Reflections on the Hungarian Election: A Native’s View

On 8th of April 2018, Hungary holds its parliamentary elections. This is the election that will, in one way or another, determine the long-term future of the Hungarian nation.

For many years, Hungary could not be casted to any other role in the international community than the ‘new guy’, who still needed to learn the ropes of how to manage a democracy and forge a prosperous economy. All that was required was for her to uncritically complete the instructions of the ‘great guys’ – the traditional Western powers – even if the experience had in the past produced ambiguous results. Over only a few years, it became clear that the results for Hungary would prove disastrous. To put it bluntly, the country stood just on the edge of a precipice: the national debt soared from 55% to 80%, IMF loans of 25 billion dollars were required to tread water, the budget deficit widened to a yawning 8%, unemployment reached 12%, and the vast majority of key-sectors fell into the hands of foreign entrepreneurs. Additionally, Hungary saw its geopolitical significance decline to a point never seen before in its history; until 2010, that is. The year of 2010 was a turning point in Hungary’s fortunes, as the Prime Minister, Mr Viktor Orbán, and his government got off the track dictated by the West and got ready to pursue Hungary’s own political and economic interests.

In the last eight years, the Hungarian government pursued a political agenda based on economic improvement, demographic increase and national values. Since coming to power, economic stabilisation has been largely achieved: domestic debt fell by 6%, IMF loans were repaid, the budget deficit was trimmed by 2% and the unemployment rate fell to 4.3%. On top of this, hundreds of thousands of Hungarians saw their pay packets increased, and the participation of Hungarian entrepreneurs blossomed. In this era of Europe-wide demographic crisis, there has been also a strong focus on families and the children on whom the future of the Hungarian nation rests. The government has been encouraging increased birth rates through the provision of higher levels of family tax benefits and the writing off of student loans of Hungarians with two or more children.

In the last eight years, the Hungarian government pursued a political agenda based on economic improvement, demographic increase and national values

After the struggle for independence, the Orbán government has devoted itself to the enhancement and strengthening of the sovereign nation state. The Fidesz-KDNP governing coalition is defined by its belief in national values, traditions and the power of community. They self-consciously place the Hungarian national interest at the heart of their governing agenda. This is the political doctrine that Mr Viktor Orbán and his government has founded and intend to extend in the following years. It has aroused, at the same time, many criticisms at the national and international level alike. In effect, there could be no better indicator to prove that the Hungarian government is a real challenger of the mainstream liberal orthodoxy, while the opposition parties cannot be considered serious competitors.

In Hungary, the opposition parties pursue an openly negative campaign based on destruction, repugnancy and jealousy that derives from the obvious fact that they also had eight years to act, and in that time they were unable to match the achievements of the current administration. Lacking a coherent agenda of its own, opposition parties employ ideological stigmatization and the well-known demagoguery of socialist parties. They rely on distorted statistics demonstrating that a large majority of the Hungarian population has concerns about the level of corruption, because certain individuals can easily get into high positions without appropriate qualifications. This point is simply insincere, if not ridiculous, from their part, since neither of these parties cared about these kind of problems when Mr Martin Schultz governed a key-institution of the whole European continent for five years without even graduating from high-school; yet, the members of these parties are ready to hang on his every word. Furthermore, one should not forget about those opposition candidates who have neither applicable foreign linguistic knowledge, nor the professional experience required to represent Hungary on the international political scene. There is also the yet to be fully resolved Metro 4 scandal, one of the largest cases of corruption and fraud in recent memory in Hungary committed by the previous left-wing government

Opposition parties pursue an openly negative campaign based on destruction, repugnancy and jealousy

One focal point of the election for the opposition is the Paks II nuclear power plant expansion that allegedly allowed too much Russian influence into the country, when alternatives, notably Austrian or German `green solutions` (wind turbines) were available. Regrettably, the opposition just leaves out of the formula that the yearly effectiveness of these wind turbines is halved in Hungary (23.3%), while forgetting to mention that strong economic relations with Russia that Germany and Austria maintain. Criticism of current infrastructure proposals, specifically expenditure on sports arenas, are another talking point of the opposition. Yet, the Hungarian government has been spending close to 10 thousand billion forints on infrastructural investments (including developments of more than 20 hospitals, educational institutions and public transport), while spending a comparatively lesser 300-350 billion forints on professional sport infrastructure, including the organizational costs of the 17th FINA World Championship, an international and domestic success.

Besides, nothing could reveal more about the crisis of the Hungarian opposition parties than the way they suffer not only the lack of ideas but a lack of political morality and identity, too. Indeed, the new strategy of the opposition is to incite Hungarian citizens to vote not for principles but for the strongest anti-Fidesz candidate in their district to gain majority through a possible cooperation within the non-ruling parties. No matter if it is a candidate from the left-wing or the far-right-wing, they consider moral heroes those who are willing to sacrifice their votes in favour of the ‘common goal.’ And the question becomes inevitable at this point: will they also so easily sacrifice national values for expediency’s sake when in office? The question is only rhetorical. The parties of the opposition solely act according to their own interests; no one can know who they finally nominate, what their plans are or which principles they are committed to: they have no precious values, no stabile spine and no national heart.

Mr Viktor Orbán and his government might lose battle but they will win the war

Hence, the difference between the political outcomes is stark: the current chaos and struggle of the opposition against something would surely result in significant uncertainties and malaise during  governance; the incumbent government, on the other hand, has been standing up for something that promises continuous stability and security, and that enjoys expressive support within the Hungarian society. On Sunday 8th of April 2018, even if the opposition might gain the majority of votes on mathematical basis, it would be never able to own the deep support of the nation – that is the reason why Mr Viktor Orbán and his government might lose battle but they will win the war.

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