Holding a mirror to the Hungarian public: The key to Viktor Orbán’s success

A few hours ago I received two suggestions for discussion. Both are fascinating. The one I decided to take up today is actually not a new survey, but the current political situation makes it relevant.

We keep asking how it could happen that in record time Viktor Orbán and his willing subordinates managed to introduce a political system that turns its back on democratic values. There is nothing surprising about this, says the blogger who returned to this older survey. “The current political structure is the product of societal attitudes, and it can flourish because Hungarian society desires the kind of political elite Fidesz provides. Viktor Orbán is popular because he is the embodiment of the value system of the majority.” That includes “corruption, a strong state, and a leader of unlimited powers.” This sounds terrifying, but a 2009 survey conducted by Tárki supports this claim.

I would like to refer back to the piece I wrote (“Value structure of Hungarian society, 2009“) on October 13, 2009, right after the results of the survey were released. It was the usual short post in which not everything can be mentioned. Moreover, our blogger Anonymus looks at the survey from the perspective of 2013, which naturally I couldn’t have done in 2009 when Viktor Orbán hadn’t yet started his “renewal of Hungary” program with a two-thirds majority behind him.

But in order to get the background you ought to read my short 2009 post. Here I will mention only those details that I did not touch on, including a Pew Research Center study, also from 2009.

Distorting mirror / flickr

Distorting mirror / flickr

We are surprised that all the cases of corruption that surface day after day do not seem to bother the majority of the people. It’s enough to mention the tobacconist shop concessions or the leasing of valuable agricultural lands to politicians’ relatives and friends or political supporters. And yet people are not up in arms. Why would they be, asks Anonymus, when Hungarians even by East European standards are very forgiving when it comes to corruption. In 2009 42% of them found it acceptable to cheat on their income taxes as opposed to 30% of the Poles and 18% of the Czechs. Two-thirds of the population think that “although they themselves are honest and law abiding, the others are not.” They assume that this is simply how things are, and they can live with it.

Then there is the Orbán government’s total lack of sympathy for the poor, the disabled, the disadvantaged. For example, members of the government defend the grotesque idea that in order for poor families who cannot afford to bury their dead to receive some financial assistance they have to help prepare the body for burial, dig the grave, and carry the coffin. In general, according to the 2009 survey, Hungary does not excel in giving assistance to the sick, the disabled, the elderly, neighbors, or immigrants. In fact, in this respect Hungary ended up last in the Union.

According to another survey by the Pew Research Center dealing with the post-communist countries, Hungarians were certain in 2009 that they were economically worse off than they had been under communism. In Hungary 72% of the people considered themselves poorer than they were before 1990, as compared to Slovakia with 48% or Poland with 35%.  And when it comes to the Hungarian attitude toward democracy it is nothing to boast about. While in the Czech Republic 80%, in Slovakia 71%, and in Poland 70% of the respondents approved of democracy, in Hungary the number was only 56%. Just for comparison: Lithuania came in at 55%, Russia 53%, Bulgaria 52%, and Ukraine 30%. Hungarians’ attitude toward capitalism is again the most antagonistic in Eastern Europe. If we compare the sentiments in 1991 and in 2009 we find that enthusiasm waned in all countries studied, but the largest drop (from 80% to 46%) occurred in Hungary.

A working group put up a video based on the Tárki study.

It’s fun to watch it even if one doesn’t understand everything. Basically, the story is that  countries such as Finland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria thrive because people there believe that everybody has the opportunity to succeed, they believe in themselves and in their future, they consider hard work important, they appreciate knowledge, they trust each other and their institutions. “So, if you want to change the world, change yourself.”

While Viktor Orbán wants a strong, successful Hungary, he is reinforcing the worst instincts of the majority of Hungarians. Exactly those qualities that retard the kinds of changes that could make Hungary successful. “Összezavarodott magyarok” (confused Hungarians), says the blog’s link. Indeed. The confusion is also in Viktor Orbán’s head.

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48 comments

  1. I didn’t realize you posted about the survey in 2009! I guess I wasn’t a reader back then. I have to stand corrected, as I have always been on the opinion that the “brave new world” Orban is building is a kind of aberration and that without Orban the story in Hungary would be very different. Well, according to these studies, maybe not…. if the attitudes and values of the Hungarians are such, it was only a question of time when a political manipulator would take advantage of it. I guess I was influenced by my very own circle of friends and acquaintances … who are obviously not representative of Hungary.

    Unfortunately, as you noted, Orban is not only using but reinforcing these very harmful tendencies. The real question is, how to get out of this… without swinging into a similar demagoguery and authoritarian leadership style on the other side (on the left).

  2. On another note, maybe this big exodus of young people will bring some change in attitudes. I don’t think that ALL of them are going to stay abroad, some are going to return (especially if Orban disappears by some miracle), and many are going to visit often and keep in touch with their family. I am sure these people will be affected by what they see in western Europe and in return, will affect some of the attitudes at home… Maybe not much, but some. Maybe this “closed” nature of Hungary has something to do with the very low migration that was characteristics of Hungarians until recently (well, other than in the 40s and after 56… which was awhile ago).

  3. Appealing to the worst instincts in people – in Hungarians’ case, fear of the modern world, fear of responsibility, cynicism about democracy – is not leadership, it’s demagoguery.

  4. An, regarding the old 2009 article. Don’t feel bad I didn’t quite remember either but as I said it is good that someone dug it up and applied it to the present situation. It explains a lot, doesn’t it? If Hungary wants to be successful Hungarians better to change their attitudes. However, we know that it takes a long time.

  5. Nice piece Eva. I believe that this is a major element in understanding the Orban situation. He simply could not get away with what he is doing unless there was at least some degree of implicit permission/tolerance from large parts of the electorate. This is an unpleasant fact but it must be faced.

    Why do people tolerate their own abuse? Parallels may be drawn between the relationship between victims of domestic violence and their abusers. I don’t pretend to be an expert but I believe that when a victim of domestic violence is psychologically broken, demoralised and made dependent on the abuser for survival then in some cases they can start to tolerate and even support and justify the actions of the abuser.

    It takes a great deal of courage, effort and energy, as well as feedback and support from external observers (friends or unbiased experts such as professional councellors, psychotherapists, etc.) to overcome the FEAR to escape this situation. The abused person needs both a) the will to leave the relationship and b) a viable escape route, of course. Do Hungarians have either?

    Hungarians have been beaten so many times they act like dogs that have been thrashed -they still answer the call of the master as they have been pacified – made passive. Perhaps they will even fight to defend him from other dogs so long as they get praise and scraps from the table.

    I’m sorry if that sounds negative but it seems to me that at this point in History many Hungarians are acting like psychologically defeated people and in the process of turning inwards they have become/will become bitter and take their anger out elsewhere. What makes the abusive situation hard to change is that (just like children growing up in abusive homes) the majority of young Hungarians are socialised into becoming losers/victims/passive as well.

    Some answers: the courage to hope, some vision of an alernative and better life, and good friends.

  6. Just a friendly warning! All these writings by HS and your comments are stored by the NSA. Probable category: views and comments from the extreme left, the Jobbik in reverse. Remember, inciting rebellion against an EU country may not sit well with the NSA.

  7. Gyor Calling!

    Message to NSA.

    Many people here misinterpret the desire for a fair, decent society as
    ‘Extreme Leftwing’. It is not, cf England.

    Many people here regard being ‘open’ to European values as having their affairs being interfered with. They are not, cf England.

    Many people here believe minorities should be suppressed, not having learnt lessons from a disastrous involvement in the war. Creating a fair and equal society is neither right of left. Just right cf England.

    Many people here hold significant posts in society who were previously informers in a communist informer network. NSA please let us know who they are – the present government is shielding them – can you help with this please?

    Much of the EU grant money is trousered by cronies of the government and ‘salamied’ on its way down the corruption tree. Please let us know the amounts, to whom and when. Please supply in a handy spreadsheet marked ‘NSA findings’. Overseas account details too would be handy.

    In England a German historian has just discovered in the public archives the transcripts of MI19. During the war they ‘wired up’ a stately mansion with microphones and eavesdropped on captured German officers. For example Trent House. They unwittingly revealed how ordinary airmen would just go and shoot, for example 1500 Jews in one of the camps and ‘use’ an attractive Jewess for the night. Unbelievable confessions of unprosecuted war crimes. Message to NSA, do you have any information on say Csatary please? The government here refuses to open the archives.

    Orban is a religious bigot – born again – hypocrite. He is known to have had dalliances with other women whilst professing ‘family values’ which are piously enshrined in the constitution. NSA – can you supply further information please it would be very useful in the coming election.

    The list is endless.

    Regards

    Charlie

  8. The biggest wake-up call for me was the almost complete lack of protest to the theft of the citizens’ private pensions two years ago. The (lack of) reaction was based mainly on apathy, naivety and perhaps to a lot less extent, fear. If my government had attempted to steal my investments in the same way, I would have stayed on the streets and caused as much peaceful civil disorder as I could possibly manage until the thieves had been disposed. Here a disgusting 3% of the population had the balls to stand up to the bullies.

    In Hungary the regime carried out the theft with the apathetic if not directly active consent, I think, of a clear majority of the population. I know personally intelligent people, ie not your typical idiot Fidesz fascist by any means, who believed Orban when he promised them that he would guarantee their state pension 20, 30, 40 years in the future. WTF?! How do you deal with that kind of blind trust in authority? How far down the line before they start to think “Here, hang on a moment, perhaps he isn’t a direct descendant of St Istvan”.

    Like all bullying thugs, Orban and his henchmen are at heart cowards, if at any stage during their regime more than a small minority of judges, teachers, students etc etc had stood up to them, then they would have quickly retreated. As it is, the complete lack of civic cohesion and actually self-respect on the part of too many has given him a clear run. Those with any kind of initiative or balls have realised that there is nothing left for their kind anymore here and emigrated. He has only begun and the only restraint on his reign is the fact that the minions below him are lazy, incompetent morons who have no more clue how to run a proper dictatorshipo than they do a fully functioning democracy.

  9. We may call on all remaining intelligent and decent Hungarians to end the rule of the neo-horthyist political and economical oppressors: orban, balogh, simicka, nyerges…..vona, novak, gyongyosi….

    Unite and elect a leadership that stops this destructive show directed by arthur finkelstein and associates.

  10. Joe Simon :
    Just a friendly warning! All these writings by HS and your comments are stored by the NSA. Probable category: views and comments from the extreme left, the Jobbik in reverse. Remember, inciting rebellion against an EU country may not sit well with the NSA.

    We are more worried about the information being stored by Fidesz. By the way this is a public forum… just saying. Since this is a forum about Hungary (I know you are surprised!) here we go:
    You know how Fidesz is Simon? THey send out surveys with barcodes, they fire people from the media for not supporting Fidesz, they know if you like them or not and you could end up loosing your business. Fidesz can go and nationalize your property or business if they do not like you. Hungary also like to free axe-murderers while put homeless people in jail.Oh, and Fidesz established different units from the police that can arrest you, enter your house, survey your phone calls, etc. True, they even published that this could happen!

  11. What about this:

    The official name of Orban’s Fidesz party has been ” Fidesz – Magyar Polgári Szövetség ” since 2003.

    szövetség means union.

    The court is not willing to recognize Bajnai’s new party “Együtt 2014-Párbeszéd Magyarországért Választási Szövetség” legal, because a party cannot incorporate the name “szövetség” in its name by a 2011 Fidesz law. [That is the court’s interpretation. I did read the relevant passage in the law and am not able to understand the court].

    http://index.hu/belfold/2013/06/14/az_egyutt_2014_part_marad_legfeljebb_nem_lesz_szovetseg/

    So Bajnai’s party is not able to run in the election with this name.

  12. Thank you, Eva, for this article. If we want to beat Orban, we have to figure out which of his strategies have been successful, and why, and then figure out a way to do it better.

    In American politics, the Democrats and Republicans are always trying to appropriate the other’s rhetoric. Ronald Reagan (I don’t think many people remember this) defused a lot of the liberal rhetoric. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama did everything they could to show that they were better for the economy, which had been the Republican strength.

    At one point, I was hopeful Bajnai could be the one to defuse Fidesz rhetoric, but I have lost faith in him. I have not lost faith in the discussion on this site.

    I wish we had more discussion on the majority of Hungarians who don’t want to vote. What could motivate them? And more importantly, WHO are they? Where do they live?

    We are not going convince the core of Fidesz support, but we should figure the edges of his coalition.

    We should build on our strength. but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to figure out how these undecided voters think. And this is true whether or not you want to take part in the 2014 elections. We still have to expand our base.

  13. Joe Simon,

    Do you deny that the government sent out opinion surveys with bar codes? Do you deny that the government allows homeless people to be jailed while setting an ax murderer free? Do you deny that the government has set up at least four new police or security units with minimal public oversight? Do you deny that the government purchased MOL shares in a non-transparent manner? Do you deny that the government has awarded long term agricultural leases to politically favored bidders? Do you deny that the government has awarded tobacco retail licenses to politically favored bidders? Do you deny that there has been massive government spending on unnecessary projects in the Prime Minister’s own home town? Do you deny that the government kept people from donating to the Red Cross during the recent flooding? Do you deny that the government has massively redirected government advertising to politically friendly newspapers?

  14. What the survey claims is probably real.
    What is not real is the conclusions you derive.
    Orbán is not successful because of what the survey says but in spite of it. Because things are changing in Hungary, for the better.
    The question the survey provides answer for is why the post-communist corrupt nomenclatures could still live and stay in power for 20 years after the regime change.
    Because the majority of people were dependent on the state and were motivated by envy and frustration. That’s why there is/was inherent hostility towards those who are more successful and those who emerge as a result of their own hard work.
    It is the ‘left’-‘lib’ companions that feed on malignancy and grudge.

  15. Gyor Calling!

    Where? Not from your shackled press, because the journalists ‘self censor’ for being fideszniks or fear losing their jobs.

    A free press is a fundamental element of democracy – one of, if not the most important elements.

    But hey, how would you know? You’re a product of unthinking, unquestioning propaganda communists.

    Regards comrade,

    Charlie

  16. Joe Simon :
    Some 1. I live in Hungary. Where do you people get all this?

    bahaha Are you living in a cave in Hungary?
    I know you will not get this info from the government portals or from MTI, and that also proves ho w the Fidesz PR and misinformation machine works. You know more about the doings of the USA, than of the doings of your own government!

    Enter in your search engine vonalkod, kerdoiv, adatbiztos, and you will get hundreds of results about how the Hungarian Privacy Commissioner’s ( http://www.naih.hu) found that the Orban government illegally used barcodes on its questioners and other documents to id to those who returned (on did not return) the questionnaire. It is also a known fact the Fidesz lied by saying that they consulted the Privacy Commissioners before using the barcodes. http://nol.hu/belfold/20110609-cafoljak_egymast

    About my other points, just do your own diligence about the special “forces”, as we discussed this on this very blog, so you do not have to go to far. Top right “Search this blog”

  17. tappanch :
    Tarlos: Margit island will be closed to the public for another two weeks [as I predicted].
    Even after the reopening, “certain” parts remain closed.
    His pretext is the 8 (!) trees that were felled by the flooding.
    http://www.hirado.hu/Hirek/2013/06/14/14/Ket_het_mulva_nyitjak_meg_a_Margitsziget_egyes.aspx

    Margit Sziget is one of my favourite places here. I go running a few times a week, and it’s really nice to be among hundreds of other runners, and see relatively ‘normal’ faces there. I’m aware that most Hungarians couldn’t care less if the stupid runners lose their place, and Margit Sziget becomes a giant Simicska-owned casino, or gets sold to ‘Chinese investors’ or whatever. But really, this might be the very last straw for me.

  18. Johnny Boy :
    What the survey claims is probably real.
    What is not real is the conclusions you derive.
    Orbán is not successful because of what the survey says but in spite of it. Because things are changing in Hungary, for the better.

    The mighty Viktor Orban, the Hungarian Superman, the hero of the levees, relentlessly fighting the apathy of his countrymen and in spite of their negativity he still wins the fight against poverty and corruption … OMG. Where is the bucket …

    Johnny, you are right in saying that pretty much all the post-communist governments were inept and corrupt and the reason that they had no opposition is exactly what survey says.

    But Orban’s bunch is the worst of all these governments. There are no results. The country is spinning in the toilet bowl like a piece of turd after flushing. They are the one who realized the real potential of the Hungarian spite, laziness and stupidity and they are really pushing the envelope. They practically built their empire on this phenomenon.

  19. Oh, and related to the above … Hasn’t Tarlos on several occasions tried to put a spanner in the works of the Budapest marathon? Or to tax it unnecessarily?

  20. An wrote “

    An :
    On another note, maybe this big exodus of young people will bring some change in attitudes. I don’t think that ALL of them are going to stay abroad, some are going to return (especially if Orban disappears by some miracle), and many are going to visit often and keep in touch with their family. I am sure these people will be affected by what they see in western Europe and in return, will affect some of the attitudes at home… Maybe not much, but some. Maybe this “closed” nature of Hungary has something to do with the very low migration that was characteristics of Hungarians until recently (well, other than in the 40s and after 56… which was awhile ago).

    One risk, as I see it, is that when all these enlightened young people do return, then there will be friction between them and all the democrats who stuck it out in Hungary while Orban was reigning – this sort of thing, I think, has happened before – the ones who stayed and tried to keep some flame of democracy and sanity alive during the dark times will resent the returnees and not see them as their true partners. Where are we then?

  21. Joe Simon :
    Just a friendly warning! All these writings by HS and your comments are stored by the NSA. Probable category: views and comments from the extreme left, the Jobbik in reverse. Remember, inciting rebellion against an EU country may not sit well with the NSA.

    The NSA has only one file. Some guy named Simon keeps making anti American comments on the blog.

    Let me remind their computers about you: Allahu Akbar (NSA? Are you listening?)

  22. Mutt! Hilarious!

    Let him run down America – they are used to it.

    It probably makes Simple Simon feel better – and it’s a free democracy after all.

    Regards

    Charlie

  23. An accessory to crime is somebody who without being present at the crime scene helps somebody else to perform a crime or to escape punishment. For example somebody who destroys documents that he knows could prove a crime is an accessory to crime. It does not matter whether he does it of his own volition or he is ordered to do it by his employer. Even the threat of being fired is no excuse.

    For the sake of discussion let us assume that friends of the government were favoured in the awarding of land leases. That would be a corrupt practise and corruption is criminal. Being accessory to the crime of corruption is also a crime. The principal lawbreakers, the small group of people who conspired and executed the allegedly corrupt distribution of land leases, have relied on a vastly more numerous group of helpers who in helping the execution of the plot and covering it up have knowingly made themselves criminals, namely accessories to the crime of corruption.

    Let us likewise assume that the awarding of tobacco licenses was corrupt. By the same argument as above we may say that there is a small group of principal lawbreakers, probably the same as the land lease lawbreakers, and a large crowd of accessories to the crime, not necessarily the same as the accessories to the land lease crime. The accessories include among others employees in ministries who have shuffled papers they knew had a criminal content and persons in the judicial system whose duty it is to investigate the crimes when brought to their attention and have failed to do so. It also includes members of the parliament who have voted for measures with the obvious purpose to facilitate or cover up the practises they knew were corrupt..

    There are many other acts of the Fidesz government that can be suspected of having been criminal and assisted or covered up by accessories. If the suspicions in all these cases are true we have a small group of principals in crime who share most of the loot and a very large group of accessories who get rewarded with small lumps or nothing else than assurance that they are not going to be fired. They are all criminals and they will not be brought to justice at present because the authorities, whose duty it is to investigate the suspicions, will not do so.

    When the communist rule in Hungary collapsed it was decided that the former communist leaders and their accessories should not be tried and punished for their alleged crimes and the archives should remain closed. This is why an echelon of communist accessories could regroup under the name of Fidesz and try out different political ideologies without the voters being aware of their roles in the communist system.

    Now let us look at the question: Should the Fidesz people be investigated and possibly tried for alleged crimes when they loose power? They themselves did not consider the impunity of communist era crimes as a precedent to follow, as they set up an investigation of alleged crimes committed by their direct predecessors with the top priority of having a former prime minister locked up. He is a still a free man, not because Fidesz granted him amnesty, but because they could not prove their widely disseminated allegations which they have not withdrawn. There are other examples.

    Some bewildered opposition politicians have declared that they don’t aim at prosecuting their predecessors when they themselves gain power. That is a dangerous policy. In my opinion, the alleged crimes of the Fidesz system should be investigated and brought to court if substantiated. If not for the sake of punishment then for the sake of deterrence. Future governments shall not be under the delusion that a parliamentary majority is a licence to commit crime. In fact I suspect that some of the opposition leaders would love to take over the Fidesz constitution and the Fidesz methods. Is there any other way to explain why the opposition cannot unite in declaring the Fidesz constitution null and void?

    I have “for the sake of discussion” assumed that allegations of wrongdoings by the Fidesz inner circle and complicity by numerous accessories may be or may not be true. In fact I do not doubt that they are true, and I do not doubt that millions of Hungarians believe them to be true and support Fidesz anyway out of opportunism. I do not believe that Hungarians are worse opportunists than any other people. I believe that their political demagogues are exceptionally evil.

  24. The main reason for these poll results – and anyone who lives here cannot deny them – is the absolute mainstreaming of corruption. Corruption is normal, everyone partakes in it to some extent on an almost daily basis, and so people only shrug at attempts to bring wider scandal to their attention. I give you, for example, the ‘normal’ practice of offering two quotes for works – one including tax and one not – and the widespread willingness to pay doctors frankly enormous bribes. The people are not to blame for this, for most state employees (such as teachers) have salaries which simply cannot cope with the (mostly hidden) tax burden and on which it would be impossible to support the most frugal of households. But where the people ARE to blame is their unwillingness to resolve the situation. So when Gyurcsany introduced his (miniscule) GP-visit charge, which research showed was having an immediate effect on ‘gratitude money’ paid to doctors, the people overturned it by a large majority and returned happily to the old, corrupt ways; after all, it’s the most vulnerable who suffer under such a system: the poor, the family-less, the sick, the ‘surplus population’.

  25. Jean P :
    A pride item for the list of outrages: Orbán opening the Schengen curtain for money.
    http://www.budapesttimes.hu/2013/06/14/breaching-the-great-wallof-europe/
    When will Hungary be suspended from its Schengen membership?

    Good old Viktor, he keeps trying to get our ass kicked out of the EU. One can suspect his motives; but the bureaucrats and other Fidesz parliamentarians who abide this strident illegality is mortifying.

    Are there still PROUD HUNGARIANS out there?

  26. from kepviselofunky.blog.hu

    [Orban] – My Peter, I am bit worried about Czechia.
    [Polt] – It cannot happen here.
    [Orban] – Thanks, this is what I wanted to hear.

  27. I’ll point (again) to Attila Mong’s piece in HV, The Dictatorship of Apathy. I like this sentence in particular : « When [Orban] speaks about ten millions of freedom fighters in the country, he is again telling the petty bourgeois individualists of the Kádár system that they can remain the lords of their little gardens, providing they do not play in the big league. ».

    Original HU:http://hvg.hu/velemeny/20130527_A_kozony_diktaturaja

    Summary EN: http://www.eurotopics.net/en/home/presseschau/archiv/aehnliche/archiv_article/ARTICLE123982-For-Attila-Mong-disappointed-Hungarians-are-relapsing-into-apathy

    Translation FR: http://www.hu-lala.org/2013/06/10/hongrie-attila-mong-denonce-la-dictature-de-l%E2%80%99indifference/

  28. To Petofi!
    All Hungarians are proud. Most of them are spineless, too.
    Only a few ones have got true reasons for being proud.
    The result is a one hundred, or even one thousand year misery.

  29. OTT but still good news- http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/2013/06/14/roma-stand-against-prejudice-in-hungarian-university/?mod=wsj_streaming_latest-headlines
    The fact that Orban’s Lapdog in Chief, Lazar has recently whinged about George Soros’ *influence* in Hungary kinda suggests to me that it will be the NGO sector which will be the next target of the Fidesz Mafia; the likes of Open Society, CEU and the Roma Fund have too many independent thinkers to be accomodated comfortably within Orbanistan.

  30. Sorry for remaining out of this discussion – it’s really depressing …

    Just right now for the umpteenth time sometging about Bajnai was on North Korean tv aka M1. It would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad and unbelievable.

    Totally OT:

    One good piece of news: A local company saved my little notebook from the abysses of Windows 7 (looks like it was developed by Orbán and his henchmen btw …) and gladly accepted my suggestion of putting Linux on it.

    And the best news: They only charged me 10 000 Forint …

  31. Very interesting and important post.

    But, @An:

    “I have to stand corrected, as I have always been on the opinion that the “brave new world” Orban is building is a kind of aberration and that without Orban the story in Hungary would be very different. Well, according to these studies, maybe not…. if the attitudes and values of the Hungarians are such, it was only a question of time when a political manipulator would take advantage of it. ”

    Partly, yes. But let’s remember, in 2009 Orban had been around for 7 years with his aggressive propaganda, manipulating people to think in a distorted way about the communist past, about what the government was doing, what the anti-Hungarian EU was doing etc. Many Hungarians were tired of 7 years of a sharply divided society and blamed democracy for causing it. (“All those unnecessary arguing that leads to nothing.”) Also, the 2009 credit crunch and world recession was starting, which made many people question their core beliefs about the West and democracy.

    But yes: most Hungarians would rather have a strong leader who will tell them what to think, whom they can believe without thinking and who will make the country rich and successful, than learn how to live in a democracy. In a way, Hungarians have been much more successfully Sovietized than some others, and behave a lot like Russians under Putin nowadays.

    Also, Poland is worth watching. They have a lot of similar tendencies to Hungary, and it might only be temporary that a pro-Western, pro-EU government is successful – the Kaczynski supporters never totally calmed down.

  32. “The fourth amendment of the Hungarian constitution, approved in March, “endangers the constitutional system of checks and balances,” the Venice Commission, an independent advisory body on constitutional matters of the 47-nation Council of Europe, said in a report today. The findings were criticized by Orban’s government.”

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-06-14/orban-constitution-is-threat-to-hungary-rule-of-law-panel-says

    Has the report indeed been released, or is this still about the leaked draft?

  33. oneill :
    The fact that Orban’s Lapdog in Chief, Lazar has recently whinged about George Soros’ *influence* in Hungary

    and this time Lazar is right. Without Soros, we would not have to suffer Orban. THere are a few current Fidesz members who received financial help from the Soros Foundation in order to continue wit their studies outside Hungary! Never too late to late to repay and give back the diplomas although.

  34. An, I was not too positive about Hungarian political maturity before, but currently I would not be too negative either. It might be true that some attitudes may have made it easier for OV, but I think CC is right and a lot also depends on what people experience and what they consider “realistic”. I think it is still very urgent to identify an alternative future for Hungary, for which people have to be won, for instance through raising their political skills. Certainly this should not be taken as a sign of an “eternal unsuitability” for anything better than Fidesztan. I understand that it is a difficult task to mobilise the public for democracy, given the widespread resignation. But there is no alternative to trying it. And as regards the role of Hungarians who live abroad, I also believe that it could be very beneficial. But it might be of use if these people either contact some dissident groups in Hungary or at least come into contact among themselves with clear political objectives.

  35. I mentioned these “values” to my HU partner, as usual he disagrees!
    How come someone (he) who has never lived outside of HU, fully educated in HU be so different than the rest ?

    Re : GP fees

    1) Until today I’m still baffled by HU’s reactions to this referendum. Where I came from, public hospitals is cheap and no one pays a bribe! Mind you we do not have social welfare. For dental, there is even a clinic for the poor where the fee is less than US1 per visit.

    2) A HU friend told me that she was surprised when she offered some cash to a doctor in Spain when she was treated for minor cold while holidaying in costa del sol.

  36. Mutt :

    But Orban’s bunch is the worst of all these governments. There are no results. The country is spinning in the toilet bowl like a piece of turd after flushing. They are the one who realized the real potential of the Hungarian spite, laziness and stupidity and they are really pushing the envelope. They practically built their empire on this phenomenon.

    It’s completely the other way around. If you were right, Fidesz wouldn’t have lost the elections in 2002 and 2006. To us, thinking Hungarians, the above written national characteristics became obvious in 2002 and in 2004 (voting about citizenship).
    We’ve known all this since 2002. It help the left, but less and less so. And the result was 2010.

  37. enuff :
    #oops entered too soon
    2) Of course the Spanish doctor refuse her cash!

    I thin I have mentioned this on the blog before, but I just want to bring it up. I was in the ER department with my daughter couple of years ago, when I overheard a mom with three children talking in Hungarian. THe ER nurse came and was asking questions, but it was clear that the family spoke no English. I jumped in and offered my help. All three kids and the mom had high fever, and generally felt very ill. Make the long story short, the reason they did not go to see the doctor because they did not have money to give as “gratitude money”. I told them that in Canada you would offend a physician by giving money. She was flabbergasted.
    In my info in Hungary, depending on treatment, you expected to give between 10,000-150,000 forints to a doctor.

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