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Weeklies on resignations and the stability of the government

February 19th, 2024

Just as last week, when weeklies went to print too early to comment on President Novák’s resignation in the wake of the paedophile pardon scandal, this week they were already on the stands when former Culture Minister Zoltán Balog resigned as chief Bishop of the Calvinist church for his role in convincing the President to pardon a man convicted for assisting a paedophile offender. Nor could they react to the demonstration of tens of thousands of people in Budapest on Friday night. Commentators discuss the resignations of the past week and why despite successive crises, the government’s position appears unshaken.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta believes that the paedophile pardon scandal could ’sweep aside’ the President of the Republic and the former Minister of Justice who countersigned the pardon because a media world independent of the government still exists. The news of the pardon surfaced almost a year after it went into effect because someone who found it in official documents could find outlets that would publish it. The news was broken by 444, whereupon the details were amplified by Heti Világgazdaság, Telex and the rest of the opposition media, he explains. Tóta accuses the government of intending to launch a new campaign against that opposition media world through its recently enacted Sovereignty Protection Act. (See BudaPost, 203. November 27.)

In Demokrata, on the other hand, András Bencsik describes Bishop Balog, without mentioning him by name, as a ’good person’ who interceded to save a ’straying sheep’ not mindful of destroying the moral bastion of the government side, that is the ’leave our children alone’ principle. However, he continues, that bastion was only damaged and President Katalin Novák and former justice minister Judit Varga saved it from collapse with their resignations. In his final remark, he calls on the pro-government side not to abandon the two ladies who have done so much for their community.

In Jelen, Zoltán Lakner tries to answer the question of why despite consecutive crises including this latest one, the government shows no signs of weakening. He believes that Hungary is not a democracy, nevertheless, he believes it possible for the opposition to achieve a shift in the balance of power and create the conditions for what he calls the restoration of democracy. For that to happen, Lakner writes, opposition parties should unite behind one strategy and one project to submit to the electorate for judgment. Instead, they tend to resign themselves to their current plight and mainly focus on rivalry with fellow opposition forces, he complains.

In Mandiner, philosopher András Lánczi concedes that with all the recent crises like the COVID pandemic, inflation, economic policy issues, and cases of foreign interference, according to political science textbooks, Prime Minister Orbán should have been voted out of office a long time ago. He suggests that such an event is not on the cards because Fidesz has managed to represent the historical experience accumulated by several generations and meanwhile offers a system of values that bolsters people’s self-esteem. It also offers the opposite of the left-liberal worldview of relativism, namely the conviction that ‘truth exists’ which is an idea without which ’people just cannot live’. All in all, he concludes, Fidesz has accumulated substantial moral capital – and its political success will last as long as that capital is not squandered.


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