Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Yesterday, all chief editors of the biggest private pro-government media group resigned in Hungary. This dramatic move signals that a festering conflict between autocratic prime minister Viktor Orbán of the right-populist Fidesz party and the most exposed Fidesz oligarch, a certain Lajos Simicska, is coming to a head. Itis interesting as a study in the relationship of political power and capital.

In a mechanical interpretation of Marxist class analysis, the government of a capitalist state is just a tool of its capitalist class. Even though it usually serves the oligarchs' interests, Putinism (and perhaps less obviously the system in China) defies this in the state having interests separate from oligarch interests and asserting its primacy when challenged by an oligarch. The regime now shows a similar nature in Hungary (where Orbán declared modern Russia and China the models for the future in the face of the decline of Western liberal democracy).

Simicska differs from Russian oligarchs in having become one in the service of the party, to ensure a safe financial background in its time in opposition. After Fidesz's takeover in 2010, his wealth grew really big as his construction company got most state orders and his media empire (including the most read pro-Fidesz daily, website and private news TV) got most of the state-sponsored advertisement (and Fidesz-run local governments made lots of subscriptions). However, at one point he began to recognise his own interests and tried to get the government to change course when his interests were hurt. Orbán wouldn't budge, so Simicska first fired shots across the bow by having his media empire reveal some government scandals, then Orbán responded by toppling some pro-Simicska government officials.

After a few more rounds, a few weeks ago, Orbán had the heads of Simicska's media empire in his office and told then that they will no longer receive state support (after all, he now has full control of public media and there is a second pro-Fidesz oligarch with a media empire). Then two days ago, Simicska declared that if the government continues to use its media tax law to undermine his business, his media will go into full-on attack mode. His own chief editors resigned yesterday in reaction to that, citing "reasons of conscience" (as if paid propagandists had any conscience), showing that they are more loyal to Fidesz than their paymaster (or don't believe their paymaster has a chance of winning).

Simicska who learnt about the resignations from an on-line media was furious, denounced Orbán in a telephone interview in a tone unfit for print, and vowed to fire every pro-Orbán journalist. However, IMHO he doesn't have any chance: he will not only lose subsidies and journalists but readership, too; it will be easy to send the judiciary after Simicska based on financial irregularities, and by eliminating the least popular oligarch Orbán can attempt to win back voters he lost in recent months due to the ever increasing number of corruption scandals. Simicska would be better off playing pentito and testifying to Interpol about the corrupt deals for Fidesz he himself was involved in.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Feb 7th, 2015 at 04:14:45 AM EST
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