Hungarian rights!

Last September I blogged on the prosecution of the leadership of the Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party (known as Munkaspart).

It was on grounds of “committing libel in a public place” that seven of the party’s leaders faced two years in jail.

As Neil Clark noted at the time,

the real reason the Munkaspart leaders are on trial (and the reason why the youth wing of the Czech Communist Party has also been banned) is because of their implacable opposition to their governments’ aggressively neo-liberal agenda.

It’s red-bashing, yes, but there were important reasons for it happening – Munkaspart had helped initiate a referendum on the privatisation of Hungary’s healthcare system and the prosecution was an act of revenge by the state.

(The supposed libel of the party leadership, if you’re interested, was their condemnation of a 2005 ruling by the Budapest City Court which interfered in the internal affairs of Munkaspart to the benefit of those wanting to split the party and to side with the unpopular governing party.)

The good news, reported in The Morning Star, is that he immediate threat of imprisonment no longer remains – an appeal court has overturned the guilty verdict of last November, but state prosecutors might take the case to the high court. So it’s not over yet…

Though the 2004 referendum failed to defeat the government’s privatisation agenda, the recent referendum that took place on March 9 saw plans to introduce user fees in the health service and universities rejected overwhelmingly. And though it was triggered by the right-wing Fidesz opposition party, Munkaspart had a hand in campaigning against these neoliberal measures.

If we can turn our attention to England, would it not be beneficial to working people here if referenda on contentious legislation could be triggered by petition? I’m thinking here of the McDonaldisation of the NHS, the recent wave of post office closures, and the deployment of the armed forces to Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s to say nothing of the vote on the EU referendum that we were promised and later denied…

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