Hungary’s pending blue law

For weeks we have been reading about the Christian Democrats’ brainstorm to close stores over a certain size on Sundays. This despite the fact that in the past twenty years shoppers have gotten used to stores being open on Sundays; shopping has become a family affair. Everybody can have a say in the purchase of large items: a new refrigerator, stove, TV set, or new furniture. And while they are out shopping on Sunday, the family often has lunch in one of the malls or goes to the latest movie.  People like the convenience, and I’m certain they will be mighty unhappy if and when the Fidesz and KDNP majority votes to close targeted stores on Sundays. People expect their options to increase, not decrease.

Until now it looked as if Viktor Orbán and the Fidesz leadership would not endorse the KDNP plan. Mihály Varga, minister of national economy, said that, given the touch-and-go economic situation in the country, taking away the opportunity to conduct business seven days a week was not a good idea. Associations representing the merchants reported that Sunday is their third busiest shopping day. They figured that about 12,000 jobs would be lost if they were forced to close their doors. Even Viktor Orbán announced a couple of weeks ago that the question should be discussed with everybody involved because the Christian Democrats consulted only those organizations that supported their position: right-wing trade unions and groups like the association of large families who backed their plan for ideological reasons.

The way the proposal was originally worded, the bill discriminated against foreign-owned large chains since only those stores larger than 400m² that were not family-owned and operated would have been forced to close. The bill would not have applied to Hungarian franchises such as CBA, a chain of smaller stores owned by three fanatic supporters of the current Hungarian government: László Baldauf, Vilmos Lázár, and his brother Zoltán. These small stores can’t compete successfully with the large chains. Their selection is limited and their prices are higher. If the large chains were forced to close on Sundays, the small CBA stores would reap the benefit. I suspect that Fidesz’s initial hesitation was due to their recognition that the bill was discriminatory. After all, having German, British, and French companies sue the Hungarian government is not something Fidesz needs at the moment.

Today Antal Rogán came out with what seems to be the final word on the subject. The Fidesz parliamentary delegation will support the proposal but with substantial amendments. Even the name of the bill will be changed. From here on it will be known as the “Law on the prohibition of work on Sundays.” The aim is, Rogán said, the “total cessation of work on Sundays.” An ambitious plan indeed, and I could give Rogán a few suggestions. No football on Sunday; after all those players are paid for their work. And then there are the priests and ministers who are also paid for Sunday work. And one could continue with policemen, firemen, doctors, nurses, or agricultural workers during planting and harvest season. What about restaurants or theaters, movies, concert halls? This proposed Hungarian blue law reminds me of Ottawa in the 1950s and 1960s when everything but everything was closed. It was a jolly place indeed. When I read such nonsense I always suspect that these people don’t think before they speak.

I understand that some of the influential higher-ups in Fidesz argued against the store closures because they knew that the move would be unpopular and, they argued, the government does not need another huge demonstration. According to an article that appeared on November 19, the Christian Democratic proposal was not popular among Fidesz leaders, including Viktor Orbán. But now, it seems, he changed his mind. According to vs.huOrbán turned against those, among them Lajos Kósa, who today argued for dropping the idea because of the current public mood. Orbán apparently countered that unpopular pieces of legislation should be introduced right at the beginning of the new administration. But, of course, this does not answer the question: why is the Sunday closing of stores such an important issue? Why should the government gamble on its already waning popularity? It is hard to fathom what’s going on in Orbán’s head. Has he lost his earlier keen political sense or is the Christian Democratic delegation perhaps blackmailing him, threatening him with a withdrawal of their support?

CBA Pecs

We know few details of the Fidesz amendments to the KDNP bill. One change that has been mentioned is that only very small family-owned stores can be open and only members of the family can work in them on Sundays. The size of stores that will be exempted from the blue law will be smaller than the originally proposed 400m² because it will include not only the shopping space but the store’s storage area as well. With the Fidesz amendments it seems that most CBA franchises will suffer along with the foreign-owned supermarkets. I don’t know the average area of these stores (or the average size of the families owning the franchises), but the Pécs CBA I found pictured online surely couldn’t do business on Sunday if this proposal becomes law.

Switching topics: Vladimir Putin announced a few hours ago that Gazprom has cancelled the construction of the South Stream pipeline. Not a good day for Viktor Orbán. What will happen to the storage facilities in Hungary? What about Paks? It looks as if Viktor Orbán might fall between two stools. It was risky gamble from day one, and it is getting riskier by the day.


  1. I think the Sunday law is introduced for two main reasons.

    1. One is the hope that the smaller CBAs, which are franchises will pick up the Sunday business which otherwise would have gone to Tesco and Aldi, ie. Orban naively hopes that people won’t shop on Saturday more in their favorite shops.

    But much more importantly this is an important gesture which shows that Orban cares about the small businesses (like CBA) and wants to hurt big foreign businesses.

    It’s very important for his image. With the utility rate cuts it wasn’t the actual extra 465 forint which was important to the voters, but the message that Orban finally cares about issues about which the little people cares (not about some intellectual issues like constitutions and romas and human rights). Fidesz is rotten to the core, but it’s still – despite all – seen as a party of the little (Hungarian) people. Meanwhile many people think that the “Left” contains parties which favor foreigners and big businesses, which isn’t so nice, I mean are these leftists Hungarians or what?

    2. Orban wants to send the message that he is a principled conservative, Christian who rather suffers in popularity but nevertheless introduces an important Christian rule.

    This is an important credential with the anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist Jobbik crowd, which is his main competition now. For all the demonstrations, the urban (Budapest) elite cannot in any way win over him given the election system. The election system is based on rural regions now where Jobbik is the competitor, and the left is absolutely non-existent. (Plus the left is divided, so given the system, Orban figures it will be many years when he has to deal with leftist issues).

    Also any kind of symbolic “principled stance” contrasts him with the Left Wing which has the image as a political brand that simply has no principles. Orban is now “Christian” and in Hungary (for his target audience) that’s the next best thing after being Hungarian. (It’s not that people go to church, but they like and respect the church and identify themselves as Christians which also means not being-jewish or a muslim immigrant)

    Interestingly, in Hungarian Sunday (Vasárnap) means “the day of the market” as people used to work on Saturday too, or rather in historical times there wasn’t a distinction between a work day and rest, all day was work day for the poor..

  2. Now they are trying to sell this very controversial law as some kind of labor friendly initiative (people shouldn’t work on Sunday) to make it more palatable, but I think it still will be an extremely unpopular measure. There is also a strong possibility that the state is going to lose tax revenue over this (some shopping that is usually done on Sundays will be done on other days, but not all) at a time when the budget is not on rock solid foundations. It is hard to see what the government has to gain from this.

    I wonder what kind of leverage KDNP, a ghost party with no political support from the population, has over Orban to be able to push this through.

  3. @An. I wonder what kind of leverage KDNP, a ghost party with no political support from the population, has over Orban to be able to push this through.”

    This is what intrigues me.

  4. Ljudmilla,

    Not just in distant historical times, but as recently as the 1970’s, Hungarians were expected to work on Saturdays. Interestingly, “Vasárnap” has lost a diacritical mark somewhere in ancient history, or “vásár” has gained one – or perhaps the similarity of the two words is just another huge coincidence borne from the Hungarian language.

  5. I wonder if maybe the large foreign chains wouldn’t end up benefiting from almost every store being closed on Sundays. Those thousands of lost jobs might save them more money than the lost business costs them (especially if most CBA’s are closed, too). Almost everything is closed on Sunday already, so people will mostly just shop on Saturdays, I think.

    I really pity the people who work two jobs and can only shop on Sundays. They will have to shop at 10pm at Tesco if this law really goes into effect, or get gouged at the mom-and-pop stores.

    When I lived in Germany, the Sunday closings were my biggest complaint, especially if I stayed up late on Friday night and couldn’t get to the store on Saturday morning. Many people happily work on Sundays, and they would be even happier if they got extra pay to do so. That’s the best way to solve the “problem” of worker exploitation, in my opinion – pass a law mandating overtime pay on Sundays!

  6. Re: Sunday in various Asian languages, or long live the Azeri – Hungarian friendship

    Hungarian < vásár nap (market day). Indeed the Sunday markets or fairs were banned in 1061 by Bela I. Other opinion attributes this ban to Geza I (1075-77). First, the fairs were ordered to be held on Saturdays (wikipedia contains 4 Szombathelys), later Wednesday became the market or fair day at some places (15 Szerdahelys in wikipedia)

    Sunday in Turkish: pazar
    Sunday in Azeri: bazar

    Although the origin of the word "[p/b/w/v] a [s/z/ch/sh] ar" is Persian, Sunday is called "first day" in Persian. Other Central Asian Turkic languages now use the same Arabic, originally Hebrew numbering.

  7. This ban cannot be justified by referring to the unwritten and fuzzy “historical” constitution which originates in 1222.

    So Orban must feel like an eleventh century absolute ruler of Hungary: he just repeats a thousand-year-old ban.

  8. Why not go the whole Hungarian hog and make ALL shops close at 1pm on Saturday?

    That would immediately achieve at least three benefits: very happy nationalists (except those who do the shopping), mass demonstrations, and the economy tanking.

    As for Paks – was it priced in Forint or Roubles? If the latter, it’s getting cheaper by the minute!

  9. I have found only 6 languages, where Sunday means Market Day.

    Apart from Hungarian, Azeri (bazar) and Turkish (pazar), I have found only Crimean Tatar (pazar), Gagauz (pazar) and Daghestani Lezghian examples.

    The Chuvash word or none of the words in other Finno-Ugric languages are related.

  10. “Eva S. Balogh

    December 1, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    @An. I wonder what kind of leverage KDNP, a ghost party with no political support from the population, has over Orban to be able to push this through.”

    This is what intrigues me.”

    Me too. I’ve never understood what Orbán gets out of this fiction that the governing party is a coalition. Surely there aren’t enough extremist religious votes in Hungary to be worth the hassle he gets from these nutters?

    They are in an incredibly weak position, as all he has to do is make them run as a separate party in the next election. So, either it’s yet another of these unfathomable Orbán oddities, or else they really do have a hold on him. But, if so, what?

    (Why is it no longer possible to quote posts on HS???)

  11. @Paul

    The ultimate Fidesz mandatory store hours:

    Monday through Friday 9 to 5.

    This will leave the still working population a generous 2 hours to shop every week: Friday 3 to 5.

    Shopping is the sign of the decadent West!

    It will be fun to watch all the commoners killing each other to get food, while
    the fidesznik ruling class would use servants to do the shopping.

  12. FiDeSz, or rather KöF.Sz (Union of Middle-aged Fascists) must have copied the CDU-CSU with its lopsided FiDeSz-KDNP duo.

    In reality, KDNP is the lobbying arm of the Catholic Church (and the Submachine Gun Hunters Association)

  13. Eva, I think the Christian Democrats must have suddenly understood that with the 2/3 just balancing on a single vote, they have bargaining power. Either Fidesz support their mad-cap ideas, or they will not vote with them on the important issues that require constitution changes.

    As for the Christian Democrats, I think they genuinely believe that they are protecting the shop-assistants who are forced to work on Sundays. To be honest, some do complain that they have no say in deciding if they get Sunday shifts or not.

    A much better solution would have been to

    1 enforce the existing laws that shop assistants can choose or the number of Sunday shifts should be limited – if there are any

    2 apart from Monday-Friday shifts for regular shop-assistants, they could employ weekend-only employees for higher pay, in which the regular staff can also volunteer. (After all, not everybody has a family.) Or/and they could simply reduce / maximize the Sunday opening hours. It is not rocket sience, you don’t need to drastically shut the supermarkets, but it seems to be beyond Mr Harrach and all.

    Here in Britain, we are really spoilt, I think. Supermarkets can open for a max. of 6 hours on Sundays, they are usually open between 10am-4pm. I like it.

  14. So the Southern stream is canceled.

    Hungary will not get foreign direct investment from the pipeline. No new jobs from the pipeline (builders-operators). No transit fees for Hungary (full transit fees on all the gas going to Italy and Austria, big consumers). No increased energy security of having two pipelines instead of one. I understand why many of you are so happy.

    Those who feel hatred for Hungary must be jubilant for this news. Reading some comments you can feel the mood. It is time to celebrate!

    All the new gas related investment will go to Turkey and Turkey alone. There will be a new pipeline and a large gas storage and distribution center very near the Greek border.

    Several other deals were signed between Turkey and Russia as well. It seems they are getting ready to enter into an alliance in all but name.

  15. I have found the KDNP power chain. 🙂

    Fidesz —- KDNP (Semjén) —- Hunters’ Associations —– Chief Prosecutor Polt.

    Another link

    CSU (Franz-Josef Strauss, now Stoiber??) —- Hunters’ Associations —- KDNP — Fidesz

  16. The inmates are running the asylum. A complete lunatic communist era inspired threat to the free enterprise system. The(ir) end is near, and they are beginning to feel it!!!

  17. @Paul – Paks was priced in neither forints nor rubles. It was set in Euros. The final price was estimated at somewhere between 10 and 12.5 billion Euros, but there is a clause in the contract saying that the (Russian) builder can raise prices at will if real costs are greater than the estimate and that Hungary will be required to pay the full cost, whatever that should be. We know this because, thankfully, the contract was published online by the Russian Duma, in compliance with Russian regulations on publishing laws voted on by the Duma. In Hungary, by contrast, the government made the contract a state secret.

  18. “Vladimir Putin announced a few hours ago that Gazprom has cancelled the construction of the South Stream pipeline. Not a good day for Viktor Orbán.”

    Viktor Orban never backs down. He will build his section anyway.

  19. Whoever concluded the Paks contracts will end up in jail. This is simple treason.

    I’m only repeating Orban, ie. here before was purchased by Putin.

    There was a good point in a recent Spiegel article about Yanukovich’ change of heart about the EU. Within the EU it is suspected that Putin pulled out a nice Kompromat which ‘persuaded’ Yanukovich to turn around. I’m guessing the same with Orban. This profound change is impossible without a complex carrot (the monies from the energy deals) and stick (the Kompromat) strategy.

    By the way Orban will build the Hungarian section of the South Stream, I agree with Jean P.

    It will be designated as a domestic pipeline, albeit one that can be connected to the Serbian section later.

    Orban earmarked the money for the project, and in his head he already spent his cut from the deal, there’s no backing down now.

  20. @Celebrate

    Try to understand that there’s no demand for the gas in the South Stream.

    Have you checked Hungary’s natural gas consumption data during the last say 20 years? You will be surprised.

    We similarly don’t need Paks 2.

    By the same token we can also build pyramids from Russian money and that will “create jobs” too.

    Even the dismantling of Paks 1 and the creation of the repository for the spent fuel rods — which Russia refuses to take back, itself a breach of a former agreement — will cost fortunes, probably in the 1,000 bn HUF range (at present prices), probably more.

  21. Abortion will be next, mark my words.

    Orban loves a bit of street action. He thrives on conflict, feeds on it, that’s his element.

    Meanwhile people don’t care about cuts in education or healthcare or that the pension funds are being confiscated or that there aren’t real jobs created or that Hungary is getting indebted or that Orban and his pals are looting Hungary as we speak. Meanwhile he will gain a the image of a principled Christian fundamentalist who opposes the capitalists. Jobbik’s fans (formerly almost all Fidesz voters) are his target and his going after them.

    W Bush did what Orban did. They both governed for their target group of voters only, not for the nation as a whole. The neocons saw that what Obama or MSZP or Gyurcsány couldn’t: a certain portion of the voters will never ever vote for you and your ideological convictions are more important in the long term than short term “compromises” and “bipartizanships”: they decided quickly to cater only to their fans and never apologize. In their view compromise is for losers who apologize even for their existence, like MSZP or the Hungarian left.

  22. Magyarország jobban teljesit
    Hungary performs better or more
    Magyarország összefog
    Hungary is closing ranks
    A magyar népesség 46,6 százaléka él szegénységben
    46.6 percent of the inhabitants in Hungary live in poverty
    The government has to simulate action and closing the shops on Sunday does make the impression that they are doing something besides getting rich.

  23. I agree with Webber. It is ironic that some people feel that serving the personal interest of Orban’s inner circle is more important than the well being and integrity of Hungary. THose who still buy into the Orban propaganda should educate themselves before posting here. Although the construction would of provide some jobs, those jobs would of been awarded to Orban’s friends, and many of the physical labour would of been done by the “forced labourers” under minimum wage. Work could arrive from the West, if Orban would look out for the best interest of Hungary, but western companies do not want to expand or open new outlets under Orban.

  24. Orban will also push his new conservative Christian credentials with the Republicans and the CSU people. These credentials will help him a lot.

    If Orban will indeed ban or severely restrict abortion (Barnabas Lenkovics the newly, but provisionally elected new head of the constitutional court will be tested on this one, remember Lenkovics was involved in the infamous davodi kislany story) or introduce what is anyway the normal way in the US, that is that weddings will be officially (sanctioned by the state) concluded in churches everything about Russia and everything else (corruption etc.) will immediately be forgiven and forgotten, even if of course Orban will continue to be doing the Russian deals like Paks 2 and MET gas deals. If he will also be more anti-gay, I think the American paleo conservatives will find a new European role model in him.

    There are tons of crazy GOP congressman who would praise him openly like that New Jersey representative or Germans like Seehofer.

    Don’t underestimate how easy it is to find “friends” in the West and how easy it is to divide the Western stance. Putin has been doing it splendidly (he is the role model of conservatives all over the Western world), now it’s Orban’s turn.

    Orban never retreats, instead he always ups the ante.

    Orban is a revolutionary and he wants to totally eradicate even the roots of a secular, liberal state. The urban liberals hurt him and underestimated him and for these mistakes his revenge is to absolutely annihilate them politically.

    He is only getting started.

  25. OT: I am very curious of the commenter “celebrate” regarding the FACTs that the 1% tax money (EUR 1,630,000) donated by Hungarian citizens like him to the government in order to fight against ragweed was spent on shoe polishing machines, pastry, mobile phones, computers, office products, etc. I am afraid that any financial gain (if any) from the Russian-Hungarian Friendship Projects would been spent the same way. I do not think that Hungary should be “protected” from the sceptics of Orban, but from Orban and from his supporters who would give anything to their dear leader versus to the Hungarian people.

  26. Not really OT. The following two scenes perfectly describe why people love Orban, and what is he doing.
    From the script of Gladiator:

    COMMODUS: Who deign to lecture me?
    LUCILLA: Commodus, the senate has its uses.
    COMMODUS: What uses? All they do is talk. Talk. …It should have been only me, and you, and Rome.
    LUCILLA: Don’t even think that, Commodus. There has always been a senate….
    COMMODUS: Rome has changed. It takes an Emperor to rule an empire.
    LUCILLA: Of course, but leave the people their….
    COMMODUS: Illusions?.
    LUCILLA: …traditions.
    COMMODUS: My father’s war against the barbarians, he said himself it achieved nothing. But people still loved him.
    LUCILLA: People always love victories.
    COMMODUS: But why? They don’t see the battles? What do they care about Germania?
    LUCILLA: They care about the greatness of Rome.
    COMMODUS: Greatness of Rome? But what is that?
    LUCILLA: It’s an idea, greatness. Greatness is a vision.
    COMMODUS: Exactly. A vision. I will give the people a vision and they will love me for it. They will soon forget the tedious sermonizing of a few dry old men. I will give them the greatest vision of their lives.

    [SCENE CHANGE – between Gaius and Gracchus at a restaurant, discussing the games which Commodus revived to lure the mob. Outside can be seen a juggler, merchants calling out their wares (wine), and the crowd visiting and moving about.]

    GAIUS: Games! 150 days of games!
    GRACCHUS: He’s cleverer than I thought.
    GAIUS: Clever. The whole of Rome would be laughing at him if they weren’t in fear of his Praetorian.
    GRACCHUS: Fear and wonder. A powerful combination.
    GAIUS: Will the people really be seduced by that?
    GRACCHUS: I think he knows what Rome is. Rome is the mob. He will conjure magic for them and they will be distracted. He will take away their freedom, and still they will roar. The beating heart of Rome is not the marble floor of the Senate, it is the sand of the Colosseum. He will give them death, and they will love him for it.

  27. Some1 writes
    “Although the construction would of provide some jobs, those jobs would of been awarded to Orban’s friends, and many of the physical labour would of been done by the “forced labourers” under minimum wag”

    So new jobs are not needed because the engineers and construction workers (have you ever worked on a large scale construction project in any capacity? did you see any ppl there under minimum wage?) will not be paid enough. A country only needs jobs that pay at least how much? 40k? 100k? dollars per year? Where do you draw the line under which a job is not needed in a community in your opinion?

    And you never say anything about transit fees. The smallest calculation I have read was 100 billion forints per year. Every year. I guess also this money is so little, so small that a rich country like Hungary does not need it. Did you ever think about why Italy and Austria (antidemocatic? autocratic states?) also supported this project? Or you just ignore that in any discussion?

    Let’s also do some math. It is already almost 2015. If they start constructing a pipline with all the hurdles the earliest was possibly 2017-2018 when it is finished. So 99% of the transit fees over the pipeline existence (100 billion per year or more) would be collected by the next governments future governments. (Gyurcsayn government quite possibly).

    Without this money they will have to make it up by tax increases and austerity which will weaken this Gyurcsany governement, so good job everyone?

    But maybe I am wrong and just there is some extra facts I do not know. Jobs are not needed, money is not needed in Hungary. Maybe Hungary wins some great thing by this loss of jobs, loss of money. How will the life of average Hungarians be better by the nullification of this pipeline project?

  28. Gabor, have your read Keynes? There’s a great project for you and your voodoo “economists”.

    Bury newly printed cash inside a cave, have it bombed and award entrepreneurs the opportunity to dig the money out. Whoever reaches the inside first will get the prize. Such a project would produce a lot of work, jobs, increase GDP significantly.

    The result: of course nothing, the world is not in a better position that it was before but we increased employment.

    South Stream and Paks 2 are such projects.

    Unnecessary, but fantastic opportunity to continue to loot taxpayers’s money.

  29. “ladislaus” ?

    How is your example connected to Hungary gaining 100 billion per year in transit fees? And new jobs for the population? Your example is completely irrelevant to this situation.

    Your example has another fault described here:

    “The result: of course nothing, the world is not in a better position”

    Countries do not take actions to make the “world” into a better position. But certain actions still benefit one country more than another. If the USA buries their own money and allows others to dig it out is it still about nothing? On the world level yes on the country level no.

    Let’s say the USA gives 3 billion USD per year to another country as a gift.

    Is the world a better place? No. The amount of money in the world is the same it was simply transferred from one country to another. But the country that received it is better off.

    It seems this project had certain components that were not that bad. Transit fees, jobs and similar. Nobody explained how was it bad for the economy of Hungary. Maybe it was bad, but you didn’t explain it.

    So, should average Hungarians be happy about this? How will the life of Hungarians become better by this development?

  30. Gabor
    “Let’s say the USA gives 3 billion USD per year to another country as a gift.
    Is the world a better place? No. The amount of money in the world is the same it was simply transferred from one country to another. But the country that received it is better off.”

    Not really.

    This is because the country receiving the money has not earned it through improving its competitiveness on the world market but gotten it through holding its hand out.

    Your position is very symptomatic of what is wrong with this country. Since our government knows EU aid will flow to Hungary no matter what, there is no incentive to promote greater efficiency and help make Hungary more competitive.

    Personally, I think it’s awful that there are billboards in this country announcing how much aid we’ve managed to squeeze out of the EU, as if it were something to be proud of! It’s like the homeless man bragging about his ability to panhandle is better than any of his peers.

    I imagine you don’t see this as a problem, though. Most people here don’t (hey, it’s free money, why complain, etc.).

  31. Gabor just forgot to mention one little detail:

    Putin has cancelled South Stream – ain’t he cute?

  32. Eva mentioned in passing that Gazprom has cancelled the construction of the South Stream pipeline yesterday. Which wolfi picked up on yesterday immediately. Once the announcement was made the Russian ruble took a dive. The ruble declined as much as 6% in intraday trading on Monday, its worst daily drop since 1998, when the currency was devalued and Russia defaulted on its debt. The dollar climbed to almost 54 rubles in intraday trading, before falling back. This is discussed extensively in this Wall Street Journal article

    Bloomberg news today is reporting a bank panic in Russia and an admission by Russian officials that its economy is heading into recession. The official RT news site today does not even have an article discussing in detail the crash of the ruble, it does have an article quoting IMF chief Christine Lagarde on the benefits to the west of lower oil prices. RT then states: “Last week Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov acknowledged that lower oil prices add about $90-100 billion in losses to the Russian economy. However, other Russian officials have so far maintained that the economy won’t be hit hard and budget obligations will be met, as lower oil prices are balanced by a weaker ruble.”

    Russia becomes now much more dangerous not less dangerous because Putin must act strong to shore up his position. Eva is also very correct in noting that Orban’s eastern winds doctrine was a big gamble that is not paying off. Orban could try some type of pivot to the west given how badly this is all turning out, but that creates problems too.

  33. wolfi how can you be so ignorant? the whole discussion was about the cancellation of the South Stream project.

    buddy, I never wrote about EU subsidies, what are you talking about?

    Buddy, would you support cutting US aid to Egypt, Pakistan, Israel? Billions of dollars are transferred from the US to these countries each year.

    ” the country receiving the money has not earned it through improving its competitiveness on the world market but gotten it through holding its hand out.”

    your words.

    So would you support cutting these US funds to these countries? What if you were living in one of these countries that benefit? Would you support cutting the transfer of money then? I find your position a bit strange here.

  34. @Gabor,

    The cancelation of South Stream will likely benefit Hungary by forcing the country to diversify its energy sources. Those countries most dependent on Russian gas pay a higher price for it.

    So, in the end it is the average Hungarian who might benefit from a more competitive and broader energy portfolio. And of course a lower likelihood of energy ransom by Putin Inc.

  35. “The cancelation of South Stream will likely benefit Hungary by forcing the country to diversify its energy sources.”

    The South Stream would have diversified the transit routes giving two routes instead of one. It does not mean Hungary must buy more gas just because there are two pipelines instead of one. You buy as much as you need don’t you?

    Do you buy more bread if another shop opens that sells bread?

    By the way Hungary has a huge undeveloped gas field under Makó that has enough gas for about a hundred years. Assuming it can develop it in 20 years due to advances in technology, and starts buying 0 gas from outside, it could still collect transit fees on the gas that goes through to the other countries. So even if you buy zero gas, a pipeline going through Hungary still earns money. It doesn’t have to be South Stream, I’d be very happy if someone else decided to run through their pipeline over Hungary, now that Stream is cancelled.

    Diversifying energy sources is a good idea, and I support it 100%. I only wish those people talking about this would actually explain it more, what they mean by it. If we are talking about gas, it can only be transferred in pipelines. Hungary does not have a coast to a sea or ocean. It can not “diversify” anything it can only agree to the plans of other countries that want to “diversify” for Hungary. Even South Stream was a project between about 10 countries. All Hungary could do is agree to it or reject it. It is a landlocked country that can not do anything by itself no matter how hard you try to “force it”. You can’t “force” Hungary to “tengert növesszen magának”. If you look at the behavior of other countries it is not very positive.

    Croatia for example does not even do the minimum that they are “forced” to do by the EU. The EU forced Croatia to build pipelines that provide reverse-flow into Hungary, but Croatia (and Romania) did not build the reverse flow pipeline, they just ignored the EU. So currently Hungary has a pipeline that can send gas into Croatia but Croatia refuses to build a pipeline that could send gas the other way, into Hungary.

  36. Gabor

    I will answer your question when you’ve answered mine, which I asked you several times a few days ago:

    How is this statement by our Prime Minister not an attack on the US? “nyers gazdasági érdekek miatt rágalmazási hadjáratot folytat egy ország ártatlan állampolgáraival szemben”

    You said it was in fact the opposite of that.

  37. @Gabor

    “The South Stream would have diversified the transit routes giving two routes instead of one. It does not mean Hungary must buy more gas just because there are two pipelines instead of one. You buy as much as you need don’t you?

    Do you buy more bread if another shop opens that sells bread?”

    Well this way when one bread shop closes (Ukraine route), you will not be buying from the other shop (S. Stream) that gets its bread from the same baker (Russia). And when you get 86% of your bread from one baker, that baker can get more of your dough for each loaf.

    You see it is about breaking free from long-term dependence on a sketchy supplier.

  38. Is Gabor Orbán’s pipeline and gas supply expert?
    Then Putin’s decision must have come as a shock …
    These people always think they can cheat the EU – and now they are totally surprised!

  39. has several interesting articles on South Stream and the EU:
    “The decision shows that the outside world does have an impact on Russia, and probably a bigger one than Russia would like to admit,” Reuters cited Vaclav Bartuska, the Czech government’s ambassador for energy security.

  40. Russia has a huge rainy day reserve fund, they can surely survive a few years of difficulties.

    But I agree that Putin will become even more dangerous, he will be even more paranoid and more aggressive.

    I don’t think Orban will change either for the better, he can’t, as he sincerely believes in the Tellér-Dugin line of thought.

    He won’t abandon his right-wing voters who seriously hate the EU and the US and who -if he changed course – would simply move over to (the less corrupt looking) Jobbik; instead I think Orban will try to woe back the the Jobbik voters himself.

    For Orban the South Stream fiasco has no relevance in the greater scheme of things (although he will miss the money). The next elections will be held in more than three years, by that time he will be president anyway and nobody will remember this turbulence especially as most voters don’t follow or understand complex issues. They care about utility prices and pensions, everything else they let go as intellectual issues for the urban smarteggs. (Corruption is another issue, though and it seems fideszniks can’t catch a break on that front)

  41. @Jean P

    “Viktor Orban never backs down. He will build his section anyway.”
    Exatly, first built soccer stadiums without soccer, then gas pipeline without gas, I’m looking forward what’s next..

    If oil prices stays at this level, or go even lower, Russia has no money left to lend for Paks II, that will be the next one to go.

    Speaking of lack of funds, on a serious note, a few days ago according to, Hungary as a NATO member has 0 operation military helicopter, 15 tanks, and 12 howitzers, total.

  42. @Buddy, “Holy moley, John McCain called Orbán a “neofascist dictator” just before the Bell nomination today. (Maybe he’s read Ungváry’s new book??)”

    Or Hungarian Spectrum?

  43. @Jean P

    “Viktor Orban never backs down. He will build his section anyway.”
    Exatly, first built soccer stadiums without soccer, then gas pipeline without gas, I’m looking forward what’s next..

    If oil prices stays at this level, or go even lower, Russia has no money left to lend for Paks II, that will be the next one to go.

    Speaking of lack of funds, on a serious note, a few days ago according to, Hungary as a NATO member has 0 operational military helicopter, 15 tanks, and 12 howitzers, total.

    edit spelling

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