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'Magic Free' Politics for Hungary!

Everyone sees that Hungary is on the way to disaster. Everyone understands they have some responsibility in the genesis of this situation, and also in avoiding the tragedy – because it can still be avoided. Yet our opposition debates concerning public affairs are – all the while – characterised by self-repetition, devastating sarcasm, the absolutising of the despair of 'no way out' and panic terror. 

There are some people that are hoping for a civil war (because it must happen according to them) and that the deaths and the destruction will be followed by prosperity. (Of course not!) There are some people that believe that the opposition must now – after all – follow the same political techniques that Orbán uses: it is rather desirable to treat Hungarians as idiots by using a populist narrative that we like more, since politics can and should only be made in the way that the currently ruling premier deigned to teach us all in the past decade. (Emphatically not!)
And there are yet others that believe that a perfect public policy package – and one that is full of solutions – is in fact already available, and that it conforms to all expectations based on textbook ideologies. Furthermore, these people do not think it is a problem that the people do not like such a package, and they do so based on the assumption that there is no other way, so we just have to wait it out, because "the people need a real catastrophe", and so they will one day understand it all and after that day everything will be fine for everyone. (No!)
Former Prime Minister and Chairman of the Democratic Coalition (DK), Ferenc Gyurcsány made an attempt last week at analysing the current situation and showing us the way out. It was an important, yet ill-timed piece of writing, which failed to get to the point.
These days the activists of EGYUTT-PM are gathering people's signatures in many places together with the activists of DK. In other places we are running separately, competing with each other. When it comes to the local government elections, our members, activists and supporters think the same in some places – but when it comes to the 2018 general elections, they do not. Then (without any prior notification) it happens to me as co-Chairman that I have to read about what and how EGYUTT-PM should do in order to achieve victory.
Because of the method, the only thing I could think of was that Ferenc Gyurcsány concluded it was time to start humming the tune of cooperation and unity. It was a rational act on his part, though only from the point of view of the autumn 2014 local government elections and from DK's point of view. From the viewpoint of 2018, however, it was not the right time. Honestly, I am sorry. Focusing on questions of formality is not the right way of searching for solutions. In the parliamentary election system of today it is obviously better to launch one individual opposition candidate in each constituency.
However, there are a number of possible options to this end. The former PM was undoubtedly right in that the parody surrounding our negotiations cannot (and should not) be repeated ever again. Nowadays, however, no one has the power to unite the left-of-centre opposition parties on his own. Moreover, I am not convinced that there only needs to be one pole for the opposition. Ferenc Gyurcsány is right when he indicated in a realist manner that no such great idea or single thought exits which alone could solve all the problems.
Now there are only limited options for organizing political parties: these days government employees will not become party members, nor attend any civic events because they have fear. There is no secret dream team, neither any elite corps trained abroad. There is not a single group of citizens that did not take part in politics before, but now will do so, and in such a way as to eliminate everyone else. There might be some newcomers – in fact, let us see them coming –, but they also will have to cooperate with others. Everyone can be blackmailed, everyone has fear, and so at the end of the day every opposition movement – no matter if in the cities of Bicske or Barcs –, from LMP to DK, would find itself at the same family serving as a local basis of the opposition. That is the reality of today.
The former premier, however, immediately jumped to the last step in the game by seeking to overcome opposition infighting by various forms of alliances. That is not a solution. Matters regarding content are more important than how parties are to be organised. In the narrow room of real economy and realpolitik that has been left for manoeuvring, Viktor Orbán has not been making optimal choices for a long time now, but instead, he subjects everything to the preservation of his own sovereignty. Yet a better, to the point, feasible and fiscally sustainable programme, which is at the same time worthy of the support of the majority of people, could still be offered to Hungary.
But only those solutions are valid that address the whole thing, i.e. Hungary's current problems in their entirety; partial solutions and predetermined roles are not acceptable. Understanding one another's mutually legitimate viewpoints may well prove to be the most difficult task of all; however, it shall be constantly pursued. The task is not making judgments, but searching for the best possible way forward. The rejection of Orbán's anti-pluralistic political credo can only be built on the acceptance of pluralism.
That there are others as well. And that they may also be right on certain things. That churches, believers and the government's policy vis-à-vis the churches should not be mixed. That András Schiffer is also right on certain issues, but this does not mean that we have to follow him. That the events of autumn 2006 could still be discussed. That we should not beat (each other) at a political rally. That the crisis management governments of both Ferenc Gyurcsány and Gordon Bajnai acted with a view to the national interest. That it is not politically correct to address or talk about Roma people in a derogative manner (voicing the word 'Gypsy') and that – at the same time – we will also not deny the reality of today for the sake of our comfort and convenience.
That – compared to the intellectual reformer-leftist canon of the 1980's and 1990's – more leftist and better social policy tools are needed in order to create opportunities. That mistakes were committed in the process of privatisation. That Hungary's current judicial system now only serves the interests of Fidesz and the Fidesz-leaning elite, so it no longer serves the people, but that there were serious problems with it even before that also. That the biggest problem is the dominance of the state and of the public sector. That despite this, not a weaker but a stronger state is needed.
That no compromises can be made with Orbán, but that they shall be made with his voters. That repeating the 'pseudo-leftist' mantra by LMP against the parties of the left is nothing but an act of stupid political racism. That it is not worth building our politics solely on the worries and fears of the shrinking Hungarian middle class. That extreme poverty and unemployment are not merely social problems today, but that they already are challenges to democracy. That foreign working capital is not evil, but that it will not be a solution per se to all of our problems. That Hungarian SMEs are not sacred cows either, but that the most probable way to help them is by way of competitive capitalism. That it is not possible to make another promise to four million people that everything will be fine in twenty years from now. That there is no functioning political community without a civil society, no matter how and wherefrom it is financed. That within the agricultural sector, the logic of 'small farms good, large farms bad' simply does not hold true, but that both large and small farms might be either of them. That we all have to change, because Orbán is lying when he is telling us that he will resolve all of our problems for, instead and without us because we are all fine and we do not need to change at all. Yet without changing ourselves one step at a time, we can never make it.
The hardest part will be that we will have to be able to disconnect from the political religion those voters' interests (which are independent of Orbán) that still believe him. The reason for this is that for the members of his camp, Orbán transformed politics into a religion-surrogate. Thus many expect an anti-religion from the opposition, but that is a dead-end street. We should not celebrate any triumphs in the process, because we have no reason for doing so, and also because it is our common tragedy that our homeland ended up in the barge of Orbán's populist, leader-oriented and quasi-religious politics, and also that for a number of years, the opposition was looking for the way out in that same direction.
We need a solution that can incorporate Fidesz voters and the Right as well from the very beginning, but without Orbán. The most difficult challenge will be crushing the methodology of and the faith in the secular political religion crafted by Orbán. Instead of following this quasi-religious political course, the task is to create 'magic free politics' in Hungary. Since without that, we will only continue our way on a dead-end street, which is paved with mutual hatred and characterised by the opposition between a minority within Hungarian society, which has been made accustomed to the cult of the leader, and a passive majority.
Magic free politics can also inspire people and affect their emotions as well as to mobilise them for common national goals, but it uses different ways. This is the kind of change in political paradigms that I am willing to and that I actually intend to achieve. All other issues including ideological or organisational ones are of secondary importance. EGYUTT-PM will do its homework regarding this. It will devise a competitive alternative as opposed to prescribing tasks for other political parties. Following Gordon Bajnai's departure we have no other choice but to clarify our ideology and our objectives, and we will do just that.
In the period right after the local government elections we will initiate debates and discussions on our common problems, and we are going to organise a movement comprised of young intellectuals, and will also take action for organising the intelligentsia in the countryside and for protecting workers' interests, and will continue to think about the details of an alternative agenda that could be implemented once in power. Until mid-October, however, we will be campaigning. The future solution cannot be a consensus dictatorship, nor gesture politics, nor can it consist of sweeping it all under the carpet e.g. under the aegis of a Charta, nor can it be a disoriented move towards the political centre.
A change in paradigms cannot happen partially – it either happens in whole or it will not happen. Cooperation, self-criticism, puritanism, power, a performance-driven culture, equal chances, solidarity, competitive capitalism, patriotism, the West on the basis of values while the East on the basis of interests, a stronger yet more self-restraining state and magic free yet inspirational politics.
These days there is indeed no one and no political party in Hungary that could realise all of these. After the local government elections, the opposition's next two years must be about a democratic and civic contest aimed at making the achievement of these goals possible. The task now is not the preparation for 2018 and pondering the frameworks of a subsequent future coalition. Everyone has to follow his own course and talk about fair competition between the opposition parties. What we need is a process which allows for competition between persons and thoughts, and one at the beginning of which no one declares himself unilaterally to be the winner or the umpire.
Viktor Szigetvári, the author of this article is Co-Chairman of EGYUTT-PM

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Last Updated on Monday, 22 June 2015 13:14

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