Just a little thing but a microcosm of what is wrong.
When the third wave of Covid became undeniable the government announced a new lockdown. Sort of.
Because even though they had a whole year to contemplate such scenarios, they still didn’t seem ready with the details. Not even remotely.
Such announcements, for instance, should not be made in a birthday interview of a minister. Not even in Orbán’s weekly radio sermons. Not even by hinting at it through social media or press conferences. And slowly dropping (contradictory) rumors is not the way a government should govern – it is how celebrities keep up interest.
And most importantly, the details of a lockdown should have been ready in case they were needed. But they weren’t.
Once again, we have been waiting for days for the details of how our lives would be changed from Monday morning, but the state apparatus has been busy with other things. The deadline for closures has been approaching and there were still conflicting hints being dropped in politicians’ social media about who is allowed to stay open and how.
Businesspeople have been wild with speculation on whether they are allowed to make some money or they are finally driven into bankruptcy. They tried to apply common sense on whether they are a risky environment or not. (A common mistake among the hobbyist state-watchers.) Monday was women’s day and florists’ busiest day of the year, so it was anyone’s guess whether they would be allowed to shift their lame tulips before they have to close and write off the rest of their merchandise. But all these things could have been figured out in advance, it’s not that this was the first lockdown.
Last time it happened, the state apparatus turned out to be working on a change in the election law and the constitution instead of publishing the lockdown decree on time. They sprung those constitutional changes at us out of the blue, when it was the least necessary and the least tasteful. The message was clear: writing a new way of legal theft into the constitution was more important, especially when protesting against it was conveniently forbidden.
This time, they appeared to have been busy asking permission from German carmakers.
How do we know? Well, it’s an educated guess.
But also, an insignificant little car part dealership published the draft version of the decree on its website before it appeared in the official journal.
Former Fidesz MP and anti-corruption crusader Ákos Hadházy published the draft law on his social media as it was found on the dealership’s website. It was duly formatted into official publication format, complete with a jungle of cross-references and “this phrase was changed to…”. It turned out to be 95% the same as it was officially published the next day by the government.
The explanation? The government must have circulated the draft to its most important clients, carmakers.