Viktor Orbán claims that he managed to avert his forcible removal

It was HVG that came out with the bombshell this morning. Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spent a good portion of his fairly lengthy speech addressed to members of the Fidesz parliamentary delegation on the thwarted coup attempt directed against him. According to him this alleged coup attempt had three prongs: the members of the Hungarian national security apparatus, a CNN-led international media campaign, and Hungarian and foreign diplomats. He was pleased to announce that the attempt had failed and they “managed to put down the putsch.”

Sounds ridiculous? Yes. Journalists of opposition papers immediately made fun of him and his story. Népszabadság‘s article began with a quotation from the famous film The Witness: “What’s that? They don’t even want to kill Comrade Bástya?” Some people are already voicing their belief that this startling announcement is good merely to divert attention away from the burning problems of the country and perhaps to fire up the enthusiasm of the true believers. Otherwise it is a hoax.

A week ago I wrote an article in Népszabadság in which I mentioned that at Fidesz demonstrations there were no foreign-language posters until the “Peace Walk” on January 21 when the organizers carried a huge English-language sign: “We will not be a colony.” However, it seems that Fidesz sympathizers have discovered the benefits of using English. A group of them was waiting for Orbán’s arrival in Eger where the meeting of the Fidesz caucus was held.

Defending the leader and the country

Viktor Orbán expanded on the theme of the attempted coup although he neglected to share any details about the alleged role of the national security forces. One would think that this would be the most dangerous part of any such scheme. Especially in comparison to the CNN threat!

But what did CNN do that was so objectionable? According to Orbán, the television network purposely exaggerated dissatisfaction within the Fidesz parliamentary faction against his person and his policies. He brought up the example of the appointment of Tünde Handó, wife of József Szájer, to the key post of chief of the National Judicial Office responsible for all judicial appointments. At that time four members of the Fidesz-KDNP  parliamentary caucuses didn’t vote for the appointment. Apparently this event was cited as evidence of a weakening of Orbán’s power within his own party.

In addition to the media former Hungarian diplomats with international connections were scheming against him and urging some mysterious outside forces to remove him from his post. Foreign diplomats, according to Orbán, were also guilty.

Coup d'etat

Gábor Borókai, editor-in-chief of Heti Válasz, in the February 6 issue briefly explains the attempt to remove Viktor Orbán. In a rather convoluted sentence Borókai claims that the attempted coup was initiated by the global intellectual community with the active participation of those Hungarian intellectuals who are at home in this global world. It was averted by Viktor Orbán’s fantastic performance in Strasbourg with the help of the thousands demonstrating in Budapest a few days earlier.

Although I have no connection to CNN or former Hungarian or current foreign diplomats, I have sensed for some time that there are certain people “out there” who wouldn’t mind at all if Viktor Orbán retired from politics. Thus I began a “folder” in my data base entitled “Viktor Orbán–possible replacement.” The first entry was an article in Népszava (December 15), “Many talk about secret negotiations in Fidesz.” The next day János Lázár staunchly defended the prime minister and claimed that Attila Mesterházy should consult a doctor because the MSZP chairman must be mad suggesting that perhaps Orbán should depart. A few days later Ildikó Csuhaj, the well informed journalist of Népszabadság, reported that “Viktor Orbán is not in a panic.” Moreover, he reiterated his resolve not to move an inch. What he started he will finish. On December 20 the same Ildikó Csuhaj reported that according to reliable sources “Union officials indicated to Mihály Varga that they see in him Hungary’s next prime minister.” She put a question mark at the end of the sentence, but that is an old trick of Hungarian journalism to avoid being sued for spreading false information.

At the beginning of January Mesterházy announced that “no one thinks that Orbán will stay as prime minister for long.” He suggested that the year 2012 might be of crucial importance and that by the end of the year it will be clear whether they can get rid of Viktor Orbán and his government in 2014.

Well, that was about a month ago and today Viktor Orbán seems to be in a stronger position. No one is calling for his resignation and his performance in Strasbourg was reassuring. The forint has strengthened and his position is not so precarious as I assume he believed it was in mid-December or even in mid-January. He managed “purely through communication” to avert the “coup.”

However, I doubt that this happy state of affairs will persist because soon enough it will become obvious that, in spite of all the promises in Strasbourg, Orbán has no intention of making the kind of turnabout that is demanded of him by the European Commission. Sometime next week the Hungarian answers to EU objections to the new Hungarian laws will arrive in Brussels. Most likely the Commission will not be satisfied with the answers, the forint will fall, and the IMF will delay serious negotiations. And Orbán’s position will be less secure than it seems today.

Viktor Orbán both in his speech two days ago and even more clearly in his talk to the caucus this morning made it absolutely clear that he is continuing with his original plans for the “renewal” of Hungary. Most of the work has been done. Now they just have to reap the benefits of the autocratic regime which is already in place.

János Lázár, head of the Fidesz parliamentary delegation, was sent to Berlin to mend fences with the Germans who are, after all, Hungary’s most important trading partners. Apparently he made a very good impression. The German politicians and businessmen in the audience gained the impression that Hungarian policy will undergo a radical change. There will be a “consolidation.” They liked what they heard. And yes, they added, they wouldn’t mind seeing Lázár as the next prime minister of Hungary. Presumably not after a coup.



  1. Fidel Castro, once in the middle of his speech, after 2 hours, claimed that the CIA has put a white powder into his shoes to make beard fall out. Some people are just sooo important ..

  2. Is CNN still available on HU TV?
    As I commented before, our satellite tv provider announced in advance the removal of CNN. Since mid January we’re unable to receive the channel. I searched and couldn’t find CNN in other packages.
    In my googling, I read T-Home had replaced CNN as well.

  3. Careful with that comparison, Mutt, the CIA did indeed get up to some very strange tricks with Castro. If I remember correctly, an exploding cigar was one of the less loony ideas!

  4. After all this attention to Hungary, now Orban thinks that he is the center of the universe. Who cares about Middle Eastern countries like Iran or Syria, or countries like North Korea… western powers are busy trying to remove Orban.
    Especially CNN, of course, they really have nothing better to do…
    Seriously, Hugo Chavez and Orban should get together for a friendly chat. They’d find each other’s company reinvigorating.

  5. One thing that Orban should realize by now, IF the CNN, International conspirators, internal spies, diplomats and Xenu wanted to get rid off him forcefully, they could of done it. His followers as their resumes attest can be bought out by two barrels of potatoes and with the promise of a well paying government job under the new PM. He is a crazy little man, isn’t he?

  6. “The forint has strengthened”
    As I pointed out the other day, although it has indeed recovered quite spectacularly since the new year, it has only recovered so far. For the last week or so it has plateaued out at about 290 Ft/€.
    The forint has recovered half the value it lost, but is still worth about 11% less than it was in July, before the collapse.
    I don’t pretend to understand the currency market or what motivates it. But if we assume that the forint’s value is an indication of the market’s confidence in Hungary and her government, then they appear to be saying “OK, we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt for now, but we only trust you so far”.

  7. “the attempted coup was initiated by the global intellectual community with the active participation of those Hungarian intellectuals who are at home in this global world”
    Heti valasz must have a very educated readership, to easily understand all that is meant with such mysterious thoughts!
    Was not Janos Lazar the mayor of Hodmezovasarhely? And he made quite an impression in Germany in front of politicians and businessmen? I suggest they invest into bonds of Lazar’s town, a good start to learn what ‘consolidation’ can be all about.

  8. Kirsten: “Heti valasz must have a very educated readership, to easily understand all that is meant with such mysterious thoughts!”
    And I even tried to simplify it!!!

  9. Does reading this blog make us part of the “global intellectual community?”
    I’ve never belonged to anything quite as grand as that before!
    Kirsten – at the same time as revealing the full horror of this global conspiracy to remove the Viktator, OV also said that there would be no new laws to help out cities with serious forex loan problems.
    So, while Lazar was in Germany glad handing investors, his mate OV was well and truly shafting him back at home.

  10. There is no more serious violation of a constitutional system than a “forcible removal” of a duly elected government. If Orban’s assertions were correct, then we should have seen mass arrests of domestic security and diplomatic personnel and conspiring foreign diplomats should have been expelled. None of this appears to have happened, so the government is either incompetent to act in defense of the constitutional order, or the claims are false. If the claims are false, then either Mr Orban is deluded or his is consciously lying, creating a diversion for his own caucus (and leaked, apparently to the public) from questions about his own performance in office. If he has been reduced to lying to his own caucus, then the state of affairs in Hungary is much worse than previously suspected.

  11. @ Consolidation-
    The only thing Janos and Victor will consolidate is the public
    monies into their own domain–

  12. Orbán should consider a career as a stand-up comedian.
    Also, I expected better from the Germans, especially considering how “friendly” Schulz was with Orbán. Concerning that early quote of his about European leaders being smart enough to know what Orbán was up to, I guess it no longer stands.

  13. @Tigerduck — fine words to Kroes behind closed doors, repudiation in public (“No, Madame…”), and the parsnips remain unbuttered.

  14. “Some people are already voicing their belief that this startling announcement is good merely to divert attention away from the burning problems of the country and perhaps to fire up the enthusiasm of the true believers.”
    Possible. Another definite possibility is that the man is barking mad.
    Having said that, just because he is paranoid it doesn’t mean *They* are not indeed out to get him- *They* maybe being the more sane and balanced wing of his party?
    Maybe they were behind the leak?

  15. It is surprising that Janos Lazar would be warmly received in Berlin, particularly after the treatment meted on Berlinwasser a few years ago in Hodmezovasarhely.
    Either the Germans do not remember, which is unlikely, or they are applying the time-honored principle: “if you forgive the offense, remember the lesson!”

  16. “they wouldn’t mind seeing Lázár as the next prime minister”
    God save us all from that! Lázár is a thousand times worse than Orbán or Gyurcsány.

  17. This is the way in which it all starts. Quietly at first with accusations against those who would criticize and take action in law for what will come next.
    His first target is the security services. The Viktator needs to create his own personal state security services somewhat akin to the AVO but probably even more murderous.
    His second are those who can think for themselves. His new VPS (the Viktator Protection Service) will quietly murder the lot (if he can) no matter where they live.
    Foreign Diplomats can be expelled (or eliminated with the odd car bomb assination). These folk are a nuisance it is best to keep them locked in their embassies

  18. As I said, Orban should not be afraid of the “outside danger”, he should be afraid from his friends. THey are the ones who are changing their stance depending where the wind is blowing from, and this goes back to serving the communists, atheism, religion, liberalism, conservatism, and nationalism. As for Lazar, he has dome the job that Orban was not able to do…. warming up the Germans. It is like a concert where the opening act overshadows the main performance. (Last year Neil Young opened for Wilco. WHat a big mistake. After Young everything was downhill.) I will not be surprised if Orban would try to get rid off Lazar, although maybe he is afraid that Lazar would pull a Gyurcsany and starts his own party. Lazar is a clever guy, and his shifty attitude served him well so far.

  19. @ tigerente (February 10, 2012 at 12:15 AM), Thanks for those links. Very interesting indeed.
    I am little worried about how MTI and the pro government PR will translate the threat of “nuclear options against HUngary”. Based on their record of translating and reporting, we will read shortly that Hungary was threatened wit the atomic bomb by the liberals and the EU.

  20. Some forces would like to see Orban sent away. Because he is a strong player, factor of Fidesz. Such articles are just fine for that. Make him ridiculous, bring him against his colleagues. Come on, we have seen many such moves in history, e.g. the West campaigning for Boris Yeltsin in Russia.
    Good luck for social-liberals, you will not succeed.
    Finally: at democratic elections HUNGARIANS will vote, not EU or US citizens. Fidesz still has majority..and CNN will be free to report and comment as they want.

  21. Ah Rabbit ! You must be implicated in this. Your knowlage proves it.
    Around here the local law told me a tale.
    About a week ago some broke into the Victators private office and stole two things. I later learned that these were the Official Election results for 2014 and 2018.

  22. @Rabbit-
    There is a saying–by those bloody, foreign, english-speakers, of course–that goes like this:
    “The members are running the asylum.”
    I would like to report that it is not like that in Hungary. There, the ones waiting to get in to the asylum…are running the country.

  23. Rabbit: “Finally: at democratic elections HUNGARIANS will vote, not EU or US citizens. Fidesz still has majority.”
    No Rabbt, the problem is that you and many Fidesz supporters are still do not get it.
    1. It is factual that the news and official translations by the Fidesz run agencies are manipulated. It is a fact that translations provided by the Fidesz ti the EU were freud (missing important pages). SO, how would you call the results of an election based on falsified information provided to the voters? Democratic? It is democratic, but it is also a cheat. Let’s make this simple for you. You are in the hospital with stomach pains. THe doctors says to take two tablets a day to take away the pain. THe family happy, and the patient is happy. Few days later the patient dies. Well, they just did not tell him he should of had his appendix removed.
    Did the patient choose the pills? Yes, he did, based on the limited information he received.
    2. You must be the beneficiary of Fidesz flat tax or employment strategy, or you are one of the patient who have been told to take two pills.

  24. Some 1 you wrote ** “threat of “nuclear options against Hungary”” **
    Who put that one in the ‘frame’ as an option?
    There are only three western nations who have that capability. They are the US of A, France and the U.K. Leaving the US out as it is not part of the E.U.
    This only leaves the U.K. and France. Both probably still have the capacity to air deliver a ‘Waser’ (drop one and everything ‘was’), but it is fairly short range.
    The French main nuclear forces are based on the ‘Pluton’ missile. These are buried deep in places like the ‘Massive Centrale’.
    The UK’s main forces are in the form the Porsidine. These are hidden deep in the oceans. The U.K. warheads are known to be ‘MRV’ed so one tube could dispose of Budapest, Debrecen, Szeged and where the ???? to we sent the others.
    I am not certain if the French developed ‘MRV’ing for the Pluton.
    The twats who suggest their possible use by the E.U. have fallen right out of their trees. No one even with only half a brain would use a Nuke any where their home population. Why? Because of the ‘fall out’! There is an old adage in the U.K. which is “Never urinate in your own soup” (or never spit into the wind! come to that).

  25. @ Odin’s Lost Eye, I was clearly referring to the article links provided by “tigerente on February 10, 2012 at 12:15 AM”
    Euobserver’s article title says “Kroes threatens nuclear option against Hungary”. If you read further down it says “BY NIKOLAJ NIELSEN
    BRUSSELS – The European Commission has indicated it is ready to use its nuclear option – Article 7 on political sanctions – against Hungary if it continues to flout EU law.”
    “Nuclear option” was a reference for the serious sanctions. My comment about how the pro-government media would interpret the title was a sarcastic pun, based on recent publishing.

  26. Some1/Odin’s Lost Eye: Here is the youtube video of the confrontation that leads to the phrase Nuclear Option
    What you do not see on this video is that Neelie Kroes walked away angry without the normal pleasantries.
    You know her nickname when she was a minister in the Netherlands was Ijzeren Neelie (Iron Neelie). She can be very tough when needs to be.
    I pretty sure she did not threat, but it is the next step.

  27. Rabbit:
    Either Hungary, in its constitution and laws, is in conformity with its obligations under its treaty with the EU or it is not. If it is not, it must either change its constitution and laws or leave the EU. If this is the will of the Hungarian people, fine, but you can’t have it both ways, both in the EU and receiving its monies and blatantly disregarding its treaties, and you certainly cannot tolerate Navracsics lying as he does here.
    Commissioner Kroes is not a wild partisan of the left, she has no reason whatsoever to be biased for or against Hungary, but she is obliged to apply the treaties and laws of the EU. Navracsics, on the other hand, has every reason to be obsequious to the Commissioner behind closed doors and defiant before the Hungarian media.

  28. @ Rabbit
    Not a ‘strong’ player, Mr. R., but a ‘maniacal’ player who enjoys juggling the country’s balls-

  29. @ Rabbit
    Yes, Mr. R, that must be considered a sexist statement but why should a Fideszer argue? The party’s highest ranking woman is a bull dyke without a degree!
    I’ve stopped juggling: I rest my balls.

  30. Please, please do not quote references to the nuclear option. I have had to help think the ‘unthinkable’ design systems which would show the probable outcomes. Even in test they are horrible.
    Mention this option even in jest and the ‘lunatics’ in charge of this benighted land will ‘make hay’ with them for propaganda purposes.
    Ron as to ‘Iron Nellie’, I like the ‘cut of her jib’. When she she starts taking Hungary to task she will give ‘no quarter’ and drive the task to its logical and legal end.

  31. Odin’s Lost Eye:
    The American English phrase “nuclear option” does not literally mean the use of nuclear weapons, it refers to the use, in politics, of a measure drastic enough to upset some existing order, for example the threat by the majority in the US Senate to use their rule making capacity to end the use of the filibuster. Here, in the case of Hungary and the EU, a “nuclear option” would be the use of sanctions, suspension, or even expulsion from the EU.

  32. OTish – interesting (if rather opaque) article on re the current ‘phoney war’:
    Analyst Peter Attard Montalto of Nomura, gives his idea of how things will ‘progress’ on the IMF/EU situation over the coming months –
    “Possible timetable
    Attard Montalto drew up a rough sketch of a possible timetable for Hungary, pointing out that somewhere in the middle of this is likely to be a global risk off move.
    Next week – Orban will have to send letter to Barroso. It should leak.
    Week of 20th – EU examines letter, noises emerge that they see progress which they are happy about but still areas unresolved. IMF says similar thing.
    End Feb to mid March – Fellegi does another tour of negotiations around Europe we suspect. FIDESZ make actual law changes. Agreement reached for talks to start.
    Mid March – All parties announce IMF/EU to send negotiating team to Budapest for formal talks. Market gets excited.
    Mid/End March – IMF/EU delegation does first round of talks. No agreement from govt given positive price action.
    April to May – More delegations to and from Budapest. Government only gives ground when markets sell off and funding becomes difficult and further rate hikes come (2 more we pencil in).
    Mid May-end June – Government and IMF/EU finally reach agreement on a P-SBA. Letters of intent and MoUs signed. Backstop in place, no money drawn.
    Nov 12-Jan13 – Theoretical point at which government would run out of money if it cannot return to ‘normal’ funding levels.”
    If I understand this (which, quite possibly, I don’t) we can expect the forint to strengthen in mid-late March, but to collapse again in April or May.
    On a personal level, I lose the interest on my forint savings if I withdraw them before 9 months – which is roundabout the end of April!

  33. A crackdown on all opposition forces usually
    follows after a (real or claimed)failed putsch.
    Orban is blackmailing EU but his hostages are the Hungarian people. Internal repression will follow if he is forced to resign because of row with EU.
    In other words Orban puts EU in a “lose-lose” situation of they continue with their pressures for a democratic change ! Smart but cynical move because, as I said, the hostages here are the Hungarians !

  34. “The members are running the asylum.”
    Actually “the lunatics are running the asylum” – which makes a lot more sense.

  35. Re Odin’s alarming misunderstanding of the modern usage of the term ‘nuclear option’ – it should be pointed out that one other ‘Western’ nation has nuclear weapons (and the ability to deliver them as far as Hungary) – Israel.
    I can hear Jobbik supporters salivating from 1,000 miles away…

  36. @Wondercat “Ungarn heizen mit Forint”
    When we’ll do the same with the notes from current circulation … that’s going to be the trouble,

  37. @ Paul: “If I understand this (which, quite possibly, I don’t) we can expect the forint to strengthen in mid-late March, but to collapse again in April or May.”
    I think what Paul is trying to say is that due to Hungary’s strong economic measures and the faith of the people, the Forint will start to increase in value, ensuring peace and prosperity throughout the nation. However, there are rumours that Hungary will once again be attacked by malicious foreign investors during the late Spring, in their tireless – yet futile – endeavours to colonise this land.

  38. Ovidiu: “Smart but cynical move.” He is a very cynical and corrupt guy.
    There is a saying in Hungarian: “velejéig gonosz.” Velő means marrow. But here it means “evil in his essence.” For example, today the Hungarian parliament approved another 17 churches but not the church of Gábor Iványi because he delivered a speech on January 2 in front of the Opera House. As a Fidesz member of the committee in charge of church affairs said, “Iványi will have to decide whether he is a minister or a politician.” According to rumors, Orbán himself struck his church off the list.

  39. Paul:”Actually “the lunatics are running the asylum” – which makes a lot more sense.”
    And it applies to Hungary without the need of any correction.

  40. There was actually a ‘pop’ song by this name in the UK in 1981 (when we were going through our own dark days). It was recorded by Fun Boy Three, who were formed by three ex-members of the Specials.
    The Specials themselves had earlier recorded Ghost Town, which was all about the blighted urban areas of the Thatcher years – shops boarded up, high unemployment, riots, etc.
    Someone really should re-record both songs in Hungarian. They are going to be very topical in a year or two’s time in Hungary.

  41. @ Paul > Singer Terry Hall was playing regularly in Budapest with the Dub Pistols. But probably not anymore, as local Fidesz governments have closed a lot of concert and party places down.

  42. I wonder about the market’s reaction to all this:
    The Forint has weakened again over the weekend – right now 295 HUF to the €

  43. @wolfi: A lot of what’s going on with the Forint depends not so much on what is going on in Hungary but on what’s going in Greece at present. The forint is treated as one the emerging market currencies and moves together with other EE currencies. To shift the focus back to Hungary alone, the government has to do something spectacularly stupid that stand out (like sending IMF away again).

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