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A decade of the Hungarian right

May 7th, 2012

In a series of comments on the evolution of the Hungarian political right over the past ten years, one author muses over the end of Western civilization and regards Fidesz as the only bulwark against a looming apocalypse, while another asks if there is a Hungarian right beyond Orbán, or if Orbán will be able to meet the expectations of a new, young conservative elite.  A third warns that doomsday speculation is a typical game on the right.

In Mandiner, Zsolt Bayer quotes a popular Hungarian blues singer who finds the world a desolate place where everything is the same. Bayer says recent developments call for an apocalyptic ending, and that “insanity inspired by boredom” easily evolves into left and right extremism. The Hungarian right – Fidesz – is squeezed by “permanent revolutionaries” and “advocates of new wars”. There is nothing universal about human existence, he suggests; only nationhood provides a safe haven. People who find the idea of a closed national entity inadequate are “idiots left over from bygone times,” – he concludes.

Ferenc Horkay Hörcher, has published a seven-part analysis in Mandiner of the last two decades of Fidesz. In the most recent piece he asks if there is a Hungarian right beyond Orbán, or if Orbán can meet the challenge of a new, young conservative elite. After his 2002 defeat, Orbán “left” his party by relying on the newly created and broader movement of Civic Circles. Then, invigorated by the scandals of the last two Socialist-led coalitions, he came back to rule with a much stronger economic and media background. But his new business and media empire has attracted widespread criticism, Hörcher Horkay writes, because of its lack of transparency. After his landslide victory in 2010, Orbán  faced the problems created by his own former tactical move, the so-called “social referendum”. This limited his room for manoeuvre, especially in introducing cost-cutting measures. He became increasingly entangled in a conflict with the European Union over wholesale and hasty legislative changes and found it increasingly difficult to come to terms with international institutions over a stand-by credit line. He picked too many fights and could not win them. The question, Hörcher believes, is whether Orbán is still able to innovate. If not, and if Fidesz does continue under his leadership, the party will find it hard to win over Hungary’s young conservatives.

Ádám Kiss, a liberal commentator at Hírszerző and Véleményvezér, comments on Bayer’s doomsday scenario in his piece for Mandiner. He finds in the prominent right wing pundit’s words the very essence of what is to him so hard to like about the Hungarian right. Feeling lost, victimized, attacked, and equating being attacked with being right, are attitudes that will not make our life any better, Kiss suggests. If “eternal truths” seem evanescent, this does not make basic human values any less worthy of protection. Instead of looking to certain Hungarian poets of eternal doom, he suggests, Bayer might like to glance at the Gospels.