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Opposition united in opposing the government

January 7th, 2019

After the ‘protest oath’ taken by opposition MPs on the steps of the parliament building and before Saturday’s mass demonstration, commentators tried to make sense of the newly forged unity among opposition parties – some of which until recently opposed one another just as fiercely as they opposed Fidesz.

Róbert Puzsér, an independent columnist known for his highly opinionated comments, and who will be running for the post of Budapest mayor later this year dismisses the latest performance of the opposition parties as a pathetic stunt. By taking an oath to represent the five points of the final demonstration of last year, he writes, the left-wing parties have adopted “all the idiocies” of the far right on the one hand while trying to legitimise their dismal past by allying themselves with the brand-new and youthful Momentum party. Last year, Puzsér recalls, they tried the same operation with the leader of a tiny left-wing party, the moderately young Gergely Karácsony as its lead candidate in the Parliamentary election, with the tragic outcome of the third crushing Fidesz victory in a row.

On 888, Zsófia Horváth sees the leaders of the opposition as a group of people moved by their own narcissism – as shown by their live streams of their public appearances. Narcissism, she writes, is an attitude that promotes individualism and is more likely to produce theories than mass movements because it has a destructive effect on communities. By contrast, she continues, the government side has chosen the tactics of splitting the political field into “good guys and bad guys”, which is of course a gross simplification, but is extremely efficient in creating a community. In situations of crisis both attitudes tend to radicalise and the stronger community whose members are more solidly bound together is destined to win. The pro-government commentator is therefore optimistic about the prospects in store for the governing side in 2019.

In Népszava, György Sebes warns the government that it is its own fault that the opposition is taking to the streets. Last week, he recalls the opposition convened an extraordinary session of Parliament to discuss what it calls the “slave law” which increased the annual number of admissible overtime hours from 250 to 400, as well as to challenge what opposition deputies sen as the illegal procedure employed to bludgeon it swiftly through. The government side, however, boycotted the session which therefore lacked the necessary quorum. This is why the opposition MPs lined up on the main steps of the parliament building to take their oath in support of their five points. The government side, Sebes writes, considers Parliament as “their own exclusive playground” which leaves the opposition with no option but to take to the streets. Meanwhile, he concludes, the government side is hoping that their “castle of sand will stand forever”.

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