His critics outline that corruption is growing in leaps and bounds. Economists say he must stop his deficit-ballooning fiscal policies and downsize the lavish welfare state created to win over voters who never supported Fidesz before. Political analysts criticise him for displaying fare more extreme positions than Jobbik, the country’s fascist party. Human rights activists stress that the government is doing nothing against self-styled militia units formed by far-right activists to intimidate Roma.
Paul Lendvai is analysing the most controversial aspects of Viktor Orban’s impressive rise. In his new book, the renowned journalist – who underlines in his foreword that he feels “committed to Austria with every fibre of my body” – tells from the astonishing political career of the internationally disputed Hungarian prime minister who seems more confident than ever as far as support by the electorate is concerned.
“Orbans Ungarn” informs on Orban’s youth on the countryside, first political experiences as a student and his famous 1989 speech.
Lendvai – who left Hungary in 1957 as “I was enabled by Austria to live a life in freedom” – is surely not sugarcoating developments in Hungary since Orban first took over as head of the government almost 20 years ago. However, the author also acknowledges the prime minister’s political talent and determination. He not only focuses on measures carried out by the Orban administration but also portrays his most loyal allies and greatest rivals – from Gabor Fodor to Laszlo Köver and Ferenc Gyurcsany. Various aspects of life in Hungary and important changes in society and economy – from the brain drain, as more and more young Hungarians leave to work and study in Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom, to domestic companies’ weak international competitiveness.
Orban recently expressed his ambition to remain in politics for the next 15 or 20 years. Lendvai underlines the economic downturn Hungary has gone through since Orban’s Fidesz is in charge – despite claims by the prime minister that he got the country back on track.
By Paul Lendvai
Published by Kremayr & Scheriau (www.kremayr-scheriau.at)