László Kövér, a founding member of Fidesz, who has been the Speaker of Parliament since 2010 and he’s also the chairman of the Board of Fidesz, and probably he’ll continue to be the Speaker, gave an interview to a left-lib newsportal in January, that is a few months before the recent elections. Mr. Kövér is a very outspoken and a very anti-Communist, anti-leftlib politician. Because of this, he’s my favourite politician in Fidesz besides prime minister Orbán.
Kövér’s political stance, as showcased in the below excerpt, definitely strengthens my commitment to be a Fidesz-supporter. Let me translate a part of the interview which, I believe, will help my English-speaking, non-Hungarian readers understand a couple of things about Hungary’s politics. Since the Hungarian voters have confirmed that they support this direction by giving Fidesz another (hard-to-believe) supermajority in the recent elections, it’s a safe bet these policies of Hungary won’t change fundamentally at least until 2018.
László Kövér, the Speaker of Parliament
The last four years has been all about Hungary’s “freedom fight”. Whose decision was that?
One could safely say this was a collective decision by the Fidesz presidency board.
When Viktor Orbán came home ashamed from Brussels in 2010 after the Fidesz-government was formed and when he announced in the Fidesz board meeting that EU Commission President Barrosso wouldn’t allow to increase the Hungarian budget deficit despite the requests of Fidesz then who shouted “hey, guys, let’s make war on the EU!” ?
I’ve got no idea and that’s irrelevant anyway. This followed evidently from the events that it was a question of life or death if we could re-gain independent political decision making or we’d dance to the tune of Brussels for four years. Those ones who had been playing up with (ex-Socialist prime ministers) Gyurcsány and Bajnai, those who knew exactly that the 2010 budget was built on a huge lie, well, those people brought us to book for the lies of their cronies. On one hand that was blood-boiling, on the other hand it was evident if we continued with the endless austerity measures then the country wouldn’t recover from the awful economic situation we had, only Fidesz would lose credibility for a long time and nothing would change for the better. So there was really no other way than charging forward.
Why did Brussels cross with you in particular?
Maybe their patience ran out with Hungary which they had since 2004. (Leto’s remark: The Socialist-leftlib governments. which were in power between 2004 and 2010, ran high budget deficits and that increased Hungary’s dept-to-GDP ratio from 54% to 80% in 2010). Maybe Brussels wanted to set an example of Hungary and to increase fiscal prudence in the EU-member countries where budget deficits were slipping out of control. One must also add that it wasn’t in 2010 when the West learned who is who in Hungarian politics. Washington couldn’t get over it already in 2002 how a little Eastern European country dared not to buy F-16 fighters instead of (Swedish) Gripens.
How did you dare?
That’s very simple: The Americans made a worse offer than their competitors did. Of course they kept telling us: if you buy a watch then you’ll buy a Swiss one, if you buy fighter planes then you’ll buy American. Then they got surprised. (Leto’s remark: this might be one of the reasons why PM Orbán hasn’t been invited to Washington since 2010 and why President Obama failed to congratulate Orbán for his landslide re-election.)
Are you saying Brussels took revenge and jeopardized Orbán’s plans because of a decade old Hungarian-American skirmish?
No, surely not. That was meant to be only an example that it was evident for the West already well before the 2010 elections it’s much easier to make deals with the ex-Communists, who turned into cosmopolitans from internationalists, than with a patriotic government. (Ex-Socialist prime ministers) Gyurcsány, Bajnai, Medgyessy and their lot were considered easy-to-deal-with in (Western) Europe and in the USA. It never occurred to these people that they, as Hungarian leaders, are supposed to fight for Hungary’s national interests. They sold everything out on the cheap, including utility companies, Hungary’s airliner, our health care market, agricultural lands, what have you. The only thing they had in mind was that their circles should benefit. In addition, since we were not on good terms with neither liberal EU financial commissioner Olli Rehn or his Socialist predecessor ( Joaquín Almunia ) , Brussels deemed we wouldn’t deserve the leniency Gyurcsány and Bajnai were treated with.
If the EU had given a green light about the budget deficit to Orbán then the “freedom fight” wouldn’t have started?
There still would have been one but it would have been much quieter than what happened. But actually that’s not a big problem because at least it was understandable what we were forced to do and what we had planned to do, more cautiously, anyway. It would have been better to carry out the strategic change in Hungary’s economic and social policies with less noise because we didn’t mean to be adventurous. But we had to be.
What did you plan at the change of the government (in 2010) concerning IMF? Did you mean to kick the global bankers out after a few months of “peacock’s dance” (Leto’s remark: that’s a reference to a bon mot of PM Orbán) in the first place or did you make the decision only later?
It was evident from the very beginning that we didn’t want to tread the path IMF was demanding we should follow but that decision was made only later.
You said to the weekly Heti Válasz that you are “capable of being a soft, friendly teddy bear”. So why don’t you fight diplomatically, in a “teddy bear style”, and why do you need to rub the nose of the world’s lords, or at least of the continent, that what you want is what is going to happen?
Because that feels good.
That was certainly irony. Well, we’re humans, too. Hypocritical, unworthy, selfish chappies manage the European Union, all respect should go to the exceptions. The Brussels bureaucracy lives off that they keep increasing their informal power over the member states while they are trying to present their demands snuffling about never fully discussed European values. So why should we talk to them in a different way than what it feels good?
Because the goal is not to relieve your mind, not to even satisfy Hungarians’ thirst for justness, but to improve things for us, citizens.
I don’t think we should have sought the favours of Brussels with a humble face after their rough treatment. We must make evident for them, and for the Hungarian public, too, that we are no dummies, we fully understand what’s happening, we know the game and we are not going to skin our own people. If they want to wage a war then they must understand there’s firepower on the other side of the battlefield, too.
Can these be matched?
Apparently yes. I think we have won the “freedom fight” but, to say the least, our positions have not been eliminated. As a relatively small player in the international (political) arena, our weight has increased and at least we’re in play now.
It’s all quiet right now. Is this already peace?
We cannot know. Maybe it’s only a truce. They may have decided it’s not worth pressurizing us any more until the elections. You cannot ignore the fact that the majority of the active voters stayed behind us even during the most difficult times. We couldn’t be simply swept away like some would have wanted, even putting democratic means aside (Leto’s remark: that’s a reference to Charles Gati’s infamous interview, see also my post) . Of course, they are not going to give it up and a new match is going to start in 2014. On top of that, the situation cannot be described like there’s peace in the world and some rebellious folks are stirring up trouble in the periphery… On the contrary, the empire is crumbling, everything is changing, sometimes the perspective is wider and sometimes it is narrower than before. There is a real danger for them that the economic and social policies of the Hungarian government will gather followers. More and more people see, and they speak up, too, that the fake liberal dogmas which ruled, and ruined, Europe in the last twenty years must be relegated to the garbage heap (of history).