Hungary: From illiberal democracy to pornography. Viktor Orban speaks.

Viktor Orban Hungary GDP

The prime ministers of Visegrad countries (Slovakia, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic) were participating in a Q & A session at the Globsec 2015 conference. Hungarian PM, Viktor Orban managed to embrace reference to pornography, Christianity and family making in his answers. He also referred to Hungarians as discussion addicts (more about the all nation wide debate here) and he expressed his concern for the last Hungarian to switch off the light when leaving.

According to Pedro Picon, the porn industry in Hungary was generating around 636 million EUR (0.5% GDP) in 2008. In the past years, Hungary has become the world porn capital so its share in GDP could have even doubled. Is this the innovative approach to further GDP growth that Viktor Orban is speaking about?

There is only one question left to answer: Why are the other PMs not speaking in English when Viktor Orban can?

Watch the video (full transcript below):

Moderator: Prime minister Orban question to you on the same part of economy and the situation of the country. Growth has been much slower than in Slovakia and you have recovered just in 2013 from recession so the question is: With a declining population in Hungary, Hungary is the fastest declining population in terms of heads of people in the population, how or where do you see the gap for the country to fill in this Visegrad economy epecially if you look at your south-east and east fencing of the country from its immediate neighbourhood.

Viktor Orban Hungary GDP
Viktor Orban compares the country renewal to pornography

Viktor Orban: So if you look back at, let’s say 2010, the perspective for the Hungarian economy was very much similar to the Greek one, so all the comparison are not accurate enough. But, let’s say 5 years ago, Hungary was in the danger to follow the same track, on which the Greeks are going on at this moment just now. And we have reshaped everything in Hungary.

We don’t use the term reform, even not structural reform, because it does not express exactly how deeply the changes we have managed to have. We are rather speaking about a renewal of the country and as a consequence of this whole, sometimes bloody changes anyway, last year we got 3.6 % growth rate of GDP and now there is a consensus that this year it could be even the same level or at least slightly above 3%.

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And the question for Hungary today is now… it is a different country than the majority of the countries as a result of that renewal process. It is not a welfare society as we call the process, it is a labour based workfare society. The social system is totally different. The target of the government is full employment. We don’t pay social welfare if we have not got something from the people for that. We have got flat tax. We have probably one of the lowest small and medium size company corporate tax level. We don’t have inheritage tax and that kind of things. It is a strange combination.

Ideologists are regularly in trouble to define what the hell is that. And it is like, you know pornography. Nobody know what is it, but when you see it you can realize that probably that’s one. So you know it is very difficult to realize what the hell is that.

But the point is that last year we got 3.5 or 6% growth and this year 3% and the target for the government, we are working on that, how, by which kind of mechanism we can raise the growth rate to the sector between 3 and 5%. So the target is to reach somehow the 5% annual growth rate and we are looking for instruments on how to do it. I can’t say that I have an answer for that, but we constantly try to find new innovative approaches to the economic policy to find a way how to do that.

Moderator: How about investment? I mean attracting investment is key to this, what is sort of the asset you would sell to a possible investor coming to Hungary.

Viktor Orban: If there is no investment, no economic growth. The growth rate itself is an evidence that we have investments. The good news generate other good news. Good news about investments generate other investments and I think it is going on probably not as giant as Robert (Fico – prime minister of Slovakia, talking about negotiation with a  big automobile company potentially entering Slovakia) mentioned concerning Slovakia. But we have some plans by the same size probably, but I think it is moving on because the structure of our economy is quite balanced.

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You know, we have 26 or 27% of GDP coming from manufacturing, industrial manufacturing. 25 or 27% is coming from high tech industry, agriculture is strong, tourism is over 10%. I think it is a relatively balanced structure of economy so therefore we have a feeling of being in rather safe situation.

Financially, the country is managed well, as just you have mentioned, so I think whatever is going on in world economy, we have a chance to adjust ourselves, to select those sectors which prove to be promising the most successful investment.

So therefore, the investors are coming, the generation of capital in the hands of the local bourgeoisia, let’s say, is going on also, which is the challenge of all the post-communist countries having the, no having capital in national hands. But it is improving in Hungary.

Now we have some companies, which is in regional terms could be global or at least regional companies in energy and in other sectors, pharmaceutical. So all in all, we are rather positive, but we don’t know the clear answer to the question how to increase the growth rate from three point up to five or six. We are still looking for that, but next year, if you invite me, I hope I can have some explanation on that.

[box type=”bio”] Hungary has recently undergone an all nation-wide discussion on immigration and the whole country was flooded with xenophobic billboards. Last week, the country announced to build a barb-wired fence to protect the border with Serbia. In the aftermath of this, Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán participated in Globsec conference and proved himself to be full of paradoxes and an influential speaker too.[/box]

Moderator: Can you give a very quick answer to the earlier question I posed on migration because the shrinking workforce, the shrinking population is probably one of the issues you have to tackle. So would migration be…?

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Viktor Orban: In Hungary, we had a great discussion (nemzeti konzultáció – more on this in this post) on that. Hungarians like to discuss that kind of things, you know. Big countries don’t understand that because big countries has no feeling  of being endangered.

You know, because if you have 80 million or 60 million people or 100 million people, it is almost impossible to imagine the moment when there is no more Hungarian left in the world. Or not anymore German in the world or not any more British, you know. But that feeling for a country with 10 million like Hungary it is quite vivid.

So we can imagine a situation when we say, the last please switch off the lamp. You know, so therefore the issue of demography is the number one political issue always. Probably economy is more popular as a topic, but by heart of Hungarian politicians and policymakers, demography is the number one issue because it is a real threat.

And the answer to that in Hungary is a family policy. We don’t believe that migration or guest workers system can help us out of this trouble. So we concentrate on families and we have a lot of schemes, family schemes, to convince the young couples to take the kids.

By the surveys in Hungary, we can say that the young generation would like to have at least one more kid than finally the have got. Therefore we think, there is a room spiritually. The room for politics to help the young couples to have more kids. So we would like to change biologically, in the natural way of the bad tendencies. It is a Christian government so we believe it could happen.



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