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Ambivalent reactions to Áder’s first speech

May 4th, 2012

Commentators on the left, the centre and the right are all somewhat puzzled by János Áder’s inaugural speech. One accuses him of  ‘deception’, while others find his words overly polite to the opposition.

János Áder was elected President on May 2nd (see BudaPost May 3, 2012). He delivered his address in Parliament, emphasizing the need for mutual respect and a willingness to overcome hateful divisions. He also said some self-examination is needed by opposing sides.

An editorial in Népszabadság remarks that „Apart from the fact that” Áder praised the new constitution, the speech was a decent one. The commentary continues, however, that that same constitution is an embodiment of Orbán’s view of the past, the present and the future, and that is not a vision shared by the newspaper. Áder decided to become a „part of Orbán’s system” by accepting this role. Nonetheless, Népszabadság concludes, Áder’s appeal for mutual respect was laudable.

According to a less friendly opinion piece in Véleményvezér, Áder has no achievements in his career which would fit him for such a responsible job, and his words in themselves provide no guarantee that he will actually implement his presidential programme. The speech was, all the same, a sane one. Véleményvezér also suggests that the speech was rather reminiscent of the spirit of the first Fidesz government (from 1998 to 2002), when the government was not in constant conflict with its Western allies.

In Magyar Nemzet, Zsuzsanna Körmendy also takes note of Áder’s conciliatory tone and approves the civility contained in  the new President’s remark that every individual, family and community has been offended in the past two decades, but our lives should not revolve around retaliation.  She welcomes the call to negotiate over our differences and increase cohesion „during a time when Hungary suffers constant criticism from outside”.

In Hírszerző blogger Árpád W. Tóta criticises István Stefka’s piece in Magyar Hírlap (see BudaPost, May 3, 2012). He finds Stefka’s contention that Hungary needs a president who serves the interests of the nation instead of embodying its unity absurd.

Népszava publishes a short commentary by János Dési who asks how the so-called Székely Anthem could become part of the ceremony. (The anthem originates in the interwar period, and was often sung during the fall of Communism in Hungary. Nowadays it is revered by the Right and considered by some on the Left as carrying strong revisionist overtones). He says the inclusion of the Székely Anthem was an example of populist kitsch so characteristic of the present government.

Kettős mérce (Double Standard) blog notes the moderate tone of the new President’s speech, but pinpoints Áder’s party background as proof that „what we have witnessed was a farce”. According to the author, the ideas expressed in Áder’s speech are hard to disagree with, and in fact embody a „democratic minimum”. The chances, however, that Áder’s words will turn into actions are as likely as winning the lottery, he concludes.

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