MEP Márton Gyöngyösi’s (Non-attached) thoughts via press release:
When Viktor Orbán got into power in 2010, he won the elections with the promise of creating a well-functioning, clean political sphere after the Socialist government that fell from grace due to its corruption and incompetent handling of the economic crisis. Instead of such a political change taking place however, we have to keep guessing how long Fidesz’ nationalist-coated communism can survive.
The system of “goulash communism” had to be put into historical perspective so we could see what price Hungary has paid for it and continues to pay to this day. After the 1956 revolution, the reinstated communist regime offered rising living standards in return for accepting the one-party system and the Soviet occupation. However, the offer had nothing to back it up: in lack of a real competitive performance, the growing living standards were funded through foreign loans, while the harsh reality of low wages was hidden behind centrally controlled consumer prices.
A lot of people jumped on this offer and came to a bitter realization when the bubble burst in 1989.
The hopes and expectations of these misled people who had based their lives on the false promises of socialism, i.e., the “losers of the democratization process” formed the foundation on which Viktor Orbán started to build his regime after 2010. He did it the exact same way as János Kádár back in the early 1960s: in lack of performance, he uses price caps and central regulations to cover up the problems, too.
However, the pandemic lockdowns and then the war mercilessly revealed the unsustainability of the Orbán regime, but the government was so afraid of the people’s wrath that they decided to escape forward into a true socialist economic policy. They adopted price caps for essential commodities and fuel as well. As a result, Hungary now has a shortage economy characteristic of the old Socialist regime: people are lining up in stores that suffer from a shortage of commodities while the Hungarian currency is taking a nosedive.
At this point, if the EU funds run dry, the country may risk national bankruptcy.
The Orbán regime is using its propaganda machine to put the blame on others. As a bizarre island in the European Union, Hungary is the only country actively spreading Russian disinformation and running outdoor media campaigns suggesting that the shortages are caused by Brussels’ sanctions and life is much easier in Russia than in Western Europe.
How long can Orbán stay in power by turning economic principles upside down and relying on propaganda while living standards sink rock bottom?
At present, it’s impossible to predict how long Orbán’s system will be able to survive. What we can tell for sure is that both Europe and the Hungarian opposition must get ready for the regime’s fall.
Disclaimer: the sole liability for the opinions stated rests with the author(s). These opinions do not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Parliament.