Everybody took it for granted that László Kövér will succeed Pál Schmitt as speaker of the house. That piece of news didn’t please a lot of people because László Kövér has the reputation of being the evil spirit behind Viktor Orbán. I wrote a longer portrait of him earlier in Hungarian Spectrum. I admit that I don’t like him. I consider him to be an unpleasant bully; his outward appearance testifies to his inner coarseness. Four years ago, when Fidesz lost the elections for the second time, Kövér swore that he would not cut hair until the party is once again able to form a government. The hair was growing and growing and I’ll bet a lot of people wished that it would eventually reach his ankles. But came the day of the swearing-in ceremony and Kövér appeared with short hair. Before:
I assume that he is adopting the persona of some ancient Hungarian warrior with that mustache.
Rumor had it that Kövér was actually more powerful than Orbán himself. Kövér is a few years older than Orbán, and when they were both in college the second-year student was greatly influenced by the older fellow. That lopsided relationship apparently lasted for years.
But it seems that Viktor Orbán now feels secure enough to liberate himself from Kövér’s influence and feels strong enough to turn against him and show him who is the boss. Apparently an argument took place between Orbán and Kövér over the nomination of Pál Schmitt as president of Hungary. The news of some inner fighting leaked out earlier, almost a month ago. Apparently Orbán had a rather hard time convincing everyone in the Fidesz leadership that Pál Schmitt was the ideal candidate. According to rumors Kövér was the last one who fought tooth and nail against Schmitt because Kövér found him “too little and too much” at the same time. Meaning intellectually too light for the job but at the same time too much because of his earlier political career in the Kádár regime. Perhaps Kövér feared or possibly even knew that some unpleasantness could emerge from the archives of the old ministry of interior concerning Schmitt’s perhaps not so spotless past. Because, after all, we know that anyone who was allowed to travel abroad in an official or semi-official capacity had to report to the authorities about people with whom he had any contact.
In the end Kövér lost out which, I’m sure, in the past rarely happened to him. When the chips were down he behaved as a faithful party member should and voted for Schmitt, but he wasn’t present at the meeting of the Fidesz caucus where Schmitt gave an “introductory talk,” didn’t sign the petition to support his nomination, and after the election was over disappeared from the chamber, not even waiting for the swearing-in ceremony.
Until now everybody was sure that Schmitt’s successor in the chair of speaker of the house would be János Kövér. No other name was ever mentioned. Fidesz supporters certainly liked the idea of having Kövér in this position because “the members of Jobbik shake in their boots when they see him.” I don’t know whether they shake in their boots or not, but they definitely loathe him. MSZP leaders are not enamored about Kövér either, especially in the position of speaker because they find him ill suited for such a job. Ildikó Lendvai said a few days ago that Schmitt’s becoming president is not good news, but that Kövér will be the speaker of the house is really terrible. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a less suitable man for the job. Manners and fair-mindedness are not exactly Kövér’s forte.
However, if the rumor that is circulating is true, perhaps it will not be László Kövér’s turn to preside over the house. It may in fact be possible that his opposition to Schmitt is not his only sin. My first surprise was that Kövér didn’t receive any important job in the government. Earlier Kövér mentioned that he would be interested in his earlier job of supervising Hungary’s national security establishment. But he wasn’t asked. However, there was still the important position of speaker of the house. If he is not tapped for this job, it would indicate that Kövér has lost his privileged position within the party and his close relationship as Viktor Orbán’s friend and most important political advisor.