Budapest, November 28 (MTI) – Liberal democracies will create freedom and prosperity, the leader of the opposition Socialists said at an international conference on illiberal democracies in Budapest today.

Over the past five years, the prime minister has replaced a critical approach to the West by summoning an image of it struggling in crisis and heading towards demise, Jozsef Tobias said. Viktor Orban argues that following the western model would lead nowhere, so Hungary must build up its own system, he said.

Orban, he said, has rode a wave of disillusionment in western-type democracies shared by large part of Hungarian society. Parts of Orban’s “diagnosis” are correct but he underestimates the vitality of western democracies, he added.

Tobias likened Orban’s rule to Putin’s, which rejects the rule of law, limits the possibility of rotating political rule, governs without the opposition and degrades parliament to the level of a debating society.

Tobias said parties of the democratic opposition must build their policies on freedom and democracy as an alternative to Orban’s policy.

Ernst Stetter, general secretary of the Foundation for European Progressive Studies, based in Brussels, said that the Hungarian government pretends as if it observed a rule of law, while it passed legislation with retroactive effect, took steps against private property and minorities, and undermined the constitution.

Without a rule of law, the power of a majority could become dangerous and lead to the erosion of freedom; democracy will be degraded into a mere facade, with no European values behind, Stetter insisted. Hungary could not join the European Union today, because the country does not meet the community’s criteria of democracy, he said.

Political scientist Tamas Boros, co-leader of think tank Policy Solutions, which co-organised the conference, said that up to 2005 there were about 120 “real democracies” in the world, but since then their number has gone down to about 90. He warned that most of the countries that have disappeared from the democratic camp are not open dictatorships but illiberal democracies, in which though apparently all democratic institutions are there, they do not serve the people. Those countries appear to be democratic but in fact they are not, he added.

Photo: MTI – Attila Kovacs


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