February 18 2011
Ladies and Gentlemen! Dear Friends!
I am delighted that you came here today to listen to what I think about our country, our destiny and our tasks. I thank you that with your presence you encourage us and remind us not give up on our dreams, our plans and our fight. Here and now, at the very beginning let me assure you that we still have power, determination and belief. We believe in Hungary, in the power of its citizens, we believe in our ability to learn and in our chance of success. Here and now I am not talking about our victory tomorrow, rather I am interested in the victory of Hungary that eventually it shall leave behind the shadow of its historical fears and grievances and that it will gain encouragement from its past rather than grievances.
Also, yes, I would like to believe in ourselves, believe that we will understand the source of our successes and also the real reasons of our failures, believe that we will be able to measure up to our task to bring piece and prosperity to our country and within it to all Hungarian families.
It was nearly 10 years ago that politics became my life for the second time in my life. It may have happened differently since I was then and still I am in the fortunate position that I can choose freely, from a monetary perspective anyway. I know this is a rare commodity.
After some hesitation and reluctance I decided that I turned my back to the good, peaceful and safe life of the upper middle class and I wished to deal with public matters. Don't even tell me, I know, there are - probably not even few - people who would now say that they wish I had decided otherwise.
They are the ones who briefly say and explain that "Gyurcsány is to blame" for the problems of the country and their own as well. I may even envy them. Their souls don't have any doubts the same way as my youngest son does not have any. Few years back I challenged him on a weak mark he got in school, I asked him how could this happen? He looked at me and with a little twinkle in his eyes he answered to me: Why? Don't you know? Gyurcsány is to blame...
I became a politician because I wanted to turn my country, Hungary into a better, more just place. I believed in my strength and I believed that I was right. Since then, apart from the successes, I suffered many failures and defeats as well. There are some things that I would do differently today. But the main point has not changed: I believe that we have something to do, we have a task and I believe infinitely in our right.
I believe in a free Hungary that has free citizens. I believe that our freedom creates prosperity. On the other hand I know that freedom without opportunities is a burden for many people. I believe that everybody deserves the chance for human life. I believe that we have the freedom to define our political, cultural, religious views and sexual identity. I believe in the autonomy of science, culture and arts, and I detest censors. I detest them even if they are appointed by the prime minister.
I understood that freedom itself did not create order, also that without law and morals freedom helps the strong and skilful to rule the country, a rule in which the majority struggles defenseless. I believe that a nation is not only a historical and cultural community, but its task is also to create and maintain social responsibility.
I am a Social Democrat. But I want to serve not only a class but also the entire community of my country. First of all those who want to do something for themselves, for their families and their country. By contrast I regard selfishness and greed with distaste. I do not show understanding for social insensibility and for political, cultural or ethnic discrimination.
Of course, now - after our historical defeat - you could ask: then what about my right? Or did it turn out that I am or I was wrong? Do not consider it immodesty or inability to learn but I tell you even so: I believe, I think that I dreamed about and represented a good cause and a fair world. But I admit it was not done well enough.
Because I was not determined enough to resist bad compromises, I was not strong enough to overcome my own weaknesses, political and human deficiencies. Because I trusted whom I should not have, while at times I placed confidence in people who did not deserve it.
Because the task, this great challenge that I undertook outgrew me and us and those whom I worked with and pledged to lead. But I do not want to give it up. I will fight for a better Hungary, for a just, democratic, free Hungary, and a livable homeland. This is why I am here.
Ladies and Gentleman!
In the following I will talk about Hungary, the government, the government's policy, ourselves, our tasks, the democratic opposition and MSZP's role in it.
But let me please anticipate something. I know that there will be issues among what I am going to say, which many people agree with, but there will be others that do not hold the support of the majority yet. Please forgive me if I am not looking for the favor of the majority. I did not choose my sentences on the basis of how many people agree with it, because only one thing leads me: to share my opinion, suggestions and plans with you.
I will argue for my justice, however, I do not want to tempt you. I am not looking for the majority by any means, but for the path and the truth I consider as right. Believe me this, too is not a simple task for a politician.
The first and most important question is to examine the current situation in Hungary. Whether it is true that nothing particular happens, or as many say pompously, although not in German but in English: "business as usual".
Let me go a little further back to begin. I know that the majority do not feel themselves well in this twenty-year-old new world. They have a not too nice opinion about the transition, do not like the new order of the market economy, and see democracy as the quarrel of untalented, corrupt politicians. The politically active part of society desires to live in the past. Some desire the pre-Treaty of Versailles Hungary, others - so to say - settle for less: they would only go back to the Kádár regime.
I do not say it pejoratively, but I see that for many the future lays in the past - in the wealth of Greater Hungary with Transylvania and Upper Hungary or in the social security of the Kádár regime.
I think that I understand the cause of our historical nostalgia well. The new order - democracy and social market economy - did not bring much perceptible good for the majority of the people. There are fewer job opportunities, wages and salaries barely increased, and on top of that, everything is uncertain, one has to fight for everything, there is constant competition, while it seems to be that the new elite is unconcerned about the problems of the majority.
And since there is no one who would have an easy program for our tomorrow we see those people coming up who sell the past as a program for the future. Of course, it is so comfortable to believe in historical magnitude, in the promise of a safe and secure - although modest - growth. I have to disappoint you my fellow citizens: neither the reign of István Tisza, nor the era of János Kádár will ever come back. The past should be closed. We need to learn from it, and not trying to change it or bring it back. It is impossible to do so.
No offence, but I have to say that those nations live in their past which do not have enough confidence to face the present. If we pursue our truth in the past, then we will lose.
Let us take the example of Germany. There is no other nation in Europe that caused so much harm to itself in the 20th century, mainly lead by its own historical fears, than Germany. But after they failed, they had the power, the courage and the ability to learn. This is how they managed to become the leading nation of Europe by this time. But I have to say it again that this process had a precondition: they faced themselves, they learnt from the past and they have been looking into the future for decades now. That is the only thing I can advise us as well.
Some decades ago we Hungarians - as inhabitants of "the happiest barrack" - enjoyed a higher standard of living than people living in other countries of the Warsaw Treaty. We consumed more and travelled more often. But we were double-tongued. We cast our eyes to the ground when we met somebody from the Western world, while we proudly drew ourselves up when meeting Romanian or Czechoslovakian citizens. Let us admit that it was not a bad thing to be a Hungarian in the Central and Eastern Europe of the 1970s and 1980s. There and then. And let us admit: exactly that may be why we were not searching for greater freedom in the transition that occurred in 1989/1990, but for even greater welfare in the very first place.
However, we did not achieve it. We did not because freedom is not the same as welfare. It is merely the precondition for it - I think. Despite this, a number of my fellow citizens see it exactly the other way: in their opinion, this great freedom we have today is against welfare. After that, of course, the recipe is made quickly: we need less freedom and welfare will come like a charm.
Of course those people who think that way will never think of the limitations of their own freedom. Their own freedom is absolutely OK! It is the freedom of others that is a cause for concern. If others would not be different, if they got into the line, if they did not talk back, if they shared the grand ideal of national cooperation supposed to bring a new order then we would have national accord and - not surprisingly - they claim that this national unity, a national unity formed their way, would be the source of welfare.
I admit that, for a long time, I did not know and later I did not really understand that line of thinking. I note with some appreciation that Orbán was a better student than me in relation to this matter: he first realized that a significant number of voters did not value freedom that much then he devised a program that would sacrifice freedom and one stirring up fury against freedom. This is how the former Liberal transformed into the prime minister of despotism. Nowadays he says: in return for (your) freedom, I will provide you with food. That is his entire political program.
I do not believe him. I do not believe him, and I am looking for the friendship of those people who - similarly to me - say that our freedom, the freedom of our nation is not for sale. But before we would become very enthusiastic and impressed because of our own love of freedom, please let me cite Sándor Márai. It is now exactly sixty years ago that he wrote: "people want food, not freedom". The great job is to find a system that would allow people to earn their food while remaining free. In 1951, Márai concluded that it was an impossible undertaking. However, I would not give that up. I would like to convince you, I would like to argue that you too should not give that up.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
But for now, what I see in the present is that the offer of the PM and his party is crystal clear: give me the power to take away (your) freedom, let me make the State above you uncontrollable, and I will give you food in exchange. What I see is that many people, disappointed by the transition of 1989/1990 and the order of freedom, either do not understand the real nature of Orbán's offer (and its consequences) or - even worse - understand and support it ardently.
Voters will have to pardon me, since I do not want to hurt them, but I have to say that seemingly, the majority of them (one way or the other) tolerate, accept or even support Orbán's "food for freedom" program. I now warn you: very soon you will see neither food, nor freedom. That will be the end result of Orbánism.
In 1998, the prime minister stated: more than just a change in government, but well, at the most, a little less than a change of regimes. Today he is not rest satisfied. Nowadays the slogan is: the change of government is not enough, a revolution is needed.
The revolution, of course, is a lie. There was no revolution and there will not be any. But it is true that the prime minister now wants a new regime contrary to the past twenty years. He is through with the first part of the job; the 'regime-demolition' is already complete. The constitutional order of the Third Republic is cleaved to the pavement. The prime minister wants autocracy. In other words: despotism.
Do not you believe that? Then please read the telegram written by the Ambassador of the United States which has been made public recently. According to this telegram the president of Fidesz told Her Excellency in January 2010: 'yes, we tread them under' then added: 'the extermination of the Socialists would serve the interests of the country'. You understand it, do not you? He does not want to defeat us but to perish, to exterminate.
I declare so: Viktor Orbán does not want a democratic political competition but a total political war in order to annihilate his enemy. He does not accept an organized electoral will against him, he does not believe in political rotation and in parliamentary democracy. Orbán only believes in his unlimited power. He only believes in despotism.
The government's activity in the first nine months underpins my argument. The prime minister tries to eliminate every constitutional counterweight. He does not tolerate opposition, he wants unlimited power. Viktor Orbán is building the system of autocracy. The Constitutional Court and the Fiscal Council were lost to this autocracy. It was the pursuit of despotism that dictated the unacceptable and disgraceful media law. The absolutist will has created the situation that a civil servant can now be fired without justification and that private pension savings could be taken away.
The appointment of a President who is not loyal to the nation but to Fidesz was motivated by the intention to set up an autocratic regime, just like the appointment of pro-Fidesz leaders of the public media, the chief public prosecutor and the president of the Hungarian State Audit Office.
Yes, Ladies and Gentleman! The Third Hungarian Republic is over. Orbán destroyed it and he is building something else now: an autocratic regime.
Orbán's regime has several historical and ideological antecedents in Hungary. There are various models to draw on. The policies of the PM are powered by the class-selfishness of István Tisza, the national unity and national leader cult of Gyula Gömbös and the Christian fundamentalism of Mindszenty.
But this is not our world. This is the past. We want to close that past and to take possession of the future. Today, the greatest obstacle to this is Orbán and his regime. This is what needs to be changed and it is our task. This is the task that lies before every Democrat.
And our part is the following: from now on, we are not the opposition to the government any more. From now on, we are the opposition to the despotic regime of Viktor Orbán.
Democrats - whether they are Conservatives, Liberals or Social Democrats - have no other option than to stand up against despotism, the regime of Orbán. There is no reason to compromise with autocracy, there is no reason to participate in a legislative process that will result in a constitution legitimizing Orbán's despotic rule. Because the new constitution - which is now being drafted - will not be the basic law of the entire nation, but it will only be the constitution of Fidesz. Hence our task is to restore the Republic; to create a new Republic after Orbán.
The legal foundation of the New Republic will be the constitutional system devised in '89. Yes, we the offspring of '89, yes, we Democrats, we all are the descendants of '89 and we will always be. Although we know that no man ever steps in the same river twice, we do not have any intention to build a brand-new constitutional structure. We do not allege that one could not chisel the text of the constitution of '89 but we firmly stand for our earlier point of view that there is no need to rewrite the basic system and the spirit of the former constitution that was in effect up until 2010. The New Republic will reclaim the constitutional world of the Third Republic stolen by Fidesz and will rebuild the rule of law of '89 which Fidesz destroyed. That is what we will do.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!
Since the years of retaliation following 1956 Hungary has never had such an internationally isolated government and such bad international reputation than the government of Viktor Orbán now has.
Kádár - even though his regime defined itself as an antagonist to the Western world - earned respect and appreciation by the 1970's in Bonn, in Paris and in London, too. Western powers recognized that within the tightly knit boundaries the one-time party leader succeeded in creating a livable country, and peace and stability, thus giving Hungary more room to maneuver.
Orbán, in contrast, positioned his country on the brink of the European Union, and himself outside of the circle of Europe's democratic community. The PM cannot arrange anything in Moscow, he is not received in Washington, he is humbled in Brussels and he could not find friends either in Berlin or in Paris.
The Hungarian premier - while he currently acts as the rotating President of the EU - became an insignificant sideman of the task of devising the Union's new economic structure. The Poles are invited, but we are rather not wanted.
The prime minister of Hungary is not involved in the most important talks concerning the future of the European Union. It was reported yesterday that the leaders of the European Union, the Heads of State of member countries that take part in the Eastern Partnership and the Secretary of State of the United States do not intend to hold a summit in Hungary. They have something more important to deal with.
The government is right in that this is not a matter of prestige. This is something much more serious, this is a brutal political defeat. According to the PM, the floor will not be wiped with them. If that statement is true, then there is only one option left: he was wiped with the floor!
The prime minister who is prideful and menacingly blatant at home - after his awkward, what is more, humiliating battles - intends to hide behind the bunker of his homeland, and he is blaring: they hurt the Hungarians! The message that we are sending him now from here is the following: it was not us who were hurt; Hungary and the Hungarian people were not hurt at all. It was him. And he was hurt not a little, but a lot.
But if he went in the house for a slap in the face, then he should acquit himself well, and should not refer to us as a defense. That is so unmanly. And he will have to pardon us that we cannot fondle his face that turned red because of the slap, like a mother would do to her dear son who was crying because the older boys had beaten him on the playground. We cannot babysit him, as he is the prime minister. Thus he should behave like a prime minister behaves.
In 1989 we had a burning desire to anchor Hungary in the Western part of Europe (and of the world), closing the struggles of many centuries. In 2004, Hungary became a member state of the European Union. I consider that one of the greatest historical successes of our country, together with the transition of 1989/1990 and our accession to the NATO in 1999. I know that the earlier euphoria is over. I realize that now many people view suspiciously - and even adversely - the ever-increasing European cooperation.
I didn't change my mind. I strongly believe that it is in the interest of our country that we closely cooperate with the member countries of the EU. However, the latest developments remind us if we are not careful than we soon find our selves out of the game.
As an answer to the global economic and financial crisis, now Berlin and Paris want a much stronger cooperation on economic and social issues. And I believe they are right. A new European club is emerging an inner circle and here we are at the begging of a double-speed EU. The condition of the membership of the forerunners' club is common economic and financial policy and the introduction of the euro.
We have a choice to make. After long years of economic struggle now we need to make an effort and by overcoming the short lived ecstasy of fiscal alcoholism and after getting sober we need to choose the way of fiscal sobriety. We need to this not because of the EU but because of ourselves and of our future, because we want to belong to that group which is building the future instead of living it up now. The prime minster now states that he wishes to stay out of the EMU for at least another decade. Why is he doing this? Does he do it because he doesn't want to run the economy responsibly? Or because he wants to dictate fiscal policy, or he wants to run the Central Bank? I don't know. I only know though that what he wants to do is against this country's interest.
On contrary, though, what we want to do - after having learned from mistakes of our economic policies - is to create soon the conditions of joining the EMU and we will actually join the EMU in the foreseeable future.
I know it is not easy. As a former prime minister I have experienced that at times it takes strict and uncomfortable decisions. But I can promise to him that while we will be very strong opposition we will not create social tensions and unrest just because he is actually running strict fiscal policies. In this matter, and I repeat only in this matter we will support him.
However at the moment the situation is that the government is driving the country into a cul-de-sac. While the prime minister is blaming us for the increasing state debt - and in cases rightly so - he is actually conducting an economy policy now in which the country's indebtedness will continue to grow and by 2013 we are running the risk of having huge amount of budget deficit. In the interim two years he will only be able to hide the problems with unsustainable and one off measures.
It's not the crisis but the government's irresponsible taxation policy and the lack of determination of carrying out structural reforms are the reasons that now we need a HUF 700 billion austerity package. Believe me it's a lot of money! It is more than two month pension or support of 3 years higher education or this is the amount of which a bigger city running itself for over twenty years.
I know that the government is not in an easy situation. I have to admit that I don't envy them, but on the same token I don't feel sorry for them either. It is because that this situation is not caused by the crisis. It is because the new tax and other measures are the ones which created this gaping hole in the current budget. First it poured and now it offers the toxic chalice for us to drink.
I also know that after four years of strict fiscal policy carried out by us now there are hardly any available reserves in the budget. And we are not any closer to the solution if we even remind the prime minister what he recently said to us. What did he say? He said there is plenty of money here but the socialists are "stealing" money from the ministries.
Now we could easily answer that we do not need the austerity measures, and instead we could say that there is still plenty of money here but the current administration shouldn't "steal" money from the ministries. This could be a bon mot, but to be honest I don't think this is the issue. This was never an issue, and this is not what causes the issue now.
This is also true as I read it now that they are actually entering into consulting contracts worth over HUF 2 billion - previously unheard sum - just to find ways for our public money to go into private pockets. May I ask should we not mention this to the government accountability commissioner that something fishy is going on around his own government? Or is it O.K. by him?
Anyway let's get back to the point. We expect from the prime minister and not from his economic minister to make it clear what his medium term economic program is. The simplest would be if he would actually withdraw his damaging taxation measures. It's not worth HUF hundreds of billions to leave plenty of money in the pockets of the rich or people on high incomes, especially when people on average income earn less with these new measures. This is not only budgetary irresponsibility it is total social perversion.
And now let's stop for a second. The prime minister behaves as if he only noticed it now that the new taxation measures proposed by him and recently enacted are taking money away from people on lower incomes. Do you remember? Last autumn he promised that everybody will be better off. Now as his obvious mistake came to light - or eventual lie - now he is threatening us.
Now he says that it is everybody's responsibility to increase wages at least with the sum that it compensates for the loss suffered as a direct result of the new taxation measures. I don't know whether he understands what he actually says, it would be a new form of tax then. This would be an unlawful extra wage tax.
If the companies would honor the prime minister's wish and would let the political pressure bend them and they want to pay the losses of the employees because of the incorrect taxation policy then it will cost them HUF 450 billion. This is insane. It is especially so in light of the new corporate income tax rules and it's a fact in monetary terms. With this the companies saved HUF 240 billion, but as we can see now the government wants to charge them much more than this, HUF 450 billion.
I ask then how will this generate increased competitiveness? How will this generate more jobs? The answer is simple: it will not. The prime minister doesn't understand what he is doing. If he understands and he is doing it willingly then it is even a bigger issue.
The government's taxation policy is supporting the rich, taking away from the poor and puts increased tax burden on companies. By looking at this government the old saying is true: the rich gets richer, the poor gets poorer. The current year's budget is significantly reducing the money available for social support and public work. Let me give you an example of the consequences may be expected.
Recently I had a long conversation with the mayor of Szeged, László Botka. What was apparent of this discussion, that the government's austerity measures will create dramatic consequences. In Szeged last year more than 12,000 received some form of financial support. Now, with the government's new measures of this 12,000 people 4,000 will not receive any support at all and 4,000 will receive less than last year. As to public work, last year roughly about a 1,000 people lived off public work. This year, due to the reduced resources available it will be good if only roughly about half of these people will get a job. These people would like to work but they won't be able to because the money what would have paid for this has been given to the rich in forms of tax reductions by Mr. Orbán. This is shameful. Is say it again this is social perversion. This is lack of social empathy. This is a sin. This is Mr. Orbán's sin.
I'm sure that the prime minister heard a story that in North-East Hungary during daylight a grocery store was robbed by a family because they were starving. Let us warn the prime minister, it is not a family friendly policy that if the members of government, the ministers, the state secretaries and the governing coalition's members of parliament are providing jobs for their own family members in the state administration. Or if he believes that this is a family friendly policy, then let me state for the record that we were seriously mislead.
And tell me, what will be the answer for "hunger revolts"? Will his interior minister arrive and create order? If I understand correctly then, this will be the version of national cooperation spiced with baton. Now we don't any of this.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
I talked about it a lot recently, that if we will not be able to leave behind the politics of historical grievances, if we will not be able to utilize the democratic and social free market, then we will be finding ourselves in an insane situation whereby we will be kicking out one part or another part of the country out of the political community. This is high time to make an inventory and we start working properly.
There is no money on earth which would pay for all our needs even if it seems reasonable. Healthcare, education, research, culture and social support all need money. Local governments, the police and the justice system need more money. Private enterprises are claiming heavier subsidies. May I continue? We will not get anywhere by doing so.
While being in opposition we could conduct our way on such a way that we are not looking at realities and instead we would be fighting for more money and if the government is unable to provide what we ask for - how could it? - then we would be declaring death of the nation and want the government beheaded. And yes: things were going this way in the past 20 years and yes this is what today's government did with us in the past 8 years.
I don't want to down this road. It is because I learned that from irresponsible opposition stems irresponsible government. In the next few minutes I want to talk about what should be done in a number of critical areas in my opinion. One remark: there is no recipe for miracle. I don't believe in the immediate and radical improvement of our situation. We need to be going into one direction for at least 5-10 years in order to make Hungary a better place to live for the majority.
I would like to start where I would provide more funds. I would focus on three key areas: public work, education and science. I agree with those who say that one of our biggest issues is our very low level of employment. There are many people who cannot work and also I know there are many who don't want to work. In the declaration of this issue and its severity I agree with the government. I don't agree though with the therapy proposed by the government to solve this issue.
It is not the high taxation which is believed to be the burden of increased employment. Those people who don't work don't chose not to, but instead they are just unable to find a job. The real source of the issue is that the economy doesn't require those skills and experiences which the people who are looking for jobs are possessing. This is the issue. These issues will not be resolved by threats, punishments and the reduction of social funds. In the short term these issues can be resolved with a public work program and on the long term by changing the structure of education.
We know that there are hundreds of thousands of people who are so seep in the world of unemployment, that they will not stand a chance to crawl back into the world of private sector employment. There are no companies and there will be no companies who can offer employment to that more than 240,000 people who only have up to primary school education. We just cannot get people to work straight away who didn't have a daily job for long years and totally not used to get up early every day and to work in a precise and regulated manner.
For these people only we as a community can offer a job and if don't do it, then they will continue to be unemployed. We don't have any choice; we must organize this country's ever-biggest public work program and increase public work employment. We must provide a job for at least two or three thousand people in areas like: childcare, social support, pensioner support, mental and health rehabilitation, in and out of school education, public culture, forestry and in urban management, and so on.
Disappointedly so and in cases angrily I see the current government is doing exactly the opposite, it increases hopelessness instead of providing hope.
The condition of increased employment on the long run is better education and training. But let say this to the government that the education will not get any better just because the education state secretary from her own fundamentalist and conservative beliefs she creates an army barrack out of a school, a soldier out of a student and an ideological trainer out of a teacher.
Instead the kids need more encouragement and help, the teachers need more support and recognition, schools need a stable environment, peace and freedom. Instead of pushing ideology, we need to get back to educational programs which are based on scientifically proven procedures and processes.
The key to education and training is the teacher and the educational method. In the next few years we must reorganize and strengthen the educational centers of excellence, we must create a system which measures and appraises performance, also we need educational and training assistance which helps the work of the teachers, and we need to ensure by the end of the decade that we will be providing increased wages - couple of points above inflation - to the teachers from budgetary reserves.
We must aim for that the best students will choose teaching as a career and those who are already in this profession shall fill that the country really appreciates and values their work.
At this point you shall ask a question of me. The question you shall ask is where will we have more money for public work, education or culture. If we are honest, we must answer this question. I could say that the required structural reforms will provide the funds for this but I know very well that this would be only the avoidance of giving a clear and direct answer.
I think in order to create social security for the poorest and to increase the level of education those with the means should sacrifice and these are the ones who were given extra funds now by the Orbán administration.
I never agreed with the flat tax system. Of course it is true mathematically that HUF 16,000 relates to HUF 100,000 the same way as HUF 160,000 relates to HUF 1,000,000, but in terms of social means this is a false statement. The flat tax rate is not proportionate; on the contrary it is actually a disproportionate system as the HUF 16,000 tax hurts more to the one who earns HUF 100,000 than the HUF 160,000 hurts the person who earns HUF 1,000,000.
This is why I believe that the current government lies. In order to create funds for the previously stated key areas, I would increase the personal income tax of those who earn more than HUF 400,000-500,000 per month and I would introduce the wealth tax in case of wealth of HUF 100 million. I would also introduce inheritance tax in case of inheritance worth more than HUF 100 million. It is because I believe that the economy requires and it is my belief that more responsibility at the top and more opportunity at the bottom. This provides the social character of market economy and this creates the socially responsible Hungary.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
The government is leading a 'kulturkampf'. As in politics the government wants to see only itself, also in culture and in the world of art it wishes only to see reflected its own values and taste. The government doesn't understand that the source of culture and art is freedom and the free artistic self expression. It is not a politician's responsibility to decide what sort of cultural taste should be followed, rather to create the freedom which generates artistic expression, and also to support cultural and artistic institutions and to provide for and protect their independence.
As I said this right wing fundamentalist and conservative government doesn't understand any of it. It condemns and restricts cultural and artistic autonomy, it doesn't appreciate the free man in art, and instead it wishes it to support its political agenda, to be used as a piece of decoration when their leader is giving a speech.
The paid decorative artists - this is how I call Orbán's gatherings decorations - can expect that the new regime will pay them off. By now all these paid decorative artists have at least a directorial position in one of the country's many theatres. Besides it looks like that nobody is interested in the fact that far less people are actually buying tickets to the performances of these theatres - led by these loyal paid decorative artists - than last year. The people want to go to the theatre to have a good time, to think, to cry, to laugh and not to suffer the right wing led cultural war.
Is was trying to find the best expression, but this is the best I could say: It is stomach-turning how the right wing radicals want to create program of the National Theatre, and mind boggling when, instead of representing European cultural politics, they fight the theatre's director with personal remarks and the threat of political revenge.
And it is outrageous that the prime minister's foxhounds are declaring themselves competent in scientific issues and they are talking about what the acceptable direction of philosophic research should be in a cocky manner.
And on top of all this is that they challenge philosophers that they are liberal thinkers. It is not their business. Take the dirty hands off Ágnes Heller, Mihály Vajda, Sándor Radnóti and the rest!
We are not interested if they read Albert Vass. But maybe from time to time they shall read Attila József. Air! Air! - writes Attila József. Yes we need the air of freedom in the Hungarian cultural and art life.
The Hungarian healthcare system is in ruins. Despite the hospital building activities of recent years, the improvement of the ambulance service, the activities which are happening within the walls of these hospitals or within the ambulance vehicles - which is the most important - hasn't improved a bit. The doctors and nurses are frustrated, they earn lousy money and some of them are already getting ready to leave the country for work abroad. The patients are defenseless, and the quality of their care seems to be depending on whether they have good connections.
Yes I know that the reason of our failure at the 2010 elections was that both the electorate and the majority of the profession rejected our healthcare reform. I don't wish to engage in a fight about it now, but I must make some comments.
It is beyond doubt that our doctors and nurses are earning lousy money and it is not relative to their knowledge, responsibility and job pressure. This situation became unsustainable by now. I don't to wish to criticize the government now since I know that the room to maneuver is limited. Instead of criticizing the government, I criticize the former opposition - which I know that the current government and the former opposition is exactly the same - however this equation is not existent from a political point of view. This equation doesn't exist, it is because the current government doesn't have room to maneuver but our former opposition did have room to maneuver indeed.
Instead he used his maneuvering capability to paralyze the Hungarian healthcare reform and most selfishly he organized the country in the form of social referendum to say no to the reorganization and consolidation of the Hungarian healthcare system and to say yes to the very fact which by now frustrates all doctors, nurses and patients as well.
With this we didn't get any further though. The prime minister often offers to us that we citizens shall take our own lifes in our own hands. This is all O.K. But in the same time I believe that deep down in his own soul he wishes on the contrary: he would like that we would actually give our own destiny into his hands. But I'm really sorry; in healthcare due to political and economical reasons by now he is totally incapable and incompetent. And this is why when it comes to healthcare matters we can only rely on ourselves.
At this point I turn to doctors, healthcare workers and all Hungarian citizens. If we want a good healthcare system, we need to make an effort to achieve it. The question is if us, Hungarian citizens are willing to put our hands deep down in our pockets, to keep and pay our doctors, nurses and assistants. Széchenyi once said that there are Hungarians who talk and Hungarians who act. The Hungarians who talk - this is what I say - they talk about the country and the nation with teary eyes, they sing the Hungarian anthem day and night, they cover themselves with the Hungarian tricolor. The Hungarian who acts cries less, makes speeches more modestly and on the same token he makes an effort for his country. I encourage ourselves to be Hungarians who act. Let's talk about what we can for the Hungarian healthcare system for the benefit of our own health.
Right before you would misunderstand me, here and now I don't wish to promote the prime minister's stupid hamburger tax. Let's not look at what the otherwise poor state can do, instead let's see what we can do. I know that 3 years ago a 3 million majority voted against the visit fee, but now I do recommend - and we can call it as we want - and I still do recommend it: let's take financial sacrifice to keep and pay for our doctors and nurses.
I would like them to feel, that we are empathetic about their destinies and on the same token we expect our doctors to treat our diseases with care and empathy.
I know this is a difficult topic. But I must say: the country and its budget is in bad situation, hence that if we want better healthcare, well paid doctors, and fair world, it will only be possible from our own extra contribution and own will, otherwise it will not be possible.
We don't need speeches and we don't need voices full of pathos. The healthcare system needs much more than this. This cannot be provided by the community or of its budget. We have two options: we either accept that for a decade everything will stay as it is, or the majority of this country will wake up from the Fidesz dream and will say that I want to be a Hungarian who acts. I want to serve and represent the Hungarians who act.
Certainly, money isn't everything. We also require that the social security system will be a real insurer, our interest will be protected by a strong patient supervisory body and that the pharmacy lobby shouldn't declare where there should or shouldn't be a pharmacy. We have done this when we were in government and we will need this if we want the healthcare system to better serve us.
Please allow me to divert your attention to another field! This is commonplace that the Hungarian administration's local government system is unsustainably fragmented; to reform this is inevitable. I think it's all right that the government created the county committee offices, it was a good decision and we hope that the details will be in order as well.
With regard to the local government system, I think that we need to follow three principles. One: we should not take the right of any single establishment of its own governance. Everybody should have the right to elect a mayor and a supporting body. Two: we must support the organization of local government offices by townships and smaller geographical areas. Three: we must ensure that local governments and local communities maintain their right to appoint their town clerks; hence it is unacceptable that the government appoints the town clerk - as the government these days is planning it.
If all these three principles are fulfilled, then in my opinion, the restructuring of the local government system and the administration system must be supported.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Please let me talk briefly about the so called "national question". The question is not whether the Treaty of Versailles is a national catastrophe. Of course, it is. But since we cannot move the world's clock back, the only thing that is worth examining is what we can do now in order to deal with the trauma of the Treaty of Versailles.
A significant number of Hungarian voters - feeling honest national resentment - would like to look for historical compensation with touched spirits. I do understand these emotions. Moreover I presume to understand the strong emotional tone of the nationalism and irredentism of the 20's and 30's aiming to undo the Treaty of Versailles. But we cannot disregard the fact that this national enthusiasm eventually plunged the country into a tragic war in which hundreds of thousands of Hungarians - on the whole, millions of people - lost their lives. After all we not only did not manage to get back even one square meter lost due to the Treaty of Versailles but we lost another three villages as well.
I admit it seems to me that - just like between the Two World Wars - national enthusiasm is not coupled with sufficient national wisdom today either. I know some people think that my point of view can be attacked on the basis of nationalism, or - using a coarser expression - it is anti-nationalist, or even treasonable.
Instead of a long pleading please let me take a German example again. I ask you now: did Willy Brandt, too betray his country? As you know, in the very beginning of the 1970's the one-time German Chancellor acknowledged the borders that were determined in the wake of the Second World War once and for all, and thus, the fact that East-Prussia and Silesia - together with 10 million formerly German citizens - were ceded to Poland forever. As a side note, I would like to add that Germany has never even thought of granting German citizenship to the citizens of Alsace and Lorraine that were also lost.
And see what: nowadays Germany is again a successful nation, maybe the most important engine of the Union. One of the causes for Germany's success is that they have no intention to rewrite their history, but - as I mentioned already - they want to learn from it. Just have a look at how the vast majority of German society and almost the entire German political elite now think about democracy, Nazism and the Holocaust.
But that speech is not intended to revolve around Germany. After the transition of 1989/1990 political parties in Hungary - in a relatively wide unity - stressed that Hungarians living outside the borders of Hungary should remain in their respective homelands. That is why we supported the cross-border Hungarians more carefully - I know that others often did so more pugnaciously than us - in their pursuit of autonomy as well as their schools, libraries and theaters.
I hope it is clear for everyone that autonomy and dual citizenship practically exclude each other. Because within its own borders no country can provide extensive autonomy for a community of another country's citizens concentrated in one area, because this would be the first and almost irreversible step to separation.
Then we should add: the dual citizenship willingly or unwillingly speeds up the expatriation from the homeland, the conversion to the mother country and thus, it fulfills the tragedy of the Treaty of Versailles forever.
It can be contrasted with my argument that the burden and the responsibility of national survival cannot be borne by someone living in minority subordination, free choice should be given for everyone. Yes, this is a serious argument. Yet I must say: we face thousands of similar dilemmas when managing the national affairs.
I do not want to be profane, but we are facing a similar situation when we cannot increase the salaries and pensions indefinitely although the individuals might deserve it. But we simply cannot afford it as the nation's particular interests and means do not allow it.
The question of suffrage - regarding those Hungarian citizens living beyond the borders who are not habitually resident in Hungary - is in many ways a simpler question. It threatens with dramatic conflicts if the members of the Hungarian political community living within the borders feel that those decide about their fate who do not bear the consequences of their decisions - because they do not live here habitually, do not pay taxes here, and their children do not go to school here etc. Those conflicts will not bring the Hungarian communities living on both sides of the borders closer, but on the contrary, they will separate them and generate conflicts with unpredictable contents.
I shared these issues with you only to make my principles clear regarding why I did not and still do not agree with dual citizenship and the suffrage of those Hungarian citizens who do not live habitually in Hungary. And before anyone starts calling me a traitor let me quote the immensely honorable and creditable Béla Markó's words: 'My nationality has got nothing to do with my citizenship'.
I only wanted to warn you that the often-repeated "responsibility for the nation" is not worth anything if it only consists of enthusiasm and lacks moderate foresightedness, i. e. wisdom, since at times being responsible is only one step away from being irresponsible. I think that the Hungarian right - not learning and not understanding anything from the history of Europe - is already about to take that final step.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!
2010 and 2011 will be remembered by later Hungarians as Orbán's "regime-demolition". It will be referred to as those years when the government tried to destroy the political compromise that was concluded in '89 and when it started to build up an autocratic regime. As the opposition of Orbán's regime, our response to all these is that we offer the program of the New Republic that draws on the foundations laid in '89.
But the "regime-demolition" by Orbán and the newly established autocratic system not only liquidates the Third Hungarian Republic, but also transforms the Hungarian party system for a long period of time. In the face of that challenge from Orbán we have to give answers again to such questions like who we are and what we wish to do.
Please allow me to go back into history for a while. In 1989, during the transition period the then-state party also faced the question: what to do next? The left came to a crossroads back then, too. Some suggested that we should keep the fire in. Others replied to that by saying: "brightness is more important than fire" - adding that if we want to be amongst those who would shine brightly in the sky of the new Hungarian democracy, then a transition is necessary not only in the leadership of the nation, but also in the then-state party itself.
This is what had been realized by Rezső Nyers, Gyula Horn, Iván Vitányi and many of their followers. They were the ones who established - in the autumn of 1989 - the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), the left-wing democratic party of the transition that stood its ground well, became successful and governed the country during three out of the five terms that followed the transition.
Now people of that kind are needed again who understand that MSZP must go through a transition in order to be able to give an effective response to the 'regime-demolition' by Orbán, to the Orbánian despotism and to be able to take part in the creation of the New Republic. We need a party that was able to learn from its history and its mistakes and one that can cooperate with other parties and organizations of the Democratic opposition.
Before I would continue I would like to answer a question - which in its nature unavoidable - as to what is the responsibility of the Hungarian Socialist Party in today's autocratic rule of Mr. Orbán? I found three reasons. It was our biggest social and economical mistake that in between 2002 and 2006 we believed handouts are our virtue and following this we positioned the consequential austerity measures as our virtues. This is obviously a contradiction. By quoting Bibó's words: our first statement is false realism and the second is the trap of overstretched vision of reality.
Our second mistake is a serious political mistake. We were mistaken when we didn't understand that prominent personalities of the right wing in the footsteps of Mr. Antall - now led by Mr. Orbán - are not looking for democratic political contest instead as a final target they want to eliminate all political powers beyond their own right wing, they were conducting a full blown political war against us. Our own new born and shaky democracy became a weakness, auto and public danger of self giving up un this environment.
Lastly, as our third mistake, we didn't realize that some leaders and members of our supporting governing coalition were touched by such moral, cultural and human decay, which in itself was able to destroy our government's credibility.
Undoubtedly, I bear responsibility which is borne of my previous engagement. I already spoke about some of these elements at the beginning of my speech. Now let me continue on 1st person singular basis.
The most difficult issue is concerned with the mistake of economics and societal politics. Now I admit that after 2004 when I suddenly became prime minister I didn't have the power, the courage and the experience to start changing on the ways as formed after 2002. Most importantly I wanted to win. I wanted to create the opportunity that with a series of reforms a better country may be created.
And yes I won however I was not properly prepared - neither professionally, neither politically - for the turnaround as happened in 2006. I achieved short lived political success and gathered internal support for the required reforms within my own party by having passionately and accusatively addressing them, but following an activity of treason my dramatic speech became a murderous weapon in the hands of my opponents. Hence Őszöd became a symbol of both reform responsibility and truth, treason and lie.
As for the second mistake concerning the misunderstanding of Fidesz's strategy I do not have any guilty conscience. I first spoke about it in 2003 that Fidesz was building a so called shadow state, an illegitimate power against the legitimate government. Since then I state even against my own party members, analysts and intellectuals that it would be good but we cannot make a pact with the Orbán led Fidesz management. Here I am not talking about the right wing electorate and not talking about Fidesz as a whole. I am only and exclusively talking about the Orbán led Fidesz management.
In 2002 I was still looking for compromise, the opportunity to create the National Center as it was called the then prime minister. We even had a pilgrimage to the House of Terror Museum together with Mr. Péter Medgyessy. But the truth is that was more oil to the burning fire. Our empathy and approach was viewed as weakness by Fidesz.
Since then I continuously fight to get our electorate understood that we are not the burden of national conciliation. Still there are plenty of people who choose the easiest way and say: one and same. I deplore that! I am a democrat. We are democrats! Maybe at times not the best democrats. Maybe at times less principled. But still democrats.
As an opposition to this Fidesz destroys democracy and by the fall of 2006 it got to a point where by exploiting and supporting an arsonist mob hiding behind peaceful protesters it tried to pull off a coup against the government. We were on the side of the republic, the police protected the republic and Fidesz was actually destroying this republic and its constitutional order. This is the real difference between them and us.
I have little debt in terms of moral and human contemptibility. If there was ever a politician in Hungary - and please allow me this immodest looking speech - who wanted to clear up the mess around party financing, who fought the world of the party treasurers, their moral and culture, who proposed a "clean package" to the parliament in order to eliminate for once and for all the system of dishonor and shame, then well I was this politician, I was this man.
It is true that at times my proposals were weak. And it is also true that at times I didn't even trust my own party members hence in the end I became a vulnerable warrior. But this is not a question of moral or morality. Instead this is a question of political tactics in which, truly I was in minority hence I lost.
But now let's get back to MSZP! In a functioning democracy it is natural that social democrats, conservatives and liberals are competing. In an autocratic regime the dividing line is not between these powers instead between the autocratic and democratic powers. Today it is our task to organize the democratic opposition to Orbán's regime. In order for us to be successful and to effectively defend against Orbán's system destruction and eventually be part of the creation of the new republic then we will need to do the same deep restructuring as we already did in 1989.
The reform of MSZP means that in this new historical situation the party needs to be placed into a historical role. We must transform this party into such one, which can take in the majority of the Orbán regime's opposition but is also capable to cooperate with parties and organizations which are part of a broad democratic coalition. To win against Fidesz it is only possible in unity of democratic opposition. I am not talking about organizational unity, I am not talking about "one camp, one flag" strategy instead the unity of democratic opposition must be of political and moral nature.
The key to the reform of MSZP is to leave behind the political, cultural and moral world of ambiguity and dual souls which caused many bad compromises in the past 20 years. We must stand out for social market economy, constitutional state, parlamentarism and the clean political moral without any principle compromise. There are no more compromises!
For those who fear and challenge us for our left wing principles I say that it is not an issue that we were not left wing instead the issue is that we were left wing in an old fashioned, unsustainable and faint-hearted way. The left wing is about social responsibility, not about social populism. I say yes to social responsibility but I will fight social populism since it is destroying instead of lifting up the left wing.
Let's state clearly: there is no need to tear up MSZP, there is no need to create a new party further fragmenting the democratic opposition, instead there is a need to reform MSZP on a way which builds on its virtues and strengths, leaves behind its mistakes and weaknesses and by this transformation a new left-centric democratic party is being created.
We don't tear up instead we transform and restructure. We don't form a new party, instead we create a new party from MSZP. A left wing party, a democratic party, a moral party and a patriotic European party.
I suggest that the 2012 party congress shall be one which brings about the change of MSZP on the scale as it was done in the 1989 party congress hence this way we create a new, left-centric democratic party, for 1989, for the New Republic and for our country!
Last Updated on Monday, 05 March 2012 10:31