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New Orbán cabinet sworn in

June 9th, 2014

Commentators try to make sense of the two surprising elements of the news about the third government headed by Viktor Orbán – the planned transfer of several ministries in separate towns and the alleged feud between key Fidesz officials.

In Magyar Nemzet, Anna Szabó hopes for the start of what she calls “a new historical era”, with a rock solid government, also capable of self-restraint. She quotes Viktor Orbán’s warning in his inaugural address in Parliament, that government ministers should “serve the three thirds” (of the population, not just the two thirds majority commanded by Fidesz)” with sound judgment, high moral standards, patriotism and humility”. There must be good reasons for such a warning, she adds, and the cabinet must exercise self-restraint. She emphasizes that the new government’s task will be made more difficult by the historically unique opportunity to build a successful country.

Left-liberal Népszabadság on the other hand asks why the government did not even bother to present a programme – the new fundamental law does not require one. In its front page editorial, Népszabadság thinks that as there is no programme, there will be no debates about it either, and thus no specific promises that may not be fulfilled. They also believe that the plan to transfer several ministries to provincial towns does not make much sense. The editorial concludes on a sarcastic note, suggesting that if the plan to move the PM’s Office to the Buda Castle Hill materialises, it will not be a long walk for PM Orbán to move in to the Presidential Palace next door.

On 444, a liberal online news portal, Bence Horváth criticises the plan to move several ministries to other cities, arguing that the operation will be costly and will make it rather difficult for the ministers concerned to be present at cabinet meetings. He also hints that if the staff is unwilling to move, it may not be so easy to find qualified replacements.

Gábor Török, a centrist analyst reflects on the speculation about a power-struggle within Fidesz as well as between Orbán and his hinterland of businessmen. He lists a series of possible explanations; that Fidesz floor leader Antal Rogán and János Lázár, the Minister in charge of the PM’s Office are allegedly at loggerheads, and mutual leaks on controversial financial practices by each are signs that “they were caught in friendly fire”. Another hypothesis he mentions is that the Prime Minister thinks his media moguls have too much power, and this is why pro-government Magyar Nemzet protested along with other media outlets against the planned levy on advertising revenues in the media. Török warns that we simply do not know how much of all this is true. In any case, he continues, the struggle for influence is part and parcel of politics – and it is quite natural for them to emerge immediately after an electoral triumph. His conclusion is that the winner, at present, is János Lázár, but he warns that politics is “long distance running” and the nature of the relations between the protagonists will often change as they cover more and more of that distance.

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