The Orbán Speeches

Prime Minister Orbán speaking at the Hungarian Parliament Building after taking his oath of office for the new parliamentary cycle beginning in 2014.

Prime Minister Orbán speaking inside the Hungarian Parliament Building on May 10,  2014.

On May 10, 2014, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán gave two speeches—the first in the Hungarian Parliament Building before the newly elected National Assembly after taking his oath of office as head of government for the new parliamentary cycle; and the second immediately afterwards outside the Hungarian Parliament Building before a large crowd of his supporters.

Prime Minister Orbán highlighted the following themes and messages in the speeches:

1) The message that Fidesz’s election victory in 2010 represented a “revolution” ending the two-decade “post-communist era” following the System Change in 1989-1990; 

2) The theme of National unity, particularly with regard to that between Hungarians living in Hungary and those living as minorities in neighboring countries;

3) The theme of Christianity and religion as a unifying force among Hungarians;

4) The message that Hungarians must support Fidesz in order to prevent the internal enemies who controlled “post-communist” Hungary from undermining the country and possibly returning to power;

5) The theme of fighting for national dignity and self-determination vis-á-vis the European Union, embodied in Fidesz’s 2014 European Parliament election slogan “Respect the Hungarians!” 

6) The message that criticism of the Fidesz-adopted electoral system, which gave the party another two-thirds majority in the National Assembly on just over 44 percent of the popular votes in the 2014 national election, is invalid; 

7) The message that the electorate’s reconfirmation of Fidesz’s two-thirds majority in the National Assembly in the 2014 general election represents a mandate to end debate surrounding the validity of the government’s policies and the Fidesz-adopted Fundamental Law

8) The theme of moving toward the political center and fighting extremism in implicit response to the strong showing of the radical-nationalist Jobbik party in the 2014 National Assembly election;  

9) The message that the term “extremism” can be defined very broadly to include such elements as “economic-policy proposals that lack common sense and reason” and “policy that aims to sacrifice the one-thousand-year-old Hungary on the altar of some kind of European United States”; 

10) The theme of anti-liberalism—the subordination of the individual to the collective in the form of the Hungarian nation; 

11) The message that post-revolution Ukraine must provide Hungarians living in the country with autonomy and collective rights; 

12) The message that Hungary’s population decrease must be reversed naturally, through emphasis on the traditional family. 

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaking to supporters outside the Hungarian Parliament Building after taking his oath of office for the new parliamentary cycle beginning in 2014.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaking outside the Hungarian Parliament Building on May 10, 2014.

Below are links to Orange Files translations of the speeches with the portions related to the themes and messages outlined above highlighted. These speeches provide a very accurate reflection of the spirit of the Fidesz system and its architect and unqualified master. These speeches will become increasingly interesting as Prime Minister Orbán transforms the ideas and messages expressed in them into concrete policy and action over the coming years and, perhaps, decades.   

Speech 1: to the National Assembly inside the Hungarian Parliament Building (source in Hungarian).

Speech 2:  to supporters outside the Hungarian Parliament Building (source in Hungarian).


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.


Keep the Message Simple

The Orbán reelection campaign has been based on the principle that the key to effective political communication is to keep the message simple.

The Orbán campaign’s main election slogan: 

Only Fidesz!

(Csak a Fidesz!) (source in Hungarian).

Prime Minister Orbán explaining why “we need every single vote” during April 1 campaign speech:  

Big victory, big future; small victory, small future.

(Nagy győzelem nagy jövő, kis győzelem kis jövő.) (source in Hungarian).    

Prime Minister Orbán’s summary of the Fidesz election program on his personal Facebook site: 

[We will] Continue.

(Folytatjuk) (source in Hungarian).

The main Orbán reelection sign: 


(photo: Orange Files)


Vlad Beyond Reproach

Russian soldier on patrol at Simferopol International Airport in Crimea.

Russian soldier on patrol at Simferopol International Airport in Crimea.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been one of the few political leaders of European Union member states who did not explicitly condemn Russia’s military intervention in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea in Ukraine beginning on February 27, 2014. Prime Minister Orbán, in fact, said nothing at all about the intervention for a full week after it began. The following are Orange Files translations of the prime minister’s initial, cursory comment about the Russian military  intervention in Ukraine on March 3 and more detailed comment regarding the incursion on March 4. Note that more than 150,000 Hungarians live in western Ukraine, a region that is known in Hungarian as Subcarpathian Ukraine (Kárpátalja). 

 On March 3 Prime Minister Orbán said (source in Hungarian): 

Hungary is not part of this conflict. Hungarians are secure. In Hungary and in Subcarpathian Ukraine as well. And the Hungarian government is working to ensure that they remain secure. Moreover, our foreign minister is currently in Brussels. Hungary is part of the common European efforts aimed at achieving peace, security and respect for international law. We are working toward these objectives within the context of united European crisis-management.

On March 4 Prime Minister Orbán said (source in Hungarian):

For us the most important thing in this whole conflict is the security of Hungarians. This includes both Hungarians living in Hungary and Hungarians living in Subcarpathian Ukraine. This is the perspective from which we examine the events. And that is why we sent the foreign minister to Subcarpathian Ukraine—so that he could make it clear to the Hungarians who live there that the Hungarians living in Subcarpathian Ukraine can count on us. The second Hungarian interest according to which we are gauging our steps pertains to Ukraine itself. It is in the Hungarian interest that Ukraine be a democratic state. Thus we want a democratic Ukraine, a Ukraine in which Ukrainian citizens can feel secure and at home, including citizens who belong to minorities, thus the Hungarians as well. This is why Hungary cannot accept the annulment of the language law. We consider this to be an illegitimate decision and we insist that the rights due to Hungarians are not impaired as a result of the changes in Ukraine. With regard to a resolution of the situation, the Hungarian  viewpoint is a negotiated settlement. There is an obvious situation: Russia borders Ukraine from the east and the European Union from the west. From this it follows that Russia and the European Union must negotiate. We believe that negotiation is the only alternative to war. Therefore we want negotiation and not armed conflict—peace and not blood. In order to achieve this it is necessary that the two sides, the European Union and Russia, hold talks. Moreover, I am going to support the position in Brussels that the European Union must make an immediate response to Russian military movements. This response cannot be of military nature. The response must be decisive, immediate and of an integrative nature. . . . 

The fundamental messages contained in Prime Minister Orbán’s delayed responses to the Russian military intervention in Ukraine were, in order of their pronouncement: “Hungary is not part of the conflict”; “the most important thing in this whole conflict is the security of Hungarians . . . both Hungarians living in Hungary and Hungarians living in Subcarpathian Ukraine”; “Hungary cannot accept the annulment of the language law”; “Russia and the European Union must negotiate”; and finally “I am going to support the position in Brussels that the European Union must make an immediate response to Russian military movements.”


Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland.

The leaders of other EU member states located in eastern Europe made the following initial statements regarding  Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. Note that in 1994 the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia and Ukraine signed a diplomatic memorandum in Budapest in which Ukraine agreed to transfer all Soviet-era nuclear weapons located on its territory to Russia in exchange for the guarantee of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland said on February 27 (source in English): 

We need international pressure on those who would like to break the principle of non-interference and respect for territorial integrity of Ukraine . . . It is clear that our expectations are becoming reality, namely that Crimea and Ukraine’s territorial integrity are becoming crucial issues . . . Russia’s approach to this key challenge of preserving Ukraine’s integrity will be the test of Russia’s true intentions towards Ukraine’s future.

Prime Minister Tusk said on March 2 (source in English): 

Ukrainians have to find out today that they have real friends . . . Europe must send a clear signal that it will not tolerate any acts of aggression or intervention. . . . Therefore I will call on my European partners to exert pressure to  preserve peace on Russia, not on Ukraine. It is Russia that seems interested in an unstable situation in that part of the world.

Prime Minister Tusk also said on March 2 (source in English): 

We should be able to stop Russia in its aggressive moves precisely in order to avoid a conflict. . . . History showsalthough I don’t want to use too many historical comparisons—that those who appease all the time in order to preserve peace usually only buy a little bit of time.

President Miloš Zeman of Czech Republic said on March 1 (source in English): 

Although I fully understand the interests of the majority Russian-speaking population in the Crimea that was incorporated into Ukraine by an absurd decision made by Nikita Khrushchev in 1954, we have our experiences with the 1968 military intervention . . . I believe that any military intervention creates a deep ditch that cannot be filled during a generation.

Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia said on March 1 (source in English): 

We call on all sides for maximum restraint, and for a political and diplomatic solution to the crisis.

President Traian Băsescu of Romania said on February 28 (source in English): 

As Romania has repeatedly said, Ukraine’s statehood, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity are values in keeping with the public international law that must be observed by all states which recognized Ukraine’s independence in 1991, the more so the signatories of the 1994 agreement in Budapest.

President Băsescu said on March 2 (source in English): 

Romania considers that any presence of the Russian Federation’s troops on Ukraine’s territory, without its consent and violating the existing bilateral agreements and subsequent notifications, is an aggression against Ukraine. At this moment, we consider that Ukraine is being assaulted by the military forces of the Russian Federation. Romania considers that the signatory states to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum have the obligation to immediately start negotiations to restore international legality, including the Russian Federation ceasing any moves on Ukraine’s territory. This agreement between the U.S., Great Britain and the Russian Federation represents, in our view, alongside the relevant international legislation, the guarantee for Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty.


Orbán and Putin seal the Paks Nuclear Power Plant deal at the Russian president's residence near Moscow on January 14, 2014.

Orbán and Putin seal the Paks Nuclear Power Plant deal at the Russian president’s residence near Moscow.

The responses of these eastern European heads of state and government to Russia’s military intervention in Crimea are founded to a significant degree upon both common and specific historical experience and current geo-political and strategic considerations that place them in fundamental opposition to Russian expansionism in Europe: all five countries—Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania—are member states of an alliance, the European Union, that has come into growing friction with an increasingly assertive Russia; the Soviet Union occupied the eastern parts of Poland and Romania (Bessarabia) at the beginning of the Second World War pursuant to the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact; the Soviet Union occupied all five countries for decades following the Second World War and imposed the communist political-system upon them; the Soviet Union furthermore invaded Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia (the Czech Republic and Slovakia) in 1968 to suppress anti-Stalinist revolutions in those countries; and there is growing tension between Romania and Russia with regard to political influence over the Republic of Moldavia, the population of which is 70-percent Romanian-speaking and 10-percent Russian-speaking.  

The above factors compelled Donald Tusk of Poland and Traian Băsescu of Romania to vociferously condemn the Russian military intervention in Ukraine and Miloš Zeman of the traditionally more Russophile Czech Republic to issue a qualified condemnation of the incursion. Aside from Prime Minister Orbán, only manifestly pro-Russian Prime Minister Robert Fico of Slovakia did not express disapproval of Russia’s intervention in Crimea.
Prime Minister Orbán’s failure to condemn Russia’s military incursion in Ukraine is based on three factors that have superseded his formerly outspoken opposition to Russian expansionism: rejection of the new Ukrainian government’s annulment of the 2012 language law authorizing the use of minority languages, including Hungarian, in schools, courts and other government institutions in Ukraine; aversion toward the liberal democracy and free-market capitalism of the European Union and sympathy toward the authoritarianism and centrally guided capitalism of Vladimir Putin’s Russia; and the condition of economic and political subservience that Hungary assumed toward Russia when the Orbán government concluded an interstate agreement in January 2014 to have Russian state-owned nuclear-energy company Rosatom build two new reactors at the Paks Nuclear Power Plant with a 10-billion-euro loan from the state of Russia (see Deal of the Century).


Notes from the Carnival Ball

DSC_0379Carnival ball (farsangi bál) at the community cultural house in one of the old Swabian towns on the outskirts of Budapest. 

A couple of hundred people, most of them 60 and older, sitting at long tables before a dinner of red cabbage and fried meat dumplings. Everybody is dressed up, almost all the men wear suits and ties. They watch a trio perform a variety of music in the shadowy hall, from German oompha to Hungarian and American pop hits from the 60s and 70s.    

They watch young people perform a waltz. The performers then select partners from among the spectators. Instantly other couples join and the floor is full of shining bald heads and white hair turning to the music. 

The music stops, the couples sit, the mayor stands for a speech. A proficient public speaker, confident, fluent, well-told anecdotes, a single political reference to the event as a needed distraction from the mounting tension of “public life.” 

All heads are turned in the same direction, listening intently to the town father. Conservative folk, many of them of German descent. Disciplined, practical, hard-working people, they are cultured to an equal or greater degree than their equivalents in the West, though are more linguistically isolated and less able to understand the greater world around them. 

Members of a small and vulnerable nation seeking community with those of the same language and background, looking for unaffected pre-System Change companionship in a crass post-System Change world.  

Rock-solid Orbán supporters, they will follow him through thick and thin as he turns Hungary back toward the East, as he wages populist battle against the European Union, as he dismantles the country’s democracy and takes control over their sources of information in order to create a highly centralized, semi-authoritarian state.  

It is a state in which they feel comfortable: secure under a strong leader fighting in the interest of the Hungarian nation against foreign predators and their domestic accomplices, one who has defended them against the manipulations and exploitation of the free-market and ensured their basic subsistence through cuts in the cost of household gas, electricity, heating and water. 

Friendly people. Generous people. Benevolent people, though inherently suspicious of the motives of outsiders.

This demographic—nominally anti-communist, though nevertheless uniformly nostalgic for the monolithic simplicity and unfailing continuity of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party dictatorship—has abandoned the affinity it once felt for the ideals of western liberal democracy. As one of the most powerful constituencies in an aging population, it will provide the Orbán administration with a steady base of support well into the 2020s. 


Understanding Fidesz

The young villager with higher aspirations.

The village lad striving for respect.

To understand Fidesz is to understand Viktor Orbán

Orbán is an exceptionally competent and charismatic leader who has molded the party in his own image. 

Everybody who has attained any degree of power within Fidesz has totally internalized Orbán’s ideas, objectives, logic, manner and speech. Nothing they do or say deviates from that which Orbán expects of them in either explicit or implicit terms. Their every act, phrase and gesture is orchestrated to meet with his approval.

To understand Fidesz is to understand a man who grew up fighting for his dignity on the fringes of Hungarian village society during the communist era—a tough and unforgiving social milieu within a tough and unforgiving political system.

It is to understand a man who never grew tall (he is officially 174 centimeters in height, or 5-foot 8), though compensated for his lack of physical stature through toughness and aggression that manifested itself primarily on the football pitch, where he excelled as hard-driving forward for several organized clubs in his late teens and early twenties.

It is to understand a man who has cultivated the high intelligence, fortitude and effectiveness of speech needed to survive and thrive as a smallish rural kid at his high school in the city of Székesfehérvár and then in college at the Loránd Eötvös University School of Law and Political Sciences in Budapest.

The young, pro-western liberal democrat.

The young pro-West liberal democrat.

Orbán has extended his fight to gain personal stature and dignity to a fight on behalf of the entire Hungarian people to attain what he considers to be its rightful place among nations. Back at the time when he and his fellow law-school students founded Fidesz in 1988, Orbán believed that this fight entailed winning independence from the Soviet Union, casting off the burden of communism and making Hungary part of the liberal-democratic, capitalist West.

Over the next twenty years he became deeply offended by what he viewed as Western exploitation and humiliation of the Hungarian people. He also become convinced that the West had become irremediably decadent and was on the verge of catastrophic collapse.

Since becoming prime minister again 2010, he has waged his fight on behalf of the Hungarian people against predatory Western corporations and culture, compelling him to turn Hungary back toward the east, toward China, Russia, the central Asian republics and the Arab states—countries with which he thinks he can do business without the threat of interference of any kind.

Orbán believes that he must have complete control over Hungary’s political system in order to implement this transition back away from Western free-market liberal democracy to Eastern guided economy and political authoritarianism. He will do anything within the law to hold on to power or regain it if he loses it. 

The middle-aged pro-east authoritarian.

The middle-aged pro-east authoritarian.

Orbán sees any internal opposition as a threat to this unity and therefore as harmful to the interests of the Hungarian nation.

He rules according to the logic of a tribal chieftain, not to that of a modern European statesman. Always fighting, always struggling, driven by an extremely unwarranted Hungarian inferiority complex to engage in perpetual confrontation with oppressors both real and imagined.

This combativeness has put Orbán and Fidesz at continuous odds with the European Union and most of the Western world.

Hungarians have experienced this phenomenon before: political leaders, parties and ideologies that claim the right to unchallenged political authority on the grounds that it is needed to ward off the enemies of the nation or of a particular favored class within the nation.

It has never come to a good end. Always conflict and disorder and the need to break with the past and start afresh.

But perhaps this time it will succeed. If Orbán is correct in his assessment that the West has entered a period of devastating cultural, economic and political decline and that the future lies in the East and Eastern centralized economy and government, then he will go down in history as a visionary and courageous leader who pointed Hungary in the right direction before it was too late. 

If he is wrong—if the shift in global power from the United States and Europe toward China and the East does not entail the catastrophic collapse of the West and the Western way of politics and economy—then he will go down in history as a leader who misunderstood the course of world events and led Hungary down the wrong path—once again. 


The Start of Something Big

Miklós Horthy: ruled Hungary for 24 years (1920-1944).

Horthy: ruled Hungary for 24 years (1920–1944).

For a long time after the Orbán government came to power in Hungary following 2010 national elections, dissidents in the country believed that it was a passing phenomenon, a relatively brief and natural anti-democratic regression following twenty years of tough progress in the construction of post-communist democracy.

They no longer believe this. Everybody in the Hungary—whether they are among the vast majority of voters who support the government or the shrinking minority who oppose it—knows and feels in their bones that Orbán is going to lead the country for years, if not decades, to come.

This is not politics as usual. Since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán came to office three and a half years ago with the unquestioning support of a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly, he has systematically dismantled the liberal western democracy built in Hungary following the collapse of communism and replaced it with an authoritarian eastern democracy—Putinism Lite.

The opposition is fractured, enervated and sinking out of sight in the polls. The eastern-style guided capitalist economy that the Orbán administration has put in place appears to be working much better than skeptics expected. Hungarians are not prospering, but the government has brought them a somewhat greater degree of economic stability and reinforced their loyalty through centrally mandated twenty-percent cuts to their electricity, gas and heating bills.

Kádár: ruled Hungary for 32 years (1956-1988).

Kádár: ruled Hungary for 32 years (1956–1988).

The FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) alliance already has 2014 general election in the bag. The only question that remains to be answered is whether the party will maintain its super majority in the National Assembly.

Even if the opposition regains its footing and wins 2018 elections, a FideszKDNP-elected president, conceivably Orbán himself, will have the power to dissolve the National Assembly and call new elections if the Fidesz-appointed State Budget Council does not approve the draft budget for the following year. This seems like an outlandish prospect within a democratic system. But one must remember that Hungary is no longer a democracy in the western sense of the term.

Moreover, any future democratic government will be saddled with the large number of Fidesz-KDNP-adopted Cardinal Laws that serve as the foundation for Hungary’s current semi-authoritarian political and institutional structure. Such laws require the support of two-thirds of the representatives in the National Assembly to amend or repeal. No government composed of the current democratic opposition is likely to gain the degree of support needed to change these Cardinal Laws.

Viktor Orbán: how long will he rule Hungary?

Orbán: how long will he rule Hungary?

For a long time pro-Western, pro-democracy Hungarians believed that the intoxicating spell of the Orbán government’s neo-tribal, collectivist, Christian-nationalist ideology would wear off quickly, that the electorate would come to its senses and begin to resist the authoritarian restoration that has been taking place since 2010. They believed that the forces of democracy would return to power and resurrect the Third Hungarian Republic in both structure and spirit before the Orbán government could do irreversible damage to it.

They have realized over the past few months that this was an illusion. Orbán and Orbánism are well on their way to becoming as deeply entrenched in Hungary as were Horthy and Horthyism during the interwar period and Kádár and Kádárism following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.  

This is not politics as usual.

This is the start of something big.


Testament to Weakness

IMG_2689About 1,500 people showed up to the square between the foot of Castle Hill and the head of the Chain Bridge in Budapest on Sunday, September 29, to watch one of Hungary’s many opposition groups pull down a model statue of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

The average age of the crowd was about 55. The rapper Dopeman was the master of ceremonies, while Together 2014 leader and former prime minister Gordon Bajnai and some other minor opposition figures gave speeches in which they castigated Orbán in roughly the same coarse language as the current prime minister used to castigate Gyurcsány and Bajnai when he was in opposition.

“The fish stinks from the head,” Bajnai said. Bajnai’s subsequent comparison of the Orbán government to the communists did not excite the audience members, many of whom were themselves presumably members of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party. Several of the speakers used the Orbánian opposition mantra “they lie, they steal, they cheat” (hazudnak, lopnak, csalnak). Dopeman called Orbán a “pile of trash” (szemétláda). He also sang a version of the Hungarian national anthem interspersed with the refrain “Fuck the Government! Fuck Orbán!” (Bazd meg a kormányt! Bazd meg Orbánt!). The elderly crowd clapped politely after the number.

IMG_2694Toppling the roughly 12-foot statue, which was molded and painted very skillfully to represent the Stalin statue pulled down in Budapest at the beginning of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, was the highlight of the event. The statue was erected on a protruding part of the exterior wall at the entry of the tunnel passing under Castle Hill. The neck and the legs above the heavy boots were cut most of the way through from behind so it would break at those places. Dopeman threw a coil of rope tied around the statue at the other end into the crowd among a bunch of old ladies who didn’t know what to do with it. The statue came down suddenly, the photo missed. Orff’s “O Fortuna” from Carmina Burana sounded dramatically from the PA system. The Orbán-Stalin head rolled along the pavement, right to Dopeman, who gave it hard football kick. The boots remained on the pedestal just as planned, just as in ’56. Men hoisted the headless torso onto a truck and led a procession across the Chain Bridge to the House of Terror, where they planned to deposit the broken statue.

See video of falling Orbán statue. 

See Orange Files photo gallery of the event.



One Man’s Plaything

The FC Felcsút forward.

The FC Felcsút striker.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is building a football paradise around his home in Felcsút (population 1,789), the village where he grew up about 30 kilometers west of Budapest.

The prime minister’s enthusiasm for the game is legendary in Hungary: he played organized football as a hard-driving forward from the age of eleven, when he joined the local FC Felcsút team, until leaving college and launching his political career with Fidesz in 1988. He rejoined FC Felcsút during his first period as prime minister in 1999, taking the field for the division-two club on occasion until hanging up his cleats permanently at the age of 41 in 2005. Two years later, Orbán founded the Ferenc Puskás Football Academy (Puskás Ferenc Labdarúgó Akadémia), a live-in school offering academic instruction and intensive football training for 50 to 60 talented young Hungarian players on a sprawling complex of fields located right across from his weekend house in the village.

The academy’s team, Puskás Academy FC, (Puskás Akadémia FC), currently competes in division one of the Hungarian national football league against teams from Budapest, Debrecen, Miskolc, Pécs and other big cities in Hungary after receiving promotion from division two at the end of the 2012–2013 season. Felcsút mayor and businessman Lőrinc Mészáros, an Orbán ally who serves as president of the foundation that runs the Ferenc Puskás Football Academy, is having a new, 3.8-billion-forint (12.75-million-euro) stadium built for the team, 70 percent of which he is financing from revenue derived from corporate-tax deductions on donations (source in Hungarian) to five major team sports made possible through a law the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party-controlled National Assembly passed in 2011 (note 1). The stadium will have seating capacity of 3,500, double the population of the village in which it is being built.  

Fő Street, Felcsút: Football academy building (background); prime minister's house, shed and gazebo (left); and the Golden Team Football Stadium (under construction, right).

Fő Street, Felcsút: Football academy building (background); prime minister’s house, shed and gazebo (left); and the Golden Team Football Stadium (under construction, right).

Orbán has two passions in life: politics and football. He is living his political dream right now as the most internally powerful leader of a country in Europe since the fall of communism. In establishing a football academy with a top-flight team and a state-of-the-art stadium right across the street from the house and stretch of land he owns in his home village, he is preparing to live his football dream after the inevitable end of his political career. The prime minister is exploiting his position as the all-powerful leader of Hungary to realize this dream, attracting donations (source in Hungarian) from prosperous companies (list in Hungarian) in order to finance the operations of the Ferenc Puskás Football Academy and, through his local political crony, using money that would otherwise flow into the state treasury to build a UEFA-compatible stadium for the academy’s professional team.

In doing so, Orbán is reflecting his fundamental attitude—one which is nearly universal among autocrats—that the country he leads is his plaything to be used as he sees fit.


1- On June 27, 2011, the National Assembly approved a law that permitted companies to write off up to seventy percent of their corporate taxes in the form of donations to associations conducting activities in one of five team sports—football (soccer), basketball, hockey, handball or water polo. 


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.