---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 11 Feb 1995 15:37:46 -0500 (EST)
I learned about a cheap airfare to Budapest, I cannot go, but if anybody
can, here it is:
$ 419 round trip (I don't know if it includes taxes, etc.)
Atlantic Fellowship, Ltd.
2204 Kalorama Rd., NW
Washington,m DC 20008
The price is good until March 31.
Good luck everyone!
If I did not manage to send it to everybody above, please do so. Thank you.
As you most likely know from the news there is a new finance minister and a
new/old head of the Hungarian National Bank. Both appointments were applauded
by economists and businessmen inside and outside of Hungary. Horn, after
making quite a few blunders and irresponsible remarks, retreated, especially
after criticism within his own government and by respected Hungarian
economists, even socialists ones, who told him that the government has no
choice but to continue, by and large, Bekesi's economic program. As a result,
the SZDSZ is satisfied and for the time being at least the coalition will
remain in force. How long is another matter. Given Horn's temperament no one
knows when the next government crisis will occur, in spite of his promises of
not repeating such actions that triggered the latest upheaval.
As you most likely know Horn had a very high rating in the public opinion
polls before the elections and although after the elections the rating
dropped somewhat, his approval rating was still quite high. I am almost
certain that his popularity came to an abrupt end. The media which until now h
andled him quite gently is getting a great deal tougher. The last issue of
*168 ora* is a good example. This particular weekly is considered to be quite
a leftist paper--his editors and staff were among the 120-odd people who were
fired from the Radio last March and therefore it was not surprising that the
paper was a bitter enemy of the former government. And here are a couple of
articles from the last issue (February 7) as examples of this new attitude.
Please note that one of the journalists is no one else but Iva1n Ga1dor, the
man who wrote the article about foreign journalists going up in flames while
trying to teach Hungarian journalists about democracy. Moreover, it seems
that Ga1dor is quite capable to think and to write straight. His editorial is
the lead article of the issue:
Iva1n Ga1dor: "What's Up?"
Ga1dor first asks whether there is a crisis in Hungary or not. Well, it
depends to whom you talk. According to some, Hungary is on the brink of
economic collapse; others expect the collapse in May, while some others are
sure that it will come only in September. Meanwhile the government and the
National Bank say that there is no problem whatsoever; after all, the country
still has 7 billion dollars worth of hard currency. So, what's the problem?
Never mind, Ga1dor continues, that the finance minister felt compelled to
resign. Never mind that the government can't find a man who is willing to
take the job as the head of the National Bank. Never mind that they can't
find a new man to fill the post of finance minister. Never mind that the
market is ailing and that the investors wish the brokers to hell while the
brokers wish the government to hell. And never mind that foreign investors
are frightened off from investment in Hungary.
Our good reputation may not depend on what kind of good or bad news is being
published in the foreign press. After all the investors have their own
sources of news. But the trouble is that even he, who is 49 years old and who
watches the political developments of this country as a journalist, doesn't
know what is going on.
The only thing Ga1dor knows that Gyula Horn doesn't want to lose. He also
knows that several leading people in his party wouldn't mind if he actually
lost. He also knows that there are several leading personalities in the MSZP
who think that the party's leading position cannot be maintained with Gyula
Horn at the helm. What else does he know? That the SZDSZ didn't not want Horn
as prime minister already back in May and June. They said that he is
autocratic; he is not really a democrat; he is power-hungry; he is not
sensitive to other people's opinions of matters and of himself. Before decisio
ns he will not even ask the opinion of his own party. Lately he has been
reading in the papers that Gyula Horn behaves exactly the same Mr. Antall
Certain circles of the MSZP would like to separate the post of prime minister
and head of the party, saying that it is too much for one person. There are
hardly any meetings between the head of the party and the other leading
members. But if they chose a new head of the party will the prime minister
have time to consult with the leaders of his own party?
But of course these same circles might think that Gyula Horn actually wants
to stay as head of the party and will resign as prime minister. Perhaps even
Horn wouldn't be too upset about such an event. His life would be much more
pleasant. But who will be then the prime minister, especially when they can't
even find a finance minister, when there is no one heading the National Bank,
when there is no new privatization minister. And if Gyula Horn stays, who
will be the head of the MSZP? That is quite a dilemma. So, the MSZP closed
ranks and denied the rumors concerning the posts of party chief and prime
miniszter. Because the most important thing is party unity and the foreign
investors' trust in the Hungarian economy.
So, do we have a crisis or not?
End of Ga1dor's essay.
The next piece is Attila Buja1k's report. Title: "The Drawn-out Prelude"
Describes Horn's parliamentary speech whereupon his own party doesn't even cla
p while the SZDSZ members are frozen on their seats. The opposition wildly
applaud. At the cafeteria at lunch all talk about the negative foreign
reaction. Someone mentions the article in the Financial Times where the journa
list is afraid that "this government doesn't quite know where it is leading
this country and has no idea about the consequences."
An anonymous SZDSZ member says: One must realize that there is a prime
minister whose problem is not that he does not follow the government program
but that he himself doesn't know what he is following. He improvizes, drifts,
grabs this and grabs that. Today not even his opponents within the MSZP can
keep him in line because they are afraid of him. At the MSZP meeting in
Siofok he says that his choice for the National Bank is Suranyi, but a few
hours later he gives an interview in which he indicates that he changed his
mind. He mentions Medgyessy as finance minister but adds that he didn't even
talk to him yet. He emphasizes that he is an adherent of the independence of
the National Bank but from his speech in parliament it becomes clear that he
doesn't know the first thing about it. He is suggesting a six-party
conference on privatization when the new law on privatization is before
parliament. With this suggestion he even surprised his own party! He wants to
solve all problems with words, with rhetorical phrases and he doesn't seem to
realize that he is no longer secretary of the central committee, but a
democratically elected prime minister. He doesn't seem to realize that the
time has passed when one can give money away freely. He doesn't undertand
that the country is facing a monetary-financial crisis; that the domestic
savings are not enough to close the budget deficit; he doesn't understand
that he did something to which the market, the exchange, and the foreign
press react negatively.
. . . .
Horn says that he doesn't care whether the SZDSZ leaves the coalition or not,
but it is not that simple. The stable MSZP majority is only 14 votes. In the
next four years, says the anonymous SZDSZ member, the MSZP members can't even
leave their seats to go to the bathroom. They can sit in parliament with
thermometers under their tongues. And there are at least 100 MSZP members who
are entrepreneurs who would like to look after their businesses too, instead
of sitting in parliament all day long. They will throw in the towel within
six months. According to estimates there are 20-30 MSZP members who are
hardcore leftists. 80-100 don't have very strong views on concrete political
matters. These people don't really know what they want.
. . . .
According to rumors the SZDSZ confronted Gyula Horn with an ultimatum. He
signed 70 percent of the demands.
End of Buja1k's article.
So, Horn's star has faded and faded seriously.