If a real conservative commentator existed, and if he would be allowed to ask Orbán – he would be asking these questions.
Orbán has rewritten the constitution nine times and the election law to fit his party best. In possession of the supermajority, he has no one to stop him.
Checks and balances
- When you made it back into power in 2010, you made every public office to hang a copy of your manifesto calling the preceding 20 years chaos and using pompous terms full of pathos describing yourself as the savior of your nation. In 2020 you made aforementioned offices replace your manifesto with the preamble of your new basic law. Doesn’t it remind you of dictators having their portraits hung in public offices?
- Your supermajority allows you to change any law, including you’re constitution any time, without controls, without public discourse or parliamentary discussion most of the time. Do you think that is healthy in a democracy?
- Your MPs are not allowed to vote against the party line, lest they pay hefty fines that would quickly nix their salaries. I’m sure it is legal in Hungary – but is it a legitimate way to represent their constituencies?
- In Hungary new bills are introduced minutes before passed, decrees are made in overnight announcements and without sufficient time to prepare for them. Never mind the opposition or the public. If Fidesz has any disagreements, what is the platform on which they can articulate it?
- What are the checks and balances on your power? (Please don’t name your wife or a cute grandchild, only institutional balances.)
- The president of the central bank declared your allegiance to you and you are documented to regularly watch football with the public prosecutor. Are those institutions factually independent from you?
- There has been never any contest for the leadership of your party. It has been yours since its inception in 1988. Do you think it is a healthy thing in a democracy?
- Who are the other powerful and popular conservative politicians in your conservative country?
- Does any member of your government ever disagree with you? Do you meet them?
- What does it take for a Fidesz politician to resign? What does it take for a minister to resign?
- Don’t you think it is unbecoming that hundreds of media outlets have been gifted to a foundation controlled by you – after they have been bought up by businessmen close to you and in some cases, confirmed front men? How is your brand of “conservative” propaganda different from the pre-1989 “communist” propaganda?
- Do you believe that journalists have a role in keeping the powerful in check?
- Media outlets that represent the government’s narrative get huge sums in government advertising. Doesn’t it sound like state subsidies?
- Media outlets everywhere has suffered from the loss of advertising revenues to Facebook and its ilk. But on the American market, commentators can still get dirty rich because of the attention of millions they command. The Hungarian language market is, on the other hand, tiny. Can media outlets make it on the private market? Do they? Are corporate advertisers willing to buy advertising space in media outlets that are not under your control?
- Is there such a thing as public pressure in your country and how does it articulate in a media environment that is geared to transmit your message to the people – but to provide no journalists that would even pretend to check on the powerful.
- You have written your college thesis on NGOs. It has unfortunately disappeared since, so could you please tell us what you think about them? Do you think civil society should exist?
- You have refused to allow substantial funds from the Norway Grants arrive in your country, even though you could control the spending on 90% of the money and oversee the other 10% due to a law you have written. Is a non-governmental organization really non-governmental if the government decides about its funding? Why is that 10% such a deal breaker for you?
- Why do NGOs need to be listed?
- Is there a division between church and state in your country?
- Every conservative agrees that churches are fantastic and they keep things as they have always been. American churches are rich on their parishioners’ contributions though. Hungarian churches, on the other hand, collect state money like there’s no tomorrow. Isn’t it odd that they need state money, when they have the power of indoctrination that makes people give up their wealth, their labor and their efforts by the mere mentioning of God?
- Why does your government pay four times more money to a church for educating a Hungarian child than to its own, state-funded schools? Isn’t that supposed to be the other way around?
- Why are ever more schools given to churches if it costs more to the taxpayer to run them like that?