Only yesterday I was chatting with a relative of mine in Hungary who is known for her pessimistic outlook on life. She is no friend of the present Hungarian government and is convinced that she will never see a change in the current political situation. Or if there is a change, says she, it will be for the worse.
According to her scenario the Hungarian people will be increasingly disappointed in the Orbán government but instead of turning toward democratic solutions they will try to find answers in the undemocratic, racist, xenophobic, ultranationalistic, even irredentist Jobbik. For the time being, however, there is little evidence of a major shift in this direction. In the past month when according to Medián Fidesz lost 7% of its followers, Jobbik managed to gain only 2%, which given the nature of these polls is not significant. So I disagreed.
That conversation took place yesterday and here we are today when it looks as if Jobbik is moving into action. Perhaps the Jobbik leaders are sensing that as a result of the Kálmán Széll Plan there will be a change in public sentiment that they can exploit. In any case, in the last few days Jobbik or its militia, the Hungarian Guard, was involved in three separate incidents.
The first took place last Thursday but because it was reported in Délmagyarország, a local paper, it took a little while to hit the nationwide media. The "star" was György Gyula Zagyva, a Jobbik MP whose resignation LMP is now demanding. György Gyula Zagyva is an uneducated, uncouth fellow who has been involved in all sorts of unsavory affairs, usually accompanied by violence. He was one of the organizers of the disturbances that ended in the siege of the Hungarian public television station. I wrote about Zagyva last August when he threatened two newspapermen at a festival organized by the Hungarian far right.
This time he and thirty of his friends decided to take a "little walk" in Dóc, a village about 25 kms north of Szeged, to visit a Gypsy family. As it turned out, the man they eventually found wasn't even Gypsy; only his deceased wife was Roma. Sándor Sipos, the widower, lives in an isolated ranch (tanya) with his three children. Zagyva and his friends sang war songs and marched in formation. And one of the guys threw a heavy object toward Sipos. From the description it is not clear how the police learned of the incident, but in no time they were there in force and managed to stop the men from doing harm to the family.
It seems that Jobbik supporters were also busy in Sándorfalva, a nearby village, a few days later, but again the police were on top of the situation. Perhaps the Hungarian police have better intelligence nowadays than for example in 2006 when they had no clue what was brewing before the siege of the television station.
LMP reacted quickly. The party demanded Zagyva's resignation. After all, this is not the first time that "the honorable member of parliament" has physically threatened people. "He is unfit to sit in the House," announced the party's spokesman. Let me add that I doubt that Zagyva will either leave on his own volition or be booted out from the Hungarian parliament.
And in Gyöngyöspata, miles away from Dóc and Sándorfalva in the Mátra Mountains, men belonging to an organization called Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület (For the Better Future Militia) are "guarding" the streets. These people have nothing to do with the network of civilians called "polgárőrség" who under the supervision of the police assist in keeping order on the streets. They either belonged to or perhaps are still members of the Hungarian Guard. They appeared in Gyöngyöspata after a very sick old man committed suicide. A local Jobbik politician claimed that the man decided to end his life because he was afraid that two Gypsy families whose houses got damaged in the flood were going to move near his house. According to the local Roma this is nonsense: they and the old man had good relations in the past.
In any case, the guardists, several dozen of them, came from other parts of the country and settled in the house of the Jobbik politician who called them in. But this is just the beginning. There will be a large Jobbik demonstration in town planned for Sunday: Gábor Vona and another Jobbik MP will make speeches and they expect perhaps several thousand people to attend. Meanwhile the guardists in uniform are walking the streets and the Gypsies are truly afraid.
But Jobbik is targeting not only Gypsies. They are also an anti-semitic lot and they especially hate Israel. By contrast, fundamentalist Christians consider Israel the holy land and Jews the chosen people. The Isaszeg chapter of the Evangelical Pentecostal Community decided to hold an Israel friendship day on March 5 in its chapel. The event was advertised on the Internet. So the local Jobbik is organizing a demonstration in front of the chapel against "the worshipping of Israel." The infamous anti-semitic Calvinist minister and Jobbik member Lóránt Hegedűs immediately announced that he and his followers are joining the demonstration. The anti-Jobbik forces are also organizing, and trouble may be brewing.
We will see where this renewed activity will lead. Perhaps at last Fidesz will have to show its hand because until now Viktor Orbán avoided any condemnation of this neo-Nazi party. Although before the elections he announced that he will take care of the whole problem by "slapping the members of the far right around a bit" nothing of the sort happened. But if these provocative acts multiply, I guess something will have to be done. But what?