The aftermath

I find it interesting that the Fidesz doesn’t seem to be entirely happy with President László Sólyom’s decision to veto Gyula Horn’s decoration. Zoltán Pokorni, one of the vice-chairmen of Fidesz, gave a press conference today in which he accused Prime Minister Gyurcsány of initiating the whole thing purely for personal political gain since Horn is a popular man among socialist voters and the left wing of the MSZP, while Gyurcsány is not.

It is also interesting that the head of the biggest Hungarian bank, the OTP, and a man known for supporting conservative causes, gave the the highest award of his bank’s foundation to Gyula Horn for his support of the OTP’s privatization efforts. The bank’s extremely wealthy chairman has been a strong financial supporter of the Fidesz. This must be a blow.

Meanwhile Horn’s role in 1956 is being dissected by Pál Germuska, a historian of the revolution. He points to some of the contradictions and wrong dates in Horn’s autobiography.  One of the more substantive problems is that Horn’s description of the activities of his paramilitary unit doesn’t mesh with the history of that unit. Although historians know little about Horn’s actual role in the paramilitary unit, his contention that they only guarded bridges and were not the political tools of the puppet government is historically inaccurate. Germuska doesn’t say that Horn doesn’t deserve the decoration but rather that he should face his own past and not belittle or shrug aside his role in those days.

While some argue about history, a man made history. Gábor Szetey, an undersecretary in Gyurcsány’s government, yesterday announced that he is gay. This is a first in Hungary. One must admire Szetey for his bravery: Hungary is a very prejudiced country, where the vast majority of the population is antagonistic toward gays and lesbians. We will see what will happen. Some worry that Szetey’s announcement will not enhance the reputation of this already very battered socialist-liberal government. Others think that it is neither here nor there. The trenches are dug, the frontlines are set.