A quiet shift to Austria-neutral
After 7 years of intra-alliance political warfare, Little Fideszers cheer when the government revs the engine, but they don't realize we're not going anywhere.
I noticed that few have noticed what I noticed. I’ve been meaning to write this for 2 months now, can’t delay it any further, so here it is: Hungarian foreign policy throughout the Fidesz Hegemony era.
2010-2015: nonexistent / clueless
Martonyi (2010-2014): meh
Navracsics (2014): as eurocrat as it gets for Fidesz (moves on to be full time in Brussels)
Szijjártó: (2015-): rookie
Schmitt (2010-2012): meh, save for scandals
Áder (2012-): meh, by design
Overall foreign policy: leave us alone.
Greatest challenge: André Goodfriend’s US embassy. The Americans could successfully toy with the Hungarian government, Fidesz wasn’t ready (lacking talent and will). Any resistance to it stays internal (rallies to reassure the base that “we’re boss”).
The pushback against Western fuckery is already framed as freedom fighting, but it’s for domestic consumption only.
2015-2018: Outward looking Orban
The migrant crisis reinvigorates Fidesz: the party’s popularity hits rock bottom for the entire Hegemony era by Q1 2015. The beginning of the migrant crisis is Q2 2015. Fidesz goes all in and wins big.
Starting from mid-2015, Orban completely ignores domestic politics and becomes an international player.
Szijjártó: still a rookie
Áder: meh, by design
2018-2022: International kulturkampf duo
Orban begrudgingly shifts part of his focus back to domestic issues, as the 2018 election is the first time the opposition is united, which results in a scare (Fidesz gets wiped out in a special election in one of their traditional strongholds, a few weeks before the national election).
This opens up some space for the foreign minister in international matters. Szijjártó, now matured into his role, gets elevated to the same level as Orban to complement him, taking the role of the younger one of the duo, doing rounds that might be below a prime minister (like arguing with Western media talking heads).
The COVID-era also means there’s a domestic crisis, and Orban is a veteran crisis manager man, which means a further shift away from international politics for the PM. Szijjártó takes on more and more when it comes to dealing with international matters.
By the end of 2019, the EPP is ready to kick Fidesz out. It eventually happens. 2020-2022 is the peak intra-alliance dissident phase for Fidesz’s foreign policy, fighting everyone.
2022: dual interface foreign policy
Orban and Szijjártó still play the same duo, however two important changes happen in Q2, after the election, which signal a shift towards being Austria-neutral:
Navracsics (mentioned above), becomes the de facto ambassador to Brussels. If either side (EU / Hungary) wants to avoid losing face by engaging in peace talks, he’s the interface they can use. (He’s managing the EU dole talks, and he’s all carrots.)
Katalin Novák becomes the president of Hungary. Her role is — for the first time in the Fidesz hegemony era for the president, or ever — an outward looking one, to be a kinder, Euroatlanticist-presenting representative of the country abroad.
She’s also all carrots.
Little Fideszers are late to notice this. As Katalin Novák travels to Kiev to meet Zelensky this week, they’re more angry than not, and somewhat understandably confused after years of online warfare, even though Novák has been giving them plenty of hints, doing the Euroatlanticist rounds since spring.
The opposition is equally puzzled by the Visegrad Four meeting this week that went well. It was supposed to be a shitshow, because Orban is isolated, and he’s the great satan and all.
For now, our foreign policy, per personnel:
Orban (flexible, but difficult to hug)
Szijjártó (carrots for the East, sticks to the West)
Navracsics (carrots for the EU)
Novák (carrots for the Euroatlantic alliance)
In 2022, the Hungarian government offers external players multiple options to interface with the country, whether they want to fight or to cooperate, there’s a guy.
Hungary is not your average Butthurt Belt, Action Slav country that suicidally bum rushes into regional conflicts; we’re not inherently better, we’re just more committed to copy Austria. Especially at a time of crisis.
For the radicals in the pro and anti-government trenches, who can’t make sense of this, I recommend taking some time offline.
Prove it to the ignorant masses that you’re ahead of the game and
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Right now not the number one Hungarian substack, but I think by far the best Hungarian politics translator to English on the internet. I'm a little bit bored of these summarized Hungarian political articles, but the reason is because I've been living here for thirty years, and I've consumed more Hungarian political content than the average, so enough is enough... 😃 (I'm waiting for your take on Elon Musk... 😃)
High quality articles here, you should get a section on a big political site to write, but you have no filter etc., and we are not living in a dream world, where everybody instantly becomes what they want to be... (We have to fight for it!)
That would not even be you... You are the type of guy who is building and empire from nothing, so lessgo! 💪🏿
“Action Slav” is a pearler. You have the chops, George. Reading you makes me clevererer.
This is another post with insight and analysis I can’t find elsewhere. Much appreciated.