Hungary’s political opposition reflects on the “Day of Public Outrage”

November 20, 2014


Three days after “Day of Public Outrage” protests took place across the country, Hungary’s political opposition reflects on its significance.

Dialogue for Hungary MP co-chair Timea Szabó believes the demonstrations signals “a new era in Hungary, definitely a new era within the Orban regime.” Szabo considers “a promising new development” the fact that a diverse group of protestors were prepared to demonstrate publicly for what they believe in.

“I haven’t seen such mobilization of young people in the past five years, and that makes me much more hopeful than I have been about the political situation in recent years. So far it seems that there is an understanding – or maybe an expectation from society – that politicians should work towards solving the country’s problems and should fight against the Fidesz government’s anti-democratic measures. Finally there’s hope that civil society has risen and has realized that without them, without the young people, without the voice of the future generations, real change cannot happen,” says Szabo.

When asked about her thoughts on the organizers’ desire to see party politics stay away from the protests, Szabo stated:

“As a party, Dialogue for Hungary did not participate in this demonstration because we really wanted to make sure the everyone respects the integrity of this civil society movement. As individuals we support the goals of these demonstrations and we participate only as individuals members of society –  mothers, fathers, people who are concerned about their childrens’ future.”

Szabo remains hopeful that the protests have had and will continue to have an impact.

“What is sure is that it’s absolutely unacceptable that the government says that everything is fine, that Vida Ildiko is not corrupt, and that even if there is any suspicion about any potential corruption that Vida Ildiko herself will lead the investigation into that. This is nonsense. This is what they would do in North Korea. I certainly hope that we are not there yet. I do also hope that the government will feel the pressure now from the people. They see that these demonstrations are not isolated incidents, so to speak, but will continue to be a series of expressions of distress and dissatisfaction with the government’s work. Hopefully, the Fidesz government will react to these demonstrations appropriately,” says Szabo.

Hungarians protested in more than 15 cities across Hungary as well as in a number of foreign cities.  When asked about the significance of this, Szabo says, “It’s also a hopeful sign that Hungarians are mobilizing around the world to stand up against this corrupt government and it is evident now that the government’s ‘freedom fight’ against the West, against the EU and the US, has backfired. What we’re seeing is that most Hungarians consider the EU and the US their strongest allies and these Hungarians have not and will not allow Fidesz’s demagoguery to falsely influence Hungarian society.”

Democratic Coalition politician Szabolcs Kerek-Barczy told the Beacon “2e must welcome the fact that civil society is active and makes its voice heard”. However, Kerek-Barczy believes that the protests may not be enough. “These demonstrations represent the best traditions of democratic activities, but do not replace professional political action or parties,” he says. Kerek-Barczy  believes the protests have the potential to influence the government, and that the government is likely to take greater care when preparing bills and executing policies in the future. However, Kerek-Barczy also emphasized the need to turn the civil unity on the issues presented at the protests into a broader political movement within Parlament itself. “Real shifts in the government’s behavior can best happen if Hungary’s democratic opposition parties were much stronger and united,” he says.

Liberal party Politics Can Be Different (LMP) and radical right-wing Jobbik responded to the following questions as follows:

What is your opinion about Monday’s demonstrations?

LMP: The outrage is understandable, and we agree with the causes of the dissatisfaction.  There is an elemental dissatisfaction with the past 25 years, and of course with the scandals of the recent past.  LMP came about to offer an alternative to the failures of the past 25 years. …  It’s an important confirmation for LMP that there are many who think in a manner similar to us and who are prepared to struggle for democracy.  Like the majority of protestors, we fight in a similar manner against the cynical and dishonest practices of the past 25 years.  While the crow was varied, we fundamentally share the same values.  Transparency and social justice are among the most important basic values of LMP.

Jobbik:  We can agree with the goals of the protests, but we condemn its methods which seems likely to have taken place with America’s support. The foul language, the content of the speeches, as well as the grotesque post-modern attire would have been tragic-comedic if we hadn’t seen the believers in a system that claimed the lives of 100 million people.  The west’s anarcho-leftists troublemakers have thus stayed away from our country, but it appears as if the left-wing which has been in the dustbin of history still managed to generate this movement.

Do you think the demonstrations will help clarify the matters with regard to NAV raised by the USA?  Will the demonstrations have any influence with regard to Ildikó Vida’s position?

LMP:  The significance of the demonstrations is that the government cannot resolve the accusation of corruption with a whisk as has been customary over the past four years.  The years of political insensitivity are over, and we welcome the fact that more people are paying attention and expressing their opinion on public matters.   We ourselves must throw off corruption at home.  Ildikó Vida must resign for allowing the tax authority to come under suspicion as a result of her failure to speak out for weeks after the matter broke out.

Jobbik:  It is without doubt that the protests have managed to apply some kind of pressure on the government. However, knowing the position of Fidesz, this may have just provoked the exact opposite reaction expected by the protestors. Fidesz, and especially Viktor Orban, has always stuck to its position when pressured from the outside. … Jobbik would like to emphasize the importance of Hungary retaining its sovereignty. It is unacceptable for any foreign country to interfere with Hungary’s domestic affairs and economy. We condemn the obvious attempt to destabilize Hungary, and the attempt to use information obtained through the illegal surveillance program. Jobbik expects is ally to provide evidence of the any criminal activities and make it public.

What do you think of the fact that Monday’s events did not only take place in Budapest, but spread to other cities in Hungary?  What is the significance of this?

LMP: There is nothing surprising about this.  People living in the countryside have many reasons to be outraged.  It’s enough if we think about the ground scandals, Kishantos, or the destruction of the national parks currently underway.   But many city dwellers are also rightfully outraged over the weakening of higher education.

JOBBIK:  It’s understable that Fidesz’s arrogant, anti-family and small business-destroying ppolicies will provoke those living in the countryside. Many similar protests have taken place before, but unfortunately the press was far less interested in those than in the politicization of scandals by some anarcho-leftists.