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March 15 anniversary in the shadow of coronavirus

March 17th, 2020

A pro-government and a liberal pundit both call for national unity and solidarity – and accuse the other political camp of undermining trust.

Magyar Nemzet’s György Pilhál, in full agreement with the government, hopes that the coronavirus epidemic will strengthen Hungarian unity. Pilhál contends that the nation’s spirit has been steeled by crises and oppressio, both before the 1848 revolution and under the Communist regime. He summarily dismisses the accusations of opposition politicians who fear that the government is using the threat of the coronavirus to curb freedom and democracy. Pilhál believes that the national unity advocated by the 1848 revolutionaries is more important than ever to fight the pandemic.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta agrees that in times of emergency, unity and trust are crucial. The Hungarian government, however, will have a hard time convincing people of the need to cooperate, the liberal commentator believes. He claims that the government has failed to show any willingness to cooperate with anyone beyond its own camp. As a recent example, he mentions government spokesperson Zoltán Kovács, who in a Sunday press conference could not specify under which protocol Interior Minister Sándor Pintér is being tested for coronavirus after shaking hands with the Moroccan Minister of Transport and Logistics, although neither of them have symptoms. Tóta accuses the government of using double standards when testing Minister Pintér, but not offering the same level of care for doctors and nurses who take care of coronavirus patients. He goes so far as to liken the government spokesperson to ‘a growing urine spot on the government’s pants’ and describes Mr Kovács as ‘an idiot’ who undermines social trust with unprofessional communication.

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