Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Tölgyessy on the remote possibility of a new regime change

December 29th, 2014

In a two part essay, a liberal pundit argues that for the moment, anti-government opposition groups do not offer a clue as to how they would govern if they succeeded in unseating the current government. The Prime Minister, he explains, has realized that in order to gain public support, he needs to govern according to public sentiments rooted in the late 1980s, in the last Communist years in Hungary.

The new anti-government demonstrators are aiming for a new regime change, Péter Tölgyessy writes on Index in a two-part analysis (part 1, part 2). Péter Tölgyessy performed an almost unique feat in Hungarian public life, by serving first as Chairman of the liberal Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) from 1991 to 1992, only to then become a Fidesz MP (1998-2006). Tölgyessy contends that Viktor Orbán, who began his political career in 1988-1989 as a left-leaning libertarian democratic rebel, came to realize that in order to gain power, one needs to follow public sentiments rooted in the culture of the Socialist era – which demand centralization and central governance rather than checks and balances. In Hungary, civil society has remained weak, and after the financial shocks of capitalist reforms in the early 1990s, Hungarians expected the state to provide welfare and shelter from economic competition, Tölgyessy maintains. He goes on to claim that PM Orbán has earned public support by using state power to protect the middle classes and restore national pride through nationalist rhetoric.

Commenting on recent anti-government protests, Tölgyessy suspects that although the demonstrations carry the promise of a new regime change, they might equally lead to what he calls a “Ukraine-style chaos”. The demonstrators, who include anti-globalist leftists as well as pro-market liberals, are united by their wish to completely replace the current political system. But Tölgyessy seriously doubts whether the current demonstrations can lead to the fall of the government. The new anti-government groups do not seem to have a coherent concept of how to govern. Nonetheless, he regards the protests, as a first sign of cracks in the homogeneous face of the regime.

Tags: , , ,