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What comes after the election?

April 23rd, 2018

Two weeks after the Parliamentary election, weeklies and weekend editions of dailies from across the political spectrum wonder if and how the opposition can recover from such a devastating blow.

In Heti Világgazdaság, László Mérő thinks that the April 8 election vindicated PM Orbán’s earlier statement that Hungarian voters want to replace the opposition rather than the government. The liberal commentator recommends to left-wing voters that they should simply ignore left-wing parties in the Parliament, as they will never be able to challenge Fidesz. Instead, Hungarians dissatisfied with the government should join the protests, and hope that a new generation of politicians will rise on the Left, Mérő suggests.

Heti Válasz editor-in-chief Gábor Borókai, on the other hand, thinks that the anti-government protests will lead to a dead end. Instead of futile demonstrations, the opposition should prepare a program and unite behind a strong leader who could unite anti-Orbán groups, he suggests.

Magyar Narancs in a front page editorial suggests that Hungary would need not only to replace the government but to restore democracy. In a comment on the anti-government protests (see BudaPost April 17), the left-liberal weekly suggests that any hope that the masses can successfully pressurise the government is a delusion. As ‘there are no strong democratic institutions left in Hungary’, protesters have no chance to achieve their political objectives, Magyar Narancs writes.

Magyar Demokrata’s László Szentesi Zöldi sees the Left’s reactions to the election as an indication that the opposition does not have a credible vision. To prove his case, the pro-government commentator recalls frequent left-wing media claims that opposition voters intended to leave Hungary if Fidesz won again. This, as well as the anti-government protests, show that the opposition has no clue how it imagines the future of the country, and how it would govern, if elected to power, Szentesi Zöld concludes.

In Mandiner, Kristóf Trombitás interprets the anti-government protests as another proof of what he calls the opposition’s ‘unprincipled opportunism’. The conservative blogger finds it peculiar that the Left is even willing to cooperate with Jobbik against Fidesz. In an aside, Trombitás recalls that wihle after the 2006 election, liberal and left-wing commentators lambasted right-wing protesters and accused them of undemocratic actions, now they call on their sympathizers to challenge the election results in the streets.

Magyar Hírlap’s Ervin Nagy writes that the Left may easily become hostage of what he calls an irrational anti-Orbán mob. Nagy, a former founding Jobbik member turned ardent pro-Fidesz columnist, thinks that opposition politicians are using the anti-government protests for their own purposes, but they can only do so by becoming subservient to the mass of people that demand all kinds of irrational and unjustified things including new elections. Nagy writes that the protesters, who include left-wing, liberal as well as Jobbik voters, may indeed create a new center. But this new center would be united only be the hatred of Fidesz and Prime Minister Orbán, and thus would not be able to reach consensus on a meaningful program.

In 168 Óra, Péter N. Nagy points out that traditional left-wing parties are suffering not only in Hungary, but throughout Europe. The left-wing columnist explains this by the Left’s failure to deliver on their promise of higher welfare, particularly since the 2008 financial crisis. As voters no longer support traditional welfare policies, the Left has taken a pro-market turn, Nagy explains. He finds it sad that the alternative to right-wing parties that push Europe towards what Nagy calls fascism, are left-wing parties that embrace global capitalism.

Magyar Idők’s Dániel Deák finds that the opposition parties are in deep crisis. The opposition has been defeated in the election, and since then, intra-party feuds erupted within the LMP and Jobbik. Deák nonetheless predicts very difficult times for the government. He speculates that after the defeat of left-wing parties, George Soros will use his NGO network as well as his allies in the EU to increase the pressure on the Hungarian government, and ‘weaken Hungary’s stability’.

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