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Environmentalism as a tool of political mobilization 

December 16th, 2019

Commentators across the political spectrum ponder whether and if so how green ideas are redrawing the political landscape.

On Index, Gergely Tóth accuses the government of downplaying the importance of climate change. The liberal commentator admits that the government acknowledges the potential implications of global warming on Hungarian agriculture, but accuses the authorities of finding environmentalist fears exaggerated and attributing ‘the climate hysteria to the Soros and gender lobby’. Tóth suspects that the Right has realized that green ideas may constitute the new identity doctrine for the Left, and green issues may divert attention from issues of migration that the government wants to keep on the agenda. ‘Climate politics is the first political current in history that is based on undeniable scientific facts’, he suggests, and accuses Fidesz and other populists parties of ignoring global warming because of its political implications. Tóth contends that populist parties do not support environmental proposals because these would impair national sovereignty, alter ‘national landscapes’ and harm the economic interests of their voters.

Mandiner’s Gergely Szilvay dismisses Tóth’s accusations. The conservative pundit claims that Hungarian right-wing voters are very much concerned about global warning, and conservative ideology rejects consumerism and favours national – that is, locally produced – goods. As for green politics, Szilvay writes that its main aim is to ‘sell clandestine far-left politics’ by blaming global warming on inequality, exploitation, racism, patriarchal oppression and colonialism. In Szilvay’s opinion, ‘left-wing climate hysteria is a pseudo-religion.’ He finds it absurd to claim that there is a clear scientific consensus concerning the pace of global warming.

In Magyar Nemzet, Örs Farkas accuses ‘Brussels’ of using green ideas to weaken Fidesz and other governments that put national interest first. The pro-government columnist thinks that Brussels’ liberal elites have failed to weaken Fidesz and PM Orbán by accusing them of violating basic democratic norms, and therefore now use environmentalism to confront them. Farkas suspects that the EU will try to use environmentalist arguments to cut Hungary’s access to structural funds.

In Élet és Irodalom, Lóránt Győri and Attila Juhász from the liberal think tank Political Capital cite EU surveys to show that European populations are increasingly polarized over global warming and migration. The authors point out that green movements advocate international cooperation, while anti-migration politics implies strong national sovereignty. They suggest that the two competing political camps use fear mongering rhetoric to incite ‘moral panic’ in society.

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