I have not updated The Orange Files since moving away from Hungary several years ago. Some of the material on this website is therefore outdated. The date on which posts were published or last modified appears at the bottom of the given text. After a long hiatus, I will resume writing articles on Hungarian history, beginning with Hungarian People’s Republic I . . . 1949–1956, that provide context for understanding the motives—beyond the mere quest for power—that have impelled Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to build an illiberal authoritarian régime in Hungary. I will not add any other new material to The Orange Files or update any existing material on the website aside from the articles on the history of Hungary.   

—Sean Lambert  


Campaign Caravan

The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán conducted intensive propaganda in preparation for the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) campaign for the May 23–26 European Parliament (EP) election. The slogan of the propaganda campaign was “For us, Hungary is first!” (Nekünk Magyarország az első!).

The objective of these propaganda actions was to mobilize support for Fidesz-KDNP in the EP election by portraying the party alliance as the only political force in Hungary that would prevent the European Union from carrying through with its purported plan to resettle migrants in EU member states with help from Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist György/George Soros and his NGOs.

The Orbán-government propaganda focused on the threat that Muslim migration to Hungary would allegedly pose to the country’s internal security and Christian culture.

This preliminary propaganda consisted of eight distinctive actions that took place during a three-month period from early January to early April. Below are descriptions of each of these eight stages in the Orbán government’s preparation for the 2019 EP election campaign.

Stage 1: Request for Campaign Donations

click to enlarge

On January 3, Prime Minister Orbán sent letters to Fidesz-KDNP supporters throughout Hungary requesting donations to help the party alliance finance its political campaign for the EP election (source in Hungarian).

Fidesz-KDNP has not revealed how money Prime Minister Orbán’s request for donations generated for the party alliance’s 2019 EP election campaign.

Below is an Orange Files translation of Prime Minister Orbán’s 2019 request for donations:

Esteemed Compatriots!

I am writing to You because we are standing before a historically significant European Parliament election. This March, the stakes will be higher than they have ever been before.

See entire post.


The Phony Realist

The author: István Bibó.

The author.

Hungarian lawyer and political scientist István Bibó published a book in 1946 entitled The Misery of Small Eastern European States (A kelet-európai kisállamok nyomorúsága) in which he employed psychoanalytical precepts to determine the cause of “the adulteration and corruption of democracy in its most diverse forms” in the states of central and eastern Europe, specifically Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

Bibó’s diagnosis: political hysteria stemming from unresolved historical traumas—in the case of Poland, partition of the Russian-Prussian-Austrian partition of the country beginning in 1772; in the case of Czechoslovakia, the German-Hungarian partition of the country in 1938–1939; and in the case of Hungary, defeat in the 1848–1849 revolution against Habsburg rule and partition of the country’s Dual Monarchy-era territory via the 1920 Treaty of Trianon.

Bibó determined in The Misery of Small Eastern European States that Hungary’s defeat in the 1848–1849 revolution had had two primary effects: first, it prompted Hungarians to conclude that “Europe had abandoned Hungary in its fight for independence”; and second, it initiated “the developmental path that distanced Hungary from democratic ideals, because following the 1848–49 catastrophe the fear took root in Hungarians that assumption of all the consequences of democracy would lead to the secession of nationality-inhabited regions [of the country].”

See entire article.


The Umpteenth Campaign

On February 15, 2019, Spokesman István Hollik announced that the Orbán government would launch an “information action regarding the plans in Brussels to encourage immigration because we think that all Hungarian people have the right to know about those proposals that fundamentally threaten Hungary’s security” (sources A and B in Hungarian).

The Signs

(photo: Orange Files)

A few days later, signs showing unflattering images of Hungarian-American financier György/George Soros and European Commission (EC) President Jean-Claude Juncker alongside the text “You Also Have the Right to Know What Brussels Is Preparing to Do!” (Önnek is joga van tudni, mire készül Brüsszel!) appeared in large number on the streets of Budapest.

See entire post.


The Central European Press and Media Foundation

KESMA owner and technical director Gábor Liszkay (photo: hvg.hu)

The Central European Press and Media Foundation (Közép-Európai Sajtó és Média Alapítvány, or KESMA) was founded on September 11, 2018, to serve as a non-profit organization under which pro–Orbán-government private media in Hungary could be consolidated.

Orbán-government oligarchs, officials and their family members as well as pro–Orbán- government journalists and entrepreneurs have since transferred ownership of 476 media outlets to KESMA without financial compensation (source in English).

See entire post.


The Sargentini Report

MEP Judith Sargentini receives ovation following the European Parliament’s adoption of her report on “the situation in Hungary” (photo: AFP).

On September 12, 2018, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) of the European Union adopted a resolution asking the Council of the European Union to determine if the government of Hungary has initiated measures and engaged in activity that present “a clear risk of a serious breach” of the fundamental values of the EU (source in English).

This resolution was contained in a report articulating concerns about the state of democracy, the rule of law and civil liberties in Hungary submitted to the European Parliament (EP) by MEP Judith Sargentini of the Netherlands, a member of the Greens-European Free Alliance EP political group.

The European Parliament’s endorsement of the so-called Sargentini Report was the second of three steps in the European Union’s warning mechanism specified in Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union.

See entire post.


European Union Net Funding to Hungary, 2011–2016

The European Union provided Hungary with 26.54 billion euros in net funding (gross funding from the EU budget minus contributions to the EU budget) during the first six years in which the second and third Orbán governments were in power for the entire year (2011–2016).

Hungary’s average population was 9.9 million in the years 2011–2016 (source in English). Hungary thus received per-capita net funding of 2,681 euros over this six-year period.

Source: European Commission data on “operating budget balance” for the years 2007–2013 and 2014–2020.

Hungary received the highest amount of per-capita net European Union funding among all 28 EU member states in the years 2011–2016. During this six-year period, 17 member states of the European Union were net recipients of funding from the EU (see table below), while 11 member states were net financial contributors to the EU.

See entire post.


Scenes from the Opposition Demonstration

On April 21, 2018, the Facebook group Mi vagyunk a többség (We Are the Majority) held an opposition demonstration in Budapest. The demonstration drew tens of thousands of participants, though was somewhat smaller than the demonstration the group held in the city one week earlier.

Participants from across the political spectrum attended the demonstration—a new phenomenon in Hungary, where the opposition to the Orbán government has been fragmented into nationalist, socialist, liberal and green factions that do not cooperate with one another.

The main speaker: Mayor Péter Márki-Zay of Hódmezővásárhely, a city in southern Hungary that was considered an unassailable Fidesz bastion until he won a mayoral by-election there in February 2018 as an opposition independent.

See entire post and photo gallery.


2018 National Assembly Election

National Assembly seats won in 2018 general election.

The FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) alliance won its third-consecutive two-thirds majority in the National Assembly of Hungary in the general election held in the county on April 8, 2018.

Fidesz-KDNP won 133, or 66.8 percent, of the 199 seats in the National Assembly. This two-thirds majority will again enable the governing alliance to pass so-called cardinal laws (sarkalatos törvények), including those amending the Fundamental Law of Hungary, without support from National Assembly opposition parties.

Five opposition parties won 64 seats in the National Assembly: the nationalist party Jobbik won 26 seats; the Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue for Hungary alliance won 20 seats; the social-liberal party Democratic Coalition won 9 seats; the green-liberal party Politics Can Be Different won 8 seats; and the liberal party Together won 1 seat.

See entire post.


Pre-Election Sampler from the Freesheets

Below are scanned images from the final two issues of the free daily newspaper Lokál and the final issue of the free weekly newspaper Lokál Extra published before the April 8 National Assembly election in Hungary.

The 12-page Lokál has a daily circulation of 150,000 copies and is distributed at public-transportation, railway and inter-city bus stations in Budapest. The 24-page Lokál Extra has a circulation of 1,160,000 copies and is delivered to homes and residential buildings in Budapest and 24 other cities in Hungary (source in Hungarian).

The newspapers operate under the ownership of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s chief strategic adviser Árpád Habony and former legal adviser Tibor Győri.

See entire post.

Lokál, April 5 and April 6, page 2

 Orbán government campaign advertisement showing a stop sign superimposed on a dense column of migrants marching through the countryside somewhere along the Balkan migration route in 2015.