Clowns and gays in Hungary

Usually weekends are quiet on the Hungarian political front, but today an MSZP extraordinary congress is being held behind closed doors and it’s also the day for the Gay Pride Parade. As far as I could ascertain, the socialists are still meeting and therefore I can’t give a full account of today’s proceedings. Zsolt Török, the party’s spokesman, periodically informed the reporters of what was going on. The impression the journalists gained was that up to now it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. There are very deep divisions within the party leadership. There are a few very noisy people who keep talking about “turning left” without ever explaining what they mean. On the other side there was Ferenc Gyurcsány who named those whom he considers “dishonest people.” According to most people, this in-fighting is not good for the party. Which side will come out victorious? At this point I couldn’t even fathom a guess.

So, let the socialists fight it out among themselves and let’s instead talk a little bit about the “Revolution of the Clowns.” According to commentators who are not exactly friends of Viktor Orbán something really important happened Thursday afternoon and night. The beginning of a united and wide front in defense of democracy. Because, let’s face it, Orbán has begun a systematic dismantling of the democratic institutions that were established after 1989. He is no longer even hiding his intention to perpetuate his own regime even after he is gone. A week ago he gave an interview to an Austrian tabloid, Neue Kronen Zeitung, in which he made no secret of his plans. He boasted about his intention to tie the hands of not only the next but the next ten governments. That is forty years.

But some Hungarians have different ideas about his fate. The following picture was taken by a young American of Hungarian extraction who happened to be in Budapest:

2014–And goodbye

The reference is to an Orbán speech from 2006 that was leaked. He was talking about possible illegalities committed by Fidesz activists during the campaign silence. Orbán told them not to fear. Fidesz will hire good lawyers and that will be the end of it.

How many people were there and who were they? Estimates vary widely, from a few thousand to 35,000. The reason for this discrepancy is that it was an ongoing affair starting at 4:00 p.m. and ending late at night. We do know that almost 20,000 people “withdrew” the votes they cast last year for Fidesz. As for the composition of the crowd there were naturally a lot of trade union members, but young people were well represented as well. Clearly, the demonstration was not only in defense of narrow professional interests but was also against the kind of regime Viktor Orbán is building.

Most people comment on the contrast between this free-flowing, playful, and happy gathering and the Fidesz super-demonstrations where the crowd listened to the leader’s speech as if in a trance. This demonstration for the first time managed to gather people from all walks of life. The earlier big demonstration on March 15th organized by the Facebook group was mostly a gathering of intellectuals. This time the same Facebook people joined trade unions workers, pensioners, and everybody who cared to show up. When HírTV, a right-wing television station, announced that there were only 2,000 people at the demonstrations when the real numbers were a multiple of this figure, the crowd became furious.

The organizers gathered bits and pieces of old Orbán speeches which clearly showed the discrepancy between Orbán’s words while in opposition and his actions now. If Fidesz and Jobbik supporters were screaming on the top of their lungs two years ago: “Gyurcsány, takarodj!” (Gyurcsány, scram!) anti-Fidesz demonstrators kept yelling: “Orbán, takarodj!” There were several not very flattering pictures of Orbán. Here is one:

I’m pretty sure that Viktor Orbán finds all this very difficult to swallow. He is simply not accustomed to such a display of displeasure with his person. For his entire political life he has been surrounded by admiring fans. Moreover, he is being shielded by his staff. I’m certain that from here on Orbán will not appear in public too often.

So, the opposition is not only steadily growing but is becoming united as well. The only thing that is missing is a party they would feel good voting for.

The crowd lasted late into the night when they marched from Alkotmány utca across the Danube on the Chain Bridge all the way up to the Sándor Palace. As you can see, even at that late hour the crowd was impressive:

And then there was the Gay Pride Parade today. According to descriptions there were about 1,500-2,000 demonstrators and about 500 counter-demonstrators. The procession started at the end of Andrássy Street and ended at Alkotmány utca and Kossuth tér. The gays and lesbians were not only commemorating the events in New York at the Stonewall Bar but were also protesting the discrimination against them in the new Hungarian constitution. The counter-demonstrators gathered at the Oktogon but the organizers of the parade outwitted them. Conspiring with the police, they changed the route to avoid the Oktogon. As usual, the parade was colorful:

It looks like a happy and friendly affair. According to MTI people along Andrássy út who were sitting in outside cafés were smiling and waving at them. The same thing couldn’t be said of the counter-demonstrators. Here is one of them:

It must have been very frustrating for the members of this group to realize that they had been outfoxed. They stood there for hours and the procession never arrived.

There were a lot of policemen but their presence was not oppressive. I must say that the current police chiefs of Budapest seem to have slightly larger brains than their predecessors. All in all, everything went off much better than I expected based on the experiences of the last four to five years. As a radio reporter introduced his conversation with a colleague on the spot: “Let’s see whether we are closer to Vienna or to Belgrade, Kiev, and Moscow.” Well, not quite Vienna yet.

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Member

One sign held by the peaceful counter-demonstrators:
http://bit.ly/l95KTs
(new treatment for gays)

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Mutt, this is really awful.

Member

OMG, I hope you didn’t get me wrong! This photo was taken today in Budapest during the demonstration.
I just wanted to post it before our fascist pet starts pontificating about human rights.

Paul
Guest

“The only thing that is missing is a party they would feel good voting for.”
I’m afraid that’s not the only thing, that’s everything.
No matter what OV does between now and 2014, no matter how low his poll ratings get, unless there’s a credible opposition in place before then, nothing will change (except perhaps that Jobbik will pick up enough ex-Fidesz votes to become the official opposition).
No real opposition = another 4 years of Fidesz and OV, it’s as simple as that.
And with LMP pissing in the wind* and MSzP fighting each other instead of Fidesz, I can’t see any realistic opposition appearing in the next few years.
*Sorry about the language, but the phrase I wanted to use is a lot worse.

Member

Mutt: I wish the photo would also show those “brave” counter-demonstrators’ faces. What a love lie scum would hold a poster like this? (well, I sort of have the answer..)
Eva: “The only thing that is missing is a party they would feel good about voting for.” I think it is a Person who they are missing. Gyurcsany lost the the trust of people. I am not questioning if he rightly or wrongly lost the trust. The fact remains. He would seriously need to “rebrand” himself to have a chance, as his oppositions from every direction are working hard to discredit him in the past and present.

Pete H.
Guest

I was inadvertently was trapped in a small area in the Oktogon with the counterdemonstrators, here’s the photo album.
http://s200.photobucket.com/albums/aa309/petewsh61/Anti-Gay%20Pride%20March%20Protesters/
From the conversations I heard these goons wanted blood.
I’ll write more on it later.

GW
Guest

Pete H.:
Those pictures are truly terrifying. But I have to make the observation that the amount of black t-shirts, shaved heads, and pumped-up biceps on display reminds one of nothing less than the waiting line outside a gay leather bar. I suspect that there are a lot of seriously conflicted closet cases in that group!

Öcsi
Guest

I wouldn’t be too sure about that, GW. If your observation is correct then it would follow that a “Paki-basher” is just a repressed Pakistani. Or that a Jew-hater is secretly a Jew. And I just can’t buy that. I don’t think that’s the case.
Sure, a good way to hide your sexual orientation is to make like you’re not one of “them.” But is it necessary to go to such extremes? Most closeted gays get married and even have kids, but they usually don’t go to anti-gay hate-fests.

Jim
Guest

Not sure, Öcsi… all they seem to do is stare at gay men in thongs all day…
(The “thong” meme is a giveaway, in my view. You find this detail only in anti-gay comments. But it is extremely common there, and nowhere else.)

Member

“a “Paki-basher” is just a repressed Pakistani.”
I knew it!! Johnny is in love with Eva!! Stop the presses!

Member

I’m soo dumb. I just realized what the pink triangle is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_triangle
( on this banner http://bit.ly/l95KTs )

Member

I think I can see Johnny Boy in the counter-demonstrators’ crowd. The one who shows his middle finger. It must be him.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Oh, yes. These are really, really nice guys.

Johnny Boy
Guest

I must be offtopic if I want to see some good news for Hungary on this blog, so be it:
The beyondbrics blog of Financial considers the visit of the Chinese prime minister a “diplomatic triumph for prime minister Viktor Orbán”:
http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2011/06/16/chinese-fdi-in-hungary-a-matter-of-wen/?catid=491&SID=google

Member

Johnny Boy: “The beyondbrics blog of Financial considers the visit of the Chinese prime minister a “diplomatic triumph for prime minister Viktor Orbán”
Of course. We all know “the winds are blowing from the East”. Orban also had a diplomatic triumph with Mubarak. We all applaud him for making strides. China has one use for Hungary, and that is to make Hungary the gate to the EU. China started to invest big time, and they are luckier then the Israelis were, as or some reason communist money is more welcomed than the jewish dough. I guess Johnny you prefer the communists after all. (hmmmm)

GW
Guest

Johnny Boy,
Last we checked, the People’s Republic of China was a single party state governed by the Communist Party of China. Don’t you have any qualms at all about the present Hungarian government cosying up to the PRC? Or is communism something that was wrong for Hungary but just fine for others, especially if they do business with Hungary? Or, is the problem not with communism but with the people who ran it Hungary prior to ’89, in which case appropriating private pensions or firms owned by foreigners, clamping down on media dissent, keeping data bases of individual political opinions, or keeping socialized medicine etc. are all okay?

Pete H.
Guest

JB, most of this post is positive news for Hungary. People are exercising their democratic rights to protest. People are awakening to the antidemocratic issues with Fidesz. And the Gay Pride march went off without any serious incidents of violence against the pride marchers, whose voice was also heard.

Pete H.
Guest

“When HírTV, a right-wing television station, announced that there were only 2,000 people at the demonstrations when the real numbers were a multiple of this figure, the crowd became furious.” Eva, look at the photobucket album I posted and you will see the cameraman from HirTV pointing his camera at me just before the pride march. Look at his t-shirt. It’s a pro-Nazi t-shirt commemorating the SS. There is another picture of the t-shirt from the back listing the important campaigns of Hitler’s elite guard. So, I might characterize HirTV (at least their employees) as far right, not simply rightwing. The cameraman and the reporter with him were the only ones in the crowd who confronted me by throwing insults at me. I believe they mistook me for being gay, which gave them an opportunity to express their vile opinions. Their behavior was far far from professional. What self-respecting news organization lets their employees wear pro-nazi clothing? And at a gay-pride rally.

Member

Pete H, I guess if you do not wear black clothing with short cropped hair you are not real Hungarian according to the real Hungarians.

John T
Guest
No doubt some of these protestors will have someone in their family who actually is gay, but who has had to live a lie and hide their sexuality for fear of being ostracised and possibly having the crap kicked out of them (or worse if we take the poster holders as people that would go through with a hanging). I have to say that the protesters have the same MO as extremists elsewhere. This lot don’t look particularly bright. No doubt they couldn’t be bothered to study at school and are either unemployed or in dead end jobs. But rather than acknowledge their own failures, they no doubt blame it on others – particular those nasty foreigners. I guess at least they are getting some sense of belonging. But imagine what a crap society there would be if this group were in charge. Sometimes, the more I see of this, I wonder whether we should leave them to it – after all, the stupidity and backwardness is likely to remain inside Hungary’s borders. And if this group do come to the fore, then the course they take to pariah status will have been chosen by then. I would guess these… Read more »
Paul
Guest

Perhaps someone (not Some1!) should file a complaint with the new media authority about TV cameramen/reporters wearing blatantly biased (and in many countries, illegal) T shirts?
I don’t like to keep on as if the UK were some sort of liberal paradise (it is far from that!), but over here that picture would have caused a huge storm, and at least got the people involved and their immediate bosses sacked, if not the TV station shut down.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Pete H.: “look at the photobucket album I posted and you will see the cameraman from HirTV pointing his camera at me just before the pride march. Look at his t-shirt. It’s a pro-Nazi t-shirt commemorating the SS. There is another picture of the t-shirt from the back listing the important campaigns of Hitler’s elite guard. So, I might characterize HirTV (at least their employees) as far right, not simply rightwing.”
I agree with you but then what should we call EchoTV? I often talked about the particular situation in Hungary that one doesn’t quite know where the extreme right begins and where it ends. If Orbán keeps going like that we will not be able to make any distinction whatsoever between the two.

Johnny Boy
Guest

Pete H: since when is that guy in the SS shirt HírTV’s cameraman?

Paul
Guest

Pete – SB has a point. There is nothing in either picture to indicate he is woking for HírTV.
Are you sure he was a HírTV man, or was that just a guess?

Johnny Boy
Guest

Paul: that was not a guess, that was a maliciously represented prejudice.
HírTV would NEVER let anyone become a staff member that wanders around in a shirt like that. It is quite telling that there is no response to my ‘question’.

Paul
Guest

SB – one of the key differences between us and you is that we prefer to look at the evidence before drawing conclusions.
You should try it some time.
And you are in no position to accuse others of deliberately not answering questions about unlikely claims.

Pete H.
Guest

The cameraman was paired with a reporter with a microphone. On the microphone were the words Hir-TV. JB, unlike you I don’t make statements based on prejudice, I make them based on facts. Unlike you JB, I was there that day and saw how terribly ugly the far-right in Hungary is.

Pete H.
Guest

I had a chance to go through all of the photos I took that day, and I found one were I was able to blow up the name on the microphone. I stand corrected, it was not Hir-TV but rather N1-híradó, kuruc.info’s video media provider.

Paul
Guest

Thanks, Pete. An understandable mistake under the circumstances and good of you to own up to the error.

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