Hungary is a strong country with firm foundations, with a good performance comparable to other European Union members, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told a conference marking the fifth anniversary of his government, in Budapest last Friday.
In 2010 Hungary was in ruins after “eight years of Socialist government” and the crisis that broke out in 2008, but now “the Hungarian frigate is stable”, Orbán said. “But there is still plenty to do on deck,” he added. Orbán said Hungary had made impressive progress since 2010, though admitted that some mistakes had been made, such as the plan to extend the telecommunications tax. “We want to be the best ever government for each Hungarian,” he said, adding that “Hungary continues to be the number one priority for this government”.
In his address, the prime minister urged a new era, focusing on efforts to ensure people “middle-class living standards”. He added that next year’s budget was already a step in that direction. Orbán said that in a civic system policies are not made “high above” but policy makers “knock on people’s doors and seek solutions to their problems… We want to build a comfortable country for people working and living on salaries or wages.”
He insisted that this also means Hungary will remain a country for Hungarians. “Security, prosperity and welfare for Hungarians come first. More jobs, fewer taxes, support for families, greater order but fewer rules, more comfortable life, pride and commitment.”
In the past five years “the key word for government was power”, Orbán said, and pledged that from now on “listening to the people” would be in focus. He argued that efforts so far have been concentrated on “strengthening a critically weakened” country, and though “a strong leadership must not lose its grip”, paying attention to people’s everyday problems would be a top priority.
On another subject, Orbán said that nobody is above the law and nobody is allowed to abuse an advantageous position, but it is not acceptable either that “some people are attacked out of envy just because they are brave and successful… Abuse and slander must be met with zero tolerance.”
Concerning the European Union, Orbán said he is ready for debate with the community but is firmly against “anyone driving the country out of the EU or NATO. For us, Hungarians, they are family, we are not ready for a divorce”. He voiced commitment for a “free and independent” Hungary and insisted that Hungary’s sovereignty is “not negotiable”.
Referring to the EU’s new position on immigration, Orbán said that “if somebody seeks to strip me of my fundamental right to select those I wish to allow into my house, family or homeland, they do not wish me good but bad”.
Nézőpont: Orbán speech promises stable government, economic leeway
Orbán’s anniversary speech reflected a stable country where the leeway for economic achievements has widened over the past five years, a report by analysts of the Nézőpont Institute said. Orbán had said his aim was that more and more people should personally feel the achievements of these five years in government and his cabinet still has three years until the next election to fulfil this goal, the analysts said.
The goals of expanding the middle class and improving living standards in general have never been closer, the report said, adding however that the example of Poland shows that even unambiguous economic success is no guarantee for a government to be re-elected. Another important message of Orbán’s speech was that a strong government must go hand-in-hand with an “attentive government”. This means that unlike the opposition suggests, the government is capable of self-reflection and admitting to errors, the report said.
The prime minister abides by the idea of acknowledging and correcting mistakes and unlike previous governments, his government strives to remain “human-oriented”. While its opponents, the radical nationalist Jobbik party and the left are radicalising, Orbán is able to come across as “a calm force capable of governing”, it added.
An essential part of his speech was declaring a clear commitment to Hungary’s memberships in the European Union and NATO, and while he conceded that these organisations must be contradicted in debates, he actually “positioned himself in the centre compared to Hungary’s Jobbik and left-wing forces on the extremes”, the report said. His ideals of national sovereignty were neither like Jobbik’s national isolation nor like the “forced self-abandonment” of the left.
Opposition parties lambast five years of government
Opposition parties lambasted the last five years of government and criticised Orbán over his speech.
The radical nationalist Jobbik party said Orbán admitted to “government-wide corruption” and “arrogance of power” in his speech but was five years late with the admission. Ádám Mirkóczki, the party’s spokesman, said the government lacked credibility in its proposed zero tolerance campaign against abuse and corruption. He said the least the prime minister could have done was to name, and announce investigations against, “corrupt Fidesz scoundrels”.
The Socialist Party said the speech indicated that he “is exactly where he was five years ago”. He has “dismantled the country, the competence of his government and has become the sole decision maker”, Socialist leader József Tóbiás said.
“The prime minister made a desperate and unsuccessful attempt to resolve the crisis and the in-fighting in Fidesz,” Tóbiás said. The government was the worst of the last quarter of a century and an heir to authoritarian governments.
The leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) said Hungary has “no need for Viktor Orbán”. Spokesman Zsolt Gréczy said the country’s net public debt has risen and the change in GDP between 2010 and 2014 was within the statistical margin of error. Gréczy said it was “reassuring” that the prime minister does not want Hungary to leave the European Union, “now that he, his family and his relatives have all struck it rich from EU funds”.
Együtt said the result of the current government headed by Orbán is that the number of the poor is at a record high in Hungary and twice as many people have moved away as in 1956. Deputy leader Péter Juhász said “hard-working ordinary people” have been driven to financial ruin, while businessmen Árpád Habony and Lőrinc Mészáros and ruling Fidesz stalwarts János Lázár and Antal Rogán have been among the winners. Board member Nora Hajdú said the government only represents the interests of those who belong directly to the prime minister and his circle.
Dialogue for Hungary (PM) said Orbán’s political legacy was that Hungary has become a scenic depressed country without a vision. PM spokesman Richard Barabás said the prime minister’s speech was a “dreamer describing dreamland to nursery-school children.”
LMP co-leader András Schiffer said that Orbán’s policies had “nothing to do with” pursuing national interests. Orbán had sacrificed national interests “on the altar of various insane ideas”.
Hungarian Liberal Party spokeswoman Anett Bősz said “Viktor Orbán’s Hungary” fails to guarantee welfare, democracy or the rule of law. She said her party “wants no part of this Hungary”.
No return from multicultural Europe
Europe is experiencing modern-day migration, which can change the face of its whole civilisation, a process that is “irreversible”, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said on Tuesday. Addressing an event held to celebrate the 85th birthday of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Orbán said there was “no return” from a multicultural Europe, “either to a Christian Europe or to the world of national cultures”. He raised the issue of capital punishment and said it was not possible to introduce it and Hungary had no such plan. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is right: “no member state can introduce rules which go against the EU’s basic charter”, he said. Regarding the European economy, Orbán said the “euro project” has paused and the idea that a monetary union could bring about a fiscal union has not broken through. There is however a modest optimism about the future of the European economy, “albeit unwarranted”. He said crisis management had a northern and southern style: the former likes to analyse and make structural changes while the latter would rather let “life take care of itself and adjust to changes”. In economic terms this means a devaluation of the currency, he said. “The only reason for optimism concerning the eurozone is that … a southern logic [of crisis management] has emerged in a European size.” It was an “illusion” to think that the path to making the eurozone competitive again compared with economically more advanced regions had been found.