Viktor Orbán’s election campaign in Romania

Just the other day I saw a short article full of advice about how to achieve a happy and healthy old age. It listed all those well-known factors that have an important bearing on our well-being: proper nutrition, exercise, relaxation, intellectual activities, and the proper amount of sleep. I have bad news for Viktor Orbán, who, as an article pointed out, has aged fifteen years in five, comparing his photos then and now. Since he gave up taking care of everyday governance, finding administrative duties at home too boring, and started spending his time trying to act like an important world leader, he has had a punishing schedule.

Let’s take the following example of his hectic gallivanting about. He left Budapest on the evening of September 24 for Hanoi, Vietnam, where he arrived on the 25th. Around noon on September 26 he arrived in Singapore, where he spent not quite two days. The large Hungarian delegation arrived in Budapest from Singapore on the evening of September 27. The next morning, on September 28, he was already in Ohrid, Macedonia, where he and Prime Minister Janes Jansa of Slovenia “gave a hearty boost to Macedonia’s ousted leader Nikola Gruevski in the run-up to Macedonia’s local elections.” You know–the one who was allegedly ousted by George Soros himself. A few hours later he was in Tallinn, Estonia, for an EU conference, where again he spent only a few hours because by eight o’clock that evening he was in Cluj/Kolozsvár in Romania. After spending September 30 and part of October 1 in Kolozsvár and in Florești/Szászfenes, he travelled to Oradea/Nagyvárad, where he spent another day and a half before returning to Budapest sometime in the afternoon of October 3. A busy ten days for sure.

The few hours spent in Tallinn were good enough only for a brief talk with the Dutch foreign minister, whom Orbán forgave for the harsh words of the Dutch ambassador to Budapest. He agreed to the return to Amsterdam of the Hungarian ambassador, who had been hastily recalled about a month ago.

He had more important things to do at the next stop, Romania. The ostensible reason for this extended trip was celebration of the birth of Protestantism 500 years ago, in 1517. Normally, Orbán is not in the habit of spending almost five days in any one country, and although I understand that his newly found fervent faith makes him more interested in religious matters, it is still hard to believe that the real goal of his trip was to talk about Protestantism as part of the religious history of Hungary. After reading the description of his speeches and interview, I can say that Viktor Orbán was clearly campaigning in Romania. He indicated that continued financial support depends on whether the Hungarians of Romania support him and his government. If the liberals and socialists win the 2018 election, the generous aid packages will come to an end. Or, at least this is what he wanted his audience to believe. The extremely generous maintenance of Hungarian religious, cultural, and educational facilities in Romania began during the first Orbán government, in 2000/2001. But two years later, when Orbán lost the election, the new socialist-liberal government uninterruptedly gave the same amount of money to Hungarian organizations in Romania as before.

Orbán delivered three speeches. The first was in Cluj/Kolozsvár in the Protestant Theological Institute, the second in Florești/Szászfenes at the consecration of a new Hungarian Reformed Church, and, finally, one in Oradea/Nagyvárad at the convocation of the Partium Christian University. His first speech was almost like a Hungarian Reformed sermon. It was only at the very end that he began talking about his government’s vision for the Hungarian community, which might be divided by borders but is nonetheless a unitary living organ that cannot live a full, happy life if any of its parts is in need or ill. Therefore, he would like to see a future in which “the soaring Hungary is joined with an emerging Romania.” He would like to see “a future in which the Visegrád 4 countries, the engines of the European economy, and Romania unite.” Well, considering how fast the Romanian economy is growing, I wouldn’t be talking so glowingly about the “soaring” Hungary and so disparagingly about the “emerging” Romania. In general, he claimed that “the age of national pride” is ascending in which “the future will be written in Hungarian.”

A day later he delivered a speech in Florești/Szászfenes, which is only a few miles from Cluj/Kolozsvár. Historically speaking, it was a Catholic town, but lately a lot of people moved from Kolozsvár to Szászfenes and by now there is a community of about 1,000 Hungarian-speaking Protestants in the town. They decided to build a church and, from what I read, the cost was covered almost in its entirety by the Hungarian government.

The new Hungarian Reformed Church in Florești/Szászfenes / Source: Krónika

On October 2 he talked to the students of Partium Christian University, another university the Hungarian government keeps going in Oradea/Nagyvárad. First, a few words about the Partium or “Részek.” It is a historical and geographical region that consisted of the eastern and northern parts of Hungary proper, i.e. it did not include historical Transylvania. Today it is the westernmost part of Romania, along the Hungarian border. Orbán’s speech was full of boasts about Partium’s strong “hinterland,” meaning Hungary. A few years ago no one dared even to dream about the flowering of Hungary that has been achieved under the leadership of Viktor Orbán. Hungary is no longer a small state but “a middle-sized country of consequence” that can contribute to the peace and well-being of other people in the Carpathian Basin. Those people who are ready to cooperate with the Hungarians will fare well. By now the Slovenians, the Slovaks, and the Serbs have already discovered the benefit, and he “very much hopes that Romania one day will follow their example.”

Orbán even found time to give an interview to the Bihari Napló, serving Nagyvárad and Bihor/Bihar County. Here he openly campaigned for votes for the next national election. The great economic success of Hungary began when the Orbán government decided to give dual citizenship to Hungarians living in the neighboring countries. When “these Hungarians in the diaspora were connected to the Hungarian national circulatory system,” suddenly, the people’s “sense of security began to grow, their vigor increased, and therefore the economy started to grow.” It is for this reason that he encouraged everybody to participate in the national election next spring. Finally, he made another pitch for cooperation between the Visegrád 4 countries and Romania. Surely, he would like to shore up the rather shaky Visegrád Group by having Romania join it. But I’m almost certain that this will not happen in the foreseeable future.

Finally, a few words about the amount of money that has been given to these institutions over the years. In addition to the Partium Christian University, the Hungarian government subsidizes another university, the Sapientia Transylvanian Hungarian University, with faculties in Miercurea Ciuc/ Csíkszereda, Cluj/Kolozsvár, and Târgu Mureș/Marosvásárhely. All Hungarian institutions of higher learning in Romania are financed through the Sapientia Foundation, which since its establishment in 2000 has received 25.6 billion forints from the Hungarian state. According to Magyar Idők, altogether 37 billion forints were given to the Sapientia Foundation from Hungarian sources. The newspaper doesn’t go into details, but I assume that some Hungarian state companies and churches contributed the additional money.

A year ago napi.hu asked for the figures on the amount of money the Hungarian government spends on Hungarian schools operating abroad. The list of colleges and universities is very long, and the amount of money is substantial. Apparently during 2015 they received 608,232,000 forints. Without the subsidies, these Hungarian-language institutions wouldn’t be able to survive.

October 5, 2017
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Michael Kaplan
Guest

I spent many years donating mental health and/or alcoholism treatment training in Erdely, especially in region in and/or near Marosvasarhely (Tragu Mures), largely for benefit of Hungarian speaking minority. I certainly understand the fears of the Hungarian speaking minority; however, Orban may be setting up this minority for a hard fall. This is especially true given the strange language and policies directed against Romania, let alone other countries with Hungarian speaking minorities. A policy of mutual respect and cooperation is best -as I am certain the editor of this blog knows all too well. Thanks for the publication of this well written article. I wish only the best for all people in this part of the world.

Guest

This is all so crazy – provoking the Romanians and their government all thetime, no wonder if they reactionand the treatment of Hungarians isn’t always positive!

Without going into details again Hungary seems to be fifty or even a hundred years behind!
Just compare the German/Austrian situation:
Elsass-Lothringen changed hands so many times between France and Germany – nobody cares anymore, we’re all Europeans and crossing the Rhins you won’t see many differences besides the names on billboards and the bread … 🙂
And my favourite example is “Alto Aldige” aka South Tyrol where I went with my wife – evrywhere she was addressed in Italian (looking “South European”) and when they saw me, people automatically switched to German, speaking both languages equally well of course …
Nationalism is nowadays an early stage of cancer that leads to racism, xenophobia and fascism etc!
We’re all humans!

Member

Have you visited the Hungarian parts of Transylvania? You will find the exact same thing that you describe in Sudtirol: Magyars will address you in fluent Hungarian, Romanian or English (putting paid to the notion that Hungarian brains simply are not wired to learn Indo-European languages).

Austrians are still angry about losing Sudtirol, but the situation is entirely different from the Transylvanian situation for historic, cultural and economic reasons. First off, the concept of Austrian nationhood did not exist before 1920; the people were simply German-speaking residents of the Habsburg land. When people talked about their “land,” they were talking about Styria, Carinthia, etc. After WWI, when the southern half of Tyrol got lopped off and handed to Italy as war booty, it was entirely unclear whether Austria could even survive as a state.

And you must know that anger continues to simmer over the situation. Nearly 1/3 of the seats in the provincial council are held by separatist parties. A Styrian once told me he would gladly give Burgenland back to Hungary if it meant Austria could take back Sudtirol.

Guest

Come on, Alex!
Steiermark is well known for its right wing tendencies – Haider was their chief …
Other Austrians laugh at all this – and anyway it can’t and won’t be changed and gets ever more unimportant with the ongoing integration of Europe …

Member

Haider was the chief of Carinthia, but I get your point.
I’ve heard similar from young kids in Lower Austria, if that helps. 🙂

Guest

Sorry, these provinces in Austria look all the same to me … 🙂
And that “Schluchtenscheisser” (don’t know how to translate that evil word …) – mentality you’ll find everywhere – Bavaria is also a good example or the southern part of Baden-Württemberg where the CDU used to have a two thirds majority among my fellow countrymen.
There was a joke that they could put up a black garbage can as candidate for parliament – and it would get elected!

Thereality
Guest

Why do you compare an autonomous province like south Tyrol to the situation of Transylvanian Hungarians who had not any form of autonomy?

Guest

South Tyrol is a “positive” example in a way because the people adjusted to reality – not your kind of Reality probably :)!
And it took them a long time too …

vzir
Guest

Ethnic Hungarians in Transylvania have complete power at the local level (municipality and county) and they wield lots of power at a national level in Romania too. They might be not getting everything they want, but they are de facto autonomous already.

Guest

Btw we have friends from Transylavania (I’ve written about that before), she is of Hungarian descent (and best friends with my wife …) and he’s a Schwab. They visited us here in Hungary on their way to their home in Romania and they are real Germans now, very open and kind of liberal …
And we had similar experiences like in Südtirol in Komarno, Slovakia …

Thereality
Guest

Correction, there were no Swabians in Transylvania but in Banat. Banat is not part of Transylvania.

Guest

You might have called them Saxonians – but he calls himself a Schwab!
You know that they didn’t enjoy Magyarisation?

vzir
Guest

There were a lot at one time in Banat too.

Ferenc
Guest

“Those people who are ready to cooperate with the Hungarians will fare well. By now the Slovenians, the Slovaks, and the Serbs have already discovered the benefit”
Re: ‘the Slovaks’, economically now being clearly 2nd in the V4, has very little benefitted from any cooperation with Hungary, but first of all by car production. Currently 7th largest car producer in the EU and the world’s largest producer of cars per capita (yearly 1 million cars where 5 million people are living). Car manufacturers in Slovakia: Volkswagen (incl.Audi and Porsche), Peugeot-Citroen, Kia and local K-1; in 2018 Jaguar Land Rover will join them.
More details at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automotive_industry_in_Slovakia

About Romania and V4, OV knows very well that that joining is very unlikely to happen (note: how to call it then: V4+ or V5, both are nonsense…). To me it seems he’s talking about this to ‘his Romanian people’ to give them something to complain about to ‘their real government’.
But as Eva noted, if trends continue, Romania will in some years be above Hungary on the economical lists, and may be support will go in the other direction…

Ferenc
Guest

PS: the picture shows the new church really standing in the heart of a society…

Thereality
Guest

Slovakia produce only the cheapest versions of cars, while Hungary produces Audi and Mercedes. Slovaks have not serious local supplier background either. They simply put together the car components.

Guest

Idiot! Hungarians put together the cheapest kind of Mercedes too …
And they just started how many years ago?
Györ essentially produces those horrible VW Turbo-Diesel engines – now is that Hungary’s fault?
And my little Opel was built in Spain – so what? I’ve done more than 200 000 km in almost 10 years …
And the service here in the village is excellent – and much cheaper than in Germany, now go figure!

Thereality
Guest

German automotive industry can start to worry about the future of electric cars, because American firms like Tesla has a decade advantage over the German electric cars.

Guest

Now we’re getting even more OT – do you wish the German automobile industry should disappear like the British? That wouldn’t be good for Hungary’s economy either …
But I’m sure they’ll adapt – Bosch e g is recruiting thousands of engineers and IT people – also in Hungary!

Thereality
Guest

Romania is not central European country, but eastern European Orthodox country, it grew up from a very different “Eurasian orthodox” civilization.

Guest

And most people in the West would also consider Hungary part of the Balkan …
Geography is not so important – the people’s mindset is what counts and there many Hungarians have the same deficit as the other former Communist states – East Germany included. Almost fifty years destroyed a lot of democracy – my wife sometimes tells stories …
Btw she resisted, did not become a party (or KISZ) member like Orbán etc, did not have a career …
Often I feel really lucky to have grown up a Schwab! My brother in law who grew up in Communist Saxonia also has a lot of bad memories.
PS:
Our “Irreality” is typical in many ways – putting down other countries and their people doesn’t really help you though

vzir
Guest

If that’s the case, then Mr. Orban ardently wants Hungary to join the club of inferior “Eurasian orthodox civilizations” you so decry. Funny how bigots and petty racist xenophobes gravitate towards the likes of Russia and other “Eurasian” countries while being disparaging at the same time

Guest

An interesting article comparing “the deplorables” in East Germany and Cataluna – many points are valid for Hungarians, Romanians etc too:
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/07/germany-spain-catalonia-protest-history-20th-century-traumas
PS:
I’ve been to Cataluna often on holiday, especially liked Barcelona (Gaudi’s buildings), had no problems with the people – while in East Germany sometimes I felt strange …

Joseph
Guest

Wrong. Romania is right in the center of the European continent, Measure the distances on the map. They also speak a latin based language but their orthodox religeon comes mainly from the greeks who ruled this part of the world. Hungarians on the other side speak a very weird language, resembling tribal languages of the far east.

Ferenc
Guest

OT – but really?…

Mondjunk nemet együtt a félelem eluralkodására!Védjük meg közösen az emberséges társadalom határait!
Let’s together say NO to the prevalence of fear! Let’s protect together the borders of humane society!

Petition (in Hungarian only) started 2017.Oct.05 by Beer Miklós, Veiszer Alinda, Hajós András, Gundel Takács Gábor and Gégény István
https://www.peticiok.com/emberseges_tarsadalom

Joseph Simon
Guest

Why Cluj/Kolozsvár???
A French would not say London/Londre, or an American Wien/Vienna, etc.
I visited Csikszereda, where nobody said Ciuc, or Oradea for Nagyvárad.

Guest

Joe, as usual you are … *expletive deleted*!
London/Londres is no big deal, but Fünfkirchen/???
If you travel the Belgian motorway you’ll find signs to Aix-la-Chapelle – you know where that is?

Member

I know the answer to Aix. But I had to look up Funfkirchen.
My turn: What was the old German name for Buda?

Ferenc
Guest

… may be forgot Klausenburg?!?comment image
photo: Biro – mti

Guest

Of course all these cities had (at least!) three names.
Rather OT again:
I remember one of my first holidays – we wanted to go to Rijeka in Yugoslavia (No real Communist countries like Hungary for me …) and while in Italy looked in vain for a sign on the motorway …
Then I looked at my map again – it said Fiume!
Rijeka [ˈrijɛːka] (italienisch und ungarisch Fiume, ungarisch ehemals auch Szentvit, slowenisch Reka, deutsch veraltet St. Veit am Flaum oder auch Pflaum) ist eine Hafenstadt an der Kvarner-Bucht in Kroatien.

seinean
Guest

Joe :”where nobody said Ciuc, or Oradea for Nagyvárad”

Everyone living in those cities ( no matter his/her ethnicity) would call them “Miercurea-Ciuc” and Oradea when speaking Romanian and Csikszereda and Nagyvárad when speaking Hungarian. When speaking English they would most probably use the name in his/her native language.

Guest

Breaking news:
Our young ones told me right now – Index is available now in English (at least some of the news …):
http://index.hu/english/2017/10/06/index_english/

Ferenc
Guest

THANKS!
That image: OV’s silly walk made my day!!

Joseph
Guest

It is just a matter of time before Romania will slap Orban silly. I wonder how much longer he will be allowed to run his mouth like a broken toilet??

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