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Will Orbán’s Governmental Policy Evolve in the Coming Years? Only Time Will Tell

Dénes Sályi 2018.08.21.

In a kind of ritual, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has given an annual speech every summer at a small place in Transylvania called Tusnádfürdő. In these speeches, he usually outlines his opinions about the current political situations both worldwide and at home and then gives a list of the tasks ahead. This year, the program was of special importance since FIDESZ achieved a two-thirds victory for the third time in a row at the general elections held in April. It is becoming more and more evident that the present government won’t be replaced in the near future as it’s deeply embedded in society and the opposition is weak.  

Orbán considers the period between 2010 and 2030 as a special era in Hungarian history, which suggests he wants to continue the System of National Cooperation (the framework and summary of government policy announced by him) for another twelve years at least. The question is whether Fidesz will continue to utilize the policy it has depended on thus far, or if we can expect some new surprises.

It is highly likely that the government will stick to the economic model associated with György Matolcsy – now head of the National Bank – which is a mixture of neoliberal and Keynesian elements. The Hungarian National Bank will probably keep the basic rate of interest low in order to stimulate business activity. Hungary’s chances of joining EURO are unlikely until the Hungarian economy becomes stronger.  If things go well, the cabinet will continue supporting families, the creation of new households (mostly) by young people and Hungarian enterprises are predicted to get more financial support as well. An unpredictable, yet important element is whether people living in poverty – roughly one-fourth of the Hungarian population – will see an improvement in their situation in forthcoming years. Their success is a key factor, and, in some ways, a  precondition for the Hungarian model to achieve success. Of course, tendencies in the global economy (a possible recession, spreading trade wars etc.) will have an impact on Hungary as well. 

In foreign affairs, the shuttlecock policy, which has been relatively successful so far despite carrying some risk, may gain further ground while improving relations with Central-European countries, China, Turkey and Russia. German big businesses enjoy Hungarian investment conditions, which is well demonstrated by BMW making a factory in Debrecen. In order to operate the Hungarian economy in a healthier way, strengthening the Hungarian enterprise is inevitable. Without that economic background, considerably widening the maneuvering capacity of Hungarian diplomacy seems impossible.

In home affairs, the big question is whether a new opposition party can gain popularity, as the present opposition parties are currently unable to increase their popular support. If efforts to build a rival party fail, Orbán’s cabinet will be able to accomplish its political, economic and social program without major obstacles inland. 

At Tusnádfürdő, Orbán announced a cultural offensive by the government with aims at  balancing the cultural scene. If it takes shape, it would mean putting more right-wing leaders in science and cultural positions. The idea has caused a lot of controversy in these circles thus far. The government has to consider whether if after so many victorious battles and wars in politics, this case is even worth the trouble. Orbán is a fighter and a risk taker; besides being systematic and purposeful, he has often proved to be unpredictable, often surprising analysts. 

All that has been said largely depends on international politics, so the government better prepare a plan B. 

by Dénes Sályi

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