Metamorphosis of Viktor Orbán?

A few months ago I had a debate about Viktor Orbán’s metamorphosis from liberal to right-wing populist with someone who has known Viktor Orbán ever since the beginning of the democratic opposition’s struggle for regime change. I insisted that no one can change that much and that fundamentally, and therefore, I submitted, Orbán was never a democrat. My friend, a well-known member of SZDSZ, insisted that yes, Viktor was a true liberal but power had a terrible effect on his psyche. I wasn’t convinced.

Lately I have been noticing a change of heart among those who worked closely with Orbán or who as members of the media have been following those Hungarian political events in which he played a prominent role.

Just today Endre Aczél, a seasoned journalist with vast experience with MTI in the 1970s and MTV in the late 1980s, wrote one of his short but sharp-eyed opinion pieces in Galamus. In it he expressed his “suspicion” that it was at least fifteen years ago that Orbán abandoned the idea of the “rule of law.” He recalls a speech by the freshly elected young prime minister that was delivered before the yearly meeting of the country’s ambassadors. Orbán suggested to Hungary’s representatives abroad not to emphasize the “rule of law” but to stress the “law and order” that his government wants to re-establish.

The orange is rotting. That's all / faszkivar.blog.hu

The orange is rotting. That’s all. / faszkivan.blog.hu

Tamás Bauer, an economist, former SZDSZ politician, and today deputy chairman of DK, also remembers the day when he knew that Viktor Orbán was not a democrat. It was also in 1998, on July 6, when during the debate on the government program in parliament Orbán said: “I ask everybody who wants to re-establish order and security; everybody who wants a child be important not only to the family but also to the state; everybody who wants to belong to the Hungarian nation; everybody who wants to make Hungary a country that cooperates with other European nations to vote for the program of the government.” It was at this point that Bauer truly understood, although he had had an inkling before, how Orbán imagined the exercise of power. Because Orbán made it clear that he envisaged himself as the man who alone represents the nation and who considered the opposition a group of people who don’t belong to the nation. After all, in normal parliamentary democracies, the opposition doesn’t vote for the government program.

Therefore Bauer knew way before 2010 what kind of rule Orbán was going to introduce, especially once he achieved the much coveted two-thirds majority. Although according to some interpreters the original Orbán constitution of 2011 was still a democratic document, Bauer disagrees. A constitutional committee was set up, but the majority of the members came from the two government parties. Thus the new constitution reflected the will of the government and the party, Fidesz-KDNP. There was no use participating in this farce. It was Ferenc Gyurcsány who first called for a boycott and his call was followed by MSZP and later by LMP. That constitution was about as legitimate as the 1949 communist constitution. After all, the 1949 constitution reflected only the will of the Hungarian communist party, and the 2011 document was similarly created by and for Fidesz-KDNP.

Yes, both commentators claim, Viktor Orbán hasn’t been a democrat for a very long time. Perhaps he never was, I might add.

In the last few days there is a video that has been making the rounds on the Internet. It originally appeared on the website of Népszabadság. The video was taken at the demonstration organized to urge János Áder not to sign the amendments to the constitution. The speaker is Péter Molnár. Perhaps not too many people remember him, although he was one of the founders of Fidesz and the group at István Bibó College where Fidesz was born. He even spent four years in the Hungarian parliament as a member of the Fidesz caucus. And then he left the party and politics. On the video one can hear him telling Áder: “That is not what we dreamed of, Jánó!” A few days ago I quoted Tamás Deutsch’s tweet claiming that this is exactly what they were dreaming of back in the late 1980s. Surely, this was an answer to Molnár.

I first encountered Molnár’s name in György Petőcz’s book Csak a narancs volt (It was only the orange / Élet és Irodalom, 2001). He was one of the contributors to the volume. He and the four other contributors left Fidesz completely disillusioned in 1993-1994.

What are Molnár’s recollections of the early days of Fidesz and Bibó College? According to him, László Kövér managed to create a lot of tension even in those days. At every meeting he insisted that all members of the college–there were around 80 students–must be politically active. Kövér and Orbán worked together and wanted to rule the community according to their own ideas. Molnár recalls that in the college there was a feeling of unity and solidarity but “Viktor’s political management destroyed it just as he destroyed [the original] Fidesz.” A good example of how this “solidarity” worked in Fidesz land. Once a member of the college group said that “Viktor can be certain that he can rely on his old friends in Bibó College.” Two years later the old buddy of Viktor lost his high position in the party and the government because he dared to disagree with him. “Solidarity existed only as long as the person followed the ‘correct’ policy. It didn’t matter whether he belonged to the inner circle or not, if he disagreed with Laci Kövér and Viktor, he was finished.” Does a democrat behave this way?

Let’s return for a moment to Endre Aczél’s opinion piece that appeared today. Its title is “Order? My own!” No,  Orbán hasn’t changed his stripes.

58 comments

  1. The regime change catapulted many inexperienced power hungry undemocratic people to the top of those immature parties.
    Since 2006, he has cultivated alliance with violent elements to overthrow the ruling governments.
    He conducted a violent election campaign too.
    2010. He reached the target.
    The rest is not pretty.
    He is the ridiculous leader.
    His close supporter are the winners.
    The nation is the prisoner.

  2. Loosely related: a video that’s been making its rounds on FB last week, Orbán fantasizing about shooting at the MSZMP vs. Gábor Fodor’s moderate tone. Cca. 1988.

  3. What about Charles Gati who described graphically (because he was at that meeting) how and when Orbán decided that there was no future in liberalism and that the huge voter reservoir Fidesz needed was right – or far-right – of centre?

  4. I fully agree with Prof. Balogh: people do not change fundamentally.

    Orbán Viktor, and László Kövér, we might add, not to mention others, was exactly as agressive and unrelenting in 1990 as he is now.

    In fact all people of the 90’s and 2000’s (way before Orbán’s effective coup d’etat of 2010), who had to deal with Orbán unanimously concur in that he was an extremely agressive, ambitious and unscrupulous person. What’s the surprise now?

    This is apparent from contemporary reports, although some people only realise things now [like Gábor Demszky, former mayor of Budpaest for 20 years, when he recently realised that even in the early nineties Fidesz was extremely agressive, except when it was about handing the charimanship of then natinal security committe to László Kövér, as Demszky was elected mayor. In that case Orbán and Kövér were really helpful and polite. 2 days later they were back at their unbridled agressivness and this was in 1990.]

    I think the fundamental mistake Aczél and Bauer make (at least Bauer did not see it before 1998) stems simply from the fact that they are outsiders who don’t care about power and therefore cannot really understand the ambitions and thinking of a real politician (or in this case, dictator might not an exaggeration.)

    Orbán never had a conception of rule of law, it is a mistake even to supose that he used such categories, to the extent that he mentioned it at all, it was purely for practical political reasons of the given moment.

    From the very early moments Orbán entered politics, all he wanted was power. Uncontrolled, unfettered, plena potestas power. Period.

    Until the end of the 1990’s, however, he was a young person who was not taken seriously (until 1998 that is, when he was elected first time as prime minister) and was sort of there but not as a major actor of the everday political events, so his image was not clear.

    It was only then on (from 1998) that he became the paramount player of Hungarian politics, especially as he got older. I think there is a psychological issue with younger people, they are not taken as seriously by the existing players as they are not part of the existing power structures yet, so they are tended to be underestimated.

    But as he was out of formal power, in opposition, a lot of people, for various reasons, had attributed to him various positive fantasies and hopes, when in fact all hard evidence continued to support his extreme, bullying behaviour.

    Those with business ties know for example that even though Orbán was in opposition he demanded to know about absolutely everything deemed important so that he or his point people had to be reported. Before accepting a high-ranking state position he had to be asked (i.e. that he, in opposition, would consent to it), terms of big business transactions had to be revealed to him and, of course, he requested his cut (in various forms). This was (is) a pretty formalised structure. He was acting as agressive and demanding as now, but nobody talked about it. The expectations of omerta and loyalty (respect) were clear.

    Taken all together, it has been clear all the way that Orbán is a little dictator in waiting, but people (including foreign media and politicians) wanted to believe (also because deep down they don’t care) that he was a new kind of CEE politicians.

    Why would anybody think that Deutsch, Kövér, Szájer, Áder or others who joined later (János Lázár, especially) were liberals or Europeans or nice people? They always just craved power. SImple as that. And in order to obtain and keep power (especially as they have no independent wealth and experience outside of politics) they will do anything. Just like Orbán.

    Also, we should not foregt for a second that Fidesz is not a democratic party in any sense of the word.It is an organsiation with extreme hiererchy, a structure unknown anywhere in Western Europe or even in Eastern (save Russia). Fidesz is effectively a private enterprise of Orbán’s, who owns it. The members are drones selected for loyalty. Again, if one had looked at Fidesz, they could have had an inkling about what was gonna happen in the country.

    These were all before our eyes, but people wanted to hope for future in a fantasy.

  5. @ Ain985ttero. This is a very good psychogramme with which I fully agree. Also the description of Fidesz as being owned by Orbán is absolutely correct.

    Thank you!

    You wrote: “These were all before our eyes, but people wanted to hope for future in a fantasy.” That was what I tried to preach to my friends long before 2010. I told them what would happen, step-by-step. They wouldn’t believe me.

    How did I know? I am a German – living in Switzerland – very conscious of my country’s history. It’s painful, but it helps. This past gave me some intuition. And unfortunately I wasn’t wrong. Everything happened under Orbán as I predicted – long before he was elected.

  6. A very close personal friend of mine, who has known OV and his gang of thugs since they were quite young, describes them simply as criminals…Hungary is being, and has been, run by criminals for 3 years, and it is unlikely that this will change without EU/other outside intervention.

  7. I think the key to Orbán (and many others like him throughout history) is not in his politics, but simply in his desire for power and control.

    Orbán was attracted to the original Fidesz in 89/90 because it was revolutionary and looked like it might be the new controlling regime – the route to power for him. After a while he realised that this wasn’t going to happen, so he reoriented the party to ensure that it did. But even that didn’t work, as he was ousted in 2002 and lost again in 2006.

    He realised that even right-wing politics wasn’t the key to his goal, it was no more effective than left-liberal politics had been, what he needed was a means of getting into power and staying there. And if democracy, parliament or the rule of law were going to get in the way of his aims, he would simply neutralise them.

    I don’t think he is any more right-wing than he was left-wing, in fact I think he is probably pretty much apolitical. He adopts whatever policies, or makes whatever speeches, he needs to at the time (hence the peculiar mix of old-fashioned socialist and far-right policies of Fidesz). In most cases (e.g. the churches, education, the economy) he lets others invent the policies and just goes along with them. As long as they produce the result he wants – permanent and growing power and control – he doesn’t really care what his minions get up to.

  8. A little OT, but yet another insight into today’s Hungary, the mind-set of Fidesz supporters, and the total control Orbán has over the news:

    Watching a BBC film of the chaos on the M1 today, my wife commented that how proud Hungarians were with their government for the way they had organised the response to the (completely unpredicted) snow storm. Thousands had been recruited to bring aid to the stranded motorists, and the country had rallied in its hour of need. This is the difference between today’s new Hungary under Orbán (who cares so much for his people) and the cynical old regime.*

    Needless to say, she had just come off the phone to her mother in Debrecen.

    *I am not making any of this up.

  9. The problem politically is that only an opposition that is equally ruthless and strategic has any chance to obtain and keep power. But then you have another dictator. (Although, to be honest, the modern left is simply incapable of being ruthless and strategic).

    Paul is right, Orbán never had a real ideology, he sorta stumbled upon being liberal vis-a-vis other players of the time, but it did not matter at all, as nothing mattered to Orbán only power (including the complete humiliation and destruction of his adversary and, of course, stealing as much money as possible).

    So the political analysts analysed the sh*t about Orbán’s ideology and his moves back and forth, when all that mattered to him was to get ahead to obtain power and o entrench himself. (In the meantime he also internalised the ideology of the Hungarian ‘right’ and ‘conservatism’, but that is another matter as he was also instrumental in creating it in tghe first place).

    In that respect Gábor Török, the well-known, now clearly Fidesz-leaning political media pundit (formerly known as a “political scientist”) got it right that Orbán did not care for anything only for power, hence Török’s extreme cynical approach to politcis on his blog (but he is fed by the ideas of his Fidesz-supporter financial backers so he exists as a conduit for Fidesz’ ideology).

  10. Minusio :What about Charles Gati who described graphically (because he was at that meeting) how and when Orbán decided that there was no future in liberalism and that the huge voter reservoir Fidesz needed was right – or far-right – of centre?

  11. Minusio is very kind, but I was never at a meeting where Orban decided to abandon the liberalism of Fidesz. The move, I think, was gradual. As far as I knew at the time, it was in 1992 when he first reconsidered Fidesz’s place on the Hungarian political spectrum.

    I don’t have a good answer about the more important historical question: Was Orban ever a liberal? I’m more certain in my mind that he was pro-Western. (At that time one didn’t have to be liberal to be pro-Western. I didn’t think Jozsef Antall was a liberal, though he identified himself as a conservative-liberal, but he was certainly pro-Western: he was deeply anti-Soviet, even anti-Russian, and a great fan of Radio Free Europe). In any case, the only problem that bothered me when we were friends in the late 1980’s and much of the 1990’s was Orban’s unwillingness to make common cause with the liberal Free Democrats (SZDSZ). On two occasions, I brought him together with two SZDSZ leaders, but I was totally unsuccessful. I accepted that because I thought — mistakenly – that it’;’s OK to have a liberal urban party (SZDSZ) and a liberal rural party

    (Fidesz). Little did I anticipate that Fidesz would follow the illiberal, nationalist, anti-Western path of the village explorers (the so-called populist writers) of the 1920’s and 1930’s, and actually embrace the views of the populists’ right wing faction that I associate with Dezso Szabo. One day I’ll write about this; in the meantime, thank you all for keeping Eva’s wonderful blog so lively and yet so eminently civilized. This is a unique place for conversing about contemporary Hungary.

  12. Allow me to join the Orban pop-psychology club. It’s fun!

    First let me tell you how I became an Újpesti Dózsa soccer fan. In elementary school, somewhere in the 4th grade, everybody was a fan of some club. So I didn’t want to be bullied. My grandpa was a big time TOTO player (a betting game on soccer results). I asked him: Who’s leading division one? He said Dózsa. OK. That was it.

    The Fidesz and Orbán became “conservatives” because the “left” and “liberal” was already taken.

    Views change but there is something in the man’s character underneath that doesn’t. In Orban’s case is the urge to prove himself. The not too bright but tenacious country boy came up to the big city in the eighties with a huge inferiority complex. He realizes that honest work is not his thing so he joins politics. From that point his life story is constant struggling to prove that he is better than others.

    Of course he was a democrat in the eighties. We all were. We all realized that we can start talking about things and most of us will not get jailed for it. It was a thrill doing the “democratic” things from around 88. Not so much in Rumania …

    At the beginning, I mean after the end of the Communist regime, from 1990, he goes into “opposition politics”. Easy job, just keep saying no. He was too young anyway to be a PM. Then two election cycles went by and then … jackpot! He is prime minister of the country. At this point liberal and left are taken. All right, Christian conservative will do. Then he started running around with the holy right, did everything that these guys want. Doesn’t matter. He has the power. He can prove that he is better.

    Then the shock comes in 2002. Millions said, Vicky, you are not good enough. That ugly feeling of being not talented. Then he realizes he will get back the power and will show again to everybody that he is better, no matter what does it cost. I believe fighting his inferiority complex become his obsession.

    The really talented people are of course Simicska and the other oligarchs. They know how to play him and the EU is the best thing in the whole game. They know they can now safely let loose a mad dictator and get rich without the ugly side effects like another world war …

  13. Was it Antall or Boross, who corrupted the Fidesz leadership for the first time in 1993 with the “székházügy”?

    (Their government gave Fidesz a public building, for free & unlawfully, as a lavish headquarters, which Fidesz sold for a nice sum, then the proceeds disappeared. Nobody was prosecuted for embezzling public assets this way, neither Antall/Boross, nor Orban/Simicska).

    This must have been the original sin, never punished, for which Hungary is atoning.

  14. @tappan:

    I think both parties did the building shuffle at least a couple of times, with nary an opposition in parliament.
    A Solicitor-General, anyone? (Not in our lifetime.)
    But both parties were complicit in the corruption. The only difference now is that the madcap Viktor has said enough–I’m taking it all, and keeping all the power, too.

  15. As studies reveal, people with personality traits known as the “Dark Triad” — narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy — are better than others to make themselves look attractive. Good for them..

    Orbán became the youth communist leader of his secondary school (Teleki Blanka Gimnázium, Székesfehérvár) at the age of 16.

    Indeed, Serbian national hero Milošević joined the Yugoslav Communist Party at the age of 18 and Czar Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin joined the KGB when he was 19.

  16. Let me share a funny story with you. On Thursday night, Orban Viktor made a speech to viewers of MTV in which he gave his greetings to the nation, and then spoke the usual hot air. My twelve year old son was watching. After it, he said “Daddy he seems like a very nice man doesn’t he? But I know he is only pretending!”,

  17. I remember the surprised reaction of many younger Bibo Kollegium FIDESZ supporters around 1991 when Orban began his turn towards the right. I particularly remember one Bibo resident telling me “Viktor feels that Hungarians are instinctively conservative, therefore FIDESZ should be a conservative party.” while others laughed at the idea of abandoning FIDESZ’ liberal stand. (There was a large scale abandonment of FIDESZ in the years afterwards, with many of the brightest young generation FIDESZ members opting to go abroad.)

    While looking for more sources about that era I came across a series of articles that appeared in Nepszabadsag in 2011. If you read Hungarian you may find a lot of irony in passages the younger Orban once said such as „Magyarországon megjelenhet ez a nemzeti jelszavakat hangoztató populizmus”, s „a romló életszínvonal által sújtott rétegek növekvő száma” miatt megnövekedhet „a szélsőségekre támaszkodó politikai erők bázisa”, s ha a különböző szélsőséges, populista törekvések összeadódnak, az „eltérítheti az országot a normális nyugat-európai piacgazdaságú demokrácia felé vezető útról.” (Vágvölgyi B. András beszélgetése Orbán Viktorral, Magyar Narancs, 1991. április 18.)

    [A loud populism shouting national symbolism could appear in Hungary… and it can grow to the layer of people living in deteriorating life conditions… it can contribute to the growth of a radical, populist political power basis… and if the different radical populist efforts come together, it can lead the country away from the path of a normal, West European style market-based democracy.” Orbán Viktor interviewed by Vágvölgyi B. András, April 18, 1991. in the Magyar Narancs] https://sites.google.com/site/lernerpictures/fidesz/1991

    You can find the entire series of articles covering different years in FIDESZ’ transitions here https://sites.google.com/site/lernerpictures/fidesz or in the Nepszabi archives.

  18. Max, having been a youth communist leader means nothing. It only shows a kind of ambition for leadership and titles, given the historic circumstances and the fact that you.arers still a child. It’s a fun way to tease Orbán and Köver with this but it would be a mistake to attribute any more to this fact than a kind of ambition.

    More important is the – overlooked – fact that there is no such thing as a liberal revolutionary or liberal dictator. It’s an oxomoron and in any case liberals are personally never are extremely tough persons exactly because liberalism entails certain values which are contradictory to being a single ‘decider’ and being cruel and ruthless.

    His personality was always extremely dicatatorial as his former friends would attest (to the extent that you could not name one other Hungarian politician with similar toughness).

    For some crazy naive reasons people thought that that was only part of his personality but his politcs might be different. Wrong. Personality affects poltics because one’s disposition makes it impossible to represent values contrary to it.

    Orbán’s lIberalism in the 1990’s was nothing. Orbán just sought a word, a label for his ambitions at the time and that was available and some aspects of it (or rather some things could be brought under the label) seemed popular. But he had no attachment to it at all and realised even the conception is outdated in Hungary (as in the US, nether Obama nor his people never utters the L-word), to which also he mightily contributed.

    The West’s interest in Orbán’s “liberalism” was nothing more than a test to figure out if he is one of us or not, ie. will he support the West, can we deal with him, can we count on him?

    This is what matters tonly o the West only and in the search for these answers people (and I have to mention Prof. Gati here) got totally mislead.

    It defies belief why critical people with political experience would drink Orbán’ Kool Aid?

    I can only guess that it was a collective delusion because people (both in Hungary and outside) deperately wanted something good and positive to see and believe — even if the facts were contrary.

    He is a mini-dictator, ie. that he does not kill people like Putin or Lukashenko, but otherwise he has absolute control over every aspect of the country.

    One more thing this is really just a pop-psych thing. I think that he craved acceptance by his parents which he did not get and so wanted to prove, by any means necessary, that he is worthy. Now that, and this is a fact, Orbán is the most powerful politician of his country in Europe (again Russia and Belorussia don’t count, and perhaps Romania will join) he wants acknowlegdment. He got there, he showed it. With his complete power he is Orbán, without power, he is only the little Viktor who was not good enough and is thus nobody. He has to keep power to maintain his status he knows that without it he will not be taken seriously (as he was not prior to 1998).

  19. “He is a mini-dictator, ie. that he does not kill people like Putin or Lukashenko, but otherwise he has absolute control over every aspect of the country.”

    The question, I guess, is whether he would have any qualms to employ the same methods as Putin and Lukashenko, if the circumstances were different?

    The positive thing is that unlike Russia and Belarus, he and his oligarchs desperately need EU funds to keep them in the style to which they have become accustomed- Hungary has no natural resources. The state’s *enforcement* apparatus is also a joke in terms of its incompetence and he and the rest of his cronies are really too lazy to sort that out.

    But if he could solve both “problems” would he be happy to rule over a true police state?
    I think his character and past history says “definitely”.

  20. Nick :

    Let me share a funny story with you. On Thursday night, Orban Viktor made a speech to viewers of MTV in which he gave his greetings to the nation, and then spoke the usual hot air. My twelve year old son was watching. After it, he said “Daddy he seems like a very nice man doesn’t he? But I know he is only pretending!”,

    You have a bright and perceptive son!

  21. If the UN had ever been intended to be a useful ‘world community of nations’, they ought to have implanted a rule that nations who don’t meet certain criteria would have their right to self-determination suspended for 10 years. (And a governing elite from another country flown in for that period. For Hungary, the Finns would be a natural choice.)

  22. Paul :
    A little OT, but yet another insight into today’s Hungary, the mind-set of Fidesz supporters, and the total control Orbán has over the news:
    Watching a BBC film of the chaos on the M1 today, my wife commented that how proud Hungarians were with their government for the way they had organised the response to the (completely unpredicted) snow storm. Thousands had been recruited to bring aid to the stranded motorists, and the country had rallied in its hour of need. This is the difference between today’s new Hungary under Orbán (who cares so much for his people) and the cynical old regime.*
    Needless to say, she had just come off the phone to her mother in Debrecen.
    *I am not making any of this up.

    Thanks Paul for sharing this with us!

    I’m not living in Hungary, and none of my sensible, educated Hungarian friends and colleagues — those Hungarians whom I know and with whom I have regular contacts — represents this kind of thinking. (I have one colleague who openly supported Orbán before 2010. In the last few years, she has been very quiet about the whole thing, and I have never dared to ask.) As I usually gather my information from them and from “bolsi-libsi-hazaáruló” websites such as galamus.hu, I very seldom get a real glimpse into how this — not unimportant! — other part of the Hungarian people really sees things.

    It seems to be all too easy nowadays to live in parallel realities which never meet. More than a year ago, Katalin Ertsey wrote about this in her blog ( http://ertseykatalin.blog.hu/2012/01/22/bejegyzes_url_cime_1782 ), wondering where all those “Peace marchers” came from. She concentrated on the aspects of “granny reality”: elderly people perhaps get their information from state-controlled media rather than from independent Internet-based channels, and as they don’t pay taxes or get directly affected by the “innovations” in the world of work, in family or education politics, they may be more vulnerable to propaganda which operates on the level of national(ist) emotions and symbols. But this “granny reality” certainly won’t explain everything.

  23. It’s not that people can’t see he is pretending. Rather, people want to believe he is for real. Their life is centered around the fantasy that there exits in the world a person like him, who is, these days, Orbán.

  24. litr :
    It’s not that people can’t see he is pretending. Rather, people want to believe he is for real. Their life is centered around the fantasy that there exits in the world a person like him, who is, these days, Orbán.

    I totally agree. People around him now that he is a phoney. His inner circle also knows that nothing will stop him and hanging on to his robe there is a lot to gain, so they will not let him fail. Not too many would give up the privileges that comes with him, and they are way to deep in the mud to leave him behind. Hungary was never famous for whistleblowers either. His inner circle only can survive at this point by keeping him in power. He knows and, and they know it. Many of his friends will be prosecuted very fast when he will be out and not on trumped up charges, but for real charges, freud committed by in office. (Examples are the closed tenders, hate speech, uttering threat, etc.)

  25. Hungary is not different from many other unfortunate countries. Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Mali, Lybia…
    Ugly rulers, ugly rules, many twisted minds, many corrupted people.
    A derailed culture, material poverty.
    There are too many people there who are desperately violent openly, and scare the rest into submission.
    Akos Kertesz is still the most popular writer on nepszava.com.
    Times will be better, when all Hungarians will memorize the words of Akos Kertesz.

  26. Just went to the demonstration at Kalvin Ter. No more than a thousand people there, I’d say.

    The usual heavy police presence. I counted 32 police vans, all full, waiting round the back of the National Museum.

  27. Bowen :

    Just went to the demonstration at Kalvin Ter. No more than a thousand people there, I’d say.

    The usual heavy police presence. I counted 32 police vans, all full, waiting round the back of the National Museum.

    Several friends of mine refused to attend. They are so disgusted with Péter Juhász and the Milla in general. I don’t blame them.

  28. Paul :
    A little OT, but yet another insight into today’s Hungary, the mind-set of Fidesz supporters, and the total control Orbán has over the news:
    Watching a BBC film of the chaos on the M1 today, my wife commented that how proud Hungarians were with their government for the way they had organised the response to the (completely unpredicted) snow storm. Thousands had been recruited to bring aid to the stranded motorists, and the country had rallied in its hour of need. This is the difference between today’s new Hungary under Orbán (who cares so much for his people) and the cynical old regime.*
    Needless to say, she had just come off the phone to her mother in Debrecen.
    *I am not making any of this up.

    http://nol.hu/belfold/az_m1_tuleloi__olyan_hideg_volt__hogy_rafagyott_a_para_az_ablakra

    Do you think you could get her to read e.g. this report? Just for the unlikely case that this time Nepszabadsag isn’t lying, as all true believers seem to be convinced?

  29. petofi :
    If the UN had ever been intended to be a useful ‘world community of nations’, they ought to have implanted a rule that nations who don’t meet certain criteria would have their right to self-determination suspended for 10 years. (And a governing elite from another country flown in for that period. For Hungary, the Finns would be a natural choice.)

    I assume that you have chosen the Finns because of the Finn-Ugric language relationship. Very few Hungarians believe in such a relationship. They have been brainwashed to believe, that the Finn-Ugric language family is a fiction invented by Habsburg agents to deprive the Hungarians of their history and national pride. Only in the darkest corners of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences there may still be found people who believe in the Finn-Ugric theory but they will probably not be disposed to admit it. The Fidesz-Jobbik doctrine which has earned widespread recognition is that Hungarian is a Turkic language utterly unrelated to Finnish. The Hungarians are relatives of the fearsome horsemen of Central Asia, not of the taciturn Finnish peasants. Therefore I believe that the majority of Hungarians would prefer to have some Turks flown in.

    To strengthen the credibility of my opinion I shall for a moment revive the old battle horse Pál Schmitt.
    “President Schmitt stated that he considered being under Ottoman rule for 150 years as an opportunity.”
    http://harunyahya.com/en/What-he-said-What-happened/40095/hungarian-president-pal-schmitt-all

  30. @Bowen, I just want to apologize for only always referring tappanch as the person from Ground Zero. I knew there was someone else but it skipped me who that is. I think what you are doing and being active is very important. Thank you for it.

    @Paul: Pleas let your wife and her family know that my two nieces (one who just went through a series of cancer treatment) were out yesterday on the M1. They bussed them from Budapest, and they did not provide enough shovels. THey were standing around, it was a complete chaos. My nieces cannot stand Fidesz, they think Fidesz turned Hungary a bad example of how a country should not be. They went out for the people, not for Fidesz and they think that Fidesz cannot even organize volunteers. These are two educated girls, who are looking for opportunities to leave Hungary until democracy and equal opportunities (not only for Fidesz Troopers) will be restored.

  31. Sending out people with shovels to clear the highways itself is outrageous. Don’t they have proper equipment for such a job? The whole affair shows how incompetent these people are. Sure, they gave the jobs to party loyalists who nothing about the job they are supposed to perform.

  32. Eva S. Balogh :
    Sending out people with shovels to clear the highways itself is outrageous.

    I thought the same. If the buses were able to make it there, then proper equipment would of been able to make it too. THe whole “derby” is a joke.
    I remember when I was growing up and the snow started to fall in Budapest you were able to go and sign up for snow shovelling. I think they paid 60ft (but do not take my word for it). I did it once, and that was more then enough. THe good news was that hey had enough shovels. (Now I have to do it at my own house for free. lol)

  33. petofi :
    If the UN had ever been intended to be a useful ‘world community of nations’, they ought to have implanted a rule that nations who don’t meet certain criteria would have their right to self-determination suspended for 10 years. (And a governing elite from another country flown in for that period. For Hungary, the Finns would be a natural choice.)

    If this happened, then it would simply follow another szabadságharc.

  34. petofi :
    If the UN had ever been intended to be a useful ‘world community of nations’, they ought to have implanted a rule that nations who don’t meet certain criteria would have their right to self-determination suspended for 10 years. (And a governing elite from another country flown in for that period. For Hungary, the Finns would be a natural choice.)

    You are just joking, aren’t you. Otherwise I would have to ask whether you have ever come across the problem that there is NO definite source of power among nations. I consider such suggestions remnants of euro-centric colonialist thinking. If you want your country to be civilised and democratic, people must try themselves. No UN will save you from your own decisions (in particular if quite a number of people apparently still find it quite “democratic” = reflecting their will).

  35. Eva: “They are so disgusted with Péter Juhász and the Milla in general. I don’t blame them.”

    This sentence is quite fitting in a thread that first tried to identify the character of OV as the main source of the troubles, and also discussed the problem of whether he has ever been a democrat.

    Some1’s observation, although seemingly a bit unrelated, for me fits here also: “hanging on to his robe there is a lot to gain, so they will not let him fail.”

    I was thinking about what this “lot that could be gained” might be in a country that is heading for economic disaster.

    OV’s character would have been quite irrelevant if there had not been such ideological confusion in Hungary, most probably already in the 1980s, but definitely after 1994, when MSzP returned to power. Then the “conservatives” had to define a programme, and the “socialists” had to prove that they do not cling only to their “gains”. Whatever the character flaws of OV are, and whatever the material interests of his inner circle, with the quite large number of people who still believe this is quite alright, another quite numerous group of people who prefer to be disgusted by each other and thereby prevent any action against OV and his inner circle, and then the also not small group of people who prefers to emigrate, my hunch of why we are where we are is quite different from “too large ambitions of OV” and a country that could not but allow him to take hostage of it.

  36. Péter Juhász is simply not a politician. Thus he should not act as one because he will never be one. Like András Schiffer, who is an emotional lawyer, but not a politician by nature. These people can only cause trouble in the long run. At one point, if Juhász-like people have too much influence, I guess Bajnai will simply resign (as prime minister candidate; he is not a party leader), leaving the Együtt for Milla and Szolidairitás and the rest (which will duly disappear without Bajnai). It is a kind of election party anyway.

    It’s an enduring myth (again repeated today by Árpád Schilling the theatre director) that you can be a civil society person and thus be a ‘non-politician politician’ (like Beppe Grillo). There is no other way to organise politics then through patrties, you like them or not. That is how democracy works. There is no other way.

  37. Jean P :

    The Finn-language connection was a half-humorous allusion. More to the point, there was (is?) a highly
    respected Finn diplomat with a herd of A’s in his name.
    I would’ve wanted him to run things in Hungary for 10 years.

    I believe that all the ‘veins’ of the country–police, secret service, bureaucracy, government–are so infected with corrupt, criminal elements that no native
    could take them on and survive.

  38. My earnest sympathy to the snow victims.
    Natural disasters are unwelcome additions on the top of all other miseries.
    The rest will remain the same under Orban.
    The victims of the patriotic slogans will continue supporting the Orbans.
    The honest people remain a minority.
    And the failure of the country is coming again.

  39. To those of you who commented on my ‘snow on the M1’ post – firstly thanks for responding, as the only rational person (or so it seems at times) in an extended family of rabid Orbánistas, it’s nice to get replies when I post about this sort of thing – it can sometimes feel very isolated. And, secondly, I’m afraid no amount of logical argument or independent sources will make any difference.

    The whole Orbán/Fidesz thing is a matter of belief, not logic – you might as well try to argue with a convinced Roman Catholic that the Pope is not the representative of God on Earth. Every time we have one of these arguments, I trot out all the reports in the different newspapers/internet sites and repeat all the comments from different countries’ representatives/governments, and I always ask the same question – how come all these people think/say one thing, but only Orbán says the opposite?

    And the answer, depressingly, is always the same – “they are wrong”. They don’t live in the country, so they don’t know what it’s like. They are just trying to bring down Orbán because he is showing the people (and the other countries that are following him) a better way, one that the US and the EU can’t make money from. They hate Hungary and/or want to take it over/sell it/buy it/destroy it (delete as applicable) – the ‘they’ here inevitably being the ‘International Jewish Conspiracy’.

    With in-laws, and a wife, who spouts this sort of stuff (and regards me as an enemy of Hungary because I spread these lies), Hungary isn’t the only thing Orbán is destroying.

  40. litr :
    It’s not that people can’t see he is pretending. Rather, people want to believe he is for real. Their life is centered around the fantasy that there exits in the world a person like him, who is, these days, Orbán.

    This is very true. The Orbán coup needed two factors: Orbán’s determination to succeed at all costs, and the people’s desperate need for a strong father figure who can make things better/make Hungary stronger/take the burden of worrying about things off their shoulders.

    And for that, many (most?) are prepared to give up vague liberal notions like ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘rights’, etc. After all, as we say in the UK, they don’t butter any parsnips.

  41. There was an excellent conversation with film director Janisch on ATV Magánbeszélgetés.

    He explains why there has not been Hungarian movies made in the last three years, and lots of other criticism of the Orban regime:

    Watch the conversation now with one hour delay
    http://atv.hu/online

  42. Paul: “the people’s desperate need for a strong father figure”.

    I would have thought that in this respect Hungary is not very different from the countries around it. The same could be said of people who voted for Fico in Slovakia or for Zeman in the Czech Republic, etc. I think that the democrats have failed enormously in creating a more convincing political system. For me MSzP’s transformation to a democratic party was too fast, as it did not deal sufficiently with its dubious past and how this past could be squared with “democracy” or “liberalism”. It also kept important positions in politics and the economy, undermining belief into deeds that will follow the words. And although they were able to cooperate with SzDSz, it has apparently not been possible to widen this cooperative approach further, to include conservatives (not Fidesz at that time), and to ensure that this cooperation does not include collusion in the face of corruption of party high-ranks.

    It was also generally accepted that because of the rather “Western” 1980s, only little has to be changed to be as “the West”. I think now that this was a rather unfortunate assessment of where the country stood at that time. The “confusion” came from people who believed that Hungary is already quite advanced and defended what has been achieved (as far as I remember I considered this defence sort of “national duty” and image creation for foreigners), without equal interest in curing the ills. Only as an addition there was the confusion spread by people who came up with all the national myths and father figures. These people did not have a majority in society. That is why I believe that the democrats have to try harder currently to arrive at some common ground and workable alternative. A higher living standard and more civilised manners will still be preferable to most people to this misery, even if you can watch Sacra Corona every day now to feel “protected”.

  43. Paul:

    My sympathies for your troubles.
    We have in-laws and share two grandchildren. Back a couple of years ago I had it out with the grandmother. “Everything
    written about Orban was lies!” she maintained. But as the country’s situation deteriorated, I could think of only one thing:
    Do Fidesz supporters know what kind of world is being created for their grandchildren?
    Fideszers think all is fine. ‘The world is too simple/stupid to understand our great Victor.”

    Someone ought to sit all these blinkered fools down and force them to watch hours and hours and hours of Hitler’s many harangues and the German peoples avid support….that is, until the roof fell in.

  44. petofi :
    Paul:
    My sympathies for your troubles.
    We have in-laws and share two grandchildren. Back a couple of years ago I had it out with the grandmother. “Everything
    written about Orban was lies!” she maintained. But as the country’s situation deteriorated, I could think of only one thing:
    Do Fidesz supporters know what kind of world is being created for their grandchildren?
    Fideszers think all is fine. ‘The world is too simple/stupid to understand our great Victor.”
    Someone ought to sit all these blinkered fools down and force them to watch hours and hours and hours of Hitler’s many harangues and the German peoples avid support….that is, until the roof fell in.

    Just for the record: Hitler’s NSDAP never had more than 36% of the vote. In 1933 it had already dropped. The next elections were rigged.

    I agree that many (too many) Germans supported Hitler. But I never thought that is was a majority. But to dominate a country you don’t need a majority. You need a good organisation and at least 10% of core followers. That’s what Hitler had. – Orbán may have more.

  45. Petofi: “I believe that all the ‘veins’ of the country–police, secret service, bureaucracy, government–are so infected with corrupt, criminal elements that no native
    could take them on and survive.” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Unfortunately, the majority of the personnel in those state run places is so coward that a few loyal servants of the FIDESZ can keep them checkmated. Spine is needed to liberate the nation from this mess.

  46. @ spine. You’re probably right.

    But where can you buy spine – or even steal it?

    Good, simple mind?

  47. Minusio – Hitler used democracy to get into a position where he could manipulate things to his favour. And then, having gained complete control, he dispensed with any pretence of democracy.

    Sounds horribly familiar.

    How long after 2014 before Orbán decides that the country is in such wise and safe hands (his) that democracy would only be an expensive distraction?

    And to anyone who thinks this couldn’t happen, this is already active Fidesz propaganda – softening people up for when it becomes ‘obvious’ that democracy isn’t the ‘Hungarian way of doing things’.

  48. I was only going to say
    Orban only wanted in 1988 what he wants now: to fight. Those days the people you fought were the communists, so he fought them. He hasn’t changed, he simply fights against… whoever now.

    But wow – what a fantastic discussion!

    Kirsten #36 bravo!

    Petofi, I was already wondering last time you mentioned this Finn with a lot of “a” in his name. Who do you have in mind? Prime Minister Katainen? I really don’t think it would be a good idea for a Finn to take over Hungary. (Or anyone for that matter.) Great as they are at peace-making and mediation, their culture is totally different. They don’t tolerate rule-breaking, tax-evasion, dishonesty etc. (Having said that, Olli Rehn is visiting Hungary next week to “have a word” with Orban and Varga, so your wish might be granted!)

    Paul, thank you for your honesty. I also admit, my mother can also provide me with a dose of Orban fanatism on the phone from Debrecen…. She is not as conscious, eager and detailed as your in-laws, but I do find out some interesting interpretation from her. For example Orban is so busy with rebuilding the country after it was raided by the socialists, and all these protestors won’t leave him alone, he can’t get on with it etc. She is more a fan of order and peace, and to her, protesting is just noise and semi-criminal activity. I think she is one of those people who has put all her hopes in him and now he is in power, she can trust that things will get better, if not sooner then later. As one of you mentioned, my mother is also retired and gets her information mainly from TV. I don’t argue with her, because it would soon turn into personal resentment from her side. She might also feel that someone is trying to take away her peace of mind – if now she would have to believe that the country is on the wrong path again! In some situations lying to yourself is crucial for just staying sane.

Comments are closed.