Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Weeklies on Ukraine and the plight of the opposition

September 4th, 2023

Commentators ponder the significance of President Novák’s visit to Kyiv and wonder aloud what the right approach to the war in Ukraine might be. Another topic analysts dissect is whether the opposition can (ever) put up a meaningful challenge to the government.

In one of its regular weekly editorials, Magyar Narancs writes that President Katalin Novák plays the role of ‘Viktor Orbán with a human face,’ and it was precisely in that role that she travelled to Ukraine and met President Zelensky. The editors of the liberal weekly believe that the Hungarian President’s words condemning the Russian aggression are nearer to the mainstream European position than to the position of the Hungarian government. They predict that Mrs Novák’s trip to Ukraine will not ease Mr Orbán’s international isolation because the Prime Minister, they suggest, is widely seen as a ‘supporter of Russian imperialist ambitions and as a traitor to the European community’.

In his weekly column in Demokrata, Gábor Bencsik takes up the defence of Hungary’s stance on Ukraine, arguing that while the dominating Western attitude is based on moral considerations, it ignores realities. He asserts that it is strictly impossible to force Russia out of all the Ukrainian territories it has annexed, therefore the course followed by leading Western powers is resulting in ever more casualties and destruction without even the slightest chance of Ukraine defeating Russia. Under such conditions, he concludes, even morally speaking, the duty of the West would be to seek ways to achieve the earliest possible ceasefire.

Reflecting on another event last week, Jelen’s Zoltán Lakner disagrees with opposition luminaries, including former candidate for Prime Minister Péter Márki-Zay, who accepted the invitation to the Fidesz ‘Tranzit’ festival on the Tihany peninsula at Lake Balaton. He believes their presence in a few debates with government officials only served to create a semblance of democracy, whereas the chieftains of the government side rarely take part in such debates or give serious interviews to opposition-leaning newsmen. Taking selfies with the operators of what he calls an autocracy, Lakner suggests, is suicidal for opposition politicians.

In an even more opinionated, full-page article in Élet és Irodalom, István Tömpe who served as the last head of the privatisation agency before the 1990 regime change, describes the current regime as ‘reform fascism’ and lambasts the opposition for accepting what he sees as a peripheral role within it. He concedes though that unlike in classical dictatorships, there are no political prisoners or physical terror. He adds, nonetheless, that the regime hardly needs such devices, since most of the population seems resigned to the apparently unchangeable nature of Fidesz rule. His only hope lies in small local protests that keep the spirit of resistance alive.

In Mandiner, pro-government philosopher András Lánczi also believes there is no real opposition in Hungary, but suggests the reason is that those who disagree with the policies of the Prime Minister do not even try to come up with an alternative programme, let alone create a vision of where mankind is heading. He contrasts them with the Prime Minister, whom he describes as politically active on a global level, waxing lyrical to Hungarians and the global population alike on energy supply, the changes underway in great power relations, intercontinental migration, and dangerous demographic processes. By contrast, the leaders of the various opposition groupings confine themselves to declaring themselves Greens, left-wing or conservatives and sending messages on insignificant issues. Any policy can only aim to be successful, Lánczi concludes, by expressing sweeping moral and intellectual power, otherwise the majority won’t even listen to it.

Tags: , , ,