What the West Is




In many ways, for many people in the county, more representative are the views of Istvan Lehoczky, a 76-year-old pensioner from the small town of Ujfeherto.

“Hungary is a quasi-mafia state, and everyone knows it. But if the opposition wins, we will have six more mouths to feed,” says Lehoczky, a former manager at the local industrial facilities, referring to the alliance of six disparate opposition parties seeking to defeat Orban.

One of the signs of this alleged mafia-like characteristics is the misuse of European funds, which, according to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), in Orban’s Hungary was the highest in the EU in 2015-2019. Ujfeherto alone was awarded several EU-funded projects, one of which is the construction of a cold store – a large refrigerated facility for preserving food at very low temperatures.

Since 2019, however, there has been little apparent progress in the project. The billboard informing about this 510-million-forint investment (around 1.4 million euros) stands on a vast, empty field with no signs of construction whatsoever.

BIRN asked the town’s Fidesz mayor what has been done so far and what are the next steps in order to complete the project. “The procurement procedure for the cold store was recently unsuccessful. A new procurement will be announced soon,” Mayor Jozsef Hosszu said in a written statement.

Despite being aware of all Fidesz’s misconduct, whether electoral or the misuse of funds, Lehoczky admits to a love-hate relationship with a strong charismatic leader, whom in this county is embodied by either Orban himself or Miklos Sesztak, his former minister and one the county’s influential leaders backed by a record-high 62 per cent of voters in his constituency.

“I’m not happy with many Fidesz policies,” Lehoczky says. “Yet, with COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, one has to expect the government to be able to make quick and firm decisions, something that the chaotic opposition doesn’t guarantee.”

His fatalistic pragmatism is a combination of a full awareness about Fidesz scandals and the feeling that nothing can be done to prevent them, while any change to this well-cemented dysfunctional order will end in political chaos and financial uncertainty. It reflects the unspoken contract offered to a large part of the society by Orban: political stability and some share in the distribution of fruits in exchange for restricted democracy.

Clientele politics and cronyism, but “based”: the apex of Western civilization, according to idiots.

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