Western Opening in Hungary

Hungary is on the razor’s edge. On one side, there is Europe, on the other, Russia. Hungary is on the razor’s edge hacking itself in twain. This summer the country’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán made it clear: he is commandeering the country toward Russia and he is going to implement an illiberal democracy modelled on the system of Putin. A couple of weeks ago people got fed up with standing on the sharp, painful edge of the razor, and did not wish to have the sword of an illiberal democracy dangling above their heads by a thread of corruption. They chose the West.

In response to the government’s so called “Eastern Opening” policy, and listening to the European people of Hungary, the Free Market Foundation organized a conference, titled “Western Opening” which endeavoured to answer such questions as why anybody would think illiberal democracies are better, or whether only a western man is free. The event boasted prestigious speakers such as ex-ministers and ambassadors, analysts, journalists and artists.

Recent events in Hungary, such as the ongoing corruption scandal, where the U.S. has placed a travel ban on six high ranking Hungarians, whose identity is not known, save that of the head of the tax agency; or the Hungarian government’s far off plan to impose a tax on the internet made people realize that their leaders completely lost touch with reality and they do not represent the will of the voters anymore. So the people took to the streets and gathered in a series of protest, which became the biggest demonstration against the current governance.

This anti-government atmosphere reflected amongst the audience of the conference. Attendants engaged more at the Q&A sessions and reproached and criticized those speakers who still tried to defend the highly unpopular measures of the state. They were open to the new pro-liberty ideas which up until now have been falling only on deaf ears.

Although the internet tax, which ultimately instigated the uproar and protest, has been cancelled, the masses didn’t go home. The general dissatisfaction with the work of the current government stayed and let its cries for freedom be heard. The protesters not only demanded PM Viktor Orbán to step down and to cancel the internet tax, but under waving EU flags stood up for western values and denounced the state’s “Eastern opening” policy.

The wind of change that carries chanted words calling Mr Orbán a “dictator” were felt at the conference as well. More than 70 people came, overflowing the hall and concluded with analysts, artist, opposition politicians, journalists and activists alike: Hungary belongs to the EU. Not only politically, but by the set of values of its people. Those speakers who failed to realize it met ridicule not only inflicted on them by the audience, but by the independent media too, thus generating great attention to the event .

Unfortunately the protesting masses are leaderless, but it is the duty of the civil sector to take up the banner of liberty, and stand in front of the crowds. To lead the way, gently lifting Hungary up from the razor’s edge, showing the free Western world, that the government is representing the values of the East, not of the Hungarian people. Hungarians should not be associated with those corrupt, detached puppets in power. The civil sector should gently, but firmly take hold of the current atmosphere and lead Hungary far away from Russia, and back into the heart of Europe where their people belong.

Mate Hajba