The childish games of a would-be dictator: The case of Viktor Orbán

I think it is time to talk about the dear leader’s megalomania that’s recently reached an all time high. The dear leader is, of course, Viktor Orbán. Or at least this is what he is called by those who’ve had enough of his and his government’s autocratic and corrupt practices.

To his many sins we may add a total lack of  restraint. He acts like any two-bit dictator with limitless power. Because, let’s not kid ourselves, Viktor Orbán has enormous power within Hungary. The only limits he has to endure come from the European Union. Until now, however, he has managed to evade any serious consequences of flaunting the spoken and unspoken rules of the Union, and it looks as if he will be able to avoid the excessive deficit procedure as well. Or at least this is what one could hear from Mihály Varga, who managed to exchange a few words with Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, today.

Lack of restraint. A man who with the assistance of his minions placed by now in all positions from the executive to the judiciary and a willing horde of third-rate journalists ready to serve him will arrive at a point where his sense of reality completely fails him. He becomes so single-minded in pursuit of his selfish interests that he loses sight of the possible consequences of his actions. And since he rules with an iron hand in his own party, there is no one in his entourage who dares warn him.

It seems that no one in Fidesz has the guts to tell the dear leader that his football mania got to the point that people are beginning to think that Hungary’s Orbán is not very different from Nicolae Ceaușescu, the Romanian dictator. After all, Ceaușescu also built an enormous football stadium in the village in which he was born and lived until the age of eleven. Viktor Orbán is following in the Romanian dictator’s footsteps.  Ceaușescu built a 30,000-seat football stadium in Scorniceşti, population 12,000, while Orbán is building a 3,500-seat stadium in Felcsút, population 1,800, where he spent his early years.  The scales are roughly comparable.

But Orbán is outdoing Ceaușescu because, after all, the Romanian dictator didn’t have a house right next to the stadium. Orbán does. He will now have a very elegant, very expensive small stadium of his own. He has to walk only a few feet to be in the arena. The stadium will be named after the Hungarian “Golden Team” of the early 1950s on which the famed Ferenc Puskás played. In addition to the stadium, Orbán managed to get money to establish a football academy in Felcsút, naturally named after Ferenc Puskás.

I read somewhere that when Orbán established the Puskás Academy in 2007 he didn’t really think that a village football team could ever be a first-rate team that could play in Division I of the National League. Most likely at that time Orbán was still recovering from his deep depression after the lost 2006 election. But now the sky’s the limit. Last Saturday Puskás Academy, which everybody simply calls Felcsút, was the undefeated champion of Division II and therefore next season the team will be able to play with the “big boys.”

Since 2007 the Academy has built a private high school and several practice fields and has a staff of 23, including a “communications director.” It is in the middle of constructing a stadium that will cost 3.5 billion forints. Money is pouring into the coffers of the Academy.

Earlier Orbán made sure that his wealthy friends would have an incentive to donate sizable chunks of money for spectacle sports: football, handball, hockey, etc. Those contributing to a fund set up for that purpose could write off the amount donated from their income tax. Once billions were collected this way the various clubs could apply for grants. Felcsút was not shy and asked for 3.5 billion. It received 2.8 billion, one-fifth of the total allocated. Just to give some sense of the size of this particular grant, the football club that received the second largest amount was Debrecen with 500 million forints.

The stadium is already described in the media as a dream or a wonder stadium. It is being built following the design of the famed Imre Makovecz, an ardent supporter of Fidesz, who died a few years ago. The plans released by the Academy show an intricate structure using the most expensive materials.

Puskas1

The construction of the dream stadium is already underway, and by next spring  important games will be played in the village where Viktor Orbán grew up. A Puskás-Suzuki Cup was established, and these games will be played in Felcsút. Several international matches will be held in the village. And since the Academy is swimming in money, it even bought an old railroad line and has already restored the old railroad station.

MTI / Photo by Szilárd Koszticsák

The work has begun / MTI photo by Szilárd Koszticsák

Mihály Varga, minister in charge of the economy, under European Union pressure announced a new  austerity program a few days ago. He indicated that it might be necessary to halt some of the major government investments, like the building of new stadiums and the reconstruction of Kossuth Square in front of the parliament building. However, it is unlikely that stadium construction will be halted in Felcsút. And if the Academy’s project can go ahead, most likely so will Debrecen’s. The project manager of a very large stadium in Debrecen, where work has already begun, announced that the city will go ahead with the construction regardless of what Mihály Varga says.

Just today Ernő Bihari, a blogger, wrote that “it is outrageous that the prime minister of a country that belongs to the European Union builds a football stadium on taxpayer money next door to his house, establishes a football academy maintained by taxpayer money, and purchases a narrow-gauge railroad also on taxpayer money. His family and his friends have received practically all the state lands in the neighborhood of his village. This is just a short list. And Viktor Orbán has the gall to do all this in the middle of Europe. This guy believes that his power is limitless.” The blogger points out that Orbán surpasses even Silvio Berlusconi, who after all made his money and became the owner of  AC Milan prior to his political career.

“The weapon is in the EU’s hands. Chancellor Merkel must decide on which side she wants to stand and give the signal to her own people that they can say what everybody knows already although no one wants to bear the odium of the decision.” So, says Bihari, it is time to state openly that “not only is Orbán’s mindset incompatible with the spirit of the Union but he is intolerable altogether.”

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31 comments

  1. Eva

    Everything you write resonates and is correct, EXCEPT the sentence and suggestion that Orban is not very different than Ceausescu. The fact is Orban is a terrible for Hungary and has done great damage to the country, but has not yet starved his people or figured out that he can sell the Jews for foreign exchange.

  2. They are already bidding for the European soccer championship. That’s what the kid wants.

    Apropos railroad. What’s up with the V0 freight rail “beltway”? It seems that it will go near Felcsut. Will there be any land buying deal for the Felcsut are landowners because of the constructions?

    This is a 1 billion Euro project, that will be done by the Chinese.

  3. NWO :
    Eva
    Everything you write resonates and is correct, EXCEPT the sentence and suggestion that Orban is not very different than Ceausescu. The fact is Orban is a terrible for Hungary and has done great damage to the country, but has not yet starved his people or figured out that he can sell the Jews for foreign exchange.

    He’ll get there eventually. He still has money …

  4. “You are known by the company you keep”…

    Don King, murderer and numbers runner, is given the royal treatment in Moscow.

  5. Thanks for the post Eva.
    I was curious about your thoughts regarding Feldmajer’s ousting? The JTA/ Times of Israel is saying that “critics” say Feldmajer “engineered” Lauder’s apology at the WJC. Don’t know where this idea came from but if anyone here has more information, I’d love to hear it. I’m not sure, but I think this video might be from the meeting where Feldmajer was ousted: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6m6Teidxn8
    Most of what I read said Feldmajer was ‘authoritarian’ and too soft on Orban. Again would love to hear the thoughts from anyone here with knowledge about the Hungarian Jewish community.

  6. “The weapon is in the EU’s hands”.

    A bigger one is in the hands of the Hungarian population. Orban get away with the meglomania, the corruption and in the future, a dictatorship because he *knows* the vast majority of the population don’t care.

    He steals their pensions, closes down small neighbourhood businesses, sends 100,000s of young Hungarians into economic exile and still they refuse to rise up against this man.
    Simply because he was clever enough to know he could buy them off with 500 forints of their monthly electricity bill?

    Shame on them.

  7. One more biased and one-sided pronuncement by Eva. Orbán is a politican out to get reelected. In this he is no different from any other US Senator or President. How much did the last US election cost? Two billion for the President, six billion in all. Those supporters have to be rewarded!!! VO is small potato compared to US electoral politics, especially on the state level, where politics is synonimous with corruption. Living here, as I do, Hungary is definitely a democracy, judging by the lively political discussions on various TV channels. In fact far more so than what you can see in the US.

  8. The Office of Statistics came out with better than expected numbers about Hungarian economy in Q1 of 2013. (-0.9% reported vs -1.2% expected, 2013 vs 2012).

    Here is their reasoning. “Agriculture and building industry have increased”.

    http://www.ksh.hu/docs/hun/xftp/gyor/gde/gde21303.pdf

    Am I missing something or the Office of Statistics manipulates the data?

    In Q1, the building industry was at its 90 year low and we had huge snow storms in March.

  9. Here is another funny number:

    Raw data -0.9%

    Data adjusted to the calendar -0.3%.

    In 2012, there were 64 working days in the first quarter.
    In 2013, there were 62 working days only.

    So the adjusted number should have been smaller than the raw number,
    further from 0 and not the way around!

    Please, if you are an economist from the Fidesz establishment, please explain this to me!

  10. Your prime minister Orban is late in some activities compared to Mr. Fico. Slovakia under rule of Mr. Fico starts work on olympic games – we will build 2 or more ice-hockey stadium with capacity some 10 000 persons in towns with same population and expand ski slopes in national nature park. Of course highway Bratislava – Košice is finished (only a few sections on east side are missing).
    One can not believe with so much “stupidity” takes (stupidity is in my opinion preparation of corruption – tunneling).
    Why are we so lucky in our countries?

  11. Modestly delusional. This is not a question.
    Most Hungarians are not successful at home or abroad.
    A minority is advanced and brilliant.
    My elementary, high school and college classed had 5-10% good students, but the rest was average or outrageously stupid.

  12. Poll numbers by the pollster “nezopont”, one of the 2 polling companies very close to Fidesz.

    They show no change after the tobacco license scandal (I do not believe this).

    Fidesz 33%
    Jobbik 11%

    Democratic opposition [my term] 28%

    don’t know 28% [much smaller than the corresponding number from
    tarki, median or ipsos]

    http://nezopontintezet.hu/files/2013/05/Nem-érződik-a-trafikügy-hatása-_-a-Nézőpont-Intézet-legfrissebb-közvélemény-kutatása.pdf

  13. @tappanch, yet headline from Magyar Nemzet: “Mindenkit elverne a Fidesz, Bajnaiék elvesztek.” Fidesz would anybody. Bajnai’s outfit is finished.

  14. p.3
    Nezopont regards 1/3 of the uncertain answers as against the government, 1/3 as “other” uncertain and 1/3 as definitely not voting.

  15. By now it should be obvious that the Fideszers’ great teachers are Goebbels and Putin–From Goebbels comes the Great Lie; and from Putin, comes the notion of instilling Fear everywhere and undermining everything..

  16. So, according to “nezopont”, the maximum pool of Fidesz voters is 33% (certain) and 9% (winnable), while a united democratic opposition could have
    28% (certain), 11% (inclined) and the same 9% winnable.

    So in this sense, the nezopont shows an advantage for the opposition,
    provided Jobbik supporters do not vote for Fidesz.

    Jobbik fans have to choose.
    They are closer to Fidesz ideologically (nationalist slogans), but they do no like Orban.

  17. @tappanch: “Am I missing something or the Office of Statistics manipulates the data?” I wouldn’t be terribly surprised. They need good news for the upcoming Ecofin meeting.

  18. You do not have any idea what is the real dictatorship! There is no dictatorship in Hungary! It was for 40 years.You should know. You spent most of your life in a dictatorship. But probably you like, prefer the communist system. It was nice and better as you and your kind (People between the age of 40-70) claim it! Did you write anything about the last 20 years? Did you write about how the MSZMP and and its legacy party (MSZP), that sold out the country? Probably you did not! I do not like Orban and his branch as I do not like anyone in the whole political elite. All liars, just like you and most of the people, including me. But do not forget the very fact, Orban was one who raised his voice against the real and long dictatorship in 1988, 1989. Easy to judge people, but I wonder who would not lost objective, perspective, aim, dream spending 25 years in politics. There is not even one politician who is not corrupted. It is a moral crisis and includes everyone. You, Orban and me! Easy to point on people! I wonder which party paid you to write this crap?

    And by the way, he was elected by people of Hungary? Or did I miss the point?

    ” I wouldn’t be terribly surprised” if Office of Statistics manipulates the data? Did you raised your voice 6 years ago when our PM admitted that they actually did and as he said, we fucked it up. They were lying during the whole election. He should have resigned immediately as other politicians do all around the world. But I guess there is no article about it. That is fine. It is fine for you? Why? Because you are paid and blinded by an ideology. You do not see the whole picture, because you don`t want it! It is easier…dear Eva.

  19. oneill :
    “The weapon is in the EU’s hands”.
    A bigger one is in the hands of the Hungarian population. Orban get away with the meglomania, the corruption and in the future, a dictatorship because he *knows* the vast majority of the population don’t care.
    He steals their pensions, closes down small neighbourhood businesses, sends 100,000s of young Hungarians into economic exile and still they refuse to rise up against this man.
    Simply because he was clever enough to know he could buy them off with 500 forints of their monthly electricity bill?
    Shame on them.

    I am also repeatedly puzzled by the fact that Hungarians are accusing the EU more than themselves for this disaster. Yes, OV is a shame for Europe, but Hungarians keep repeating that internally “nothing can be done about it”, “he is so powerful” and not to forget “he is so charming”. I do not know how often it has to be said that whatever the EU demands from Hungary, it is the Hungarians who have to implement these decisions. Which is why if there is nobody else because most Hungarians prefer to be apolitical and to indulge in their utility price reduction, deals will be made between the EU and OV. This can mean less money for this project, corrections in some budgetary plans or some laws but not a dismissal of OV as prime minister or of his government.

  20. A friend of mine, who fought against the Kadar regime, wrote on our forum:

    Márpedig az a rendszer, amely megszüntette a jogállamot, egy zsarnoki rendszer. Egy olyan rendszer, amely ellen 1956-ban már felkelt a magyar nép és amely előbb-utóbb a túlkapásainak hatására kártyavárként omlik össze és amely jogosan kerül majd a magyar történelem szégyenpadjára. Megdöbbentő a számomra, hogy sokan képtelenek észrevenni a bolsevik rendszer propaganda és elnyomó technikái és a mai populista-bolsevik pártállam módszerei közötti hasonlóságot.

    He asked us to explain that many Hungarians would not grasp the loss of their civil rights.

  21. Joe Simon :
    One more biased and one-sided pronuncement by Eva. Orbán is a politican out to get reelected. In this he is no different from any other US Senator or President. How much did the last US election cost? Two billion for the President, six billion in all. Those supporters have to be rewarded!!! VO is small potato compared to US electoral politics, especially on the state level, where politics is synonimous with corruption. Living here, as I do, Hungary is definitely a democracy, judging by the lively political discussions on various TV channels. In fact far more so than what you can see in the US.

    Joe Simon, I strongly advice that you take one more go on trying to comprehend just what have you read. Might help, I hope at least.
    In case of failure, please, consider this:

    Eva in the above article not once mentions the coming election in Hungary, consequently, there isn’t one single word about what Orbán spend – or intend to spend – on his reelection, no, dear.
    The article above describes just how a megalomaniac little wannabe soccer player with personality disorders turned to politics finally manages to fulfil his childhood dream, – having his very own stadium, – (c’mon, people, such a great guy I’ve became, see?!!!) grandeur and all, because he can!

    You work for it, so, he can afford it, so, why not?
    One more tasteless and utterly unnecessary building on public money and no, this isn’t for his reelection, is to himself, to play with. As he’ve got the toy-railway as well, having been a good boy, probably…

    So, try to read again, you’ll see, it’ll make sense!
    Good luck!

  22. James M. Swarz :
    And by the way, he was elected by people of Hungary? Or did I miss the point?

    Yes, obviously you did.
    Actually, a whole lot of points you have managed to miss, having come so far.

    I don’t know, where you have been living during those years what you’re referring to, and – guess what – I don’t even care.
    However, I’d like to call your attention to the sad fact, that you missed your homework before launching an attack, a pity, really.
    You stated: “You should know. You spent most of your life in a dictatorship”

    Only ‘a click away’ not to define yourself as a superficial loudmouth, but the fervour to defend Viktor by attack Eva was much stronger than common sense, obviously.
    Vitam et Sanguinem?

    Right on the top of this very page the second link from the left says: “About” – that’s the one!
    You don’t even have to particularly strain yourself, the first sentence reads like this:
    “My name is Eva S. Balogh. As a twenty-year-old university student, I left Hungary in December 1956, after the failed Hungarian revolution.” From here you’re on your own to make your math.

    Beside of your obvious sloppiness with facts do you really think, that having thrown around the real and imaginary sins of others would make Orbán more likeable and less megalomaniac bore who he really is?
    For your information: Orbán was far from being “the one who raised his voice against the real and long dictatorship in 1988, 1989.” – he was one among many, along to the ride, but he was the most power-hungry, not to mention the fact, that he was the one who needed to prove himself most, among quite a few tall guys, you see. The rest, – how he managed to get rid of the more worthy comrades – well known, so take it easy, please, with that glorification.

    All in all, the similarity between the Orbán of today and the Orbán of ’89 ends probably on the genetic resemblance, because the person has changed as many times and as many directions – to the worse – that it must be quite an achievement even to a windmill…

    Lastly, please, keep in mind, that the majority not always right when decides. Let me remind you of the popular vote which decided between a certain Jesus of Nazareth and Barabbas in this respect.
    Just because most people support a person or/and an ideology those still could be deadly wrong, and I don’t think you need examples to prove it.

  23. I have often feeeling that we (people in central resp. cenral-east countries) take/taken mainly wrong, incorrect oponions, practices from both – western european resp. transantlatic counries and Russia (former Soviet Union).
    For example legislative (acts, laws) – in some branch is good, transparent act in Germany, but we must prepare own, after some time we found it didn’t “work” and we prepare new or finally “take” in this example german act. We lost time, sick people, situation is worsen. Enough yet to translate the law and think about it, mayby change some.

  24. No one can touch Orbán. His last funny saying is that he doesn’t want to see German tanks in Budapest again, it was a bad idea once, and it is a bad idea again. Ha-ha, he is pretty funny.

    But he is right: he owns the minds of the majority of the politically active Hungarians.

    In this new gerrymandered election system 37% of votes cast is absolutely enough for a majority in the Parliament if spread mostly evenly (which is the case for Fidesz, whereas MSZP and Bajnai are mortally concentrated in Budapest). Note also that Jobbik voters are a huge reserve for Fidesz, Jobbik voters would never vote for the ‘commies’. And with an evenly spread 42-43% they have a 2/3 again.

    But Fidesz would be very happy to lose with an eventual 30 something percent of the seats too (so that, perhaps with Jobbik, they would hold a veto power to block any amendments to the constitution).

    Fidesz party commissioners are already entrenched in the current constitutional system (courts etc.), so Orbán can happily wait for a year or two in opposition until he can return with a vengeance (but since people will realize from the get go that he is coming back rather soon he would effectively govern with a veto power from opposition and he would remain the paramount political player to watch) and wait until a lefty government would self destruct under the aggressive media, political, constitutional campaign of Orbán.

    Until Orbán’s generation (Áder, Szájer, Handó, Smicska etc.), his ‘famiglia’ retires, the left or the EU can’t touch him.

  25. Wolfi: Nice, but don’t forget that Fliegauf and his friends are busy doing movies or whatever, but are not (and will not be) participating in politics, cos it’s too dirty and uncool.

    The Fidesz-loyal, disciplined right-wing political troopers are happy to have no competition and are working hard for a strong Orbánistan.

    Fidesz will also purchase TV2, the second most popular tv channel (and Origo, the most popular internet news site, when it will be for sale soon) and a bunch of regional internet sites to augment and complete their dominance over the minds of average Hungarians. It is and will be a dominance unlike anywhere in the West. But again, the Hungarian left does not care, has no money, ideas or commitment and worst of all has no vision. Especially a long-term one.

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