Connections. Relationships. Links. Bonds. Many moons ago, we knew such things explicitly existed between the people sitting in parliament and the people who put them there. Even the most swollen-headed of the parliamentarians, the ones who lisped to their reflections in the mirror that they were the ‘political elite’ of the nation, were not just vaguely aware, but emphatically knew that their careers depended on the electorate. In more recent times, however, there’s been a change in the way that politicians relate to the people who are their masters. Look to Western Europe and you will see that most politicians are inclined to keep the voting public at a distance of at least an arm’s length for the majority of the time.
Of course, that all changes when the road starts to turn, once again, in the direction of an election. At that time, politicians of all hues rush out into the world, determined to prove to potential supporters that they do nothing but hang on their every word.
Now, this all leads to a change in the relationship between those who are empowered to control those very people who empowered them to do so, and it tends to not be a particularly flattering change.
Fundamentally, that change can be seen to be dismissive. Those in power can be seen to be dismissive of the electorate, stupefying thought though that may be. Apart from anything else, it’s insulting. Beyond the idea of an insult, the change cannot be expected to bring anything useful to the relationship.
Now, to some extent, with certain political actors, this has always been the way of things. Some politicians have traditionally had a tendency to see their success as a result of their own immense talent. There has always been an inclination, in certain politicians at least, to neglect the role that the electorate play in the success or failure of politicians, and to see their own talent as being unstoppable.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Disdain doesn’t have to be the order of the day. There is, surprise, surprise, another way.
Whilst the ‘opposition’ in Hungary claim, in the manner of a broken record, that the government has no right to say that they represent the people’s voice, the truth is, that in most cases, they do. In direct contrast to the Left-wing’s habit of speaking down to the electorate from on high, the Hungarian government elected in 2010, made a point of changing, of improving the relationship between governed and governing.
A new policy was developed in 2010. A policy that goes by the name of ‘national consultation’. And, predictably, that’s what it is. Whenever an important question comes to the fore, the Hungarian government make a point of asking the population what they think about the subject matter.
Simple, no? Yes, decidedly so, and yet it’s not something that you see much repeated elsewhere, which is slightly suspicious. We hear statements all the time from governments about how they are on the right track, doing what the people want them to do. But there’s little evidence to back their claims up. If governments are so convinced that they’re doing the right thing, wouldn’t it be ever so simple to add gravitas to their claims by following the Hungarian example?
The national consultations, the simple idea of asking the populace what they think regarding important questions connected to the way the country is heading, means that the government can be assured that they are, in fact, on the right track.
As Viktor Orbán has stated repeatedly in debates with the EU and others, he is elected by the Hungarian people, and has to answer to them. Further, as a result of the national consultations, he knows that he’s on the right track. In sharp contrast to the rest of Europe, the Hungarian government didn’t decide for the nation on the question of illegal migration, but asked the nation what stance they wanted the Hungarian government to adopt. In arguments about illegal migrants and the automatic distribution of those who were arrogantly invited in by the Germans with no consultation, the Hungarian prime minister occupies a position of greater strength than his Western European counterparts. In actual fact, those same Western counterparts know better than to ask their populations what they really, truly feel about a veritable tidal wave of illegal migrants rushing forth to utterly deplete everything that the welfare state (from taxes that they didn’t and don’t contribute to) contains.
The Germans, having invited the world and his wife to come to Europe to take up residence, having conspicuously forgotten to remember that they, the Germans, have yet to be crowned supreme leaders of Europe, know that Merkel’s decision to push us all in the direction of assisted suicide is not nearly as popular as she thought it might be. But having failed to enquire of the people of Germany, we end up in a situation where the German government (and plenty others beside) are obliged to spend Christ knows how much time, effort, and money trying to convince their voting populations that what’s been decided for them is, in fact, what they wanted all along.
The Hungarian government is more in tune with its citizens than its Western counterparts have been for many a year. What we can see from the West is the lip-service, nothing more.
Telling people that the system is democratic whilst avoiding the chance to prove this to them by asking the people, more regularly than just every four years, doesn’t take an especially great amount of bravery.
All that’s required is a real commitment to the idea of democracy, nothing more. The Hungarian government has realised this, and has acted upon it. By asking the population’s opinion on topics of national importance, the Hungarian government is able to tailor policy to fit, as far as is possible, the expectations and desires of the electorate.
When Orbán stands his ground in the European Parliament, when he’s compelled to repeatedly reject false accusations from those who are paid to undermine us, his job becomes a whole lot easier when he is secure in the knowledge that he’s not standing alone. There are millions of Hungarians there, backing him up.