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PM Orbán announces the end of liberalism

July 29th, 2014

Analysing the Prime Minister’s speech on Saturday at the Fidesz sponsored traditional summer “free university” in Transylvania, commentators disagree on whether Mr Orbán has opted for an authoritarian model of government or just intends to increase the role of the government in promoting growth and competitiveness.

Addressing the crowds at Fidesz’s annual Youth Free University at the Carpathian resort town of Baile Tusnad (Tusnádfürdő), in Romania, PM Orbán said the era of liberal democracies is over and Hungary is building a “labour-based state” where the national interest will prevail. He said a parliamentary committee will look into the activities of those NGOs that are in reality groups of political activists financed by foreign entities for their own interests. He said a democracy does not necessarily have to be liberal. He mentioned Russia, Turkey, India and China as examples of states which are not necessarily democratic but which have still performed better than the West in terms of competitiveness. He added that Hungary remains firmly anchored in the EU and NATO.

In a front page editorial, Népszabadság accuses the Prime Minister of siding with undemocratic eastern regimes rather than western democracies. Meanwhile, the analysis continues, hundreds of thousands of Hungarians have found jobs in the West and Hungary’s new public investment projects are financed to a great extent from EU funds. The Prime Minister thus expects the European Union to solve Hungary’s problems, but denies it the right to oversee how its money is  used. “It appears that Orbán has crossed the line” dividing the West from the East, Népszabadság contends.

In his Magyar Nemzet editorial, Csaba Lukács  says “former privatisers” dislike the idea of a “new world” where government is at the service of the nation, while“professional fearmongers” loudly decry “the end of democracy”, call Mr Orbán the “Hungarian Putin” and urge “everyone to flee” before it is too late. “I don’t understand what the point is in generating horror at the word ‘labour’,” he continues. Increasing welfare expenditures beyond what the country can afford would only lead Hungary into an ever deeper abyss. In a separate aside, he vehemently criticises the Prime Minister’s press secretary who went so far as to “physically insult” Magyar Nemzet’s photographer, instead of offering his services to him, as his job would dictate. “People who are rather servile by nature but stupidly aggressive towards the outside world have multiplied around the Prime Minister at an alarming rate,” Lukács complains. (In a press release reacting to the article, the press secretary denied having insulted anyone in any way.) 

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