Citizens of Hungary have this week received another letter from Viktor Orbán, the sixth the prime minister has sent to all adults in the country over the past three years as part of his government’s National Consultation [Nemzeti Konzultáció] campaign. This letter informs them of “Hungary’s victory” in the “battle” to have the European Union lift the Excessive Deficit Procedure that had been in place against Hungary since the country joined the European Union in 2004. Below is an Orange Files translation of the letter:
I would like to share with you good news affecting all Hungarian people.
The European Union has been obliged to lift the Excessive Deficit Procedure it has maintained against our homeland since 2004. We therefore have access to all EU funding due to Hungarians. This means that Hungary was victorious in an important battle.
The EU launched the procedure against us, because our homeland’s budget deficit significantly exceeded the permitted level every year at the time of the previous governments.
People decided in favor of change in 2010. With your mandate we have put the country’s financial affairs in order. As a result, we have met, in fact exceeded, stipulated conditions for the last three years.
The EU has bowed before the facts and finally recognized the achievements of the Hungarian people and the effectiveness of Hungarian crisis management.
We, Hungarians, have accomplished this success together. The work, effort, support and common sacrifice of every single Hungarian person was necessary for this.
I would like to thank you as well for contributing to Hungary’s victory.
With Regards and Esteem,
Budapest, July 2013
The explicit message of this letter: Prime Minister Orbán has led the Hungarians to victory in battle against a powerful foreign adversary.
The implicit message of this letter: Hungarians should continue to support their leader, because there are more such battles to be fought in the future.
The fundamental claim of this letter: The European Union was arbitrarily refusing to recognize that Hungary had satisfied the EU requirement for members states to have a government deficit of less than three percent of GDP.
The reality not expressed in this letter: The European Union was not disputing the fact that Hungary’s government deficit had fallen below three percent of GDP, but the sustainability of the means used to bring it below the required level.
The literal cost of this letter: 140 forints per letter, sent via priority mail to all adult citizens in a country of ten-million people. The online news website Index.hu has calculated that the twelve previous letters the government dispatched as part of the National Consultation, including six sent to targeted groups of citizens, cost Hungarian taxpayers around 3.3 billion forints (11.1 million euros).
The figurative cost of this letter: another authoritarian blow to the crumbling edifice of liberal democracy in Hungary.