I still maintain that the referendum on sex-change operations in kindergartens was the most disgusting demagogue lie of the Orbán regime, but there is no doubt that this sanctions questionnaire is also a front-runner. Which, moreover, was debunked in a written reply by a Secretary of State in the Prime Minister’s Office himself. But let’s start at the beginning. First, the national consultation genre is indeed a substantive innovation that is a useful tool for channelling the opinions of voters when done in a timely and appropriate manner. It is a pity that we have not yet found out how it would actually work, because it has never been used for this purpose. The fact is that this formula is used by the current administration exclusively to support its own policies, to strengthen its electoral base and to spread its propaganda, mostly based on lies of greater or lesser magnitude. In doing so, it is reducing the credibility of a truly valuable tool to zero. The fact of the matter is that the Hungarian Government, refusing to accept responsibility for its own economic policy, its senseless spending of public money and its mismanagement of the crisis, has once again resorted to the usual method: finding someone or something to point to and blame for the misery of the people. Sometimes they find this in a distant speculator, sometimes in refugees, sometimes in EU decision-makers, sometimes in people who live differently, and now in the EU’s sanctions policy. The government spin-doctor’s workshop works routinely, and the choice of the current bogeyman seems logical in a way: once again, something that is utterly incomprehensible to the common man, something that cannot protest against lies, but something that can be easily simplified, drawn on a poster and something that otherwise exists stably. The agitation against the sanctions policy even works despite the fact that the Hungarian government has supported all the EU sanctions packages, and Viktor Orbán himself said in a state television interview that he would support any sanctions on which the EU was united. In contrast, to ‘consult’ on the sanctions being bad, not working, not harming the Russian aggressor, and saying it is the only reason the price of cheese has doubled in Hungarian supermarkets is outrageous in the least. But it also happens to be a downright lie.
A few weeks ago, at the time of the launch of the consultation, I wrote a letter to the Prime Minister of Fidesz asking a single question: what was his rationale for supporting all the EU sanctions against Russia so far?! Viktor Orbán must be an extremely busy or an extremely cautious man, because it took him nearly three whole months to answer – although you would think it was not a difficult question – and this time it was not him who answered, but the Secretary of State in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet Office responsible for propaganda. Csaba Dömötör is a talented politician, and I have had the pleasure of debating with him in public on several occasions: he is one of the few Fidesz members who, beyond the obligatory unstylish manner of going personal, usually has real arguments and a well-prepared knowledge of what he is talking about. That is why, this time too, I have ignored the obviously obligatory parts of his letter where he covertly talks of treason, routinely refers to Péter Márki-Zay and cleverly fudges the facts. Of course, the government’s response letter continues to claim that energy prices have soared solely because of sanctions against the Russians (what Secretary of State Dömötör forgets is that the government had already put price caps on fuel and a narrow range of basic foodstuffs before the war broke out because of runaway inflation caused by their misguided economic policies) and EU policymakers, as the letter puts it, although had promised not to impose sanctions on the energy sector, did. This reference, from a representative of the very government that promised that there would be no austerity and that the cuts would be guaranteed as long as Viktor Orbán was prime minister, is funny at the very least. Or maybe Orbán has already resigned, and we just didn’t notice. However, the most important sentence in a letter full of substantive assertions is the one that perfectly debunks the basic premises of the recently completed national consultation. In his response, Csaba Dömötör wrote on behalf of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán that “contrary to your statement, the Prime Minister has fought for Hungary’s exemption from sanctions that could cause economic damage.” I see, thank you. So the ‘Brussels sanctions’ do not cause economic damage, thanks to Viktor Orbán. Hallelujah. But then the Hungarian government’s publicly funded propaganda campaign that “Brussels sanctions are ruining us” is not true. So it’s all a lie. I get it, thank you. Sorry, gentlemen, but even in your systemically bent reality, this is highly contradictory.
The conclusion of all this is clear and unambiguous: the Fidesz government is trying to justify its own policies with half-truths, with pious misrepresentations or even with vicious, vile lies, as it has been doing for twelve years. Whatever the situation calls for. Even in times of serious crises such as the covid epidemic or now the bloody Putin aggression. After twelve years of unlimited power, they could really finally tell the truth to the electorate. And treat their own voters as grown-up, thinking people. Because those who really put Hungary first do not hide behind cowardly lies.
Member of the European Parliament
Founder of the Community of Chance