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Opposition repositioning lessens political risks

The fact that Fidesz, Hungary’s leading opposition force recently increased the distance from a populist, demagogic rhetoric has reduced political risks in the country significantly, according to the latest analysis by political think tank Political Capital.

Early elections have become a likely scenario in Hungary, and this situation generates great expectations and increasing pressure on the main opposition party, Fidesz-as a potential governing party-, thus more and more information appears in the media about the economic policy plans of an expected government led by the party, Political Capital said in a press release. All conceptions that came to light (about investments, pensions, taxation, energy policy) were either confirmed or denied, however all of them are in favor of several goals, such as proving the party’s ability to govern, improving the party’s image among (domestic and foreign) economic decision-makers by articulating their own plans, testing the party’s ideas in the business elite and preparing the public opinion for the prospective austerity measures.

The ideas of Viktor Orbán and the economic aides inside and around the party can be considered as an improvisation, rather than an accurate economic program, since there are several groups in Fidesz with different economic policy notions (among others are former finance minister Mihály Varga, former minister of economy György Matolcsy, former NBH governor Zsigmond Járai). Furthermore there are outsider professionals also who influence the final Fidesz-program (which is in a materializing period): György Szapáry (whose name was mentioned by the party president), Péter Ákos Bod, Attila Chikán and some analyst institutes. The differences between the concepts can be discovered in the issue of the government debt for example. According to Viktor Orbán the debt burden is one of the greatest problems of the Hungarian economy, meanwhile Péter Ákos Bod – referring to the Polish example – says that debt consolidation wouldn’t really help the economy. There is no consensus either on the subject of taxation: while Zsigmond Járai seems to support flat rate taxation, Mihály Varga and further politicians in the party prefer the so-called family taxation.

It is hard to see which rivaling notion will make it to a potential government program, it depends on the outcome of the combat between the professionals, and also on the personal composition of the future government. Viktor Orbán obviously tries to keep being uncommitted to any of the concepts, furthermore he named different professionals from the people mentioned above, as potential economic leaders of the party. Under these circumstances the economic program of Fidesz hardly can be sketched, only a few elements can be projected.

In the last period several statements by Fidesz politicians made it clear that the party had no complex remedy for the current economic troubles. However these market-friendly statements predict notable conflicts with the market players. Since Fidesz heads to minimize its loss of credibility, the party – sometimes plainly, sometimes obliquely – is compelled to mention some expectable measures that are unfavorable for different groups, including the business elite. (press release)