The newest member of parliament, replacing an MSZP member who resigned because of a new job that would have given rise to a conflict of interest, is Szófia Havas, a medical doctor. She had already been active in politics but only on the local level. Most notably, Szófia Havas is the niece of former prime minister Gyula Horn and the daughter of the Horn’s older brother Géza. After the fall of the 1956 revolution Géza Horn, while biking to work, was killed by a still-unknown group of people. Apparently he was killed because he was organizing the new communist party in his district. Otherwise, he, like his younger brother Gyula, was the product of the communist regime of Mátyás Rákosi. Both of them studied in the Soviet Union and brother Géza married a Russian woman, whose father was a Soviet general. Géza’s daughter Szófia (the Russian form of "Sophia" rather than the Hungarian Zsófia) married a man of Russian extraction. They have two daughters; the older daughter majored in Hungarian and Russian. So the Soviet/Russian connections are strong. While her uncle belonged to the "reform communist" camp within the MSZMP, she complained to the weekly HVG that it wasn’t she who left the party, but the party that left her! She pretty well admitted that her views are closest to the Hungarian Communist Workers’ Party of Gyula Thürmer, though she has had problems with the party chief. I think that pretty well sums up her political views.
Reading the interview, one detects a rough edge to her. She seems to be very proud of the fact that she hasn’t gained an ounce since the age of eighteen and she also considers her legs to be extraordinarily shapely. That’s why, apparently, she appeared at her swearing-in ceremony in a mini skirt, which was criticized by some within her party. She proudly announced that her career had nothing to do with her family’s position in the old regime because, after all, she has an IQ of 141! She may have a high IQ, but she is not blessed with common sense. In this interview she said the following things about 1956: "I usually don’t speak of revolution in the case of 1956 because under no circumstances could I call those Nazis who were let out of jail revolutionaries. Nor could I call those youngsters revolutionaries who went from house to house with submachine guns, as some people did in 1944, hunting for the Jews."
Well, this was a bit too much for those 25-30 MSZP parliamentary members who comprise the party’s ’56 platform, among them, László Donáth, son of one of the martyrs of the revolution, and Imre Mécs, who was first sentenced to death and later, on appeal, received a sentence of life imprisonment. They very rightly pointed out that Szófia Havas, as a private citizen, can hold any view she wishes, but as a member of parliament she has violated the constitution of the third republic whose origins go back to October 1956. They called upon her to apologize. Szófia Havas’s answer was: "I expect them to apologize." Until now, she claimed, she had barely heard about the ’56 platform, and its members must have become emboldened only because her uncle, Gyula Horn, is very seriously ill. (He seems to have an Alzheimer-like illness. He has difficulty recognizing his closest relatives and friends.) Needless to say, Mécs and his friends were not impressed. They accused her of falsification of history, adding that "if Szófia Havas actually said such things she should think over her participation in the MSZP caucus."
To tell the truth, I side with Imre Mécs and the other members of the ’56 platform. I simply cannot understand why the MSZP decided to pick her to fill the empty MSZP seat. Among other things, she seems to have a very rigid view of healthcare reform and has had a rocky relationship with the SZDSZ, the coalition partner. Altogether I think that she will only be trouble for MSZP-SZDSZ coalition politics.
And one more thing. President Sólyom refused to countersign a high decoration to be given to Gyula Horn on his seventy-fifth birthday because, in his view, Horn to this day considers 1956 a counterrevolution; moreover, he served the Kádár regime from December 1956 on as a member of the militia. Not long ago in an interview with a German paper Horn described his participation in the militia as simply defending public order. Now comes his niece who strengthens the impression that Horn family members are not democrats but still think in terms of communist dictatorship. With this interview Szófia Havas has given support to Sólyom’s decision to refuse Horn’s decoration.
What a beginning to the approaching "celebration" of ’56. Every year there is something. Last year there were street clashes between the police and an attacking mob. Previously, there was a political standoff: the right and left refused to celebrate together. The extreme right is ruining the remaining reputation of ’56 with quite a bit of help from Havas et al. The MSZP often makes big, big mistakes. Szófia Havas is one of them.