Keith and I are picking up to move to Pécs, Hungary for one year. He has never been to Europe and the furthest east I've been is Switzerland.... Our Hungarian language skills are...well, we know some phrases. Come follow us on our adventure!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Democracy and Non-Democratic Parties

A few weeks ago, Hungary had some kind of midterm elections. On election night, U.S. ambassador to Hungary, Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, visited the three "democratic" parties which will be represented in parliament. She did not visit the Jobbik party, which holds seats in Parliament, because she said the party is not a democratic institution.

Jobbik is what I consider an extreme rightist party...even further right than Rush Limbaugh. The party, “relies on a combination of ethno-nationalism with anti-elitst populist- and a radical critique of existing political institutions.” (wikipedia, jobbik). Jobbik has close ties with the Magyar Gárda, which was officially disband in 2008 for violating the human-rights of minority groups in Hungary. Jobbik wants Hungary to regain the land it lost to its neighbors at the end of WWI. The party is accused of being anti-Semitic, violently homophobic, and racist (primarily the Roma or "gypsies" of Hungary)

Morvai Krisztina, the leading candidate in Jobbik, was infuriated when
Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis did not visit the Jobbik party. She wrote a letter to ambassador Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, saying essentially that she does not know democracy.

But this brings up several questions:

In a democracy, do we have the right to vote in a party with non-democratic values? Hitler and his party were voted into power democratically. Are human-rights innately democratic issues? Do we need some sort of "moral code" of democracy...but wouldn't that too be undemocratic? Democracy is based on the educated public voting, should only educated people be allowed to vote?


  1. Here is some additional reading, if you are interested:


  2. Democracy is a system, much like other systems, WE MADE THEM. Inherently, they will be flawed. So what is the solution? I wrestle with that one often. The right to vote is basically the right to choose. That is not so much a right, in my eyes, as it is more something that we are born with the ability to do. To make an educated choice is something that SHOULD be a right...but many are not afforded the opportunity to a sufficient education.

    So it seems our solution to the system that is currently flawed is as simple as providing better education. How to effectively disseminate information to the masses? How to get people to vote for funneling the funds from war to education? That is the question I hope we can find much sooner than later.

    Perhaps it's not so much about morals as it is valuing the human mind and spirit. Education nurtures that and we need leaders that spread that word.

    This is incredibly interesting if you ask me!!!

  3. First – before I respond to your questions… I didn’t know it was possible to be any more right than Limbaugh. I chuckled to myself when I read that sentence but then I realized, wow, Jobbik really is an extreme rightist group that makes Limbaugh look liberal.

    To answer you first question, people have the right to vote in a party regardless of that party’s democratic values. Generally speaking, people are moral and will vote with a moral conscious. Parties like Jobbik are called extremist for a reason. They do not represent the majority of the population. Are they a threat? Absolutely; but the chances of them fairly getting voted in are slim. You’re probably thinking, what about the Nazi propaganda and their brainwashing of the German people? Interestingly enough, Hitler did not get voted in democratically. Some of his Nazi counterparts did win in democratic elections but that is not what brought the rise to Nazi Germany. Hitler was appointed to the position of Chancellor by the President of Germany at the time. This was during the decline of the Weimer Republic and since popularity of the Nazi regime was “seemingly” declining, Hitler seemed a safe option. Well, in that time the Parliament was unable to get a clear majority and in order to implement measures that worked through a number of presidential decrees. Hitler began spearheading these decrees and eventually they were treated as the norm. This paved the way for an authoritarian form of government. They (Hilter and his buddies in the cabinet) would simply pass laws overriding the constitution so when the president died, they wrote a law transferring the role of power to Hitler. In that regard, democracy didn’t fail the 6.2 million people who died over the course of the Nazi dictatorship.

    But that still doesn’t answer the question, should only educated people be allowed to vote? How would you define who is educated? In the minds of the Germans, the Nazis promised food, health, security, happiness (if you read their posters, it’s sickening how brainwashed the people became) and if you have a great orator (like Hitler) then you believe what you are being told. For what it’s worth, those people thought they were educated in politics. Now, fast forward to 2008. The United States had an election between McCain and Obama…a very heated one at that. I personally, as well as many others, would become frustrated and often times angered by the viewpoints of others. In my mind, they “obviously” didn’t have a clue, didn’t do enough research and weren’t “educated” enough. Clearly, I wouldn’t be the right person to say “yeah you’re educated enough to vote.” But who would be. Each person has their own personal bias based on what they value as important in a candidate. Take a step further and you ask people to take a exam. Well, Sally can’t read but she doesn’t have to be able to read to be passionate. But the beauty of democracy isn’t the fact that we’re educated enough to vote, but that we have been empowered to think for ourselves. We have the free will to make our own decision. No one is pointing a gun at our heads while we vote (or at least they shouldn’t be).

    Politics is tricky. Overall, Democracy has proven itself to be the one form of widely successful government that has the most regard for human rights.

  4. The unfortunate part, is that Jobbik does hold a fair number of seats in the Parliament.

    It is hypocritical for a non-democratic political party to run in a democracy.