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Hungarian Press Roundup: Political Camps Trade Accusations of Weaponising Coronavirus Epidemic

Hungary Today 2020.03.14.

As the number of those infected rises steadily, commentators on both sides of the political frontline accuse the other of exploiting the pandemic for their own purposes.

Hungarian press roundup by budapost.eu

In the headline of his Népszava column, Miklós Hargitai accuses the prime minister of ‘rabble rousing’. Rather than providing the medical personnel with the necessary equipment to combat the virus, he writes, the government is using xenophobic rhetoric to divert attention from its own incompetence. Hargitai refers to a statement from the prime minister in which Orbán said since most new illegal immigrants to Europe have come from or through Iran, there was an obvious link between the coronavirus epidemic and migration. Hargitay retorts that those asylum seekers all went through Turkey where almost no virus cases have been reported. He deplores the government for caring, as he sees it, more for propaganda than for the epidemic itself.

In Magyar Nemzet, Zsolt Bayer compares left-leaning colleagues and opposition politicians to characters in Boccaccio’s Decameron, who tell one tale after the other while secluded during the Florence black death epidemic in the 1300s. With the difference that this time, those tales invariably lay all the blame on the government. He especially castigates Mérce’s András Jámbor, who poked fun at Deputy Prime Minister and Christian Democrat party leader Zsolt Semjén and his advice to hold more frequent services in church. Jámbor suspects that the Deputy Prime Minister invites churches to cheat the ban on indoor meetings with over 100 people attending. No, Bayer retorts, he wants to minimize the risk. He concludes that those who intend to capitalize on the epidemic ‘are rooting for the virus’.