Editorial: Crumbling bedrock

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The start of the fall parliamentary season brings another modification to a cardinal law, a piece of legislation that requires a two-thirds majority to pass, amend or revoke. This time it marks a backpedaling on one of the key concerns Prime Minister Viktor Orbán voiced after taking office, which was the need to reduce the debt that is crippling the country’s economy.

Orbán has made no secret of the fact that he has long-term plans for the country, which is reflected in the revised, extended mandates of his appointees to key public offices and especially when cementing his ideas in law. When it was raised that this attitude essentially ties the hands of any government for decades to come, given how rare it is for a political group to get a super majority, he responded by basically saying, “yeah, that’s the idea.”

Of course, the concept of building something to last on a whim, overnight, has already proven faulty as seen by the sequence of revisions to the constitution or smaller laws, like the annual budget. History has already discredited Orbán’s concept that the stability he envisioned for the coming decades may be viable even with what has obviously been insufficient forethought and a reluctance, if not outright refusal, to ask the opinion of anyone else beforehand.

More interesting to see is the contradiction between his desire for his own policies to be cast in stone, while constantly dismissing the one thing every single private sector participant has asked for, i.e. some predictability in policymaking. Orbán and everyone else in his government have been very vocal whenever they assumed Hungary was treated based on double standards internationally. Yet, when businesses ask for stability, the prime minister cites the captain commanding a ship on a tumultuous sea, who would thus be a fool to keep trudging ahead instead of navigating the water as conditions dictate.

On the other hand, this is exactly the thing Orbán seeks to take away from any potential future government by those politicians who are currently in opposition. Even with the Fidesz-KDNP coalition currenly looking good for reelection in 2014, it most likely won’t be able to retain its current supermajority.

Seeing that time and time again, the wisdom of lawmaking that was supposed to last for an eternity has been flawed, Orbán is set to find himself in a position when he will have to ask for the cooperation of the political opposition to repeal his own laws. At which point the spacetime continuum itself will surely ripple from the shockwave of the irony.

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