I wrote several times about the language used by Fidesz politicians and journalists close to the party. I called one of my pieces on this topic “Language of hatred: The voice of the Hungarian right.” I also wrote at length about the high priest of hatred–a so-called journalist Zsolt Bayer on March 8, 2009, in “The Orbán government and the media.” In this latter article I mentioned that Bayer slowly but surely moved from paper to paper until he ended up at Magyar Hírlap, a paper that is no better than some of the outright Nazi publications on line, kuruc.info and several others of lesser fame.
Bayer is an anti-Semite who naturally claims that he is not. He wrote several unspeakable pieces on that topic. Otherwise, his language is simply not fit to print, but Hungarian editors are more lax about such matters than they ought to be. When Zsolt Bayer was attacked from the liberal side because of one of his anti-Semitic atrocities, Orbán Viktor made sure that he was photographed with Bayer at one of the Fidesz birthday bashes. Lately, however, there were few signs of close cooperation between Fidesz and Bayer. Until recently.
On February 17 Bayer wrote an open letter to Gábor Vona, leader of Jobbik. The title: “A whole year went by, you received half a million votes. The government stayed! Where is the revolution?” The letter is a litany of complaints about the ungrateful son who turned against the father, Viktor Orbán, who “with loving care” helped Vona along, especially in the beginning, on his political career.
Commentators not exactly friendly toward either Fidesz or Jobbik gleefully remarked that Bayer perhaps unwittingly let the cat out of the bag. After all, for months now MSZP and Fidesz have been blaming each other for the birth and growth of Jobbik. The extreme voices in Fidesz accuse MSZP of actually creating Jobbik in order to weaken Fidesz. Those who are more moderate claim that bad governance, Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speech at Balatonőszöd, the introduction of an austerity program, and the outbreak of the international financial crisis gave rise to Jobbik. I’m pretty sure that all these developments accelerated the shift toward the right but, let’s face it, the extreme right was well established before Őszöd and the economic problems. Don’t forget that already in 1998 MIÉP received almost half a million votes. Looking through Jobbik’s list of the 176 candidates for parliament, I found that a goodly number of them began their political career in István Csurka’s party.
MSZP accuses Fidesz for the appearance of Jobbik. They mention the fact that it was Viktor Orbán who discovered Gábor Vona while he was still a university student. He surely looked upon the nascent right-wing student movement as a kind of political school for a new generation of future Fidesz leaders. Well, it didn’t turn out that way although Orbán invited Vona to join his very own civic circle. MSZP even has a picture to prove it.
But MSZP claims, and many people support this contention, that what is even more important than an invitation to a civic circle is the ever growing hate speech Fidesz and its leader showered on the government, the socialists, and the liberals. This was especially the case from 2006 on when Orbán began his campaign against Gyurcsány the liar and against the government as illegitimate. That added oil to the fire.
In any case, Fidesz steadfastly denied any connection between itself and Jobbik and belittled Orbán’s encouraging words to Vona and his organization. But now from Bayer’s writing a different picture emerges. Some commentators are certain that this open letter couldn’t have seen the light of day without Orbán’s approval. Personally, I doubt that Orbán saw the final version because otherwise I can’t imagine that he would have approved its appearance in this form.
Bayer’s first problem is that Jobbik came out with a new slogan: “twenty years for twenty years.” I guess that means that anyone who took part in politics in the last twenty years should go to jail for twenty years. Well, that got Bayer’s goat. He was outraged because after all that would mean that Orbán and the Fidesz politicians should also go to jail. So he reminds Vona that in 2002 he joined Fidesz’s civic circles because he was upset over Fidesz’s electoral loss and the end of those wonderful four years when it was “good to wake up in the morning.” So a Fidesz propagandist (because Bayer is that) admits the close connection between Fidesz and the head of Jobbik.
But that’s not all. Bayer tells us that there was a group of friends who once a month got together in a pub. They called themselves the Turul Circle. Sándor Pörzse and Pál Losonczi, today important people in Jobbik, were members of this group alongside Bayer. Bayer is deeply hurt that these old friends became his and his party’s enemies.
Another interesting revelation is that Bayer seems to know that there is a close connection between Jobbik and the Arrows of Hungarians of György Budaházy. At present seventeen people are in jail and their numbers are growing. These people conspired to kill their political enemies. Before Bayer wrote this open letter there was no serious charge that these two groups had cooperated. We knew that Budaváry and some of the other extreme groups maintained relations with Jobbik, but no one accused Jobbik of complicity. Yet Bayer pretty well accuses Vona of supporting people such as those who badly beat up Sándor Csintalan, “a man around sixty, not in good shape.” Yesterday, by the way, we found out that Krisztián Rihó, chairman of Jobbik in Bicske, was arrested because he passed on fifty rounds of 9mm ammunition, subsequently recovered by the police, to Budaházy’s group.
Bayer also contends that “Fidesz made somebody out of Krisztina Morvai.” Well, I don’t think that Orbán will be happy to see that in print. Because until now Fidesz tried to make us believe that Krisztina Morvai had no connection whatsoever with Fidesz. She was an independent defender of the victims of the dictatorship of the Gyurcsány government. Morvai’s “independent legal defense” group managed to distort the history of October 23, 2006. TV cameras showed violent demonstrators throwing rocks at the police and setting cars on fire. But Morvai and her comrade-in-arms, Zoltán Balog, the Fidesz chairman of the parliamentary committee on human rights, transformed the events of that night into a wanton attack by the police on peaceful demonstrators and passers-by. Well, most of us knew that Fidesz stood behind the instant historical revisionism for political purposes. Bayer makes it explicit that Morvai was indeed beholden to Fidesz.
Barikád, by now the official organ of Jobbik, fought back. They found writings of Zsolt Bayer from 1994 when he was a faithful liberal and worked for Népszabadság. I’m sure that it would be easy to find scores of such articles, but Barikád came up with only two. In any case, the article that is especially interesting was written around the time that MDF lost the elections in 1994 and there was a huge victory for MSZP that could have formed a government solo but invited SZDSZ to join. As a result, this coalition had a two-thirds majority, an opportunity the two parties refused to take advantage of. Bayer claims in this article that the MDF-led right of center coalition lost the election when it allowed the reburial of Miklós Horthy in Kenderes, the Horthy family’s hometown. Bayer claimed that the Antall-Boross government acted as if nothing had had happened in the last forty years. But Hungary, he continued, has witnessed remarkable changes since the collapse of the Horthy regime: social mobility, modernization, and “secularization that was desirable and a healthy development.” And yet, he wrote, this government asks priests to consecrate highways! This government has become “a laughing stock.” At the grave of Horthy it became clear that “this political elite began where Horthy left off.”
Not that Barikád’s revelations make a huge difference. They will certainly not shake Bayer’s standing within Fidesz, especially at a time when it looks as if Fidesz will win the elections and Bayer will be cheering the new government on. However, this not so friendly exchange gives us an opportunity to see the deteriorating relations between the right and the far right. Nonetheless, many believe that once in power the Fidesz government will heavily rely on Jobbik in parliament.