Editorial: Trust no one


The governing Fidesz party is mulling yet another change to the national constitution it created to cement its pet utility-price reduction scheme into the basic document. The reason? Those cursed socialists simply can’t be trusted not to reverse the regulations and harm the Hungarian people, as they always do, should they come to power again at some point in the future.

This feeling of distrust and sometimes-related bone-headedness is nothing new to Hungarian politics, nor is the country’s culture unique in this respect. Just look at the United States with its advanced democracy. Republicans are rejoicing for achieving a government shutdown in their drive to prevent President Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, a scheme that has arguably been approved by the voters who reelected the president, has been passed as law and found constitutional by the Supreme Court.

Hungary’s own fledgling democracy in the 1990s was built and shaped based on the notion that whichever side you were on, you should always be wary of “those other people.”

This inherent lack of trust at the core of the Hungarian institutional system at the democratic conversion created an imperfect, if functioning, structure of checks and balances as well as a legislative concept that would require cooperation among elected officials.

The very idea of the cardinal law, legislation that requires a two-thirds majority to pass or modify, came from an understanding that such support is unlikely, meaning such crucial issues could only be addressed through compromises, especially because a single political group couldn’t be trusted with that kind of decision-making. The necessary cooperation between different political sides also meant that they shared the responsibility and could be held accountable by their voters.  

But now we see the deplorable development that the inherent distrust in the constitutional system, created as a balancing safeguard, has been demoted into an everyday power-trip tool.

The fact that Fidesz is planning to include the mandatory utility cost reduction in the constitution on the grounds that the left wing is already planning to act with the deliberate intent of harming the population and serving their foreign corporate masters is downright frightening.

Overcoming political divides for the greater good, reaching across the aisles even if means a loss of face happens far more often in Aaron Sorkin stories than in reality. This is especially so in a situation when the various political groups are so entrenched in their differences that they demonize each other, apparently actually believing what they are saying and not just playing for the cameras.

The campaign is already getting ugly with the right-wing’s election tampering at the Baja bi-elections and the tasteless left-wing protest that symbolically decapitated Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, to name the most recent examples. Unfortunately, it’ll only get uglier, and it will always be someone else’s fault. But what did we expect? We all knew none of them could be trusted.

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