Hungary versus Hungarian Republic (Magyarország v. Magyar Köztársaság)

I underestimated Viktor Orbán when I didn’t attach much significance to the change of the official name of the country from Hungarian Republic to Hungary in the new constitution. The immediate reaction in left-liberal circles was that this change showed Viktor Orbán’s intention to abandon the very institution of the republic. Ferenc Gyurcsány immediately began a campaign in defence of the republic. I, on the other hand, said that “these changes may not by themselves have great significance.” After all, a name is just a name. The important thing is the content. Oh, how wrong I was! It took me a few months to come to the conclusion that this “simple” name change has extraordinary consequences far beyond the abandonment of the idea of the republic.

To show how eager was Viktor Orbán to be the “prime minister of Hungary” instead of the Hungarian Republic Hírszerző (March 25, 2011) discovered that although the new constitution was not yet in force in December 2010 (as it is still not in force today) Orbán already called himself “prime minister of Hungary.” See the official seal he started using on documents at the end of last year.


Why is this so important to Viktor Orbán? Surely, not just because he is turning his back on the idea of the republic.

On April 28, 2011 Endre Aczél wrote an opinion piece in Népszabadság entitled “Irredentism is emerging.” Aczél discovered many signs of emerging irredentism, starting with celebrating the signing of the new constitution with a two-hour documentary about Albert Wass, a mediocre writer with a checkered past. Wass’s syrupy book about the mountains of Transylvania is clearly an irredentist piece. On the very same day, Pál Schmitt talked about “the resurrection of Hungary,” another slogan of the irrredentist movement taken from the 1921 poem “Hungarian Creed” by Mrs. Elemér Váry-Papp. School children in the Horthy period had to recite some lines from this poem every day in school: “I believe in one God, I believe in one country, I believe in divine everlasting truth, I believe in the resurrection of Hungary.”

Aczél finished his place by saying that if Albert Wass were alive he would know why Viktor Orbán put Hungary instead of Hungarian Republic into the Easter Constitution. “My ladies and gentlemen, because of the borders. Every time we had a republican government de facto or de jure the current borders were valid. The republican state was smaller than the nation. If now ‘all Hungarians’ become part of the nation … then the Hungarian state (Hungary) can stretch as long as it finds Hungarians. First and foremost in the neighborhood. Thus under the veil of the constitution irredentism can become ‘official’ in a hidden form.'”

I must say that I thought Aczél was exaggerating. The notion that irredentism was hidden in the constitution just because the Hungarian Republic became Hungary seemed far-fetched to me.

Yes, this is what I thought until this morning when I read Péter Niedermüller’s article entitled “Quo vadis, MSZP–II” in today’s Galamus. Niedermüller gave a link to a speech Viktor Orbán made in Tusnádfürdő (Romania) on July 19, 2008. Here, the current prime minister made a clear distinction betwen Hungary (Magyarország) and the Hungarian Republic (Magyar Köztársaság). Let me quote the crucial passage: “Observe that when Hungary has a left-wing government how often one can see the words, ‘Hungarian Republic,’ on the cards in front of the Hungarian delegations. But Hungary and the Hungarian Republic are two different things. The Hungarian Republic is a technical terrain, Hungary, on the other hand, is the name of the nation. This is the difference that must guide us when we work out our national strategy.”‘

Well, now everything is clear. It is the above quotation that was the missing piece in Aczél’s article about irredentism. Now I understand why this not so innocent name change was introduced in the constitution. With his unique interpretation of the meaning of the two names, Orbán now claims to be the prime minister of all Hungarians living in the neighboring countries. When József Antall made the statement that in spirit he considered himself to be the prime minister of fifteen million Hungarians, the opposition, including Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz, was up in arms. Today, the same Viktor Orbán quite clearly views himself as the prime minister of all Hungarians in the region. And not just in spirit but in fact.

What Slovakia, Romania or even Serbia will think of all this I don’t know; I don’t even know whether the politicians of the neighboring countries will discover the ruse. The distinction may be too subtle or too artificial for foreign consumption. But one thing is sure: Viktor Orbán is on dangerous ground with his latest brainchild of Hungary versus Hungarian Republic.

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Member

Well Eva, if it is true what you are saying, that Orban should be charged with treason immediately under the current constitution. He can also be charged with misrepresentation of status (I am sure that is apply for military, but I am not sure how does it apply for not existing positions in government). I think that the existence of the stamp, and the speech would make a great case.

Member

oh, and I would also throw in the conspirator for good measure.

Member

Most of this seems to be copied from the Irish precedent.
Ireland has lots of this sort of similar concepts in its constitution, contrasting the Irish “State” (the Reublic of Ireland) from the “Nation” (the island of Ireland).
The Irish constitution never describes Ireland as a republic, the official name of the state is “Ireland”. “Republic of Ireland” is merely a description of the state enacted in a statute, it is not in the Constitution.
Similarly persons born in Northern Ireland (ie outside the “State” but inside the “Nation”) are entitled to become citizens of Ireland.
Up to 1998 the Irish Constitution contained an explicit claim over the territory of Northern Ireland, post 1998 this has been reduced to an aspiration but is still present.

Paul
Guest

Well, if there’s one thing designed to stir up more argument than Trianon it’s the partition of Ireland!
I found myself rising very rapidly to the bait on at least three points in David’s post, and I am not even Irish. (Luckily for everyone on here, I managed to reist.)
I can’t wait for Odin’s take on this!
But, slightly more seriously, it’s interesting that Orbán, of all people, seems to be going down the ‘Jewish’ road – where the ‘State’ and the ‘People’ are overlapping, but different concepts. How long before he starts describing Hungarians as the ‘Jews of Europe’?

hu-ro
Guest

The poor Hungary of Orban is not very attractive to the Hungarians in Slovakia, Romania, Slovenia, and Croatia.
They should be asked in referendum where they want to live.
In the current locations, or separated from the relatives.

An
Guest

Not surprised. And including the Holy Crown in the constitution serves the same purpose; hidden irredentism.

Member

I think the gesture is nice as it was from Jozsef Antall. I mean sending the message that we care about the Magyars outside of the current borders is nice considering the past. This is not irredentism – I may be naive but they don’t think about actual annexation of the lost territories (I hope at least). The problem with our boy is that even if he has a good idea he screws it up. When this caring idea becomes arrogance – now that’s Orban. It’s just empty nationalism for the 2-3% of the votes they may get from the Hungarians outside of the borders.

Andras Sebestyen Szollosy
Guest
Andras Sebestyen Szollosy

And the sad thing about Orban’s and his comrades’ subtle idea, that it does not serve the interests of Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries neither in a short term, nor in the long run. That is they don’t feel their responsibility.

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

From a civil and a military point of view this could lead to some very nasty complications. By claiming sovereignty/dominion over ALL Hungarians, this state has now usurped the rights of self determination of individuals. That is the right of a person to choose his/her own citizenship. Our good Hostess is a Hungarian citizen by birth but has probably elected to become a citizen of the US of A.
One could imagine an armed conflict between Hungary and another state. If a soldier from the other state who had Hungarian ancestry were captured, the Hungarian state could, under their claim of sovereignty, try that soldier for treason (against Hungary) and execute him/her. That would set a problem for the Geneva Convention!
In the last ‘unpleasantness’ (with Herr Hitler) the French, British and later the USA sent very sever warnings to Germany on this very subject.

Jano
Guest

Odin: Are you sure you didn’t go a little bit far ahead?:)

Johnny Boy
Guest
Mutt Damon: you are very wrong in assuming that this attitude of Orbán (which is not exactly as it is written in this post) is “just for a 2-3% of the votes”. No, it is completely honest, and honest in his diplomatic body too. Zsolt Németh, state secretary of the Ministry of foreign affairs, has a finely crafted székelykapu (the famous “szekler gate”) in his own private backyard. I find it very amusing when people (all left-libs, apparently) with absolutely no clue of the meaning of legal categories ridicule themselves by rambling about issues such as the question of republic or not. (By the way, it was never “Hungarian Republic” but “Republic of Hungary”, I think someone living in an English speaking environment should know that.) The republic is a well defined legal term for the form of the state. This was mixed up with the country’s name (which has NOTHING to do with the form of the state) in the former constitution. Let’s forget for now that the left-lib idiocy uses the term “republic” just as an empty buzzword, for they and their suppled activists surely know nothing about what the word really means. And you surely didn’t read… Read more »
Member
Johnny Boy: Maybe you should answer the questions about your honesty and motivations first (that you love to avoid), as well as about Orban’s rekindled friendship with communist regimes before you come out and try to question other people. Also, now another question, do you have any legal qualification, as you questioning other’s right to express their opinion as they are not legal experts. You are just like Schmitt, who expects people to protect the Hungarian language but cannot spell one sentence correctly or Orban, who talks about freedom of opinion while getting rid of evetyone who does not agree with him the slightest. THe only difference is that that they are passive aggressive, whole you are simply aggressive. You cannot ever state your opinion without getting into personal attacks, while your background and motivation are very questionable. Back to Orban, signing documents for a non existing country, as the representative of that country is either fit for a child or is a fraud. You pick. You do not need legal background to know that. His problem and yours is that his megalomania was already at work years ago, and this stamp and his speech is a lie, but of… Read more »
Member

“Well, if there’s one thing designed to stir up more argument than Trianon it’s the partition of Ireland!”
Possibly – it is interesting that they both happened in 1920 when Trainon was signed and the Government of Ireland Act partitioning Ireland was passed.
“I found myself rising very rapidly to the bait on at least three points in David’s post, and I am not even Irish. (Luckily for everyone on here, I managed to reist.)”
If you take issue with any of the points I can refer you to the relevant parts of the Irish Constitution.
I think that there are a lot of parallels between Irish nationalism and Hungarian nationalism, but that is not surprising because both share concepts with other European nationalisms. Ironically even the expression “The Resurrection of Hungary” was the title of a book written by Arthur Griffiths the founder of Sinn Fein.
Nationalism is not a big part of the mainstream politics of the English speaking world (outside Ireland and to a much lesser extent Scotland and Wales). It is often difficult for Britons or Americans to grasp the concept because it is confined to the lunatic fringes in their countries.

Member

“(By the way, it was never “Hungarian Republic” but “Republic of Hungary”, I think someone living in an English speaking environment should know that.)”
Surely the 1990-2011 official title in Hungarian was “Magyar köztársaság” i.e “Hungarian Republic”?

Member

And you surely didn’t read the new constitution as its first point says: “Magyarország köztársaság” (Hungary is a republic).
Surely the section you are referring to is B.2, which states:
“Magyarország államformája köztársaság.”
“The system of government of Hungary is a republic”.
Perhaps your own credibility would be enhanced if you got your quotes and facts right before criticising others for their lack of knowledge of constitutional law.

Johnny Boy
Guest

‘Surely the 1990-2011 official title in Hungarian was “Magyar köztársaság” i.e “Hungarian Republic”?’
Magyar Köztársaság translates into Republic of Hungary.
‘Perhaps your own credibility would be enhanced if you got your quotes and facts right before criticising others for their lack of knowledge of constitutional law.’
You are for once partially right, I mixed up the point I was referring to because it was the first point in the older constitution, not the new one.
But you’re still not right for the bigger part because you pretend as if the core of my message would be hurt by me not pointing to the exact paragraph. But this is minor stuff. The new constitution still says Hungary is a republic, the left-lib crowd still don’t know what ‘republic’ means, and the whole issue is one big ridicule.
someone: I won’t reply anything to your fully (read: 100 percent) personal abuse and ‘questions’, I answered all of those questions well before, and you area a troll for diverting the topic of the discussion.

NWO
Guest

I see this as just another form of individual aggrandizement on Orban’s part. It may anger some of the neighboring countries, and it may be a reason for some of the more nationalistic Hungarians to “believe” in a New, Great Hungary.
Hungary is not however the ex-Yugoslavia. Hungarians themselves will not in any way really sacrifice to try and re-establish a Great Hungary again. As much as he might want to be Milosevic and fight for the great Hungarian people as Milosevic did for the Serbian soul and people, most Hungarians want none of that.
Instead, for me, this action looks like so many other largely cosmetic things that that Orban done to make himself feel important and to pretend that Hungary is important. Instead, it is for me kind of like when my 5 year old son puts on his Superman or Batman costume. It makes him “feel” or “believe” he is just like a Super Hero, but for the rest of us we just see a little boy in his own fantasy world.

Roland
Guest

Well, I am afraid Orban is boy having Superman custome but with real gun in his hand:-)

Member

But you’re still not right for the bigger part because you pretend as if the core of my message would be hurt by me not pointing to the exact paragraph. “But this is minor stuff. The new constitution still says Hungary is a republic, the left-lib crowd still don’t know what ‘republic’ means, and the whole issue is one big ridicule.”
I an neither a liberal nor a leftist, nor am I concerned if Hungary remains or ceases to be a Republic. What does concern me is that the new “Basic Law” effectively makes whole areas of legislation “constitutional” because of the concept of the “sarkalatos törvény” or cardinal act, requiring 2/3 majority.
It is remarkably short sighted and frankly somewhat meglamaniac of a government to try to tie the hands of its successors in this way.
It is however a fairly communist way of thinking, the party and the great wise leader always knows best.

Paul
Guest

Poor old JB must have thought Mark’s ghost had come back to haunt him there! I almost felt sorry for him*.
As to whether it’s ‘Hungarian Republic’ or ‘Republic of Hungary’, surely as “Magyar köztársaság” translates into either, such a debate is a little pedantic – at least on an English language blog?
I am no solicitor or constitutionalist, but, as a native English speaker, the two terms mean exactly the same thing.
*some of this may not be entirely true.

Paul
Guest
“Nationalism is not a big part of the mainstream politics of the English speaking world (outside Ireland and to a much lesser extent Scotland and Wales). It is often difficult for Britons or Americans to grasp the concept because it is confined to the lunatic fringes in their countries.” David, I always assumed, with your name and your excellent English, that you were a Brit, but I don’t think many Brits would have posted that paragraph. We are only too aware of the concept of nationalisation, and the difficulties involved. Not only did most of us live through the ‘troubles’, but the idea is now very current and often discussed in the media because of devolution, especially with the likelihood of the SNP getting a second term in government in Scotland tomorrow. Devolution and the increasing separateness of Scotland and Wales (in many every-day practicalities such as tuition fees and prescription charges, not just in political terms) has also focussed the thoughts of the English in a more nationalistic direction. It is confused at the moment, admittedly, but it will become a live political topic in the near future. As for the rest of the English speaking world, I can’t… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: “As to whether it’s ‘Hungarian Republic’ or ‘Republic of Hungary’, surely as “Magyar köztársaság” translates into either”
I pondered that the Republic of Hungary perhaps sounds better in English but then the difference between Magyarország and Magyar köztársaság wouldn’t be that clear.

Paul
Guest

Éva – I think we would tend to say “Hungarian Republic” – it just sounds easier to a native speaker. But, I’ve never heard it called either outside formal publications, to the Brits it’s just ‘Hungary’.
But then we tend to be fairly sloppy with other country’s names (and our own!). The only time I can recall the word ‘republic’ being used in general conversation is in relation to the Czech Republic, and that’s simply because you can’t say just ‘Czech’ (many people still call it Czechoslovakia because of this!).

Paul
Guest
Apologies for multiple posting, but my earlier reply to David got so long I had to split it in two: As for Griffiths’ book, I don’t really see the ‘irony’. He was writing in pre-Easter Uprising days, and was putting forward the Hungarian ‘solution’ (the Compromise) as a model that could be followed in Ireland. Which, with Home Rule, is actually pretty much what happened. With the coincidence of dates and partition disputes, it is very easy to draw parallels between Ireland and Hungary, and I have often done so myself, semi seriously. But I don’t think the comparison really stands up to serious analysis. For a start, Ireland doesn’t have the long history as an independent country that Hungary has. For the best part of a thousand years, certainly since the establishment of the first English Kingdom, it was effectively an English colony/plantation – to be used and abused (and ignored) as required. As a result it had no real identity as a separate nation. Even its pre-Home Rule parliament had grown up entirely as part of the British political system (and, interestingly, kept remote by the British, despite frequent petitioning from the Irish parliament to be included in… Read more »
Sandor
Guest

I hesitated before adding my own comment here, because I expect a universal howling in reaction to it.
But be that as it may, I shall not retreat.
Well, to preempt the howls, I direct everybody so inclined to William L. Shirer: The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, check out the firs 200 pages and then shut up.
Hitler found it his first priority to destroy the republic. Once he succeeded doing so the road was open for his unfettered dictatorship. Oh, yes, he did call up the Reichstag from time to time, but they were all his appointees and didn’t have the opportunity to vote on any question.
His second priority was the full control of the media, by creating a supervisory body under the roving eyes of Dr. Gobbels.
I don’t think I have to go on. It is early days anyway.
Orban is doing the same, in the same order and by the same methods.

Member

Johnny: You are a liar! You never ever answered to my questions when they were on topic. Now, that we are several topics away, you say you will not answer because it is not on subject. I asked you about your opinion on how do you feel about Orban supporting communist China, right at that topic. I asked you right when you were throwing a sissy fit about those pesky Hungarians who worked under the Kadar “regime” and still work without any retaliation, to let us know what did you or your family or Orban did against that regime between 1956-1988 and you failed to answer. You move on, bark in on other whenever you feel like, but do not provide answers.

Johnny Boy
Guest

David: “It is remarkably short sighted and frankly somewhat meglamaniac of a government to try to tie the hands of its successors in this way.”
You should check your facts and (completely) review your views because the concept of “sarkalatos törvény” (2/3) was exactly as omnipotent in the former constitution than in the new.
There is no important change in this aspect, and your calling this concept megalomaniac shows how little you understand of how a state works.

Johnny Boy
Guest

someone: I may provide answer when your ‘questions’ contain a little more than personal abuse and obvious provocation.
With your prejudicial behavior and lack of genuine curiosity, I feel no desire to answer anything to you.

Member

Johnny, I am willing to be corrected if I am wrong, but where is the “sarkalatos törvény” in the old constitution?

Member
Paul, at no stage have I suggested that the history of Ireland and Hungary are similar, they are not. What I did suggest is that Hungarian nationalism and Irish nationalism share similar concepts, many of which as I noted are also found in other European nationalisms. The primary similarity in my opinion is between the extreme wing of Irish Republicanism and the extreme wing of Hungarian nationalism, as both have a very ideological and idealised view of the “nation” and its national rights, which basically ignores any contemporary realities which go against this. In Irish nationalism the extreme wing wants a united Ireland without any consideration of the fact that most people in Northern Ireland do not wish for this. In Hungarian nationalism there is a desire for a rewriting of the Trianon Treaty to restore the lands of the Crown of St Stephen with no consideration being given to the existence of non-Hungarians in those territories. In both cases the idealised view of the nation is completely detached from the real world, yet is the vision that motivates the politics in the real world. I could also draw a parallel with communism, as it is a similar utopian view… Read more »
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