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Government to revive old public administration terminology

June 24th, 2022

Two left-wing commentators disagree on whether the reintroduction of historical names for administrative regions of the country, as proposed by a Fidesz MP, are further proof of an authoritarian turn in Hungary. A pro-government columnist finds absurd the suggestion that the renaming process would take Hungary back to feudalism.

Fidesz MP Máté Kocsis proposed the reintroduction of the administrative term of ispán’ (count) to replace ‘government commissioner’ and ‘castle district’ as a replacement for county. Both terms were in use in Hungary until World War 2.

In Népszava, Zsolt Kácsor interprets the revival of the old administrative terms as a clear indication of the governing party’s authoritarian turn. The left-wing commentator recalls that Viktor Orbán in 1990 staunchly opposed the conservative MDF’s proposal to bring back old administrative names. Kácsor thinks that most Hungarians will associate ‘ispán’ and ‘castle district’ with the anti-Semitism of the interwar Horthy-era. He wonders if Orbán will stop here, or make Hungary a kingdom again.

Writing in the same daily, Bence Árpási sees the reintroduction of such old terms as a red herring. The government simply wants to divert attention from surging inflation and other economic problems it cannot tackle, he suggests. Árpási recommends that the opposition just ignore the symbolic stunt completely.

Magyar Nemzet’s Sándor Faggyas welcomes the proposal, claiming that it will restore the historical continuity of the Hungarian constitutional system, and will also strengthen a sense of national belonging. The pro-government columnist finds groundless or even absurd any suggestion that by reintroducing the term, Hungary will return to the Middle Ages and feudalism.

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