About two weeks ago I published the English translation of Attila Mesterházy’s policy speech. Some of you complained about the number of “ladies and gentlemen” in Mesterházy’s speech. In DK circles everybody uses the familiar “te,” including the former prime minister, and supporters call him “Feri.” There is another difference. Unlike other politicians, including Viktor Orbán who is considered to be a good speaker, Gyurcsány has no written text. He talks with the assistance of some scribbled notes and doesn’t have to look at those notes very often. Perhaps you will gain a better understanding of his style by watching a few minutes of the video of his speech.
The speech is long and therefore I will publish it in three parts. I want to thank the editors of Free Hungary for allowing me to republish it here. By the way, you can find a link to Free Hungary on the “Blog Role.”
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If we continue as now, the next prime minister will be called Orbán
“If we continue in the same way as now, the next prime minister will be called neither Gordon Bajnai nor Attila Mesterházi but will be called Viktor Orbán. Even though we would have every ground to put an end to Orbán’s governance and, theoretically, we have even the tools to defeat Orbán and his regime. Then, I’m repeating it again: if we go on in the same way as now, we will fail. A great lesson from the past year is that it was not Orbán’s government that caused a surprise. Frankly speaking, he cannot do that any more. The surprise is, if any, that the multitude of democratic people, including the voters, various movements, organisations, the media, a significant portion of intellectuals, who are still brave and committed enough to contravene Orbán, were not yet able to organize themselves, are not yet prepared for a fight ending with victory. But, if we have an influence on something at all, it is evidently the world of opposition. We are not so gullible to suppose that this government is interested in knowing what we are thinking about Hungary, it just does what it wants. We say what we are thinking, we try to show alternatives but, where we really have a great responsibility, where we really have tools, is to organize and train the democratic opposition for the fight, it is to show an alternative against Orbán. We need to do much more than we have done until now.”
The country is tired; there are too many hopeless people
“But still, let me begin with where the country is in the spring of 2013. I can’t say much new compared to the last year, at least not in quality. What we said about the country at that time and what we expected then, is true even today and our expectations have, unfortunately, not been fulfilled either. But we came to assess the state of the nation, we want to speak about the condition of the republic and therefore, let’s summarize, not in too much length, how we see Hungary. If I need to say it briefly, then I say that the country is tired, many, too many people have lost their hope and there is almost no field in the country’s life where we could say that it became a little bit better and more hopeful than was in 2010.”
This is no longer a constitutional state but an autocracy: the will of one single man replaces the constitution
“A debate has been going for a long time about, how to characterize this regime, whether this is still a democracy or already an autocracy, whether constitutionality is still alive. All that happened in the past few days is that this government is amending the fundamental law, said to be as hard as granite, for the fourth time now within one year by a huge package of 26 pages; this may convince even our rightist friends who have not lost their discernment yet that Hungary is no more a constitutional state. Namely, constitutional state means that we decide abidingly what the major frame, institutions and organizations of the state’s operation and the state’s structure are, what our relations to them are. This is what provides stability, the legal system is built on this and we go by this. By today, it has turned out that we do not have to go by the constitution because that may change, if necessary, every day even, but we have to go by the political will behind the permanent change of constitution, which is the will for power of one single person who is called Viktor Orbán. And where the constitution is not the rule but a person’s will, that system is called autocracy rather than democracy. Today, autocracy prevails in Hungary. However, those who want democracy, those who want republic, those who consider themselves democrats, such persons can only oppose this regime. We don’t want to have autocracy. We want to have a free republic with free citizens and those who want to have that, such persons shall require Orbán’s defeat. We are fighting for the defeat of this regime and for restoring the republic.
Decreasing real wages, decreasing consumption, decreasing investment, decreasing unemployment
“Three years ago, this government attained power by promising hope, by promising boom, by promising social justice. Today, the Hungarian economy is more vulnerable than it was in 2010. The shrinking of the Hungarian economy’s performance has been occurring for so many quarters and is becoming more and more serious. The country is in recession. The country’s common cake is decreasing continuously. Never before have so few jobs been established in the first month of the year than just in January 2013. Never before have so many, over 300 thousand people been unemployed without any provision than now. While, theoretically, there is no world crisis, not even in practice, while, of course, Europe has difficulties, but there is not a general crisis in Europe either, in Hungary real wages are decreasing, in Hungary consumption is decreasing and the level of investment is so low that there won’t be any growth in the forthcoming years either. So few homes are being built in this country, less than in 1944 when German troops marched in the streets of Budapest or Makó. We have to face a dark future. The country that obtains its living from investment, the country whose wealth or economy was driven by investment, by capital construction, is now one of the last ones among the investors’ target areas. There is neither investment, nor lending, nor jobs. This is a spiral from which we won’t be able to emerge still for many years.”
The rate of the decline of the Hungarian economic performance is six times higher than the European one: unimaginable depths of poverty and despondency
“The prime minister may say that it is caused by external effects. Partly, and only in lesser part, he is right. The rate of shrinkage of the Hungarian economy is six times higher than the European recession. In this respect, the Hungarian prime minister does not say the truth. Under such circumstances, while touring the country in the past months, we met such a depth of poverty and despondency that I have not seen even for a long time or have never imagined. Poverty has always existed in the history and I suppose it will always exist in the future as well. There will always be people or families, who live on the fringe of the normal human life. Who live from hand to mouth. If I needed to distinguish between poverty of today and that existing many years ago, then I would simply speak about the fact that today there are more poor people and poverty is deeper. I would rather say that earlier, there was at least the hope that you can emerge from it. If nothing else but the hope that it will be better for my children. Today, the hope is lost. Hungary became the country of despondency during Orbán’s governance.”
Only Orbán’s oligarchs are getting richer – the regime introduced the institutionalized corruption
“Those who are getting richer, belong to the world of Orbán’s oligarchs. Poverty has always existed in history and I suppose it will always exist everywhere in the future. But the situation that the political leader and his direct environment, the internal circle of Fidesz world is getting richer by corruption, this is a new phenomenon in Hungary. Such a thing has never happened earlier.”
School was taken away from children, parents and settlements, and only children of the wealthiest families can go to university
“Meanwhile, chaos prevails in the world of education, public education became the site of Christian conservative re-evangelization, the teachers do not know how long they will have their job and from whom they will receive their salary, who their employer is and what is expected from them. School was taken away from children, settlements and parents, they have nothing to do with it, this regime tries to force the free idea of free school to fit to a Procrustean bed, which, from this time on, will evidently not be free any more. While, when we speak about a free country, we naturally also take notice of the fact that there are thousands of different ideas and, since every family and every child is manifold, this manifoldness can be mediated only by manifold schools. That the university’s autonomy is taken away, that by today, universities are, basically, in the state of inoperability. They are not on the verge but in the state of inoperability. That the gates of universities are not opened but closed. That, except for the wealthiest families, almost nobody has the opportunity to acquire such diplomas, whilst the leading power, the intellectuals of the country, those who tailor shape to Hungary of the future will be recruited on the long run from the holders of these diplomas.
Despondency: More people go abroad than after 1956
“The reason for despondency is that more than half a million Hungarian citizens sought and found jobs abroad. More people go abroad than after 1956 and this is the sin of this government because they leave the country who are the most mobile, the bravest and the most venturesome. There are very many young people among them, who are really needed in this country but who do not find any opportunity and hope in Hungary.”
To the executors of the show trials: even bigger rogues than their supporters have collapsed in the past
Meanwhile, not even in a concealed manner, show trials are taking place in this country. I always said: “don’t worry about me, I can protect myself”. I have protected myself as well. The latest decision was made recently, which proved that it was a dirty, unfair calumniation in the autumn of 2006 that the politicians of my government, including me encouraged the police of the republic to use and apply illegitimate methods with the intent of intimidation or revenge. Not even the prosecution of Péter Polt was brave enough to, ultimately, fabricate a legally valid incrimination from this ignoble political accusation. This case was closed a few days ago. This is good. But they keep two of my former ministers, György Szilvásy and Pál Szabó under an unfair and false accusation. Miklós Tátrai is kept under an unfair and false accusation. It is the elementary duty of the democratic opposition to assume solidarity with those whom they want to assassinate in show trials. And I want to say silently and calmly to those who take part in this action that even bigger rogues than their support, Viktor Orbán collapse sooner or later. Their support will also fail and they will then face not a show trial but a great number of fair parliamentary and non-parliamentary proceedings where, after reviewing all papers and all letters, in my hope, it will be proved to the country that today, people are being damaged and bemired in an inhuman, unacceptable proceeding for, even unconcealed, political interests, just in order to smear their political rivals. Those who take part in this action do not simply break the law but are similar rogues as their support.
Hungary became isolated: it fawns upon Central-Asian despots
“Meanwhile, Hungary has become isolated. The country that was, erstwhile, the most European one in this region, today, has an eye to the East. It seeks friends in Baku rather than in Berlin or London. It unscrupulously allows an axe murderer to leave the country and fawns upon Central-Asian despots. Unfortunately, in this situation, in this world, an honest Hungarian democrat should be ashamed of his government rather than his country. We need to admit that we are ashamed of this government and our shame is strong enough that we do not want to live together with it. The country sank to knees, most of the Hungarian citizens lost all of their hopes and feel themselves in a hopeless situation”.
I have seen, how it is when the disappointed right-wing crowd rampages
“To conclude, it would be high time to defeat this government. In 2002 and 2006, I was among those who defeated Fidesz, defeated Viktor Orbán. Even under these experiences I have to say to you that, what we are doing now, where we are now, it will not be enough for the victory and what is at least similarly important, it will not be enough for successful governance. Let me start with the latter, in just 2 or 3 sentences. My friend, the evangelistic pastor Gábor Iványi said a few weeks ago that it was worth ridding ourselves of evil, if only for a moment. It was not an evangelical citation but referred to this government stating that it is worth winning even if the government to be set up as a result of this victory would not be able to govern for a long time. Such a sentence from a gospeller is nice. But from a politician, it is, in my opinion, unacceptable. However, every man shall stick to his trade. We must understand that, in case a multi-coloured coalition government, backed by a small majority, needs to govern within the current constitutional frames, surrounded by party soldiers appointed to the top of agencies that shall be independent from the government, while the country will be in an adverse condition, then we must worry about this government very much that it won’t be able to put in the forthcoming 4 years. I lead a stronger government than that after 2006. I have seen how it is when the disappointed right-wing crowd rampages. I have already seen how it is when, not the whole but part of the state apparatus acts against its government. I can imagine how it is, when everybody, from the president of the central bank to the public prosecutor, from the head of the competition authority to the president of the media authority – and now, I discontinue listing – endeavours to upset the government.”
(To be continued)