Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s speech at the 27th Congress of Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union
12 November 2017, Budapest
Dear Friends, Guests, Distinguished Congress,
We heard the song: “The Hungarians escape into the heart, and find the right place…” For us this means a lot to us, because in this community we’ve always understood that without feelings there is no thought, without heart there is no politics, and without passion there are no great deeds. Luckily we have a shared passion which, over and over again, inspires us to perform great deeds. Our shared passion is called Hungary.
First of all, I wish to thank you for the fact that you found me worthy of nomination, and naturally I wish to thank you for the trust you have invested in me with your votes. Thank you for electing me the president of your community for another two years. Before everything else – before I talk about Fidesz, our past and present – please allow me to say a few words about the tasks that lie ahead of us. In our community, in Fidesz, this is the right order in which to talk about things. In this community we don’t distribute positions – not even to the President – but work and tasks. Perhaps this is another explanation for our success, which goes back many years. You yourselves know that we’re looking ahead to a parliamentary election, and at times like this most parties see winning the election as their number one task. In our case, too, this is the most pressing task in hand. As the preparations for the election have already been discussed, with my friend Vice-President Gábor Kubatov taking the lead, all that is left for me to do is to point around and tell you to take a good look around, because you will see that today Fidesz is already prepared for the election. However, Fidesz is Fidesz because it’s never satisfied with just winning elections: we want much more than that. We’re also seeking to find, to discover – and if we’re on form, no doubt we will discover – the deeper meaning, the higher purpose of victory in the next election. What do we have to do to ensure that a victory for Fidesz means that Hungary wins, and that all Hungarians also find themselves on the winning side?
Looking at this horizon, we see three tasks ahead of us: to strengthen, to deepen, and to defend Hungary. To strengthen all that which Hungary has toiled to achieve over the past seven years. To deepen the intellectual and spiritual foundations of our political beliefs. And to defend the future of Hungary; because finally we have pulled ourselves together, finally we have a future once again, and so finally we have something to defend. As regards strengthening, I can begin by saying that we have achieved the goals we set in 2010. We rescued an economy on the point collapse. We stabilised a budget which had an enormous deficit. We repaid the loans we had received from the IMF and Brussels. We put an end to the financial guardianship we were under, and we sent the IMF packing. And we took the majority of the media, energy and banking sectors back into Hungarian ownership. We’ve achieved all this thanks to the enormous efforts that all the country’s citizens undertook to make together.
In 2014 we set a goal for ourselves that politics had spoken a great deal about for 25 years, but in which it had never achieved any results. We wanted our economic results to manifest themselves not only in statistics, not only in macroeconomic figures, not only in the statements of credit rating agencies, not only in structural reforms, not only in the renewal of the distribution systems, and not only in all such indicators. We wanted to see changes in the everyday lives of the Hungarian people. We wanted to reach a position in which there would be no need to explain the improvement in the economic situation, because it would be there before our eyes: visible, tangible and clear to all. It would be staring us in the face, and one would be able to experience it in one’s daily life. In 2014 we wanted the daily lives of the Hungarian people to be safer, smoother and more optimistic by the end of our four-year term. In 2014 we also wanted this change to be general and to reach everyone, we wanted everyone to have a share of it, and we wanted everyone to be able to take a step forward every year.
We had an easy task with those who were successful, and who had the wind in their sails. They asked for nothing more than that their appetite for enterprise and work be freed from restrictions, and not be slowed down or quarantined by unreasonable restrictions, stupid taxation regimes, labyrinthine bureaucracy and pointless official dealings. All they asked from us was that we let them to find the path to advancement. The core of the national economy – those who saw themselves as neither poor nor wealthy, and who form the majority of the Hungarian people – was a tougher nut to crack. Just think back: in 2010 a large majority of the country had lived in uncertainty for almost a quarter of a century, and had seen their fortunes descending rather than rising. Their sense of security and the recognition and respect that was their due had evaporated. We had to give them back the jobs the socialists had taken away, and we had to restore their faith in the meaning of work. We had to achieve nothing less than enable them to make a decent living from honest work, and create living conditions for their families that would not just be acceptable, but good enough to boost their self-respect.
The hardest task – but the hardest is also normally the most uplifting – was to open a path leading to a dignified life, to rehabilitation and advancement for hundreds of thousands of our fellow Hungarians, who for several years had been unemployed and living on benefits – often in abject poverty. Here I’m not just talking about our Roma compatriots – although tens of thousands of Roma families did live in such circumstances. We had to achieve results in parts of the country where entire regions had fallen behind, and where most children lived in multiply disadvantaged families. Everyone in the political arena, apart from us, had given up on these people. Reductions in household utility charges; jobs instead of benefits, with parents given employment opportunities – in public schemes at the least; free meals for children; and compulsory pre-school attendance from the age of three. We put an end to increasingly prevalent criminal lifestyles which in many places had almost become a long-term strategy and way of life. We gave everyone an opportunity to lead an honest and law-abiding life. Those who have chosen not to take this opportunity have found themselves subject to the full force of the law: the security of people making a living from honest work has also been protected from such individuals. As far as its means allow, Hungary generously supports those who live for their children; but we have had no qualms about openly rejecting the future possibility of a way of life that is not driven by the desire to live for children, but off children. We have been persistent and consistent, and we have also managed to whip into shape something which determines the quality of everyday life: public security. For this we owe a debt of gratitude to our police officers, to the judiciary, and, of course, to Sándor Pintér – who would surely be awarded the title of “Europe’s Best Police Officer and Interior Minister”, if such a title existed.
Distinguished Congress, Dear Friends,
We can be proud of the fact that we are the governing party which put an end to long-term mass unemployment in Hungary. We’re gradually reaching a state of full employment, and we’ll soon be a country – although we may well already be one – in which everyone who wants to work is able to work. People are continuously moving over from the realm of public employment to the market sector, and the problem is beginning to be a shortage of labour.
The next big challenge in improving the standard of day-to-day living was that of low wages. If there is work, the question that always arises is whether it pays to work. For us, it was not enough to say that one must work, whether or not it’s worth it – although there’s also some truth in that. We wanted work to be worthwhile, to have prestige, and to provide a decent income. Therefore between 2014 and 2018 our biggest undertaking was the attainment of a perceptible and significant rise in wages. We wanted a rate of increase which would make everyday life secure. Let’s not forget, not so long ago it was simply impossible to live on the minimum wage. Even today it’s not easy, but everyone knows, sees and appreciates that from 1 January next year we’re raising the minimum wage from 73,500 forints to 138,000 forints, and the minimum wage for skilled workers from 89,500 forints to 180,500 forints. These represent increases of 88 and 102 per cent respectively. And as well as the minimum wage, we’ve also managed to create a clear upward course for the pay of teachers, law enforcement personnel and healthcare workers.
At the end of the day we’ve managed to set the economy on a course of growth, reduce and then eliminate unemployment, provide jobs for everyone, and support families as a particular priority. We’ve also managed to give families with children the chance of owning a home. The people know what the situation is, even though they might not say it in so many words. It’s also true that the Hungarian people’s voices are apt to fail them when it comes to talking about an improving situation. But that’s the sort of people we are. The Hungarian people know exactly what the situation is, and therefore in Hungary today there is no general mood in favour of a change of government, but there is one in favour of a change of opposition.
This is, of course, not the end of the road, but only the beginning. While we’re now beginning to look better and better, in Hungary today the general aspect of everyday life is not yet positive enough to allow us to sit back and relax, or to generate success without hard work and great effort. Our goal is for families to be free of problems, and not to need to borrow money in order to hold out to the end of the month. But, in addition to having an adequate standard of living, we also want people to have sufficient savings, as this will enable them to feel safe even when unexpected needs arise. We want to ensure that in Hungary raising children isn’t a problem, and that families are able to buy homes with affordable monthly instalments. In order to achieve this, the Government must remain in office for at least another four years. From this perspective, the stakes in the 2018 election are even greater than they were in 2014. We need four more years of work to consolidate the results we’ve achieved so far, in order to make them irreversible. Don’t forget that Hungarians can’t rely on the opposition, who never voted for the most important decisions: they didn’t vote for family tax allowances, tax cuts, preferential retirement rights for women, the Land Act, the rescue package for foreign currency debtors, or the proposed amendment to the Constitution seeking to ban the relocation of migrants. One can easily see that it’s impossible to make the security of everyday life enduring – let alone irreversible – with a collapsing socialist party waist-deep in internal recriminations, or with other groupings willing to do anything for money and power, and transformed from national radicals into a party of kitten cuddlers.
To deepen: to deepen the intellectual and spiritual foundations of our political beliefs. I know that this is complicated, abstract, and perhaps not even of interest to everyone; but when should we talk about such things, if not at our congress? The intellectual and spiritual foundations. All this sounds strange and alien in today’s secular world, in which most people only believe what they see, and only accept the workings of the mind as the basis of any philosophy of life. Therefore to talk and think about the intellectual and spiritual foundations of political beliefs – and to hope to use them as a compass – may seem to run counter to the spirit of the age. I suggest, however, that we refocus our vision. We shouldn’t cast ourselves as romantic heroes riding out to fight against the spirit of the age. That attitude usually results in people tilting at windmills, and the most one could expect to gain from it would be the indulgent sympathy of onlookers. Instead we should realise that the spirit of the age is not the same as the prevailing media trend. We should realise that the soothing melodies pouring out of the speakers of powerful global corporations and global political organisations – siren voices encouraging breezy irresponsibility, frenzied consumption and boundless self-indulgence – are not at all the same as the spirit of the age. Under the soft blanket of dreams laid down by the global elite, one finds the cold, hard reality of life. We see tens of millions of Europeans working hard and struggling day in, day out to keep themselves and their families afloat. We see how they yearn for security and order. We see how they cleave ever more firmly to their cultural identity, and fight every day for every square metre of their normal European life. This is the true spirit of the age. So we should refocus our vision, and we’ll see that in fact the spirit of the age is on our side: it is on the side of hardworking and responsible Europeans who provide for their families, love their homelandsand insist on their Christian roots. We are in a majority – in an overwhelming majority. It is only a question of time, and we shall prevail not only in Hungary, but in the whole of Europe; indeed, we shall prevail in the entire Western world.
This is also well understood by globalist elites, the bureaucrats who serve them, the politicians in their pay, and the agents of the Soros-type networks that embody their interests. They understand it well, and therefore they’ve invented the magic word “populism” to describe all that is national, popular, Christian and civic. But they repeat this magic word in vain, their incantations are in vain, and their political voodoo is in vain: reality, flesh-and-blood people, real-life instincts, real human desires, dreams and hopes will conquer the globalist elite still ruling Europe today. And they will make Europe – and within it Hungary – great again. Of course not all of this is self-evident: this is not Marxist historical materialism, in which world history has an inevitably predestined goal. There will be a battle here. Will be? There already is! And in this battle the European debates of the next decade will centre on identity: the identities of people, of peoples, of countries, and even of continents.
And this is how we arrive at the intellectual foundations of our political beliefs. I’m convinced that our success depends on the quality and solidity of the intellectual foundations of our political beliefs. Nowadays one cannot stand on intellectual foundations which have been shaken. And on such foundations one definitely cannot win. Therefore we should first of all declare that our political notions have both intellectual and spiritual foundations. Secondly, we should declare that the past thousand years of Hungarian politics has always stood on such foundations. Thirdly we should declare that the intellectual foundations have always been national, and have always been centred on the survival, task and mission of the Hungarian nation. Fourthly, we should declare that this tradition is wide, diverse and surging. Therefore we must use firm judgement in choosing which current carries us on the great river: the current that feels right for us, because it suits our character as Fidesz and Christian democrats. The current should not lead us to stagnant shallows and dead tradition, but should be relevant here and now, be fresh and natural, and assign the direction of politics – and in consequence our personal mission. Therefore we should openly declare that we stand on foundations which are neither of race, nor class. We reject political tendencies which turn people against one another, and we regard representatives of such tendencies as our political opponents. We stand on national foundations, and so instead of struggles of class and ancestry, we espouse the ideal of national cooperation, peace and productive work. This is – as Kuno von Klebelsberg put it – the ideal of the productive human.
These are, of course, old ideas and familiar categories in politics, and it’s easy to find our way among them. But there’s a new, modern genre of politics which has never been seen before. At the centre of this stands the individual who is wrenched out of their cultural, national, religious and gender identity, and reduced to an aggregation of their instincts. This new type of human being for a new age is the embodiment of “Homo brusselicus”. Drawing on our experience, we should declare our conviction that in Europe policies which set aside the natural order of life and deny national communities the right to life – regardless of the educational sophistication and moralising good intentions of those policies’ authors – have always led to barbarism. We should declare that to our mind the most important bond between human beings – beyond the laws of biology – is the spiritual bond which we call “nation”, and which elevates us all to participants in a shared culture and shared tradition. And we should also declare that we have inherited a unique and great national culture. Our national culture makes us what we are. Our national culture means that to this day Hungarians have the ability to face the truth, the capacity for self-respect and self-awareness, and can also understand their situation and mission. We believe that the Hungarian spirit can support anything and survive anything. As our ancestors said: “It sometimes loses its voice, but it does not die”. This spiritual and intellectual strength enables us to bravely address and calmly consider answers to the questions which terrify others, as they tower over our wider motherland of Europe. Our great forebears knew this and wrote about it. And in those days it was even customary to say that this unique Hungarian spirit – and the Hungarian way of thinking stemming from it – created the possibility for the Hungarians to live among civilised peoples. And it was also this that gave us the moral strength without which a lonely people such as ours, swept here from faraway lands, would hardly have been able to survive for a thousand years. How could we possibly give this up?
Our political community knows that the Hungarian nation was the product of an encounter between the Eastern character and Western culture, and the significance we attribute to this is relevant to this day. The love of freedom represented by the steppes met the peace and truth of the Christian faith; and out of this grew a love of humanity and respect for human freedom which to this day stand at the centre of our political thinking in Hungary. This is why we declare, and I quote: “We steadfastly believe in the strength of love and unity”. The views of our political community are therefore based on the simple precept that there are things which, if once proven to be true, will remain true forever.
All this seems natural, and even sounds good. But there is a catch. In Europe some countries decided to forsake Christianity, and to forsake their own national identity. They want to enter a post-Christian and post-national era. Today it is clear that we give different answers to the question of whether we should continue on the path mapped out by fundamental Christian principles of life and by national cultures, and whether we still believe in moral truths that are independent of time and place. Some countries answer this in the affirmative, while others answer it in the negative. The great question for the future is how a united Europe can emerge from this.
Such a Europe certainly won’t emerge if we seek to impose our ways of thinking, interests and goals on one another. There is only one way that European unity can survive: if we accept one another’s differences; if we show mutual respect for one another; and if, instead of a United States of Europe, we create a free alliance of European nations. There is no other way.
Distinguished Congress, Dear Friends,
And now I’d like to talk about what we should protect and why. It is well known that we Hungarians have no desire for empires – and especially not for their viceroys. We don’t like it when imperial viceroys seek to determine the fate of the nation instead of us. Today an empire is threatening us once again. We stand in the way of a plan which seeks to eliminate nations, and seeks to create a Europe with a mixed population. We stand in the way of a financial and political empire which seeks to implement this plan – at whatever cost. Let’s not beat about the bush: in order to implement the “Soros Plan”, across the whole of Europe they want to sweep away governments which represent national interests – including ours. In recent years Soros’s NGOs have penetrated all the influential forums of European decision-making. They are also present in the backyards of some Hungarian parties. They operate like the activists of the Department for Agitation and Propaganda of the old Soviet Communist Party. We old war horses recognise them by their smell. Although the Soros troops use somewhat more refined methods, they nonetheless want to tell us what to do, what to say, what to think – and even how we should see ourselves. For a long time the situation was simple and clear: there were men and women, mothers and fathers, Hungarians, Germans or Russians – and Christians or Muslims, for that matter. Today they want to force us into a world in which these natural and clear outlines have been erased. Such a world has no definite points of reference, it is unclear who is a man and who is a woman, what family is, and what it means to be Hungarian and Christian. They are creating a third gender, they are ridiculing faith, and they regard families as redundant, and nations as obsolete.
Let’s speak to the point. Migration is not the goal of the Soros Plan, but merely its means. Millions of people in desperate situations in Africa and the Middle East are being encouraged to come to Europe; indeed they are even being transported here, in order to debilitate nations and deliver the coup degrâce to Christian culture. Let’s also talk candidly about the fact that the Soros Plan also seriously endangers the security of our everyday lives. In Europe’s immigrant countries, acts of terrorism have become regular occurrences, crime rates are increasing, violence against women has escalated, and anti-Semitism is emerging again. This is what we must prevent, and this is the threat against which we must defend the country. So when we say that we must defend Hungary, we declare that we must defend work, our families, security, the authority of our laws, our achievements and Hungarian culture. And we must also defend our future. What we did not tolerate from the Soviet Empire we shall not tolerate from the Soros Empire. We shall defend our borders, we shall prevent implementation of the Soros Plan, and eventually we shall win this battle.
And finally, something about ourselves. Next spring will see the thirtieth anniversary of the day we unfurled our flag at ELTE University’s Bibó College. Some here among us were there when we were taking our first steps. We were still living in an era of manipulation, intimidation and police violence. Soviet troops were stationed here, and still a very real presence. But, as war horses do, we felt irresistible change in the air. To be more precise, we felt that we were change itself. Many people smiled dismissively when, in our twenties, we decided to become a party and run in the first free parliamentary elections after the fall of communism. When Fidesz was founded there were 37 of us; meanwhile, the Communist Party had around 800,000 members, and there were 50,793 in the Workers’ Militia alone. And yet, we are here today. Today, together with our allies, we are Central Europe’s biggest party, and ours is Central Europe’s most successful political community. Looking at our Congress today, I recall the old story in which two men are marvelling at a great church, its tower, and its enormous bell. How could that enormous bell have found its way into the tower? Well, they concluded, it could only have got there when it was still a little bell. The lesson to be drawn is that if we hadn’t set out back then, today we would be nowhere.
Now, as I look at you – or rather us – the question inevitably arises: to what extent is today’s Fidesz the same as it was when it was founded? That’s a difficult question. Today’s Fidesz is like it was in 1988 in the way that thirty-year-old man is the same as his one-year-old self. It is the same in the way that a small stream is the same as the river that it widens into over its long journey. We have grown from the party of a generation into a European people’s party. We have come a long way since we squeezed our way into the Opposition Roundtable Talks: together we fought to be able to pay the respect due to the martyrs of the 1956 Revolution; together we fought for the fall of the Iron Curtain; together we ordered out the Soviet troops; and together we sawed the communist party in half. And, likewise, together we fought our way into the first freely elected parliament after the fall of communism.
We have lived to see splendid victories and painful defeats. We gritted our teeth through the darkest time following the fall of communism – the 5 December referendum [of 2004, on dual citizenship] – and we did not rest until we had given our fellow Hungarians beyond the borders satisfaction in moral terms and in public law, by granting them dual citizenship rights. Over the past twenty-nine years we have gained the trust of the Hungarian electorate and have been voted into government three times. We have repaid that trust. We were the ones who replaced the transitional constitution drafted around the time of the fall of communism with a modern, European and patriotic Fundamental Law. Three cheers for President Pál Schmitt! We were the first in Europe to stop the migrant invasion which flooded into the continent. We proclaimed a workfare economy, and we created more than 700,000 new jobs. We created the family tax allowance, and when others took it away from Hungarian families, we fought for it and gave it back to them. We are the ones for whom children are the most important. And we held the banks to account, and converted foreign currency loans into forints. We implemented reductions in household utility charges. We are the ones who gave the elderly the respect they deserve. We preserved the value of pensions, and, for the first time this year, we are even paying them a pension bonus, because Hungary is home to many generations – where we “laugh together and cry together”.
Distinguished Congress, Dear Friends,
It feels good to think that with this community, together with you over the past three decades, we have accomplished great things. But I also issue a warning to all of us: now is the time to be modest, because now we have achieved something to be modest about. I wish to thank you for allowing me to be a member of such a fantastic community, and of such a unique and successful team. I am touched by the unwavering trust you have invested in me, for which I thank you. It is an uplifting task and a privilege to lead such a community. I shall do my duty.
Go for it Hungary! Go for it Hungarians!