Looking at the recent political events, you may feel that the cyclical nature of economic ups and downs may just as much be observed in politics as well. When leaders want to cooperate and listen to each other, it is usually followed by some improvement. Of course, such improvements typically require some compromise that everybody remembers for a while. However, when the memories of hard times fade and stability becomes the new norm, more and more people tend to start questioning the world order as they have already forgotten why certain gestures and compromises were made. Times like this bring the rise of politicians who want nothing more than to bask in their own glory, ignoring the needs of others. To gain popularity quickly, these politicians are happy to upset and uproot any norms, written and unwritten rules or social conventions around them. We Hungarians have an in-depth experience with this type of politician: we are treated to Viktor Orbán’s self-indulgence on a daily basis.
This is the English translation of my op-ed published in HVG on 24 June, 2020.
Tragically enough, Serbia’s political system is probably the closest to Hungary’s at the moment. No wonder Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić is such a great pal for Viktor Orbán. They are an odd couple: while Orbán’s long and winding road took him from a Soros-funded liberal to a pseudo-nationalist dictator, Aleksandar Vučić worked as propaganda minister for Slobodan Milošević, one of the bloodiest dictators in the second half of the 20th century. Yes, he worked for the same Serbian dictator who razed half of the Balkans to the ground, had thousands of people murdered and viscerally hated Hungarians, by the way. This is the man who Orbán keeps running to, even during a pandemic. It should come as no surprise since today’s Serbia is similar to us in many aspects: party membership is the way to climb up the social ladder, the free press is harassed and opposition thinkers are intimidated while young people leave the country en masse. Just like in Hungary.
This is the English translation of my reaction to the speech of Slovakian PM Matovič on the occassion of the 100th anniversary of the Trianon Peace Treaty.
That’s the way to do it – Just a few years ago we would hardly have thought that the most interesting and perhaps the most forward-looking statement on this sad anniversary would come from Bratislava rather than Budapest. That’s exactly what happened, though. It’s interesting to compare Fidesz, which keeps trying to instigate antagonism even on the anniversary of the Trianon peace dictate and attempts to excommunicate the opposition from the nation, with Slovakian Prime Minister Igor Matovič who made a historic speech to call for a reconciliation and respect for Hungarian people.
It was two months ago that Viktor Orbán got his special powers bill passed in Parliament, which allowed him to essentially establish an absolutistic rule. Ever since, the Hungarian public has been hotly debating the issue whether Orbán will give up his special powers or not. I don’t believe this matter has any significant importance any more. The damage is already done.
Ever since early May, Viktor Orbán’s special powers act has triggered fierce debates in Hungary, Europe and even worldwide. As of writing this article, we are preparing for the European Parliament’s debate on the Hungarian situation. Such a high-key debate should come as no surprise because it’s quite unusual for any government to request unlimited special powers for an indefinite period of time. In fact, what happened in the Hungarian National Assembly is totally unprecedented in the post-WW2 history of democratic European countries.
Exactly 70 years ago, on May 9 of 1950, France’s foreign affairs minister Robert Schuman announced his plan which laid the foundations for the European Union. Along with their political and moral message, the legacy of the EU’s founding fathers is more applicable today than ever.
Imagining what we would be doing in the spring of 2020, we hardly thought that some of us would be in home quarantine while others would wear masks and gloves to work under the restrictions brought about by a worldwide pandemic. We can hardly say anything positive about this crisis, the end of which we are so much looking forward to. However, like all crises, this current situation may also spur us to reconsider what we have forgotten over the years; what it is that we neglected and what needs a complete redesign in our lives.