Thursday, 12 January 2012 09:13

Danube dilemmas

As the new year began, tens of thousands of Budapest's residents rallied against the politics of the Hungarian government. Prime minister Viktor Orbán, once "a national hero," who was supposed to offer Magyars "a new social contract" is now more well known as 'Viktator', "a disgrace for the nation." The main European newspapers don't usually pay too much attention to this beautiful country over the swirling Danube but now seem unable to publish an article without mentioning 'the destruction of democracy' and the 'violations of the human rights' perpetrated by the governing Fidesz party at the moment. The Hungarian Forint exchange rate is at its lowest level since the turn of the century. This is a bitter sign of the state's nosediving economy. 

Quite a lot of things to face for one nation, even one so experienced in surviving "the rough ages" (as it says in their passionate national anthem).

The most controversial act of the Hungarian government so far is the implementation of the new Constitution. For some (including the author) it contains some inaccurate provisions. Nevertheless, it cannot be ignored that the previous constitution was dictated by Stalin in 1949 and then only partially changed in 1989 (by the undemocratic assembly of the day), and was the subject of constant political violations during the last 20 years. In the light of these facts any critics should be a bit more careful. To me it seems that the new "Hungarian basic law" doesn't necessarily lead the country towards an autocratic regime.

What Prime Minister Orbán is doing is clear. Moreover, it's necessary. Hungary needs a resilient executive to outlast the current situation.

I cannot agree with new E&M author Simon's opinion a few days ago that the absence of the word 'republic' in the new (or the old, in fact) name of the country means the restoration of monarchy. When it comes to the President's right to dissolve parliament it's the same in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland; and we are not claiming these countries are under tyranny.

Published in Under Eastern Eyes
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