[Hungary] a Leader and no Compass

Paul Gradvohl · 10 April 2014
Viktor Orban will maintain his tight leadership. No political career in the Fidesz, no major decision will escape his personal guidance. Unfortunately, his people did not grasp the immensity of his genius.

Only 44.54 % (52.7 in 2010) amidst the 61.24 % (-3%) of adult Hungarians participating (home and abroad) gave his coalition (with the Christian Democrats) a close to (or juste above) 2/3 majority in Parliament. Such a result would seem like a miracle at first sight to many European political leaders. But it’s only 3 % above Angela Merkel’s results last year, and yet, nothing like it. OCSE observers noticed for example the use of government propaganda by the PM’s party. They did not react to unorthodox economics used the Putin’s way: lowering of energy prices for the consumers before the elections, redistribution of  tobacconists’ licenses to Fidesz supporters, nationalization of private insurance packages to lower public deficit figures. They had to mention the Russian style of media policies, but apparently could not measure the impact of the judicial hammer hanging over the still resisting media concentrated in Budapest. Moreover, the winning party, very officially, did not indulge in promoting a program. Viktor Orban assured his supporters he was the strength that ensured Hungary’s place in Europe.  To him the Left meant hatred while the Jobbik would extrude the country from the EU. So no need was felt to be more specific about policies.


If one takes Orban to his own words, almost a half of Hungarian voters are communists who hate democracy and free enterprise and the rest are leaning towards a rightist authoritarian regime. For the sake of Europe he keeps the country on the good path. Fortunately or not, this tale highly distorts the trends of Hungarian society. Due to highly sophisticated rules, Mr Orban will have a majority in Parliament incomparable to Ms Merkel’s. Instead of compromise, there will be a one person leadership. The European PM of Hungary has shown his manners on April 1st: the nuclear deal with Russia entices a 30 years dependency on Russian technology and good will, not to mention gas. Consultation with EU partner has been minimal. And unorthodox economics are to be continued. The PM is going to keep playing with laws and various pressures on local and foreign companies when he’ll feel the country needs it, for the sake of sovereignty he tells.

Who’s sovereignty, one might ask. Not only did the FIDESZ/KDNP loose more than 8%, and close to 700 000 votes. In fact even more as 95% of the more than 60 000 votes casted by traditional mail by residents in foreign countries went to the ruling alliance. Low turnover (1/3) in this new constituency created to benefit exclusively to the FIDESZ and silence about true overall figures in the official media show how manipulation does work, and its limits. Greater Hungary does not exist, only greater FIDESZ.

The major psychological winner is Jobbik (20.5%, 16,7% in 2010). Criticizing the poor social performance of the government, an easy task because of the flat tax and increasing emigration, a recent and worrisome evolution, Mr Vona could keep hitting on Roma and hinting at the Jewish plot against Hungarians. Disoriented Hungarians follow him more and more thanks to the PM, notwithstanding his claims to be the protector of European values. A few days before the vote he allowed into some foreign bashing, blurring once more borders of acceptable public stance – after increasing discrimination against the homeless people and the Roma.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the alliance of no less than 5 leftist parties got 25,9% (up from the 19.3% of the socialist party in 2010) and is the major looser. Once more figures are puzzling. The 1/3 increase in percentage looks like defeat. And it is. Leftist contenders of Mr Orban returned his claims on public ethics and discarded his “system” as a whole. But fear is not an easy to use bonus when in opposition. Conservatism was once more the utmost magnet in a depressed country, lacking perspective. The only motto of the ruling coalition is the reinstatement of a national bourgeoisie, but with such Horthy-like gendarme spirit that anyone but a radical tea-party activist would dismiss the whole idea. This did not help the left to set appetizing goals beyond getting back to real economics and the rule of law. Not to speak about the frequent old timer’s and partially corrupt guard which explains much of the limited results out of Budapest. Too poor and small geared a vision plus unattractive leaders meant an unavoidable defeat. The little green and poetic opposition party just managed to get in thank to a 5.26% (down from 7.5%), confirming the wish to condemn morally Orban and the lack of perspective.

Yet Hungary is no far away island, but the forerunner of European politics. The lost souls of conservatism tend everywhere to step over traditional borders and accept general suspicion against foreigners and social fear as legitimate. A disoriented left mimics economic expertise and dismisses solidarity. Lukewarm liberals celebrate institutional balance and the rule of law, per se. No one dares setting forward European perspectives when all political leaders know separate national paths in Europe will lead to post-post colonial nightmare: weakened small European states will beg Moscow and Washington, if not Beijing, for custody. Hungary shows the way. A few month ago Orban was telling Asian leaders about the Magyar Asian past, then came the Putin nuclear Canossa, while his PR guru first helped Richard Nixon and Jesse Helms. Apparently other European conservatives do not wait for Russia to dismember Ukraine in order to expand eastwards (a clear prospect for Jobbik), but this is just a gruesome nuance in the European political drift and lack of leadership, thanks to national elites reluctant to acknowledge responsibilities (Mr Orban escapes this common attitude) and to empower properly the EU (Mr Orban is leading on this account). Pretending that Hungarians were united behind him, the very Magyar leader shows the way: those who are not supporting him do not deserve to exist as Hungarians. The European political landscape could be likewise simplified. So what is the EU leadership up to now? We all are Hungarians in a way.