||The protest in Budapest showed that most Hungarians still support the government - why wasn't it reported?
By Andrea Hossó
Last updated at 10:48 PM on 27th January 2012
It is midnight on Saturday 21 January and I am browsing the net for news on the huge demonstration I just witnessed.
Around half a million people marched through Budapest from Hosok tere to Parliament on Kossuth ter to take a stance for Hungarian independence.
They solemnly walked holding torches, waving the national flag and carrying banners with pithy political messages such as 'we will not be a colony', 'forever democracy' and 'Hungarian sovereignty'.
Kept hidden: A pro-government protest, which saw around 100,000 people march through Budapest on January 21, was not widely reported
I find a few curt paragraphs by BBC News and Reuters talking about 'tens of thousands of protesters' supporting Prime Minister Orban.
Never mind, I think, there will be fuller coverage tomorrow. But Monday brings further disappointment.
I check UK, US, and European mainstream papers and find nothing but yet another vitriolic denunciation by a prolific member of the current socialist-liberal Hungarian opposition declaring Hungary as 'junk' in all European languages.
How strange. Over the past few weeks no Western paper could be opened without a stern article on Hungary jumping to the eye.
Critics have been lamenting the wayward country's fast descent into totalitarian rule under the government of PM Orban, who won a super majority in 2010 in free and fair elections.
Their worry, echoed throughout Europe and the US, is that Hungarian citizens are cowed into submission by an autocratic government that has been passing laws in clear breach of 'European values.'
Support: A protester holds an oil painting of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, during the 'Peace March for Hungary' demonstration
They have charged that the new Hungarian Constitution that went into effect on January 1 lacks proper checks and balances. The unelected European Commission launched accelerated infringement proceedings against Hungary over the judiciary, the data protection authorities and the independence of the National Bank of Hungary (MNB).
The latter is an especially sore point for the watchdogs from the IMF to the EU, which worries about the requirement that 'the Governor and the members of the Monetary Council have to take an oath (of fidelity to the country and its interests) whose text is problematic given that the Governor of the MNB is also a member of the General Council of the ECV.'
Western critics have, at the same time, also come to the support of Hungary's shrill socialist-liberal political opposition, who staged an anti-government demonstration in Budapest on January 2.
International mainstream media reported this event with an abundance of pictures and details. Curiously, similar meticulously detailed coverage was conspicuously missing when the same socialist-liberal coalition then in power, resorted to brutal police force to intimidate peaceful demonstrators on the golden anniversary of the 1956 Revolution in October 2006.
Appeal: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, right, poses with Hungary's Prime Minister Orban, left, ahead of their talks this week
Beaten up civilians dripping with blood, some with missing eyes after rubber bullets were fired by unmarked police units, and scores of demonstrators rounded up and jailed, were not worth of international concern.
Yet, clear-eyed observation would reveal the irony of the opposition and its Western supporters crying persecution and curtailment of freedom today. Anybody familiar with the Hungarian domestic situation knows that most of the media in Hungary is under socialist-liberal control, one of the numerous strange legacies of heavy-handed Western political influence during the transition from communist dictatorship.
In the spectacularly combative European Parliament session on January 18 when representatives of the socialist-green alliance mounted a frenzied attack on Hungary and her prime minister in a style bordering on hysteria, Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, accused Hungary of 'deficiency' in democracy, the rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and equality –
quoting from an open letter by three members of the current Hungarian opposition.
Critical: Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, accused Hungary of 'deficiency' in democracy, rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and equality
The international media has been inundated with anti-government letters and statements by the same opposition. How can a country be called oppressive and its freedom of expression doubted where an opposition member – or anyone – can write the following about his country in a foreign newspaper with impunity: 'A junk country has a junk government and a junk prime minister.'
How would the British or French public opinion react to anyone writing that about Britain or France, let alone their respective prime minister and president, both of whom would love to have received the electoral legitimacy accorded to Viktor Orbán?
The fact is that many opposition figures in Hungary, aggrieved by their monumental electoral defeat, refuse to accept their loss of power, and concomitant diminishing of
political influence and economic privileges.
The role of the opposition is vital in any democracy as long as it works for the country. When the opposition stops playing by the rules of democracy and starts an overt verbal war against the country and its lawful government soliciting the support of their politically motivated foreign allies, that opposition loses its legitimacy.
The huge demonstration in Budapest on 21 January showed the world that the majority of Hungarian voters continue to support the government and its policies.
The apparent decision of the mainstream international media to ignore almost completely this demonstration of hundreds of thousands of people in a country whose government has been in the focus of intense and often hostile reporting for weeks on end goes beyond negligence.
It disregards its duty of fair and objective information, the requirement of best practice journalism. Most importantly, it violates the principle of democracy to give everybody a fair chance to form an opinion based on untainted factual information.
So far, Hungary and her legitimate government have been subjected to a double standard by the establishment Western media as well as elected and unelected officials in Washington and Brussels. Both the Western public and Hungary deserve better.