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The 56th of 56 – a divisive anniversary

October 23rd, 2012

Editorials published on Monday to mark the anniversary of the 1956 revolution (the dailies are not published on national holidays) reflect the papers’ political affiliations.

Népszabadság’s front page editorial remarks that as usual, events on the anniversary will centre around political messages on both sides. Massive demonstrations of strength will take place both to express support and opposition to the government. But lack of unity also characterizes the left-wing opposition, the left-wing daily complains. Even if leftist and liberal groups find it too early to stand together,  the paper suggests, at least they should avoid quarrelling on October 23.

In his Magyar Nemzet editorial, György Pilhál recalls that 56 years ago the country was united behind the revolution. He asks however whether a similar unity exists today and whether “we are able to defeat an opponent who has changed his uniform since?” Such forces, he suggests, make friends nowadays with the world of high finance, and attempt to “slice us up”. The outcome depends on “whether the unity achieved two years ago (at elections which resulted in a two thirds Fidesz majority in parliament) still persists.

Writing in Népszava, Socialist Party vice chairman Csaba Horváth finds it unjust that PM Orbán and his people “incessantly slander us, claiming that we are responsible for the crimes of the Communist society.” His generation, Horváth continues, learned about those times from books and from their grandparents, so how can they be considered guilty? He also remarks that the population is not at all united, unlike in 1956, but contends that the “line of irreconcilable opposition does not divide left and right, or liberals and nationalists. Horváth thinks a minority which is trying to transform democracy into autocracy is  opposed by a majority that wants democracy and freedom.

In Magyar Hírlap, editor-in-chief István Stefka argues that what distinguishes one Hungarian from another is their attitude towards 1956. One side accepts the revolution in its entirety, while the other looks for counter-revolutionary traits and possibly anti-Semitism in the heat of those events. He believes most Hungarians belong to the first group.