The first time I set eyes on László Kövér and heard him speak I called him a "dúvad," a Hungarian word with a dual meaning. It can mean "beast of prey," but in ordinary speech people use it to describe a brutish fellow. A person who is somewhat animal-like, uncouth, hard to handle, unpleasant, aggressive and surly.There was a Hungarian film made in 1961 that was entitled "Dúvad" and it was translated into English as "The Brute." So, you get the picture. Just to show you what I mean, here is a recent picture of Kövér.
And this fellow is the speaker of the house, which he runs like a nineteenth-century schoolmaster, cane in hand, delivering stern warnings to any member of the opposition. He is a great deal more understanding with his own kind or even with Jobbik. On the basis of his past utterances I suspect that Kövér's political views are fairly close to the ideology of Jobbik and other extreme right-wing groups. For example, he agreed with Jobbik about the necessity of removing Mihály Károlyi's statue from the square in front of the parliament building. He, as a man who studied some history while attending law school, should know that Károlyi was not responsible for Trianon, yet he talks as if he were a total ignoramus when it comes to history. His speeches, especially those delivered in Transylvania, are tainted with ultra-nationalist sentiments. And his anti-communism is legendary. A rather odd position to take for a man who in 1985 still saw himself as one of the future leaders of the country–a country led by János Kádár.
As one would expect from a brutish fellow, he always exaggerates. For example, he began his speech yesterday with the following dramatic introduction: "Today our task is to rebuild a country that was just run down by the Tatars." The reference is to the attack by Batu Khan's Mongol hordes in 1241-1242. Of course, the comparison is ridiculous because the Tatars physically destroyed most of the country; even the king had to escape abroad. From the Tatars Kövér moved on to the "modern wild Tatars of the Gyurcsány kind." According to Kövér "Gyurcsány and Company ravaged and methodically plundered the country." In addition, "they simply destroyed the state itself."
After this incredible destruction "it will be more difficult to return to the nation's one-thousand-year-old road… but we must follow our own path." What is happening now, according to Kövér, is "the second foundation of the state" which also involves "the construction of a new economic system." Here it is worth stopping for a moment to try to analyze Kövér's words. First of all, it seems that he believes in a uniquely Hungarian road that must be followed. But how will this "Hungarian road" be reconciled with the fact that Hungary is a member of the European Union? One has a fair idea about what Kövér must think of the European Union and Hungary's membership. And I hate to think what he means by "a new economic system." These words were uttered in a country that a few months ago was carrying on with the duties of the EU presidency.
What Kövér had to say about the Hungarian minorities in the neighboring countries is also revealing. Hungary's task is to strengthen those connective tissues that have been weakened in the last ninety years or so. "The political elites of the successor states purposely want to break these connections." It is not only the Romanian and the Slovak politicians who want to weaken the Hungarian minority but "also those political forces that collaborate with the majority politicians. These people claim to be Hungarians but in reality they don't represent them in the political decision-making forums. In fact, they serve the interests of the majority political elite."
In brief, Hungarian politicians who take part in the political life of their countries are traitors to the Hungarian cause. Any kind of cooperation with majority parties is sinful in Kövér's eyes. But where would such an attitude lead? Certainly not to peaceful coexistence! But to brutes this very concept is utterly alien.
And finally, Kövér mentioned emigration that seems to have ramped up since "the second foundation of the Hungarian state." By now, Hungarians can leave and work anywhere within the European Union if they find a job. Certainly for a Hungarian nationalist like Kövér this is a tragedy. But Fidesz cannot bring back the iron curtain, and thus Kövér and his friends cannot stop the steady flow of people moving westward in the hope of a better life. The only thing Kövér can suggest is to put pressure on the youngsters to stay at home. The pressure should come from "parents, teachers, and intellectuals." If they cannot awaken in the young people a sense of responsibility toward the community then "there will be very big trouble."
My feeling is that the outflow of people from all walks of life, not just doctors and nurses, is less troublesome than the complete dilettantism exhibited by the Fidesz politicians in charge of the economy. If I were Kövér I would convince my old friend Viktor Orbán to sack György Matolcsy.