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Debate over anti-Communist heritage

October 2nd, 2012

A pro-government commentator marks the foundation of the Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) 25 years ago, and suggests that throughout that period the centre-right parties have been united by their common anti-Communist stance. A liberal pundit, on the other hand, claims that the liberals were the first to openly criticise Communists and demand democracy.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, speaking on the anniversary, commented that the current right-wing governing coalition is united by the determination to pursue Hungary’s interests. Although Fidesz was an ardent critique of the MDF government elected in May 1990, PM Orbán said that the Fidesz and the MDF were natural allies from the beginning because of their shared anti-Communist and national vision.

In Magyar Hírlap, editor-in-chief István Stefka remembers the founding meeting of the MDF as the first ocassion when opposition politicians openly demanded that János Kádár step down. He contends that the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) betrayed its original anti-Communist ideology when in 1994 it formed a government coalition with the Socialists. Although the MDF as a major party has since disappeared from the Hungarian political scene, Fidesz has embraced most of the centre-right party’s ideas, in addition to incorporating liberal messages, Stefka points out. The pro-government commentator believes that the current government is trying to overcome the mounting financial crisis by strengthening national unity and increasing the country’s independence – the same aims the MDF had in mind in 1987.

It was not the MDF, but the liberal opposition which first called for democratic changes, Sándor Révész writes in Népszabadság. Révész remarks that members of the liberal opposition were not invited to the founding meeting of the MDF because of their harsh anti-Communist messages. The liberal pundit notes that the MDF in 1987 invited reform Communist party members instead, who at that time did not support the aboliton of the undemocratic one-party system.

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