Radical right in Hungary, a new study

A few months ago I found myself under attack by some right-wingers who were outraged when I described an interview with a sociologist. The topic was the "new Hungarian right." Among other things Pál Tamás, the sociologist in question, mentioned that the extreme right has a large following in Hungary. While in most western European countries they constitute about 10% of the adult population, in Hungary their number is much larger. Then I quoted a few statistics that were indeed rather surprising. My right-wing "friends" who either don't understand English well enough or didn't read my blog carefully attributed the findings of the sociological study to me. As if I invented these figures because I am "anti-Hungarian." (In their eyes everybody is anti-Hungarian who tries to show an objective picture of Hungarian society.) As a result I found my name on a list of people who, in their eyes, are responsible for the deep division in Hungarian society. I must say that I was thrilled to be included in such illustrious company: I have a very good opinion of all those "ditch diggers," as we were called.

Well, I'm going to stick my neck out again. This time I will summarize a new, more exhaustive article written by Tamás on the same topic. First he tells his readers that although we talk a lot about the "radical right" or the "extreme right" we actually know very little about the people who fall into this category. Many questions remain unanswered. We are not at all clear about the connection between the moderate right and the extreme right. How temporary or constant are the different networks within the radical right? What are the similarities between the extreme right that existed before World War II and the radical right of today?

Let's start with the second question–the longevity of networks within the radical right. According to the existing, not too extensive literature on the subject the different movements and groupings within the radical right are unstable. It is almost impossible to keep them together for any extended period of time. Actually, one doesn't need to read this "literature" because the events of the last decade or so bear this out. In the second half of the 1990s István Csurka's MIÉP (Magyar Igazság és Élet Pártja = Party of Hungarian Truth and Life) was strong enough to achieve parliamentary representation, and Csurka was able to turn out crowds of two hundred thousand people for MIÉP's mass demonstrations. Today MIÉP is almost dead. At the last elections MIÉP joined forces with Jobbik, another right-wing party that began as a right-wing youth organization. Jobbik means the "Better One"; the party's name is an abbreviation of Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom (Movement for a Better Hungary). They did rather poorly together and by now they are at each other's throats over money. Meanwhile there are small groups that come and go. For a while they show up at demonstrations only to disappear later. But although identifiable groups within the extreme right have a short life expectancy, the "radical camp" is quite stable.

Pál Tamás and his team (allegedly) randomly sampled 1,500 voters, in the process trying to build an algorithm by which to "monitor" radicalism. (I question the notion of a random sample because I'm not altogether convinced by the results. I have a better opinion of the average Hungarian, admittedly without a single tick of data on which to quantify my impressions, and perhaps just a case of "wishing makes it so." So for the time being I defer to statistical analysis.) They put together a number of questions designed to shed light on what makes people tick. The questions touched upon "the need for authority," "the desire to rewrite history," "a feeling of Hungarian superiority," "political antisemitism," and "anti-Gypsy feelings." With the help of answers given to the above questions the sociologists tried to place the right radicals within the context of Hungarian society as a whole. They also asked people about their attitudes toward active participation in protest movements. The most important, and disturbing, finding is that opinions associated with "right-wing radicalism" are also prevalent in the center and are present, though with less intensity, on the left. So, to summarize.

The Strong Hand. Dialogue between right and left, strengthening of democratic institutions, withdrawal of charismatic political leaders on either side–all this is totally alien to Hungarian political culture. The solution to the current situation, according to 75% of the people, would be "a strong government that would rule out party squabbles." Moreover, 52% of the people responded that "in today's situation only one party representing society as a whole is needed." The idea of a one-party system was rejected by only 28% of the sample. As for the leader, "he should be a determined man who can lead the country with a steady hand." That question, to my mind, wouldn't differentiate the left from the right; indeed, the idea was rejected by only 10.4%.

Although in the early 1990s the dividing line was not at all clear between right and left, by today people have no difficulty placing themselves on a scale of one to seven, where seven represents the extreme right, one the extreme left, and four the middle of the pack. In this sample 15.4% scored themselves as a seven, 14.4% as a six, and 14.5% as a 5. That is almost 45% of the population.

Culture of (Non-)Protest. Although the extreme or radical right is a fairly large percentage of right-wing voters, only about six percent of them would take part in street demonstrations, would attend political meetings, or would be willing to participate in strikes. The only activity they would engage in in larger numbers is to collect signatures (22%).

History. It seems that the left-liberals for the time being have lost the battle over historical interpretation. Sixty percent of the people agreed to the proposition that "today it is superfluous to talk about Hungarian responsibility and a Hungarian negative role" prior to and during World War II. Only twelve percent think that the Hungarian government before and during the war years was responsible for the disastrous outcome. Thirty-seven percent agree that "in the last eight to ten years we have been talking too much about the holocaust." (Twenty-seven percent disagree, so here the results are not so lopsided as in the question of historical interpretation.) As for the "new" symbol of the right, the red and white striped flag last used by Ferenc Szálai's Hungarian nazis, the acceptance of the flag is larger than one would suspect. While only about 30% of those asked declared themselves to be right-wingers, 37% consider "this flag part of Hungarian history and find it absolutely incomprehensible why some people are against it." The question of Trianon is also telling. The majority realizes that territorial changes are impossible, but 27.5% think that "the injustice of Trianon could be remedied only by territorial changes." (32% of Fidesz voters agreed with this statement and 22% of MSZP voters.) Thirty-six percent agree that "the most important goal of Hungarian foreign policy is to regain our leading role in the Carpathian basin. "

Prejudices. The most prevalent prejudice in Hungary is against the Gypsies. Sixty-nine percent are convinced that "Gypsies take advantage of welfare payments." Fifty percent claim that "Gypsies are responsible for their own situation." As for antisemitism the sociologists found that about one-third of the population are "active and consistent anti-Semites." There were slight changes in numbers when specific questions were asked. When they had to answer with yes or no to "Jewish culture is such that it is difficult to reconcile it to the culture of the majority" thirty-one percent agreed while twenty-seven did not. To the question "the Jews in order to achieve their aims resort to trickery" forty percent agreed while thirty percent did not. Here the difference between Fidesz and MSZP voters was fairly large: 50% in case of Fidesz and only 32% of MSZP voters. To the statement that "the influence of Jews is too great in Hungary" forty-one percent agreed (27% disagreed). Again there is a fairly large difference between Fidesz and MSZP voters (59% as opposed to 32%).

Next year, the sociologists will repeat their experiment. I'm curious whether there will be any change, one way or the other.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Adrian
Guest

Although I am not surprised by the results of this new study. It doesn’t present the polarisation of Hungarian society, because at the same time:
“Over half of Hungarians support the Hungarian Democratic Charter, a new movement set up on Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany’s initiative earlier this month to combat extremism”
http://english.mti.hu/default.asp?menu=1&theme=2&cat=25&newsid=255321

Árpád
Guest

Dear Éva, although you graduated in History, your are missleading your readers when you claim that the Arpad-house flag was a nazi symbol.
The “red and white striped flag” is the symbol of Hungary’s statehood over history. It is included even in the national coat of arms of Hungary. Szálasi’s flag was a different one.
It is a totally different story that extreme right-wingers often use the Arpad-house flag, usually together with the national flag of Hungary.
Most of Hungarian people, including myself, are proud of this flag, as they(we) are also proud of the Hungarian history. I am not a nazi and I totally disagree with the hungarian extreme right-wingers. Your (or mr. Pál’s) claim that these people are supporting nazism is a bold misinterpretation of the statistical data.
The english wiki-article on the Arpad-house flag:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81rp%C3%A1d_House_Flag
Szalasi’s flag:
http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A9p:Hungarista_1_h.svg
The hungarian wiki-article on the Arpad-house flag:
http://hu.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%81rp%C3%A1ds%C3%A1v

Sandor
Guest

Dear Arpad!
The flag in question was a banderial flag and not one single specimen has ever been found of it. The motive was mostly used as an element of royal crests and in its origin Iberian. Therefore, it is not the historical flag of the House of Arpad, merely one of the motives in their crests. (witness the Gesta Hungarorum.)
The only excuse for the popularity of the flag comes from the nyilas (the Arrow Cross Party) who used (and “popularized”) it more on their armbands than on their flags.
The red-and-white flag is, beyond any doubt, a nazi symbol and that’s what it is used for today on the streets of Budapest. Not in small measure supported by all the anti-Semitic and anti-Gypsy rhetoric that is the hallmark of the present day nyilas riff-raff.

Hatodik Oszlop
Guest

Sandor, you’re wrong, mate. The flag is regularly paraded around whenever the historical flags of Hungary are paraded around, under the current government as well. A modified version of the Arpad flag was used by the Arrow Cross, but that wasn’t the actual Arpad flag, the debate over which was perfectly well explained here: http://www.pestiside.hu/20070525/a-sortofgay-solution-to-hungarys-sortofnazi-flag-problem

Sandor
Guest

Hatodik, all the “explanations” of the world will not clear that flag of the mud.
When it is “paraded” by anyone, you and us and all who see it will think of the arrow-cross the only thing that is so fortuitously missing from the middle.
The nyilas’ claims of its historical significance are hallow slogeneering in view of the fact that all the other similarly historical symbols are spectacularly neglected in favour of this dirty piece of rag.
I defy you to name just one of those other equally, or even more time-honored national motives, just to show you how futile the lie is.
But to show you that your protestation is just a stupid lie, let me quote from your own recommended source the substantial part: “But again, the Árpád-striped flag itself is not a fascist flag; it just really looks like one.”
Yeah. And the riff-raff, who flaunt it are not nyilas mob, they just “look like it.”

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Arpad: “Dear Éva, although you graduated in History, your are missleading your readers when you claim that the Arpad-house flag was a nazi symbol.”
Well, let’s split hair. A few stripes here or there don’t really matter. There are at least a dozen “historical” flags, but interestingly the radical right found this particular one so very attractive. That’s why they picked it: they fell in love with the stripes. Why not one of the others? Good question, isn’t it. Of course, the answer is very simple. You don’t even have to think very hard about it.

Árpád
Guest
Dear Éva and Sándor, it seems that you are the ones that are pushing the idea that the Árpád house flag is a nazi symbol, even if it is not. “A few stripes here or there don’t really matter” – errr, I think this is YOUR problem. Quite an ignorant view, right??! “The only excuse for the popularity of the flag comes from the nyilas” – errr, an “objective” assesment, right??! “the radical right found this particular one so very attractive”. Istán the saint (from the Arpad-house) was the first king of Hungary. The Arpad-house flag is so “attractive” because it symbolises those 1100 years of state-hood. A statehood that has been so many times in danger over history (e.g. in 1956, the year when you fled Hungary). If the mud spoils something, depends on the value of the spoiled item, whether you spend your time on cleaning it or you just throw it to the bin. For us the flag is a diamond and worths the intellectual effort to differentiate between a nazi symbol and the Arpad-house flag. Sandor desperately wants to force others to follow his simplistic point of view. I reject his interpretation on _my_ relation to… Read more »
Öcsi
Guest

Árpád,
I give diddlysquat about the origin and history of the flag. Today, it is used exclusively by the extreme right in Hungary. And today *is* more important than yesterday.

Sandor
Guest

My Dear Arpad:
I wholeheartedly encourage you to “honour my country’ history,” and to that end perhaps, you should get acquainted with it.
***Dear Éva and Sándor, it seems that you are the ones that are pushing the idea that the Árpád house flag is a nazi symbol, even if it is not.***
Actually, you are the one pushing the idea that the nazi rag is an Arpad-house symbol, even if it is not. It came to the Arpads from Portugal via one of the brides imported from there.
Nevertheless, you just go ahead and be proud of it! In the absence of anything else you could be proud of, this will have to do.
To show you what a nincompoop you are let me remind you of the Gesta Hungarorum, which you certainly didn’t have enough time to check in the short time since your last posting, and you wouldn’t be interested in that anyway, but what you are interested in is the parroting of your pride.
Baby, here you are out of your league.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
This public opinion poll shows hoe the Hungarians long for a Messianic leader who will fix everything (even Grandpa’s halitosis). I suspect that is due to the inability of the Hungarian to accept responsibility for anything even their own destiny and yet these same people fought like ‘tiger cats’ for the very thing (democracy) they now want to give up. As the Professor says *** “Sixty percent of the people agreed to the proposition that “today it is superfluous to talk about Hungarian responsibility and a Hungarian negative role” prior to and during World War II. Only twelve percent think that the Hungarian government before and during the war years was responsible for the disastrous outcome.” ***. This could have been due to the pre-war governments’ lack of understanding about the role the sea plays in strategic affairs. These attitudes towards explain much of what I have observed during my short time over here. I have analysed the public opinion research data and have drawn up a ‘Job Specification’ from them. In addition I have run through a short-list of candidates who seem to fit the bill. Unfortunately all the candidates I have chosen come from the past. (Mr Sandor… Read more »
Adrian
Guest

Odin,
I’ve just read this of the subject of the origin of ‘America’
“The name ‘America’ was first bestowed on the land previously known as the New World by martin Wadseemüller (1470-1521), a geogrpaher and map maker of Strasbourg… [after]…the Florentine sailor Amerigo Vespecci…[whose]… parents has christened their son Amerigo (Emericus in Latin) after St. Imre/Emeric, the son of Hungary’s King (St.) Stephen”
Bob Dent “Inside Hungary from Outside” his source was Plihála and Hapák “Maps of Europe”
Any chance of a link to the arms of the Ap Merike (funny sounding Welsh) family – or are you just pulling our legs?

[sic]
Guest

@Adrian
From old Middle High German, Haimirich (Haimirich > Heinrich > Henricus > Emericus > Americus > America) vs Amaliricus (“amal”, work and “ric”, power)?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haimirich

Odin's lost eye
Guest

Mr Adrian (sorry of topic)
Richard Ap or A’ Merike (or Merric or Merrik) was Henry 7 ‘port reeve’ of Bristol (Top Customs and Excise man also a law man –as like shire reeve or ‘sheriff’ in modern English). The prefix ap or a’ means son of. Old Dick Merike was ‘heap big muck-amuck’ rich with much influence in shipping circles. I think it was ‘Henry the Navigator’ asked the Papacy for advice on the naming of new found lands. The reply, in brief, you could name the land after the saint on whose day it was found, or you could name it after the patron of the voyage. If the patron was of royal blood you could use the patron’s baptismal name otherwise you had to use his family name. If you really want to open that bag of worms have a look at the bullae of Axleander 7th (aka Rodriog Borgia) and Leo 10th.

Adrian
Guest

Odin, sic,
thanks for your responses, Odin I owe you a sort of apology: you weren’t pulling our legs. I am guilty of a case of post first, google after! I found this
http://www.uhmc.sunysb.edu/surgery/america.html
which was most comprehensive, including both the Richard Ap merike and St. Imre stories.
But reading it closely it seems the Richard Ap merike story seems to be based on evidence now missing:
” Hudd fears that his main evidence, the original manuscript of Bristol’s calendar, was lost in a fire and acknowledges that this important piece of the puzzle is missing.”
I am curious to know how professional historians deal with such a situation, Eva?
PS Any link to the Merike coat of Arms?

Odin's lost eye
Guest
I am sorry this very off subject – talk to Adrian about it. One of the problems is that the Collage of Arms (aka the Royal College of Heralds) charge fees for information. There are several descriptions of the coat of arms of the Earls of Gwent from Richard Ap Merric was descended. I have seen (on TV) two different versions of it. The two descriptions of the arms of Earls of Gwent are: – Gules (red) five bars Argent (silver) in chief Azure (blue) three mullets (stars) in fess of the second. This means that there were 3 stars on a blue background at the top of the shield and 5 red and silver bars at the bottom. The second is :- Argent (silver) four bars Gules (red) per fess bar Azure (blue) three mullets (stars) “Argent two bars Gules in chief three mullets in fess of the second.” This is nearly the same except the blue band with the stars was across the middle of the shield However the coat of Ap Merric shows that there are several ‘quarterings’ and ‘impalings’ on it. In Tudor times and earlier these were often re-tinctured (coloured) and changed for artistic effect.… Read more »
Adrian
Guest

Odin,
thanks for your authoritative heraldic descriptions, you persuaded me to look further and I have found an image!
http://pages.prodigy.net/rodney.broome/ameryk3.htm
But I am also struck by the Ponytz family’s arm, which are strikingly similar to those of the House of Árpad.
http://pages.prodigy.net/rodney.broome/piratewalk12nam.htm
There is more to this than meets the eye!!
The BBC page has been moved:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/tudors/americaname_04.shtml
I’m not sure that the Vatican was responsible.

Adrian
Guest

Odin,
more, I’m afraid. The stripes do not come from Mr Ameryk but from these liberty flags:
http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/us-librt.html#sons
Now, I can’t but wonder if the precursor of this stripes=liberty idea didn’t stem from the Flags of Freedom fighter Ferencs Rákoczi:
http://www.geocities.com/zaszlok/hazateres/tortenel.html
And we all know where his stripes came from.

Adrian
Guest

Odin,
I can’t say goodnight without giving you this link:
http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/gb-eic2.html
and check out the Washington coat of Arms.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coat_of_arms_of_George_Washington

Árpád
Guest
Sandor, I am not a “Baby” for you, is that clear??? It seems that you have some wrongly understood feeling of superiority over everybody that has a different view on this issue. It may hurt you that your elaborated theories are not appreciated, but since the XIX. century the Arpad-house flag entered the list of state-flags of Hungary. And it is still honoured as such. Gesta Hungarorum is a historical document with some questionable claims – you can’t cite its claims as facts, nor reference it without proper scientific criticism. I still question any right of the militant bloggers on teaching me how to respect my country. And definitely it shouldn’t be the US-based Eva.S.Balogh with her notorious blogger-past nor her suprisingly aggressive Sandor-buddies who show me the way. Even if that hurts your vanity, dear Eva and Sandor, having a different view on symbols of statehood that DOEAS NOT MEAN to be a nazi. Bad news guys, take a different toy to play with 😉 That was my original claim, and it turned out that you can not live with it. Sandor, my level of intelligence and understanding on historic matters might be questionable to you – but you… Read more »
Sandor
Guest
My dear Arpad: I claim no superiority whatsoever. It is you claiming inferiority. But let’s go step by step! Shall we? ***Gesta Hungarorum is a historical document with some questionable claims – you can’t cite its claims as facts, nor reference it without proper scientific criticism.*** you say. I admit, I laid a trap for you with this Gesta business. You see, I was sure you are not familiar with it, contrary to all those history-chomping claims of yours. Well, the Gesta indeed a somewhat superficial record of history. But the pictures in it are invaluable! They do not lie, they are the actual pictorial records of what the “Master” had seen around him. And there aren’t any striped flags except one in the entire book! So, that is a good enough proof to discredit the claim about the origins of the flag. There simply isn’t any other pictorial source from those years! Nor is there any coins to show this flag! The 1506 gold coin, showing St. Laszlo fighting and without the “famous, historic” flag! Next: ***I still question any right of the militant bloggers on teaching me how to respect my country. And definitely it shouldn’t be the… Read more »
Adrian
Guest

Árpád,
“but since the XIX. century the Arpad-house flag entered the list of state-flags of Hungary”
Intrigued by this comment of yours. Could you please give me a link or legal reference to the “list of state flags of Hungary”

klikk
Guest

Eva Balogh, why are you defamating us, what is your motivation?
You’re not a hungarian anyway just a jew who accidentally born in Hungary.

CREES staff
Guest

I think its a good post. Its a general feature of the CEE countries, however, the degree of structural and socio-economic developments point to the opposite direction. Tismeanu (1998) in ‘Fantasies of Salvation’ provided a good explanatory account although he could not quantify the extent of illiberalism.

Vintage Ring
Guest

Very interesting and informative politic overview. I learned some new points from your analyze. Also, it was interesting to read the response from the other commentators, thanks for the post.

generic propecia
Guest

I also meant to tell you that you can comment to your heart’s
content in the comment section and it doesn’t turn on any lights nor
do you receive any GA notification. You’re only aware of it if you
check your question activity regularly. Feel free to chat with us
there as much as you like.

Sándort felvilágosító
Guest
Sándort felvilágosító

Hahaha, Sándor. Portugals had golden and red stripes on their medieval flags. The Hungarians modified it into silver-red stripes. Therefore the Portugal and Hungarian flag are not the same!
Please learn more history and heraldica!

wpDiscuz