Aftermath: Right and Left

The left liberal side seems to be satisfied with the outcome of their counterdemonstration. Everything went off peacefully. According to the participants the mood was friendly with lots of smiles. Members of the cabinet as well as MSZP, SZDSZ, and even MDF politicians mingled with the crowd. Although Ibolya Dávid didn’t approve of the demonstration and instead suggested a more forceful police presence, Károly Herényi, the leader of the MDF parliamentary delegation, attended. There were no representatives of Fidesz. Even György Szabó, the Fidesz mayor of the district who took part in the first demonstration, was absent because he objected to the presence of the prime minister. Moreover, he is in hiding because he and his family were threatened. He asked for police protection. As far as his role in the first demonstration is concerned, an internet friend of mine received an e-mail from Judapest inviting her to the demonstration. After a brief check I discovered the e-mail on the home page of MAZSIHISZ, the organization of Hungarian Jewry, and Szombat, a Jewish weekly. I myself received the same letter, signed by "Hungarians against the Nazis," from Klubháló, an internet site. Nowhere did I hear any mention of the name of György Szabó, at least initially.

The other good development is that although László Sólyom didn’t join the others, he made a trip to the store and categorically disapproved of the terroristic methods of the extreme right. Oh, yes, and the store. An interesting "coincidence." It seems that the building whose first floor is occupied by the ticket office once contained the apartment of Ferenc Szálasi, the founder of the Hungarist (Hungarian Nazi) movement. His first party (he had many abortive attempts at organizing a viable party) was conceived in this apartment. The party’s name was "Party of the Hungarian Will." So, these modern Hungarian nazis are quite well versed in Hungarian history, or at least certain parts of it. As for the usual ringleaders–György Budaházy, László Gonda, and Tamás Polgár (better known as Tomcat) were arrested, though knowing Hungarian practice most likely they are already home. Krisztina Morvai apparently appeared at one point and complained about police brutality. We will see how far she gets with this latest attack on the police. I have the feeling not very far. Why am I optimistic? Because it seems that Fidesz has changed its attitude toward the extreme right. I base this on a Magyar Nemzet editorial. Since this newspaper is a mouthpiece of Fidesz, one can take it as pretty close to an official stand on the issue.

Let me summarize the article. First of all, Magyar Nemzet begins by saying: "’Enough of exclusion, enough of whipping up hatred, enough of the threats, enough of the provocations, this is our country, we don’t tolerate discrimination." The editorial continues: "The extreme right-wing sites on the internet without the slightest attempt to discover the truth [about the events surrounding the purchase of the ticket] used unacceptable language to trumpet to the whole world the most extreme interpretation of that ticket purchase. The same home pages a few days later enthusiastically greeted the successful attack against the ticket office with the help of Molotov cocktails." Then the editorial refers to the organization of the counterdemonstration: "Civil organizations with the assistance [bábáskodásával] of a Fidesz city council member of Jewish origin arranged a counterdemonstration which was such a success that Tomcat had to show his strength after the fiasco by organizing another demonstration."

And the article summarizes the events of late thus: "Burning down the ticket office is a crime. A police case. However, the Hungarian police force’s attempts to find the culprits are practically never successful. Tamás Polgár’s flash mob was not only provocative and threatening but an undisguised demonstration of strength. He was joined by all the well known figures whom the police are looking for but rarely find." Of course, at the end the paper mentions that such demonstrations are God’s gifts to the party and government of Ferenc Gyurcsány.

This seems to be the strongest condemnation of the extreme right to date from Fidesz. We will see whether this first step will be followed by others or not. It is hard to judge what caused this change of attitude. I doubt that it was the threat on György Szabó and his family. Perhaps Viktor Orbán feels that soon enough he might be the prime minister of Hungary and after all there was an adverse international reaction to these events. Or perhaps the radical right’s condemnation of Fidesz and Viktor Orbán was too much for the party leadership. In any case, I’m curious what will happen after this. One thing is certain: it is time to strengthen the hands of the police. However, this is more difficult than one would think. First of all, the laws were formulated twenty years ago in such a way that they give very little power to the police. Second, we saw what Krisztina Morvai and her friends could do. By now the police are simply insecure. They don’t know what they can do and what they can’t. It would be time to change the laws, but unfortunately one needs a two-thirds majority. Perhaps this editorial is the first signal that Fidesz is willing to reconsider its opposition to changing the laws.

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New World Order
Guest
There are far more votes to harvest in the “center” than on the far right. Orban has often “used” the far right to help agitate, but as far as I can recall he has never openly embraced the transparantly anti-semitic rhetoric of the right wing (in my view, he has also disgracefully rarely renounced this element’s language and tactics–see Pastor Hegedus and Bayer Zsolt). Anyway, FIDESZ understand there is no path to a really successful election nor to a successful post election governemt if the Party is seen as co-operating with or approving the message and tactics of the far right. FIDESZ can now win by appealing to the “center” and by attracting traditional MSZP votes with their “to the left of MSZP” economic policies. The one way to “blow this” situation is to be seen as too radical or outside the mainstream. Just wait and see, guys like Kover Laszlo will have only a marginal role (at least in front of the cameras) between now and the election. This is why, for me, all this focus on this fringe whose active suporters number in the hundreds and passive supporters account for maybe 2-3% of the population is a sideshow… Read more »
Adrian
Guest
Yes, the counterdemonstrations were good news, liberal sentiment in Hungary is expressing itself. But the threat of fascism is rooted in the entrenched racism and authoritarianism in the majority of Hungarians. Outside of Budapest the focus is on Gypsies not Jews, the Magyar Gárda have been marching again: http://english.mti.hu/default.asp?menu=1&theme=2&cat=25&newsid=251495 I think their strategy here is to provoke the gypsy community, they are as Varangy observes more prone to violence. Once a major street brawl erupts, the reaction of the police becomes crucial. After 13 years in Hungary I am more than satisfied with the performance of the Hungarian Police force, they have dealt well with the unfamiliar problems of a rise in organised crime in the mid-nineties and violent demonstrations over the last two years. I feel much better protected against crime here than I did in the UK. But the reality is that the police suffer the sharpest consequences of the socio-economic discrimination against gypsies. They cannot be expected to have much sympathy for a section of the community that keeps them so busy. In a street brawl between gypsies and gárdiszták will the police even-handedly intervene, or will the temptation be to let them get on with it?… Read more »
Hatodik Oszlop
Guest

Here’s a piece from Judapest.org, where they say that Gyorgy Szabo spent the previous weekend organising Monday’s anti-fascist action. I’m including it since you’ve now twice suggested he didn’t play a role in the events and only showed up to make himself look good.
http://www.judapest.org/mazeltov-koktel/
Furthermore, he was at Friday’s action too, as this photo from Index shows.
http://index.hu/politika/belfold/antifpp0411/?p=5
It’s the image just below “Hagyó nem lesz ott”, aka that Socialist Vice-Mayor Miklos Hagyo will not attend. Szabo is the one second from right wearing a burgundy coloured shirt.

Hatodik Oszlop
Guest

Of course it wasn’t a Fidesz rally. I was just pointing out that Szabo was there on Friday, and btw, I think he was there less as a Fidesz member, but more as a local councilman and private citizen sick of the far-right.

Varangy
Guest

@Eva
It is clear that Szabó’s presence is politically inconvenient for you and the Hun. Left.
But, Eva, how would you respond to Szabó’s shot across Gyurcsány bow:
***A politikus felszólította a miniszterelnököt, hogy ne menjen el a délutáni demonstrációra, és távolmaradásával segítse elő az újfasiszták elleni küzdelmet. Feltette a kérdést Gyurcsánynak, hogy ha komolyan gondolja kiállását, akkor tudassa, mikor költözik el abból a villából, amit először a nyilasok, majd a kommunisták vettek el zsidó tulajdonosától.***
We know Gyurcsi can talk the anti-fascist talk – but can Gyurcsi walk the walk?
Pénz beszél, kutya ugat, ugye?

Varangy
Guest

@Eva
I am the only one (excepting NWO and HO) on this site who apparently breaks with orthodox thought.
And is exactly what explains your antipathy towards me.
You seem incapable of actually arguing a point — regardless whether your introduce it in one of your posts or whether is a counter-point amongst the comments.
SO, why does Gyurcsi not jeopardize the movement? Why is his presence there not purely political? Why is this not a political God-send for him now? And, why, does not he not, if true, move out of the aforementioned villa?
Adrian, Odin, and Viking at least make efforts at debating my ideas — you continue to duck and evade my comments.

Endre
Guest

Varangy kommentjében egy, az index.hu-n megjelent cikkre hivatkozott – azaz “right-wing paper”-ről szó sincs. Az ultra liberális talán jobban megfelel, ha feltétlenül kategórizálni kell a médiumot.

Adrian
Guest

Eva,
****It’s beyond me while Gyurcsány’s presence would jeopardize the antifascist movement****
I agree that Gyurcsány’s presence would not jeopardize the antifascist movement, but it would damage the level of sympathy many Hungarians have for that movement’s aims. He is an immensely divisive figure, a student of mine recently argued that two of his friends joined the magyar gárda primiarily to express their opposition to Gyurcsány.
Having said that I was more disappopinted by the absense of more senior figures form Fidesz and MDF. Conservatives have to decide which they thinks constitute the biggest long-term threat to Hungary’s democracy : lying liberals or violent fascists.
On the whole Gyurcsány decision to attend without making a speech was a sensible compromise.

Hatodik Oszlop
Guest

“[Index.hu] is one of the growing number of right-wing publications with a touch of the sensational.”
Bwahaha! That’s one of the funniest things I’ve read in ages. Certainly, whenever I look at Index.hu, I have to wade through articles telling people to fly their Arpad-sav flags or pieces like “Orban: Genius, or Super Genius?”
Calling one of the rare non-partisan sources of information in the Hungarian media right-wing says much more about yourself than it does about Index.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
The far right and the far left are two sides of the same repulsive coin. The left has been described as the politics of envy and the right (not capitalism which is not a political force) the politics of greed. When they gain power the chieftains of the left are just as keen on power/wealth and privilage as the Chieftens of the right. Both are quite happy to kill each other to enhance their power etc. If you look ar the facist regimes which survived WW2. They fell away when the central power crumbled. -The death of Franco in Spain and an overseas conflict which killed off the Salazar regime in Portugal. They were relpaced by a middle class that they had allowed to develope. The left regimes died becausr two resolute western leaders refused to pay any more ‘Dane Gelt’. Without this source of income they simply went ‘bust’. What worries me is what is the true size of Jobbik in terms of card carrying members? and who is paying for the Magyar Guard? A bit off subject I saw one out here. His face was like boiled bacon and to my mind he was under the ‘affulence of… Read more »
Endre
Guest

Eva, what are you smoking? Have you ever read index.hu?
For the sake of “the hundreds of people who read this blog [and] don’t know the language (Hungarian)”, let me say again and this time in English:
index.hu is NOT a “right-wing paper”. If anything, it is very liberal.
Stating with confidence that it is right-wing is like stating with confidence that the Earth is flat. Open your eyes. Maybe you’ll even see something. It is better later than never.

A Beka
Guest
****Please, understand: I don’t want to debate your ideas.**** Then don’t. But man up enough to defend yours. Otherwise, don’t enable commenting on this blog. ****It’s that simple. I didn’t insult your family, I don’t hold any grudge against you,**** You can lie to yourself, but don’t lie to me. You DID insult me and my family. And you DO hold a grudge against anyone who doesn’t agree with you. ****I just don’t want to engage in endless and useless debates with somebody like you. I know the type from experience.**** Really? You know my type? What s my ‘type’? I’d love to know, b/c, to be frank — I don’t know too many people like me, perhaps you could send a few my way? I am hamstrung between the Hun. Left, its immoral and evil past, but most likely better economic policies of today AND the Hun. Right and its irresponsible long-term economic policies that lead towards economic socialism, and ultimately negative growth. I am NOT a right-winger, but if I were, I would not hesitate to admit. But at the same time, I do NOT think Viki is the AntiChrist, and, well, do not think all that much… Read more »
w
Guest

What about the spam-filter?

Hatodik Oszlop
Guest

Umm, Eva and Endre, Index is neither right-wing nor left-wing. While I find their position on social issues to be more liberal than conservative, the fact that they’re willing to criticize the left just means they’re willing to criticize them, and doesn’t reveal any agenda.
Any good independent newspaper will put reporting over politics. Did the Guardian become right-wing when it started to criticize Tony Blair? No.
If you want to read left-wing BS in the Hungarian media, get yourself a copy of 168 Ora.

Hatodik Oszlop
Guest

“[Index] are very critical of the present government.”
As every responsible news organ should be.
Regardless of their political inclination, a news organ should always be very critical of those in power, lest they do something like start foreign wars with no end in sight for dubious means, or blatantly lie for reelection, cough cough.

Zebra
Guest

****”[Index] are very critical of the present government.”
As every responsible news organ should be.****
@Hatodik Oszlop
What makes you think that one who apologizes for the Hun. Communists would be sympathetic to a common-sense argument about the role of the press in a free society?
Maybe you (and me) are the delusional ones.
🙂

Hatodik Oszlop
Guest

Eva, you are correct, that the press should not be critical of a government for political reasons, but whether or not they are doing a good job. On that, I agree with you.
However, this gov’t has done its fair share of things to be criticized for. Whether lying for reelection, displaying a callous disregard for human rights (10/23/06), or fumbling a reform program, to ask the press to not be critical is akin to asking them to be just as guilty of the above as the government is itself.

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