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.


The Referendum That Couldn’t Fail

In February 2016, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán initiated a referendum in Hungary asking voters to respond to the following question (source in Hungarian):

Do you want the European Union to be able to mandate the obligatory settlement of non-Hungarian citizens in Hungary even without the approval of the [Hungarian] National Assembly?


Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaks to supporters following the referendum on the European Union migrant-resettlement quota (photo:

This question refers specifically to the resettlement of 1,294 Syrian, Iraqi and Eritrean refugees from Italy and Greece to Hungary as part of a European Union plan adopted in September 2015 (see 2016 Referendum on European Union Migrant Resettlement Quotas).

The result of the referendum in terms of approval or rejection of the European Union migrant-resettlement quota for Hungary was never in doubt: opinion polls consistently showed that the number of voters who rejected the quota was many times larger than the number of voters who accepted it (see “Opinion Polls” section of the relevant Wikipedia article).

The only question was: would voter turnout exceed the 50-percent threshold required for the referendum to be considered legally valid?

See entire post.


Propaganda Camp

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán prepares to speak at Tusnádfürdő on July 24, 2016 (photo: MTI).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán prepares to deliver annual speech in Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tușnad) on July 24, 2016 (photo: MTI).

On July 24, 2016, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held his annual speech at the Tusványos Summer University and Student Camp (Tusványos Nyári Szabadegyetem és Diáktábor) in Tusnádfürdő (Băile Tușnad), Romania.

Orbán, both as head of government and opposition leader, has long used the speech he makes at this camp in the predominantly Hungarian-inhabited Székely Land (Székelyföld) region of Romania to explicitly articulate his domestic political vision and his viewpoints on international affairs (see Proclamation of the Illiberal Hungarian State).

Prime Minister Orbán expressed two novel opinions in his 2016 Tusványos Summer University and Student Camp speech: first, he became the first leader of a sovereign state to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States; and second, in answering a question following the speech, he advocated the creation of a common European military.

Below are Orange Files translations of several passages from Prime Minister Orbán’s July 24 speech in Tusnádfürdő (source in Hungarian).

I am not Donald Trump’s campaign manager, I never would have thought that the notion would occur to me that among the full-fledged possibilities he would be the best for Europe and Hungary. . . . See entire post.


Prime Minister Orbán’s March 15 Speech

Prime Minister Orbán waves to audience following his speech on March 15, 2016 (photo: MTI).

Prime Minister Orbán waves to audience following his speech on March 15, 2016 (photo: MTI).

On March 15, 2016, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán delivered his annual speech outside the Hungarian National Museum in Budapest commemorating the anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution against Habsburg rule. Below is an Orange Files translation of the speech (source in Hungarian).



Esteemed celebrators!

Europe is not free, because freedom starts with the statement of truth. Today in Europe it is forbidden to state the truth. Even if made of silk, a muzzle remains a muzzle. It is forbidden to state that those who are currently arriving are not refugees, but that a mass migration threatens Europe. It is forbidden to state that immigration brings crime and terror into our countries. It is forbidden to state that those who arrive from other civilizations represent a danger to our way of life, our culture, our customs and our Christian traditions. It is forbidden to state that instead of assimilating, those who arrived earlier have built a separate-entry world for themselves with their own laws and their own ideals that pry the millennial European frameworks apart. It is forbidden to state that this is not an incidental and unintentional chain of consequences, but a planned-out and guided action, a mass of people directed upon us. It is forbidden to state that in Brussels they are currently scheming to transport foreigners here as quickly as possible and to settle them among us. It is forbidden to say that the objective of this settlement is to redraw the religious and cultural patterns of Europe, to rebuild its ethnic footings, thereby eliminating the nation-states that represent the last impediment to the Internationale. It is forbidden to state that Brussels is today stealthily swallowing more and more slices of our national sovereignty, that in Brussels many are today working on the plan for a European United States for which nobody ever granted them the authority.

See entire speech.


Holiday Tidings from Viktor and Co.

In the days prior to Christmas, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, National Assembly Speaker László Kövér and Prime Ministry chief János Lázár—the most powerful officials in the Orbán administration along with Prime Ministerial Cabinet Office chief Antal Rogán—conducted long interviews with the pro-government newspaper Magyar Idők, the pro-government website PestiSrá and the opposition newspaper Népszava, respectively. Below are Orange Files-translated quotes and excerpts from these interviews published between December 22 and December 24, 2015.

Prime Minister Orbán in Magyar Idők (source in Hungarian).

Regarding the Political Affiliation of Migrants

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (source: Magyar Idők).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (source: Magyar Idők).

“According to available surveys, the large majority of immigrants will be left-wing voters. This factor upsets the entire system of European party-politics that developed from Christian foundations. In ten years, the people who have been let in now will be citizens along with their family members. We must clearly understand that the person who has come from Islam will not vote for a Christian-based party—we wouldn’t do this either in the opposite case—but will gravitate toward the left wing, because there it will at least not be necessary to come to terms with the Christian foundations. After a certain amount of time, if there are enough of them [migrants], they will organize their own political interest representation, which for the same reason will work together with the left wing. The traditional political balance of our continent, which is founded upon intellectual and political competition between the left wing and the right wing, will be overturned.”

See entire post.


Hell-lo Dictator!

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is greeted by President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker on the second day of the fourth European Union (EU) eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, on May 22, 2015 as Latvia holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council. EU leaders and their counterparts from Ukraine and five ex-Soviet states hold a summit focused on bolstering their ties, an initiative that has been undermined by Russia's intervention in Ukraine. AFP PHOTO / JANEK SKARZYNSKI

Prime Minister Orbán returns greeting from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, Latvia          (photo: AFP).

On May 21, 2015, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the top European Union-level official, individually greeted the heads of all delegations attending the Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga, Latvia.

Standing on stage between Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland and Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma of Latvia, Juncker commented in a loud, jocular voice as Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of Hungary approached: “the dictator is coming.” Juncker then extended his arm to shake hands and addressed Orbán directly as “dictator” and playfully slapped him on the side of the head (see video of greeting).

See entire post.


Back in the Fold?

On January 23, 2015, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán held talks with European Union officials in Brussels during which they discussed his recent comments against non-European immigration (see Je Suis Viktor) and the impending official visit to Hungary of Russian President Vladimir Putin (source in Hungarian).

After the talks Prime Minister Orbán and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker shook hands and smiled for the cameras. However, instead of loosening his grip at the end of the joint photo-op, Juncker said “Let’s go now!” and led Orbán off stage by the hand in a gesture calculated to symbolize the assertion of European Union authority over the previously defiant, euro-skeptic prime minister of Hungary (see video below).



Until recently, Orbán would not have allowed himself to be placed in a position of such blatant and humiliating subordination, particularly toward an official from the European Union. 

However, over the past couple of months his position has weakened considerably both internally and externally:

According to all five major polling companies in Hungary, the popularity of the prime minister’s FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) governing alliance has declined sharply among Hungarian voters since October (source in Hungarian);

Unprecedented public conflict has taken place among Fidesz government and National Assembly officials since November, suggesting that the Orbán administration’s previously rock-solid internal cohesion is diminishing (see Another Cleft in the Monolith);

Officials from the dominant countries within in the European and Euro-Atlantic alliances that provide Hungary with vital developmental funding and military protection—Germany and the United States—have sent strong messages to the Orbán government that they will no longer tolerate its autocratic and explicitly illiberal domestic policies (see Proclamation of the Illiberal Hungarian State) and reluctance to support collective measures designed to penalize the Putin administration for Russia’s occupation of Crimea and proxy attacks on Ukraine (see Teutonic Shift and The Spectacular Fall);

And the main foreign-policy endeavor of the Orbán government, building (economic) ties with the rapidly developing states of Asia, Eurasia and the Middle East through in what it refers to as Eastern Opening [keleti nyitás], has failed to produce the anticipated results (source in Hungarian).

The above factors, coupled with the greater emphasis that European states have placed on internal unity to combat Jihadist terrorism following the Charlie Hebdo attacks in early January 2015, have apparently compelled Prime Minister Orbán to at least temporarily steer Hungary back toward the western political sphere.

The political force in Hungary that stands to benefit the most from Orbán’s volte-face: the radical-nationalist Jobbik party, which opinion polls show has gained popularity among Hungarian voters as that of Fidesz-KDNP has declined (see source in Hungarian and 24 Bastions). Jobbik will likely generate significant political profit from the anti-liberal, anti-capitalist, anti-European Union, anti-West sentiment that Prime Minister Orbán has so proficiently incited among Hungarians over the past five years in order to legitimize his authoritarian domestic policies, though now appears ready to moderate or abandon.


Sign of Things to Come

The Orbán government has recently put up signs like that shown below all over Budapest, ostensibly in response to the European Union’s suspension of developmental funding for Hungary until it receives more detailed information regarding the country’s administration of such EU support since the Prime Ministry assumed this task from the National Development Ministry late last summer (see source in Hungarian).



This is the same tactic the Orbán government used during its frequent conflict with the European Union during the 2010–2014 parliamentary cycle: attempt to rally support among the population by suggesting that the EU has attacked or disparaged the Hungarian people as a whole. This ominous sign suggests that the Orbán government’s relations with the European Union are likely to remain just as bad or perhaps become even worse over the next four years as they have been over the past four years.


Mass Mobilization 101

Orbán's newest letter.

Orbán’s newest letter.

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: 

Dear Compatriots!

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,

Viktor Orbán

Budapest, July 2013

The explicit message of this letterPrime 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 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. 


Swallowing the Frog

Orbán the Bullshitter

Prime Minister Orbán speaking to the National Assembly on July 4, 2013.

The Orbán government reacted in predictable fashion to the European Union’s July 3 approval of the Tavares Report criticizing it for undermining fundamental democratic rights in Hungary: the EU doesn’t really object in principle to what we are doing, but is engaging in petty party politics at the bidding of corporate lobbyists who want to get back at us for reducing exorbitant company profits to the benefit of the people.

Speaking at a session of the National Assembly on July 4, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said that the Tavares report is “unjust” and “hostile toward Hungarians” and that it “gravely insults Hungary” and “violates Hungary’s sovereignty.” Orbán also called the European Union “unjust” and accused the EU of “applying a double standard” toward Hungary and “abusing its power.” He claimed that corporate interests had instigated the report as a means of countering the government’s utility-fee cuts, which harmed the interests of European corporations that “for years collected as much money as they could from Hungarian families.”

Speaking during one of his regular Friday-morning interviews on state-run Kossuth Radio on July 5, Orbán asserted that the Tavares Report was a “left-wing action” taken against the government because it had written a constitution that “is not liberal” and because European left-wing parties “cannot swallow the frog” (literal translation of a Hungarian idiom meaning “to swallow the bitter pill”) of Fidesz’s landslide election victory over the Hungarian Socialist Party in 2010. The prime minister said that these left-wing parties are intertwined with “capital interests” that are attempting to reverse the government’s bank tax and utility-fee cuts. Orbán claimed that “Not since the Soviet Union existed has any outside force had the audacity to openly, choosing a legal form, limit the independence of Hungarians.”

Later on July 5, FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) National Assembly representatives approved a resolution submitted by Fidesz caucus leader Antal Rogán and two others entitled “On the Equal Treatment due to Hungary.” Representatives from the Hungarian Socialist Party and Politics Can Be Different boycotted the vote on the resolution, while the six representatives present from the Democratic Coalition and Dialogue for Hungary voted against it. Only Fidesz-KDNP representatives voted to approve document, which speaks in the name of the entire nation. The following is an Orange Files translation of the resolution (source in Hungarian):

We Hungarians joined the family of European nations more than one-thousand years ago with the foundation of the state and the adoption of Christianity.

We Hungarians have stood up for European values on many occasions.

There were times when we defended these values with our blood in the face of external attacks. In 1956 we took up arms against the communist dictatorship. In 1989 we contributed to the reunification of Europe through the dismantling of the Iron Curtain.

We Hungarians joined the European Union of our own free will.

We did this in the hope that we had joined a community standing on the foundation of law,  justice and freedom.

We Hungarians do not want a Europe in which freedom is limited and is not permitted to develop to its fullest. We do not want a Europe in which the stronger abuses its power, in which the sovereignty of nations is violated and in which the smaller must honor the bigger.

We had enough of dictates in the forty years spent behind the Iron Curtain.

We Hungarians have always honored the initiative of competent European Union institutions to engage in dialogue and have always been prepared to come to agreements conceived in the spirit of reason.

It is for this reason that we rightfully desire the respect and equal treatment due to Hungary from the institutions of the European Union.

We expect the European Union to honor the rights accorded to us following our accession just as it does with regard to every member state.

The Hungarian National Assembly voices its astonishment that the European Parliament adopted a resolution that it had no right to adopt and with which the European Parliament overstepped the boundaries of its authority. It arbitrarily establishes demands, arbitrarily introduces new procedures and creates new institutions that violate Hungary’s sovereignty as stipulated in the fundamental treaty of the European Union.

In this way the European Parliament is going against European values and placing the European Union on a dangerous path.

The fact that business interests are behind this abuse of power afflicting Hungary gives cause for further worry.

Hungary is decreasing the price of energy used by Hungarian families. This may harm the interest of several major European corporations, which used their monopolies to generate extra profit in Hungary for many years on end. It is unacceptable that the European Parliament is attempting to place pressure on our homeland in the interest of these major corporations.

The Hungarian National Assembly considers it dangerous for all of Europe if business interests are able to assert themselves without impediment within the European Union and are able to supersede the provisions of the fundamental treaty.

Today we approve a resolution aimed at defending Hungary’s sovereignty and the equality of Hungarian people within Europe.

We ask the government of Hungary not to yield to the pressure of the European Union, not to permit the rights guaranteed to the country in the fundamental treaty to be impaired and to continue the policies that serve to make the lives of Hungarian families easier.

The Orbán government’s claim that the European Parliament approved the Tavares Report at the behest of large energy companies seeking to reverse the government-imposed utility-fee cuts is especially absurd in light of the fact that the EP commissioned the report on February 16, 2012, more than nine months before Fidesz announced the mandatory ten-percent reduction in the price of household gas and electricity.