Lajos Bokros: Alliance needed to restore constitutional rule of law

January 31, 2014

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MOMA chairman and MEP Lajos Bokros

“In the absence of honorable economic policy there can be no growth.”

“Hungary’s most important task today … is for its leading political class to earn back its honor, which it must use to restore the nation’s dignity.”

“Without constitutional rule of law, democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion, there is no healthy society. There can be no economic competition in the absence of political competition. The markets cannot compete with an almighty state.”

                                                                                – Lajos Bokros, MOMA

In a speech given yesterday afternoon Lajos Bokros announced his Movement for a Modern Hungary will support the opposition alliance on the condition the parties agree that, upon coming to power, they will (1) pass fair electoral laws, and (2) restore the constitutional rule of law.

Bokros announced that MOMA, which he refers to as Hungary’s only center-right political party, was entering talks with the three main opposition parties to join the opposition alliance in the run-up to this year’s election. The surprise announcement was made in a packed auditorium at Budapest’s International Business School and was broadcast live on ATV (a privately-owned commercial radio station) and Klubradio (Hungary’s largest non-Fidesz controlled radio station).

After giving a brief welcoming speech, MOMA executive committee member Erzsebet Pusztai introduced the party chairman and European Parliamentarian Lajos Bokros, “He speaks five languages in the European Parliament, has worked as a consultant for at least 25 different countries, and teaches at three universities in two countries in three languages. He’s not your stereotypical politician. He’s Lajos Bokros.”

Bokros opened with a brief reading of Revelations chapter 3 verses 1-6 on the importance of repentance. Thanking ATV and Klubradio for breaking through the “communication quarantine” caused by the new media laws, he spoke about the practice of censorship over the course of Hungarian history:  Print censorship under Maria Theresa (1740-1780), the use of censorship spies and a censoring committee by Emperor Francis (1796-1835), the harsh censorship practiced under Metternich (1809-1848) and Bach (1849-1859), as well as censorship under communism under Gyorgy Aczel (1956-1988).

“Today the situation is different. At the broadcast headquarters of public television channels and certain privately-owned television stations, a man sits and reads the headlines. He is not a censor. But if he sees something he does not like, he removes it. If he sees something he likes, he includes it.”

“This government denies there is any censorship,” he continued. “At least Maria Theresa, Emperor Francis, Prince Metternich, Chancellor Bach, and Gyorgy Aczel had enough honor to admit they practiced censorship.” The audience laughed.

Referring to the aforementioned scripture, Mr Bokros begged the question,“What did Jesus say? ‘I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.’”

Mr Bokros continued by pointing out that this same kind of dishonor has permeated Hungarian economics. “This government insists Hungary is performing better.” He then proceeded to demonstrate that this is not the case using the following four diagrams (which his staff was kind enough to provide The Budapest Beacon).

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“According to the IMF by 2017 we will be in last place. Outstanding performance?! What did Jesus say? ‘I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.’”

“Economic policy must not only be reasonable and professional, it must also be honorable because the markets rely on trust. Contrary to command economies, what matters in the market economy is how its autonomous participants respond to the government’s message: with more investment or with divestment; creation of workplaces or destruction of workplaces; by paying taxes or with tax avoidance. In the absence of honorable economic policy there can be no growth.”

“This government’s first order of business was to utilize anti-reforms to destroy the country’s private pension system. They claimed to be protecting the pensions.  Here’s where things stand today: the sanctity of private property has been trampled underfoot. The country is getting older. There is an exodus of citizens leaving the country. This means that in 2030 it will take the contribution of one working adult to cover the cost of a decent pension for one retiree. They did not protect the private pensions, they squandered them. The national debt has not even decreased, despite them using up the private pensions. What did Jesus say? ‘I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.’ Hungary’s most important task today, or mission, if you prefer, is to have its leading political class earn back its honor, which it must use to restore the nation’s dignity.”

“The Movement for a Modern Hungary is a party that has national sentiments, but is inspired by Europe. We believe the only way Hungary can have its dignity restored is by ushering in economic and social policy that is reasonable, professional, stable, predictable, and cleansed of corruption to greatest extent possible.”

“But our problems are great. Since 2010 this government has not only done unprofessional, idiotic, dishonorable things to our economy, they have destroyed our nation’s constitution and the rule of law. I do not wish to speak at great lengths about this now (Imre Voros Imre and Jozsef Kajdi will talk about this subject later). I only mention this to illustrate that we have two tasks. It isn’t that we must simply straighten the wheel that has bent with time, nor is it as simple as restoring a professional economy.  We must rebuild our nation’s constitutional rule of law. And this is why we need the democratic powers to come together.”

“Today we are experiencing an openness on behalf of democratic parties on the left with respect to their willingness to accept the support of a conservative, center-right, European-inspired, nationally-obligated political party without us asking for anything. What are we asking for? Not positions, not places. Only one thing: a public guarantee, security, and commitment, that if the left will come to power after the election, it will restore the nation’s constitutional rule of law. This is the most important thing. Without a constitutional rule of law, democracy, freedom of the press, freedom of conscience, and freedom of religion, there is no healthy society. There can be no economic competition in the absence of political competition. The markets cannot compete with an almighty state.”

“There is no freedom of entrepreneurship or free trade. The two are tightly bound together. The system of checks-and-balances must be restored in our foundation, which will then strengthen not only our economic base, but also the independent citizen who is proud of his own work and accomplishments.”

“This is the focal point of the April 6 referendum.”

“The Movement for a Modern Hungary was the first to call the next election a ‘referendum’, and we will decide whether we want another four years of Fidesz’s destruction of our constitutional, legal, political, economic, societal, and social ways of life. If the opposition alliance accepts MOMA’s support, then all European center-right, patriotic Hungarians, and non-Hungarians living in Hungary as well, can warmly support and embrace the unified democratic opposition that will guarantee the restoration of a constitutional rule of law.”

“I am happy to announce that we have finally opened discussions with the three opposition parties which have decided to accept our honorable and unselfish offer of support. We hope that following a series of discussions we will be able to sign an agreement to restore the nation’s constitutional rule of law and also immediately draft a new election law, which does not force parties with opposing philosophies, worldviews, or platforms, to form coalitions out of compulsion, but instead makes possible a two-round election where every party – MOMA included – can have its own value system, worldview, philosophy, and platform sized-up by voters.”

“Therefore, this next election is not insignificant. It is going to be a referendum that will enable all of us to one day have normal and boring government-changing elections. The Movement for a Modern Hungary is willing to support the left’s opposition coalition from the outside if they accept these points in an accountable manner.”

Bokros concluded his speech by telling the audience that the philosophy of Movement for a Modern Hungary is “our homeland before everything else.”

In the event that opposition parties on the left bring Mr. Bokros’ center-right MOMA into the alliance, it will be the first time since 1989 that a broad alliance of opposition parties has threatened to unseat the current government.