Edward Lucas, Wilder Europe, European Voice.com
Suspicion, overstatement, and caricature dominate discussions about Hungarian politics.
Standard responses to outsiders who comment on Hungarian politics include: 1) you cannot possibly understand because you don't speak Hungarian; 2) your analysis ignores the country's tragic history; and 3) your views are distorted by the skilful propaganda of the elite.
These charges are quite tiresome. For a start, the two correspondents in Budapest for The Economist – part of the same group as European Voice – both speak Hungarian and have lived there for years. Secondly, one cannot always blame the present on the past. It should be possible to write about Hungarians in Slovakia without having to give, each and every time, a full account of the Treaty of Trianon. Similarly, the government of Viktor Orbán is making mistakes that are nothing to do with the sleazy misrule of its predecessors. Third, ideas are not responsible for the people who believe in them. Just because some of the Hungarian government's critics are mendacious and self-interested (which they are) does not mean that all criticism is ipso facto mendacious and self-interested.
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Both sides get it wrong in the Hungarian blame game