Fidesz and the Hungarian neo-Nazis

Even a few months ago Hungarian commentators were still reluctant to call Jobbik a Nazi party. No longer.

If one didn't know about the true nature of Jobbik before, Márton Gyöngyösi's infamous interview with the Jewish Chronicle in February must have opened everyone's eyes. For more about Gyöngyösi and the interview, see my post entitled "Jobbik's foreign relations expert: Márton Gyöngyösi." A few weeks later party chairman Gábor Vona made it clear that he and his comrades are not democrats.

But perhaps the most outrageous act by a member of Jobbik came when Zsolt Baráth, an elementary school teacher by training, rose in parliament to recall the alleged ritual murder committed by some Orthodox Jews of Tiszaeszlár in 1882. Hungarian Spectrum reported on that event as well.

What I haven't written about in detail is that a few days ago it became public knowledge that members of the Jobbik parliamentary caucus behave like barbarians in the chamber. They constantly yell obscenities at the MPs sitting on the left side of the aisle: MSZP, LMP, and DK. The machos of Jobbik (and to some extent the machos of Fidesz) also hurl insults at women members of the democratic opposition. For some strange reason nobody talked about these Jobbik atrocities. At least not until now.

Gábor Scheiring (LMP) had enough and wrote about the behavior of Jobbik members of parliament. On his blog he mentioned some of the incidents he found most objectionable. Scheiring doesn't name names, which is a pity because it would be interesting to know which particular Jobbik MP thought that "Hitler was right in everything except he made a mistake with this holocaust thing which is a weapon in the hands of the Jewry." He added that the Jews "are people of Satan." The same man claimed that he has "documents that prove that the whole [Tiszaeszlár] thing was a ritual murder." Epithets like "you filthy murderous communists" or "trashy left-wing traitors" coming from the Jobbik caucus are apparently everyday occurrences. The leadership of Jobbik shouldn't be surprised when the title of a recently published article by James Kirchick is "Meet Europe's New Fascists." 

So, we have a neo-Nazi party in Hungary that according to the latest Ipsos poll is supported by 7% of all eligible voters. The determination of Jobbik supporters, however, is great. Among those who are certain that they would go and vote, Jobbik's share is 17%. I should add, on a brighter note, that these numbers have been declining in the last three or four months.

Wolf and sheep

Wolf and sheep/flckr

What is the relation between the governing Fidesz-KDNP and the neo-Nazi Jobbik? Recently an analysis by Policy Solutions, a Hungarian think tank, has been circulating on the Internet. I must have received at least three copies from three different sources. It is a two-page comparison of Jobbik campaign promises/demands and to what extent the governing Fidesz-KDNP fulfilled these promises.

(1) Jobbik: The multinational companies don't pay their full share of taxes. Fidesz-KDNP: Extra levies were imposed on banks, telecommunication companies, supermarket chains, and energy suppliers. They are mostly foreign owned.

(2) Jobbik: Stop compulsory savings in private pension funds. Fidesz-KDNP: Done and more. It expropriated the savings.

(3) Jobbik: Reintroduction of grades and repeating whole years in school. Fidesz-KDNP: Done in the lower grades.

(4) Jobbik: The Holy Crown should symbolize the Hungarian state and the nation. Fidesz-KDNP: In the new constitution it is stated that the Holy Crown is the embodiment of the continuity of Hungarian constitutionalism and the unity of the nation.

(5) Jobbik: Demanded a new media law that ensures electronic and written media serve the Hungarian national identity and that requires balanced reporting. It should also allow for speedy punishment in case of non-compliance. Fidesz-KDNP: Done.

(6) Jobbik: Students between grades 5 and 8 should be able to visit at least one Hungarian territory annexed after World War I, to be organized and paid for by the school. Fidesz-KDNP: Done.

(7) Jobbik: The Christian roots of Hungary should be included in the Basic Laws. Fidesz-KDNP: Done.

(8) Jobbik: The statue of Mihály Károlyi should be removed as soon as possible from Kossuth tér. Roosevelt tér should be named Széchenyi tér. Jobbik also demanded the removal of all names connected to "historically negative persons" from public spaces and buildings. It demanded erecting new statues for people unjustly forgotten or neglected: Miklós Horthy, Albert Wass, Pál Teleki, Cecile Tormay, and so on. Fidesz-KDNP: Mihály Károlyi's statue gone; Roosevelt tér no more; the new law on local government includes a passage on the naming of streets or buildings after anyone who can in any way be connected to the establishment of dictatorship. There are plans to name a square after Albert Wass.

(9) Jobbik: Suspension of eviction of non-paying mortgage holders for a whole year. In addition, banks should be forbidden to change the terms of a contract. Fidesz-KDNP: Added another two and a half months to the moratorium. It forbade any change in a contract and gave people the opportunity to pay off their mortgages at a lower fixed rate in one lump sum.

(10) Jobbik: Campaigned against members of parliament holding on to more than one job. For example, there are many MPs who are also mayors or members of city councils. Fidesz-KDNP: A law to that effect is under consideration and will most likely pass.

(11) Jobbik: The party on the very first day of the parliamentary session in 2010 submitted a proposal to declare the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Trianon a day of national remembrance. Fidesz-KDNP: It was done immediately.

(12) Jobbik: Hungary must stop its servile behavior vis-à-vis the European Union. "Jobbik is even ready for confrontation with the European Union. If we must choose between the interest of the nation and the Union we will not be afraid to choose our homeland and nation." Fidesz-KDNP: I don't think that I have to dwell much on how good a student Viktor Orbán became of Jobbik in this respect.

So, after this brief list it will be difficult for Fidesz to pose as the only political force in Hungary that is capable of standing against right radicalism in Hungary.

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Paul
Guest

‘Fidesz-Jobbik’ says it all.
PS: Éva – nasty typo at the beginning of the 4th para.

Eva Balogh
Guest

Paul, thank you. It’s fixed.

petofi1
Guest

Is any of this a surprise?

Guest

It has occurred to me, that the madness which seems to strike Hungarians when they become politician may have a simple origin and may be prevented. The problem is the Parliament Building. I believe that sanity may be restored to Hungarian politicians if they can be convinced to abandon the grandiose edifice they are presently inhabiting and move into a sober building, devoid of infectious references to a mythological glorious past. The old building undoubtedly could be sold at a fair price. The building has a certain resemblance to castles we have seen in many cartoon films, so it would take little to convert it to serve an entertainment purpose.

whoever
Guest

Jean P – very good point. Yes, I would suggest that the Fourth Republic – if/when it happens – could be called the Esztergom Republic and the seat of government could be moved to a new, modern parliamentary chamber accordingly. As for the old Parliament, it could fairly easily become a hotel or conference center, while maintaining its misplaced grandeur.

Bowen
Guest

That is an interesting point about the Hungarian Parliament building, actually. very striking and grand, but it reminds me of the old Fidesz székház at Szentkiraly utca 18 which spoke of nothing but its own importance.
Perhaps a move back to the old parliament house in Brody Sandor utca in the VIII district. It’s modest, but entirely pleasant now that the Italian Institute have done the place up.
Or more symbolically appropriate would be to move to the new CET Budapest building which has been completed, but has been left mouldering and useless while politicians and owners squabble over what to do with it.
Oh, and the Holy Crown should be locked up behind a glass case in a church somewhere. Just to make sure no aspiring king is tempted to put it on his own head.

Bowen
Guest

Alternatively, Hungarian politicians could be sent away on a two-year staff training and bonding course. Maybe in Strasbourg. Whoever doesn’t pass their Basic Democratic and Financial Competencies Exam (without cheating) has to repeat the course.
Meanwhile a caretaker government could look after things, and shepherd the nation to some semblence of a normal 21st century state.

Member

Bowen: “Hungarian politicians could be sent away on a two-year staff training and bonding course. ”
Now, that is an interesting point, and made me think that in Hungary most politician become involved with politics as a career change. Often it happens after a failed attempt to be successful in their chosen profession either financially otherwise or because they at at the end of their success. THese people do not have any training whatsoever in diplomatic relations, democracy, government. I am not talking about the mandatory courses in high school and in University, but courses that prepare you to understand what it takes… In Canada for example, many politicians and senior officials took political science . I think it should be mandatory in Hungary some form of study for politicians prior or when they get in to politics.

LwiiH
Guest
What I’ve only ever half understood is this fascination with Trianon. On the one had it’s a good story for those that want to play victim. On the other hand, if you take a neutral honest look at Trianon and the loss of territory it’s clear that the negotiators didn’t do as badly as you might think. If you look at data produced throughout the 19th century but the Austrians (and others), it clear that aside from a pocket in Transilvania, the vast majority of Hungarians are contained within current borders and those that weren’t were very close to the current borders. The rough statistic I’ve seen is that while Hungary lost 2/3’s of it’s territory, it only lost 1/3 of it’s ethnic population. Ok, it’s sad that 1/3 of ethnic Hungarians suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of a line but.. it also implies that this overly enlarged map that people stick on cars, flags, walls etc.. isn’t real. More over it makes a good story to further point out how Hungary has been victimized by the so called “great powers”. Worse, it’s a provocation to the surrounding countries. Even worse, it’s a message driven home in Hungary’s… Read more »
Eva Balogh
Guest

LwiiH: “it clear that aside from a pocket in Transilvania, the vast majority of Hungarians are contained within current borders and those that weren’t were very close to the current borders.”
I would add a large pocket in Southern Slovakia, especially north of the Danube River. The English delegation in Paris tried to convince the Czechs to relinquish their claim but they refused on grounds of military security. I think it was a bad decision. Elsewhere only relatively minor adjustments could have been done in Hungary’s favor.

An
Guest
@Lwiih: No I’m really not a revisionist and hate people bringing up Trianon all the time… but you are saying “it only lost 1/3 of it’s ethnic population. “Seriously?? Only? Hope you can realize that for a country losing 1/3 of its ethnic population is a big trauma itself and not exactly a fair arrangement. Could have been worse? Yes, it could have been… Hungary could have lost its independence totally, Hungary could have been eradicated, etc.. Add to this that in most Hungarians mind, the country was actually the “large Hungary”… kind of when the Brits had their empire. Now, the Brits took losing their empire a lot better… but I bet even that wasn’t an easy process. Anyways, Hungarians like to argue that Trianon was unjust. I think we have a point, even though losing territories after a lost war is quite a normal course of events. I think the claim that Hungary was “punished” the most at the end of the first word war of all the losing countries, and that the winners at least could have taken ethnic lines more into account (as it happened in the case of Sopron), has some merit. That is not… Read more »
Bowen
Guest

@An, I’m British, and I think you’d have to look long and far to find anyone (under the age of about 90) who is in trauma at the loss of the British Empire. Britain has managed to re-define itself and its place in the world quite healthily, I would say.
Re: Trianon. This unhealthy lament seems to be perpetuated in schools, and now by governments, who know exactly how to press the ‘Trianon button’ and make it work for them.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem that the Hungary consensus is yet willing to define itself in any way other than a great, unique nation which has been humiliated and ripped apart by malign foreign hands.
The Transylvanian Hungarians in my wife’s circle don’t see it that way, and barely understand what their western cousins are on about. Trianon is as relevant for them as the Suez Canal crisis is for me.

An
Guest

@Bowen: One big difference between the British and the Hungarian example (if you can draw a parallel like that at all), is the existence of large Hungarian minorities outside the borders. These minorities do not always get fair treatment from they respective governments (tough it depends largely who is in government.. sometimes the treatment is decent, sometimes it is not). Whenever there are incidences of mistreatment, the EU just digs its head in the sand (Malina Hedvig’s case in Slovakia, Slovak language low under the earlier Fico government).
I think if these minorities would consistently get fair treatment, there would lot less fuel for nationalistic propaganda from the Hungarian right… If there was some kind of EU standard of fair treatment of minorities that is enforceable some way (I know… even those EU standards that exist are not really enforceable).

LwiiH
Guest

@Eva,I think the pocket in Slovakia is close to the border Hungary. There was a rail line that is in now what is Serbia that indicated the southern border is too far north.
@an, I did say sadly but consider the disparity in the ratios, 2/3:1/3…. if Hungary had truly lost I would expect it to be equal. And yeah, Hungary lost big time at the negotiating table but like I said, a little more humility might have helped. Don’t forget, up until then, Vienna was still very much in charge and after Trianon, they weren’t. So that seems like a win in my books. Also, don’t forget, it was that same international community did insist that Romania get their tanks out of Budapest after they walked all over a fairly tattered and war weary Hungarian army. Suggests things weren’t as one sided as they were made out to be.

Kingfisher
Guest

Trianon was unjust because the new borders did not properly reflect where the ethnic groups lived. But where many Hungarians go wrong, I feel, is they don’t recognise that pre-Trianon was even more unjust. Hungarians comprised only 45% of the population of Greater Hungary but the other 55% were treated pretty shabbily, and denied effective political representation. So it was an untenable situation and those who long for Magna Hungaria don’t realise just what a powder keg of discontent it would be.
I’d strongly disagree with Some1 that it is a good thing for politicians to have political science degrees. I think that is the last thing you want! Ideal politicians should have worked in the real world, have had contact with real people, and enter parliament with real experience. Micky mouse degrees in “political science” just encourage impractical and dogmatic thinking, where as what any country needs are pragmatists who know how things really work.

Eva Balogh
Guest

LwiiH: ” Eva,I think the pocket in Slovakia is close to the border Hungary.”
Indeed. This is exactly the problem with it. It was solidly Hungarian. Even today it has a Hungarian majority. There was no reason for its inclusion in Czechoslovakia. The Szeklers in the middle of Transylvania were a different story but not Csallóköz (Žitný ostrov) on the left bank of the Danube.

GW
Guest

It should not be forgotten that Hungary’s losses were losses in political boundaries, and however difficult it was for Hungarians to become minorities in the newly-established countries, it cannot compare to the more recent pain of Germans at the end of WWII who not only lost territories to new political boundaries, but were expelled from those territories and then faced the chaos of their forced settlement in the remaining part of the country. The contrast between the ability of Germans to have resolved the resolution of the second war with the inability of Hungarians to do the same for the first war is striking and perhaps says much about the relative success of the two states.

Member

Trianon is an old wound, that up and coming politicians love to lick in order to gain some popularity amongst the less educated (and I do not mean by diplomas) and amongst those who for some reason love to live in the past.
The last twenty years brought huge changes to Europe’s political make-up, its geographical borders, its disposition to ethnical, religious, racial, sexual, and feminist issues. Only backward people or people with alternative motives other than the best interest of their own country try to push the nationalistic agendas in the renewed Europe. Where this kind of propaganda leads can be easily checked in history books or in the very recent history of Europe. Then again the less informed does not have a clue, and those who try to keep them in dark does not have the interest to clarify.

Bowen
Guest

At the risk of sounding heretical, I don’t think it’s still relevant to today’s Hungary whether Trianon was just or not. Of course, it was bad news for Hungary at the time. Let’s take Cluj in Transylvania (Kolozsvar) as an example. The Hungarian population in 1910 was around 80%. Today it’s 18%, and up until quite recently, Hungarians living in that city have been stigmatised, not even legally entitled to get married in the Hungarian language.
But when the boot’s on the other foot, I’m afraid things don’t magically get better. For example, in 1941, the Hungarian population in Cluj shot up to 85%. I’ll leave it to your imagination to guess what happened to the Romanian population in those years.
There’s a lot of bitterness on both sides, there has been for centuries. But the top-down chauvinism we see from the likes of Jobbik, and the perpetuation of Hungary as victim, will never resolve the situation.

Member

I just cannot understand why these turul troopers don’t see how damaging is to the young generations the constant pushing of this Trianon thing. It’s like telling them every day, before they go to school: you’re a loser, you’re a loser, you’re a loser.
These guys only got one chance with Hitler. The road signs will stay Romanian. Get over it. Do something useful. Like working.
Trianon should be forgotten, not remembered.

Bowen
Guest

@ Mutt: I’m not sure the turul troopers are not pushing the Trianon thing, they are keeping it alive. Like an unethical dentist selling you sugary toothpaste.
I’ve lived in a few countries as a foreigner ‘ex-pat’. It’s typical that you get asked the same questions again and again, regardless of whether you’ve been in the country ten minutes or ten years. These questions might be indicative of how a culture regards itself in relation to the outside world. In Japan I contiually got asked:
* Do you like Japan?
* Can you use chopsticks?
In Hungary, it’s
* What do you think of Hungarian women?
* Do you know about Trianon?

Kirsten
Guest
Bowen: “Re: Trianon. This unhealthy lament seems to be perpetuated in schools, and now by governments, who know exactly how to press the ‘Trianon button’ and make it work for them.” I am afraid that if there were no Trianon and unfair treatment, “Hungarian national thought” could certainly come up with other hardship to justify the lamentation. For me the himnusz is the best summary of the national programme and it includes the line “Long torn by ill fate” – written in 1832. A psychologist would certainly be able to detect in these lines a national self-image focused on misery, that additionally has been inflicted only from outside forces and that has to be defended at all costs. Trianon in that respect was a real blessing. (Otherwise ‘ill fate’ could certainly be extended to include all these horrifying neighbours from Romanians to Slovaks.) In my impression Trianon should be understood as a consequence of the unability of Hungary to defend its borders through either its own military strength or diplomatic skills. For that also the government should be stronger. By which I do not mean dictatorship but being considered an authority due to more national consensus on political issues and… Read more »
GW
Guest

Mutt Damon,
It’s not telling them that they’re losers, but rather victims, and it’s a victim mentality, blaming everyone but oneself, rather than doing the hard work, that dominates thought in the present government.

Kingfisher
Guest
Returning to Scheiring Gábor, I saw him and the egregious Steiner Pál talking to Kálmán Olga the other day, and Olga made a very good point I thought: she said, if they are saying things like this, why don’t you DO something! Stand up and walk up to the parliamentary president and shout! And the reaction of the two politicians I found embarrassing. They both became defensive and came up with justifications for why they can’t do more. Which to me summed up the impotence of the current opposition. To give a concrete example, Vona turned up on the opening of parliament, dressed in the banned uniform of a paramilitary group. Mesterházy did say something and Kövér told him off for questioning his authority and threatened to turn his microphone off. In the end, Mesterházy backed down and waffled on about something else. Surely, SURELY, the proper thing to have done was make a stand, and dare Kövér to have him kicked out of the building. It would have been Mesterházy’s finest hour. But nope, he backed down and probably, MSZP composed a press release they sent to MTI a few hours later. I can understand why public employees won’t… Read more »
Member

@GW Loser or victim – I believe the effect is the same. This Trianon whining coupled with the perpetual freedom fight illusion, that can never be won, together do serious damages.
This weirdo image will make them either aggressive (see the JOBBIK’S numbers among young) or depressed and apathetic. If they are not aggressive and refuse to be depressed and are talented – well, they will end up in another country. If I left out somebody please stand up!
The way out of this mess is enforcing self confidence in education. Exactly the opposite of what these morons are doing with our school system.

Member

Apropos Hungarian youth:



I want this kid for president. He speaks way better English then any of our politicians and he has manners. Is he really from our Planet?

Member

Fidesz, as a collective, are no more fully-subscribed, paid up members of any neo-nazi philosophy than I am.
Is Orban a nazi, by conviction? nope.
In his heart is he more of a fascist, racist, anti-semite, anti-Roma, misogynist, homophobe, xenophobe etc etc than I am?
I really believe that he isn’t.
But whereas I (and most mainstream, civilised politicians) would never, ever dream of exploiting such negative tendencies in our fellow citizens, Orban’s whole power is based on the “hatred of the other”.
He is the supreme opportunist who would use neo-nazism or conversely “post-communism” if it means that Vik remains top dog.
Dunno, does that make him worse than the *bigots by conviction* such as Vona and co?

Kingfisher
Guest

oneill, I tend to agree with you. Orbán has no problem with people of Jewish extract when they are on his side politically (Deutsch, Szajer, Némethné, Torgyán, Fonagy), and so accusations of anti-semitism don’t wash. But he does find it politically expedient for people to think he might be, which itself is a pretty appalling way to exist. So he only comes out with anti-Jobbik rhetoric (whose supporters he is keen to win back to Fidesz) when he really has to. Orbán has always been determined to prevent the right from splintering as it did during Antall’s government and I think his apparent cosying up to Jobbik is not because he is a closet Nazi, but because he wants their voters.

GDF
Guest

Kirsten:”In my impression Trianon should be understood as a consequence of the unability of Hungary to defend its borders through either its own military strength or diplomatic skills.”
There is more to it, in my opinion. For example, in Transylvania the majority of the population was Romanian. It did not matter what the percentage of Hungarians in Transylvania was of the whole Hungarian nation. The Romanians in Transylvania, the ethnic majority of that region, wanted to belong to Romania. The reason for this was Romanian nationalism but also the treatment they had received from the Hungarian authorities.

enuff
Guest

Re :”@Mutt’s : The way out of this mess is enforcing self confidence in education. Exactly the opposite of what these morons are doing with our school system.”
You know how one of our students prepare for their language oral exam in school?
Her teacher gave the class the answers to memorise and added that if their answers are different than what she has prescribed , they’d fail.
Yes, in this case, it is a mess!
Re : Trianon
I don’t want to underestimate this tragedy; however, for the sake of the new generations, can Hungarians just move on.
Why not redefine Great Hungary as remarkable or outstanding rather than in size..

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