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II. i6 Maffia II 00 book.indb 233 2016.12.07. 15:47 i6 Maffia II 00 book.indb 234 2016.12.07. 15:47 László Békesi The Economic Policy of the Mafia State The four-year term of the second Orbán government has ended (Viktor Orbán was prime minister between 1998 and 2002 for the first time, then between 2010 and 2014 for the second time), and following a dominating win in the elections, Orbán’s government can again start the command of a new four-year term with a two-thirds majority in parliament. It is about time for a multifaceted analysis and evaluation of how the Orbán regime operated, what it did, and what it achieved over the last four years.* Among objective analysts, a broad consensus has emerged: both prior to its sweeping electoral victory and during its governance, the Orbán government had no comprehensive, coherent economic policy program. This summary assessment has not only been well-founded for some time, but also appeared satisfactory. The government’s ad hoc economic decisions, unacceptable quality of economic legislation, damaging, frequently irrational steps, and contradictory, often deceitful communication all confirmed this view. The Orbán regime has gone against everything that the profession considers to be the conditions and elements of a realistic government economic policy. It has not shown the slightest concern for the country’s economic circumstances, changes in the world economy, economic divisions of *   This analysis on the economic policy of the second Orbán government was written in the summer of 2014. i6 Maffia II 00 book.indb 235 2016.12.07. 15:47 236 TWENTY-FIVE SIDES OF A POST-COMMUNIST MAFIA STATE labor, and domestic and international requirements for collaboration, legal security, stability and predictability, the need to harmonize fiscal-monetary and wage policies, the interests of economic actors, the societal impacts of its decisions, or their future consequences. They have explained their rejection of mainstream economics and economic policy with peculiar, largely meaningless or false epithets, or with primitive, demagogic slogans. Using a pretext that their often unusual or new types of methods are for managing the worldwide subprime crisis, they have also cast aside the most fundamental economic principles, claiming with brazen provocation and arrogant conceit that these absurdly unorthodox methods are an “intellectual innovation and a creative, modern approach.” They have proclaimed these economic measures, in every sense populist and self-willed, to be the courageous representation of a patriotic economic policy close to the spirit of the Hungarian nation, and a defense of national interests and sovereignty, as well as families and the Hungarian people. Analysts researching the motives of the economic policy activities of the Orbán regime have for a long time held a basic tenet as an obvious and satisfactory explanation for this, namely that the acquisition and retention of power is an absolute priority for the Orbán government, and at the same time its ultimate end. This subordinates everything and everyone else, using economic policy, among other things, also as a means to this end. It seems obvious that publicizing and implementing a realistic and coherent economic policy would hinder, or at least slow down, the ability of the regime’s intent to monopolize power. (An economic policy that realistically accounts for a country’s circumstances and economic requirements can never count on overwhelming support or undivided popularity.) The majority opinion outlined above appeared to be an adequate explanation , until Bálint Magyar introduced the concept of the postcommunist mafia state with his thorough sociological, social-psychological, and political analysis, and described the objectives and essence of its operation. This new interpretive and conceptual framework makes it necessary and at the same time possible that from a different approach—meaning not simply on the basis of statistical data analysis—we examine the Orbán government ’s economic policy activities and their consequences over the past four years. Through this new analytical approach, we can conclude that the economic decisions of the Orbán government that appear ad hoc and improi6 Maffia II 00 book.indb 236 2016.12.07. 15:47 237 The Economic Policy of the Mafia State vised actually serve very conscious purposes through unscrupulous means: the rapid growth of the income and wealth of those belonging to the mafia family, the expansion of its clientele and vassals, and the outfitting of its allies. This is how a political enterprise becomes an economic enterprise...


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