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PM Orbán on brokerage house insolvency

March 30th, 2015

Following comments by PM Orbán on a strong of brokerage bankruptcies, a left-wing columnist suggests that the government should step down. A conservative analyst contends that the scandal may increase anti-establishment sentiments.

In his biweekly interview with public radio on Friday (27 March) the Prime Minister expressed outrage over the possibility of fraud in recent brokerage house bankruptcies (see BudaPost through March 12), but cautioned against anti-broker hysteria. His own conclusion from the events is that there is a need for a safe place where state ministries and local governments can safely deposit their assets. Mr Orbán acknowledged that he had received a letter from Quaestor owner Csaba Tarsoly before he filed for insolvency, but the Prime Minister stressed that by then he had already told his ministers to withdraw any government bonds deposited with brokerage houses.

Népszava editor-in-chief Péter Németh accuses the government of careless and irresponsible behaviour for depositing public assets at brokerages rather than with the Treasury. The left-wing columnist contends that “in any democratic state, the Prime Minister and most probably the government itself would have to resign” after such a scandal. Németh, however, suspects that the Orbán government will manage to weather the current crisis by blaming all brokerage ills on previous left-liberal governments.

In times of political scandals, all parties try to come up with coherent and more convincing narratives, László Flick writes in Magyar Hírlap. The conservative political scientist suggests that the brokerage house insolvencies and the likely fraud behind them may strengthen anti-elite sentiments in society. In such situations, all involved try to blame their opponents, Flick remarks. In the current case, Flick believes that the opposition has the strategic advantage and the government is being forced onto the defensive. PM Orbán’s comments on Friday may help take the winds out of the sails of opposition critics, he adds. Flick concludes by suggesting that at the end of the day, the opposition may not capitalize on the scandal even if it succeeds in fanning the flames, since discontented voters may turn against elites in general rather than the just against the Orbán government.

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