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Historical justice, or a blunt tool with which to beat Socialists?

November 22nd, 2011

A left-wing commentator believes that the government wants to stigmatize the Socialists by establishing in law that the Socialist Party (MSZP, the successor of the Communist  MSZMP), shares responsibility for the crimes of the pre-1989 regime. A right-wing observer, however, welcomes the proposal and suggests that victims of the Communist era should be compensated.

A recent bill proposed by Fidesz would open the door for politicians who allegedly committed crimes under Communism to stand trial (see BudaPost October 21). The law would also make it possible to slash the old age pensions of former Communist officials.  Now a new bill, regulating the transition from the old Constitution to the new (due to come into force on January 1st)  includes a section describing the Socialist MSZP as the legal successor of the Communist MSZMP, which thereby shares responsibility for the crimes committed during the rule of its predecessor.

“The exchange rate of the Forint has plummeted, stock prices are at historic lows, the introduction of austerity measures seems unavoidable. So what does our smart leader propose? Nothing less than that the MSZP is the successor of a party that committed murder and treason. Even people who were born after the 1989 regime change are guilty,” writes János Dési in Népszava.

According to Dési, Fidesz is trying to divert public attention away from its appeal to the IMF for help, which is seen as an act of capitulation and an admission of the failure of the government’s economic strategy (see BudaPost November 21).

Another article in the same daily quotes left-leaning intellectuals, who deem the amendment illegitimate, as it introduces the principle of collective responsibility. One of them, Zoltán Fleck suggests that the proposal “clearly aims to liquidate the political enemy.

Népszava also quotes former PM Péter Boross, a member of the drafting committee of the new Constitution, who once remarked that there are also former Communists in Fidesz. The left-wing daily wonders whether Viktor Orbán and other prominent Fidesz figures, who were once members of the Communist Youth League (KISZ) will also be considered responsible for the crimes of the Communist party.

The MSZP and their press, including Népszabadság, the successor of Szabad Nép, the mouthpiece of the Rákosi dictatorship, are in trouble now. They show their cloven foot when they defend former Soviet commissars, who since 1990 have turned into neo-liberal, Washington-loving zealots,” comments István Lovas in Magyar Nemzet.

Lovas contends that the Socialists and their allies want to spread fear among 800,000 former members of the Communist party, in order to defend the image of the real culprits, including former Prime Ministers Gyula Horn (who in 1956 sided with the Russian troops), Péter Medgyessy (a former counter-espionage officer) and Ferenc Gyurcsány (a former KISZ leader).

While Lovas welcomes the new legislation, he finds it unacceptable that victims of the Communist regime cannot be compensated. “Would such a provision be imaginable in Germany regarding the victims of the National Socialists? How can one [cut the pensions of former Communist leaders] without compensating those who spent ten years in the prisons of János Kádár, and are now surviving on a pension of 50,000 Forints? Lovas asks.

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