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Hungarians, between two visions of the same reality

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Being a small country doesn't prevent the occurrence of big political divides. Hungarians, depending on whether they support the ruling party or the opposition, give a completely different interpretation of the national political reality.
Source: flickr

Hungary, the black sheep of Europe

Keresztes Johanna | translated by: Zuzana Slabakova | 2014. February 10. 03:38

“Among all the European democracies, it is only in Hungary that the leading democratic party reduces the number of institutions which control the power and hinder the development of the media.” - says Daron Acemoglu, economic analyst and historian.

From a historical point of view, Hungary is a particular country in Europe. The regime change was carried out without any major difficulties. The new system was focused on the implementation of democracy and a good functioning of the market economy. At the same time, Hungary has not experienced an absolute renewal of its political class and the system change has not resulted in the creation of a new national Constitution. Although brought into conformity with the rules of democracy following the change of 1990, the Hungarian Constitution of 1949 was imbued with features from the Soviet Constitution of 1936 on the model of which it had been written.

*No more confidence in politics

Today, a general political disappointment devastates the country. Hungarians have become indifferent to national politics. This phenomenon came following words launched by Ferenc Gyurcsány in 2006, socialist Prime Minister at the time. After his election he admitted that he had lied throughout all the election campaign. This speech set fire to Hungarian politics and public opinion. He contributed to the electoral success of Fidesz in 2010, Conservative Party headed by Viktor Orbán, the great adversary of Ferenc Gyurcsány. The fact that the party obtained the two-thirds majority in Parliament only made the situation worse.

*The anti democratic government of Fidesz

Since the advent to power of Viktor Orbán, a disillusionment with Hungarian politics continues to affect the country. Fidesz, the depositary of an absolute majority makes the existence and activity of the rival political parties difficult. It uses its power to weaken the democratic institutions that should control the executive power.

Since 2011 the political control of the media in Hungary has been a political debate at not only a national but also a European level. This has been mirrored in particular by the media law which has received criticism from the European Commission. Established by the new law, the Media Authority has the right of access to press materials before their publication. Journalists may be forced to provide their sources in the name of the national security or the protection of public order. This legislation is considered by many democratic countries as freedom-destroying.

*To win by changing the rules of the game

This right-wing majority has not only developed a new Constitution in accordance with its ideas but it has also developed a new electoral law that changes the rules of the game in the upcoming elections. One of the tricks that the current government uses to win the 2014 elections was to grant Hungarian citizenship, and thus voting rights, to Hungarian minorities living in neighboring countries of Hungary. Yet, it is expected that those who will benefit from this measure will vote for Fidesz. Indeed, the acquisition of Hungarian citizenship has many benefits. Citizens who have so far only been residents of non-EU countries, such as Serbia, will now have access to the same rights as EU citizens. The acquisition of Hungarian citizenship passes through a simplified administrative procedure: for example it is not even necessary to be perfectly fluent in Hungarian.

On the other hand, the necessary steps for Hungarians who left Hungary to participate in the elections are very complicated: for example the out-of-country voting is almost impossible for them. Is the government afraid of the voters who preferred not to benefit from Fidesz's policy, having left Hungarian territory? While the elections approach, Hungary is getting further from the European idea. The country is in a "democratic trap." Could it get away from that in the next national elections?

 

Hungary, the white raven of Europe

Gát Ákos Bence | translated by: Zuzana Slabakova | 2014. February 15. 03:38

The policy of the government of Viktor Orbán is often considered strange and dangerous. A review of the policy context helps to understand that it's in reality necessary and courageous.

"As rare as a white raven” is an old Hungarian expression. The policy of the Hungarian government is actually quite unique in Europe. Observed from the outside, it may seem strange and dangerous. Some Hungarians share this opinion, while others can see in the government of Viktor Orbán an expected change after a defaulting democratic transition.

It is a significant part of the Hungarian voters who endowed the Fidesz-KDNP, the alliance of the governing of center right party, with a two-thirds majority in Parliament in the 2010 elections.

On the eve of the legislative elections in spring 2014, the Fidesz-KDNP always comes to the top of opinion polls. Here is the recipe for his success.

*Lost confidence

Since 2006, Hungary has suffered an economic, political and moral crisis. The Hungarian economy was in crisis long before the global crisis exploded in 2008. The country has avoided bankruptcy only thanks to a rescue loan from the IMF. After his re-election, the Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány made ​​a speech behind closed doors during a meeting with his party where he admitted “lying for two years morning, evening and night” in order to keep his power. Afterwards, demonstrations as we have never seen before took place in Hungary to demand the resignation of the government. However, the ruling party remained in place and defects of the 1990 regime change became increasingly obvious. The absence of a complete break with the political elite of the communist era has prevented the recovery of political life. Wild capitalism, characterized by dubious privatization movements and surrounded by corruption caused significant damage to the state. The strengthening of the extreme right under the socialist governments of Gyurcsány and Bajnai was the most apparent symptom of social tensions and loss of public confidence in politics. Fidesz-KDNP won the elections with an extraordinary majority of votes because he was the symbol of change.

*Renewed hope: the war for economic independence

Sworn in as Prime Minister in 2010, Viktor Orbán has opted for a policy without taboo. From the very beginning he refused to continue the restriction policy conducted by his predecessors. He avoided hitting the population with a direct tax and reduced the income tax rate to 16% to help revive the economy. Since his first year in government, he preferred to impose a tax on the banks and the largest multinational companies that had significant tax benefits since the market opened in the 1990s. Recently, the tax charge on telecommunications companies or the bank transfers hit also the population, as the direct tax payers have transferred a part of the charges to their customers.

However, Viktor Orbán and Fidesz are always credible actors in a struggle for greater independence of the political life against the pressures of economic lobbying. This image is reinforced by the fact that since December 2012, the Hungarians have seen their electricity bill drop by 10% at the expense of the profits of energy companies. In parallel, the Hungarian state also tends to recover its investments in strategic companies to restore national sovereignty.

Fidesz leads a credible war policy of economic independence. This policy allows on the one hand to pull the rug from under the feet of the extreme right, on the other hand, it is also is a realistic and necessary policy. Although the government's actions can be criticized, the effort of Viktor Orbán to break with the misuse of the past 25 years, without hesitating to face all the conflicts of inherent interests, should be recognized.

It is true that the government does not hesitate to clash with Brussels in order to carry out it's policy, but he did not ever considered that Hungary would leave the European Union. The approach of the Hungarian government towards Europe is that of a teenager who rises up occasionally against his family so that he can become a member of equal rights. Isn't it a necessary attitude to survive in a modern world where free competition rules and where the weak are doomed to fail?

 

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

This article convinced me.

This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

The state of votes

25%
75%

Hungary, the black sheep of Europe

Keresztes Johanna|translated by: Zuzana Slabakova

Hungary, the white raven of Europe

Gát Ákos Bence| translated by: Zuzana Slabakova

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