People in protests following the leaked “Oszod speech” in 2006 were “not only beaten and left in blood”, the then government also “deceived voters and ruled against them”, coupled with economic measures, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told public broadcaster Kossuth Radio on Friday morning.
Marking the 15th anniversary of the leaking of the speech, Orbán said it had been a “terrifying moment” of Hungarian politics, adding that then PM Gyurcsány had “created that situation, he delivered the speech, lied to the people and came to power through lies, took people’s money and then drove the country to bankruptcy” yet “he has remained the leader of the Left until this day”.
Ferenc Gyurcsány, Hungary’s former Socialist Prime Minister, delivered his infamous Őszöd speech on May 26th in 2006. The speech was originally addressed to the Hungarian Socialist Party’s (MSZP) party congress, held behind closed doors, in a governmental resort situated in the village of Balatonőszöd, near Lake Balaton. Though the congress was confidential, the speech was taped and later leaked under unknown circumstances.
In his speech, Gyurcsány criticized his own government and party, including himself, for misleading people and said that its coalition government had enacted no significant measures over its tenure, and their only achievement was staying in power (“You cannot name any significant government measures that we can be proud of except pulling our administration out of the sh@t at the end. Nothing!”). Not only the content but also the profanity of the speech has angered many. Some of the most notable excerpts from Gyurcsány’s speech include: “That is because we have fucked it up. Not just a bit, but a lot,” or “Obviously, we lied throughout the last year-and-a-half, two years.”
After the public radio began broadcasting the leaked audio on September 17, 2006, mass protests and rioting took place in Budapest. The speech had triggered such a serious impact and reactions that completely re-shaped modern-day Hungarian politics. It ultimately led to the popular collapse of MSZP and even the Hungarian political left and the two-party system, paving the way for Viktor Orbán’s and Fidesz’s super-majority victory in the 2010 Hungarian parliamentary elections.
“This is not past tense but the past still living with us and which keeps trying to return,” Orbán said. He insisted that the Socialist-Liberal government had stripped the elderly of their thirteen month’s pension and stopped supporting families, while they “doubled, tripled” the price of household gas and electricity.
The incumbent government, however, “returned all” with a re-established family assistance system, reintroduced housing subsidies and wage hikes, the prime minister said. “Once pensioners get back their 13th month pensions, we can say that we have left behind the whole Őszöd speech,” he added.
Justice minister: Europe and Brussels remained deeply silent
Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Friday that “it was revealed on this day 15 years ago” that former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány and his allies had lied “morning, noon and night”, and instead of governing, they misled everyone while bringing Hungary to the brink of bankruptcy.
In a Facebook post also published in English, Varga said that “following the leak of his speech in Oszod, Gyurcsány, who still controls the opposition, pushed Hungary into the deepest rule of law and moral crisis since the regime change”. Varga said it meant “police brutality, mass pre-trial detentions with no legal basis, people blinded by rubber bullets, beaten young and elderly people, police officers without identifiers, peaceful protesters attacked by mounted police, Kossuth square declared as an area of operations for months surrounded by mobile barriers and a Member of Parliament badly beaten up”.
“Then, of course, Europe and Brussels remained deeply silent,” she said.
“There was no Sargentini report or Article 7 procedure at the time. No concern for the state of Hungarian democracy and the rule of law, neither by the European Commission nor by the European Parliament or the well-known NGOs that envisage the end of the world today,” she added.
Varga said that “Gyurcsány and his team did not regret anything, did not apologise to anyone. Let there be no doubt that, if he had the opportunity, he would continue in the same way as the real leader of the opposition just like before, with the assistance of Brussels, of course.”
Featured photo illustration by Szilárd Koszticsák/MTI