The Transylvanian debacle

Meaning: it is a debacle from the point of view of Viktor Orbán. Yesterday I briefly mentioned Dr. Mikola’s  unfortunate slip of the tongue about dual citizenship for Hungarians in Romania and the consequent full-proof victory of the right in Hungary. This supposition is most likely correct. It seems to almost everybody, including me, that the Hungarians of Transylvania are much more conservative and much more nationalistic than those in Hungary proper. I assume that their nationalism derives from their minority status.


Fidesz was always interested in the Hungarian minority in Romania. Of the perhaps 2.5 million Hungarians in the neighboring countries, they are the most numerous at about 1.5 million. They also seem the most receptive to Fidesz rhetoric that emphasizes the unity of the nation as one living body. The relationship between Hungarian governments and the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries has always proved tricky. Left-liberals pin their hope on the European Union. Although borders will not disappear at least they will lose some of their importance.


I think the EU solution is about as good as it gets and that Orbán’s “confused rhetoric,” as Ferenc Gyurcsány called Orbán’s latest speech, was no more than a series of empty gestures. The speech turned on the distinction between the Hungarian Republic and Hungary [Magyar Köztársaság/Magyarország]. The venue was Tusnádfürdő in Transylvania, to which the Fidesz leaders make a yearly pilgrimage. Orbán claimed that the current government emphasizes the republic but that Hungary is larger than the current republic. (I wonder what the Slovaks and Romanians think of this!)


Tusnádfürdő is the place from which “the preacher of doom”–as Ildikó Lendvai (MSZP) called Orbán–usually sends all sorts of political messages homeward. It was here, for instance, that he announced that the left always attacks the nation, it was here that he began talking about the lies and therefore the illegitimacy of the government. So it’s always a much anticipated event. Well, this year’s message was somewhat of a disappointment although the right-wing media announced that it was a “most substantial” speech.


Outside of the right-wing media commentators think otherwise–that the speech simply tried to avoid admitting that Orbán’s Transylvanian policy had failed. I don’t write about Transylvanian affairs often because my knowledge of the region’s politics is limited. However, it is clear even to me that for one reason or other Orbán’s relationship with RMDSZ (Romániai Magyar Demokrata Szövetség/Hungarian Democratic Association of Romania) and its leader Béla Markó soured. I’m sure that someone will correct me if I’m wrong in thinking that Fidesz most likely took RMDSZ for granted since, after all, RMDSZ is a moderately conservative party. After Fidesz lost the election perhaps Orbán hoped that Markó would turn against the socialist-liberal government. Of course he didn’t; he’s no fool. The Hungarian government, be it socialist or conservative, is the source of sizable subsidies to the Hungarian community in Romania. Moreover, the current government’s position is that the Hungarians of Transylvania know best where these monies should go, and therefore RMDSZ has a much larger say in the allocation of subsidies than under Orbán.


In any case, Orbán decided that perhaps with the help of another Romanian-Hungarian party his problems with RMDSZ and Markó could be solved. He encouraged the establishment of a new party, Magyar Polgári Párt (MPP/Hungarian Bourgeois Party), whose eventual leader was Jenő Szász, a man from the Szekler region of Transylvania where Hungarians are in a solid majority. A few months ago local elections were held in Romania and for the first time MPP’s politicians pitted their strength against RMDSZ. RMDSZ did very well while MPP managed to elect only a few mayors and members of local councils. Both Orbán and the hero of the Romanian revolution, László Tőkés, campaigned vigorously for Jenő Szász and his party. Despite their efforts, Szász himself didn’t manage to get elected. National elections will be held in Romania in the fall, and Markó very generously suggested a coalition between the two parties: 85% of the seats received would go to RMDSZ and 15% to MPP. It is not clear where things stand now. Markó refused to go to Tusnádfürdő where Orbán talked about a “coalition of equal partners.” I assume instead of the 85-15% split Markó imagines.


Anyway, things didn’t work out in Romania the way Orbán had hoped. He must have been quite disappointed because in his speech he mentioned that his followers shouldn’t get too cocky and think that at the next election a Fidesz victory is certain. Quite a melancholy gathering it had to be, although Orbán is normally very good at acting upbeat on such occasions. When he is really down he simply disappears for months on end. 

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Lia
Guest

The RMDSZ vs. MPP debacle is typical of Hungarian politics and the Hungarian psyche. Instead of striving for ‘strength in numbers’ and supporting RMDSZ fully so that they can make real gains in Romanian politics, Fidesz pits the MPP against RMDSZ, splits the vote, leaving MPP a weak second fiddle to a weakened RMDSZ.
BTW, my understanding is that when Fidesz was in power from 1994-1998, they were very much AGAINST dual citizenship for the Hungarian minority in Transylvania. Can someone explain this to me if it is indeed true?

dave
Guest

Dear Lia,
What you say is true, except that Fidesz was in power between 1998-2002. They created the so-called “kedvezmenytorveny” so that they can avoid giving citizenship to Hungarian minority in Transylvania. Worse, they opened the Hungarian job market for the the Romanians! When MSZP reversed its opinion on the issue and decided to oppose this treaty, they were stamped traitors! This shows again the hypocrisy and unscrupulousness of Fidesz. They sacrifiy even the Hungarian minority easily for the power!

Odin's lost eye
Guest

I think the Romanians have just fired a warning shot across Orban’s bows. At some time over the past few days the Romanian Bears (Trafic Police) stopped the almighty Orban’s car (with Orban at the wheel) an ‘blistered’ (gave him a citation) for speeding! It seems that the driver did not have enough money for the fine so the ‘bears’ took his licence. I expect Orban will shortly be adding the Romanian Fuzz (police) to his personal hate list. As if they care!

dave
Guest

Odin, I guess this incident is pretty much in line with the news that the Fidesz is in serious financial trouble. 🙂 Not even its president has any money (about 100 USD) 🙂 The end is near for Fidesz and Hungarian minority in Transylvania are only one beneficiary of this critical weakening.

Odin's lost eye
Guest

Dave I think you are correct. Sometime ago I did a calculation on how much the entire population would have to ‘stump up’ to meet FIDES debts. It worked out that everyone would have to pay about the same as the price of a large glass of beer. I prefer the beer!

Pál Marosy
Guest
“it was here that he began talking about the lies and therefore the illegitimacy of the government” He was right about. Read Gyurcsány’s confession in which he admits lying : “There is not much choice. There is not, because we have screwed up. Not just a little, big time. No country in Europe has screwed up as much as we have. It can be explained. We have obviously lied for the past one and a half, two years. It was perfectly clear that what we were saying was not true. We are beyond the country’s possibilities to such an extent that we could not conceive earlier that a joint government of the Socialists and the liberals would ever do. And in the meantime we did not actually do anything for four years. Nothing. You cannot mention any significant government measures that we can be proud of, apart from the fact that in the end we managed to get governance out of the shit. Nothing. If we have to give an account to the country of what we have done in four years, what are we going to say?” “admitting that Orbán’s Transylvanian policy had failed” LOL Wait and see. You… Read more »
Andy H
Guest
Just came across this post and the comments after it. Very interesting and well written. One of the main reasons that the MPP flopped so badly in the local elections is that while there is considerable sympathy for FIDESZ in Erdely (they are seen as being much more pro-the Hungarian minority than Gyurcsany and co), they will always be a Hungarian party (by which I mean, they understand and interact with the political system in Hungary). The RMDSZ are a Romanian party and understand the Romanian system (and are seen that way). When the MPP campaigned they always had a FIDESZ member open the show, which came across as spectacularly arrogant and patronising (and this, broadly, is the thing that really REALLY riles the Hungarians of Transylvania – being patronised and looked down upon from Hungary. Treated as “Dirty Romanians” when in Hungary, and as “Our poor oppressed Magyar brothers” when at home). On one level supporting the MPP is not beyond the pale for many here (Tőkés got elected as an independent to the European parliament), but they went about terribly, and shot themselves in the foot. And Szász is a complete idiot, who was the worst mayor in… Read more »
Timberland Store
Guest

Thanks, I’m going to have nightmares tonight.