The demonstrations of March 15th were above all an opportunity to demonstrate strength. As was expected, Fidesz succeeded. Surprisingly, the left-of-centre opposition displayed impressive strength in the streets for the first time in years. As of yet, this opposition is not willing to align itself politically, as is apparent by the scarce attendance at the rallies of the two left-wing parliamentary opposition parties. For the time being, this is probably the best way to organise a disaffected left-wing electorate. But in terms of achieving political change, the model comes with an expiration date.
The Prime Minister rewarded those in attendance with a brief speech that nevertheless covered vast ground, spanning a century and a half of history. He offered harsh critiques of MSZP, private pension funds and the sinister forces lined up against Hungary abroad but organised and controlled from here. While the IMF only got a comment implying “good riddance”, the EU was subjected to a crude and unfair metaphor: just as Hungary had previously rejected domination by imperial Vienna and Moscow, it would not be told what to do by Brussels today. In concocting this mental image suggesting a continuity between the three regimes, the PM generously glossed over the fact that Brussels is not a dictatorship/absolutist monarchy occupying Hungary, nor has it butchered masses of Hungarians to thwart our independence. This is probably not how those holding the rotating presidency of the European Union generally tend to think of the organisation they temporarily lead.
Policy Solutions' analysis on the demonstrations of March 15th can be downloaded from here.
Policy Solutions is a progressive political research institute based in Budapest. It was founded in 2008 and it is committed to the values of liberal democracy, solidarity, equal opportunity and European integration. The focus of Policy Solutions’ work is on understanding political processes in Hungary and the European Union. Among the pre-eminent areas of our research are the investigation of how the quality of democracy evolves, the analysis of factors driving euroscepticism, populism and the far-right, and election research.
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