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Editorial: Painfully predictable new year

From the Budapest Business Journal print edition: New years are supposed to be about turning over new leaves, making resolutions to change life for the better amid optimism that things can only get better, and, as a logical consequence, will get better -- This couldn’t be more true for Hungarians, who have every reason to surrender to some wishful thinking in light of the past difficult years. An Ipsos survey found that 83% of citizens believe 2014 will be better, and 92% of the younger generation believes there will be changes this year to make the country a better place to live in.

Yet all we’re seeing so far are things that we first saw approaching from many miles away, and not one of them seem to be the herald of a new golden age anxiously awaiting admittance at the country’s gates.

As was the case with the bedrock-solid constitution, not to mention a myriad of other laws Fidesz has enacted, the government is now planning to revise its own regulations on tobacco shops. The eyesore non-transparent storefronts will be a thing of the past for the simple reason that they’re just too easy to rob. Since their introduction in July, 54 stores have been attacked, making them one of the most common and easiest targets.

One might rejoice over common sense prevailing if it wasn’t for the fact that this was among the very first concerns raised by retailers last year. True enough, the opaque windows make it easy to rob a store, with the potential that a clerk could be lying on the floor wounded with nobody the wiser about what had happened inside until it was too late. Thankfully, financial losses aside, nobody has been hurt thus far.

Hopefully, Hungary’s gullible minors, who were supposed to be protected by the tinted windows, will overcome the obvious temptation of the sight of a distant stack of cigarette boxes on the shelves of a store they can’t legally enter anyway.

On a grander, political scale, the government’s opponents also did exactly what was expected of them in reassembling its 2010 “dream team.” Those who were hoping for a surprise, a new face, a new voice, a new direction, clearly haven’t been paying attention. Every statistic, every move pointed in one direction and one direction only, and that is for Attila Mesterházy to face off with Viktor Orbán for the premiership for a second time, once more in the light of statistically insurmountable odds.

It seems that despite the fact that the obvious outcome is usually right there in front of our faces, we are still surprised that our expectations are coming true, and that we can’t come to terms with the fact that we are mostly stuck with the same old same old, regardless of whether it’s a different day, or a different year.

Then of course, someone went and blew up a bank, which is new. But that’s the kind of change we could do without, thank you.