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Népszava-debate on election boycott proposals

January 17th, 2018

OpEd contributors in the left-wing national daily disagree about whether or not the opposition should boycott the parliamentary election in April. One author argues that a boycott would force the outside world to act, while another retorts that ‘the game must be won on the pitch’.

In Népszava Tamás Beck agrees with leading columnist Miklós Hargitay, a former Népszabadság commentator who was elected chairman of the opposition-leaning National Journalist Union (MÚOSZ) last year and who urged the Left last Saturday to stay away from the Spring elections (See BudaPost, January 15). Beck writes that boycotting the election ‘is the solution’, as the government’s western critics are helpless as long as Hungary is ‘apparently democratic’ and the regime can claim to have ‘the popular will’ behind it. If, on the other hand, the opposition refuse to take part in the elections, ‘Brussels hawks’ would have a legal basis to cut Union funds to Hungary and thereby ‘bleed the government dry’.

Ferenc Dávid, another regular Népszava OpEd contributor, who is also the Secretary General of VOSZ, an employers’ association which groups mainly medium size enterprises, argues passionately against Hargitay’s idea. He suggests that in its current fragmented shape, with at least six groupings feuding among each other, with a maximum 25 per cent combined electoral base, boycotting the elections would backfire, because the turnout would still be large enough to legitimise the new government. In addition, boycotting an election presupposes a year-long campaign internally and internationally, he believes. His final verdict is that ‘the game must be won on the pitch’.

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