While the views of István Stumpf and Péter Tölgyessy, discussed in earlier posts, were ignored by the Fidesz media, this was not the case with Gábor Török, the well-known political commentator whose analyses have been closer to Fidesz than to the liberal side. Török, in a remarkable interview given to Magyar Nemzet, no longer even tries to hide his sympathies with the “national liberal, conservative liberal” side. I agree with him that there is no such thing as absolute political neutrality, but what is unacceptable is financial “dependence.” Unfortunately, in Hungary by now there are practically no independent political commentators in this sense of the word. Whether Török is truly independent or not, as he claims, we don’t know, but a lot of people accuse him of being in the pay of Fidesz. I personally doubt it.
How does Török see Fidesz, at least from 2002 on, a year he considers crucial in the recent political history of the country? He claims, I believe mistakenly, that prior to 2002 Fidesz was a party whose policies were driven by principles, that the unexpected loss at the 2002 election drove Viktor Orbán and his friends toward cynical and perhaps more realistic politics of sheer power. Since then party decisions have been driven by public opinion polls. “If I could change anything in Hungarian political life in the last few years it would be the results of the 2002 election,” Török said in the interview. It was at that time that Fidesz came to the conclusion that “power politics” should be placed ahead of principles and that the left discovered that with empty promises one can win elections.
Once the conversation moved to the present situation Török, who in the past had been extraordinarily careful to be “balanced,” a habit that earned him a lot of scorn from the liberals, decided to abandon his customary “neutrality” and show a much less forgiving side. I guess the Orbán regime’s many unacceptable political moves left him no choice. He now sees Fidesz as a party that cannot return to its former value-driven politics. “Fidesz will either be successful for years to come or will hit the wall…. The system that was built up in the last twenty-five years is extraordinarily stable…. There is no János Lázár or Antal Rogán who can unseat [Orbán]…. There will be a political right after Orbán, but it will have nothing in common with the present system.”
As for future prospects, Török believes that “the end cannot be anything but a total collapse,” which might be closer than we think. Even the 2018 election cannot be taken for granted. What if Fidesz is still the largest party but would have to form a coalition government either with Jobbik or with MSZP? Orbán in this case would find himself in an unenviable situation.
And then there are the domestic issues, which are becoming serious. The refugee crisis for the time being conceals the brewing domestic dissatisfaction, but how long will the Hungarian people believe that those beyond the fence are “dangerous zombies”? There are already signs of skepticism. When the scare tactics fade, a new miracle weapon will be needed. But what can follow? As for Viktor Orbán’s warlike rhetoric, “one day it will run counter to the actual state of affairs when even the semblance of rationality can no longer be maintained.” Fidesz politicians don’t seem to sense the danger and, since there is no strong opposition, they are not forced to offer “good governance.” Orbán’s system worked well as long as Orbán and Simicska cooperated. “Since their relationship was severed the whole system is crumbling.”
It was this interview that outraged the Fidesz loyalist political commentators, especially Gábor G. Fodor of Századvég, who became editor-in-chief of government financed 888.hu, “a political tabloid” specializing in gutter journalism. The title of G. Fodor’s article is “From ass-licking A: Gábor Török, our personal favorite.” In it G. Fodor carries out the usual character assassination of those who dare to express any criticism of Fidesz and the Orbán government. G. Fodor, who in the past had friendly political discussions with Török, now calls his colleague “a close political advisor of Jobbik.” G. Fodor accuses Török of being the man who is trying to bring Lajos Simicska, the former Fidesz oligarch, and Gábor Vona, chairman of Jobbik, together. Proof? It’s not necessary. The only thing we know about any possible connection between Simicska and Vona is that on some recent public occasion they had a 10-15-minute conversation. But this is how Fidesz gutter journalism operates.
The story wouldn’t be complete without Török also being accused of having some affinity with Ferenc Gyurcsány, the devil incarnate. So, while Török is trying to forge an alliance between the extreme right and Simicska, his view of the “migrant crisis” is identical to Gyurcsány’s. “The fundamental structure of his thoughts is in no way different from any one of the left-wing critics. The same fiction, the same mythological simplicity.”
Now it is up to us to decide whether Török is a socialist-liberal talking head or a man who is trying to convince Lajos Simicska to finance an extreme right-wing party.