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The Orban government was often justly criticised by its opposition for its clientilistic tendencies. But, once ensconced in their ministerial thrones, the Socialist-Free Democrat coalition's members behaved little differently.

This coalition has taken certain steps that overshadowed Orban himself. There are 6100 more civil servants now than in 2002, according to the Central Statistical Office.

Despite the rise in their number, the civil servants seem to be just as slow and incompetent as they were four years ago. Even if our leaders lacked the courage to cut back on superfluous bureaucracy, it was surely not necessary to add to it. Allowing their number to rise further just made the task of reform even more difficult.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting how the endangered junior coalition partner, the Free Democrats will explain these developments to its supporters. This is the party that preaches a cheaper state, a fanatical devotee of cutting public expenditure. But the liberals could neither contain their own supporters' greed nor rein in their partner's ambitions.

The government announced it would spend HUF1bn on establishing regional advisory teams for the National Development Plan. They ignored the smaller coalition party's complaints. The parliament voted down the minister's motion in Parliament. But the government found a back door, so the taxpayer will indeed be financing 200 new jobs - along with official cars, petrol money, an office, a mobile phone, and all the other accessories.

There is no honest explanation for why, in the era of the information superhighway, when bid documents can be e-mailed, and when help can be sought by fax and telephone, advisers need to visit people personally. Why was this so important on the eve of the elections? There is, perhaps, some truth in the idea that the government is firming up its support base.

But campaigning masquerading as advice is nothing new. A party office is insufficient reward. You need to offer a bigger prize. Campaign advisers have become museum directors, former student hall neighbours have become directors of the tax office. The funny taste comes from the fact that this is now being done by the very people who once complained about orange-coloured corruption.

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