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Unorthodox Hungarian policies suddenly applauded?

January 23rd, 2015

A leading pro-government journalist quotes international comments in praise of PM Orbán, for deciding to convert mortgages denominated in foreign currencies before the surge of the Swiss Franc. The move helped hundreds of thousands of households avert catastrophic losses.

In his customary weekly Heti Válasz editorial, Gábor Borókai quotes adjectives used by the international press to describe PM Viktor Orbán as ‘aggressive, fearless, combative, courageous and lucky’ – words once used pejoratively, but now used to praise him. In fact had the government not set the conditions of converting forex loans into Forint credits last year, indebted households would now incur enormous losses. Most of those mortgages were   denominated in Swiss Francs, the exchange rate of which surged dramatically as the Swiss National Bank stopped selling Euros to keep the Frank at 1 Euro 20 last week. (See BudaPost, January 17)

Borókai believes that this successful move may stop the decline in the government’s popularity (see BudaPost, December 15, 2014). The Charlie Hebdo massacre is another factor that might have a similar effect, he thinks, since catastrophes and the fear of terrorism usually play into the hands of governing forces. The world is becoming an unsafe place, Borókai continues, with volatile exchange rates, and a sense of helplessness in Western Europe over stagnation. In such conditions, Viktor Orbán’s government does not have to explain why it speaks “the language of power” and why it is not striking more conciliatory notes, the pro-government commentator concludes.



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