Monthly Archives: August 2007

The Hungarian Guard: a press conference, an opinion poll, and Fidesz strategy

This morning, at the invitation of Ibolya Dávid, head of the MDF (Magyar Demokrata Fórum), the five party leaders were scheduled to give a joint press conference before an international audience, including ambassadors and foreign news agencies. Only three party leaders appeared. Conspicuously missing were Viktor Orbán, head of the Fidesz, and Zsolt Semjén, head of the KDNP (Christian Democratic Party). They sent their underlings.

I haven’t been able to get the full text of Prime Minister Gyurcsány’s speech, but from what I read about it in the papers, it … Read the rest

Hungarian laws and the courts

Front page news in this morning’s Népszava: "Riots: the Budapest court reduced the sentences." From reading the article it becomes clear that this decision was reached on appeal and therefore is final. As usual, in the Hungarian media, court reporting can be a bit foggy. For example, the reporter neglects to tell us what punishment was meted out in the lower courts, but let’s be grateful for the snippets found in this article. The article talks about "last fall’s disturbances," which could be either the siege of the television station … Read the rest

Fidesz, the churches, the president, and the far right

Honestly, I will change topics soon, but the country is being shaken by the aftershocks of the Hungarian Guard affair. Every day something horrendous happens that cannot be ignored. One doesn’t even know where to start. It is bad enough that, according to a public opinion poll conducted by Medián, today fewer people find the extreme right reprehensible than ten years ago. Then the number was 70%, now a bit more than 50%. What is even more alarming is that the number of those who think that the extremists call … Read the rest

The Hungarian Guard and the churches

I know I’ve written about nothing else but the Hungarian Guard over the past few days, and I promise my readers that I’m not a one-trick pony. But, first, the topic is important in and of itself. And, second, it serves as (with apologies to scientists, for whom I know this is a technical term) a polarizing prism. In my singularly non-scientific use of the term, the issue of the Magyar Gárda clarifies political polarizations in Hungary with more precision than has any other recent controversy.

And so to the … Read the rest

Fidesz and the Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda)

We outsiders can only guess what’s going on behind closed doors at the party headquarters of  Fidesz. Commentators often remark that Fidesz is a monolithic party where nothing can be uttered or done without the express desire or instruction of the chief, Viktor Orbán. One thing is sure, it is easier to see the different groupings within MSZP or even within  SZDSZ than in Fidesz. First of all, MSZP makes no secret of the fact that it is a political gathering of people with different ideas about the role of … Read the rest

Magyar Gárda (Hungarian guard): no end to the controversy

It seems that the Fidesz found a clever, if fairly obvious, strategy to extricate itself from the Magyar Gárda trap. The party might (on the surface, in some eyes–pick your qualifying phrase) be linked with the guard, but they’re not responsible for its formation. Using what can only be described as a blunt instrument, they decided to blame Ferenc Gyurcsány for the growth of the extreme right and all its ramifications. If the prime minister hadn’t said what he said at Balatonöszöd, where he tried to convince his fellow socialists … Read the rest

The Hungarian Guard: white, not black shirts

It seems that even Gábor Vona, party leader of the Jobbik, realized that dressing the Magyar Gárda in black shirts was a bit over the top. He therefore changed the guard’s uniform to a white shirt, black sleeveless vest, black pants, high black boots, and a black baseball cap with an insignia reminiscent of the Hungarian Nazis’ armband. The result is a fairly grotesque uniform somewhat similar to outfits of nineteenth-century peasant lads. It reminded one of the reporters of the uniform of chimney sweeps or the old-fashioned "főpincér" (the … Read the rest