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In defence of “populism”

December 23rd, 2013

A pro-government pundit thinks the post-war European welfare democracies are in decline and Hungary has stumbled into criticism from her European partners precisely because she is seeking a solution to that problem.

In his weekly Heti Válasz column, editor Gábor Borókai argues that Western Europe has become less and less competitive over the past few decades and has only managed to keep its welfare model by slipping heavily into debt. As a result of its failure to prevent the “massive release of financial garbage”, its democratic setup risks losing the confidence of the public, he continues. Borókai thinks that setup is too impersonal and instead of “faceless experts”, people now tend to prefer flesh-and blood leaders who speak their language “something that is often called populism nowadays”. Without mentioning Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his two thirds parliamentary majority by name,  Borókai says that what distinguishes Hungary from many other European countries is the fact that ”the forces of transformation have found effective representatives”. He rejects exhortations by liberals for Hungary to “resume its place on the benches of European school banks and try to be a good pupil”. About a 100 days before the probable date of the next elections, the editor of Heti Válasz suggests that rather than “falling back into the ranks of an era in decline”, Hungary should “contribute to shaping a new Europe – for the first time in its history”.

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