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Opposing narratives on 2022

January 2nd, 2023

A liberal and a right-wing author offer radically diverging interpretations on what the past year has meant in Hungarian politics.

On HVG online, former leading liberal party official Gábor Horn paints a gloomy picture of Hungary. The lone glimmer of hope he detects in the past 12 months was the joyful way high school students demonstrated in solidarity with their teachers. (For the background, see BudaPost, December 12.) He also looks back with nostalgia to the short-lived euphoria among opposition supporters during the primaries held in September 2021, ahead of the Parliamentary elections in April 2022. He describes the elections themselves as a huge disappointment, which he ascribes to ‘the self-interested yet incompetent opposition leaders’, in addition to what he describes as a ruthless campaign waged by the government side. In addition, he accuses the leaders of the opposition of refusing to learn any meaningful lessons from their crushing defeat in April. He decries the current state of politics in Hungary, where both sides believe that the opposing one intends to annihilate them, thus political struggles follow the logic of interstate wars. Finally, he returns to his opening theme, finding it uplifting that young girls and boys have demonstrated their readiness ‘to fight to make their country a better place’.

In a totally different spirit in Magyar Hírlap, right-wing analyst Ervin Nagy concentrates on what the pro-government media calls the ‘rolling dollars’ affair, that is the billions of forints in financial support the organisation of Péter Márki-Zay, the opposition candidate for Prime Minister received from a foundation based in the United States. (For the details, see BudaPost September 20.) He calls that case ‘the most scandalous public event of the past year’, adding that the opposition has failed to draw the most important lesson from what happened: that Hungarian elections must be won at home. He fears that the opposition may follow a ‘well-known scenario’, namely of creating havoc and then grabbing power. He believes they are too weak to push through such a strategy, but ‘overseas business and political groups that are interfering in Hungarian public life not only know that strategy but are also capable of implementing it’. Therefore, Nagy fears that 2023 ‘will (once again) be a year of self-defence, with intensifying pressure from progressive political circles overseas and in western Europe’. Under such conditions, he excludes appeasement and reconciliation, asserting that ‘reconciliation would amount to surrender’.

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