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Dispatches from the trenches in the culture war

February 22nd, 2021

A pro-government commentator finds it justified for the government to have reclaimed national sovereignty from what he calls the ‘post-Communist deep state’. Two liberal analysts, on the other hand, accuse the Orbán government of uprooting democratic rule and introducing far-right authoritarian governance.

Magyar Nemzet’s Bálint Botond explains Hungary’s ‘recent economic and demographic successes’ as the results of the Orbán government’s efforts to recapture national sovereignty from the post-communist ‘deep state’. The pro-government sociologist believes that after 1990, Hungary’s economy as well as its cultural life and main institutions (including education, media, courts and police) were dominated by post-Communists and liberals committed to serving foreign interests and ideologies, and who put their private interests before the national interest. Botond goes so far as to claim that Communist leaders including General Secretary János Kádár and culture Czar György Aczél were more patriotic than post-1990 left-wing liberal elites. Botond finds it justified that the democratically elected national government reclaimed sovereignty from the post-communist deep state that, according to Botond, hindered Hungary from achieving its national aims.

In Élet és Irodalom, Andor Gellért and György Zdeborsky (who served as vice president of the National Bank before the regime change, and then as CEO of commercial banks) accuse the government of uprooting democracy and introducing far-right autocratic rule. The liberal economists suggest that since 2010, Fidesz has completely rewritten Hungary’s legal and institutional system in accordance with their own ideological views and political interests. By now, the Hungarian constitutional system does not operate as a democracy, but rather as a ‘radical nationalist far-right’ system, Gellért and Zdeborsky contend. They go on to note that the 2022 Parliamentary election will therefore not be a battle between Left and Right, but rather between ‘democracy on the one hand, and radical authoritarianism on the other’. In order to reverse such tendencies, they conclude, the opposition parties should cooperate with NGOs, and propose a new constitution.