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PM Orbán on death penalty

April 30th, 2015

Liberal commentators accuse Prime Minister Viktor Orbán of co-opting the rhetoric of the radical nationalist Jobbik party, by calling for the death penalty to be ‘kept on the agenda’. A pro-party government lawyer believes that the government cannot simply ignore the ‘majority view’ which he believes would support its reintroduction.

In a comment on the recent brutal murder of a tobacco shop assistant, Mr Orbán said that his government has already introduced lifelong imprisonment and a law to fight violent crime. He said that these measures have not proven sufficient to deter criminals, and thus “the question of the death penalty should be kept on the agenda in order to protect Hungarians. This was not the first time he has suggested that he could imagine the reintroduction of the death penalty. Since 2002, he has expressed his belief that the death sentence is an effective tool for deterring violent criminals, while adding that he was aware that its introduction would be contrary to EU norms.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Tamás Gomperz finds it nauseating to suggest that the death penalty should be considered. The liberal commentator contends that Mr Orbán’s statement violates basic European, Christian and humanitarian principles. Gomperz believes that the suggestion will strengthen Jobbik, since the radical party has demanded the reintroduction of the death penalty for a long time.

PM Orbán is not the Devil, he only follows rational calculations, László Szily contends on Cink. The Prime Minister wants to stop Jobbik’s advance and reclaim conservative voters from the emerging radical right-wing party, the liberal pundit suggests. In the absence of a left-wing challenger, the Prime Minister is focussing on the far-right rather than moving to the centre. If this strategy works, and he succeeds in solidifying Fidesz’ lead and defeats Jobbik in 2018, no one will bother to criticize him for this statement. “PM Orbán’s strategy is disgusting, but fully legitimate,” Szily remarks, adding that it is disappointing that the governing party seems to have no means to stop Jobbik other than co-opting the far-right party’s rhetoric.

The majority of Hungarians agree that the death penalty should be reintroduced, Kata Losonczi in Napi Gazdaság quotes Zoltán Lomnici Jr, spokesman of the pro-government CÖF. The conservative constitutional lawyer believes that a democratically elected government representing the will of the people cannot ignore the majority view according to which the death sentence is an effective means of reducing crime. Keeping the question of the death penalty in the order of the day is thus not simply an option, but to a certain extent the duty of the government, Lomnici argues. He also remarks that the death penalty is part of the jurisdiction of several US states.

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