Die Zeit on the Hungarian far right

Political commentators in Hungary are buzzing about a lengthy article condemning the Hungarian far right in the prestigious and influential German weekly, Die Zeit. The title of the article itself is telling: "Under the flag of fascists." Christian Schmidt-Häuer obviously calls it as he sees it. He doesn't talk about the "radical right" or "the radical ones" as they are referred to in certain Hungarian circles. Rather, he argues that these people are neo-Nazis, that they are on the rampage, and that the rest of the population stands by doing nothing.

Schmidt-Häuer seems to be well informed and surely he must have had Hungarian informants who told him about the viciously anti-semitic website www.kuruc.info.hu where one can see the philosopher Gáspár Miklós Tamás's picture on a tombstone. He recalls in the article that the same website listed the addresses and telephone numbers of certain "Jews and foreigners." He is aware of the attacks against Gypsies and the attempts to blow up the houses of some socialist politicians. "Is this the home of legendary memories?" he asks, recalling the events of 1989 when Hungary opened the iron curtain and let the East German refugees cross over into Austria. A very important date for Germans.

A brief history lesson follows and the author comes to the conclusion that "today a large proportion of the Hungarian people are meandering in the maze of myths created after World War I." After that war Hungarian nationalist ideology viewed liberals and communists as the source of all the country's troubles; the Jews were accused of leading Hungarian culture astray. According to Schmidt-Häuer more and more people think that this was the case then and that this is the case now. One of the author's sources was László Lengyel, the economist and political analyst, who half jokingly told him that some Hungarian youths think that the Treaty of Trianon was signed last year and that Ferenc Gyurcsány is responsible for it!

The journalist admits that every country has its own far right whose members march here and there, but in most countries the moderate majority with the assistance of the law manages to keep these elements at bay. That is not the case in Hungary. Another problem is that the boundaries between the far right and the conservative majority are blurred. Schmidt-Häuer blames Viktor Orbán for this state of affairs. "The populist opposition leader Viktor Orbán who hopes to receive a two-thirds right-wing-conservative majority has in the past few years played the citizens against the parliament in order to overthrow the socialist-liberal coalition with the help of the street."

Finally, Schmidt-Häuer points out that, assuming Fidesz wins the next election, Orbán will have to continue Bajnai's austerity program. Then how will the far right react? What if they get even stronger in the future? No problem, Orbán would "slap them around them a bit and send them home" (just as Horthy tried). At least this is what Orbán said. The only problem is that we know how effective Horthy's slapping around of the Hungarian far right was!

As is predictable, the ever shrinking left-liberal side in Hungary felt justified when they heard about the article in Die Zeit. They have been telling the world for months that there is a neo-Nazi danger in Hungary but no one listens to them. They blame Orbán for the growth of the extreme right just as Die Zeit does. The other side is horrified at all "these lies." Once again, these liberal traitors of the national cause filled this German journalist's head full of nonsense. There is no Nazi danger in Hungary and if there is a growth of the far right it is because the government is unable to handle them. Not enough slapping around, I guess. As for the accusation that Fidesz and Viktor Orbán are not making it clear that the party has nothing to do with Jobbik and the far right, they bring up a recent statement of László Kövér who called Jobbik Fidesz's "enemy." However, the socialist-liberal side is not satisfied with this explanation. Of course, Jobbik is if not an enemy at least a rival of Fidesz. What they expect from Fidesz is a clear-cut statement that Jobbik's ideology is unacceptable and that Fidesz has absolutely nothing to do with them now or in the future. But I don't think that such a statement will be forthcoming: Orbán still hopes to get votes from the extreme right by telling these people what they want to hear.

Moderate and left of center Hungarians keep hoping that the far-right tide might be stopped somehow. The trouble is that they haven't got the foggiest idea of how to do it. They write articles about the dangers. Articles apearing in liberal dailies, weeklies, or monthlies that only liberal people read.

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Mark
Guest
“Rather, he argues that these people are neo-Nazis, that they are on the rampage, and that the rest of the population stands by doing nothing.” It is difficult to disagree. I recently encountered the Magyar Gárda in uniform on the Budapest metro – though I knew who they were and what they do – I was still very shocked to see them walking around in uniform with impunity. Given the fact that their uniforms make them look like – well – Nazi stormtroopers – I’d expect the foreign press and media to be very interested in them. After all, there aren’t any other countries I can think of within the EU where the state would allow them to wander round with the kind of impunity we’ve seen. The kind of damage this is doing and will do to Hungary’s international image is amazing. For those who say that my attitude is dictatorial, and not something that happens in a free society, I’d just enlighten them about the law in the UK. The 1936 Public Order Act (not something, as you’ll see from the date, from the era of “poliical correctness”) makes it a criminal offence to wear a political uniform… Read more »
NWO
Guest
I have to disagree. The far right elements in Hungary (like a lot of places) are vulgar, stupid and a threat to civil debate and coversation. I admit that some elements may also pose on an ad hoc basis some threat to the Roma population. Having said this, at least in the Capital, I do not think the radical right constitutes any real threat to the society or the system, and this will not change even if Jobbik enter the EP. The fact is that there remains a large element of the society that is racist, anti-semitic and generally ignorant. The superficial appeal of this type of ideology will grow as long as Hungary is unsuccessful economically and the population is marginalized. This will be true in all of Europe, as well. I do not dount the BNP will again do too well for comfort in the UK, for example. Closer to home, just look across the border to Austria. The popularity of Haider; the willingness of Austria to have a President like Waldheim (sp?) and the continued suspicion of all people residing to the east of Austria (including discriminatory labor laws) does not seem to have much dented that… Read more »
SG
Guest

In which issue of Die Zeit did the article appear? Unfortunately I was not able to find it on the Zeit’s website.

Odin's lost eye
Guest
Mr Mark, I have been following this blog for some time and I am going to raise what may be a serious problem. I know this has been touched on before without any real conclusions being drawn. The Treaty of Paris (1947) which ended the war for the minor combatants (Italy, Romania, Finland, Bulgaria, and Hungary etc) contains a series of clauses one of which states that the signatory should (in some versions the word ‘must’ is used): “Take all measures necessary to secure to all persons under (its) jurisdiction, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion, the enjoyment of human rights and of the fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, of press and publication, of religious worship, of political opinion and of public meeting”. To me this contains a problem which is whose human rights, the right of those who wish to oppress or the rights of those whom it seeks to oppress. I know whose side I am on but do others? Those who perpetrate such persecution are also in breach of the Treaty of Paris (1947) as is the Government which permits them to do so. The treaty also contains another little time bomb (for… Read more »
Pál Marosy
Guest

You deleted my comment because can’t tolerate other views or opinions.

Mark
Guest
NWO: “Closer to home, just look across the border to Austria.” I think, NWO, that in some respects you are absolutely right, and in others very wrong. There is no doubt that long-term support in actual elections in Hungary up to now has been lower than in many western European states. I’m sure that in the European elections far right wing parties will perform far better in several western European states (the UK, Austria, France, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands) than they will in Hungary. But I think your comparison with Austria is complacent in a number of important respects. Firstly, you assume – as many do – that the people Haider is most closely comparable to in Hungary are Jobbik. Haider was a right-wing populist; he made promises which mixed left-wing policies on welfare (salaries for mothers) with right-wing themes on immigration and the nation; called for tax cuts; he pioneered the use of petitions to try and force referenda to bully the government in the 1990s as a campaigning tactic. I’ll ask the question – who in Hungary does this sound most like? The closest equivalent on the Hungarian scene to Haider is no-one in Jobbik, it is Viktor… Read more »
Mark
Guest

Odin, quoting the Treaty of Paris (1947): “To prevent the resurgence of fascist organizations or any others, whether political, military or semi-military, whose purpose it is to deprive the people of their democratic rights”.
I think this gets to the heart of why the sight of the Gárda marching around is and will be so damaging to Hungary’s international reputation. While I don’t expect concerted international diplomatic or other action to force Hungary to enforce this clause of its peace treaty, it creates the impression that a group of people who want to return to the political practice of the Second World War are on the march, and that no-one in parliament, the judiciary, or the police is interested in stopping them.

Odin's lost eye
Guest

Mark
Is there any Hungarian democratic group, NGO or person out there who could sue the ‘Republic’ for failing to comply with their treaty obligations under the Treaty of Paris (1947) and for failing to enforce Article 17 of the European charter of Human Rights?. If this case was dismissed or unduly delayed then the plaintive(s) could petition the European Court etc and away we go!. They could also site that failure to comply with the Treaty of Paris (1947) which is a peace treaty would imply that the war which the treaty terminated would continue. This could be sited as a failure by the ‘Republic’ to comply with Article 2 of the European charter of Human Rights in that the ‘Republic’ was by failing to honour the Treaty of Paris (1947) and restart the war was placing its citizens in mortal danger contrary to Article 2. Convoluted I know but it should stir up someone.
I do wish someone could tell me more about the leaders of Jobbik, Miec etc. who they are, where they came from, what is their history etc. This may help me to understand them.

Mark
Guest
I’m no lawyer. But it seems strange to me that the courts and police seem unable to enforce the terms of their own constitution in a consistent manner. Article 63(2) seems to me to be fairly clear in that it bans paramilitary organizations like the Gárda in line with international norms. As far as far right parties are concerned, they are a political and not a legal problem. My view is that providing no harm is done to other individuals (I’d ban hate speech) it is better that extreme views can be freely expressed and challenged within the public realm, than be silenced. In any democracy it is inevitable that extremist movement (whether of right or left) will from time-to-time seek and succeed in winning a degree of political support for their positions. I think it is the duty of democratic parties to defend the integrity of the system by distancing themselves from such people. If Jobbik are really committed to democracy then let’s have a declaration from them making clear their suppot for the principles of democracy and human rights. And if one is not forthcoming, then it is for the other democratic parties to condemn them for not… Read more »
Godot
Guest

The Hungarian Department of Misinformation is apparently doing a great job.
You have to be clinically insane to believe that the so called “far right” is any kind of real threat. The danger is on the other side, the sooner the disasterous MSZP/SZDSZ regime will be replaced with an acceptable leadrship, the better. Many people are simply frustrated, there’s no legal way to remove the irresponsible political elite, so it’s natural if they move as far away from the left as possible. The government is busy passing laws to protect itself, no one cares about the people any more. Democracy never had a chance, and we’re heading towards open dictatorship. The unfounded attacks on the Hungarian Guard show a clear case of the usual trick: finding an excuse to stamp out what’s left of our freedom and values.

Steve
Guest
Why has Jobbik risen to be so popular? Some number of people with extreme views will always exist in any population. Banning extremists is a way to silence them, but it does not remove the cause. Remove the causes, and they will lose their rhetoric and support. The main rhetoric of Jobbik is about the “Gypsy crimes”. Its hard to see the situation from Budapest, and the media only reports the brutal events, but not what the general population is thinking, and talking. Don’t think the far-right are the only Gypsy-haters, MSZP sympathizers are just as much. Imagine, that MSZP sympathizers are regularly mocking Orbán as being Gypsy (“he is not a Hungarian man”). Mark, in a comment, you said that it is possible that Jobbik will get voters from former MSZP voters. I think that it is very well possible. What went wrong? First of all, the catastrophically bad social system. It is aimed at maintaining a status-quo, and not on lifting out people from poverty and ignorance. Just to list some of the bad policies of Gyurcsany: Handing out cash, which lands in the hands of usurers, and not where it is properly used. Cash given to programmes… Read more »
Mark
Guest

Godot: “The Hungarian Department of Misinformation is apparently doing a great job.”
Especially when the mainstream right are so short-sighted they fall into its trap. I know very well that on numerous occassions the MSZP have used the rhetoric of “the anti-fascist struggle” adapted for democratic circumstances as a stick to beat the mainstream right. And it has been effective in the past, simply because the right responds to it like Godot does here. When are they going to learn that they could render this line of attack on them utterly ineffective by doing what centre-right parties in western Europe do – unequivocally condemn neo-fascism in the same strong terms as parties of the centre and left? After all they have no sympathy for their extreme solutions – do they?

Mark
Guest
Steve: “Mark, in a comment, you said that it is possible that Jobbik will get voters from former MSZP voters.” Lots of things may be possible, but I don’t think I’ve said that. In fact one of the big differences between the western European far right and its Hungarian equivalent is that disillusioned working-class formerly left-wing voters have been remarkably immune to the appeal of Jobbik, whose recorded support in opinion polls has yet to breach the 10% barrier. Opinion polling actually suggests that its support comes from FIDESZ voters. In all likelihood (and we’ll see if I’m right on 7th June) its vote will resemble MIÉP’S votes in 1998 and 2002 (very strong in the wealthy parts of Buda). It may be the case that as the economic crisis deepens Jobbik will broaden its support, but at present I don’t think its strength is related to what is happening to Hungary’s economy (I’m sure that will have very profound effects, but those will become clear only over the next two to three years). I think it is a reflection of the extreme anger generated among a certain section of the right at the Gyurcsány era and their disillusion with… Read more »
Steve
Guest

“According to one poll 81% of Hungarians are prejudiced against Gypsies. As for Steve’s other complaints against Gyurcsány: these are old, old problems. At least twenty-years old, if not older. ”
Some are old, and on-going processes. Some were actual cost-cutting reforms implemented in later years, carried out without thinking about the consequences.

Belstaff Leather Jackets
Guest

Don’t know what is wrong what is rite but i know that every one has there own point of view and same goes to this one

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