Ferenc Gyurcsány, leader of the opposition Democratic Coalition, said in a keynote speech on Saturday that the decision by Hungary’s opposition parties to cooperate was of “historic significance”. The former Socialist prime minister said: “The best thing to happen over the past year is the birth of a patriotic, European, democratic opposition to the Orbán regime.”
“It’s taken a good while for people to understand that democratic competition doesn’t exist in Hungary,” Gyurcsány said. “Only a joint political and electoral force that’s fundamentally opposed to an autocratic and, in many respects, dictatorial system has a chance to win [the 2022 general election] and restore normality.” He said the decision to form a unified opposition was not down to any particular party or political leader but rather the result of the opposition’s joint acknowledgment of their patriotic obligation.
On the subject of Covid, Gyurcsány said the opposition had often been accused of turning the virus situation into a political issue. He added that politics, however, was about how to manage “our common lives”, and there was no subject of public affairs greater than the global pandemic. So the issue of “whether our common affairs are well managed by those who have a special responsibility to do this” should be a matter of public debate, he said, adding that the opposition should be “treated as a partner” on matters of such national importance. Gyurcsány insisted that the pandemic had dispelled “a myth” that, “at the very least, the Fidesz party could govern”. “Now it has become apparent that they can’t govern,” he said, referring to “tardy action, contradictory statements and measures never seen”. “The Hungarian government confronted reality and reality defeated the Hungarian government,” he said.
The DK leader accused the government of mounting an attempt to hijack higher education through university privatisations, handing the running of these institutions to “people close to the government”.
Gyurcsány said the Fidesz government set great store by the concept of national community. He accused the government of “all kinds of sin” under the cover of patriotism. “It isn’t patriotism if someone steals or threatens their fellow citizens,” he said. “Patriotism isn’t usury or a lack of compassion.” He said Fidesz was close to Poland’s Law and Justice Party, “which has introduced perhaps the most extreme abortion regulations in Europe”.
Meanwhile, he said Joe Biden’s victory was a source of great hope. “Not only has Donald Trump fallen, but also the kind of politicians whose family includes our prime minister,” he said, referring to “nationalist, anti-elitist, populist politicians”. Gyurcsány insisted Prime Minister Viktor Orbán had lost ground in Europe. “He may still be dominant at home but in Europe today he’s just a troublemaker,” he added.
Fidesz lawmaker Máté Kocsis said in a Facebook post in reaction that Gyurcsány had “once again made clear that he is the boss on the entire left wing.” The Fidesz parliamentary group leader accused Gyurcsány of dissimulating “on many points”, adding that Gyurcsány had not explained in his speech why opposition figures had produced “fake news, fake videos and fake statistics” in the middle of a pandemic. Kocsis also accused the opposition of attacking people involved in Hungary’s fight against the virus, including health-care workers, and of undermining Hungary abroad, while refusing to vote on decisions needed to control the epidemic. He said Gyurcsány had at once referred to the challenges of the epidemic while at the same time attempting to cast doubt over vaccinations. The Fidesz politician said the opposition’s “inhuman strategy” was to hope for the collapse of Hungary’s health-care system, illness and death in order to reap political gains in 2022, adding that Gyurcsány was “capable of anything” in order to assume power.