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Nichole Hungerford

Hungarians Oust Socialist Government

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Posted on April 12 2010 7:40 pm
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Fidesz leader and Hungary's former Prime Minister, Viktor Orban

 

In their national election yesterday, Hungary ushered out its ruling Socialist government in favor of the center-right, Fidesz party in a landslide victory. The UK Telegraphhowever, was much more interested in the gains made by Jobbik, Hungary’s so-called “far-right” party, in the election. Many are concerned over the rising popularity of Jobbik — the Telegraph itself described the political turn-around as the “first step in power for the far-right” since the Nazis. Jobbik has some untoward political associations such as hostility to certain ethnic groups like Gypsies and Jews (they eerily expound on “Gypsy Issues” in their manifesto), although they vehemently deny extremism and racism in their own statements and generally claim to be unfairly maligned in the press.  

Whether Jobbik will prove beneficial to Hungary’s political landscape is for the future to decide, but my primary concern is with groups like Jobbik and the Nazi party being labeled “far-right” in the first place. Judging from their political manifesto, Jobbik is highly statist (they call for a “potent, active and capable state” with an “eco-social national economy”) while calling for some reforms. They do not believe in laissez-faire capitalism. Furthermore, if the Nazi party, a.k.a. the National Socialist German Workers’ Party constitutes a “far-right” political organization, then right-wingers like Lenin and Mao can’t be too far behind them.

Fidesz, the winning party, began in the 1980s as a libertarian-oriented alternative to the Communist party. They have fluctuated between advocating conservative and more statist policies since then, but their central issue in this election was the economy, for obvious reasons. There is reportedly widespread ill-sentiment toward the Socialists for their handling of Hungary’s economy and the jobs-centered Fidesz did not miss the opportunity to capitalize on the malaise. Yet, Fidesz will still preside over an unmistakably socialist country and, in fact, campaigned on bolstering struggling sectors of Hungary’s redistributive system such as healthcare, education and retirement pensions. But for a former Communist Bloc member, it’s a step in the right direction at least.

Somewhat disconcerting is Fidesz’s interest in promoting a kind of corporatism to enact better “corporate social responsibility,” or CSR. In their manifesto they say,

Our aim is to eliminate the obstacles facing corporate social responsibility. Using all political means at our disposal, we will promote company CSR activities. We are of the firm belief that the only way to give effective answers to today’s economic, social, and environmental challenges is by cooperation with the participants of the competitive sector who have been at the cutting edge of CSR.

Corporatism in a highly statist country is concerning for the future (i.e. in terms of the potential for corporate fascism, another blessing from the Left), but may not be something to worry about in the case of Hungary. If Fidesz takes seriously the merits of limited government, it won’t be a problem. We shall see how the new conservative party of Hungary weathers. They still have another round of elections on the 25th to secure.

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