Viktor Orbán at Tusnádfürdő/Băile Tuşnad
If it’s July it must be a new outrageous speech by Viktor Orbán at Tusnádfürdő/Băile Tuşnad.
It all started in 1990 when Fidesz organized a gathering of young Hungarians from Hungary and Transylvania for a week of lectures and fun. It was a small affair in those days; perhaps 40-50 people showed up at the first meeting, dubbed Bálványosfürdői Szabadegyetem és Diáktábor (Free University and Student Camp at Bálványosfürdő/Băile Bálványos). The event consisted of almost a week of camping. In those days the young Orbán himself stayed for the duration and slept in a tent alongside the students.
As time went by the numbers grew and the gathering became so large that it was moved from Bálványosfürdő to Tusnádfürdő about 30 kilometers away. But this year the numbers were less impressive. Viktor Orbán’s website said that about 1,000 people gathered to hear the Hungarian prime minister. Although an Internet video referred to “short pants politicking at Tusnádfürdő,” the photos showed a different picture. The youngsters were in the minority.
Transindex, a Hungarian-language Romanian publication, complained about the lack of real dialogue in Tusnádfürdő because RMDSZ, the largest Hungarian party in Romania which received 80% of the Hungarian votes at the municipal elections about a month ago, was not represented. On the other hand, Jobbik was there, as is evident from this picture of an old warrior of the Hungarian extreme right.
An editorial in Transindex made fun of the description of Tusnádfürdő as the “center of the universe,” as a banner behind the speakers proudly announced. Moreover, it seems that God also had something to do with Tusnádfürdő: Zsolt Semjén attributed to divine will the coincidence that the opening of Tusnádfürdő also marked the happy event of registering the 300,000th new Hungarian citizen. No wonder that the author of the editorial in Transindex, Andrea Hosu, entitled her piece “Tusványos: Divine choreography in the center of the universe?”
Hungarians by now are accustomed to the fact that Tusnádfürdő serves as a pulpit for the most radical side of Viktor Orbán. Perhaps that fresh Transylvanian air in the middle of the Carpathian mountains has this effect on him. By now, however, practically everything that the prime minister says is radical. Orbán’s view of the world bears no resemblance to reality. There are some people, including Gábor Fodor, his old roommate and one of the founders of Fidesz, who are worried about Orbán’s mental state.
Indeed, Orbán said quite a few incredible things in Tasnádfürdő, but they were not more outrageous than what he has been saying for some time. Here is a sampling of the latest crop of statements.
According to him, the current crisis affects only the United States and Europe. The rest of the world is untouched. It is Brussels that is at the core of the problem where the bureaucrats worry about the psyche of geese, toys for piglets, and the size of cages for chickens instead of the serious problems Europe is facing. Western Europe is laboring under the shadow of the two world wars which broke out as a result of national rivalries and therefore it preaches greater integration because of the fear of nationalism. But there is today a renaissance of nation states and Brussels cannot go against their wishes. Today’s problems can be solved only by individual countries and the solution must be adjusted to individual needs. Europe is hopeless and it will never be successful. It is only staggering about like a sleepwalker.
What was perhaps the most frightening part of the speech was Orbán’s “analysis” of the history of twentieth-century Europe. According to him, western politicians are afraid of the politically activated masses because of the rise of fascism in Europe. Fascist governments came into power by democratic means, and therefore the western political elite put their faith in “principles and institutions” instead of the people. He admitted that he himself believed at one point that principles and institutions are the best insurance for success, but he has realized since that “this is what led politics to a dead end.” Because it is never principles and institutions that make decisions but people. “Overestimation of principles and institutions necessarily leads to irresponsible decisions.”
Here Viktor Orbán is perhaps most clearly showing his dictatorial side by turning away from the principles of democracy itself. Instead of checks and balances he is putting his faith in “the people.” So, it is not at all surprising that he simply ignores the decisions of the Constitutional Court. After all, it is just one of those institutions that led Europe astray.
Otherwise, the prime minister of a country that is in terrible economic shape and whose two-year governance only added to its problems announced that “Europe is actually envious of Hungary” because of its excellent handling of the crisis. This is one of those occasions when some people question Viktor Orbán’s sanity.
In addition to all that frightening nonsense Viktor Orbán also decided to meddle in Romanian internal affairs. A referendum is being held today on the fate of Romanian President Traian Băsescu. A day before the voting, during the campaign silence, Orbán urged Hungarians living in Romania to “make good decisions, meaning to make no decision at all” during today’s vote. In addition, both he and László Tőkés appeared in white shirts that apparently signals their support for Băsescu. As things stand at the moment, Băsescu’s only hope is that not enough people will bother to go to the polls. Three hours before closing time only about 38% of the eligible voters had voted; 50% plus one vote is necessary for the referendum to be valid.
As for cooperation with RMDSZ, Orbán admitted that he cannot ignore it because after all it is the major Hungarian party in Romania, but he added that cooperation with its politicians is out of the question. In 1994, he recalled, the socialists asked Fidesz to join them in a coalition. They refused because if they “had said yes then [they] would have been morally ruined and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to replace the socialist governments that ruined the country.” The obvious message is that there can be no compromise with RMDSZ, which he called elsewhere a party with Bolshevik roots.
No compromise with anyone while Zsolt Semjén in his introductory remarks on Wednesday talked about the looming danger of another Little Entente. Meaning cooperation between Slovakia, Romania, and perhaps Serbia against Hungary. Perhaps a different Hungarian attitude toward the neighbors could prevent such a “calamity.”