7 March 2024

Political Dialogue Stories: Márton Tompos on How the Open European Dialogue Supports His Work as a Politician

Márton Tompos is a member of the Hungarian Parliament with the opposition party Momentum and a member of the Open European Dialogue (OED). In this interview, edited by Ronith Schalast, Program Manager of the Open European Dialogue, Márton shares his reflections on how the OED has been of support to him in his parliamentary work.

Authors: Ronith Schalast, Program Manager, Open European Dialogue |
Márton Tompos
, Member of the Hungarian Parliament

Disclaimer: The Open European Dialogue is a cross-party, cross-country dialogue platform for European politicians. This piece does not represent the views of the Open European Dialogue, its partners, or its participants. It is written from the perspective of the author(s) alone. The author(s) share their personal insights on the state of European politics and political dialogue, informed by the conversations between members of parliaments from across Europe and the political spectrum. 


When and how did you first learn of the Open European Dialogue (OED)?

I participated in the OED for the first time in 2022 during the Annual Dialogue in Lisbon. My political party, Momentum, received an invitation, and we were able to apply. We were genuinely honoured and pleased to take part in this exchange.


Since you joined, how has the OED network supported you in your role as a politician?

I would say primarily through its connections.

For instance, last July, I discovered a site where over 20,000 tons of used car tyres from Austria had been illegally dumped. During the Open European Dialogue exchange in Warsaw, I met a member from one of our sister parties in Austria, NEOS. They facilitated our contact with the Austrian public state TV, which then covered the issue extensively. Therefore, the Open European Dialogue aided us in drawing attention to the matter through the relationships established with other OED participants.

This wasn’t the sole occasion where I leveraged OED connections. During my trips to Ukraine following the invasion, which I’ve had the opportunity to do twice, I reached out to the Ukrainian parliamentarians I had met in Lisbon, for example. Thus, connections are one way the Open European Dialogue supports me in my work.

The platform also provides a framework for structuring our political thinking, which is quite valuable.

Marty Linsky, a former Harvard Professor and one of the co-founders of the Adaptive Leadership theory, shared some insightful ideas at the Annual Dialogue in Lisbon. So did Geoff Mulgan, Professor at the University College London and former Political Advisor to the British Government, who also contributed significantly to advancing my political thinking. His input led me to purchase and explore his latest book, Another World is Possible, which offers interesting ideas on political creativity. So, the OED provides us with sources of political inspiration.

However, the most important thing, especially in Hungary and for politicians in general, is not to lose hope.

Following the events of 2022, the opposition in Hungary faced a dire situation. We had tried everything — unity, collaboration among opposition forces, a common Prime Minister candidate, and so forth — yet we experienced a defeat of unprecedented magnitude. When I attended the OED in September that year, I was seeking inspiration and a glimmer of hope, and you provided that for me, reaffirming that it’s still worthwhile. That was the most significant aspect for me.


Do you think the OED network approach, supporting politicians by connecting them with colleagues across borders with similar challenges and frustrations, can help policymakers find new ways to tackle the issues facing them back at home?

Absolutely. Particularly as a member of the opposition in Hungary, one of the challenges I face is dealing with our work being constantly disparaged by the government. We struggle to pass any laws, effect any change, or wield any power. At home, we are constantly bombarded with trolls and subjected to explicit and aggressive threats. In such circumstances, it’s easy to become disheartened. You begin to doubt yourself and your motivations. The OED and the colleagues you meet from other countries restore that sense of importance to your thoughts, provide an understanding of your situation, and encourage you to persevere. It is rather motivating, giving me back the belief that what we’re fighting for makes sense.


Thank you, Márton!

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