Friday, October 06, 2006

Hungarian election (or revolution, whatever)

Thoughts on the Hungarian “revolution.”   I’ve only been passively watching what’s going on over there, but some might call this another colored revolution.  However, I think we over use the word “revolution” these days, and the response has been about the equivalent of a soccer riot or something to that effect.

Articles note that a few thousand protested early, but only a few hundred continue to do so (and they are probably a certain flock of people who were looking for an excuse to do so). 

The place that the people are choosing to take their frustrations out on the current government is at the polls.  Which is where it should happen.

      Hungary's ruling Socialist party was last night facing substantial losses in local elections following two weeks of street protests sparked by the Prime Minister's admission that he had lied to win re-election.

      The vote was widely seen as a referendum on the leadership of Ferenc Gyurcsany, whose government has been badly shaken by a leaked tape in which he admitted that he deliberately misled voters about the state of the economy.

      With more than 80 per cent of the votes counted last night, the opposition Fidesz party seemed poised to win the mayorships in 15 of Hungary's 23 largest cities, as well majorities in the county councils in 18 of the 19 counties - most of which had previously been held by the Socialists.

      Moments after polls closed, the country's President, Laszlo Solyom, accused Mr Gyurcsany of undermining confidence in democracy, apparently calling on the parliament to replace him. In a nationally broadcast speech, he said Mr Gyurcsany "does not acknowledge that he used improper means to hold on to power and then begin putting the state finances in order ... this undermines the trust in democracy."

A couple of thing about this, one being that I can’t imagine how the President thinks that this whole thing is undermining trust in democracy over there.  The transparency of the admissions by the Prime Minister and the righteous anger expressed by the people, and the final means they are employing to rectify the situation, show that democracy is far from being undermined. 

What’s troubling is that Gyurcsany is taking such a beating for finally coming out with some truth.  The end result of this is that he’s going to be replaced, even if he doesn’t want to be.  Who’s the replacement going to be?  Someone who’s going to follow the before-Gyurcsany who lies to the people or the after-Gyurcsany who decides that reform really does need to happen and not just talk designed to maintain party power.

      Ferenc Gyurcsány is the first Hungarian politician since the fall of the socialism who is upset because the problems are not solved, and because he and other politicians lied before the elections. I like that. His predecessors seemingly did not care. He said he did not want to lie anymore. And the angry right wing protesters want him to bow out because he was a liar? Right now, when he said the truth? I remember the pre-elections lies of the opposition too. They were big enough, but they only didn't get enough votes to win.

Whatever happens here, I think that pundits should point to it as an example of how democracy is supposed to work, that politicians need to be transparent and truthful, and the public’s response is to be measure and realized, finally, at the voter’s booth.

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