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 PestiSrácok.hu 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.

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Orbán Government Notable Quotes: October 1–2, 2015

Prime Ministry Chief János Lázár:

“They regularly find people [migrants] infected with syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV as well.” October 1, 2015, speaking about the migration crisis during his regular Thursday press conference (source in Hungarian).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán:

“Eighty percent of the immigrants are young men. They resemble an army more than they do asylum-seekers. They are uneducated, the majority of them speak only Arabic.” October 2, 2015, speaking on pro-government Kossuth Radio (source in Hungarian).

“Let’s not regard what the Croatian prime minister says as the opinion of the Croatian people. The Croatian prime minister and his party are the representatives of the Socialist International whose job it is to attack Hungary.” October 2, 2015, speaking on pro-government Kossuth Radio in reference to tension between the governments of Hungary and Croatia over the migration crisis (source in Hungarian).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán during October 2, 2015 interview on Kossuth Radio (photo: index.hu)

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán during October 2, 2015 interview on Kossuth Radio (photo: index.hu)

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Designated Adversary 2015: USA

UncleSam_2Prime Minister Viktor Orbán appears to have chosen the United States to serve as Hungary’s designated enemy for the year 2015. Over the final couple of weeks of 2014, Orbán and three of the most powerful officials in his administration—Prime Ministry chief János Lázár, National Assembly Speaker László Kövér and Fidesz National Assembly caucus Chairman Antal Rogán—made statements casting the United States in an adversarial role. 

With regard to the entry ban the United States imposed on several administration officials, notably National Tax and Customs President Ildikó Vida (see The Spectacular Fall), Prime Minister Orbán said during an interview on pro-government Hungarian Television on December 23 (source in Hungarian from 6:23):

Every thoughtful person knows that the charges of corruption that the United States has articulated are a cover story. Here it is a question of the United States having found new interests in this region. It wants to acquire influence. And it is using corruption as a cover story for this. This becomes obvious when we ask for concrete details, when we initiate legal proceedings, when we say lay the cards on the table, let’s clear the air. But somehow this never seems to happen. This is an outgrowth of a typical secret-service influence-gaining action.

Referring to the large number of anti-government demonstrations that took place in Budapest during the final three months of 2014, Prime Ministry chief Lázár told the website mandiner.hu on December 22 (source in Hungarian):

The demonstrations show that the American embassy seems to have assumed the role of the Hungarian opposition. It may appear that they have given up on the possibility that the opposition parties can ever win the confidence of the Hungarians, therefore they [the Americans] are the ones who have stepped up as the leaders of the malcontents.

Lázár continued:

They want to tell us how to behave and how to think about the world. They want to interfere and tell us how we should live. . . . The Americans must respect Hungary’s 1,000-year history and our traditions, which cannot be changed with outside force and pressure.

In an interview with the pro-government newspaper Magyar Hírlap published on December 27, National Assembly Speaker Kövér asserted (source in Hungarian):

Unfortunately we have never been too good at diplomacy. We shouldn’t work now to get the Americans to love us either. We must look for allies elsewhere. Those who are in the same boat with us, moreover on the lower deck. These are the central and eastern European countries.

Kövér also said with regard to Americans:

. . . from a national-security perspective, there is not a square centimeter of territory on Earth that falls outside of their interests. As a result of this, for them it does not exist that aside from themselves another country can have sovereignty.

In an interview with the pro-government Hungarian News Agency published on December 29, Fidesz National Assembly caucus Chairman Rogán stated that the party was formulating a “national protection action plan” (országvédelmi akcióterv) to repel “external attacks” from “economic interest groups and other governments that would have liked another government better” and were therefore attempting to bring down the Orbán administration through “non-electoral methods” (source in Hungarian). Rogán said that an official response to the U.S. entry ban on Orbán administration officials “could be one element” of the Fidesz national-protection plan to defend Hungary against an unnamed “external power,” which under the present circumstances could refer only to the United States (source in Hungarian).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has incited hostility against purported enemies of Hungary as a means of gaining and maintaining political support since the very beginning of his political career in the late 1980s (see Fill in the Blanks). For several years after returning to power as prime minister in 2010, Orbán and his subordinates portrayed the International Monetary Fund and, subsequently, the European Union as the main external threats to Hungary’s sovereignty (see Sign of Things to Come). Following the U.S. entry ban on administration officials in October 2014, they have increasingly begun to depict he United States in this role. The Orbán government is likely to continue doing so throughout the year 2015 and perhaps even longer, until a more politically suitable candidate to serve as Hungary’s main adversary emerges.

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A Few Thousand Malcontents

Demonstrators protest alleged Orbán government constraints on the independent media.

Demonstrators protest alleged Orbán government moves to gain control over the independent media.

On Monday, June 9, the opposition website Kettős Mérce [Double Standard] organized a demonstration outside the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest to protest the Orbán government’s alleged recent efforts to curb the influence of the independent commercial media in Hungary.

Specifically, Kettős Mérce held the demonstration to voice concern over two issues that emerged last week in this regard: first, the firing of editor-in-chief Gergő Sáling of the moderately opposition news-portal Origo, allegedly as the result of pressure that the Orbán government placed on website owner Magyar Telekom to do so after Origo two weeks previously broke the news that Prime Ministry director János Lázár had accumulated two million forints (6,600 euros) in hotel bills during three secret trips to Switzerland in 2012 and 2013 (source A and B in Hungarian); and Fidesz’s submission of a bill to the National Assembly that would impose a progressive tax on advertising income, one that is manifestly aimed at undermining the most popular commercial television station in Hungary, RTL Klub (see The Black Screen of Protest). 

Orange Files was at the demonstration. 

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Marching across the Chain Bridge.

Marching across the Chain Bridge.

Late as usual and the first glimpse seems to confirm suspicion that two demonstrations in one week about the same issue is too many and attendance will be light, especially considering that it’s really hot outside and also the Pentacost holiday so everybody is just getting home from the first long weekend at Lake Balaton. 

But a look down Constitution Street (Alkotmány utca) shows a surprising number of people—two thousand, maybe even three. Mostly young, sophisticated, fashionable, western. The speaker is from one of the secondary organizers of the demonstration: right there on the stage he makes a call to Magyar Telekom to cancel his mobile-telephone subscription to protest the presumable pressure the company put on Origo to fire chief editor Sáling; then a fiery speaker in a Hawaiian shirt and then a lady who ends to a crescendo of cheering with a long, eclectic list of different types of people who merit representation in an inclusive Hungary—Gypsies, homosexuals, Hungarian minorities from beyond the borders, etc. 

Marching through the Castle Hill tunnel.

Marching through Castle Hill tunnel.

Liberal hearts warmed, the demonstrators march down to the Danube, across the Chain Bridge [Lánchíd] and through the Castle Hill tunnel on their way to the Magyar Telekom headquarters intoning the new slogans: “Free country! Free media!” (Szabad ország! Szabad média!) and “We don’t need Orbán! We don’t need Lázár! The Hungarian People Doesn’t Need an Emperor!” (Nem kell Orbán! Nem kell Lázár! A magyar népnek nem kell császár!). 

Inside the tunnel it is deafeningly loud, terribly hot. Dizzy. Parched. Need a drink bad. 

Down Krisztina Boulevard and arrive to the headquarters. A PR coup: Magyar Telekom has put up tents with free bottled water for the demonstrators. Sit on top of a high wall, quench thirst and look out over the crowd. Several familiar faces— friends, acquaintances, former liberal political figures like Imre Mécs and Tamás Bauer, aging rock star János Bródy. 

The main target of reproach in speeches at this location is János Lázár, the embodiment of cynical and arrogant political power, the man who ostensibly put pressure on Magyar Telekom to fire Sáling, the man who most vociferously and scornfully defended the proposed advertising-revenue tax, the man who will most likely replace Orbán as prime minister when the latter jumps to the position of president in 2017.  

PR coup: Magyar Telekom provides free water to demonstrators.

PMagyar Telekom provides free water to demonstrators.

But you can bet Lázár doesn’t care. Nobody in the Orbán administration does, because they know that twenty-five hundred disgruntled Budapest liberals pose no threat whatsoever to their power and, in fact, may even play the useful role of subjects for the state-run and other pro-government media to portray as perpetual grumblers, people for their supporters to scoff and roll eyes at.

And if they really don’t like it here, let them move to London with all the other malcontents. 

For a few more images of demonstration see Orange Files photo gallery.

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