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Hungary’s opposition parties marked the 175th anniversary of the 1848-49 revolution and freedom fight on Wednesday.
Jobbik-Conservatives leader Márton Gyöngyösi marked the national holiday at an event in Budapest, stating that there were similarities between Hungary’s situation 175 years ago and today, and the goal is that the country should not fall out of the group of European nations but develop together with them. He told the event at the Batthyány Eternal Flame monument near Parliament that Hungary had always belonged to the west of Europe culturally, and the majority of Hungarians agreed that it should not fall out from “the bloodstream of the continent”.
LMP co-leader Péter Ungár said in a video on Facebook that the message of the revolution and freedom fight was that there were things worth fighting for. He said it was important to remember the revolution and freedom fight because it marked the birth of a modern, civic Hungary. It was a time when the country’s independence and autonomy developed into its current form, he added. The foundations of current politics were laid, enabling every person to have an equal say to influence politics, he said.
Bence Tordai, the co-leader of opposition Párbeszéd, said the revolutionaries of the current era were the greens because they wanted peace, freedom, consensus and a green Hungary. Tordai said in a video message that March 15 was a holiday that stood the test of time because it concerns some basic principles, such as liberty, equality and fraternity. “Hungarians went against oppression in 1848 because they dreamed about a freer and more liveable country, and said no to everything that resulted from oppression and despotism,” he said.
The Socialist Party said March 15 was a celebration of social development, “real national issues” and European progress. Ágnes Kunhalmi, the party’s co-leader, slammed the Orbán government, saying that “Prime Minister Viktor Orbán created a web of a million dependencies in Hungary, hobbling social progress, development and modernisation”. “Neither progress, nor true national representation, nor progressive European principles” are typical attributes of the government, she said. Hungarians actively shaped European events in 1848, she said. Today’s Hungary should become a cooperative and sovereign country where freedom and prosperity are equally present, she said.
Addressing a party gathering, Ferenc Gyurcsány, leader of the Democratic Coalition (DK), urged people to “dare to fight” for their freedom. Gyurcsány warned that otherwise people would “be disenfranchised and become the shame of the nation”. He said DK would become “the home” for those opposed to governing Fidesz. “DK follows a sensible, patriotic European policy with principles that are simple: people are free and must watch out for that freedom. Furthermore, the strong may not abuse their power, while the weak must be helped, because they’re people too,” he said. Gyurcsány said people must “fight tyrants, not negotiate with them”.
Anna Donáth, an MEP of Momentum, said the young revolutionaries of 1848 “took control of their fate” by forming a community of people who valued freedom and the nation. Every generation has a right and a duty to “take control of its fate”, Donáth told an event. “What else are these national holidays about but remembering those who did everything they could for the future so that we could be freer, happier, more honest and more credible?” she asked. Although Hungary’s freedom fights throughout history “never ended with the most positive outcomes”, they were not fought in vain, she said, “because we’re here and so are the new generations”.