Viktor Orbán the unpredictable

Judging from the number of speeches Viktor Orbán delivers day in and day out, he can’t have much time for such bothersome tasks as governing. So the opposition might be right when they claim that whatever the prime minister does, it is not governing. Yet there is a seeming contradiction here because it is an open secret that practically all political initiatives and all decisions, down to the most minute details, come from Viktor Orbán himself. As his critics charge, he wakes up in the morning, has an idea, a few minutes later gives instructions to his staff, and a few days later there is a proposal ready to be submitted to parliament. But is this governing? Hardly.

Only I! Only I!

Only I! Only I!

All power is in his hands. His subordinates don’t dare to take any individual responsibility, so it’s no wonder that the government comes up with one bad decision after another. This kind of decision-making has been the modus operandi of the Orbán government ever since 2010, but now that the government’s and Fidesz’s popularity is sinking, more and more “mistakes” are made. Every day the public is confronted with puzzling announcements, often hurled at them in an ad hoc fashion in the course of the speeches the prime minister delivers far too often. The situation reminds analysts of the last year of the Gyurcsány administration when every day the prime minister came up with a new idea that was supposed to reverse his declining popularity.

Here I would like to offer a taste of what the Hungarian public calls Orbán’s “brainwave tsunami.” On May 6 he delivered a speech at a conference organized by the Veritas Research Institute to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the opening session of the first democratically elected parliament. How the important opposition figures of the regime change were ignored and how Orbán managed to make Ferenc Gyurcsány responsible for the failure of democracy in Hungary is ably summarized in Christopher Adam’s article on the subject in the Hungarian Free Press. Here I would like to call attention to his semi-official announcement that in the next three years his government will complete the creation of a “polgári” Hungary, which he and the founders of Fidesz always dreamed of. Of course, this is a big fat lie, but Orbán seems to think that if he keeps talking about a prosperous middle-class country with happy and satisfied citizens, which the word “polgári” implies, his former voters will flock back to him. Unfortuntaely for the prime minister, words will not be enough. Not too many people believe in that “polgári” nonsense.

A day later, at a meeting of the German-Hungarian Chamber of Commerce, Orbán announced, again out of the blue, a number of government decisions. He laid out a 10-point list, most of which was not new. There were, however, some items that caused considerable surprise. For example, he triumphantly announced that the government will not raise the lowest tax rate of 10% on businesses. What? commentators asked. Only a few months ago Mihály Varga announced the government’s plan to lower all higher business tax brackets to a uniform 10%. The other surprise was his announcement that the extra levies on retail chains will remain in place despite the government’s earlier promises. The German businessmen Orbán was addressing have been complaining about the unpredictable environment the Hungarian government creates with its erratic legislative decisions. The German ambassador even talked about this problem in her speech at the same meeting. Yet Orbán a few minutes later surprised them with two government decisions that will adversely affect them.

Finally, here are some interesting items from Orbán’s usual Friday morning interview on Magyar Rádió’s program “180 minutes.” It seems that the Europe-wide outcry after Viktor Orbán’s announcement that it was necessary to have a nationwide “discussion” about the death penalty did not deter him from continuing his outrageous campaign. In spite of Claude-Jean Juncker’s promise of a fight if Orbán tries to reintroduce the death penalty in Hungary and the mention of Article 7 of the European constitution by the European Commission’s spokeswoman, he went ahead this morning and announced, albeit with important qualifiers, that his government will make a decision about whether to introduce the death penalty in Hungary. He made this statement in spite of his promise to Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, that he has no intention of defying the European prohibition on this matter. This denial was repeated by Zoltán Kovács, the government’s spokesman, in a letter to the editor in yesterday’s Guardian: “The government of Hungary respects the laws that are currently in force, our own constitutional prohibition on capital punishment and our commitments under EU laws.”

Yet a few hours later Viktor Orbán said in this morning’s interview: “We would like to shape European public opinion in a direction that would lead to an eventual outcome that would return the right of decision on the death penalty to the member states.” Once that is done, “we will be able to decide whether we should introduce it or not.” As to the question of whether he is for capital punishment, Orbán answered that he was “pro-life.” It is assumed in Hungary that Orbán personally believes in the deterrent function of capital punishment and would like to see it reintroduced. This assumption seems correct, especially in light of a grammatically odd sentence uttered during this interview. “People believe, many believe, there are many of us who believe that we are in greater safety if there is the death penalty….” In the original: “az emberek azt hiszik, nagyon sokan vannak, akik azt hisszük, hogy ha van halálbüntetés … akkor nagyobb biztonságban vagyunk.”

Presumably his campaign to shape European public opinion will start in Hungary where all those citizens who are afraid of being murdered will rally to the cause.

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Live long and prosper
Guest

Loved your last paragraph, HA! He has no idea, I think, of how ridiculous he appears to westerners. Probably he is that obtuse that he is proud to be written of, rather than ashamed for the reason.

Member

Live long and prosper

“Probably he is that obtuse that he is proud to be written of, rather than ashamed for the reason.”

It is an excellent picture of him

Member

There had been gossips so far to which I had not payed enough attention!

However, as a neurologist I have the feeling that he is really insane and recquires treatment (maybe at least a large dosage of antypsycotic), because he is out of balance.

Had he been an average person I would congratulate to the colleague controlling his mental symptoms! Unfortunately In his current state he is not able or simply incompetent to govern a country.
Sorry to say I consider it a problem of metal health and occupational eligibility.

Unfortunately his 1st substitute JL is not too much better

exTor
Guest

Heard on Kossuth Rádió this morning that Fidesz had sent congratulations to the British Conservatives, the party that won a surprise majority in yesterday’s election. No doubt that Viktor Orbán is buoyed by the fact that (presumed by him) fellow conservatives will be taking on the EU, just as he himself would like to do. I can just imagine David Cameron being rankled at the thought of Viktor Orbán considering himself a comrade-in-arms.

On another election front, the Alberta provincial elections resulted in the New Democratic Party (akin perhaps to MSZP here in Hungary) winning an outright majority over the provincial Conservatives, the party that had governed Alberta for 44 years. Perhaps MSZP will dream big for 2018.

Alberta is 7 times larger than Hungary and has one third of the population.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Webber
Guest

And what about the by elections in Uttar Pradesh?? Any analyst who thinks the swings in mood of the Hungarian electorate have anything to do with elections in Canada, Britain or anywhere else west of Hungary should have his/her head examined.

exTor
Guest
Not sure what to make of your addition, Webber. My Britain paragraph merely pointed out the fact of the Conservative Party win and the fact of the note of congratulation from Fidesz. I added my whimsicalness to it. My second paragraph mentioned the NDP majority win in Alberta that upended the nearly half-century governing of the province by the PCs. Obviously those two political situations have nothing directly to do with Hungary or its electorate. My point about the 2018 election-to-be in Hungary is the currently perceived (by some) invincibility of Fidesz and the ineffectualness of the Hungarian left opposition to Fidesz. What is salient about Alberta is that the political landscape changed very quickly. My allusion to an electoral turnaround away from Jobbik, which is primed to be the next government, is that sometimes the unobvious becomes the next reality. Let me stamp this post with my perspective. Fidesz is in power, but it is loozing popularity. If Fidesz does not hold on in 2018, Jobbik looks to be the next in line to govern Hungary. This presumes the continued disarray of the parties to the left of Fidesz that are opposed to Jobbik. My point about Alberta is… Read more »
Webber
Guest

Now that you’ve teased it out, it makes sense. Above, it seemed a bit “arcane” and at the level of “Goody! The left won in Alberta, so it can win in Hungary too!”
I was reacting to that sense because I have just heard a couple of idiotic Hungarian “political scientists” (self-named: no training, whatsoever, in the field) pontificating on how the Conservatives’ win in Britain means Fidesz can and will win in 2018. Mild nausea hit me.

exTor
Guest

Rather than being pontificatory, the selfstyled analysts were perhaps pollyannaish, given the apparent-to-most current Fidesz downturn.

MAGYARKOZÓ

Agro
Guest

Those “politologists” are idiots, never mind what they say. They don’t have more insights than what I read here– in fact they have less insights, as most if not all are on the payrolls of various parties so they are just talking partizan heads mascarading as “experts”. To compare Cameron and Orban is totally insane, I agree.

That said, if Orban retains Crosby and Jim Messina (who used to work for Obama but was now retained by Cameron) they could prove to be very useful and dangerous against anybody. Meanwhile the Hungarian Left (none of the its parties) has no campaign machinery to speak of and, worse, no ideas.

So, I guess the forecast that Fidesz could win in 2018 wants to imply that winning is also about one’s competitors, if they continue to be lame, having no real campaign extertise and machinery then they will lose against an exhausted, corrupt dictator — just as Bob Mugabe recently won in apparently fair (under African standards) election (as stated by the African Union) at the age of 89 after having presided over the total collapse of the economy and having made its population totally destitute, but the opposition was lame, corrupt and coopted.

buddy
Guest

Totally unfair to compare Orbán with Mugabe, and especially to call the opposition “lame, corrupt and coopted [sic].” “Violently suppressed” would be a better characterization of the Zimbabwe opposition to Mugabe.

The Hungarian opposition did not have to deal with this:
“President Robert Mugabe led a campaign of terror against the opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and its supporters in the lead up to the electoral process. State-sponsored violence resulted in massive human rights violations, including rape, torture, and forced disappearance.”
http://www.responsibilitytoprotect.org/index.php/crises/crisis-in-zimbabwe

Gyurcsány would certainly be dead if this were Zimbabwe. But he freely walks the streets here.

I think there is one thing about Mugabe, however, that should give us pause here in Hungary: he shows that one can be a mentally-unstable person and still rule a country for decades.

petofi
Guest

Anyone who thinks Orban cares about his lost popularity hasn’t gotten the handle on the game the big O is playing. He don’t give a damn: he’s decamping before the next election anyway. He’s taking his billions (euros not forints) and going to…England…France…Qatar…Aberbaidjan. Who knows? The rascal is absconding and looking to leave the country in all this sheet; and will be laughing his guts out daily watching how Hungaricoes will try to extricate themselves from the gordian knots he’s bequeathed them.

Hajra Magyarok!
You reap what you’ve sown.
Try to remember the jews on Csatary’s trains in 1944.
And learn to ask for forgiveness..

petofi
Guest

Hajra Magyarok!
You reap what you’ve sown.
Try to remember the jews on Csatary’s trains in 1944.
And learn to ask for forgiveness..

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