Hungarian president János Áder's inaugural speech in the Hungarian National Assembly

Finally, a few words about the state of the political discourse.

We do not hold all the actors of our common history in equally high esteem. But we all respect Széchenyi. We all like to quote Kossuth and praise Ferenc Deák. If this is so, then let us not allow this to be hollow rhetoric, let us instead turn it into a resource.

If we have learnt one thing from them, then it is that despite having a different view on the world, despite having drawn different conclusions from the same historic situation, nobody – even with the greatest malice – may question that they all were driven by the desire to do the country good.

May I ask. Why isn’t this the standard today? Let me quote Ferenc Deák again. “Hungary should not be loved with inciting thoughts unsettling it, but with a series of every day, useful deeds that promote prosperity.”

Esteemed House,

The quality of our public discourse has dramatically deteriorated in recent times. I do not want to dwell now on responsibilities and on who is to blame. However political numbers and majority dictate that responsibility of government parties is greater.

It is not worth arguing who started it, who was aggressive first, who was the one to first cross the line. We have a common responsibility for the present state of our political discourse. We have a common responsibility for the way we proceed from here. There is one year left until the elections, the majority of the voters do not wish to live on top of a volcano about to erupt.

Question. Will we grant others the respect that they deserve? Will we counter arguments with arguments? Facts with facts. Or tempers with tempers.

Have we learnt from Ferenc Deák’s self- restraint: who in his speech to the House of Representatives in March 1867 said the following: „I shall not respond with the same expressions and arguments that were directed towards me in a rather aggressive manner. Such altercations do not help clarify the issue at hand, nor do they promote the future of the country”.

It is up to us. And I am not saying that there cannot be a difference of opinion among us. There can be, there will be. Why can we not have a different perception and assessment of the same situation? And I am not talking now about our own self-esteem, the destructive strength of public discourse on private conversations. Soon there will come a day, when all we will be doing is snarl at each other. We shouldn’t do this.

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