Paramilitary groups are multiplying. First there was the Hungarian Guard (Magyar Gárda). Soon enough the Nemzeti Őrsereg (National Garrison) came into public view, and just today I encountered the Betyársereg (Army of Outlaws). Because Jobbik has become so notorious and received such unexpectedly strong support at the European parliamentary elections it is easy to forget about the other right-wing groups. For instance, László Gonda and his Magyar Nemzeti Bizottság (Hungarian National Committee), Tamás Polgár (better known as Tomcat), or the young László Toroczkai with his Hatvannégy Vármegye Ifjúsági Mozgalom (HVIM or, in English, Youth Movement of the Sixty-Four Counties). Hungary today of course doesn't have 64 counties. The Kingdom of Hungary, including Croatia-Slavonia, had seventy-two but Toroczkai is generous and let the Croats with their eight counties leave Hungary and remain independent!! György Budaházy needs no introduction. I talked about him just yesterday on the occasion of his arrest on charges of attempted murder and terrorist activity. Lately Gonda and Tomcat seem to have faded into the background; stealing the limelight is Toroczkai and his HVIM. Gábor Vona, head of Jobbik, specifically mentioned him and his movement as a great source of assistance in the campaign before the EP elections.
Last weekend the most important extreme right-wing groups got together in Szeged for a conference. Why Szeged? Because the Hungarian counterrevolutionary forces gathered in that town–then under French occupation–in the summer of 1919. It was there that Miklós Horthy, retired rear-admiral, became head of the National Army. After the fall of the Hungarian Soviet Republic this army, carefully avoiding the Romanians, moved through Transdanubia to Siófok on the shore of Lake Balaton. Hundreds if not thousands of Hungarians (communists and Jews) fell victim to the National Army's sweep across western Hungary.
So who attended the Hungarian extreme right meetings in Szeged and later in the nearby Pusztaszer where according to legend the first parliamentary meeting of Hungarians took place in 895-896? (Legend indeed: a parliament in the year of the Hungarian tribes' arrival in the Carpathian basin?) Some of the names are very well known: Gábor Vona, György Budaházy, and László Toroczkai. But there were others I wasn't familiar with. For example, György Gyula Zagyva, who is the president of the HVIM and otherwise busies himself with the Szent Korona Rádió (Holy Crown Radio). More on that station here: http://szentkoronaradio.com/ Another name unknown to me was Balázs Sziva, the leader of a rock band known as the Romantikus Erőszak (Romantic Violence). He represented the numerous rock bands that specialize in spreading extreme nationalistic and Nazi messages. For example, Romantic Violence composed a song entitled "Fegyverbe! Fegyverbe!" (Call to Arms!) This particular song was so effective that on October 23, 2007, demonstrators led by Budaházy and Toroczkai physically attacked the police monitoring the demonstration. Another new name for me (but then I'm not searching the internet for extreme right groups) was Tibor Ágoston, head of the National Garrison group. He hails from Debrecen and has a web site (http://szebbjovo.jobbikdebrecen.hu/taxonomy/term/75) in which one can read that "in our present situation it is our patriotic duty to be antisemitic." He seems to have close ties with Jobbik if one can believe the site. The National Garrison is an organization of "traditionalists" (hagyományőrzők) who seem to be fascinated by the traditions of Hungary. Unfortunately, some of these groups are guardians of traditions that would best be forgotten. I wrote about them on July 1, 2007 (Guardians of tradition). Also present were Róbert Kiss, head of Magyar Gárda, and Zsolt Tyirityán, head of the Army of Outlaws. In addition someone attended from the Össznemzeti Szurkolói Szövetség (All-National Association of Soccer Fans). In plain language, the football hooligans.
Because György Budaházy attended the gathering that forged cooperation among the various extremist groups Toroczkai immediately announced that the authorities arrested him not because of terrorist activities but because of his cooperation with Jobbik and other right-wing groups. In fact, the government is retaliating because of the excellent showing of Jobbik. This is the first move against this successful party. Toroczkai told the media today that if the NNI doesn't release Budaházy within three days they will organize a huge demonstration for July 4.
Meanwhile Csanád Szegedi, the third man on Jobbik's EP list and therefore heading soon to Brussels, proclaimed at a meeting organized by HVIM: "we are going to Brussels to topple the Trianon borders." Wow! That will go over very well in the European parliament! He admits that changing Hungary's borders won't happen overnight. Even Szegedi says that it might take two or three generations. They will also demand complete autonomy for the territories where Hungarians are in the majority in Romania. And they have even more ambitious plans: they want to incorporate territories south of the Carpathian mountains belonging to Ukraine at the present.
After the EP elections political observers tried to guess what Jobbik's policy would be in the wake of such an impressive victory. Some people hoped that they would be less belligerent. That doesn't seem to be the case, as is evident from Csanád Szegedi's rant about Trianon. László Toroczkai, a close ally of Jobbik, also has a few ideas about Hungary's future that may not meet the approval of Hungary's democratic neighbors or the European Union. Toroczkai was asked whether he would support a Hungarist (Nazi) government. The answer was yes. Their historical predecessors whom they proudly claim are Miklós Horthy, Ferenc Szálasi, and Adolf Hitler.
Meanwhile Fidesz is at a loss. Viktor Orbán and Zoltán Pokorny say a few nasty things about Jobbik while the second string–most likely with approval from above–build bridges to the neo-Nazi party and its allies. István Tarlós, not a Fidesz party member but head of the Fidesz caucus of the Budapest city council, attended a meeting where members of the Hungarian Guard were present and red and white striped flags could be seen. He made a speech which he ended with the official greeting of the Hungarian Guard: "Szebb jövőt!" (Better Future). The origin of the greeting is not quite clear. According to some accounts it was the greeting used by the "levente mozgalom," a paramilitary youth organization in Hungary between the two world wars by means of which the Hungarian government tried to circumvent the restrcitions imposed on the size of its army by the victors. Others associate the greeting with the far-right party of Béla Imrédy in the late thirties. Ferenc Szálasi's Hungarist Nazi party definitely used it. Tarlós was severely criticized for sinking down to the level of this, let's face it, Nazi paramilitary organization. His answer was that he didn't know anything about this greeting and anyway there is nothing wrong with it because these words can be found in the Marseillaise. The French national anthem is very long and perhaps I missed it, but I couldn't find "better future" in either the French or the English version. István Stumpf, the former right-hand man of Orbán in the prime minister's office and a so-called political scientist, also tried to minimize the extremism of Jobbik. Another so-called political scientist but in fact a Fidesz propagandist described the relation between Fidesz and Jobbik as one of "rivals but not enemies." Gábor Czene, a journalist for Népszabadság, summarized the situation between Jobbik and Fidesz as "an exciting but stomach turning political parlor game."