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Weeklies on season-opening opposition rallies

February 13th, 2023

Speeches by opposition leaders last weekend, at the start of the new ‘political season’ offer both pro-and anti-government commentators scant evidence that the opposition could mount a credible challenge to Fidesz in the foreseeable future.

Summarising statements by leading politicians of the Socialist Party, LMP, Momentum and the Democratic Coalition in Jelen, Zoltán Lakner finds one common denominator – namely that all plan to run for future elections on their own. In the run-up to last year’s general election, he remarks, the very same people believed they had found a panacea for all the ills of the opposition by forming a single alliance. After that alliance suffered a resounding defeat, Lakner continues, they now seem to believe in the opposite, although that in itself is no novelty. That was precisely the blunder that lost them the previous elections in 2018 by a large margin.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Balázs Gulyás describes the speeches as an opportunity for opposition leaders to frame themselves as messiahs while castigating all the rival candidates for that very role. The problem, he explains, is that at the end of the blame game, Prime Minister Orbán regularly ‘ushers them home from the playground’.

In his Magyar Hang editorial, Szabolcs Szerető condemns DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány as ‘the main obstacle to the renewal of the opposition and therefore the main guarantee for the survival of the Fidesz regime’. The opposition has no choice but to form a single alliance, he writes, since the ‘first past the post’ system in the individual constituencies makes such an alliance indispensable. At present, Szerető writes, the opposition represents no strategic challenge to the government. He nevertheless encourages them to strenuously work on an alternative, since otherwise, they will be unable to seize the opportunity of a change if and when it arises.

In Demokrata, Gábor Bencsik describes Mr Gyurcsány’s claim of being Prime Minister Orbán’s only challenger as wildly out of proportion. Fidesz, he argues, has been supported by roughly 50% of the electorate for the past 13 years, while the supporters of Gyurcsány’s Democratic Coalition make up a maximum 20%. Gyurcsány, he continues, is unable to properly assess his own political weight. As a result, Bencsik predicts further opposition defeats in the local council elections next year and the parliamentary elections in 2026.

In an embittered article in Élet és Irodalom, philosopher Péter Béndek thinks that the Hungarian population is simply not mature enough for democracy because they have never lived in a democratic society and because the regime change after the fall of communism was simply imposed on them. Meanwhile, he also lambasts the leaders of the opposition as utterly unfit for the job and deems it immoral of them not to resign.

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