Hungary’s elected government is breaching the common front against the Russian annexation of part of Ukraine. That has very little to do with Hungarian patriotiism.

If it is now Hungary’s position in practice that nation states have the right to militarily seize parts of other nation states they believe they have historic claims to then small nations like Hungary with limited ability to defend themselves are in jeopardy.

gabor
Guest
“breaching the common front against the Russian annexation of part of Ukraine.” This is simply not true. Why are you trying to smear Hungary by misrepresenting its position? Hungary has stated time and time again that the territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected. “If it is now Hungary’s position in practice that nation states have the right to militarily seize parts of other nation states…” Here you luckily inserted the word “IF”. I think because you know very well that what you wrote about the position of Hungary is not true. The inserted “IF” makes the point easy to answer. It is not Hungary’s position and you know this perfectly well. Hungary respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Why are you so hostile towards Hungary. What is it for you to gain by misrepresenting Hungary and trying to portray a whole country in the worst possible light? I think you are highly intelligent but your emotions towards Hungary and the Hungarian people do not seem to be positive to me. Patriotism and love for Hungary are necessary in the long term to ensure the success of the country regardless of the government in power at the time. I have… Read more »
chupa
Guest

“Ferenc Gyurcsány decided to ask those followers … to bring party posters and flags to the January 2 demonstration.”

A Hungarian journalist from Nepszabadsag described this as large scale trolling:

http://nol.hu/velemeny/trollnal-tobb-politikus-1506275

“Hogy Gyurcsányt kevéssé érdekli, tüdőn lövi-e a tüntetéssorozatot, amiatt lehet szomorkodni, de a DK elnöke azt teszi, amit pártja rövid távú érdeke diktál. Mindig a mát akarja megnyerni, sosem a holnapot. Márpedig azok, akik most a pódiumon állnak, természetes politikai ellenfelei. ”

It seems from this description that Gyurcsany wants to lead his troll army against the January 2 demonstrators in order to destroy them. “shoot them in the chest” Because he considers the demonstrators, his enemies, his “natural political opponents”.

I am surprised that after this description in the influential Hungarian paper, Nepszabadsag, Gyurcsany did not retreat on this issue.

Is there a chance he will give up planning to bring party flags against the direct wishes of the organizers?

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

chutzpa we learn from you, that Gyurcsány is one of the most serious problem of Hungary.
However if one reads about a homeless Hungarian who wanted to stay on X-mas eve in a catholic church in Bonyhád and how those Christians called the police instead of inviting the unfortunate fellow, one can see that there are more serious problems.
One should only look at the pictures of those thousands of Hungarians who are waiting for a warm soup in Budapest to forget the “problem” Gyurcsány.

Istvan
Guest

Gabor would do well to read http://nol.hu/belfold/ez-itt-egy-uj-hideghaboru-1506959 which gives the full presentation of Molnar on the issue he raised. Second I see no evidence that the current Hungarian government supports the terroritorial integrity of Ukraine as it existed prior to the annexation of the Crimea by Russia. What I read repeatedly is discussions by the Hungarian government of resolving the current confrontation between the so called Donetsk Peoples Republic and Luhansk Peoples Republic and Ukraine forces. If the current Hungarian government supported the integrity of the Ukriane it would support the scantions and stop undermining them.

d'magyar
Guest

Gabor and Istvan are living on two separate planes.

1. Confused Hungarian – distorted reality
2. Liberated American – fearless reality

Hungary needs a education to discard it myths.

Member
I think Istvan raises a very important issue Istvan “PM Orban’s exit while a relief for so many Hungarians will be just the beging of the reconing in terms of fiscal problems of Hungary. Eventually it may be for the best but in the short run it could be painful.” THe reality of ho badly Hungary have been managed financially of the last while will catch up sooner or later wit the country. Maybe one of the reason that holds back opposition from inside Fidesz is that none wants to take on the role of the “frugal PM”. THere is no way to fix the problem without drastic measures any more. THe bank is empty, and I am not even sure how they will pay for the retired. In some places that government workers do not get paid, social benefits are cut back to the level never seen before WWII. Free medical support for the needy is non existent, and the prices for medications sky rocketed. When I went into a pharmacy at Blaha and Rakoczi ut in November I witnessed as an old lady asked the pharmacist, which descriptions she should not buy any longer as she cannot pay… Read more »
Webber
Guest

@chupa – Gyurcsany and colleagues have just announced that they will not be bringing party banners or symbols to demonstrations.

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