European Socialists support 'coalition for democracy’ from Hungary’s oppositionSergei Stanislev, Interim President of the Party of European Socialists (PES) welcomes the protest initiatives of Hungary’s political opposition parties that staged a massive pro-democracy protest right in the heart of Budapest last January 3. The protest rally voiced the people’s angst against measures undertaken by FIDESZ, Hungary’s ruling party, which was perceived by European socialists and the locals as increasingly authoritarian. Specifically, it was voicing a united opposition against curtailing the independence of its central bank, media, and the judiciary, that were seen as damaging the democratic institutions in the country. More than a hundred thousand Hungarians were reported to have joined the mass rally.
Attila Mesterhazy who heads the local Socialist Party (MSZP) had played a pivotal role in coalescing various opposition parties and for which Stanislev singled out with praises, saying; "Attila Mesterhazy is helping to building a domestic coalition for democracy. The coalition is based on the most powerful force in any society - its people".
Mr. Stanislev further highlighted the commitment of his PES to support the coalition and assist in creating global consciousness about Victor Orban’s regime that has flouted democratic institutions. He adds that the people must now match Attila’s resolve and encourage global condemnation of Orban and his government.
It will be recalled that Hungary has been a democratic country since the fall of communism in the state in 1989. The old ruling party turned to socialism and was renamed simply as the Socialist Party or MSZP in the local tongue to shake off its old autocratic image. But it lost to the new Hungarian Democratic Forum or MDF in the election of 1990. The MDF has since slowly given way to the emerging FIDESZ that is now in power under Orban.
Over the years, transitioning powers between the MSZP and FIDESX/MDF have been rocked with protests that peaked in 2006 after the socialism-centric MSZP was unmasked by then Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány's to have lied to win the 2006 elections. The rallies supporting socialism turned into riots ended with the resignations of several high ranking officials in 2007 and promptly entered as a class struggle in European socialism history.
Today, the political tide seems to be doing a reversal of fortunes. Orban’s bent on authoritarian policies have fueled a coalition of opposition parties to preserve the democracy it won more than 20 years ago. This is the second time in the country’s socialism history that several parties coalesced, the first being the SZDSZ coalition of democratic parties in the 1990 elections after the fall of communism. Philip Cordery, PES General Secretary said that the European People’s Party which has FIDESZ as a member has been silent on the issue. PES has called on the European People’s party to have FIDESZ suspended until the independence of democratic institutions in the country is restored. The PES had earlier condemned the arrest of Members of Parliament who had been vocal against the constitutional distortions perpetuated by the FIDESZ regime.
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