I usually don’t deal with topics that are fodder for the tabloids, like the weddings of famous people, but I have to write about the wedding of Viktor Orbán’s eldest child, Ráhel (24). It personalizes the corruption of Orbán’s Hungary.
In case some of you think that it must be the terrible press that dragged the private life of a young girl who happens to be the daughter of the prime minister into the limelight, you would be mistaken. It was Orbán himself who made his daughter’s wedding a public affair.
Viktor Orbán likes to use Blikk, a Hungarian tabloid, to shed light on the private life of his family whenever it serves his purpose. So it wasn’t surprising that it was Blikk that first reported on the details of the forthcoming wedding. Orbán told the newspaper that his modest abode (porta) in Felcsút is not spacious enough to hold the wedding since both families are large. However, he added, luckily the groom’s family owns a “tanya,” which will be most suitable.
Let’s say a few words about this “tanya.” If one looks up the meaning of “tanya” in the Magyar Értelmező Szótár it turns out that the “tanya” where the wedding will be held is not the kind that is described there. A “tanya” is a modest farmhouse with some outbuildings situated in a remote area, a few kilometers from smaller towns or villages in the Great Plains region. Some of these farms still have no electricity.
Well, this “tanya” is neither in the Great Plains nor modest. It is an estate near Bicske not far from Felcsút that formerly belonged to an old noble family. The palatial building is surrounded by 30-40 hectares of land. The new owners, the Tiborcz family, restored the building and added an impressive park. It now functions as a hotel and a horse farm. They also organize larger events there, including weddings.
The Tiborcz family bought the estate sometime in the mid-1990s. Earlier the father of István Tiborcz, the groom, was in the funeral business but he moved into hospitality. In addition to this “tanya” he has a smaller building with seven acres and eleven rooms that he reconstructed as a family hotel. The groom’s family lives 15 minutes from Felcsút in Csabdi.
István Tiborcz (27) finished law school, but he is a businessman who has been doing exceptionally well financially since Viktor Orbán became prime minister. In 2008 he and a friend of his started a small business dealing with electrical and energy supplies. In 2009 they had a modest profit of 8 million forints on which they paid 2 million in taxes. Today their business’s annual profit is over 2.5 billion forints. A good chunk of the money comes from government contracts. According to calculations, in three years István Tiborcz’s government orders have amounted to 3.2 billion forints.
The couple met five or six years ago, and by 2010 Tiborcz was so close to the Orbáns that he was present at the Fidesz victory celebration after the election. Other members of the family also benefited from his connection to the Orbáns. His sister Eszter received 157 hectares for lease, which is 4.1% of all leases distributed among friends and families in Fejér County. His bother Péter works for the Ministry of National Development.
Admittedly, there are benefits to being connected to the “first family.” However, what is happening with the wedding is something else. I’m sure that the Nixon daughters’ weddings were big deals, but I doubt that the city of Washington decided to fix the sidewalk leading to the church. Or send out workers to pick up the fallen leaves around the building. Or repaint the walls of the church that until now were covered with graffiti. Because the wedding itself will be held in the Országúti (Landstrasse) Franciscan Church on Margit körút. In the second half of the eighteenth century when it was built, it was considered to be in the outskirts of Buda but today it stands in one of the busiest spots in Budapest. Some people wonder about the wisdom of holding the wedding there. Think of the traffic jam tomorrow around the church. And then there are all those admirers of Viktor who will want to see him walk into the church with his daughter.
But fixing the sidewalk on Margit körút wasn’t enough. The surroundings of the “tanya” had to be fixed up too. The estate is well hidden. Reporters who decided to look around the site of the wedding had a hard time finding it. The road leading to it has been in very bad shape for years. Huge potholes everywhere. But, never fear, the Hungarian government came to the rescue. Big pieces of machinery arrived a few days ago and in no time the potholes were filled and the grass on the sides of the road cut. After all, the surroundings couldn’t possibly look neglected. What would the three hundred expected guests think? As one headline announced, “Anywhere Ráhel Orbán goes the country is getting beautified.” Viktor Orbán or his minions make sure of that.
Since Viktor Orbán wanted to make a big fuss about this wedding he shouldn’t be surprised that nosy reporters have been snooping around and uncovering dirt, like the work on the road leading to the “tanya.” The trouble was compounded by Viktor Orbán’s press secretary who announced that no one ever touched that road so the guests will have to travel to the wedding on “a road that has the most potholes in the country.” The Hungarian media had a heyday with the most potholed road in the country. Naturally a few hours later came pictures of the road and the obviously recently filled potholes.
And then there is the controversy over the role of TEK, the private army of Viktor Orbán, as the newly established Anti-Terror Center is called by many. The chief of TEK, János Hajdú, former bodyguard of Orbán, denied that TEK will provide security during the wedding ceremony and at the wedding party. Eventually, however, it became clear that since the prime minister is entitled to be guarded by TEK, they will be there. Moreover, TEK is also responsible for the security of President János Áder and House Speaker László Kövér. Áder was invited but will not be able to attend but surely Kövér, an old friend of the Orbáns, will be there. So TEK will take care of this so-called private wedding’s security needs.
It is a strange democracy when the prime minister behaves as if the whole country were his private domain. In a way, it is. The dividing line between private and public is blurred when either the central government or the municipal authorities are ordered or volunteer to fix up the venues of a private wedding. If the graffiti on the walls of the church bother either Orbán or the church, they should pay out of their own pockets. The same applies to the road leading to the Tiborcz estate.
Not long ago we talked about the enrichment of the Orbán family. Well, more members of that family are coming of age. There are four girls in the Orbán family. If each has to offer a “dowry” to her prospective husband on taxpayer money it will be an expensive affair for the country. Let’s hope that Viktor Orbán’s rule will not last that long. The youngest daughter is only nine!