Zoltan Balazs komentuje dla OMP wyniki wyborów na Węgrzech


27 maja 2010

Prezentujemy przygotowany dla OMP komentarz dr Zoltana Balazsa (Central European University, Budapeszt) o wynikach wyborów na Węgrzech i ich skutkach dla węgierskiej polityki zagranicznej (na razie w wersji oryginalnej, wersję polską przedstawimy nieco później).

Hungarian elections with a Polish touch

In April, Hungarians elected a new Parliament in which the FIDESZ (originally, Young Democrats’ Alliance) won the two third majority of the seats. This grants an unprecedented support for the new government, to be led by Mr Viktor Orban, who was Prime Minister between 1998 and 2002 but lost two elections thereafter. Such a majority is also extremely rare in Europe. It must be noted, however, that the Hungarian electoral system favors the winning party, and the FIDESZ won „only” the simple majority of the votes.

Hungarian politics seems to follow, by and large, the Polish developments. In Hungarian politics, it is now proverbial to talk about the „Warsaw train” which arrives in Budapest one or two years later after its departure. In Poland, after some years the triumphantly returning Left collapsed and two Rightist parties emerged. In Hungary, a similarly triumphant Socialist Party governed for eight years, collapsing ungracefully this year, after completely losing all credibility, trust, and governing competence. And we too have two Rightist parties. However, the extremist Jobbik (literally, ’The Better One’, though their name is abbreviated from ’For a Better Hungary’ – note also that in Hungarian, ’better’ and ’right’ are the same words) will be in opposition and the Socialists have a couple more seats in the new Parliament than the Jobbik.

Mr Orban spoke about a revolution carried out in the voting boxes. This is not a very apt description of the event, since revolutions typically do not consist in solitary actions, yet the consequences are indeed epic. The government program has not even been made public, nor has the new administration even sworn in, and the Parliament already passed a law which will drastically reduce the size of the next legislature by 42%. A similar motion was made in respect to town and county councils. A number of further urgent proposals have been made by the FIDESZ that aim at increasing public security which is pretty much the number one priority of Hungarians. The new government will also look like a very austere body, consisting of only eight ministers.

These laws and decisions reflect the immense expectations of Hungarian citizens. There is a irony in the fact that the former Socialist governments also tried to initiate large-scale reforms, especially within the health care system, that was torpedoed by the FIDESZ, which now claims that similarly large-scale changes are necessary, though not in the areas that the former governments preferred. The FIDESZ seems to have understood better than the Socialists that most Hungarians fear of losing social rights and transfers which, to be honest, are widely available but very meagre if compared to Western standards, yet do not expect governments to have things run as usual. They really want changes, especially with regard to corruption, to bureaucracy (taxing administration is, for instance, very burdensome and the FIDESZ promised to halve the now irrationally high number of taxes), or to indiscriminate social transfers.

As far as foreign relations are concerned, the most important promise FIDESZ made was to rectify the results of the referendum held in 2004. Then the suggestion of granting citizenship to ethnic Hungarians living abroad (especially in the neighboring countries) was rejected, which shocked many both within and beyond the borders. The new legislation now wants to grant citizenship to those who apply for it. Such a law exists in Romania vis-a-vis Moldavia, and elsewhere in Europe, too. It is meant to be basically a symbolic gesture, though the Jobbik also wants a kind of electoral right to be given to the members of the nation „separated by force.” These suggestions have alarmed Slovakia, itself facing upcoming elections, a country with which relations have been gradually deteriorating even during the Socialist government. Slovakia has a significant Hungarian minority who are mostly living right at the Hungarian border, which makes the Slovakian elite almost hysterically afraid of a Hungarian occupation. Such an event is, of course, almost impossible today, though the Kosovo example continues to give some grounds to the Slovakian fears.

Relations to Romania have been traditionally delicate, for historical and minority reasons. Interestingly, Mr Orban has a fairly good personal relation to Mr Basescu, the Romanian President, which might reflect their similar approach to politics in general (preference for symbolic gestures, a markedly ’presidential’ manner and taste, a slight contempt for ’party politics’ – it is remarkable that Mr Orban will have a Deputy Prime Minister with full rights to instruct ministers, leaving him act much like a President!). However, declaring the 4th of June the national Memorial Day, which will also happen soon, to remember the Trianon Treaty that devastated the Hungarian nation, will surely be ill-received in Romania.

The first foreign visit of Mr Orban will be to Warsaw. First visits are, again, of symbolic importance. The similarity of recent political developments, the historical importance of Hungarian-Polish friendship, reflected by the national Mourning Day held in Hungary on the funeral day of President Kaczynski, and the ideological kinship of the two governments are the obvious reasons. It is, however, very probable that Hungary also tries to forge a closer alliance with Poland which will be important both within the EU and in the relations to Russia. Hungary is very much dependent on Russian energy, and wants to reduce this dependence. Negotiations about oil/gas pipelines all around Europe have so far been inconclusive, but national interests seem to have prevailed over common interests. With Europe failing again and again, with its neighbors traditionally hostile to it, Hungary desperately needs strong and close allies. The US is far away, and Mr Orban does not have a good reputation in Washington (his former government opted for Swedish Gripen fighters instead of American Falcons). Germany, a traditional ally of Hungary has a private deal with Russia, and is now too busy with rescuing whole Europe, to concentrate on Central Europe (although Hungarian exports are still mainly targeting the German market). All in all, for Hungary, Polish relations appear now to be tremendously important. Personally, I expect a close cooperation between the two governments in the next years.

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