The Manifesto of National Cooperation: Fidesz government shot itself in the foot

The whole country is laughing at them. If the politicians of Jobbik and LMP thought it was a joke, by now half the country thinks so. But the ordinance is anything but an innocent joke because it says a lot about the mentality of Viktor Orbán and the politicians around him. Until now Orbán was only the unquestioned leader of Fidesz whose structure was such that every decision depended on him. Unlike in other parties where local party organizations decide on their own office holders, in Fidesz Orbán single-handedly decides who will be the local party chairman or who will run for parliament from that particular district. He decides which local chapters get dissolved because for one reason or other they don't behave as Orbán would want them to behave. Or because they don't speak with a single voice. Or just because he doesn't like the guys. Now that he is prime minister he is running the whole country this way. Until now there was no one who could stand up to him because of the extreme weakness of the opposition. However, today something happened that might put at least a temporary crimp in his very aggressive one-man rule. The constitutional court refused to oblige. It will not display the Manifesto of National Cooperation because the judges find such a display unconstitutional. It breaches, in their opinion, the separation of the branches of government.

So, although the supreme court and the prosecutor's office haven't decided yet, after the announcement of the constitutional court it is unlikely that they could agree to Orbán's request. That the office of the president "as long as László Sólyom is in office" will have nothing to do with the Manifesto is not terribly surprising. Nor is it surprising that Pál Schmitt, as speaker of the house, ordered the display in both the parliament building and the so-called White House where the offices of the deputies are located.

This afternoon in parliament LMP's András Schiffer demanded the withdrawal of the ordinance. Schiffer considers the ordinance unacceptable in a democratic country, but he also thinks that there might be constitutional problems. According to him "political declarations" have no place in public buildings. I very much doubt that the government will respond positively to this demand. They would lose too much face. But I suspect that in implementation the ordinance will die a quiet death.

Gellért mentioned in his comment that TASZ (Társaság a Szabadságjogokért/Society for Human Rights) presented a wonderful parody of the ordinance that was described by Népszabadság as a "fillip." TASZ offers a number of possible designs of the Proclamation, all resembling the posters of the Rákosi period. They are worth seeing. One can really appreciate them if one is just a bit familiar with the posters of those days or Mao Zedong's little red book. 

The Economist called attention to Facebook, where users have been exposing the proclamation to merciless mockery. And topping it off there is a "serious" proposal for a bill by twelve socialist deputies, among them Ferenc Gyurcsány, Ildikó Lendvai, Attila Mesterházy, Iván Vitányi, Csaba Molnár, and Ágnes Vadai. The title of the bill is "About the love, loyalty and gratefulness toward the Person who is the Embodiment of the Regime of National Cooperation." The rest can be imagined. The mock proposal looks like any other proposal, including elaborate explanations of the concepts mentioned. For example, "The Person Embodying the National Cooperation (from here on NEMESZ) is Viktor Orbán." It suggests that the Manifesto be accompanied by the portrait and curriculum vitae of the prime minister and if the placement of these documents doesn't allow natural light they should be artificially lighted all times. The director of the organization is responsible for keeping the portrait clean and if necessary changing it periodically. (There are jokes about the picture of Franz Joseph and the flies in Jaroslav Hasek's The Good Soldier Svejk.) It also suggests declaring May 31, Orbán's birthday, a national holiday. And finally, the undersigned deputies give reasons for the enactment of this proposal by noting the indelible credit that Viktor Orbán deserves for the estabishment of the Regime of National Cooperation.

It is really hilarious, but I don't think that Viktor Orbán or his cohorts find it funny. Tibor Navracsics vehemently defended the Manifesto as a perfectly acceptable document that enunciates the kinds of values that all Hungarians can cherish. One thing is sure: the constitutional court's decision might strengthen the resolve of the various offices to refuse the government's "request."


  1. Sources tell me the author of the Economist piece at times comments on this blog too. So, you are in good company.

  2. PassingStranger: “Sources tell me the author of the Economist piece at times comments on this blog too. So, you are in good company.”
    If that is the case, I’m absolutely delighted.

  3. It’s time somebody in Fidesz challenge Orban; perhaps Fidesz still could be a decent conservative party without Orban’s egocentric leadership. Too bad I don’t see anybody in Fidesz’ leadership who doesn’t follow him blindly.

  4. Note to Orban: It’s the Economy, Stupid! When will these guys learn to focus on what really matters to the voters — the decision at the polls always, always, always comes down to whether you are better off today than you were 4 years ago. If these guys can straighten out the economic mess Hungary is in, they’ll have voters eating out of their hands for decades. Instead, they waste their time and energy with dual citizenship laws and manifestos. What idiots.

  5. I hear next thing Viktor is going to make a plaster cast of his ass and put it up on public buildings for his adoring public to kiss every day.

  6. David: “I hear next thing Viktor is going to make a plaster cast of his ass and put it up on public buildings for his adoring public to kiss every day.”
    Although I suspect David and I are not on the same side but I fear that Orbán got quite a bit carried away. That was his downfall in 2002 but it seems that he hasn’t learned a thing in eight years.

  7. “Although I suspect David and I are not on the same side…”
    I suppose I am being judged for my remark that Jobbik don’t look so bad after all, that I made in another thread.
    Just to clarify my views on the record, so to speak. Before the second round of voting in the election there was a remark made by one of the Jobbik supporters that appeared here and then disappeared after the election (a bit like the Ron Paul supporters on US political threads).
    He suggested that the MSzP should withdraw from the race in some of the seats in eastern Hungary to deny Fidesz a 2/3 majority. At the time I thought it was a bad idea, as Jobbik is generally an amplified version of the bad ideas of Fidesz. Now with hindsight I think that it might not have been so bad. There is more to life and more to politics than political ideology. Any group that gains too much power or too permanent a hold on power tends to use it to enrich themselves. While Jobbik might support all sorts of nutty ideas, such as putting stuff about the Holy Crown into the constitution, they are less likely to support a permanent reign of Viktor and Fidesz, as regardless of ideological affinities they are still an opposition party. It was in this context that my musings on Jobbik were made. If their vote had been marginally higher they would have denied Fidesz a 2/3 majority and many of the changes that we are witnessing would not be happening.
    Unfortunately the likely scenario now is that Fidesz will have a spectacularly bad 4 year term and voters will then be looking for an alternative. I hope that LMP can live up to their name, because if they don’t the most likely alternative will be Jobbik. MSzP seems keen to go the way of SzDSz; MDF has already done this.

  8. It is impossible not to agree with Sandor, Mark and David: incredible first two months we are witnessing. Never in my wildest could I imagine anything that bad. These guys are not fit to govern and if they continue like this they will lose all the support they have at the moment.

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