19 April 2012

Thoughts on Orbán és Magyarország

I have been absent on the blog during the whole Orbán vs EU + IMF debacle, so I thought I'd do a little catch-up.  My time in Hungary back in 2010 (how was that almost 2 years ago?  How?) was enough to seal my interest with this Ugric nation.  My stay there was during the election of the Fidesz party and a realtor I spoke to during my apartment search said he was interested in how this election was going to affect Hungary.  He knew Fidesz would win in a near landslide victory and was excited, but tinged with caution.  What a premonition!

I have followed the matter through my multiple news outlets and I have hardly read anything besides Fidesz statements supporting whatever moves they've been making.  I put up a status on Facebook (like a tool) that addressed my frustration with the path of Hungarian politics, but in Hungarian:
Magyarország: Szabó Dezső írta, "Minden magyar felelős minden magyarért." Ez a Gellérthegyen, Orbán. Olvasd el!
Which means,
Hungary: Dezső Szabó wrote: "Every Hungarian is responsible for every Hungarian".  It is on Gellért Hill, Orbán!  Read it!
I'm almost certain my Hungarian contained at least 20% errors.  Almost everybody (at least outside Hungary--there's still some support there) is disappointed with the outcome of what could have been a great moment of liberalization, freedom, and putting everything into order.  Hungary remains politically sclerotic as it resembles the Chicago political scene, riddled with power seekers and protected by its own power to change law.  Hungary must not be quite fed up enough since they haven't risen from their docile state to protest or maybe stage an unsuccessful revolution.  They're famous for those!  C'mon!

I bring this up because I came across an article in WSJ's Emerging Europe that caught my attention. Orbán, the wormy politician he is, has been on the defense with the EU and IMF because of many controversial law changes.  But this statement really took me by surprise.  Orbán has made claims of EU imperialism (unfounded since Hungary joined this governing body voluntarily and has meaningful representation), but this takes the cake!  First of all, if Hungary is doing so well and doesn't need anyone (which he states for strong nationalist sentiment at home), why would you feel blackmailed?  

Secondly, I think he misrepresents his understanding of the premise and aims of the EU.  It is not merely a economic and fiscal body; it has political aims.  There is a point in which the EU encroaches on domestic affairs.  It's part of the deal and he knows it.  The EU even uses economic sanctions for political ends (i.e. Belarus and Syria).  Guess what?  Hungary is a part of that EU!  It applies to everybody.  Politics protect economic interests and it makes no sense for him to divorce the two other than to bolster national support, which won't even win him money from the institutions he's hitting up for fast cash.  It might end up making him an oligarch of a crumbling nation (aka rewind to Soviet times).  He played nice on the central bank issue, but he's drawing the line at the judicial law.  The judicial system has a strong impact on economic transactions; basic economics teaches that a fair system of law makes investment more secure and more attractive to businesses and investors.  Part of the reason Russia struggles to draw investment is because of high-profile businessmen being jailed on bogus charges and businesses see the political landscape as risky for a business.  You have to be protected to make it worth the risk.  You can see I'm not even getting into deep analysis and this is all coming up anti-Orbán.

Orbán, stop playing both sides to the middle.  It's not going to work out in the end.  (p.s. I am glad that mandatory work law that was akin to chain gangs and slavery fell off the table).

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