Hungary Chooses the West – Celebrating the Anniversary of Revolution of 1848


The 15th of March is a time of national celebration and pride in Hungary. In 1848 on this day, the Hungarian people rose up against Habsburg overlords and started a revolution to fight for liberties. This year, the country was divided between two main celebrations – at one location the governing party Fidesz assembled people to listen to the speech of the Prime Minister, while people discontented with the current state of affairs reclaimed the true spirit of the day and demonstrated against the Hungarian system somewhere else. The latter was honoured with the presence of Zoltán Kész, who recently shattered the supermajority of Fidesz in a by-election.

The organizers of the state event had to go out on a limb to gather enough attendees for décor, especially schoolchildren. They asked schools to organize a field trip to the event and to report on the outing to the organizers – the government. Nonetheless, many schools refused to follow the suggestion, even though the government has centralized and nationalized education, so they depend on the state.

The protest, on the other hand, organized by civic leaders who emerged from a wave of resistance, easily managed to attract a huge and growing crowd amounting to thousands of individuals. These people got fed up with the rule of Fidesz and Viktor Orbán, who in the last five years curtailed the system of checks and balances, went on a rampage of nationalization and got overly friendly with dictators, Putin, for starters.

One of the cherries on top of the protest, attended by majority of Hungarian opposition parties and civic leaders was a presence of Zoltán Kész – already well-known and recognized as the president of the Free Market Foundation and Civic Platform, two organizations fighting for liberty. Not to mention that he is even more recognizable now that he is also the MP who’s election brought new hope to the country – as him being in the parliament means that Fidesz doesn’t have a two third majority anymore.

Many speakers called for the importance of democracy as opposed to the illiberal state Viktor Orbán did his utmost to establish, but the speech by Zoltán Kész put recent situation and the importance of the struggle for freedom in the context of history and international politics. He said to the thousands of people cheering him on, that the power of the previous regime was transferred and was not overthrown and that it was the plan of Viktor Orbán all along to seize power, to establish an illiberal state and to thrust the country into the arms of Moscow. It has been revealed recently that the PM’s past is far from being immaculate. There are viable claims that he had ties with the communists and had to report on his friends.

The speech thus arrived at present times after showing the past form today’s perspective. Kész continued by saying how the leaders of Fidesz are greedily getting richer while the people are starving, living in poverty and are encouraged to keep silent. The assembled crowd applauded in agreement. Zoltán Kész than conclude by expressing his views on what the future should look like, what people should fight for: “Our ideal is Hungary. Our home, which lies on the navel of Europe. Once it was us who protected the West, now we must find nourishment in it. We want citizenry! We want a lot of free, independent, prosperous individuals. We want democracy! We want a common home with our Western-European brethren! Europe and all the other democracies of the world are our allies, not the Eastern dictators. For we know what the difference is between the West and the East. West is where you decide about politicians. East is where the politicians decide about your wealth. We choose the West, whereas Orbán wants our wealth.”

Mate Hajba