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Gordon Bajnai's speech at the governance assessment meeting of the Together 2014 Electoral Alliance

My Friends, fellow countrymen who want change!

We, patriots and democrats, meet today because we want to live in a normal country. We insist on living in this country, and we are aware of our rights. Consequently, if a government fails to do its job properly, we want to find another government, not another country that we can call our home. And the present government has failed at its job, so we shall replace it. Viktor Orbán and his regime must go so that millions of Hungarians can stay and get along—in their native land, their own country.

There are people for whom the only chance to live in a normal country takes the form of a budget airline ticket. They emigrate to another country to be able to work, or even to live. Half a million people have already done so. Twice as many as did after 1956...

This almost equals a drop in the population that would normally take place in the course of a quarter of a century. We lost a quarter of a century's worth of Hungarians in only a few years... Which means what we need to talk about today is not only how this government should be sent away. We also need to talk about how those who left in the past two years should be called back.

Above all, we must determine how to make Hungary a country worth returning to—and one worth staying in. Worth staying and getting along—for all of us.

After 2014, Hungary will send an important message to all Hungarians. A message to those whom the lack of prospects drove away; and to those who have stayed but struggle to get along: Come home, stay at home! This is our message. Come home, there is a future for you here. This will be the message of the new government programme.

My Friends!

Life has its biological conditions, such as water and oxygen. But it also has spiritual conditions, like hope. The hope that there is a sense to work or to struggle, that things might change for the better, not only for the worse. The hope that children might do better in life than their parents, that they might break out of what they were born into.

There is no life worthy of a human being without hope. Because hope is faith in the success of tomorrow. This is what those who left their country in the past two years have lost their faith in.

And it is in returning this lost hope that I have faith in. This is what I want to talk about today. And this is what I would like you to talk about when you return home. This is why we are here today. To recover hope for Hungary!

My Friends!

We assume a great responsibility with our undertaking. People's hope is not to be toyed with. In 2010 Fidesz won by promising hope again to a disappointed Hungary. The hope of a better, more peaceful life. By now, only the paid extras fail to see that this promise has remained unfulfilled. Unless it was always a lie.

This government has failed to make use of the power of hope. Could not put it to work. It has squandered it.

This is the most important thing Viktor Orbán should be held responsible for. For offering hope, and bringing hopelessness instead. The man who used to be an emblem of the political transition is now the symbol of a political system that needs to be dismantled.

Orbán's government is the government of hopelessness! Therefore, our responsibility today is to build and bring to triumph a coalition of hope. Because hope shall always overcome hopelessness. Which is why we will overcome Orbán's regime!

My Friends!

Hungarians want to live in a normal country. In a country where life is not all about politics. A country where politics is at last about their lives. A country, where a Saturday afternoon is not for a political rally, but for a match, a film, a show at the theatre... At the National Theatre, for instance.

But today Hungary is not a place like that. It is in discord, thanks to divisive politics. It has been ruined by bad governance.

This is obvious to the students who cannot be certain whether the university will start their programme in September, the one they have been preparing for years. And it is obvious to their parents who are worried about the tuition fee, the immense burden it represents.

It is obvious to the nationalized teachers, who in January were waiting for their rightful pay in vain. Instead of the money, movers came, who took away some of the furniture, the printers, the computers—because the Klebelsberg Centre needed them.

It is obvious to the unemployed, for whom it takes an average of eighteen months to find a new job. Meanwhile, the government shrank the benefit eligibility period to three months. Eighteen months of struggle versus three months of fragile security. This is what the government of hopelessness has given to Hungary.

It is obvious to those on minimum wage, who now pay HUF 11,000 more tax than in 2010, under a government of crisis management—and pay it from the same wage.

It is obvious to those on workfare, to whom the government's message is that there is less than minimum, it is possible to live on 47,000...

It is obvious to the entrepreneurs, who are forced by increasing public burdens and ever scarcer credit opportunities to dismiss more and more people. Who recently had to submit their address and mother's name again, for HUF 22,000, or else face a fine of hundreds of thousands.

It is obvious to those who took out a loan in a foreign currency, and watch the exchange rate of the forint tumble day by day, forcing them to multiply their debt by 300.

It is obvious to the university students, whom the government wants to bind to the country, as did the predecessors of today's overlords bind the serfs to the soil—and do so by instituting their immobility in the constitution. On Monday, these students will also protest for the generation that follows. I think highly of their solidarity, and want to declare our solidarity with them.

It is obvious to those in the Hunger March, who are approaching the city as I speak, and whom I welcome and want to feel encouraged. I want to declare our solidarity with them.

And it is obvious to old age pensioners, who pay the lowered utility charges by postal order which in turn bears an extra tax. Pensioners who pay more for the bread because the government raised the utility charges for bakers.

It is already obvious to all today. It is obvious that that real way to cheaper charges leads through putting this regime out of charge.

Ladies and Gentlemen!

Over the past few months we have also learnt that instead of solutions, this regime always looks for scapegoats.

You know, after 23 October I told my children they would be seeing less of their father for some time... In the end, I was wrong. Because my children travel by bus. And I am there on the backs of buses. And on advertising pillars and billboards, in newspaper ads. They see more of me than previously.

Strictly speaking, I should be flattered by the knowledge that the Orbán–Simicska duo has spent more than 200 million on raising the public's awareness of me. But I am saddened by the fact that this was public money. And that the profits of the billboards go to Simicska's empire. There are some who draw an extra profit even from discrediting campaigns.

Which is of course not that funny. Because when my children read these adverts, they are fed with lies. Lies about their father.

Lies about things I have never done. Things I do not plan to do. And things that Viktor Orbán did, not I.

If Viktor Orbán considers me a challenger, if he is wary of me—I can see why. But he need not hide in the sheepskin of phoney NGOs.

I'd like the Prime Minister to come and prove, if he can, that the minimum wage is worth more today than two years ago.

Would he mind proving it to the people living under Fidesz mayors that I am the one who wants to introduce property tax, and what they are now paying after their houses and gardens is but a figment of their imagination—a fairytale?

Would he mind telling the citizens of Hungary who laid the foundation stones of those developments on which he now cuts the ribbon?

And would he mind telling us whether there will be any ribbons to cut in three years' time? Will there be a factory with new jobs we can open?

I'd like him to tell what it was like to drive a Mercedes in Kecskemét. And would he also tell during the term of which government the plant was built? When was the last time investors were coming here, and not fleeing?

And would he demonstrate how the state will pay our generation one and a half months' worth of pensions, which he burnt by nationalizing the pension funds?

Viktor Orbán could see another Hungary would he stop watching his own TV. Would he listen to radios, read papers, other than his own. (Although he would have a hard time finding one, because by now independent media are few and far between.)

Now that he has addressed me so, I'd like to return the favour and invite him, with all the respect his position deserves, to come and talk, clear all the facts and lies. We can talk even in his own television: if he accepts the challenge, I will confront him with this other Hungary. The real Hungary.

Dear Friends!

I know I'm often called a technocrat. I wonder what that means.

Does it mean I am a professional, a specialist? Someone who grew up outside the self-absorbed world of politics, in real life, amidst real challenges? And became a leader there? That is correct. I admit I did.

Does it mean I am someone who would not hate his opponents? Someone who is only interested in what others say, and why they say it? And not in who their parents are, where they come from, who they vote for, and what they believe in? That is correct. But this is something we all need so as to understand each other and end the dialogue of the deaf.

Does it mean I am someone who considers everything but empty words until they are backed up by sober figures? Someone who won't take something for a policy just because a party has called it one? That is correct: I do need a guarantee for every promise. A scheme about how we get from A to B, detailed to the last penny. Well-meaning critics often challenge this view. "Gordon, don't worry about fine details. Just stand there, make three good-sounding promises, and say it's your programme. No one is interested in details; all that matters is communication. Tell them the programme's ready and it will be ready."

I'm not willing to do politics like that. One reason is that too many people have been doing politics like that over the past twenty years—far too often. And we can see how this has crippled the country. The other reason is I am not like that. I believe in facts and expertise. I believe that sober action is more important than high-sounding words. Nor do I believe that there are left- or right-wing solutions in politics: I believe in what works, what provides a solution.

If this is what a technocrat is, I admit to being one. My life has taught me to believe in common sense. But I also believe in dreams. My dream is that hope will rise again in Hungary. It will be a place where parents look into the future with optimism, because they think it is worth raising children here. Not just a child but children, two or even three. Because they can go to good schools and will have good jobs. For a country to see many children born, it must have a future. And for a country to have a future, it must see children born.

I believe in this Hungary—the one that grows, rather than shrinks, like the present one. I will fight for this dream. This is why I have returned to politics.

Patriotism and progress, Europe and solidarity: this is the programme that helps us to realize this dream.

I believe in my country, in my nation.

I am proud of the past thousand years, but I also have trust in the next thousand. Let me say that again: children are a nation's greatest wealth. But young people will not raise children if the government shames and punishes those women who have born a single child. Or those who have not been able to bear one... It takes a government that esteems women for young people to raise children. Not a government that forces women to make a choice: either work or motherhood.

Work and motherhood—this is the Hungary I believe in. Where women can be successful, respected members of their profession, and good mothers—at the same time.

I believe in progress.

In modernization, ceaseless progress. I believe in a Hungary where the doors of schools are not closed before children but are thrown open. Because this Hungary knows these doors allow access not only to classrooms and lecture rooms, but via knowledge, to a better life as well. And combined, the knowledge of many Hungarians will link this country to the centre of Europe for a long time, a centre that grows and defies crises.

I believe in Europe, a European Hungary.

I believe that it is only within the European Union that we can secure success for our national interests efficiently. By making alliances, not by guerilla warfare. Nor by being bent by any wind that blows from the East.

Because it is not in the interest of the nation to lose HUF 1500bn in support, all because of bad governance and wrecked alliances. What is in the interest of the nation is to secure at least as much in Brussels as the previous governments. This is a national interest, for which we must all act. This is why I went to Brussels to lobby. This is why we are happy if we could cut at least some of the loss. Because this is a shared cause, no matter who is in government. And after 2014, these funds will need to be drawn and used by another government.

Last but not least, I believe in solidarity.

I believe that Hungary cannot be a place where the tax system gives to the rich what it takes from the poor. A place where you are worth as much as you have. Because the great majority of Hungarians are worth far more than what they have. This is the reason why we have fallen behind, why we have failed to make more of what history offered. Over the past two decades, we have failed to avail ourselves of the potential of Hungary.

The new long-term national consensus about solidarity and progress, the social contract that we will enter into in 2014 will state that we will help those who make an effort, who try to better their lot; we will help them to grow, to succeed.

There is no other task more pressing than this. Because besides those fellow countrymen who left Hungary over the past two years, there are many who feel they were left behind by their country in the course of the past two decades. Their own state has turned its back on them. It abandoned them, for instance because they are poor.

In our modern European country, half a million children live in poverty, fifty thousand of whom also starve. This is what I call a true outrage, a real shame! We are not so poor – not even with an economy that has been shrinking for two years – as to watch and allow this to happen.

After 2014, we will govern this country in a way that ensures no child can go to school with an empty stomach, no child can go to bed hungry. As a Hungarian, a father, and now also as a politician, this is a point of honour for me. A point of honour I will not yield upon.

Dear Friends!

The force that revealed itself in 2010 is still there. This country still wants change. This is why that 23 October was an important day. A day of hope.

And this is why it is such a great responsibility to represent this hope. The greater one's personal credibility, the greater the responsibility. The more the political support, the greater the responsibility.

Let's take a look at all those concerned.

The LMP promised Hungary a difference in politics. This is their responsibility. But the LMP broke in two under this weight. A decisive part of the party took on the responsibility. The dialogue for the change of government, the dialogue for Hungary.

It was a difficult decision, an act of responsibility, for which my respect goes to them. I am glad some of them have accepted our invitation and are here today with us.

Then there is the responsibility of the MSZP. They made a great step after 23 October. Formerly, they couldn't even agree whether collaboration was necessary. Now the only question for them is who to join forces with, under what conditions.

I understand the dilemma that MSZP faces. They do not only want to rise above the historical defeat of 2010, but also want to learn from it. This old party seems determined to renew itself. But it still hasn't been able to bring a closure to the past. It still carries with itself a lot of burdens that keep masses of voters away.

The truth is, there are a million people in today's Hungary who would never vote for MSZP. The same people are very keen on getting rid of Viktor Orbán's regime.

The new electoral system forces all responsible political forces to overcome such dilemmas. Those who cannot face reality today will not be able to realize their dreams next year.

Because what is needed in 2014 is not a simple change of government. We also need to end all that has led the country astray over the past twenty years.

A change of government, a new era—and good governance! This is what Hungary needs. All three, together. Otherwise we will be disappointed again.

Yet the MSZP does not have enough voters to effect a change of government. It lacks sufficient credibility to introduce a new era, and it lacks sufficient expertise for governance. It has plenty of each ingredient, but none in sufficient amount.

And voters in 2014 will not take it for a justification that there were many of us, but not enough...

Ladies and Gentlemen! Dear Friends!

Over the past few months, it has become obvious for the organisations of Together 2014 how great the responsibility we undertook on 23 October is.

We must offer a clear and eligible solution for the majority that wants change. It must be eligible even under the new rules of election. A solution for those who want to end the Orbán–Simicska regime. A solution for those who want guarantees that what they wanted to get rid of in 2010 will not be continued after 2014. A solution for those who want more from politics than revenge from the left: those who want a better country to win, who want peaceful days of growth.

This is our responsibility.

Together 2014 is the way to change the government. Together 2014 is the way to a new era in Hungarian politics. Together 2014 is the way to the establishment of peace. Together 2014 is the way to good and professional governance.

This is why we need to, and why we will, transform into a political party. We unite to form a single, open, strong party.

By 15 March, we will transform the organisational structure of Together 2014 so all those can get involved who want to help and support us. Support us with their work, expertise, money, or votes.

There will be many of us, and we will be better than the representatives of the politics of old. There will be many of us in 2014, and we will be better!

Dear Friends!

I have been travelling the country since 23 October, talking to people. Day after day, I can see how hope is on the rise all over the country. The hope that it is possible to do it, possible to do it differently, possible to do it at last.

This is what the crowded lecture halls and letters of support tell me. This is what can be heard in the whispered support of entrepreneurs, teachers and medical professionals. As well as in the loud encouragement of those who do not depend on the state. Who are not wary of their jobs or contracts, but "simply" fear the future.

That's right, my Friends: fear. For instance, an old lady told me recently: "Prime Minister, I also came for my children. They did not yet dare to come in person, because one of my daughters is a teacher, and her husband is a small entrepreneur. But they asked me to come for them. And I no longer have anything to fear."

Alas, there are many in Hungary, again, who live in fear. Decades have passed, and they live in fear again. But all the while, hidden by the silence of fear, hope is on the rise...

From Békéscsaba to Győr, from Szécsény to Oroszlány, the people I have met know exactly how difficult, but at the same time how valuable, was the crisis management that this country performed between 2009 and 2010.

They understand and appreciate honest words. They can see the difference between governmental boasts and real performance.

I heard plenty of unexpected words of recognition, and even more words of encouragement. I want to thank them again. I want them to know: I won't let them down. I hear and understand what they are saying. I know what they expect from me. I want them to know: I will do it. I will carry it through!

My Friends!

Trust obliges. I am aware of my responsibilities. First, I will never lose sight of the goal established on 23 October, the replacement of the Orbán government. I will resist distraction manoeuvres and flanking attempts. Nor will I allow myself to be embroiled in those petty political games, that jockeying for position and wangling that only the voters are more bored of than me.

Secondly, I will concentrate on forming a single powerful force of the victims of this regime. The will of the victims of the Orbán–Simicska regime. The will of citizens worried about the rule of law, the will of students losing hope, the will of doctors and nurses looking for employment abroad. The will of teachers, policemen, women and mothers, all of whom have been humiliated. The will of farmers who have no land after the redistribution of land, the will of families groaning under the weight of their foreign currency loans. The will of entrepreneurs taxed to death, the will of grandparents fearful of their grandchildren's future.

These multifarious wills must be collected into a united force, if we want more than helpless anger.

And thirdly, I know that I need to shape the dreams and reviving hopes of these fellow countrymen into a concrete action plan. Into an election programme, and then the programme of good governance. Because it is not enough to say no to what we have now; we also need to say yes to what we want in the future.

We now represent the hope of Hungary: we, together. This is our responsibility. And this is my responsibility. If Together 2014 is strong enough, the collaboration of the opposition will be strong enough, as will the government of the new era. This is what I am working on.

Come with me, join the coalition of hope. Tell your neighbours, colleagues and friends that there is hope again. There is hope because there is a force that will counter the government of hopelessness. There is a force that is sensitive of their pain and disappointment. There is a force that will represent them.

Join Together 2014, and invite as many as you can to join us. Tell them to bring along more people, not one but ten. Tell them to come on 15 March so that we can show the power of those who want change.

We will launch a membership campaign to reach everyone. If not through the media, than by telephone. If not by phone, then over the internet. If not on the internet, then in person. We will go, from town to town, from house to house, from person to person.

Until I reach every corner in the country I myself will have met and talked to tens of thousands of my fellow countrymen. I will turn to hundreds of thousands, to convince them and involve them in this concentration of forces. So that by 2014 there will be enough of us in the coalition of hope.

We will be many, and we will be better!

United we stand, divided we fall.

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