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Government U-turn on domestic violence

September 17th, 2012

A pro-government columnist joins left-wing commentators in criticizing a Fidesz MP for downplaying domestic violence. After the governing party promises to explicitly sanction domestic violence, left-wing commentators welcome the decision and note that democracy “may not be lost”, after all.

It is a huge mistake to assume that declining birth rates are the result of egoism and careerism only, Roland Lippai writes in Magyar Nemzet. His comments are in response to the remarks in Parliament of Fidesz MP István Varga, who suggested that women should bear children first before seeking a carrier or seeking their place in the world (see BudaPost September 14). Lippai acknowledges that Hungary is facing a serious demographic problem because of the ageing population, but this, he suggests, has nothing to do with domestic violence. Families have few children because of the harsh economic realities: in order to earn a living, both parents have to work.

Fidesz first distanced itself from Varga’s statement, then went further, and agreed reversing to incorporate a special clause about domestic violence in the Penal Code. Floor leader Antal Rogán said that both the Prime Minister and he himself had “heeded to the demand of the ladies”, namely, of Fidesz lady MPs.

In a front page editorial, Népszabadság welcomes the government’s U-turn. The left-wing daily, however, finds it disheartening that Fidesz needs such a nasty and awkward incident, such a public uproar right across the political spectrum, before it retreats and revises its opinion.

The government has yielded to public opinion, which cannot be considered a defeat in a democracy, Gáspár Miklós Tamás notes in Heti Világgazdaság. The Marxist intellectual contends that for the first time in many a long year, the people have exerted their influence over the government.

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