Editorial: An Improbable Rise and a Competent Interpreter
Photo by Gajus / Shutterstock.com
It is well known that we do not “do” politics. Or, to be more nuanced, we don’t cover day-to-day politics. But the company does not exist, cannot exist in a vacuum, cut off from the world around it. Although, I dare say it, there have been quite a few business men and women over the years who have wished it could do just that. Politics has an impact on business, and it is for this very reason that so many companies (but especially the larger multinationals) have someone with a title that is a variation on the theme of Director of Corporate Affairs. and government.
Therefore, this issue of the Budapest Business Journal features reports on two politicians, one of whom certainly has an impact on the business world and the other who aspires to be. In fact, he almost certainly longs for higher things, but as a by-product of those dreams he could have a very direct influence on the corporate sphere.
We will take the latter first. Our story on page five reflects the remarkable rise of Péter Márki-Zay, a disgruntled Fidesz supporter who was never a Member of Parliament and has no official political party behind him (although he founded the Hungary Movement for all). From those unlikely beginnings, and based largely on his record of his daytime work as Hódmezővásárhely’s independent mayor, he finds himself victorious in the primaries to determine the common candidate for prime minister of the six opposition parties.
He will now find himself facing Viktor Orbán, a man who has not really had to do much to win three consecutive terms with overwhelming majorities, such has been the state of the opposition parties, but who is undoubtedly the most formidable militant in modern Hungarian politics, and who holds his party in an iron fist.
Could Márki-Zay, backed by a rainbow coalition of parties that goes left to right and touches most of the intermediate bases, could he defeat Orbán? On paper, it must be said that this seems unlikely. But it seemed just as unlikely when he ran for mayor of Vásárhely, as we the locals know (I got married there), which has always been considered a stronghold of Fidesz.
For the sake of balance, you will find the other politician I wanted to mention on page seven. Mihály Varga, the longtime finance minister, paid his annual visit to the American Chamber of Commerce in Hungary and outlined his vision of the economic future.
One of the most impressive things about Varga is that he knows his audience. Fidesz politicians have a reputation for sticking very rigidly whatever the party’s message of the day; this is the discipline of the organization. But it wasn’t just about finding the right sound clips. Sure, he was optimistic about the economy, but he also recognized four “dark clouds” on the horizon that could prove to be a threat and spent some time examining each.
He had a tight schedule and planned to leave ‘British way’ as he put it (apparently a reference to slipping out of the room without saying goodbye; don’t ask me what’s British about this. subject), but found that he had time, after all, to answer a few questions from the room (if not from the assembled reporters). Whether or not you like the character or the policies of a politician does not matter. A competent person who behaves thoughtfully shouldn’t be the signal for a big party, but they are reassuring when you meet them.
This editorial first appeared in the print issue of the Budapest Business Journal on October 22, 2021.
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