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Conservative or Revolutionary?
Three aspects of the second Orbán-government. A piece by Ferenc Hörcher with a response from Eszter Babarczy.

Ferenc Hörcher argues in his pamphlet that Viktor Orbán is one of the most debated figures of contemporary European politics. During the second term as Prime Minister (2010-2014) he enjoyed a two third majority in the parliament and with a sharply divided opposition he decided to use the opportunity to remap the Hungarian political system. He could push through his programme in spite of the world economic crisis and the strong criticism in the political elite of the European Union, as well.

Before the 2014 national election in Hungary, this essay analyses his performance and looks for the explanation of how he could keep his camp together in spite of all the challenges. Written by a well-known Hungarian political philosopher and historian of political thought, this essay is published here to open a debate about the performance of Viktor Orbán and his second government. (Please click here to download the pamphlet.)

 

 

In her response Eszter Babarczy agrees with her colleague that criticism directed at Mr Orbán is often misguided.

While his strategy is to amass power and control at the expense of consensus-seeking or even respecting the constraints of the law, his main objective is not to abolish democracy or the rule of law. His goal, I believe, conforms to the blueprint identified by Andrew Janos -- to create a new elite that would support Fidesz and its allies behind the scenes.

Yet, despite all the revolutionary rhetoric and fighting words, he seeks legitimacy in election victory. Pro-market and pro-democracy critics often fail to understand that he has no intention of transforming Hungary into a post-Soviet dictatorship with himself at the helm. Mr. Orbán prefers capitalism – especially in manufacturing and agriculture – to a state-run economy, and prefers democratic legitimacy to dictatorship backed by raw force. 

On the other hand, he is impatient with open debate and the democratic process, or too much independence on the part of economic actors. Hence he has created an environment that gives him maximum control and a way to efficiently and swiftly push forward with his own agenda. This agenda, in my opinion, resembles those of past Hungarian revolutionary elites with one crucial difference: it relies more on the carrot than the stick. 

Please click here to download the response of Eszter Babarczy.

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