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PM Orbán’s five-year balance sheet

June 1st, 2015

Left-wing commentators find no novelties in the Prime Minister’s assessment of his government’s five years in power. A right-wing analyst on the other hand believes that he announced a new era of moderation after the conflicts of the recent past.

In Népszava, György Sebes pokes fun at the Prime Minister’s announcement that “paying attention” rather than “power” will from now on be the watchword of his rule. He wonders aloud whether the fact that no space could be found in the conference hall where the Prime Minister held his speech to accommodate reporters from certain media who are critical of the government, including Népszava, was an expression of power or of paying attention. Sebes thinks the Prime Minister’s analysis was superficial, as he only recognised one mistake by the government over the past five years, namely the abortive attempt to introduce an Internet tax last year. He also thinks it was unfair of the Prime Minister to dismiss corruption allegations levelled at his cabinet as expressions of communist-style envy. The mentioning of communism was a catch phrase aimed at keeping the Fidesz camp together. He criticises the Prime Minister for only attacking radical right-wing Jobbik for its anti-EU stance.<

In Népszabadság, Miklós Hargitai finds the Prime Minister’s assertion that Hungary could approach Western living standards within a few years, absurd. At present, he continues, we are further away from Austria than we were twenty-five years ago when we embarked on a new course which was meant to help us catch up with the West. Nor does he believe the Prime Minister when he says that he cut the number of politicians by half, because he believes the ranks of public service employees include a record number of “people living off politics”. As far as the famous keyword “attention” rather than “power”, is concerned,  Hargitai suggests that Mr Orbán only pays attention to those who are well off anyway.

In Magyar Nemzet, Szabolcs Szerető interprets the Prime Minister’s remarks as proof that he realises that Hungary hasn’t got any nearer to the West over the past five years. Mention of the need for a kind of governance which should be “near to the people”, was obviously proof of his own dissatisfaction with the reality behind the encouraging macro-economic data. One comparative advantage that distinguishes the right wing from the left, Szerető continues, is its ability to raise real issues. The government’s widely criticised questionnaire on immigration may be deemed controversial, he says, but it certainly raises a problem which is central to the future of the European Union. Another positive feature of the present government is that it performs. Its projects may be open to criticism, but it has built new cultural centres and managed to halt the steep increase in public debt. Szerető disagrees with the Prime Minister when he attributes corruption charges to envy, but finds it encouraging that Mr Orbán laid such emphasis on self-control and self-correction. He hopes that the Prime Minister’s promise to pay attention will herald a new stage in governance. Those goals, including Hungary’s commitment to Western values, are worthy of support, he suggests.