Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Remembering the fall of the Iron Curtain

August 23rd, 2014

Looking back on the 1989 Pan-European Picnic, a pro-government commentator contends that at the time, Hungarians had unrealistic hopes about the transition. He also believes that the West should show more respect towards Hungarian sovereignty. A left-wing columnist accuses PM Orbán of knocking liberal democracy again.

Addressing a conference to commemorate the fall of the Iron Curtain 25 years ago at Sopronkőhida, near the Austrian border on Tuesday, PM Orbán said Hungary has become a free country since the fall of Communism, but it still needs to fight high inflation, public debt and unemployment. He added that in order to overcome present economic and social challenges, Hungary cannot emulate either Western or Eastern blueprints. “We Hungarians are part of the Christian world and motivated by the love of freedom, and so we need to build a different economic and political system” than Russia, China or Japan. He added, however that we cannot simply replicate Western models, since these countries are also struggling to overcome their own deep systemic challenges.

Twenty-five years after the Pan-European Picnic one wonders if it was worth bringing down Communism, Dávid Megyeri writes in Magyar Nemzet. The pro-government columnist contends that Hungarians had unrealistically high expectations and hoped that through a democratic transition we would soon achieve Western living standards. “We have become much more humble in our hopes since then,” he continues. Hungarians no longer expect instant levels of Western welfare but still expect fairness from the West, which should include the right to determine if they want a liberal or a conservative democracy, Megyeri believes.

In Népszabadság, Ferenc Hajba contends that in his speech, PM Orbán used different language, but the essence of his remarks reiterated the illiberal vision of his earlier talk in Baile Tusnad (see BudaPost August 4). The left-wing pundit suspects that although PM Orbán avoided reiterating the term ‘illiberal’ this time, he suggested that the idea of a ‘third road’ which seemed nonsense 25 years ago is now being taken seriously. The correspondent takes that as proof that the Prime Minister considers liberal institutional checks and balances as unnecessary limitations for his government.

Tags: , , , ,