The Hungarian far-right: “Jobbik”

This morning I received a link to an interview with András Balczó, the three-time pentathlon gold medalist (1960,1968, 1972) who was named “Honored Master of Sports of the USSR” after his third win. Somehow I don’t think that Balczó proudly displays this particular trophy because by now he is one of the most outspoken right-wingers in the country. The interview was published at http://portal.jobbik.net/index.php?q=node/4430, a website whose the editors/owners consider themselves “politically independent” but admit that some of their ideas are close to certain groups. I would say so. Jobbik.net is even more openly antisemitic than http://www.jobbik.hu/, the official website of the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik Mozgalom Magyarországért), the official name of the party. By the way, here is the party’s logo.  Anyone who is interested in Jobbik should visit that site because it has plenty of information about the party in English in addition to Russian, German, and French. Surely, money is no object.

András Balczó’s interview is entitled: “Hungary is a Jewish Colony.” The whole fairly lengthy interview is nothing but an attempt to prove that Jews rule Hungary. He is only telling the truth, he maintains; among themselves Jews admit that he is right. And since he is only telling the truth, he cannot be an antisemite. The interview fits in with the rest of jobbik.net. The slogan of the website, by the way, is: Si vis pacem, para bellum, that is “If you wish for peace, prepare for war.” How apt when the first item is “In memoriam Eduardo Rózsa-Flores (1960-2009).”

While András Balczó (whose brother by the way is one of the vice presidents of Jobbik) openly reveals his antisemitism, the official Jobbik program for the EP elections is more subtle. But the message is the same. The title of the program is “Hungary belongs to the Hungarians.” To whom should it belong, one could ask. The program is 56 pages long and a perfect example of right-wing social demagoguery, xenophobia, anti-capitalist slogans, and anti-Gypsy rhetoric. Jobbik until now was no friend of the European Union and therefore it is surprising that the party even wants to be represented in the European parliament. Their program claims that the party’s aim is to change the very nature of the European Union. I somehow doubt that if Jobbik’s Krisztina Morvai gets to Brussels she will be able to change the course of the EU. On the other hand, her presence there might be a huge embarrassment to Hungary.

Krisztina Morvai’s autobiography can be found on Jobbik’s website. It is somewhat embellished, but at least on paper her curriculum vitae is impressive. An elite high school in Budapest, a law degree from ELTE (University of Budapest), a qualifying exam for a judgeship, a degree of “kandidátus” that used to be the equivalent of a Ph.D. but given out by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. She received an LL.M. from King’s College, London University, spent a year at the University of Wisconsin, Madison as a Fulbright Scholar, and for four years, between 2002 and 2006, was Hungary’s representative at the “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination” (CEDAW) of the United Nations. The dates are important: it was the socialist government that sent her to New York. However, four years later the government decided not to renew her contract and opted for Andrea Pető instead. Morvai decided to act. She wrote a letter to the head of the committee in which she accused her own government of sending a “zionist” to New York, most likely due to Israeli pressure. I won’t go into the ensuing gory details, but the end result was that Morvai left New York and Hungary lost its right to be represented at CEDAW. Morvai’s extreme right-wing, anti-Jewish, pro-Palestine attitudes can be dated from this time.

Since her return to Hungary she has thrown herself into anti-government activities, siding with the extreme right. She was the one who launched a successful propaganda campaign against the police during the riots of October 23, 2006. Admittedly, there were a few overreactions on the part of the fairly inexperienced Hungarian police but nothing like what Morvai portrayed. And she hasn’t let up since. She is at every right-wing demonstration, after which she accuses the police of wrongdoing even when there is absolutely no sign of it. The last time she claimed that she needed body guards to defend her from a concerted police attack. By now I am sure the policemen don’t even dare to get close to the woman.

Whether Morvai ends up in Brussels depends on how many people go to the polls. Supporters of Jobbik most likely will vote in large numbers. Fidesz voters are also eager. MSZP and SZDSZ supporters, on the other hand, are lackadaisical, especially when an election is not national. If the socialist and liberal voters don’t get motivated the EU elections might be a total bust for these two parties. Both Fidesz and Jobbik are putting a great deal of effort into the campaign. As usual MSZP and SZDSZ are still nowhere to be seen. MSZP promised to start its campaign on May 1. We will see.