According to the police approximately 400,000 people attended the pro-government demonstration organized by right-wing journalists and a Fidesz supporter tycoon last weekend. It must be admitted that there was really a massive crowd. It must be accepted that they can take so many people to the streets. We can try to figure out the real number of participants by different techniques, and we can say that the protesters’ average age was far beyond the retirement age, but the facts are facts. This huge crowd has to be taken into account even if the prime minister is not called Orbán anymore. Such a minority cannot be ignored. Just like the half million homosexuals or the 700,000 Roma cannot be ignored.
Who are they? What do they want?
They have not articulated their requests clearly. There were no speeches on this demonstration. Participants were marching behind a poster showing ’Hungary is not going to be a colony’. They protested for Hungary’s sovereignty as they say. One could interpret it ironically: they prefer dying in a fight to having any trade-offs. This message contains one contradiction: Orbán, who the whole rally was for, is just about to make some serious compromises in the IMF negotiations. The protesters must have known it, even if they do not use the most refined sources of information.
If their requests were taken seriously, we could say that they stand for ’hyperinflation’ and ’bankruptcy’. Of course all of us know Orbán’s new approach towards IMF will not surprise them. They do not care about it. This sovereignty stuff is just a pretext.
The participants did not stand for causes; they just wanted to demonstrate their faith in Fidesz. They do not have to be ashamed because of the march’s blurry message, as the opposition’s protests don’t have any better articulated requests either. The opposition does not like the system; while they do. The opposition dislikes president Pál Schmitt; they like him. None of the manifestations could be a clear doctoral thesis. None of them could be a complete program. We have to add, this is a bit more problematic from the ruling side.
The present scandal is over theoretical issues and principles. The social demagoguery has not been turned on yet. People do not take to the streets for lower petrol prices. The opposition dislikes the cutback in the field of freedoms, and they are not happy that decisions mostly depend on Orbán. It has to be figured out whether the government’s supporters defend Orbán’s power, or whether they are just simply satisfied having him on.
There was another protest last weekend. It was for Klubrádió. Klubrádió is the opposition’s only radio station which has just lost its license recently. We still do not know what the government’s supporters will say about it. Will they shout ’Klubrádió should be silenced’ or ’let them have it’? This could be the key in the pro government minority’s integration.
On the one hand this minority is just too massive for having no media on their side. Their demands have to be appreciated even if their party (Fidesz) is no longer the ruling party. On the other hand this minority is just too small not to let others have their media. This crowd is just not enough to keep down others even if they can take half or one million people to the streets. Hungarians have been famous for hospitality for a long time. The government following Orbán’s administration will have to be able to accommodate this minority’s in a liberal, colorful Hungary. Smooth cohabitation is based on the assumption that all minorities respect each other, and they do not aspire autarchy. This peaceful majority is not offended at all if they march every year and they show off their bizarre habits. They just should not make it compulsory. I do hope they have some other ambitions.
Árpád Tóta W.; www.hvg.hu; January 23. 2012.