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Will international pressure alienate Hungarians from the West?

January 18th, 2012

A right-wing political analyst suggests that the unprecedented Western pressure on the Hungarian government is due to diverging but equally legitimate models of democracy. He warns that attacks against Hungary might lead to disillusionment with the European Union.

In a lengthy op-ed analysis in Magyar Nemzet, Tamás Fricz borrows his analytical model from American-Dutch political scientist Arend Lijphart who distinguishes between two primary forms of democracy, one usually known as majoritarian, the other as consensual.

The Hungarian right wing political analyst believes that the conflict between Hungary and the EU stems from these two different approaches to democracy. In Hungary, Fidesz governs according to majoritarian principles (“the winner takes all”), while the European Union advocates rather a consensual model. “But it is of paramount importance to realise that both are valid forms of democracy,” – Fricz argues.

As Hungarian society is culturally deeply fragmented, a consensual form of democracy would fit the country better, were it not for the fact that the governing Fidesz party believes that the transition from Communism has not yet been completed, and therefore it argues the need to follow the more confrontational majoritarian philosophy.

“Western countries assumed Hungary was a ‘well-established, boring democracy’, therefore they did not and do not understand why the right wing in Hungary doesn’t want a consensual democracy with former communist and leftist-liberal parties,” Fricz continues.

He points out that the parties to the conflict are by no means equal, and the Western side has obviously resolved to impose its own viewpoint.

Tamás Fricz warns however, that as a result, the Hungarian public might become disenchanted with the European Union, and sooner or later Western politicians will realize their imprudence.

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