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A one-party system in the making?

October 6th, 2014

One week before  the municipal elections, commentators see critical signs on both sides of the dividing line between mainstream parties. But they disagree on the nature of the political model being shaped by a majority which is increasingly left without a powerful opposition.

In her HVG cover story, political analyst Mária Csanádi argues that Fidesz is building a one party system reminiscent of the communist regime of earlier decades. She finds evidence for this in a recent regulation which allows party members to fill top jobs in public export financing institutions. She believes the ruling party is thus extending itself into the economy which “is part of the construction process of a party state”. She likens what is happening to how the communist party established control over all spheres of life in the early 1950s. She admits that there is no sweeping nationalisation underway, nevertheless Fidesz is becoming the only force in the political arena. She goes so far as to compare today’s Hungary to the Stalinist era and Mao Tse-tung’s China in terms of overlapping political and business influence.
Commenting on Csanádi’s thesis in Heti Válasz, András Bódis thinks HVG readers “are surely more intelligent than that”. He finds it absurd to accuse Fidesz of building a one-party system when it is the left-wing parties who are progressively dismantling themselves. He enumerates the individual left-wing parties with their current miseries and failures, starting with the MSZP, which doesn’t even have a candidate Budapest Mayor to vote for. While its national leadership refuses to back Lajos Bokros, a conservative liberal, its Budapest leaders are ready to campaign for him. Thus, Bódis believes, the MSZP is bound to fall apart after the municipal elections. Together and PM are still one party nominally, but have disagreed on the same issue and since former Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai withdrew from politics, that party is “like the Dallas classical TV series without Jockey Ewing.” The Democratic Coalition does exist as a party, but its leader, Ferenc Gyurcsány is too divisive a personality to ever represent a danger to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Bokros’s party is “invisible to the naked eye” just like the small Liberal party. The LMP has only one noticeable politician on board, and therefore “it doesn’t exist” as a party. “And after all this HVG believes it is Fidesz that is building a one-party system”, Bódis concludes.
In his weekly editorial, Heti Válasz editor Gábor Borókai warns that the weakness of the opposition may lead government politicians onto morally slippery slopes. He paints a picture of a “self-assured and haughty social group” which feels beyond moral rules, buys expensive real estate, drives luxury cars, holds birthday parties which cost tens of millions and even have no qualms about publicising all that in the press. “Although the origins of their wealth are at best uncertain”. It is time to warn them that the law is equal for everyone, Borókai continues. The trouble begins when morality and moderation “disappear from the system”, the pro-government pundit concludes and depicts a possible scenario where voters get fed up with immoral rulers and chase them away.
Left-liberal commentators suggest that Borókai’s article contains direct reference to important personalities, although without mentioning any of them by name. On 444, Bencze Horváth suggests that they include the newly appointed Foreign Minister, the Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s office, Fidesz’s parliamentary floor leader and the man in charge of subsidising movies.

On Cink, editor László Szily also believes that one of the personalities targeted by Heti Válasz’s editor-in-chief is the Foreign Minister. Szily recommends Borókai’s editorial to “non Fidesz supporting readers” who are convinced that the government side consists exclusively of brainwashed and blinkered people who live in an alternative reality.

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