Hungarians and the extreme right

The Progressziv Intézet (Progressive Institute) together with Publicus Research conducted another poll that is worthy of analysis. It is about Hungarian attitudes toward Jobbik, the party of the far-right that has a very good chance of sending one or two representatives to the European Parliament. It also looks, as things stand now, that Jobbik will receive enough votes to get into the Hungarian parliament next year. The Progressive Institute wanted to know to what extent Hungarians are aware of the extreme nature of Jobbik. The answer in brief: not very much. They seem to be confused about the very concept of political extremism.

One of the questions asked was whether Jobbik poses any danger to Hungarian democracy. Interestingly only 36% of those asked replied in the affirmative. Twenty-eight percent didn't think that Jobbik was at all dangerous while a surprisingly high percentage "had no opinion." The question is how it is possible that that so many people don't know what Jobbik is all about. There are three possible explanations, says the Progressive Institute. First, the messages of Jobbik don't even reach the public, but that is hard to imagine. Here is one "message" that surely indicates that Jobbik is a danger to Hungarian democracy. On October 23, 2008, Gábor Vona, Jobbik's leader, gave a speech in which he said: "I send the message to [TV2 and RTL Klub] that they should  be afraid of the day when Jobbik can decide their fate because we have already made our decision. . . . We will close TV2 and RTL Klub. But because we are very, very angry that will not be all. We will show their owners and editors where the exit is from this country and we will raze their headquarters to the ground. . . . Once history sweeps away this liberal rubble our time will come. And then Hungary to the last ounce of soil, to the last drop of water, to the last man will be ours."

The second possibility is that Hungarians "are unable to decode" Jobbik messages. Kornélia Magyar in a round-table discussion last night ("A tét," ATV) indicated that she and her co-researchers think that there are indeed problems with "decoding." People are confused because Fidesz sends mixed messages to its followers. Fidesz refuses to condemn Jobbik as a party with neo-nazi ideas. Moreover, Viktor Orbán's party actually adopts extreme positions in order to compete with Jobbik for the favor of its prospective voters. Thus the politically less sophisticated voters are uncertain about the nature of Jobbik's ideology. If Fidesz condemned Jobbik and called it what it is, the confusion would be less pronounced.

The third possibility is that in the undecided segment there are a large number of people who are "hiding" and who are actually Jobbik sympathizers. Let's look at the answers on the basis of party preference. Fidesz supporters are much more tolerant toward Jobbik. If you ask them whether Jobbik is a danger to Hungarian democracy 41% will disagree with this proposition. Only 10% will strongly agree and 25% will somewhat agree. The MSZP results are strikingly different. Among MSZP voters only 19% are not afraid of Jobbik while 56% find the party dangerous. The Fidesz results are especially interesting because it seems that the leadership's efforts to steer people away from Jobbik might not be successful. There may be a fair number of Fidesz supporters who actually sympathize with Jobbik. Among those who at present are unsure of how they would vote, those condemning Jobbik are in the majority. That leads me to believe that the unsure voters lean more to the left than to the right. However, we should note that 50% of the undecided voters couldn't answer one way or the other about Jobbik as a danger to democracy.

The next to last question was whether Jobbik's participation in the work of parliament would be beneficial. The pattern was similar to the previous results. Among Fidesz supporters 35% would look upon such a development with favor as opposed to MSZP voters where only 14% would consider Jobbik's participation in the work of parliament beneficial. Analysts' opinion on the question is split. There are those who think that parliamentary politics would "tame" Jobbik. After all, they couldn't speak in the House the way they speak on the street. Others doubt such an optimistic assessment.

Finally, the Progressive Institute posed a question about the possibility of a coalition between Fidesz and Jobbik. Here 36% were unable to answer the question. After all, in the past there were some unexpected coalitions. In 1994 SZDSZ to the last minute said there was no way they would form a coalition with the socialists. And then there was a coalition. Fidesz in 1998 said that it would never form a coalition with the Smallholders, but when it was clear that without the Smallholders there was no majority, they formed a coalition government. Those who answered the question are deeply divided. Thirty-one percent thought that a Fidesz-Jobbik coalition was a possibility, while 28% couldn't imagine such an outcome. Of course, it all depends on the results of the next elections. If Fidesz needs Jobbik, it will form a coalition even if the international community doesn't approve of such a move. Viktor Orbán could justify the move by contending that he would be able to "handle" Jobbik just as easily as he handled the Smallholders. Perhaps, but I wouldn't bet on it.

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Öcsi
Guest

“On October 23, 2008, Gábor Vona, Jobbik’s leader, gave a speech in which he said: “I send the message to [TV2 and RTL Klub] that they should be afraid of the day when Jobbik can decide their fate because we have already made our decision. . . . We will close TV2 and RTL Klub. But because we are very, very angry that will not be all. We will show their owners and editors where the exit is from this country and we will raze their headquarters to the ground. . . . Once history sweeps away this liberal rubble our time will come. And then Hungary to the last ounce of soil, to the last drop of water, to the last man will be ours.””
Is this kind of threatening language allowed in Hungary? These kinds of threats shouldn’t be allowed in any democracy!

Thrasymachus
Guest
Ah those cheeky adjectives. First Jobbik is the ‘far’ right, now it seems it is the “extreme” right, pretty soon no doubt it will be the ‘ultra’ right, rapidly followed by the ‘mega-Nazi-danger-danger-touch and forfeit your soul’ right. Never let it be said that the left has ever shied away from darkly hinting at the possibility of cattle trucks trundling across the night time European plains once again. I mean that’s the consensus view of the Western media, right; that central and eastern Europe is always only five minutes away from extremism that echoes the 1930s? (As Mark Urban implies in his Newsnight piece.) One wonders why they always forget to mention that things like Fascism, Communism, Nazism and the Holocaust were not Eastern European inventions, but Western European ones: imposed on a defeated and supine East. That Friedrich Engels lived in Primrose Hill not Pasarét, that the Wannsee Conference took place in Berlin and not Budapest. Well, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. “Extreme” right it shall be. But hang on, how is the use of “extreme” right justified in this blogpost, how does Jobbik pose a serious threat to democracy? (Unlike the… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Thrasymachus: “For a far more sober and analytical perspective on this issue, one could do much worse than read Niall Ferguson’s recent article on the rise of the European right in the Daily Mail.” I’ll let others judge whether they think this represents a “sober and analytical perspective”, and whether it represent an analysis of the European right at all – or just of the situation in one European country: (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1190197/Corrupt-amoral-politicians-An-economy-sinking-terrifying-debt-And-people-enraged-Britain–lesson-chill-all.html). Ferguson may be a very good historian of high finance, but his contributions to newspapers reveal him to be a propagandist of the hard right of the Conservative Party. The organ which publishes this article, however, may be thoroughly conservative, but it has a record of playing with arguments more typically found among those further to the right. In the past ten years its whipping up of hatred against immigrants into the UK (including those from CEE and Hungary) is well known. It bears mention that it did this too in the 1930s, against Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. It also had something of an equivocal attitude to fascism. In a piece it published on 10 July 1933 it wrote, in a piece which is worth quoting: “I urge… Read more »
Thrasymachus
Guest
Prof. Ferguson’s conclusion specifically deals with Eastern Europe and mentions Hungary by name; as you say people will be able to judge for themselves (inter alia debt, plutocracy, corruption in government, real estate speculation, badly managed banks) whether the comparison is a relevant one. But apparently a Harvard history professor with an unparalleled international reputation does not constitute an unbiased source. He is a propagandist of the “hard right” apparently. (Is “hard” the same as “far”? How many “hards” make an “extreme” I wonder… I suspect it’s the “right” part that you really object to, isn’t it?) Whereas the Daily Mail are a bunch of fascist apologist who whip up hatred against immigrants… and you go on to quote from the paper in 1933? Seriously, what planet are you on? You must check under your bed for jackboots before you get in at night. Incidentally the anti-hate speech legislation that many long to introduce to Hungary has been part of English law for longer than the 10 years you suggest the 2nd largest circulation paper has been an organ of hate. So even though your suggestion is wonderfully amusing it doesn’t even pass a cursory examination. You do know that… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Thrasymachus: “You do know that people can just look up stuff on the internet and find out your talking utter swill in a matter of seconds, right?” Ah, abuse …. lovely …. Thrasymachus: “But apparently a Harvard history professor with an unparalleled international reputation does not constitute an unbiased source.” So, being a professional historian employed as a researcher and teacher at a university makes one automatically “an unbiased source”? Being one of these myself, I must also therefore be “an unbiased source” if Thrasymachus is right! But, in truth an historian expressing a party political opinion is just another person expressing a party political opinion. They are no more, and no less biased than anyone else. And Ferguson, in this article, expresses a number of unsupported party political opinions, for example, “‘Active citizenship’ was never much more than a slogan in the Thatcher years. Under Cameron I hope it will become a reality as state schools, in particular, become more responsive to local needs, and our health service breaks decisively with half-a-century of Soviet-style central planning.” These opinions in UK terms, and the manner in which they are expressed, place him on the “hard right” – not far right,… Read more »
Thrasymachus
Guest
I have always considered it both unseemly and arrogant to comment more than twice on a blog, and I will make an exception in this case only for the reasons below. I shall not respond further to the continued claims in your own comment, because they seem obsessed with two aspects of mine own, neither of which, even if true (never in a month of Sundays), would cause an objective reader to believe the main thrust of my argument was undermined. I don’t see either how they are of relevance to the points of debate raised by Ms Balogh’s original piece. I write because it was never my intention to impugn you personally or hurt your feelings, and if you do genuinely feel yourself abused Mark: I apologise unreservedly. I merely wished to make clear that I thought what you were saying was cretinous (a blissfully unaware confirmation of my thesis’ opposition to the politics of fear) that is all. As the many in Hungary who now advocate the muzzling of free speech are apt to discover, when that is your intent, there simply is no amiable way of accomplishing it without being patronising or duplicitous. Also because you for… Read more »
Odin's lost eye
Guest

Professor as you say *** “Viktor Orbán could justify the move by contending that he would be able to “handle” Jobbik just as easily as he handled the Smallholders. Perhaps, but I wouldn’t bet on” ***
Neither would I

Sandor
Guest
My dear Trasymachos, ( you will forgive the Greek version I am sure), your erudition is pretty well wasted on your subject. If I understand correctly the thrust, hidden under the flourishes, there is no cause for all the increasing worry, because the neo-nazis are not extreme right, just simply right and as such has perfect legitimacy. Now, perhaps you missed to look at the time, when fidesz was the most right and even then many people was dumbfounded by their cruelty and boorishness. Since however the Jobbik came to the scene, fidesz became relatively “proper” despite the fact that they are steadily and rapidly gravitating ever further to the right, becoming ever more radical. This is why I don’t believe their protestations against the Jobbik, because only by the contrast provided by Jobbik can they claim to be just “conservative.” Your denial of Jobbik being “extreme right” is really vapid to the, well, extreme. They are not neo, they are not extreme, they are nazis, plain and simple. If you care to split the hair of distinction between nazis and fascists I may agree to choose about that later. But I think they are nazis, simply because they have… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Thrasymachus: “I merely wished to make clear that I thought what you were saying was cretinous (a blissfully unaware confirmation of my thesis’ opposition to the politics of fear) that is all.” Normally, what I find is that those who use abuse against their opponents in debate, are those who would rather not have their arguments subjected to critical scrutiny. I think that my original point was an important one. You say that people who term Jobbik as neo-Nazi and point to its extremism are playing “the politics of fear”, and that they are self-interested “liberals” and “leftists” of various hues who are doing this only to further an agenda. Unfortunately, those who apologized for Nazism in the 1930s used exactly the same arguments. Hitler didn’t have murderous or terroristic intent – this was all spread around by “leftists” for their own purposes. No reasonable person had anything to fear. And, at least in the UK, the organ that today publishes some of the “evidence” with which you back up your contention, was in the 1930s one of the most prominent of these voices. We are aware of the lessons of history – millions of dead, a devastated continent, and… Read more »
Thrasymachus
Guest

I’m sorry Sándor, but my reply to you has been removed… probably due to its unforgivable length! Such is the fate of the reply which so funamentally differs with the tenor of a blog, that it must be built from first principles up.
I trust there is nothing objectionable in the length of this post that will also warrant its removal.
My reply may be viewed here,
http://thrasyonspectrum.wordpress.com/
and Mark if you continue to think me historically naive you should also read it.
And seriously, if you bring up the subject of my being “abusive” please also quote my profuse apology to you made earlier, regarding any offence you may have taken; not doing so is just dishonest.
Incidently, I was wondering who’d be first to call me a Hitler apologist, or deliberately ignorant of the death of millions. Truly, how unforgivably clichéd. You win a prize.

Thrasymachus
Guest
My dear Dr Balogh (excuse the earlier Ms, I had not then read the “About”), I have not started “a new blog to answer Sandor” merely found a contrivance to put up a reply that you yourself removed from here: as you well know. Leaving aside the delightfully patronising tone entailed by your suggestion that I study some Hungarian history. Your marvellous assertion that Nazism pre-dates, erm… Nazi Germany, reveals that despite your disparaging of it, you have read my critique: and it has found its mark, hasn’t it? You also reveal your rather flimsy adherence to semantic accuracy when it doesn’t suit you; which frankly, is rather saddening from someone with your qualifications. So in your ‘refutation’ of my case, and in the unwavering assertion that “nazism is nazism” (nothing like a good tautology to add nothing to a debate) we are left with the truly comical image of Herr Schickelgruber keeping a close eye from his cell in the Landsberg prison on developments in Hajdúböszörmény; busily making notes on the ideological prototype of his thousand year Reich. Simply the best giggle I’ve had all weekend, and utterly priceless. I do agree that Mark’s declaration of “those who use… Read more »
Sandor
Guest
OK, Ok, I say uncle! My dear Trasymachus, you analyzed the hell out of the language, the method and the history of my objection. Your sophistry is simply spectacular! I struggled manfully with your opus as far as I could, but admit humbly you lost me at the quarter of the way. The only admission of imperfection I found to be the reference to syllogism. Need I say how reassuring it was to see that this modest device is what you aspire to. Indeed this may be why your piece seems somewhat reasonable, albeit it is not. So could you please put aside the flourishes and just simply state your case, if you must: shall we settle for an other round of nazis taking off with the sanity of the nation and the treasury as well, are we going to be better off by segregating the population and jailing dissenters, burning books and erasing TV stations, under the watchful eyes of marching paramilitaries? Critical scrutiny of your arguments is a waste of time, because you are arguing minor points without addressing the substance. This habit of right wing talking heads is all too familiar after the daily barrage coming from… Read more »
Mark
Guest

Thrasymachus: “we are left with the truly comical image of Herr Schickelgruber keeping a close eye from his cell in the Landsberg prison on developments in Hajdúböszörmény; busily making notes on the ideological prototype of his thousand year Reich.”
You do know about the links between the Hungarian and German far rights in the 1920s, don’t you? I’m simply asking because I suspect if you did you would have been a little reticent about advancing these kinds of arguments.
In fact it allows me to make a more general point. While the historical discussion of the mainstream right in the inter-war years in Hungary has improved considerably in the last two decades, there is still a relative absence of discussion of the far right and its nature. Because of the way political development is unfolding, there needs to be a more general awareness of the facts about Hungarian right-radicalism, fascism and national socialism in general debate. If this knowledge became more general, it would be much easier for voters to identify Jobbik for what it is – the Arrow Cross reloaded.

Thrasymachus
Guest
Dear Sándor, as the tone between us mellows, let me say that I don’t find your suggestion that my argument consists of small things to be a criticism! It was my deliberate intention: to build up my case, step by step, and piece by piece. If you found my answer to you on the other page difficult to plough through (as a frequent reader of other languages, I sympathize), may I suggest you scroll down to the bottom and look at the points marked (1) and (2)? They are the ones of most significance. Though I do agree with you that my analysis warrants a restating, pure and simple, in its most condescend form as you suggest; and I thank you for the suggestion, it’s a good one. Simply, “Nazi” is not a convenient label which the Left can use to pin on and disparage any political movement it finds disagreeable. Such an attempt is both dishonest and disrespectful. Why so? Because the victims of the most heinous crimes in history demand – this is for you Mark – that we do not bandy around such terms however we please. We must use them accurately, and we must provide a… Read more »
Thrasymachus
Guest

That was rather onerous of me, and I apologise; it means, “all those that would do evil abhor the light.”
And for my part, that is an end of it.

Öcsi
Guest

Trasymachus: “Simply, “Nazi” is not a convenient label which the Left can use to pin on and disparage any political movement it finds disagreeable. Such an attempt is both dishonest and disrespectful. Why so? Because the victims of the most heinous crimes in history demand – this is for you Mark – that we do not bandy around such terms however we please. We must use them accurately, and we must provide a compelling case for doing so.”
When there is a “boil” on the body politic, a boil similar to the one that caused catastrophic blood poisoning in the past, it would seem prudent to lance the boil before it gets out of hand again. Would you not agree?
My comment is neither dishonest or disrespectful. Why? Because a Nazi, by any other name, is a Nazi.

Sandor
Guest

Well, Ocsi, I settle for that and damn the verbiage!

Thrasymachus
Guest
For the 10,000th ****ing time: you have not proved that they are Nazis. No-one has, and get this: no-one can. Repeating again and again and again and again: they are Nazis, they are Nazis, they are Nazis, they are Nazis, THEY ARE NAZIS, THEY ARE NAZIS!!! Does NOT constitute proof. Is this such a difficult concept to grapple with? Obviously, people here are schooled in a tradition in which if you use a term often enough it means what you want it to… What, some of their supporters are unsavoury skin-heads with nasty views? Well guess what, if a bunch of people with feathers sticking out of their behinds and quacking start turning up to MSZP rallies: you can’t claim that the party is in thrall to “Duckism”. What? People who run websites, and are active supporters of Jobbik, claim to be the direct descendents of the Arrow Cross; because they pervertedly feel it makes them more significant or important? Er, hello?! I may tell a pretty girl that I’m devilishly handsome and a multimillionaire. Only the first part of that is ever going to be true. Why should she take my word for it, why should you take theirs?… Read more »
Öcsi
Guest

Thrasymachus: “Political movements cannot be prevented, you can’t say: ignore them, or ban them, or imprison them and they will go away; because they won’t. This is the lesson of the 1920s. Your only option is to address the genuine grievances that give rise to these forces; if you do not, that is how you end up in the 1930s – by ignoring the warranted concerns you legitimise the extremism that can accompany these concerns. They are like a tide, you can only try to direct them, channel them or weaken them.”
I would agree with you if they were genuine grievances, but they are not. So it’s hard to address grievances when there is no consensus on the agenda.

Viking
Guest
Thrasymachus, or as we say at politics.hu, just Bob, has never answered the defining question of Jobbik – Why does Jobbik see Fidesz as a Jewish party? Or, why is there a need for Jobbik to ‘expose’ the Jews inside Fidesz? Let us look at this page from the rats of Jobbik (or was it mouses?): – http://www.egerjobbik.hu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10855:bemutatjuk-a-salgotarjani-gyilkos-ciganyt-fekete-laszlo-a-fidesz-lungo-dromjanak-jeloeltje-volt&catid=40:kekhirek&Itemid=62 – I give it you all to translate the last chapter of this article: “Az eset kapcsán is feltesszük a kérdést: érdemes-e olyan pártra (a Zsideszre) szavazni, amely (helyi szinten is! Nem csupán országosan: Balogh Artúr, Schmidt Mária, Hegedűs Zsuzsanna, Pokorni Zoltán stb. – konkrét hivatkozások ITT) ilyen „emberekkel” nyomul? Még egyszer elmondjuk: ha a pártban vannak, lesznek is normális emberek értelmes, „bekeményítős” reform-elképzelsésekkel, azokat az ilyenek könyörtelenül kigolyózzák, kicsinálják. Ugye, emlékszünk az edelényi Molnár Oszkár példájára? Ettől a párttól egyszerűen semmi jó nem várható cigányfronton. Ugyanakkora hazaárulás rájuk szavazni, mint kivétel nélkül az összes többi parlamenti pártra. Kuruc.info – A.S. – egerjobbik.hu” – Given the fact I have given Bob several times to fix a withdrawal of this article or just deny/condemn it, shows that this *is* the official policy of Jobbik One should remember that Jobbik Eger region is probably… Read more »
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