“You’re welcome. We’ll see at the end of the year, if the numbers are good, I will raise pensions again.”
In 2017 Orbán posted a video of himself visiting a pensioner in the dead village of Nagygéc. If it sounds familiar to corruption enthusiasts, it is because that is the village that received 2 million euros of EU money from the Orbán-government to build a monument of nationalist delusion, the Church of Survival and a 4D cinema, because one of the almighty cronies dared to dream big. The village has only 6 inhabitants who can fit comfortably in the 9-seated cinema.
Anyway, Orbán was opening a swimming pool nearby (villages can’t build a swimming pool without the state giving EU money, probably because 1) they don’t need them, and 2) they most certainly cannot afford to maintain them) and decided to work a bit on his publicity.
And that’s how he ended up on the doorstep on “Aunt Bözsi”, an old lady still living in the dead village because her husband refused to leave after a (very predictable)* flood destroyed Nagygéc in 1970. After some amicable chitchat, the above sentence was uttered:
The royal “I” in that sentence has disgusted everyone who still dares to express such a sentiment. Orbán was talking about taxpayer money as if it was his and he gave it away out of generosity and the goodness of his little heart.
And this was not even one of those creepy moments when an old person is bowing and literally kissing the hand of Orbán, subserviently thanking him for handing out money before elections. That used to happen a lot – until Orbán stopped going into crowds. Pensions are low and linked to something that hasn’t gone up in years, real inflation is through the roof, but pensioners remember well: under a control-lost dictator, it can always be worse.
Orbán keeps handing out vouchers before elections, sometimes ordering the public administration workers to deliver them personally to pensioners and tell them about Orbán’s generosity. 2019 is another election year – local elections coming up in October – so according to tradition Orbán once again sent every pensioner a EUR 30 voucher, with his own, signed letter, with his own face on it – funded by taxpayer money but supporting his own reelection. (Prosecution don’t even bat an eye when he does that.)
And this voucher isn’t even as versatile as the last one. This one can only be used to pay your utility bills – a sector that was occupied by the highest levels of oligarchy, so high that even the independent media stopped writing about it.
And just to give you an idea how miserable everyone is: these vouchers have already found their secondary market. People are trying to get cash for them.
But again, pensioners have grown up and many lived their lives in such a system, so they welcome the return of the familiar. Remember the old lady from this video: She remembered that she received a 60 euro voucher “from Orbán” so she voted for him.
Communism, socialism, autocracy, call it whatever you want – but it is the only system some old people feel like they understand, and it was the system when they were young and strong so they are also nostalgic. The bad things forgotten, only those strong muscles and bouncy breasts remembered.
Back then it was called communism and the Russians were in the country with an army, not with residency bonds. Today it is called illiberal ethnic nation, but the rules are the same: Defer to the dictator and kick the dissident. And of course, bow deep when a superior comes to your village. Thank nicely and bow deeply. Nothing ensures the dictator’s benevolence, but unconditional loyalty might touch him.
* Quite predictably, since it was built on flood plain and could not be defended from a breakdown of a dam on the Romanian side. Which is exactly what happened in 1970. If anything, blame the borders for the village’s misery. This tiny fact didn’t stop Orbánists to cry “communist village-destruction” (a thing that did happen – in Romania) and use that as an excuse to use Eu taxpayer money to build a pointless church to no one, with much solemn, ethnic chest-banging and prayers.