Zoltán Lovas

Democratic Round Table’s Manifesto to the People of Hungary

It was on January 16 that four people who are concerned about the fate of Hungary announced the formation of a new Democratic Round Table (Demokratikus Kerekasztal or DEKA). People familiar with the period of the regime change in Hungary will recall that it was at such a round table that the foundations of the new democratic Hungary were laid.

The four patriotic people are Zsuzsa Ferge, a sociologist whose primary interest is social stratification with special emphasis on poverty; Gábor Iványi, the Methodist minister who works with the homeless and the poor; András Horváth, the whistleblower who revealed the rampant corruption within the Hungarian Tax Authority; and Zoltán Lovas, a journalist who was one of the organizers of the long demonstration against the erection of the memorial to the German occupation. They are convinced, as are many others, that Hungary is in a social, political, and economic crisis, and they are trying to stave off a “national catastrophe.” Due to the growing poverty in the country it is possible that people will increasingly be attracted to “radical solutions.” That’s why Hungarian society cannot remain quiet and must begin a dialogue, not just among the political forces of the left but also with those moderate conservatives who might have had high hopes for the Orbán government in 2010 but are by now disillusioned.


Their plan is to create several democratic round tables where people will form “working groups” concentrating on different facets of the groundwork that has to be done in preparation for a regime change. Their final aim is, of course, Viktor Orbán’s removal from power by legal means. There will be six working groups: (1) vision,  (2) democracy and law, (3) social policy, (4) economic policy, (5) civilization, education, culture, and (6) foreign policy.

DEKA already has a forum that anyone can join. Although the working group discussions will not be open, they welcome suggestions from everyone who’s interested. I urge all those intelligent readers of Hungarian Spectrum to join this new think tank. So many of you have excellent ideas, and this offers you an opportunity to contribute something for the common good. Here is the link to the DEKA Forum. I’m sure that English-language comments are welcome.

For those of you who know Hungarian, here is a video about the launch of DEKA.

DEKA wants to work with everybody, including parties. For the time being, only Demokratikus Koalíció has said that they will definitely support the initiative, which is not surprising because DK has always been ready to cooperate with all groups that are interested in restoring democracy to Hungary.

Below is the English-language version of DEKA’s manifesto.

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A Manifesto to the People of Hungary

Our nation has reached a crossroads as of early 2015. We are teetering on the brink of an all-pervasive social, political, societal and economic crisis.  Our nation has been fragmented into hostile camps pitted against and unable to communicate with each other. If our fate continues to be shaped by trends similar to those seen over the past years, one likely outcome is that the current regime will become entrenched with an increasingly autocratic profile. Nor can we rule out a scenario where social tensions reach a boiling point and where both the masses living in destitution and the members of the sinking middle class embrace radical solutions.

Concerned and worried about the fate of Hungary, we, therefore, recommend that our fellow citizens who bear responsibility for how things will evolve should enter into a dialogue with each other.  By opening such a dialogue, they should achieve a minimum consensus on the nation’s political, economic and social issues that enables the forces of a now badly divided nation to come to an agreement and find a way out jointly. We recommend that the restoration of the republic and democracy, the reinforcement of Hungary’s orientation towards European values and the remedy of the social injustices caused by the system be deemed such a minimum consensus.

The key to success is engagement in the dialogue by civil society organisations and movements, political parties, employer and employee organisations, the churches and all members of the nation, whether in Hungary or abroad, with a stake in public affairs.

This is likely to require a series of round table talks making way for change. Parties to these round tables may hold different values, however, they should be ready and willing to continue to co-operate. We as politically unattached thinkers believe that at least one round table with liberal left-wing stakeholders committed to the values of Europe and one with conservative right-wing participants need to be put in place.

We do hope that those in support of achieving a shared minimum social consensus will, their differing political or ideological affiliations notwithstanding, contribute to reaching such consensus on account of their commitment to democracy, the republic and fundamental European values. By this spring their co-operation could lead to the emergence of a negotiation forum and scheme that facilitates the forging of a new historic compromise serving the interests of the nation. We recommend that the starting date of the operation of the National Reconciliation Forum (NRF) be 15 March 2015.

Budapest, the 14th of January 2015

This manifesto has been endorsed by

Zsuzsa Ferge
András Horváth
Gábor Iványi
Zoltán Lovas

An additional note to the manifesto:

A democratic round table (DR) upholding left-wing values is slated to be established on 25 January 2015. The DR strives to contribute to the envisaged success of joint national efforts through offering documents drafted within the framework of its workshop targeting the public at large. We hope that similar documents will also be drafted under the aegis of other workshops, primarily by parties to a conservative right-wing round table.