From Viktor Orbán’s mailbox: Letters from former loyalists

In the last few days a number of open letters, interviews, and articles have appeared that reveal a growing dissatisfaction with the Orbán regime on the part of some well-known supporters of the party. These people have never made a secret of their steadfast support of Fidesz. Some of them accepted political or diplomatic roles, and for a very long time they held their tongues. One reason for this silence was most likely their natural reluctance to admit that they had been misled and that what they once considered to be of real value turned out to be a collection of fake trinkets. Old-time conservative, right-of-center people, at least those who still have their critical faculties intact, have been speaking out against the political system Viktor Orbán has built in the last seven years.

At first these voices were timid and muffled. Criticism was embedded in a litany of excuses or even praise. Then their language became more forceful and their tone less forgiving until, in certain cases, we started to hear well-known former Fidesz supporters use language indistinguishable from that of the liberal critics of the regime. Here I think mostly of people like Péter Ákos Bod, an economist and former chairman of the Hungarian Central Bank; Attila Chikán, an economist who was minister of the economy in the first Orbán government; Csaba László, an economist and adviser to Orbán at one time; and Géza Jeszenszky, former foreign minister and ambassador to Washington and Oslo. But there are other, less prominent people who are now criticizing the government. And what’s most important, they openly say that Hungarian democracy itself is in danger.

Here are a couple of examples of what I mean. Today an article appeared in Magyar Nemzet written by Attila Körömi, a former Fidesz member of parliament representing Pécs. He joined Fidesz at the end of 1989. As a 30-year-old, he became a member of the Pécs City Council and then, between 1998 and 2006, served as a member of parliament. After 13 years of silence he wanted to explain what made him leave Fidesz in 2004. His disillusionment had begun already in 2002, but what really opened his eyes and prompted him to act was an April 5, 2004 meeting of the Fidesz parliamentary caucus chaired by Viktor Orbán. At this meeting Orbán apparently announced an entirely new program based on his recognition that, despite the change of the political system in 1990, “it is the Kádár regime that won.” If Fidesz wants to be successful, it has to follow policies that were characteristic of the Kádár era. Moreover, the ideal of the autonomous citizen will be abandoned from now on, and Fidesz “will talk to the people.” Instead of moving forward, Orbán was going to lead the country backward to a one-party system. About a week later, Körömi left the party.

The story of that 2004 meeting is enlightening. It tells us what we have long suspected, which is that at some point Orbán recognized that, after all, today’s Hungarians are “the people of Kádár” (Kádár népe). What is surprising is how early Orbán came to that conclusion. The other unexpected piece of information is that, according to Körömi’s recollection, Árpád Habony has been around Fidesz for much longer than most of us realized. Körömi first encountered the mysterious shadowy adviser of Orbán sometime between 2000 and 2002 and again at that fateful April 5, 2004 caucus meeting, sitting right beside Viktor Orbán.

The next noteworthy document is an open letter to Viktor Orbán from Miklós Király, professor of law and earlier an adviser to Ferenc Mádl, a Fidesz-supported president between 2000 and 2005. His main complaint is the state of Hungarian education but, being a legal scholar, he also has some harsh words about the government’s total disregard of constitutionality and its disrespect for the opinions of representatives of higher education and science. After the enactment of the anti-CEU law, everybody in higher education feels threatened. Legal certainty and predictability have disappeared. Orbán in his latest radio interview wanted to know why professors and students in Hungarian state universities complain about curtailing CEU’s privileges. They complain because from now on they will never know what will happen to them. Király also calls attention to the underfinancing of education, with the result that by 2016 not one Hungarian university could be found among the top 500 universities on the Shanghai list when other universities in the region–Vienna, Cracow, and Prague–are there.

He reminds Orbán that by now both science and higher education are international, and therefore the government must realize that Hungary as a part of the European Union cannot turn inward. Király adds, “I’m sorry that until now nobody told you that.” He calls on Orbán to consider his arguments and to do some soul searching for Easter.

Writing another Facebook letter to Orbán was Gábor Pósfai, managing editor of Decathlon Hungary, a subsidiary of Decathlon Group, one of the world’s largest sporting goods retailers. He begins with “Is your palm itching? Wash it and hold it out to your brethren as long as it is Easter.” The reference is to Viktor Orbán’s Saturday and Sunday interviews in which he indicated that all these demonstrations and the less than polite comments about him often make him so angry that he would like to hit his loud opponents. (Actually, Hungarians consider an itchy palm a sign that they will received unexpected money, not that they are itching for a fight.) Pósfai as a Christian could question Orbán on the seventh, eighth, and tenth commandments, but what really bothers him is his incitement of the population and turning people against one another, which seems to be one of Orbán’s favorite pastimes. Obviously, it irritates Pósfai that the present regime considers itself the embodiment of truth. He has had enough of one war after the other. He is tired of “the last eight years,” which are responsible for everything that is wrong. He is fed up with Orbán always finding fault with others: Gyurcsány, Bajnai, exploitative multinationals, migrants, the EU, Simicska, Brussels, and Soros. According to the current government, everybody is against us. Meanwhile, Orbán turns friends and family members against each other. If it goes on like this, catastrophe awaits the country.

And finally, Tamás Kovács, an Olympic fencer and trainer, wrote an Easter letter to Viktor Orbán on Facebook. In 1990 he voted for MDF, but between 1994 and 2014 he voted for Fidesz. Thus, Kovács can be considered one of the most loyal Fidesz supporters. One of those core voters who, no matter what, will always vote for Fidesz. Or, maybe not. Kovács believes that the trouble started only in 2014, but “in the last two years, we keep comparing the incitement against certain people by the governing party to the communist times when I see on billboards: EU, Brussels, Gyurcsány, multinationals, Simicska, Soros, MSZP, MSZMP, Jobbik, they are all against us…. Where will that lead? What will be the end of this? There can be only one opinion in this country, Fidesz’s opinion?” What about those 6 million people who didn’t vote for Fidesz? The undeclared slogan “Those who are not with us are against us” must be stopped because it does incredible harm to the nation. His final sentence is: “It cannot go on like this.”

Most of the comments to Kovács’s letter are positive, but we can also read: “My God, what an unfair letter. What kinds of emotions it whips up.” Or, “With this letter you proclaimed yourself to be one of the gravediggers of the nation.” Or, “This is a malicious letter, fie.” Or, “You should be ashamed of yourself. Didn’t you notice that ever since 2014 total war has been waged against us by the opposition and the enemies?” The preponderance of comments, however, congratulate him and add that more and more right-wingers feel this way. So, there is hope.

April 18, 2017
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Member

None of these letters and voices mean anything to the dictator. He wants to be the ultimate absolute power. In his disturbed and sick mind he is already ruler of Hungary and Transylvania, soon the ruler of the EU and if he survives, he will be with in the Marville Asylum, France meeting the KING OF HEARTS.
(Alan Bates – Le soldat Charles Plumpick alias le roi de coeur 1966 Dir. Philippe de Broka)

Guest

to Gyula Bognár

I disagree.

These letters mean a great deal to Orbán, and what they will achieve is even more hysterics from him and the more hsyterical he becomes, the more disillusioned the nation.

What they indicate in the broader picture, which I think is the point of Éva’s article, is that the end is near for the madman.

That 50% or so voted for a lunatic in the first place is much more scary, to me, than the antics of someone who is clearly deranged, having come from a dysfunctional, brutal and uncouth family, who were signed up members of the communist party in order to exercise and enjoy the privilege of corruption. Orbán has turned his family’s tradition of corruption and brutality into a fine art to such a degree that even his loyalists have had enough. And about time too.

Member

Time4, you have a point when you say, “Orbán has turned his family’s tradition of corruption and brutality into a fine art to such a degree that even his loyalists have had enough.”

However, I must agree with Bognar when he says, “None of these letters and voices mean anything to the dictator. He wants to be the ultimate absolute power.”

Orbanites usually chortle when their critics describe them as a “mafia state.” “If this is a mafia state, how come nobody is getting shot in the streets? How come nobody is being threatened?”

The answer is simple: There is only one mafia in Hungary. In the absence of a challenger, there is no need for threats, violence, or threats of violence. Should a serious rival appear on the scene, all bets are off.

The fact that loyalists are turning their backs on the mafia don is indeed a positive sign. However, if you see this as proof that “the end is near,” I recommend you talk to the ghosts of former loyalists such as Zinoviev and Trotsky.

wrfree
Guest
You know I would say from Prof’s piece there would seem to be opportunity in publishing. Some daring(ironic isn’t it?) ‘house’ could have a trove of insightful opinions by thoughtful individuals who love their country and differ with ‘others’ on the blast to the past path the country is taking. Call it ‘Letters to Orban’. It could to paraphrase a quip ‘concentrate minds wonderfully’. And regarding raising the reality of a nostalgia in the country one thing I personally find different is this. Both regimes incorporate the type of self-censorship where everyone stuck to ‘limits’ when it came to political expression. You could only go so far. Having a ‘bad’ thought? The mind says: You don’t want to go there. Can’t say that. Be quiet like the grave. But in the matter of threat this administration appears to be more impatient and antagonistic up front. It can also border on the belligerent. With Kadar threats first wouldn’t entail an aggressiveness but were like a subtle psychological nudge (if they had to do that) to get individuals back on ‘program’. I will never forget a news editor during those years in response to a question on news ‘limts’ he said, ‘We… Read more »
Member

wrfree – Eloquently and aptly put.

Reality Check
Guest
Member

I read the letter and for a person with his faculties intact, it makes sense, well written, intelligent and correct in every way.

None of it means anything to a dictator with a personal vendetta and purpose of gaining control over EVERYTHING, even the thoughts of the people under his rule. The little viktor lost his ability to reason, the power took away his ability to overcome his desire to accomplish his base and evil objectives.

petofi
Guest

Orban has enterred the mad man’s heaven: the more people you irritate the greater the pleasure.

Reality Check
Guest

Of course OV will not change his mind because of these letters. But that does not matter because the audience is much wider for these letters. If his support starts eroding among Hungary’s elite, his time is short.

Member

It is not Hungary’s elite that votes for the viktor, it is the brainwashed and primitiv older people and the people who live in the villages and the countryside. The gypsy votes are also delivered by their leaders. In Budapest they hire young people to forge at least a couple hundred thousand votes in the name of people living in Transylvania, and elsewhere, etc. The gerrymandering is already well developed also. The elections are completely rigged by the Fidesz.

Member

Gyula Bognar – Do you have hard evidence of young people forging votes from Transylvania?

Member
Hard evidence? Try to be more realistic and read the news every day as I do and perhaps you come across some yourself! During the last elections, pictures were published, article was written about YOUNG PEOPLE, who were carrying out huge stacks of filled out votes from a cellar in the VIII. district, into a station wagon and made every effort not to be seen after the photographer snapped a picture. They hurried back into the cellar, did not answer any questions and the car rushed away immediately after the picture taking. But, let’s say there is no hard evidence in my hand, as I am many thousand miles away from personally ferreting out cheating in the voting process. There are many dozens of reports coming out during elections and soon after about cheating, but all denied by the 100% Fidesz controlled elections committee. The bald bodybuilder ultras and common criminals, some of them murderers, are also very active, promising bodily harm or administering some, when opposition leaders want to submit their grievances at the Fidesz controlled voter office. None of it matters for you, just go on believing anything you want, because the realistic, factual knowledge is already distributed… Read more »
Member

I can see you are Hungarian as you cannot resist an opportunity to be sanctimonious and generally unpleasant.
Hard evidence is photographs, investigations, video, audio recordings, etc.
”I read an article once about somebody who saw something, so it must definitely be true” will get you a PhD at Pazmany, but does not qualify as evidence.

Member

I cannot resist to call a duck a duck, when it walks like a duck, looks like a duck and quacking like a duck.
But you go on believing what you want and attack the person, when you have no valid point of arguments.

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘brainwashed..primitive older people’

You know if we think about them they have been getting the short end of the stick all their lives. They have received insult after injury first with their dreary lives under communism and then with those ‘democrats’ who follow who promise but deliver nothing to develop a better quality of life for them and their children. They are simply ‘used’. If they have any rage it’s sublimated in their allegiance to those who know how to ‘talk the talk’. It’s too bad the elders were taught to only believe in fate.

Guest

I really have to protest here:

I know that my wife and her siblings and their partners (all over 70 years of age!) are neither brainwashed nor primitive – and they have no love for Fidesz and its mafiosi, just as they were no fans of Kádár!
Some had to become party members in Communist times to have a career in teaching etc – my wife didn’t, so she stayed a lowly secretary all her life …
But she didn’t give in to any authority, be it church or party or …
And they can’t be the only ones in Hungary thinking like that.

wrfree
Guest

wolfi.. If only your wife’s thinking be cloned in the millions today. The ‘nems’ and ‘neins’ would resound around the country. If Kadar in hindsight was a ‘Bad Deal’ Orban is the ‘New Bad Deal’. What does the country have to do to get a break?

Member

After the CEU law passed parliament on April 3rd, there were about 10 days of silence.
No word from Orbán. He even missed his Friday prayer.

I guess, that he felt uncomfortable and was not sure, what to do, facing the huge demonstrations and the international protests.

Then he dicided to go through it this time, let Áder sign the law and started his Soros attacks.

Now even the last reasonable people turned their back to the dictator, and there are really only the old disinformed village people left, who remain faithful.

But I don’t believe, that these people can be the foundation for a regime.
His time will come soon.
Little Nero lost touch with reality.

moszkvai gyors
Guest

Orban isn’t backing down. He knows that the Russians have his back and they always defeat their enemy. The liberals can do what they want but they can’t defeat Russia.

Orban is winning. This game has just begun. Nobody in the country cares about CEU and the liberals. And Budapest isn’t relevant.

Orban knows what Erdogan and Putin know well already. If the rural folks are happy and hate the urban liberals then everything’s cool. Orban won long ago when he targeted rural voters instead of liberals.

The liberals aren’t coming back anytime soon. Jobbik maybe but Jobbik is also good for Russia. Russia won this game. Hungary belongs to Russia. Hungary will soon leave the EU and NATO but not after inflicting enough damage on these organizations. Resistance is futile. Check mate. The American are just blinking. They don’t even comprehend what happened to them. Russia won that’s what.

Guest

If you think Russia has been winning I start to wonder what losing looks like.
Only Putin and the Oligarchs (those who are still alive …) have been winning, the rest of Russia is worse off than 50 years ago.

And it looks as if the same thing is happening in Hungary – congratulations!

Member

“And Budapest isn’t relevant”

Nonsense. That is only true if you believe the battle to overthrow the fascists can only take place at the ballot box which the regime controls.

Budapest will bring down the Fat Dictator before the news has even hit the countryside.

Obsever
Guest

Жопа московскйи

Отстань то со своими глупостями.

I guess, if Russia keeps winning such prizes like Orbanistan, it will have again to keep their economies afloat with discounted or free oil, gas and energy.
Great future in a lose lose situation. Hajra!

Istvan
Guest
Russia is a country driven by its extractive industries and its military industrial complex. Once the USA began fracking Russia’s oil leverage took a big hit. Putin had a golden opportunity to bring an end to the antagonism with the USA, but in typical KGB style the Russians overreached by their intervention in the presidential elections and developing compromising relationships with key Trump advisers. It was very clear that Trump had bought into the idea of an alliance with Russia to contain China, all be it a delusion. Now Trump for his own self-preservation has closed the Russian opening and the historic antagonisms have reasserted themselves. The re-composition of the US National Security Council reflects that new reality. Hungary is falling back in the orbit of mother Russia yet again, there is little doubt about that. Lajos Simicska and some other Fidesz oligarchs with high aspirations recognize the danger in cozying up to Putin, because Putin has his own boys to take care of and they will leave the Hungarian crooks shit. For none of the Central European crooks is falling back in a Russian orbit of influence a great idea unless you are willing to accept the crumbs off… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Guyla B is partially right – these statements don’t mean much to Orban, because his base are the “faithful”, i.e. not so educated or intellectual, mainly country folk + the damaged souls craving greatness and sewing hatred. He knows, just as Lenin did, that one can’t make revolutions or run dictatorships with intellectuals.

On the other hand Orban’s complex fed vengeful malice is aroused by such “betrails”, so kind of retorsion, revenge should be expected.

And Orban is not a lunatic, he’s rather losing touch with reality and getting into the spiral of repression/resistance/more repression. All dictators do, it is the “absolute power corrupts absolutely” case.

Guest

I believe that Orbán is concerned about the letters from the apostates. If it goes on like that he will lose Budapest entirely and he will not feel safe there. He will have to build a tall fence around his planned stronghold at the Buda hill.

Tyrker
Guest

“Actually, Hungarians consider an itchy palm a sign that they will receive unexpected money, not that they are itching for a fight.”

That’s only true for the superstitious people of yore. (And not just Hungarians at that – see the first English definition of ‘itcy palm’ at The Urban Dictionary: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=itchy%20palm )

In common parlance, “my hands are itching” means that you want to hit someone that’s irritating you.

Guest

superstitious people of yore
Which means the majority of Hungarians, especially including all Fidesz voters …
You’re always funny, Tyrker! How do you select the topics that you answer on?

Ferenc
Guest

Don’t you get it:
For the average Hungarian an itchy palm still refers to money (e.g.when having to be ‘thankful’ to the doctor with giving some “Hálapénz”).
But for ‘little O’ and his surroundings money don’t matter anymore (got plentiful), but want to stay in power, for which they deem it necessary to warn protestors for their fists.

Ferenc
Guest

flash idea for a cartoon:

‘Little O’ in a boxring, saying “my palms are itching” [viszket a tenyereim]
for a fight with a protestor, with cut handcuffs
O having to stand on a chair, as he’s much smaller,
people sawing the legs of O’s chair with fountain pens

Wish I could draw cartoons……………

wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘people sawing the legs of O’s chair with fountain pens’

I like that image. Brings out that Bulwer Lytton line with Richelieu saying ‘La plume est plus forte que l’epee’.

Member

A must see. Another guy comming forth.

https://youtu.be/1oXf7qA1ZxM

Ferenc
Guest

interview with Attila Körömi – HirTV – Egyenesen – 2017.Apr.18
(the man from MN article mentioned in post)

I’m wondering: why wait so long to make public, why need 13 years before breaking silence?

Member

@Franz

I don’t know, but he feels genuine.

Ferenc
Guest

To me also, I didn’t mean to question that.
To me it feels that there is something more, which he doesn’t want to tell (yet?).
And peculiar, my question isn’t asked him either!

Ron
Guest

I am asking myself the same question.

But what happened recently to change his mind. I do not believe it is the CEU, it must be something else.

Member

András Göllner’s recent revelations in the Hungarian Free Press about the Orbán-Habony-Finkelstein axis look day by day more plausible.

Ferenc
Guest
wrfree
Guest

Re: ‘Mr. Kerényi spoke the following unforgettable words as he campaigned on behalf of his leader, Mr Orbán: “I can reassure all, that pretty soon, there will be a little mound where today, the White House stands in Washington, and on this mound, goats will be grazing peacefully”’

Couldn’t help going back to Krushchev the Kruscher’s , ‘We will bury you’ back in those chilling cold war days. Should be required reading around here as well the entire damming essay by Mr. Gollner.

Been tough on the US these past few years because those who have been studying Hungary must have been looking at old Magyar textbooks thinking they know the ‘language’ in more ways than grammar. Not too sure they understand much with that ‘small’ but troublesome country. The essay perhaps should put it right into focus. And Trump should make a point of reading it unless he wants to graze with those goats, foreign of course. And the cheese by that time won’t be made in what could be called the ‘USA’.

Member

Totally OT, but funny: Sebastian Gorka insists that the media use his “Dr.” honorific, but only the conservative media comply. Sad!
http://wapo.st/2nNeLeb

The Hungarian media doesn’t really use the Dr. honorific either, except for medical doctors I believe.

Gorka’s cover on Heti Válasz does not use the “Dr.” honorific:comment image

Ferenc
Guest
Cirill schmidt
Guest

Unquestionably you leftist bast Ardsley would like to create a Mandan square in the middle of Budapest but the Hungarian voters will stop you .If you so much hate that country and it’s culture why do not leave It?

Guest

Do you live in Ardsley or nearby in New York State?
What a shame, little fascist bastard!
Btw it’s O who obviously hates his fellow Hungarian citizens and wants to turn them into “subjects” or even slaves again, like in Horthy times.

Observer
Guest

Wolfi

It’s rather subjects, servants and serfs. This tradition goes a long way to explains the current political situation.

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