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Anti-government platform lacks coherent program

January 7th, 2012

Liberal and conservative pundits wonder if the anti-government NGOs and the opposition parties have a program which could constitute a real alternative to the Orbán government.  The commentators suggest the anti-government groups have no clear ideas about what they want to do after ousting Orbán. If successful, such politics would only perpetuate populist rhetoric, they argue.

In a long piece on Hírszerző, András Hont reflects on the January 2 anti-government protest (see BudaPost January 4): What we need is not a common political platform, but concrete targets that can be supported by diverse groups of Hungarians, or a detailed action plan.

The liberal commentator himself joined the demonstrators, in the belief that the Orbán government wants to impose its world-view on the country, and expects Hungarians to support its policies in the name of ‘the national interest.’  Hont admits that in retrospect, he could not side with the anti-government protesters, particularly the Socialists and Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition. He also finds it highly problematic that the protest movement lacks content, just as much as the ‘national unity’ proposed by the government does. The NGOs and the opposition parties want to create a platform, which would only be cemented together by their hatred of the Orbán-government. Many of the enthusiasts of the broad anti-government coalition suggest that a specific political program should only be worked out once Orbán is ousted from power.

According to Hont, if successful, such an approach would only produce further destabilisation and deepen political divisions in the country. He believes that one of the main social and political problems in Hungary in the past years has been the opposition parties’ endeavour to attract everyone disappointed by the government. This strategy implies that the opposition “is held together by empty rhetoric and attractive promises.” Once the opposition wins the elections, their earlier populist promises come back to haunt them, thereby strengthening the new opposition that again tries to boost its support with demagoguery.

Conservative analyst Ferenc Kumin also finds the anti-government protests rich in theatrical action and populist messages, but poor in concrete targets other than replacing Orbán. Kumin suggests that the relative success of the January 2 anti-government rally lies in the lack of a coherent program. He doubts that the unity of the ideologically diverse anti-government platform can be maintained as soon as concrete policy proposals are put on the table. He also doubts whether any of the opposition parties will manage to unite the diverse discontent forces. The competition for leadership might well also  break up any budding coalition, he concludes.

Ádám Tompos in Magyar Nemzet reflects on the “alternative Presidential election” initiative of the Facebook group One Million for Hungarian Press Freedom. The anti-government group last year suggested that anyone may run as a candidate on the internet. Tompos reviews the submitted campaign videos and finds that most of them show extreme naiveté and populism. Some promise social peace, others the strengthening of human rights and political correctness; others even propose sexual satisfaction available for all.

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