Celebrating 25 years of Hungary’s parliament without the opposition

I am still sometimes surprised by the true extent of the Orbán government’s small-mindedness, its pettiness and the remarkably arrogant, self-serving use of public funds. It has been 25 years since the formation of Hungary’s first democratically elected parliament in May 1990. The government-funded Veritas Research Institute, led by historian Sándor Szakály–who callously called the deportation of Jews during the Holocaust as nothing more than “police action against aliens”–organized a special conference in Parliament to commemorate 25 years of parliamentary rule in Hungary. None of the key liberal or left-wing political players during the change in regime or from the previous two and a half decades were invited.

The fact that not a single former politician or public thinker associated with the now defunct Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) or the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) was present is inexplicable. SZDSZ formed the official opposition during the first parliament of 1990 and the party, known for an anticommunist stance that was more unwavering than that of the right-centre Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF), was later a junior coalition partner in three democratically elected Socialist governments.

Of Hungary’s living former prime ministers, only the conservative Péter Boross (who served briefly following the death József Antall in December 1993) was present at the Veritas event. Péter Medgyessy, Ferenc Gyurcsány and Gordon Bajnai–all living former heads of government affiliated with the left–were missing,

To add insult to injury, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán couldn’t stop himself from using this commemorative conference to attack Mr. Gyurcsány, and in a totally unnecessary manner. In his speech, he brought up the infamous and leaked Őszöd speech by then Prime Minister Gyurcsány, who told MSZP politicians in a closed meeting that they had lied about the economy, in order to win the election. Mr. Gyurcsány’s foul-mouthed speech was a display of poor judgment on his part. But the fact that nine years later, it remains a negative milestone in Mr. Orbán’s mind is absurd.

“The day that the speech became public was a caesura in Hungarian politics. It’s hard to determine if the admittance of having lied or if the attempt to explain it away was more severe. This is how we went from a prime minister who sacrificed his life, to the prime minister who sacrificed the interests of his country for his own political survival,” said Mr. Orbán.

Mr. Orbán was referring to the first democratically elected prime minister, József Antall, who died in office after a long battle with cancer. Mr. Antall once famously gave an interview from his hospital bed, as he was receiving treatment for his terminal illness. This is often referred to as the “Pyjama Interview” and it was, indeed, quite remarkable and unusual. The prime minister did, indeed, appear in his pyjamas. 

The Veritas Institute organizes a conference on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of parliamentary democracy in Hungary and the change in regime...without inviting key, liberal and left-wing participants in this history. Photo: Viktor Orbán's Facebook page.

The Veritas Institute organizes a conference in Parliament on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of parliamentary democracy in Hungary and the change in regime…without inviting key, liberal and left-wing participants in this history. Photo: Viktor Orbán’s Facebook page.

But for Mr. Orbán to set up a dichotomy between Mr. Antall and Mr. Gyurcsány on the grounds that one sacrificed his health for the nation, while the other sacrificed the nation for his political survival is quite distasteful.

In his speech, Mr. Orbán noted that the “process of regime change went off the tracks” when iconic MSZP politician Gyula Horn won the elections of 1994, using society’s growing nostalgia for the previous Kádár regime. He then added that 2010 was a key turning point, because despite the exhaustion among Hungarians with liberal democracy, citizens “launched a revolution, which happened to be a peaceful, but landslide uprising.” He added that the Fidesz-KDNP victory in 2010 amounted to a “constitutional revolution,” but that the next three years before the 2018 elections “won’t be any smaller a task” for the government and its supporters. He made mention of the need to solidify his power.

The 25th anniversary of Hungary’s peaceful transition to liberal democracy is something to remember and to celebrate. Good taste would have dictated that Mr. Orbán put aside his grievances with his political opponents for an hour and offer a small gesture. After all, peaceful regime change was only possible because political foes were willing to sit down with each other, around the same table.

8 Comments

  1. Orban is the DON of the mafia government. What do you expect of him?

  2. Liz Aucoin says:

    I am surprised he didn’t celebrate with a pro-government peace march, with the usual Poles being bussed in and free bus rides from the countryside. But then again, he isn’t as popular anymore. So I guess until he “solidifies” his power peace marches will cease to exist so they don’t turn into anti-government protests.

  3. Orban is nothing more than a troll. He has no brain, he cannot think he can only react and such as he always needs to find something to react. An enemy, a problem, whatever will do it and if he cannot find anything he will create one with his trolling. He doesn’t even have memory, he will forget what he said yesterday and says the opposite of it next time.
    There’s one thing, only one thing motivating him – survival.

    Orban can be removed effortlessly with a little skill, but his grateful audience the Hungarian populace cannot be removed. They only can be awoken to the realities from their hypnotic trans of otiose, corrupt, profit-seeking, sitting on the fence, ill-disposed, envious, jealous life feeding on cheap hypnotic slogans.

    No amount reasoning, goodwill, teaching, enlightening will help. These things are inedible for them and won’t stay in them anyway. They will throw it up in no time. It never worked for them. They only fall for trolls.

    The only thing that can work is a well formulated antidote for this poisoned nation. If there is such thing at all or anybody can make one.

  4. Correctly : No amount of reasoning…

  5. One more thing, just hit me. I characterized the Hungarians as poisoned ill nature people.

    The other day surfing the net I just stumbled in a Hungarian site “viccesviccek” or something like that by sheer accident.
    They brag with accommodating more than a million jokes in their site. Started reading at random. Not all of them of course but many. It made me sick. For the great percent of their jokes they were laughing about someone getting in a big trouble, losing, made a fool etc. Gloating, that’s all. Malevolent gloating about others’ loss and pain. Was shocking that I even found jokes where they were jeering and laughing at the physically disabled and the sick i.e. a woman suffering cancer in the hospital. Disgusting! Most of the jokes were malevolent. That’s the spirit there! They are spiteful and hostile. NOT EVERYBODY!!!!!!! NOT EVERYBODY!!!!!!!
    Anyway, I wrote and asked them to remove at least the above mentioned ones.

    That’s it. They are entertaining themselves with their own misery. It’s fun. It’s so witty. huhhh Hungarians have no conception of opposition and fair play. They see the world in concept of enemies. They want a combat, like Orban who will fight the noncombat. Gypsies, yeah, they are easy, get to them, immigrants, the Jews, get to them total them, the weak, the sick, the poor, the little, the homeless. Hit them hard. Trade with death, a good merchandise, bring back capital punishment, kill them all. Orban a big hero for his grateful audience. They want a combat who makes the profit off of it for them while they are freezing their ass at home. They cannot even be bothered to go to vote and eight million allows a one and a half million minority to decide instead of them. How can a nation be so coward and irresponsible? What to do with opposition? They are best friends. And Orban goes on “Revenge is profitable, gratitude is expensive.”

    Anyway, they reap what the saw.

  6. Nicholas Molnar says:

    You would never miss to belittle Mr.Orban with an under the belt remark.

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