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Opinions diverge on the opposition’s role in anti-government demonstrations

August 17th, 2022

A left-wing commentator suggests that the opposition parties should try to boost their popularity by supporting all kinds of anti-government demonstrations. A conservative columnist, on the other hand, lambasts the opposition for their lack of vision. A strong democracy, she adds, demands a responsible opposition.

NGOs have staged demonstrations in Budapest to protest against a government decree which lifts almost all restrictions on cutting down trees. The government rationale was that wood is still an important heating fuel for many households in Hungary, and more may well be needed this winter to ease potential shortages. Environmentalist NGOs accuse the government of allowing entrepreneurs to destroy Hungary’s protected forests. The government argues that forestry agencies know their job and will not allow that to happen.

In Népszava, Béla Hamburger calls on the opposition to show unity and strength by supporting anti-government demonstrations. The left-wing commentator believes that in order to gain popularity, the opposition parties unable to come up with convincing ideas and proposals should at least express their support to groups dissatisfied with the government’s policies. Such cooperation and solidarity may also help the opposition parties find able leaders that can represent the whole nation’s interests, Hamburger concludes.

Magyar Hírlap’s Dóra Nagy accuses the opposition of being behind the protests – which she finds pathetic. The pro-government columnist contends that the opposition wants to foment discontent but has no real vision or message beyond mindlessly criticizing PM Orbán. She surmises that the weakness of the opposition creates a democratic deficit in Hungary. In a proper democracy, opposition parties should offer a credible alternative to government policies and act responsibly ‘rather than chanting empty demagogic slogans’, Nagy recommends.

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