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Opening anti-government demonstration of the New Year

January 5th, 2015

Left-wing bloggers wonder if the demonstrations continuing into the New Year carry messages meaningful enough to eventually produce a new political majority, while conservative commentators suggest that the organisers have yet to offer constructive proposals for Hungary, beyond the desire to rid the country of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

On the Magyar Narancs webpage, Zsolt Zsebesi writes that the “all for one and one for all” opposition has not only not found the solution to Hungary’s problems but is still seeking even the organisational setup in which the solution may be formulated. Several thousand people gathered in Budapest because they want to act and are ready to stand behind those who have a strategy of change, he says. Those therefore who feel being strong enough to call demonstrations every two or three weeks must deliver what is expected from them: people want new faces, parties with blank record sheets as well as simple and clear slogans. Zsebesi proposes a dozen such ideas, from a new constitution to be adopted by referendum to a new proportional electoral system.

On 444, Péter Uj argues that in the absence of a real opposition movement or party, single issue demonstrations are the most efficient means of countering the regime, but anti-government protest rallies are becoming more and more ‘multi-issue’ and the demands are increasingly chaotic. About 5 to 6000 people did gather, less than in November 2012, but  Uj’s main objection is that they probably went home “none the cleverer”. Most were middle-class citizens who must have been baffled to hear anti-capitalist and utopian speeches about “a society based on equality”. He also criticises as inconsistent a speaker who demanded less state intervention and the elimination of poverty at the same time. He describes the slogans enthusiastically welcomed by the demonstrators (“a new regime change”, “new constitution”, “Republic”) as idols of superstition. Demonstrators were angry enough to listen to “this nonsense” in the cold, in order to be able to “send Orbán packing” aloud.

On Kettős Mérce, András Jámbor jumps to the defence of the demonstrators against such ”friendly fire”, and argues that one should not expect a demonstration to produce a ready-made plan of how Orbán’s regime should be chased away. He even considers Friday’s demonstration to be the most important event of the past seventy days of protest-waves, which started last autumn. For the first time, he believes, speakers succeeded in setting out meaningful ideas, even if he doesn’t share most of them and even if they contradicted each other. For the first time the public could hear strategic proposals, and the speeches could be interpreted as the start of a meaningful dialogue.

Don’t lie to yourselves, András!”, Ákos Gergely Balogh replies to Jámbor on Mandiner. He believes no ideas worthy of the name were put forward during the demonstration, let alone strategies. The crowd could not even bring itself to repeat some of the slogans the speakers wanted to put in their mouths. The speeches gave no indication of what the organisers would like a future government to do, Balog claims, and “although words like ‘constitution’, ‘republic’ and ‘solidarity’ were bandied apart, they sounded like ‘emptiness’, ’emptiness’, and ‘emptiness’.” To say that the future Hungary should be the exact opposite of what is happening today under the present government is too little to be appreciated, Balogh concludes.

On Jobbegyenes, Bálint  Bazsó thinks that Friday’s demonstration was proof that the series of demonstrations which started last autumn have run out of steam, and have only one serious proposal, namely that the Prime Minister should be sent packing. A few tens of thousands of people can be called to the streets against Viktor Orbán and (Cabinet Minister) János Lázár, he writes, but that doesn’t make a demonstration successful. Most Hungarians, he continues, even if they are fed up with the present leaders, feel that the organisers and speakers of the opposition rallies do not represent an alternative to the incumbent and are even more amateurish than the traditional left-wing parties.



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