Orbán demands inquiry against Hadházy, responds to direct questions from opposition in Parliament

October 10, 2017

Orbán asks for investigation against Hadházy, responds to direct questions from opposition in Parliament
Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén (L) and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán (R) at the Parliament’s October 9 plenary session
Photo: MTI/Zoltán Balogh

Opposition Members of Parliament had the chance to directly address Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in a National Assembly session Monday, which produced some notable responses. Index.hu covered the session.

Perhaps the most dramatic incident was Orbán demanding an inquiry against Politics Can Be Different (LMP) co-chair Ákos Hadházy after the anti-corruption politician confronted the Prime Minister about a medical public procurement, reports HírTV.

Hadházy noted that General Electric (GE) had filed a complaint with the Public Procurement Authority after GE found a public procurement for breathing machines issued by the National Healthcare Services Center (ÁEEK) to be tailored to the needs of only one bidder. The bidder that won the contract, moreover, gave a USD 2.65 million higher bid than GE. Even though the arbitration committee confirmed that the procurement only suited one bidder, and fined ÁEEK HUF 50 million (USD 189,400), an undersecretary later denied that the procurement was rigged. Hadházy turned to Orbán to find out who was right, the undersecretary or the arbitration committee.

Instead of answering the question, Orbán responded with an angry outburst, accusing Hadházy of lobbying for GE:

“A representative stands up in the Hungarian Parliament and starts to lobby for a company,” Orbán said. “How much money did you receive for this? How dare you? How dare you lobby for a company in the Hungarian Parliament during an ongoing public procurement? Now, I have been sitting here for many years but I have not seen a case more corrupt than this, shame on you!” According to 444.hu, the Prime Minister later said that he is demanding an inquiry against Hadházy.

HírTV revealed that last week the ÁEEK was fined an additional HUF 5 million (USD 18,900) over another improper public procurement for an anesthetist workstation.

Burned-out despot

Jobbik chairman Gábor Vona confronted Orbán over apparent attacks against the far-right party by Fidesz-dominated government institutions. Vona asked Orbán whether he considered it “sportsmanlike” that Orbán’s “own people” were “continually damaging other parties’ billboards,” or that Orbán himself was attempting to silence Jobbik “using illegal tools like the State Audit Office, government offices, the police, the prosecutor’s office, basically everything.”

“I ask you nicely not to come at me with George Soros or with Lajos Simicska, because I’ve already told you countless times that neither I nor the majority of the country is curious about your personal wars,” Vona said, referring to Fidesz’s anti-Soros campaign and accusations that Jobbik is being secretly financed by former Fidesz treasurer and exiled oligarch Simicska.

“The question, Mr Prime Minister, is whether you can fight in a sportsmanlike way. My question…is whether you will ever be a democrat, or will you depart from [the prime ministership] April 2018 as a burned-out despot.”

Orbán shot back at Vona, saying that the government does not deal with Jobbik’s party financing or billboard issues, and that, in his opinion, “you guys are simply lame.”

Vona replied by saying that he had first been drawn into politics 15 years ago at Orbán’s personal invitation into his “citizens’ circle” (polgári kör), and since then he had learned a great deal from the Prime Minister.

“I learned a few things about how to handle political situations, and I learned a lot more about how not to handle them. I learned that a political leader cannot lose his dignity. And you Mr Prime Minister, have lost your dignity. You don’t care about the people, the wages, the pensioners, the youth, the emigration…but your little stadium, your little train, and your big money. That’s the only thing you care about.”

Healthcare? Soros!

Politics Can Be Different (LMP) co-chair and prime ministerial candidate Bernadett Szél also addressed Orbán, telling him “we aren’t interested in the Soros Plan,” but that “under your leadership the number of infections in hospitals has doubled. What can you say to that?”

Orbán answered the question on healthcare by saying Szél would rather not hear about the Soros plan “since you were program director at the Menedék Hungarian Association for Migrants, and as a part of the humanist movement, you were a member of the Soros network.”

(Szél was the program director for the human rights NGO between March and June 2002.)

Szél answered by saying that she had also worked in the Central Statistical Office (KSH) and therefore knows precisely how much the government is spending on public healthcare.

“On this side we see clearly that the emperor wears no clothes,” she said, adding, “beyond the walls the entire opposition is mobilized” against Orbán.