"Arise Hungarians! the country calls"
The first lines of the Nemzeti dal- the national hymn of Hungary. It was penned by the insurrectionary poet, Petofi Sandor, shortly before his death in the Hungarian uprising of 1848-9.
Petofi was also the inspiration for the Hungarian uprising of October 23rd 1956. The student clubs, the Petofi circles, were ostensibly literary clubs, but they had come to have a more political character and in the confusing times after Krushchev's secret speech denouncing Stalin in February 1956, they began agitating for greater Hungarian Freedom.
The early stage of the 1956 rebellion was a demonstration outside the Magyar Televiszio studios which led to several of AVH secret police being lynched and hanged from the trees outside the building. Thus the latest violent demonstrations against the current Socialist MSZP government, which have taken place on the same spot, are intended to make a direct parallel with the '56. Certainly many of the skinheads throwing bottles at the police do not want a Socialist Prime Minister to preside over the anniversary of the '56 at any price.
Sure, the scale of the violence is simply a fraction of what happened in Paris recently, however the violent reaction to Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany's admission of lying underlines the political cost of a prolonged period of government mismanagement by both the MSZP and the previous FIDESZ government of Victor Orban. Both parties are utterly discredited and devoid of the trust of the people.
It may be that either a massive demonstration in Budapest on Saturday or heavy defeat at the local polls in the first week of October will force the MSZP out of office. However FIDESZ has already demonstrated the narrow mindedness that got them thrown out of office in the first place by simply seeking to take party political advantage out of a situation which they themselves are partly responsible for.
Arguably FIDESZ are MORE responsible- as a party with Liberal roots they should have known the importance of curbing the state and reducing the economic drag of the public sector, rather than going for the populist short term policies that they actually adopted. Of course, the only Liberal party now in Hungary is the SZDSZ under Gabor Kuncze, which has provided the country with the hugely popular previous President, Arpad Goncz, and the Mayor of Budapest, Gabor Demszky.
Investors in Hungary will be hoping that a responsible government emerges from this fiasco, but the immaturity of both sides in the Hungarian political arena does not look good. Perhaps a technocrat: Gyorgy Suranyi , the former central bank governor, Zsigmond Jarai , the current governor, Andras Simor, a previous Head of the Stock Exchange, or even Lajos Bokros- the man who rescued the country from the last financial crisis in 1994 could be prevailed upon to take the hot seat. When the streets echo to the inspiring lines of Nemzeti dal:
By the God of the Hungarians
We truly swear
No more the tyrant's yoke to bear!
It is clear that the times are changing rapidly.
After ten years of drift, it will hardly be before time for the long suffering Hungarian people.
I liked Mark Mardell's musings on the value of truth in politics A subject that I must return to soon.