In an interview published in Heti Válasz, former president László Sólyom repeated his earlier criticism, that the government’s “military-style tactics” lead nowhere, and are harmful to democracy. In response, Minister of Public Administration and Justice Tibor Navracsics said Sólyom cannot see the wood for the trees.
Former President László Sólyom emphasized in his interview to Heti Válasz (print version) that when he first aired his criticism of government policies earlier this month at Aszófő, a small village north of Lake Balaton, he was addressing a “right-wing audience” (see BudaPost August 7). He added that as people there were “open” to what he had to say, the village might be defined as “a symbol of a moderate right-wing.” His intention, he acknowledged, was to encourage this moderate conservative outlook that has grown disillusioned with “a government which has used questionable methods to reach hard-to-understand goals with meagre results.” The ‘military rhetoric’ employed by the government – calling critics “counter-revolutionaries”, for example – is harmful, as it threatens the rule of law and public trust in legal institutions. Both the Czech Republic and Poland, he continued, have shown themselves able to handle the economic crisis “without destroying the constitutional foundations,” of their countries. The former president also repeated his earlier observation, that the planned compulsory voter registration system is unconstitutional.
Tibor Navracsics, reacted to Sólyom’s criticism in an interview in Magyar Nemzet (print version). The former President’s comments, he said, “resemble those of someone who criticizes a building in the first stages of renovation, by saying that it looked better before reconstruction started.” He respected Sólyom, he said, but it must be kept in mind that the new constitution and the new political institutions are there to create a “new political and institutional culture”. Centralisation, he continued, is not all black or white. When sweeping changes have to be introduced in a short period of time, such as after 2010, centralisation helps, but this does not preclude some decentralisation later. Asked if he agreed with the Prime Minister that Commissioner for Human Rights Máté Szabó is “a counterrevolutionary”, or whether he sees his activities as one of the “political checks and balances” (as Magyar Nemzet’s Matild Torkos claimed – see BudaPost, August 15), Navrasics replied that he had “no intention of contradicting the Prime Minister”, and in fact, he didn’t. He said the commissioner’s moves are politically motivated, “although other interpretations are also possible”.