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Did ‘Monday of Outrage’ herald the birth of a new opposition?

November 24th, 2014

Left-wing analysts are sceptical about the future of this autumn’s protest movement, while a conservative commentator claims that as long as the protesters don’t know themselves what they want, they will not pose any threat to the incumbent government. More radical authors  believe that influential circles abroad would not mind toppling PM Orbán.

In their weekly editorial, the editors of Magyar Narancs condemn the demonstrators who rejected the entire period of twenty-five years that has passed since the regime change. It’s a “bad, unfair and stupid” analysis and therefore will “not yield anything positive in the future”, the editors believe. As they see it, previous left-wing governments “at least didn’t let a few million fellow citizens starve to death, while the present one actually considers this as its aim”. How could the new movement become a political alternative, they ask, for even if it could topple PM Orbán, politics and politicians will be back on the stage the day after. Magyar Narancs believes that the autumn protesters had better unite with the traditional opposition: “they would achieve more together than without each other”.

In 168 óra, Zoltán Lakner believes that it is wrong to expect spontaneous demonstrations to offer an alternative to the ruling parties. Public life, he explains, is not the exclusive terrain of political parties. People who reject all existing parties may express legitimate dissatisfaction and although such an attitude may cause difficulties in the long run, for the moment it is worth trying to understand the reasons. The demonstrators express a kind of dissatisfaction and frustration that was part of Hungary’s life well before 2010 and this is why the current left-wing opposition is not in a position to take the lead of the spontaneous movement. Lakner doesn’t believe that the past twenty-five years should be relegated to the dustbin but the parties should first and foremost understand those who think so and try to offer solutions for them.

On Mandiner, Gellért Rajcsányi recalls that the autumn protest was sparked by the government’s plan to impose a tax on the internet. When the bill was taken off the agenda, the organisers had to decide what to do next and opted for another demonstration – this time mainly about corruption. Rajcsányi believes that the demonstrators should first find out who they are and what they want. For the moment they don’t seem to understand the needs of the society they want to change and therefore the wave of unrest will soon subside, he predicts. Without faith and without a world outlook they will not be able to become a challenge for the government.

In Magyar Hírlap, István Lovas says the demonstrations have proven wrong those left-wing pundits who have complained for years on Klub Radio that there is no democracy or freedom in Hungary anymore, and that people are afraid to take to the streets. “They – and the whole western world echoing them – can’t wait for a bloody civil war to break out in Hungary,” he fulminates. To prove his point he quotes authors from Galamus and Élet és Irodalom, who believe that Prime Minister Orbán cannot be voted out of office peacefully. He claims that the same people and their Western supporters were not worried when police under a Socialist government used brutal violence against demonstrators in 2006. Their main human rights concern was to take the yearly Gay Pride March under their protective wings. Now they also complain that Fidesz has won three elections this year because it changed the rules in its own favour. However, Lovas remarks, one of the three, the election for the European Parliament was held under European rules and yielded exactly the same result. He warns those whom he suspects of dreaming of civil war, that the Hungarian people “will be up to the challenge.”

In his weekly Demokrata editorial, András Bencsik also believes that “the United States wouldn’t shrink from generating even violent domestic tension in order to weaken the Orbán government. But since the left-wing parties are not in a position to rally an opposition behind their banners any time soon, he continues, there must be another scenario according to which opponents should be found within the right wing itself. The right wing is too broad to be homogenous; dissatisfied and sceptical people may be found who might split the ruling party. Within the right-wing, he explains, there are a high number of US sympathisers who are worried about the government’s autonomous policies. “This Atlanticist and pragmatic wing does possess the intellectual capital necessary to set up a so-called pro-European alternative to Orbán’s camp.” In conclusion, Bencsik calls upon all groups of the right wing to stick together – “this will be our main task over the forthcoming months.”


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