Evaluate the policies and leadership of Viktor Orbán in 2010 and 2011. What have been his most important achievements and failures?
A few years later after the collapse of the Iron Curtain in the summer of 1989, Hungary experienced a healthy flow of new capital investments as a result of the free trade that replaced the former socialist economy; this capital remained steady for the next 20 years. However, after the global credit crisis of 2008, Hungary greatly suffered. In 2009, Hungary experienced a trade collapse resulting in a 6.7% decrease in GDP (Exhibit 1 continued). The free floating forint of Hungary drastically depreciated, forcing the country to apply for an unprecedented $25.1 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and the European Union.
Despite the generous aid, in 2010 newly elected Prime Minister Viktor Orbán aggressively disputed with the IMF, World Bank, and EU concerning the loan obtained by the previous MSZP-led government. Orbán claimed that he did not need to meet the strict benchmarks imposed by the IMF. Because of the arising conflict between the IMF and Orbán, both Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s credit rating agencies warned that they would give Hungary a junk status credit rating. Eventually, this conflict was settled and the EU agreed to lower benchmark standards for the country. Despite the uproar that this loan caused, Orbán’s popularity increased to a public approval rating of 63% (Exhibit 9). This was due mainly to the fact that most Hungarians did not support and did not wish to be affiliated the European Union. Orbán’s conflict with this organization was seen as a powerful and authoritative move made by the nation’s leader.
To meet the newly agreed upon targets set by the EU, Orbán and his government imposed so-called “Crisis Taxes” that were implemented in order to raise $1.9 billion over the course of three years. These taxes were imposed on retail, telecom, energy, and banking. Most of the revenue was expected from the banking sectors, which were to contribute a total of $1 billion dollars. These new taxes dramatically increased the burden on banks, resulting in large layoffs and decreased profits. Although the majority of the public favored these taxes, the Constitutional Court of Hungary and the Fiscal Council argued that these measures were unconstitutional and unsustainable.
Another controversial point during Orbán’s term as prime minister was the pension system. Most Hungarians paid into a private pension plan; this plan was so large that it totaled nearly $14.2 billion and accounted for approximately 10% of the nation’s GDP. Nonetheless, Orbán and his government acquired these private pension plans and placed them under government control. For a citizen to reclaim their previously held private pensions they must forfeit the government pension plan, and personally deliver a notification of these intentions; unfortunately, these rules made it virtually impossible for most...