Orbán Viktor; SZYDLO, Beata
Analyses

The Hungarian and Polish models are both similar and successful

Thanks to joint Polish-Hungarian political action and the Visegrád Four cooperation, the two countries have managed to direct unprecedented attention to the Central European region. Polish-Hungarian friendship, which forms the basis of the Visegrád Cooperation, exists not only in the field of migration and the “Europe of Nations” concept but also several other areas. The two governments have been pursuing similar policies in several domains, and results clearly prove them right.

In Poland, the year 2015 brought about changes of similar magnitude to Hungarian elections in 2010; since the collapse of the communist regime, the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) was the first to form a cabinet on its own. Thanks to policies pursued by the Szydło government, Polish-Hungarian relations have gained further strength. Furthermore, the Polish cabinet has introduced several measures based on the experiences gained by the Hungarian government since 2010.

In Hungary, Fidesz-KDNP has led public opinion polls for over eleven years an continues to be by far the most popular party formation despite spending almost eight years in office. Were elections held this Sunday, the outcome would be roughly identical to 2014 elections. Similarly, support for Poland’s ruling party has not changed substantially since elections in 2015. In both countries, lasting political stability creates a strong basis for effective governance.

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In Hungary, the definition and vindication of the national interest brought about a new approach in political thought. Through this organisational principle, the work-based economy, competitiveness, providing a sense of security and a sovereignist approach to European integration, as well as intensive family and demographic policy, have emerged to the forefront of political action. In this field, the new Polish government pursues a practice roughly identical to the Hungarian example. Accordingly, the Polish cabinet also devotes special attention to supporting domestic small and medium-sized enterprises, job creation, family and demographic policy, as well as the pursuance of a sovereignist foreign policy.

The active foreign policy that characterises the two countries has shed light on several conflicts, especially with European Union institutions. The most pivotal of these is the two countries’ shared strong position in immigration policy. However, efforts to protect external borders and closely regulate immigration have lent new impetus to the cooperation of Visegrád Countries. Over the past years, the partnership has been propelled by Hungary and Poland. Both additional similarities, such as opening up to eastern and southern countries, and differences, such as the policy towards Russia, can be identified in the two nations’ foreign policies.

Both the Hungarian and the Polish government pursue a “statesman strategy” in their policies towards the European Union, opting for the assertion of the national interest instead of diplomatic negotiations even if this comes at the cost of conflict. While it is hard to judge which is the more effective method, it is undoubtable that the level of interest in the region has reached an unprecedented level.

Hungary’s chief economic objectives now include the simplification of the tax system, establishing a fairer sharing of public burdens, as well as the promotion of work-based thinking and competitiveness. As early as autumn 2015, several investment agencies and banking analysts called attention to similarities between the two countries’ economic policies, although most of these remarks were critical at the time. Tendencies during the period since have confirmed that the Polish government’s programme is also yielding results. As a result, the region has become the new motor of growth in Europe.

After Hungary succeeded in stabilising the economy and the country’s room for economic manoeuvre broadened, the focus of governmence shifted to the extension of the middle class. The key elements of this are the dynamic enhancement of the family support system, as well as supporting child-bearing and the acquisition of a family home. Similarly to this, the PiS cabinet also treats the support of families as a priority.

The outbreak of the immigration crisis in 2015 sparked major political tension in Europe, with leaders in both Brussels and several member states misjudging the weight and dangers of the phenomenon. The Hungarian government was the first to take a decided standpoints against mass illegal migration. With the election of the PiS cabinet in 2015, Poland broke with mainstream immigration policies and developed a position similar to the Hungarian government.