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Liberal authors call opposition leaders to account on morality

August 16th, 2021

Four fiercely government-critical weeklies slam opposition leaders who have used what they see as morally questionable means in their political campaigns. All nonetheless readily assure their leaders that they find the government side even more guilty of such behaviour.

In Élet és Irodalom, editor Zoltán Kovács strongly disapproves of a threat by DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány to send Fidesz luminaries to jail once the opposition wins next year’s election. He concedes that politicians must be able to reach out to the electorate, and one part of the  population certainly “want to see blood”. But there is another part of the audience, Kovács warns, which doesn’t. More importantly, let the courts decide who is going to jail, he suggests. That said, he agrees with Momentum leader András Fekete-Győr, who called PM Orbán and ‘his associates’ criminals. He only accepts that statement on a political level, however, and he criticises Fekete-Győr for adding that what remains to be seen is just the number of years they will have to spend in prison. Kovács thinks the public is sufficiently informed about what he calls pervasive corruption, therefore the opposition should work on its own weak spot, namely electability. It still owes its own audience proof that it is able to take the reins of government into its hands.

In Jelen, editor Zoltán Lakner condemns Péter Márki-Zay, one of the candidates in the opposition primaries for the post of Prime Minister, for repeatedly ‘addressing the possible sexual orientation of PM Viktor Orbán’s son in public’. Lakner, who came out as gay seven years ago, also dismisses Márki-Zay’s assertion that ‘Fidesz is the gayest party in Hungary’. First, because there is hardly any way to know if that is true, but more importantly because that discourse contributes to perpetuating what he calls the ‘gay stigma’. Mentioning the son of the Prime Minister as supposedly gay and questioning the Prime Minister’s love towards him, Lakner explains, amounts to fatally broadening the sphere of private matters which can be used in political conflicts. He calls fellow opponents of the government to ‘break that spiral’ and show that they still have scruples.

168 óra’s weekly editorial is devoted to the same subject, recalling that Another Way, a feature film by Károly Makk on a tragic lesbian love affair, could be shown in Hungarian cinemas in 1982 without stirring adverse emotions. Since homosexuality has now become a topic used for political purposes, as for instance a law stipulates that books referring to homosexuality (i.e., promoting or wantonly representing sexuality and homosexuality) should not to be sold within a 200-metre radius of schools and churches, and even outside that radius may only be sold in closed packaging, 168 óra fears things might be changing for the worse. Under such conditions, the left-liberal weekly writes, with Márki-Zay’s statement about who is gay in the Prime Minister’s family, the electoral campaign ‘has already hit rock bottom before it is even launched.’

In Magyar Hang, Balázs Gulyás vituperates against DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány for choosing a convicted embezzler as his party’s ally among the Roma.  Similarly, he remarks, the government side has also concluded a cooperation agreement with Flórián Farkas, the chairman of the ‘Gypsy Self-Government’, an elected body with petitioning rights under the constitution, although Farkas was found guilty of embezzling over 1 billion forints worth of European financial transfers. To spare the Prime Minister the embarrassment, the agreement was signed on his behalf by Parliament Speaker László Kövér, in what Gulyás describes as a ‘selfless gesture’. Orbán Kolompár, who has been chosen as DK’s partner, actually spent six months in jail for embezzling about 200 million forints of subsidies allotted for Gypsy organizations, and László Varjú the vice president of the Democratic Coalition volunteered to sign the cooperation agreement with him, in another ‘fine gesture’ to spare party chairman Ferenc Gyurcsány an unpleasant moment. Gulyás bitterly concludes that such moves look to him as if there was an open pact of reciprocal assistance between Fidesz and the Democratic Coalition, for they mutually depend on each other for survival.


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