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Sólyom’s appeal ‘vote positive’

April 5th, 2014

An opposition commentator explores the stance taken by former President László Sólyom and claims that he defined Fidesz as one of the evils in the upcoming election. He takes it for granted that Sólyom considers the Socialist-led Left an evil, but believes that the former President now sees it as the lesser one. 

László Sólyom, formerly a member of the centre-right MDF and founding president of the Constitutional Court, was originally nominated for the Presidency in 2005 by an environmental watchdog group, which later helped found the LMP. The Socialists nominated Katalin Szili (who currently leads a small splinter party) but the Free Democrats were not willing to support her, which made it possible for Fidesz to have him elected. The presidential office is mostly symbolic in Hungary but Sólyom tried to turn his presidency into an active force in politics through statements critical of both governments in office during his tenure. His relations with the Fidesz-led government became especially strained after Fidesz accepted a new constitution and barred the Constitutional Court from ruling over taxes. In a recent interview with Origo,  he suggested that voters dissatisfied with the two big blocks should vote for smaller parties, and considered it morally wrong to choose the lesser evil. It is generally taken for granted that the former President primarily addressed his plea to those who want to vote for the Socialists and their allies despite their misgivings (See BudaPost, March 27).

In Népszabadság, Miklós Hargitai acknowledges that the former President took care not to side with any political party; nevertheless, he interprets Sólyom’s remark as a clear indication that he now considers Fidesz, the party that elected him as President, one of the two evils. He does not explicitly contradict Sólyom’s statement that voting for evil, even if it is the lesser one, is wrong. But he believes that the present government is leading Hungary back to a society where loyalty is the only key to success, and considers it therefore the greater evil. He admits that the former President is right in advocating a vote “for good rather than the lesser evil”. However, without actually rejecting Sólyom’s plea in favour of smaller parties, Hargitai declares that voting for the greater evil is unpardonable.


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