Fidesz insiders think Orbán’s days are numbered

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day usually offers little sustenance for news junkies. But today I discovered a front-page article in Népszava with the titillating title “Does Orbán have only months left?” The paper’s “sources close to Fidesz” claimed that “Orbán is already finished” and the only “question is who will take his place.”

The article was met with skepticism, especially in pro-government circles. Válasz described the article as sci-fi and “entertaining.” Gábor Török, the popular political scientist, wanted to know what his Facebook “friends” thought about the appearance of such items in the media. Do government politicians actually say such things to reporters of an opposition paper or are the reporters only giving voice to their wishes? The comments that followed were a mixed bag but a reporter, András Kósa, who also receives information from dissatisfied Fidesz politicians, didn’t think that the article was fantasy, although it might be exaggerated. Here and there commenters thought that Fidesz will collapse as soon as Viktor Orbán is gone, but most “friends” of Török considered the article humbug. I’m less skeptical than most of Török’s friends because I’ve usually found Népszava to be reliable when it reports on information coming from unnamed sources.

So, let’s see what Népszava heard from “sources close to Fidesz.” They claim that Orbán’s “system” has no more than a few months before it collapses. Apparently Fidesz politicians are increasingly avoiding the limelight because “the fall is inevitable. In their opinion Orbán started down a road from which there is no return. Not only will he himself be the victim of his own mistakes but also his party and the country itself.”

The problems that beset the work of the government emanate from the character flaws of the prime minister: inconsistency, impenetrability, and unpredictability. Most government and Fidesz officials have no idea what course they are supposed to pursue. Orbán trusts fewer and fewer people, and the ones he still does give him wrong advice. He apparently is looking for enemies everywhere, and this is one of the reasons that government decisions are not preceded by any discussion. It often happens that Orbán himself changes his mind in the last minute, which makes consistent communication nearly impossible. Underlings parrot a line that has been superseded by a new brainstorm of the prime minister. More and more people would like to save themselves from such embarrassments.

According to these informants, serious problems within Fidesz are not new although they are only now becoming visible. Signs of trouble began to surface when Orbán decided, sometime before the April elections, to change the “structure” under which Fidesz had been functioning very well for over twenty years. Until then, Lajos Simicska was in charge of the party’s finances, but “from the moment that Orbán decided to take over economic decisions” the old dual structure collapsed and with it the well-functioning system. When Orbán again managed to receive a two-thirds majority, he completely lost his sense of judgment. As months went by, anti-Orbán murmurs in the party began to proliferate, and the Christian Democrats, realizing that Orbán was losing his grip on the party, decided to put pressure on the beleaguered prime minister. That’s why Orbán had to give in on the unpopular law that forces stores to be closed on Sundays.

What observers see is no longer a “system” but a political process based on day-by-day ad hoc decisions which, according to the saner Fidesz leaders, cannot be maintained because “it is incapable of self-correction.”

The informers seem to have less information about actual attempts to topple Viktor Orbán. Names were not mentioned, but they indicated that the people they had in mind “would be quite capable of taking over the reins of government without changing political direction.” Népszava‘s sources consider Angela Merkel’s planned visit to Budapest in February a date of great importance. I guess they think that Merkel will tell Orbán that he is persona non grata as far as the European People’s Party and the European Commission are concerned.

CalendarNépszava‘s description of the strife and chaos within Fidesz is most likely accurate. The question is what Orbán is planning to do to forestall the outcome described by Népszava‘s sources. For the time being, as we learned from the interviews of János Lázár, Viktor Orbán, and László Kövér, he will fight to hold onto power by convincing his Peace March troops that the “fatherland is in danger.” I’m almost certain that internal polls are being taken to gauge support. Would it be possible to turn out 100,000 people to defend the prime minister against foreign and domestic intrigues? I assume that the size of the planned anti-government demonstrations on January 2 will also influence Orbán’s decision about the next step to take to combat his opponents inside and outside the party.

In any case, for the time being it was Antal Rogán who was called upon to announce a countermeasure that might take the wind out of anti-government sails.  It is called the “National Defense Action Plan.” The details are secret for the time being, but it most likely includes some kind of answer to the United States’ decision to bar six Hungarian citizens from the United States due to corruption. It is also likely that a huge propaganda effort will be launched to discredit the U.S.-EU free trade agreement that until now the Hungarian government has welcomed. According to government and Fidesz sources, the “National Defense Action Plan” was put together in the prime minister’s office by Viktor Orbán, János Lázár, Antal Rogán, Péter Szijjártó, and Árpád Habony (who neither holds an official government position nor has national security clearance). These are the people who make most of the decisions in the Orbán government.

Meanwhile what are the anti-Orbán political forces doing in this fluid situation? Ferenc Gyurcsány decided to ask those followers who have been at the anti-government demonstrations all along to bring party posters and flags to the January 2 demonstration. József Tóbiás, leader of MSZP, did not respond to Gyurcsány’s request to follow DK’s lead. But István Újhelyi, an MSZP MEP, announced today a socialist “diplomatic offensive” against the Orbán government. Orbán must be stopped because his “Russian roulette” will have tragic consequences.

At the beginning of the new year there will be at least two important events. First, the mass demonstration planned for January 2 in front of the Opera House. Three years ago a gigantic anti-government demonstration also took place there, and for a whole month newspapers kept asking how long Orbán could last. We are again asking the same question. Since Orbán not only survived but thrived in the last three years, some people might come to the conclusion that the Hungarian prime minister will always triumph, even in the most perilous circumstances. But I would caution the pessimists. Three years ago the pressure came only from the inside. This time Orbán has embroiled himself and the country in a high stakes international power play in addition to alienating about 900,000 of his former supporters.

The second event will be Orbán’s new “remedy,” the “National Defense Action Plan.” Will it work? Is Orbán strong enough to rally his troops for another supportive Peace March as he did in 2012? And even if he manages, will anybody care?


  1. I’m reading Orlando Figes’ short book on Revolutionary Russia. When Tsar Nicholas was forced to abdicate in favor of his son those who where there reported on the Tsar’s strange lack of emotions. In a way abdication was a kind of relief after all the stress and failure Nicholas had gone through before. This episode kind of reminded me of Orban’s similarly strange reactions to his election losses in 2002 and 2006 and in 1994 (when it had seemed for a long time that Fidesz was going to win). Although Orban has been victorious in three elections in 2014 can he feel successful or happy? Of course the fidesznik/state media empire has been relentlessly pushing the stories about victorious, triumphant Hungary, but who is really happy and satisfied in Hungary these days? Orban, it seems, can’t catch a break. Apart from V. V. Putin, literally no politician or any kind of counterparty likes Orban abroad (of course we know, what Orban may deny, that Putin does not actually like Orban), and we talk about the prime minister of an EU and NATO member state. I can easily imagine that Orban will soon give it up or that his system will fall apart in the hands of a less capable successor. Every dictatorship depends on the belief that the dictator has a magical power to hold the system together and, although we don’t, others surely would support him. If that aura is gone, and nobody will believe that Lázár or Áder or Kövér could hold that power conglomerate together, the system will inevitably collapse. Moreover, Orban’s power is fundamentally based on his very special situation of being in the very centre of a family-like group of people, those former students of the Bibó College. From Ildiko Vida to Laszló Kövér and his brother to Tünde Handó and his husband József Szajer to Orban’s wife to Janos Ader to Lajos Simicska and their spouses and best friends, these people grew up practically since the time they were kids as each others’ best (only) friends and family members. These bonds cannot be broken. But since nobody from the younger generation was there at Bibó or has similarly strong bonds with this or a similarly tight-knit group, nobody can have the same magical power which would be obeyed no matter what. Actually the sooner Orban gives his power up, the better the chances for his legacy, ie the survival of his ideology through his entrenched cronies all over the branches of government and even down to the smallest state organizations. If this goes on for long, however, dissatisfaction and resistance will only grow. Orban is visibly exhausted, puffed up, probably hooked on some prescription drugs, I don’t think 2015 will be his year.

  2. I’m not at all sure, Hungary will return to sanity after Orbán. Having racked up two election victories and picked just about everybody’s pocket, and amassed a sizable fortune for himself and his family, why should Orbán want to stay in the steamy kitchen ?? He will most likely go, and retire to comfortable stud-farm, while one of his former humble servants will take over the nitty gritty and try to portrey the shift as a new beginning. It seems that neither Fidesz nor the opposition is capable of paradigmatic change, of transforming themselves in any fundamental way. And that is a very sad state of affairs. .

  3. @Marcel Dé: No, Hungary may not return to sanity right away after Orban is out of the picture, but it would be an important first step. I don’t think whoever takes over from within Fidesz will be able to sustain the current political line much longer.

  4. I think we all agreed long ago that Orbán is driving Hungary against the wall. We seem to disagree about when this will happen.

    As far as I am informed, all Fidesz people owe something to Orbán. So a palace revolution is highly unlikely, especially because the people around him are – by intent – not the brightest.

    In addition, Orbán managed to reduce a hardly existent political culture close to zilch.

    Count the people who demonstrated against the internet tax. Those are all you have. That’s by no means a critical mass to really change things.

    So, the drag will go on and throw Hungary backward – year by year. It’s so sad.

    There is one interesting question which is not much talked about: Is Orbán psychotic or does he have just sporadic psychological problems? This could throw over the apple cart – and shorten the process to the chaos that is to ensue.

  5. There are tax protesters on both the right and the left, revenue is a huge problem in numerous market economies since the onset of the 2008 crisis. If PM Orban steps aside the revenue problems will still exist and then also Hungary will have to face the reality that nationalized companies that were resold to friends are more than likely not viable and have been proped up by the state through various forms of sweet heart contracts may fail. Effectively corruption preceded the Fidesz state and if Orban goes and the Pandora’s box opens Hungary could find itself in the situation of Greece.

    Once sanity comes to Hungary so come the past due bills hidden by numerous accounting tricks. PM Orban’s exit while a relief for so many Hungarians will be just the beging of the reconing in terms of fiscal problems of Hungary. Eventually it may be for the best but in the short run it could be painful.

  6. Orban will fall eventually. The most likely scenario is that he’ll be pushed out by Fidesz. It’s often surprisingly easy to push out dictators. Ferdinand Marcos comes to mind. But what comes next might make these look like the good old days.

    I hope we can think about a post-Orban future, because at some point, it will be an urgent question.

  7. Orbán and his gang is just the symptom, not the disease.

    Hungary has no viable opposition and even if – miracle of miracles – an opposition coalition were to be voted into power, the best we could expect is what we have seen during “a zemútnyócévalat” of MSZP/SZDSZ rule, a kind of wishy-washy mini-Weimar staggering toward the next period of autocratic rule and abuse.

    Hungary has no liberal democratic traditions, and no ability or desire to institute and maintain a liberal democratic value system. In any case, Hungarians would need to vote into power a two thirds liberal democratic parliamentary majority to reverse the constitutional putsch and other illiberal legislation of the Orbán era, and to dislodge the Orbán cronies and diehards from each and every key position that they currently fill in the machinery of the Hungarian state.

    It is just about guaranteed that hell would freeze over before that would or could happen.

    After all, who or what can the Hungarian voter vote for these days on the opposition side? The supposed opposition party LMP, which represents the fairies at the bottom of the garden? The MSZP, which is viscerally mistrusted by most Hungarians? The DK with the intelligent, but totally discredited hero of Öszöd at its head? The national socialist Jobbik, which is too extreme even for most Jew and Roma haters? Other disorganised conglomerations of the disgruntled and the malcontents?

    Countries get the politics and politicians that they deserve and are comfortable with. My bet is that Orbán will not only survive the current rough patch, but will rise again in full glory, though not so much as a phoenix rising from the ashes, but rather as a zombie come to life again from some muddy grave.

  8. While I can see the logic (and the appeal) of the argument being made, I feel, like others who have commented here, that change will need to be driven largely from within FIDESZ. While one can see the fracturing, I fear their common self interest will continue to override their individual greed. Maybe Rogan or someone like him is sacrificed for PR purposes and to rebalance the power between old and new generations for the moment?

    As for outside forces pushing Orban? The public? It is hard to see how this protest movement can save for some new significant exogenous event gain sufficient momentum to force a change three years out from an election. Merkel? I suspect the EU will be again overwhelmed by Greece (post elections), and will want to step back from further disruptions. On Russia, I think Orban has learned enough so that he will step back from over provoking the EU and USA, plus sanctions fatigue is coming to Germany anyhow so the momentum (short of Putin dangerously raising the stakes again) will be to reduce tensions and the sanctions. The big uncertainty is the economy/fiscal policy. What will be the impact on the budget from various new laws (Sunday closings), renatiinalizations, and misguided allocation of tax revenues? If the budget tips over and there are no more games the Government can play to short term balance it or if the Greek elections open up another period of wild gyrations in the capital markets, the Government will be in trouble. But will the answer be to jettison Orban and run asking for mercy to IMF and EU?

  9. My guess is that Orbán will continue because nobody in Fidesz dares to challenge him and because as long as he propagates crude nationalism he can keep power. Today in Magyar Nemzet, the “moderate” mouthpiece of Fidesz Zoltán Kiszelly is accusing Goodfriend of violating the “Vienna agreement” because he visited a conference of DK.
    Of course Vienna Agreement does not hinder diplomats to do their work. However, Orbán and his ilk could use the opinion of such an “expert” as pretext to make out of Goodfriend a persona non grata.

  10. As was predicted, foreigners caved in to the might of the Hungarian government — as they always do.

    The Swiss fund will resume sending funds to Hungarian recipients but – from now on – via the Hungarian government (which needless to say has a statutory obligation to suspend any transfers if it has a “suspicion” that the recipient “embezzels” money or commits “tax fraud” as Ökotárs is “suspected” by the government).

    Needles to say, this is the fist step, the next is that part of the funds will go to government designated recipients. Mark may words.

    There’s one thing you can always count on.

    Western Europeans always blink first (even when it’s about their own money).

    Orban and Lazar aren’t so weak after all. I think they will end up having a loughing fit after the ooohoooh Merkel meeting. What was all that fuss about with that lady?

  11. Hungary is becoming an “area of operations” for foreign agents according to MSZP

    “Magyarország műveleti terület, ám nemcsak az amerikaiak mutatnak fokozott érdeklődést iránta”

    Hungary is an area of operations but not only the Americans show heightened interest

    “A Katonai Nemzetbiztonsági Szolgálat és az Információs Hivatal az ukrán válság kezdete óta számos alkalommal bizonyította a nemzetbiztonsági bizottság előtt, hogy “képben van”, előrejelzéseik minden esetben pontosak voltak – mondta Molnár Zsolt.”

    Hungarian agencies do their jobs, and inform the national security committee well about the Ukraine situation. All their predictions were spot on.

    “Az elhárítás természetesen teszi a dolgát. Azt a szövetségeseinknek sem engedjük meg, hogy törvénytelen eszközökkel megszerezzék a titkainkat”

    Hungarian defense forces do what they should do. We can not allow anyone including our allies to commit crimes against us and steal important state secrets.

    These were very important words.

    They mean that
    Decent and righteous Hungarians will always defend Hungary from enemies both foreign or domestic, no matter which party they sympathize with. Even in MSZP there are decent and righteous Hungarians who will defend Hungary, simply because they love their country.

    Patriotism, service and love for Hungary are traits which will help Hungary succeed as a country over decades and decades no matter what government is in power at the moment.

    Let us all honor Hungarian patriots like Zsolt Molnar from MSZP and the others who love their country, love their homeland, Hungary.

  12. OT:

    The utter hopelessness of the civil sector, part 2.

    In an article, Ökotárs the embattled foundation stated that contrary to any appearances Ökotárs was actually involved in the deal Hungary and Switzerland hammered out re the Swiss Fund.

    Ökotárs co-signed the agreement, it says because it wanted the recipients to finally receive the funds they had been waiting for for 5 months.

    Of course, nobody cares about whether Ökotárs was pushed down or defeated. This is not the issue. Ökotáérs doesn’t even see the issue (but hey, it’s Christmas, who wants to work and deal with real issues?).

    The issue is that from now on there is a new era (also, Ökotárs is going down the drain, but it’s only a lovely side issue).

    It is what the government always wanted: which is that the government wanted legal authority to dispose over the money.

    Once this practice is institutionalized (the recipients have to communicate with the government, and hey those government officials – it will turn out – aren’t so bad after all, they will usually send the money in time, whoa) and apparently the Swiss gave in as one expected them to, the Norwegians will also. There is a precedent and – as was expected – the civil organizations just need those damn funds and they are getting fed up.

    The next step will be that the government wants to co-decide the recipients and since it has the money and one has to be polite with the government (it’s the government, folks, and one must always respect those honorable gentlemen) will soon be given this formal or informal influence too.

    Slowly, the divided civil sector which used to be criticizing the government will be pacified, tamed and will be like a cute lapdog and the government-supporting (pseudo) NGOs will also have their cut from the deal. Just as Fidesz wanted all along. Happy new year, folks!

  13. One should not blame the postcommunist maffiastate. It is acting according to the “honor of the family”.

  14. @NWO

    I concur with your assessment and the assessment of some of the others that change would need to be driven largely from within FIDESZ.

    But this is also a terrible indictment of Hungarian society, Hungarian politics and Hungarian “democracy”.

    Reminds me the of time after Stalin’s death in 1953, when everyone was waiting for change that would have to come from within the ranks of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (which then finally occurred, in a way, at the 20th congress in 1956).

    It is pathetic and sickening that the Hungarians had managed to get only this far, only to this, twenty five years after their regime change, after a quarter of a century of experimentation with their attempt at “democracy”.

    Hungarians don’t seem to be able to handle liberal democracy, nor do they seem to give a fig about it.

    Shocking and horrific, really, for such hopeful beginnings to end up in such a terrible mess. But then Hungarians are historically famous for making bad choices in their politics.

  15. I remember the Opera House demonstration rather differently. I can’t remember anyone seriously thinking “how long would Orbán last”, and as a demonstration, it was only massive compared to the ten men and a dog who hard turned up at previous events. It was exciting because at least some people went out on the street but it was hardly the ground breaking event that the last paragraph of this piece is implying.

    Also, remember that Népszava only exists because Simicska gave them a large amount of money through advertising, so I can imagine this article is more a manifestation of the Simicska Orbán war than the truth-

  16. @HiBoM re events of January 2012. I suggest that you read a few of my posts from that time. Please recall that Orbán later claimed that foreign powers wanted to replace him. Commentators were talking about a possible successor. There were serious student demonstrations. He called together his first Peace March at the end of the month and later thanked them for saving him. At the same time he was under pressure in Brussels. He was invited by the European Parliament where he was humiliated. Yes, it was a troubling time for Orbán.

    I am quite thorough in my research and checked the facts before I brought up January 2, 2012.

  17. Gabor it should be noted that Moinar also indicated he did not believe USA had infringed on the sovereignty of Hungary. Because of alliance obligations Hungary agreed to at least some limitations on its autonomy in relation to international affairs. Hungary’s elected government is breaching the common front against the Russian annexation of part of Ukraine. That has very little to do with Hungarian patriotiism.

    If it is now Hungary’s position in practice that nation states have the right to militarily seize parts of other nation states they believe they have historic claims to then small nations like Hungary with limited ability to defend themselves are in jeopardy.

  18. “breaching the common front against the Russian annexation of part of Ukraine.”

    This is simply not true. Why are you trying to smear Hungary by misrepresenting its position? Hungary has stated time and time again that the territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected.

    “If it is now Hungary’s position in practice that nation states have the right to militarily seize parts of other nation states…”

    Here you luckily inserted the word “IF”. I think because you know very well that what you wrote about the position of Hungary is not true. The inserted “IF” makes the point easy to answer. It is not Hungary’s position and you know this perfectly well. Hungary respects the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

    Why are you so hostile towards Hungary. What is it for you to gain by misrepresenting Hungary and trying to portray a whole country in the worst possible light? I think you are highly intelligent but your emotions towards Hungary and the Hungarian people do not seem to be positive to me.

    Patriotism and love for Hungary are necessary in the long term to ensure the success of the country regardless of the government in power at the time.

    I have a very deep respect for the American people and I believe that Hungarians must learn a great deal from the USA. The first and most important thing that Hungarians need to learn is love of country. Each and every Hungarian must learn to love Hungary and to make sacrifices for it if necessary. To give an American example it is OK to dislike the Obama administration but not OK to root for the Iraqi army to win (in the US-Iraq war), in other words it is not OK to dislike the country itself. This is the most important lesson Hungarians need to learn that it is not cool, it is not OK to dislike your own country or to wish it economic harm for example.

  19. “Ferenc Gyurcsány decided to ask those followers … to bring party posters and flags to the January 2 demonstration.”

    A Hungarian journalist from Nepszabadsag described this as large scale trolling:

    “Hogy Gyurcsányt kevéssé érdekli, tüdőn lövi-e a tüntetéssorozatot, amiatt lehet szomorkodni, de a DK elnöke azt teszi, amit pártja rövid távú érdeke diktál. Mindig a mát akarja megnyerni, sosem a holnapot. Márpedig azok, akik most a pódiumon állnak, természetes politikai ellenfelei. ”

    It seems from this description that Gyurcsany wants to lead his troll army against the January 2 demonstrators in order to destroy them. “shoot them in the chest” Because he considers the demonstrators, his enemies, his “natural political opponents”.

    I am surprised that after this description in the influential Hungarian paper, Nepszabadsag, Gyurcsany did not retreat on this issue.

    Is there a chance he will give up planning to bring party flags against the direct wishes of the organizers?

  20. chutzpa we learn from you, that Gyurcsány is one of the most serious problem of Hungary.
    However if one reads about a homeless Hungarian who wanted to stay on X-mas eve in a catholic church in Bonyhád and how those Christians called the police instead of inviting the unfortunate fellow, one can see that there are more serious problems.
    One should only look at the pictures of those thousands of Hungarians who are waiting for a warm soup in Budapest to forget the “problem” Gyurcsány.

  21. Gabor would do well to read which gives the full presentation of Molnar on the issue he raised. Second I see no evidence that the current Hungarian government supports the terroritorial integrity of Ukraine as it existed prior to the annexation of the Crimea by Russia. What I read repeatedly is discussions by the Hungarian government of resolving the current confrontation between the so called Donetsk Peoples Republic and Luhansk Peoples Republic and Ukraine forces. If the current Hungarian government supported the integrity of the Ukriane it would support the scantions and stop undermining them.

  22. Gabor and Istvan are living on two separate planes.

    1. Confused Hungarian – distorted reality
    2. Liberated American – fearless reality

    Hungary needs a education to discard it myths.

  23. I think Istvan raises a very important issue Istvan “PM Orban’s exit while a relief for so many Hungarians will be just the beging of the reconing in terms of fiscal problems of Hungary. Eventually it may be for the best but in the short run it could be painful.”

    THe reality of ho badly Hungary have been managed financially of the last while will catch up sooner or later wit the country. Maybe one of the reason that holds back opposition from inside Fidesz is that none wants to take on the role of the “frugal PM”. THere is no way to fix the problem without drastic measures any more. THe bank is empty, and I am not even sure how they will pay for the retired. In some places that government workers do not get paid, social benefits are cut back to the level never seen before WWII. Free medical support for the needy is non existent, and the prices for medications sky rocketed. When I went into a pharmacy at Blaha and Rakoczi ut in November I witnessed as an old lady asked the pharmacist, which descriptions she should not buy any longer as she cannot pay for all!

    Whoever will take over Hungary will face a huge economical problem. Eva, is tree a possibility to have some “professional” opinion found about how could Hungary get back on track if/when Orban departs? I totally see an option to dragging some of those people who robbed the country to the court and confiscate their property, but much of that money is out of the country or filtered to others, and also these would take years… WHat is the way out? Is it possible that this is one of the reason that there is no viable opposition stepped forward? MAybe they are waiting until it is Orban who bankrupts the country first…

  24. @chupa – Gyurcsany and colleagues have just announced that they will not be bringing party banners or symbols to demonstrations.

  25. @HiBOM

    re Simicska and Népszava. I just talked to a friend who has very good connections to Fidesz and mentioning this story (he didn’t know about the article), his immediate reaction was this too. Could this be a Simicska message to Orban?

    Simicska helped Fidesz, without the Lajos Fidesz would be nowhere near where it is now and his clear expectation (hitherto uncontested by Orban) is that he and he alone may dispose over the financial spoils.

    There can be no other oligarchs, which also implies that those who received spoils lately are not really oligarchs on their own right, but Strohmanner for Orban himself (Garancsi etc.), the only one – for the time being – more senior than the Lajos. But Simicska wants to make sure that nobody else can get close to the cookie jar and he is using Népszava which is financed by him.

  26. @Istvan

    The Hungarian PM and both FMs have repeatedly stated that they “supported the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”, “in line with the European Union” – this line, of course, includes sanctions. I think the last time was during Szijjarto’s visit to Moscow in November. So the official talking point is clear, for Crimea as well as Eastern Ukraine.

    However… the same people have regularly 1) criticized the sanctions 2) mentioned Zakarpattia in the same speeches related to the UKR/RU conflict, much to Moscow’s delight. And now government & party officials are now 3) engaged in a serious blaming campaign against the US, accused of, wait… ‘fomenting a new Maidan’.

    How do you say ‘double talk’ in Hungarian?

  27. @Gabor – the problem isn’t that Hungarians don’t love their country. They do. The problem is that some Hungarians constantly accuse other Hungarians of not loving their country. Indeed, some Hungarians say criticizing the government is treason.

  28. 25 people or more froze to death already this year in Hungary. Thank goodness the soccer players have great stadiums to play in and the horses will have a heated place to stay in net to our PM form the mont of the taxpayers. Orban and his gang’s priorities are certainly in order.

  29. It was unseasonably warm in Hungary until mid December. The cold has finally hit, with lows expected to reach -20 c. (@ 14 f.). Some people will surely freeze to death in their homes tonight, especially older people, as they have for the past many years now.

  30. Yes, it’s become really cold – even here near the Balaton – 15 Celsius are expected for this night …

    Re: “Some people will surely freeze to death in their homes tonight”
    That might be a strategy against the “pensioners’ glut”
    Even here in the rich West of Hungary many people have no central heating nor gas at all – they use wood stoves. And when we go out in the evening the smell is horrible – I wonder what else they are burning …

  31. @wolfi – Coal smells bad to some, though not to me. The really awful smelling smoke means they are burning plastic bottles and other plastic trash (I know, from personal experience). The people doing it know the smoke is extremely unhealthy and full of carcinogens, but it’s even more unhealthy to freeze, and those bottles can be picked up for free.

  32. @Some1 re: “I totally see an option to dragging some of those people who robbed the country to the court and confiscate their property, but much of that money is out of the country or filtered to others, and also these would take years… WHat is the way out? Is it possible that this is one of the reason that there is no viable opposition stepped forward? MAybe they are waiting until it is Orban who bankrupts the country first…”

    There might not be enough prison space, if we put all the perpetrators to jail, who robbed Hungary since 1948.
    Wolfi has quoted Hofi an other day:” Corruption is when you are not in it”
    That boils down to business planning……getting rid of Orban will not solve your problem.
    nie zu einem besseren kommen

  33. @Webber
    I could smell the odor of burning plastic trash during my visits to Hungary and Eastern Europe. Yes, it’s discussing.

  34. Orban is anti-Semitic, xenophobic, sucks dicks in the dark of the forest near his home, eats junk food including Gyurcsány.

  35. @Kormos: You say “There might not be enough prison space, if we put all the perpetrators to jail, who robbed Hungary since 1948.”
    THere was not a single government that actually institutionalized the robbing off of Hungarians to only benefit a few, until Fidesz. At least many tried to keep up appearances, Orban does not even try to cover up. Robbing retirement savings by law, taking away then redistributing the land to friends, cutting of equal rights from all Hungarians, placing retroactive laws to work, etc… No one but Fidesz.

  36. Here in Columbus, Ohio USA, we have a severe cold snap too, and yes we have the same homeless and non homeless go without heat. But at least we have shelters for them and get them food to eat. I have not heard of any one of you indicating that Hungary has charities like these operating there too. If not something needs to be done!!!

  37. @Penny Oswalt – there are homeless shelters, though not enough. The news today is that those in Budapest are now almost full. In severe cold, there is another issue – people who have homes but can’t afford to heat them can freeze to death at home. This happens every winter to a significant number of people, many of them elderly. Some 26% of Hungarians are living in severe poverty. Fortunately, a great many of these people have homes. Unfortunately, they have to make a decision every month – pay the bills, or eat. Most of them, rightly, choose food.

  38. Penny Oswald: I have not heard of any one of you indicating that Hungary has charities like these operating there too. If not something needs to be done!!!

    There were charities, and these were closed by VO and his minions. Homeless were banned from Budapest.

    Eva covered this in some topics over the years. Notably:

    Around Budapest and in the BudaHills many homeless are living in self made “houses”.

  39. To Webber @4:05am: People here have the same situation, In Columbus, OH this particular city though frowns on people living under bridges and we have Psyche clinics because alot of “official doctors” consider homelessness as “Severe Depression”due to misfortune beyonds ones control. The State of Ohio offers Medicaid,, Food Stamp Cards, WIC(children food stamps), And a small amount for utilities etc. Electricity costs have skyrocketed,my household pays about $375.00 a month in electricity, and which $80.00 is a “transmission fee”!
    With all that has been said…..what is the best possible avenue to create a help source for Hungarians that can skirt around the new law????

    To Ron @ 4:41am: I am relativiely new to Hungarian Spectrum as far as commenting. Thanks for the reference to Professor Eva’s 10/01/2013 publication.We have homeless in self made “houses” here too. Alot of shelters rely on Private Citizens donating financially to help feed, clothe, and shelter. And yes we do have people asking to work for food, on the expressway exit ramps. Technically, they are asked to move on, I was at a food drive thru when a extremely hungry man approached my car at the window where you pay and all he wanted was something to eat. The food worker called the police and yelled at him to leave the property. Right in front of me, apparently it is against the law to give him any of my food. Do you know how sickening I felt? I lost my appetite and when I got it back it hit my Joy department. You see I am a giver! I give my time, I work and I like to give to the poor, because I learned early in life that “although yourself has it bad, someone, somewhere has it worse than you!!” Just a thought!!!

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