Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It is so familiar!

Actually I'm not really surprised but as usual the idea of the Hungarian politicians being uniquely stupid and villainous, runing away from every copnforntation with the popular will is widely shared in this country. Due to the recent decisions of the Constitutional Court it was cpmlemented by another complain, that this institutions is a unheard defender of social rights, blocking every reasonable attempt to gain competivity with reforms. But this is only possible in this doomed country with its exceptional political and institutional system.
The last few weeks provided a lot of counterexamples. Well, not in the form of the emergence of bolder politicians and less socially oriented judges, but as examples from other countries in Europe (and funnily not only from ECE). It began with the Latvian Constitutional Court's verdict on the pension cuts, declaring this measur void. The Romanian prime minister had a very spectacular egg-dance recently, when pieces of new legislation were revealed and immediately denied. No lay off of 100000 employees from the public sector at once, now lower pensions, even if earlier it was almost explicitely predicted. (The method is almost the same as in Hungary. Some analysts express their desire, put forward as the only possible solution, the politicians tactfully refrain from comments - and maybe in the background they even reasure them and ask them to do it - giving the impression that they accept it. It soon ensures the support of these important figures, but as soon as they confront the popular resistance they realize that votes are counted in hundreds of thousands and not in dozens.)
But the most spectacular situation occured in Germany. In this country the Christian Democrats and their long-term allies the Christian Socialists from Bavaria could at last fulfill their dream and after five years of great coalition with the social democrats form a new government with the liberals. The liberals were running a campaign based on promises of health care reforms, tax cuts, relaxation of the labour market regulations etc. Analysts said that in fact it is a proof of the decline of social/democratic ideas and of the readiness of Europeans to embrace free market as it is understood in the anglo-saxon model of capitalism. (Even though the liberals proposed a program in which they tried to emphasize their human face as well.) However, after 100 days of rule, with some tax cuts delivered, ideas of health care reform unveiled their popularity plummeted. Certainly not independently from the permanent brickering in the coalition, but they also have to face more porfound problems. There seems to be quite narrow space left for further tax cuts without major cuts in social and public services. (Even in case of the passed tax cuts they atre for many counter-balanced by a rise in the prices of public services due to a newly impsed VAT regulations and due to the loss of public income at the local level. And mewnhile it turned out that the liberals insisted on a controversial tax cut for hotels after receiving a very significant contribution form a hotel owner.) The idea of an equal a basic, contribution of to health care is seen as disadvantageous to the lower income categories and favoring the higher ones. Moreover, liberal ministers do not seem to be too competent. And at the end the Constitutional Court ruled that the new system of unemployed support, called Hartz IV is unconstituional, because it is not providing people with the basic needs for their life.
What was the liberals reaction after a thorough investigation of their situation: people are not rejecting reforms, they are disappointed with their slow pace! Let's make it faster! It is so familiar. The Hungarian liberals always nurtured this comforting idea, incaapable to admit that they views are not shared by the majority of the people an dthey ended up as a collapsed party. Not thet FDP will have the same fate necessarily. But maybe not only Hungarian politicians are crazy and villainous species.