In the early days after the inauguration of the second Orbán government the prime minister's new personal spokesman, the inimitable Péter Szijjártó, repeatedly referred to the new government as the "regime of national cooperation." He talked about this new regime with such frequency that newspapers started abbreviating the Hungarian phrase "Nemzeti Együttműködés Rendszere" as NER. Knowing the habit of the Fidesz "parrot commando," I was sure that for at least four years Fidesz politicians and spokesmen would talk about NER instead of the government. So I decided to create a separate computer folder for NER.
But then NER came, NER went. The government insisted on a parliamentary sanction of the proclamation that the opposition refused to vote for. But after that silence–nothing about the famous proclamation or about the new regime of national cooperation. Just the other day I contemplated getting rid of my NER folder. But then came yesterday's bombshell. An ordinance signed by Viktor Orbán makes it compulsory to hang a copy of the proclamation in a size at least 50 x 70 cm in all executive government buildings. Other branches of government, for example the office of the president, parliament, the constitutional court, offices of ombudsmen, the accounting office, the Hungarian national bank, and local government offices are only asked to oblige.
First let's recall what this proclamation is all about. Here is the text in English: "At the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, after forty-six years of occupation, dictatorship and two confusing decades of transition, Hungary at last recaptured its right to self-determination and its capabilities (sic). The struggle for self-determination of the Hungarian nation began in 1956 with a glorious but failed revolution. The struggle continued after the change of regime with political pacts that instead of bringing freedom brought helplessness, instead of independence brought indebtedness, instead of prosperity brought poverty, instead of hope and brotherhood brought a deep psychological, political and economic crisis. In the spring of 2010 the Hungarian nation once more collected its remaining strength and in the voting booth it accomplished a successful revolution. The Hungarian people achieved this victory with the overthrow of the old regime and the establishment of a new one, the regime of national cooperation. The Hungarian nation with this historic act obliged the newly elected parliament and government to work, without any hesitation or compromise, for the establishment of the regime of national cooperation. We, the representatives of the Hungarian Parliament, declare that we will place this new political and economic system that came into being as a result of the will of the people on secure foundations that are essential for prosperity, worthy of human beings, and that connect the members of the Hungarian nation of varied colors. Work, home, family, health, and law and order. These are the pillars of our common future. The regime of national cooperation is open to every Hungarian whether he lives inside or outside of the borders. It is a possibility for everybody and an expectation of all who live, work, or conduct business in Hungary. Our firm conviction is that with the collaboration embodied in the regime of national cooperation we will be able to change the future of Hungary, we will be able to make our fatherland strong and successful. This cooperation that sets free incredible energies entitles all Hungarians, regardless of age, sex, religion, political views, regardless of where they live, to be hopeful. After many decades here is the opportunity that Hungarians at last can achieve their own goals. We will devote our lives to this task in the next few years."
Earlier I wrote a post about this proclamation entitled "Reactions to the proclamation of national cooperation." I mentioned that the general consensus outside the circle of the party faithful was that the proclamation is historically inaccurate and, worse, is muddled nonsense. As I noted, the opposition parties didn't vote for it and now that Orbán has decided to make a national credo out of it that must (or "should") decorate the walls of every official or semi-official building, the other parties are outraged.
The first party to raise its voice was LMP. The spokesman of the party claimed that by requesting that independent institutions display the proclamation the government is demanding an oath of allegiance. This ordinance resurrects the worst periods of twentieth-century Hungarian history. The so-called "request" to the directors of independent institutions is "a way of instilling fear." LMP can hardly find words to describe their outrage. First they thought it was a joke. They demand the immediate withdrawal of the order.
MSZP didn't mince words either. According to the statement issued by the MSZP parliamentary delegation it was Miklós Horthy and Mátyás Rákosi in Hungary and Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania who used similar methods. The only difference was that their pictures had to accompany their declarations in public buildings. "This ordinance is Viktor Orbán's letter of resignation from western civilization," the MSZP statement declared. The socialists consider this ordinance "the first symbolic step toward building a totalitarian regime that doesn't tolerate differences of opinion."
Even Jobbik agrees with LMP and MSZP. They are reminded of "the revolutionary worker-peasant regime of bad memories." Jobbik also thought at first that it was a joke that reminded the politicians of the party of the days when "one had to put up similar documents next to the pictures of Lenin, Stalin, Rákosi, and Kádár." They added that "cooperation should manifest itself not on walls but in everyday actions."
Fidesz's answer is always the same. They have a two-thirds majority because of the will of the people. The people wanted a new regime. The proclamation is the embodiment of that will duly voted on by parliament. The people who willed this new regime should be able to see the text of the proclamation, and public buildings are the most suitable venues for such a display. It seems, they continue, that the opposition parties still can't get over the fact that it was Fidesz that won the elections.
And we can be sure that the government (oops, the NER) has no intention of withdrawing this nightmarish order.