It is a lot to even just state, but the fact is that every Sunday, for eight years now, I have been writing these open letters to warn the public of the crimes of the Orbán regime, in which I always mention that I will ring the bells of alarm for as long as it is necessary.
In recent years, there was a lot to call attention to, with Fidesz’s rabble-rousing every week. Today, we can put an end to this twelve-year nightmare; we can put an end to the crimes of Orbán. Perhaps from tomorrow I will have no reason to ring the bells any longer; perhaps this is the last letter in the series. Eight years ago, I grabbed the keyboard because Viktor Orbán, intoxicated by his newly won two-thirds victory, proclaimed in his Tusnadfürdő speech the ‘illiberal state’ that has since taken on a predatory form. The prime minister of Fidesz then declared war on the NGOs that were a nuisance to them (and called them „foreign agents”, following the Russian example). It was then that he argued for the majority of the banking sector to be „in Hungarian hands” (he forgot to add, that by Hungarian hands they meant Lőrinc Mészáros, i.e. themselves), but it was also in this speech that he first thanked Hungarians living outside the borders of Hungary for their votes that gave Fidesz a two-thirds majority. Since then, we have also seen how these postal votes from across the border are collected and manipulated.
The most important milestone, however, was when Orbán announced his complete turn away from the European Community and called for the following of ‘stars’ such as Russia. He proclaimed the establishment of an ‘illiberal democracy’ in Hungary, which, following the Russian model, later stifled civil society, cornered those who dissented, took full control of the media and looted public assets and EU funds that Hungary was entitled to. In the time since then, the work has been completed, the mafia state has been built, and the mock battles against their self-created enemy figures have given the people the necessary circus. What Orbán and his party had not counted on was the alliance and unification of the opposition, which was slowly but surely forming, and the global challenges that could not be addressed by propaganda showmanship-governance. The record number of Hungarian lives lost in the covid pandemic (and let’s not forget that even in the midst of the deadly epidemic they were still only obsessed with disgusting profiteering), and now the panic-stricken squirming in the strangling embrace of Putin, who initiated the bloody aggression, all proved that we have had enough of the illiberal madness, it is time to turn back towards the European Community of peace, security and development!
After today’s vote, tomorrow morning we will most certainly wake up to a new Hungary. The illiberal Fidesz has already lost this election. The arrogance, nation-division, hate-mongering and vile thievery of the last twelve years have changed this country, and the majority of Hungarians do not want to be part of it. They too know this, they too feel it and that is why they are nervous. It is also true that it will take many years for our society, to squeeze out every last drop of the nation-killing poison through its pores that has been pumped into us by the divisive lies and the hate-mongering that has turned family members against each other. But in the Hungary of all, where ‘nation’ is not just a word in a framed manifesto that has to be hung on the wall by law but stands for the community of all Hungarians, there will be a cure for this, too. Orbán back then concluded his speech in Tusnádfürdő by saying that „it may well be, since anything can happen, that our time will come.” Well, my dear Viktor, your time is now up. You have been given an unprecedented opportunity to build this country into an enlightened, free, developing and European country. But you thought only of yourself. That young man from Felcsút who wanted to be somebody at all costs, to break out of the place he had come from. Your time in office was not about service, it was about domination. And history will remember you as someone who, as a brilliant young man, was given unparalleled opportunities, but instead of building a nation, exchanged them for pennies and used them to build a stadium at the back of his house in Felcsút.
After the Hungarian Prime Minister’s landmark 2014 speech in Tusványos proclaiming the illiberal state, I vowed that as an MEP I would write an open letter every week to warn the public of the regime’s crimes. For the 345th time, I am ringing the bells of alarm and will continue to do so for as long as it is needed. Perhaps for the last time today.
dr. István Ujhelyi
Member of the European Parliament
3 April, 2022.