Mobilizing for Green Politics in Hungary

Tuesday, 15 December 2009, 6:00pm - 7:30pm, IWM library

Hungary is in trouble. It lost more than a million jobs in the transitory years, and, unlike comparable other post-communist countries, it failed to get them back. Moreover employment is expensive, thus making the labour market inaccessible for unqualified workers. Meanwhile, Hungary set an unrivalled OECD-record in educational inequalities and segregation.

The political scene is largely shaped by the traumatic memories of the last century. The left is dominated by the direct successors of the rulers of the last oppressive regime. On the political right wing mainstream anti-communist populism competes with a rapidly strengthening Nazi far-right. Voters on both sides are tempted to be mobilised by hate, fear, frustration, and growing existential insecurity.

Alternatively, some of the voters cannot be mobilised at all. Models of active and constructive citizenship are scarce due to a lack of democratic traditions. Institutionalised corruption has been growing in both scale and shamelessness in the last twenty years, consequently, political participation is widely considered an activity, which decent people distance themselves from.

Who would care for issues like sustainability in such an environment? Who would risk their reputation and sacrifice their time for trying to organise a Green party in Hungary? Who would be willing to finance it? And without financing, how would it work and compete in elections?

Peter Rauschenberger will report on the founding of “Lehet Más a Politika” (Politics Can be Different), a new Green party, which emerged from the loose web of Hungarian environmentalist NGOs. It managed to build an alliance between people coming from different political traditions, and won 2.6% of the votes at the European parliamentary elections just four months after it had been established – practically without any money.

Peter Rauschenberger is Co-Founder of the Hungarian Green Party “Lehet Mas a Politica”.

Kommentar: Gerhard Jordan, Mitglied der Steering Group des Green East-West Dialogue (GEWD), Klubobmann der Grünen in Hietzing.