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The West has to deal with PM Viktor Orbán

December 15th, 2011

As Western governments hesitate about how to deal with Viktor Orbán’s government, a Hungarian EU-expert believes that there is still no real alternative to him, as the  opposition parties have so far failed to produce a serious contender for his post.

Viktor Orbán is not Meciar or Kaczynski – writes András Deák, a lecturer at the Central European University on komment.hu. Deák does not think that removing the Hungarian Prime Minister would solve any problems, as Hungary has no real opposition alternative – unlike Slovakia when it was run by Vladimír Meciar, or Poland under the Kaczynski brothers. In those cases, the West faced leaders whom it did not really trust, but who had strong and ultimately victorious opponents – Mikuláš Dzurinda in Slovakia and Donald Tusk in Poland. The author also doubts whether the Hungarian political system will be able to produce a challenger.

András Deák believes that in the eyes of Western politicians, Hungary’s reputation is getting closer to that of Bulgaria and Romania, as a country which has failed to fulfil many of its obligations either in the EU or in NATO for the last decade.  He admits that these failures cannot be blamed on Mr Orbán’s government, which was only sworn in 18 months ago, but thinks nevertheless that the present government is incompatible with the Western world. His problem is that he sees no solution on the horizon. He does not believe that Mr Orbán can be ‘tamed’ by the West, but nor does he see any possible challenger within the country.

Since Hungary’s decision to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund, left-wing commentators have speculated on several occasions about a possible Western effort to force the present government out of office, as a condition of a financial relief package (see BudaPost, November 21). Deák does not think such a move is possible. In a clear hint at the recent NATO involvement in the régime change in Libya, he suggests that the Hungarian opposition lacks the “infantry that could provoke  Western air raids.”

Deák fears that Western governments will be left with just two options: either to ‘save’ Hungary or leave it alone. The author, who is clearly not a great fan of the Prime Minister, finds it hard to choose between the two. The first does not satisfy him because ”it would give a green light to the Prime Minister.” Nor does the second, which would “produce a totally desperate, hopeless country”.

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