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Bankruptcy on the left?

June 25th, 2011

The traditional policy of the left – based on solidarity among various groups of the population – is dead, Attila Antal, researcher at the policy think tank, “Méltányosság” (Fairness), concludes in HVG. The ruling conservatives, he adds, are pursuing their own social policy, based on efficient governance and support for the upper middle class.

The left must recognise that governing is impossible if it relies exclusively on social solidarity, Antal suggests. Socialists cannot of course abandon the idea of solidarity, if they want to call themselves Left, “whatever that means today”, but they must learn from the successes and the failures of the now governing right wing if they want to become competitive.

To describe the ideas fuelling the policy of the government, Antal quotes András Lánczi, one of Hungary`s most respected conservative ideologists:  under  Socialist rule, various groups were able to squeeze tax benefits out of the state, others could retire well before reaching the required age, and so on. The state became a prisoner of a web of commitments and special favours. The present conservative government should explain to people that they have to make sacrifices to serve a higher purpose – the interests of the nation, as opposed to private or particular interests.

It might be tempting, Antal suggests, to automatically oppose the government’s measures and promise to restore all those privileges which have been abolished, but that would not be a viable strategy for the left if it wins the next elections. Any new strategy should be able to reconcile two opposing concepts: solidarity and good governance.

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