Viktor Orbán bet on the wrong horse

It’s time to turn our attention eastward, to Russia. Yesterday’s dramatic events shook the world despite the fact that people keeping an eye on the Russian economy have known for at least a year that Russia is in trouble.

Putin’s Russia, which not so long ago Viktor Orbán viewed as an ascendant power–as opposed to the countries of the declining west, is close to economic collapse. Viktor Orbán bet on the wrong horse both politically and economically. His scheme to offer Gazprom storage facilities in return for cheaper gas fell through when Putin was forced to abandon his ambitious plans for the Southern Stream that would ultimately reach Italy and Austria. As for Orbán’s grandiose project of adding two more reactors to the already functioning Paks nuclear power plant, there is a good chance that Russia will not be able to fulfill its promise of a 10 billion euro loan to Hungary. All in all, Orbán’s Russia policy is crumbling.

I would like to return to the passages from the infamous Bloomberg interview in which Orbán talked about his foreign policy objectives. Although some of Orbán’s English sentences are well nigh incomprehensible, here’s my best guess as to his intent.

I found it somewhat surprising that he admitted that the original underpinning of his foreign policy is no longer applicable. We all know that in his mind foreign policy is driven solely by commercial and financial interests. His whole Eastern Opening was based on this belief. Hungary may be a member of the European Union, but its economic future lies with the East. Well, he discovered that currently foreign policy “is based on geopolitics … which is a new challenge for all of us.” Well, not for all of us. It is a challenge for members of the new Hungarian diplomatic corps who have no diplomatic experience. It is a challenge for Péter Szijjártó whose only job until now was running around in Asian and Middle Eastern countries trying to drum up business.

When it came to Russia, Orbán was rather fuzzy in this interview. Hungary’s “Russian Doctrine”–whatever ‘doctrine’ means in this context–“is respect for international law while keeping open opportunities for economic cooperation.” This is a simplistic way of looking at the art of diplomacy. Russia did not respect international law and therefore Hungary, according to its Russian Doctrine, should stand squarely with the European Union. But that attitude most likely precludes “economic cooperation” with Moscow at the moment. How is he planning to achieve this acrobatic feat? “Hungary’s national interest on [sic] Russia is that we have to stick to principles of international law and shape economic sanctions depending on the situation. We shouldn’t throw sanctions out of the tool box but the EU should also start talks with Eurasian countries at the same time.” First of all, it is not clear what he means by “Eurasian countries.” Does he mean those countries that belong to the Eurasian Union? Belarus and Kazakhstan? Belarus used to send 80% of its exports to Russia, but because of Russia’s economic collapse those exports now make up only 40-45% of the country’s total exports. President Aleksandr Lukashenka urged his government to seek new markets. The Hungarian government, which complained bitterly about the EU sanctions that affected the country’s agricultural sector, would most likely have seen its agricultural exports to Russia slashed as well, even without the sanctions.

There is another Orbán sentence I found intriguing: “it can be expected of Hungary that it be as loyal as it can to Europe’s common foreign policy and for it not damage its efficiency.” My best guess is that this means that Hungary will be loyal as long as such loyalty does not damage its own interests. That’s not much of a commitment.

 

Vincent van Gogh, Old Nag (1883)

Vincent van Gogh, Old Nag (1883) Source: wikiart.org

The first batch of EU sanctions against Russia expires in March, the next in April, and the most painful ones on Russian banks and energy firms at the end of July. Russia already began lobbying in the capitals of countries most likely to take Russia’s side and thus prevent the renewal of the sanctions. The three countries the Russians are concentrating on are Hungary, Cyprus, and Italy. Hungary and Cyprus are considered to be vehicles of Russian designs–not exactly countries loyal to the EU cause. For the Hungarian prime minister, loyalty to the West only goes so far.

As for the future of Paks, more and more people believe, even within Fidesz circles, that nothing will come of it. Yet on December 9 three contracts were signed by MVM Paks II Atomerőmű Fejlesztő Zrt. and the Russian Joint-Stock Company Nizhny Novgorod Engineering Company. The Hungarian government official in charge of the project claimed that five months of intensive negotiations preceded the signing of the contracts. All details concerning the deals are secret. It seems to me that the Hungarian government is trying to sign all contracts pertinent to the building of the reactors as soon as possible. Of course, these contracts have nothing to do with the loan agreement itself. Contracts with engineering firms will be useless if there is no Russian loan. One can only hope that the Hungarian side had the good sense to include a proviso to the effect that the contracts are binding only if Hungary gets the necessary loan from Moscow.

Since December 9 not much has been heard about the contracts except for an exchange between Bertalan Tóth, an MSZP member of parliament, and János Lázár, minister of the prime minister’s office. According to Lázár, it was decided that in building the new reactors the government will invite western managers and partner firms. International headhunters are looking for the appropriate partners, according to Lázár. According to information received by vs.hu, two such energy companies might be in serious contention: the French Areva and the Finnish Fortum. This sounds to me like an attempt to sweeten the bitter pill for Brussels. Of course, it is possible that all this effort will be in vain and that Orbán’s dream of being the supplier of energy for half of western Europe will never materialize.

51 comments

  1. I wonder if the Russian loan for the nuclear reactors in Paks is really a problem. Everything is supplied by the Russians and they could be paid in rubles and not euros. So, all they have to do is recalculate the loans from euros into rubles and the deal is doable. After all Putin can print an infinite amount of rubles, lend it to Orban and then Orban can pay the Russian companies with these rubles. The whole scheme reminds me of an old joke from the old country: the Soviet Union and one of the countries from Eastern Europe – let’s say Hungary – announce that the annual volume of trade between them is $10 trillion. When asked about details, the explanation is this: the Soviet Union supplies a dead dog worth $10 trillion to Hungary, and in exchange Hungary supplies to the Soviet Union two dead cats, worth $5 trillion each.

    Putting the joke aside, if indeed this kind of a scheme is implemented, Hungary may find itself in a situation similar to those of its citizens who borrowed in foreign currency to buy houses. Except that there won’t be a FIDESZ to save it.

  2. Some Americans, underestimate the Russians, just like Hitler did.

    It is a serious mistake. If the Russians are pushed into a corner they may attempt to fight their way out of it.

    They might do a regime change in Ukraine and install a puppet government the same way the US did in Iraq and Afghanistan. Or they might do something worse. Much worse.

    If Russia really becomes very desperate…

    Then how much money can they make by selling ballistic rockets and nuclear warheads to Iran and other countries? Hundreds of billions or thousands?

  3. @Tom: Iraq and Afghanistan have democratically elected governments as opposed to the Saddam and Taliban dictatorships that the American troops found there. Why do you call them puppet governments?

  4. The foreign policy of Hungary is simple and vulgar. They sell themselves to the highest bidders, no matter who it is and what it stands for and/or does. In vulgar terms, the Hungarian Government and the neo-fascist viktor became prostitutes of the World.
    —————–
    I think, Paks II. will not happen. I trust the ex-ambassador to Russia, who stated it about three months ago. I am guessing, that he still has contacts and he can see the bigger picture, how the Russian Government operates and what are the main priorities there.
    There is no need for Paks II. There is ample electric generating capacity in Europe and also in Hungary. Actually they buy a large portion of the electricity from the neighbors, it is cheaper, than generation it in Hungary.
    The Fidesz/KDNP/Jobbik will not be around long enough for the Paks II reactors to be manufactured, at the most, some construction will take place at the site and be a waste and monument to their obstinate stupidity, their greed and their crimes, like Ócsa.
    —————–
    With all due respect, one does not have to be a fortune teller, that renewable and “green” energy is what progressive countries will use more and more, so the future of nuclear reactors is unclear. They are not in favor in the eyes of most people, especially after the Russian and Japanese failures. It is clear, that the technology is excellent, but human error cannot be eliminated. We are not perfect, therefore we make mistakes sometime. Nuclear disasters can be enormous and the damages can be Worldwide. No such unsolvable problem exist with solar panels and wind generators and some of the more advanced renewable energy producers.
    For €10.0 Billion, all of Hungary’s electricity needs could be supplied with renewable energy!
    ——————
    It appears to me, that as Mark Twain said it perfectly;
    “History does not repeat itself, but it sure rhymes.”

    This is especially true for any dictator’s life and mental progression. Even the best minds get distorted after a few years of being the supreme power over large number of people and over nations. These people become megalomaniac, because they are insulated from the realities outside their inner circle.
    The viktor is also in this state of mind, his actions and even his speeches show serious regression and most of them make no sense.
    For the viktor and the Fidesz/KDNP, the beginning of the end is here. They will be closed soon like the doors of malls after March 15, 2015.

  5. @tom:
    We may underestimate the Russians, but so are they, us. So far they are the ones who underestimated us more.
    Just a reminder: The Russian victory over the Germans in WWII was ONLY POSSIBLE, because the US industrial might helped them with military equipment and materials!!! This is by no means to disrespect the heroism of the Russian soldiers and the concentrated effort and sacrifice of the Russian people. I tip my hat to them!
    Any country can only be strong if it has a solid economy, solid industry and banking, so it stands on many legs.
    Russia imports raw materials and energy, they have two legs only. It is enough to kick out one and it falls. They are not yet a serious industrial country and they are not integral part of the international finances yet. On top of itt, they have to import food. (Leaders of the Soviet Union used to boast that they are largest producer of wheat, barley, rice and many foodstuff, I wonder what happened?)
    Nevertheless, you can root for them, they might win, the next time. If China also lets them.

  6. gdfxx,

    You might have forgotten that the bulk of the money spent on Paks II would be for construction labor and materials (concrete, steel, etc.),which would mostly not be supplied by Russia, necessarily. I don’t think that the Hungarian government is foolish enough to import a large force of Russian construction workers (lock up your daughters and your vodka!), and the concrete and steel would be bought on the open market (probably), from the supplier who charges the least.

    Okay, maybe that’s naive of me, but anything else would definitely anger Hungarian businesspeople, who expect to get a slice of the pie, and Hungarian workers, who would like to have jobs to replace those lost to the Sunday closings.

  7. googly,

    I don’t claim to know what Orban’s and Putin’s plans are, I am just guessing. By the way, Hungarian subcontractors and workers may also be paid in rubles. Maybe Hungary is going to join the ruble-zone ;-).

    Also, to assume that materials would be supplied by the lowest bidder is an exaggeration (in this case). The suppliers would probably be those who are closest to the government (maybe Orban’s father’s company ;-).

    Finally, I doubt that people who lost their jobs because supermarkets close on Sunday are qualified to build nuclear reactors.

  8. “One can only hope that the Hungarian side had the good sense to include a proviso to the effect that the contracts are binding only if Hungary gets the necessary loan from Moscow.”

    Hope based on what – previous experience, Hungarian business competence, Orbán’s native economic intelligence?

    I’d be VERY surprised if they’d included such clauses!

  9. At the time it was negotiated, that 10b Euro loan was equal to about 400b roubles. As of tonight, it was equal to nearly 800b roubles.

    At the time it was negotiated, Russia could afford it fairly easily. As of tonight, Russia is about to enter its deepest recession since 1980, and can barely afford to feed itself.

    It may turn out that fate has given Orbán a very lucky break on this.

  10. Danke, Eva und den anderen hier , dass ich an der Entwicklung in Ungarn teilhaben darf. Ich bin ungarischer Abstammung und liebe Ungarn sehr. Ich hoffe, Ungarn bleibt ein STOLZES LAND. Liebe Grüße und ein frohes Weihnachtsfest,Sylvia Kling und Sohn Ferenc

  11. 🙂
    Részt vehet Köszönöm, Eve , és a másik tettem itt a fejlődés Magyarországon . Én magyar származású és magyar szeretem nagyon. Remélem , hogy Magyarország büszke ORSZÁG . A legjobb kívánságait, és boldog karácsonyt , Sylvia Kling és fia Ferenc – kérlek bocsáss meg a rossz magyar

  12. gdfxx, googly:

    for many years the mantra was Hungarian businesses will provide only 30% of the Paks 2 budget, given that Hungary has no real local technological know-how on the field (compared for example to the Czechs who do, so they could reach a higher domestic input in a nuclear construction project). Se we could provide concrete (Közgép, Market etc.) and human labor, but not machines and sophisticated stuff.

    Now, when the secret agreement to do the deal with Russia (instead of doing it via a tender) was announced it turned out the Hungarian portion will be miraculous 40%.

    Which simply means that 10% was added, which will be duly stolen.

    But if push comes to shove this 10% be taken off (however the project is long and Russia might become stronger during its tenure so the Hungarians will have ample time to steal and the budget will only increase anyway).

    In any case, I agree that most of the deal can be financed via rouble and the rest by HUF (via the National Bank of Hungary).

    Once more: Paks 2 is absolutely sacrosanct for Orban and he would cut his limbs before abandoning the project.

    The Russians also want this because they want to control any future government too, and being bound by even problematic legal arrangements and a half-finished torso will be a great tool of control for Moscow.

    Orban negotiated the details of three major agreements for 5 months, apparently with the help of a law firm having no experience in energy matters whatsoever. Just one of the three agreements even in the case of cookie cutter gas turbine power stations is negotiated for a year at least. These agreements are almost surely unilaterally favor the Russian side and the Hungarians side missed a lot of important issues — but this is how they intended it, to bound Hungary so we would have to build it, no matter what.

  13. gdfxx, googly:

    for many years the mantra was Hungarian businesses will provide only 30% of the Paks 2 budget, given that Hungary has no real local technological know-how on the field (compared for example to the Czechs who do, so they could reach a higher domestic input in a nuclear construction project). Se we could provide concrete (Közgép, Market etc.) and human labor, but not machines and sophisticated stuff.

    Now, when the secret agreement to do the deal with Russia (instead of doing it via a tender) was announced it turned out the Hungarian portion will be miraculous 40%.

    Which simply means that 10% was added, which will be duly stolen.

    But if push comes to shove this 10% be taken off (however the project is long and Russia might become stronger during its tenure so the Hungarians will have ample time to steal and the budget will only increase anyway).

    In any case, I agree that most of the deal can be financed via rouble and the rest by HUF (via the National Bank of Hungary).

    Once more: Paks 2 is absolutely sacrosanct for Orban and he would cut his limbs before abandoning the project.

    The Russians also want this because they want to control any future government too, and being bound by even problematic legal arrangements and a half-finished torso will be a great tool of control for Moscow.

    Orban negotiated the details of three major agreements for 5 months, apparently with the help of a law firm having no experience in energy matters whatsoever. Just one of the three agreements even in the case of cookie cutter gas turbine power stations is negotiated for a year at least. These agreements are almost surely unilaterally favor the Russian side and the Hungarians side missed a lot of important issues — but this is how they intended it, to bound Hungary so we would have to build it, no matter what.

  14. Kolja2

    “the budget will only increase anyway”

    That’s right, government projects always come in substantially over contract, regardless of which government we are talking about. Change orders are the rule!

  15. Faera Lane (@FaeraLane)
    What are YOU “yacking” about? Using slang words is rarely a sign of high intelligence and refinement. Do you have something more intelligent to say, which is related to the article?

  16. @tom – Russia is in financial difficulty because the price of oil is low, so Russia will attack the West, which buys that oil?
    That sounds insane.

  17. @gybognarjr:

    FaeraLane = justwords … is just trying to get our attention for its ramblings on twitter etc …
    Please ignore it!

    Back to topic.

    It really will be “interesting” to see what happens in Russia in th next months/years.
    Btw Russia is not that “big” – it has less people than Bangladesh (or Germany plus France plus Italy), so its economic power is really negligible – of course the oil and gas make a little difference right now.
    And its atomic arsenal is rotting away – though I don’t know if that’s a good thing …

  18. Kolja2 wrote: “Se we could provide concrete (Közgép…”

    Knowing what we know about Közgép and contracts, does anyone seriously believe that we can trust Közgép to deliver concrete of the quality required for a nuclear reactor installation? and knowing about the oversight which the present government has given to Közgép, namely none, do we trust the present government to properly inspect such concrete? Know fear.

  19. @Sylvia Kling, I’m so glad that you enjoy our conversations here and I wish you and your son the very best and a Merry Christmas. I also hope that Hungary will have a better year in 2015.

  20. I am not sure where the information regarding the Rubel loan of Paks is coming from.

    According to an interview from February 20th with Mihaly Varga, Minister of National Economy since 2013 the loan is in Euro.
    “11-12 milliárd euró lesz a paksi beruházás, ennek 80 százalékát adják az oroszok, 20 százalékát kell fizetnie a magyar félnek”. The investment in Paks will be around 11-12 milliard, 80% will be given by the Russians, and 20% shall be paid by the Hungarians. It is a ‘bit confusing because after all, the whole some will be paid by the Hungary but not at once.
    http://www.napi.hu/magyar_gazdasag/varga_a_paksi_projektrol_jol_jartunk_ezzel_a_devizahitellel.576895.html
    http://www.napigazdasag.hu/cikk/13778/

    According to the conservative Mandiner:
    “Magyarország a hitelt euróban törleszti Oroszországnak.” Hungary shall pay the loan in euros to Russia. “10 milliárd eurót”
    So if we borrowed 10 euros it is still 10 euros but the forint is weakening. The loan is not tied to the Rubel but to the EUR.
    http://mandiner.hu/cikk/20140313_mar_iden_fizetunk_kamatot_a_paksi_hitelert_az_oroszoknak

    There is no mention of rubel anywhere.

  21. Other Topic: A moral question

    The Orban government erected the shameful German occupation memorial, included nazi authors in the curriculum, changed history (see preamble of the new constitution).
    Poor Jewish communities inside and outside of Hungary rejected government funding, including communities in Transylvania, Slovakia etc…

    In the meantime the government propaganda goes full speed in Washington and New York. Let’s mention those artists and groups who serve the Hungarian government in this effort. Shame on them!!!

    December 14, 2014 – Washington DC – Washington Hebrew Congregation
    December 16, 2014 – New York – Bar in the Village
    NIGUN KLEZ-JAZZ BAND
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Embassy-of-Hungary-in-Washington-DC/102507676462147

    (Leaders of MAZSOK and MAZSIHISZ also attended the event in DC – see photos above on the embassy’s facebook page)
    ” Our guest of Honor, Deputy State Secretary Csaba Latorcai (Prime Minister’s Office) introduced the program. Among many guests András Heisler (President of the Federation of the Hungarian Jewish Communities), György Szabó (President of the Hungarian Jewish Heritage Public Endowement), Gábor Gordon and Márton Székhelyi (March of the Living, Budapest) also attended the concert. ”

    December 16, 2014 – New York – Consulate
    TALES OF TELEKI SQUARE – GABOR BARAT, ANDRIS MAYER, GABOR MAYER
    https://www.facebook.com/events/891542204203358/?pnref=story

    Shame on them!

  22. Anna Bayer Washington DC is right.

    To many Jewish groups are guilty of collaboration with the enemy.

    No decent person should accept any support from the Hungarian embassies, or attend their parties.

    Let us refrain from all contacts with the diplomatic circles of Hungary.

  23. WOLFI:
    I try to answer to your poetic question with my fortune telling.
    I think Putin will change directions in his policy and we will be stupid to let him keep the Crimean peninsula. The sanctions will expire and business will be as usual.
    It is nice for the Saudis to stay with us on the oil price, but cannot be kept up forever, because they are loosing tens of billions a month. We made some concessions regarding Syria and Iran, perhaps even on Israel, but that is not much of a payment, it will keep the Saudis “happy” only until March or June.
    With the low oil prices we turned upside down many other countries annual budget, there will be a choir of unhappy US haters by Spring.
    The viktor will get a 1 hour crash course on foreign policy from Angela Merkel in the Spring, the jest of it will be, that he is but one voice in the EU choir where she is the conductor. If he wants to get paid, he has to sing the same tunes, no more falsetto solos.
    Paks II. will never be built, only some construction will start and become a monument(al) error and the monument of victor’s stupidity.
    The Russians KNOW, that Hungary could never pay back the loan, the electricity Paks II. would produce would cost twice the market rate and with the Fidesz will not be reigning much longer anyway. Perks II. would cost 2.5X the land they negotiated and would not be producing electricity before 2030. Renewable energy production is the future, not nuclear reactors.
    Everybody have a Nice day!

  24. @gybognarjr, I fear that the Russian situation isn’t driving the Saudi’s to maintain current oil prices. The root of the problem is that the US gradually over time because an oil exporting country. This is because of energy independency policy changes that came shortly after 9/11. It took almost 10 years for the policy changes to take effect and today we can see that it’s produced a glut of oil on the market and hence low prices.

    Now the picture from this point is a bit complex but… In what looks like it’s a problem for the Saudi’s is the US interest in talking to Iran because of ISIS. With those talks comes the possibility of lighter sanctions on Iran. Those sanctions are a bonus for the Saudi’s so of course they want them to remain in place. They certainly don’t want to cut production to give Iran room to sell in their absence. Which leads to the next point that everyone is playing chicken with the prices

    As we all know, The way to higher prices is to cut supply. But unless all cut and cut equally those that do cut will be unable to regain market share once demand returns and prices recover. In other words, by cutting, they cut themselves out of the recovery… The problem is, with the US now being an exporter that return to greater demand *isn’t* going to come from the US so this could take some time.

    Of course all of this comes at an (in)opportune time for the players in the current struggles. For ISIS it’s actually good as they need $25 a barrel where as the Saudis need closer to 50 (IIRC). This is no where near the $100 needed by Russia and I believe is still less that what is needed by US producers.

    At some point in time OPEC is going to have to cut supply but it doesn’t seem like that is going to happen quickly. Certainly the longer it takes for OPEC to come to some agreement the more economic damage we’re going to see not just in Russia but in all countries.

  25. I should have added that the US has been pressuring the EU to take the same steps and their estimate is that if the EU started on a path of energy independence today it would take about 10 years for it to have an effect… so Putin is will continue to have Europe in his back pocket via Gazprom for quite some time.. and if he’s effective in thwarting EU efforts to diversify away from Russia.. well….

  26. LwiiH: I maintain, that the US cannot dictate policy around the World withoutthe influential help from other major political and economic powers. We were successful lining up Germany and the EU and we needed the Saudis to keep OPEC from dropping production. For the Saudis we had to pay a price and I am sure our policy toward Israel was one of them.

    Our energy policy is far more than 10 years old, it started after the second oil embargo.
    The production of US oil and gas is largely dependent on the price, and because the existing fields were producing oil far more expensively than the Arab oil, we bought the cheap energy from them. Meanwhile the technology was developed to produce oil and gas cheaper and with different methods, horizontal drilling, steam and water pumping and the shale oil and gas production. The goal is to be 100% self sufficiency in energy production by 2025, also the laws of each state dictates that by then, 25-27% of the energy must be from renewable resources. I think we can make it. There are various tax incentives which help development of green energy until then.

    Despite of all the criticism of the US and all the valid points about the mistakes we make, there is a continuity in our diplomacy, even with the changes in Congress and the Presidents. The State Department maintains a sense of continuity, it only has to adhere and carry out the Presidents policies and regard his guidelines of the large issues. Contacts and everyday foreign policy is conducted by the diplomatic core, where professionals can serve many Presidents and Congress during their carrier.

    Russia has made many big mistakes, but the biggest one is, that they did not use the enormous income from raw materials, to develop industry, high technology and strong financial institutions. Lucky for us, else we would be second string players a long time ago.

    Just as a note: Nobody can build a World Power (and be on the top) with moral and financial corruption. The larger the corruption, the sooner the political system and government collapses. Rome should always be our example.

  27. @Some1 – You just asked the same question what I was wondering about!

    There is no word of Rubel or Forint – only Euros.
    Seems Putin had the sense to specify the loan in some other currency than his own, while our little Viktor bought the cat in the bag for money what nobody can even guess the value in the future!
    Remember, the loan in Euro, while the Forint-Euro exchange rate can be just about anything – according to Matolcsy of the Hungarian National Bank anyway.

    Being a sucker on epic scale must be quite unique, something to be proud of, i guess. After all, who else would be in the same league?
    No one!
    And now you see just how special is Orbán, but really!

  28. I just noticed the exchange rate is now 256 forints to the dollar. It’s the first time I took my 10,000 from the cash machine and was charged less than $400 by my bank. Wondering if the Hungarian horse may be slouching after the Russian one into rapid currency decline, and if any of the poligarchs will notice that their newfound wealth is slipping away (not to mention whatever is left among their constituents)…

  29. I’m with Anna Bayer Washington DC. I will not attend anything related to the Hungarian government, including the Balassi Institute.

  30. Eva:
    Recently I talked to, which turned into a debate, with a young Russian businessman on a flight from Moscow to Budapest. They get the news completely opposite to what we get here and most Russian people believe what they hear, see and read in Russia, they don’t believe most of the western news. Nationalism runs very, very high and recreation of the Soviet Union #2 in very high in the agenda. Most of them back Putin 100% on this. Russians in general don’t like Ukrainians, perhaps similarly, as Hungarians don’t like Romanians.
    I think Putin’s approval rating is still 87%.
    ————–
    The viktor is not in the league of world leaders by any means, his knowledge of history, economy, foreign politics is dismal. Putin is not a very smart leader, but lightyears ahead of the viktor and behind him are 145 million Russians and a formidable army. He is recognized as a power to recon with.
    The viktor has no power, no army, no diplomatic core and no class. He is a country bumpkin, who is a corrupt Mafia don and a low life criminal. (So is every member of the Hungarian Government.) The EU and the US is finding this out a bit late.
    Hungarian (the society) are generally slow on the uptake, but if they find a valid reason to oppose the Government, which they respect as a supreme authority without being able to challenge without force, they will depose the leaders by force. Unfortunately democracy does not exist in Hungary, so their only tool is a revolution of some sort. If they are lucky, there can be a bloodless revolution or coup and there will be a new kind of Government as a result.
    We should not get our hopes high, corruption is a way of life, embedded in the culture and it cannot be eradicated quickly, so the new leaders will soon become similar to their predecessors. They may not be dictators without a 2/3rd majority, but they will consider themselves above the law and will not take responsibility, will not get punished (by their peers) for their crimes. In Hungary, politics and party affiliations are the only way to get rich, quick with minimal effort.
    Hungary is a country without consequences.

  31. There’s a very interesting post on 444.hu about a poll conducted by Szonda about whether people think the year 2014 was a bad or a good year?

    72% of those who would vote for Jobbik said that the year was bad, MSZP 92%, DK 83, LMP 60, undecided 62, but – and this is a surprise to me – only 20% of Fidesz voters said that.

    In fact, 73% of Fidesz voters said that 2014 was a successful year. In other words the approval rating of Orban among fideszniks is still as of late 2014 sky high, the envy of any politician in the world.

    There is an astonishing disconnect between voters of Fidesz and the voters of any non-Fidesz party (including Jobbik, which as a party collaborates with Fidesz on policy matters).

    As if Fidesz voters lived in an entirely separate world. They just don’t feel the problems. Problems, what problems? Fidesz lock on the minds and on the media is still almost airtight.

    http://444.hu/2014/12/18/az-emberek-ketharmada-szerint-rossz-iranyba-tart-az-orszag/

  32. Gardonista and Anna Bayer, you are showing us what dignity is.

    The leaders and regimes of Hungary are the opposite. Zero dignity, Zero integrity.

    The average citizen must show good example.

  33. There’s a misunderstanding here. Orban didn’t bet on the wrong horse.

    He bet on the good horse, but this is a long-term bet. Please come back in 2-3 years and we shall see if Orban was indeed wrong.

    It’s like Mao Zhe Tung about the French Revolution’s importance, it’s still too early to tell.

    Certainly Orban won’t abandon Putin. If anything, he will be more loyal still.

  34. There was a history of 100 – 200 years of apparent failed Russian projects.
    Hungarians and orban are having different interests.
    EU v. Russia.
    West v. East.
    Let us hope that Hungary will win.

  35. OT – I had another HS ‘like’ today.

    As I can’t see anywhere on HS where you can ‘like’ a post, I can only assume that this is spam.

    But to what end, and how do they get my email address?

  36. Spectator, I like your “zsákbamacska” reference, but non-Hungarian-speakers might not understand what you’re talking about.

  37. Just one word or two on the latest opinion poll that shows that Fidesz voters think that 2014 was a fantastically good year. Sure, but these people are in minority. These are the so-called hard-core Fidesz voters. One ought to know more about the details to form an informed opinion about what that actually means.

  38. GUNNAR: If you want to bet on the same horse as Orban, go for it. Mount the horse and you stay on it for the next 2-3 years and see how happy you will be when it will reach the finish. Of course your Finish Line will be past the Kazah border.
    We don’t use horses for commuting any more, hybrid or electric cars are the new mody, also our Finish Line remains solidly on the North American Continent.

  39. Thanks for the notice, Eva & googly!
    It was fairly easy, since “the cat in the bag” exist, albeit with a different connotation, at it came automatically.
    However, when I checked the origin of the expression I have also found a reference when cat may have been sold – instead of a piglet – in a bag at the fair, so you better check what you buying. We are living in a small World, obviously 🙂

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