150 protestors have been injured in clashes over the last 24 hours in Hungary in light of a leaked tape of Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany in which he stated that Hungarian politicians had been lying to the population over the economic situation in the country [Guardian article here]. Some have even suggested that Gyurcsany leaked the tape himself so as to make it clear that tough reforms are needed – the cynical line taken up eloquently (in German) by the Neuer Zuercher Zeitung here.
So what is actually going on here? It strikes me that it’s not necessarily a bad thing for politicians to own up to having lied – if they have indeed done so. But the exaggerated way that this has been done by Gyurcsany strikes me as ludicrous. Hungary has undoubtedly made major progress in the last decade – the economy was solid enough to see it enter the EU in 2004, and politically the country has been reasonably stable. To deny this progress looks idiotic at best, or cynical at worst – you wonder what he was really trying to say with such a speech. Or are we just too sceptical? Was he bring frank…?
This follows on shortly after the sagas of the Polish elections and the installation of the KaczyÃ…â€žski twins as Prime Minister and President (Wikipedia here), the bizarre coalition deals in Slovakia (my blog post on that here), and the Czech election stalemate (BBC here). None of this really looks especially healthy!
Le Monde Diplomatique recently argued that the Romanian Social Democrats are not identifiably left and that they have sought alliances with the far-right. The Slovaks have actually made an alliance with the far-right, as you said, and even before that they had such alliances at a local level. The outgoing Czech Social Democrat prime minister said that he agreed with the Slovak coalition. And now we have the head of a government admitting that it lied repeatedly, thus destroying his own government’s legitimacy (since a mandate gained under false pretences is hardly a democratic mandate) and seriously undermining the entire institution of representative democracy in Hungary. Rather depressing.