Fidesz internal politics and the Romanian Hungarian parties

The Fidesz bigwigs are divided on whether they want to support MPP (Magyar Polgári Párt) or EMNP (Erdélyi Magyar Néppárt) in Romania. But they definitely don’t want anything to do with Hunor Kelemen’s RMDSZ (Román-Magyar Demokratikus Szövetség) which according to the opinion polls is the strongest Hungarian party in Romania with about 80% of the ethnic Hungarian vote.

Fidesz politicians have been frequent visitors in Romania of late because of the municipal elections that will be held tomorrow. But they have been campaigning for different anti-RMDSZ parties. Tamás Deutsch campaigned for EMNP in Județul Bihor (Bihar megye) a week or so ago. A few days later, István Tarlós, mayor of Budapest, visited Odorheiu Secuiesc/Székelyudvarhely in Județul Harghita (Hargita megye) campaigning for Jenő Szász, the chairman of MPP. Tarlós actually went there to initiate a sister-city relationship between Budapest and Székelyudvarhely, but he refused to hand over the invitation to the current mayor who is affiliated with RMDSZ. Instead, it was deposited with the mayoral hopeful, Jenő Szász, an old friend of László Kövér.

László Kövér, Jenő Szász, and a perfect little Szekler

So, what’s going on? Most of the commentators are baffled and I am no exception. But one possible explanation is that the attitudes of Fidesz politicians toward the political formations of the Hungarian minority in Romania may be a reflection of a real political divide within the party.

More than a third of Fidesz voters could easily see themselves voting for Jobbik even though there is no question that Jobbik is a successor to the Hungarian Arrow Cross Movement of Ferenc Szálasi, a Nazi party. There is no sharp division between Jobbik and Fidesz. One seamlessly blends into the other.

This blending is possible because Fidesz, like any other large party that draws its membership from far and wide, includes people of diverse political views. That division also exists in the party leadership. I would definitely place László Kövér and Sándor Lezsák in the right wing of Fidesz while Tibor Navracsics and Zoltán Pokorni belong on the left. István Tarlós is not officially a member of the party but some of his utterances and decisions attest to his decidedly rightist political views. It’s enough to think of  his allowing one of the Budapest theaters to be directed by a Jobbik sympathizer and an anti-Semitic dramatist. Kövér is most likely responsible for the removal of the statue of Mihály Károlyi, and I suspect that the idea of restoring the square in front of the parliament building to its state prior to March 19, 1944 was his idea.

László Kövér spent a rather long time at law school because as a student he was also taking courses in history at the Faculty of  Arts, though as far as I know he didn’t get a degree in history.  But his historical studies seem to have been in vain. All the clichés about the causes of the Treaty of Trianon can be found in Kövér’s speeches, some of them delivered in Romania. Moreover, his sponsorship of József Nyirő’s reburial is not an accident. It follows a pattern. The party Kövér is supporting in Romania is considered to be a far-right party.

Sándor Lezsák is another Fidesz leader, one of the deputy speakers of the house, who can be seen promoting far-right organizations. He can be seen around a far-right “civic” organization that is rewriting early Hungarian history. At the moment, their members are proceeding on horseback to Kazakhstan. These are the same people who are enamored by runic writing and the uniqueness of the Hungarians’ genes.

It seems to me that it is this right wing of Fidesz that is behind Jenő Szász and MPP. Mainstream Fidesz, including Viktor Orbán, seems to be supporting László Tőkés’s new party, EMNP. Tőkés is definitely Orbán’s man. Although Tőkés became well known for his role in the outbreak of the Romanian revolution against Ceauşescu in 1989, his later political fortunes were aided by Viktor Orbán. The new party organized by Tőkés and most likely assisted financially by Fidesz came into being only this past February.

So, here is the odd situation that two leading members of Fidesz support two different Hungarian parties in Romania.  According to rumors Kövér and Orbán both have very strong views on the matter. An aside: It’s possible that one of Kövér’s problems with Tőkés is the Hungarian Reformed bishop’s “murky” private life. Only recently a book appeared about Tőkés in Hungary that shows the good bishop in a less than favorable light. Apparently the book is selling well in Romania, but it is hard to tell whether it will have an impact on the outcome of the election.

If the polls are correct and the Hungarian votes go to RMDSZ, Fidesz support of these two opposing parties is really irrelevant as far as Romanian politics are concerned. The divide over Hungarian parties in Romania may shed light, however, on internal divisions within Fidesz. Let us not forget that a few days ago when Ágnes Vadai (DK MP) asked about the emerging Horthy cult and the reburial of József Nyirő some Fidesz members of parliament joined their Jobbik colleagues in trying to drown her out. Jobbik and the right wing of Fidesz are often soul mates.

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gdfxx
Guest

The two parties (MPP and EMNP), although they have disagreements, agreed to not compete in tomorrow’s local elections in Cluj/Kolozsvar county and nominated only one common candidate for each place where they run. I guess their FIDESZ attachment won over their local disputes.

I would like to add a not so trivial fact to this topic: the Hungarian government provides relatively substantial financial support to various Hungarian cultural and educational organizations in Romania. It should be obvious that the amounts received by organizations supported by RMDSZ (and not supported ny EMNP and/or MPP) had their support reduced in favor of those supported by the other two.

Koeszmeod
Guest

The Hungarian Government tries to influence the program of the Hungarian State Theatre in Cluj, which is a Romanian state theatre financed by Romanian tax payers. See article in Hungarian, The Hungarians in Transylvania are fed up with Budapest’s behavior .
http://kollokata.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/mar-itt-is/

Member

Orban and his government just do what they do best, dividing Hungarians and tells everyone else to f::ck off. They try to buy political influence from Hungarians taxpayers money. THey are bullies and nothing seems to stop them. Poor Hungariand just cannot see the damage these clowns do for Hungarian reputation.

Member

OT. Sorry it is in Hungarian http://hvg.hu/itthon/20120609_mav_korrupcio_felujitas
How Fidesz spends the money, how it turns the people against the IMF and so forth. I hope Eva will talk about this in one of her upcoming blog entry.
It gets interesting from 14 minutes.

gdfxx
Guest

The little Szekler on the photograph is not perfect: he has no mustache ;-)).

Louis Kovach
Guest

I have several comments here.
1) It is always a mistake to divide the Hungarian parties in the surrounding areas. It woudl be much better for Hungarians to speak with one common voice.
2) I wish the Hungarian governments, churches, civic organizations would give fat least as much financial assitanse as erstwhie Rumania gave to the Transylvanian Rumanians.
3) Just a question. Did or do any of the blog contributors support Csaba Bojtos’ humanitarian efforts in Rumania?

Ovidiu
Guest

@It is always a mistake to divide the Hungarian parties in the surrounding areas

FIDESZ/Kover has very low opinion about RMDSZ :

for instance Kover declared recently while visiting Satu Mare/Sztmar :

“I did not come to Romania to argue with them (ie RMDSZ-leaders). I tell you, they are so insignificant for me that I did not want even to mention their names”

If I understand his charges (there must be a text in Hungarian somewhere if you can find it and check) he implies that they (the RMDSZ leaders) are more Romanian than Hungarian.
It looks as if Kover is a bit psychotic but I guess he is just attacking/insulting in a way which he thinks is very painful.

gdfxx
Guest

Kovach:

“2) I wish the Hungarian governments, churches, civic organizations would give fat least as much financial assitanse as erstwhie Rumania gave to the Transylvanian Rumanians.”

The Romanian government distributes its tax revenues to all regions of the country in the form of entitlements (health care, pensions etc.) and other forms, as required by the laws of Romania. It is not done based on ethnicity of the recipients. The Hungarian government distributes money to Hungarian ethnic organizations that agree with the Hungarian governments opinions. There is no connection whatsoever between the two actions (other than both are about money).

“3) Just a question. Did or do any of the blog contributors support Csaba Bojtos’ humanitarian efforts in Rumania?”

Franciscan monk’s Bojte’s charitable organization has nothing to do with this topic. Anyway, I doubt that he is doing his charitable work based on ethnicity.

Louis Kovach
Guest

gdfx. In the various contributions I was referring to the pre 1914 monies flowing into the Rumanian churches schools and civic organizations from Rumania (ASTR, etc.), versus the current reverse flow from Hungary

Re my question, I was just wondering if the blog contributr are charitabla……without ethnicity!

Ovidiu
Guest

some partial results from the local elections in Romania
–the result of FIDESZ’s “Nyiro-Gambit” :
Szasz Jeno(MPP) lost to Levente Bunta -RMDSZ (the acting mayor, Bunta opposed the Nyiro ceremony)

http://itthon.transindex.ro/?hir=29522

Overall RMDSZ did better than in 2008, it won 200 mayors (184 in 2008).

It seems that RMDSZ won even in places where Hungarians are well under 50% ! (not really an extraordinary thing actually , for instance in Satu Mare/Szatmar the Romanians are 60% while Hungarians are 37% ( ~3% other Ukrainians, Gypsies, Germans, etc.) but since 2004 the mayor has been a Hungarian from RMDSZ (I.Ilyes) and may win again now.

Member

Ovidiu :
some partial results from the local elections in Romania
–the result of FIDESZ’s “Nyiro-Gambit” :
Szasz Jeno(MPP) lost to Levente Bunta -RMDSZ (the acting mayor, Bunta opposed the Nyiro
Overall RMDSZ did better than in 2008, it won 200 mayors (184 in 2008)……..even in places where Hungarians are well under 50% !

I guess the Hungarians across the Romanian border are much smarter than the Hungarians inside the border and were able to see through the BS. Hugarians in much better position across the Atlantic should take notice too.

Kirsten
Guest

I think if it were possible to deduce from the limited susceptibility of (some) Hungarians in Romania and Slovakia to the weird world of OV about what went wrong in Hungary “anyaorszag”, something could be learned. This “psychopath” theory of OV or some psychological factors in Hungarians are not really helpful. So what could explain that Hungarians in Romania in their majority appear to favour a modern outlook? The conflict that is absent in Romania is this “was Kadar = all Communists good or bad” (Ceaucescu was for all practical purposes “bad”), but it is not Trianon or minority policies, or corruption and dubious transactions of politicians. Is there something in the ideas that are communicated between Hungarians in the neighbouring countries that they appear to be more immune against OV? Or is the difference that Romania and Slovakia do in some way protect the rights and freedoms of those Hungarians who have a more modern outlook – against their nationalist fellow citizens and their “seizure” by OV and the Hungarian nationalists…?

Member
Kirsten : This “psychopath” theory of OV or some psychological factors in Hungarians are not really helpful. Obviously there are some other contributing factors, but we are talking about why someone with an alternative agenda gets so much support, and who is the person. History produced some freaks throughout Centuries like Nero, Caligula, Stalin, Hitler. It is not that I compare what they did or fought for with Orban’s fight, but do not forget what were the geographical “boundaries” for those maniacs and what is the same for Orban. Hungary is small potato, and the nations surrounding Hungary are not week or without allies. If we would not have the EU, I am sure Orban would play a much dirtier game. So, yes he is psychopath. Hi is prone to lying, he has his great lack of empathy, his lack of moral is well known, and he is a narcissist. These are all well known signs of a psychopath. So that is that. Those across the border who wanted to get Hungarian citizenship would of voted for him at a heartbeat, and not because they believe in everything he says, but because of their personal interests. Orban says what the… Read more »
Na (formerly An)
Guest
Kirsten : I think if it were possible to deduce from the limited susceptibility of (some) Hungarians in Romania and Slovakia to the weird world of OV about what went wrong in Hungary “anyaorszag”, something could be learned. This “psychopath” theory of OV or some psychological factors in Hungarians are not really helpful. So what could explain that Hungarians in Romania in their majority appear to favour a modern outlook? The conflict that is absent in Romania is this “was Kadar = all Communists good or bad” (Ceaucescu was for all practical purposes “bad”), but it is not Trianon or minority policies, or corruption and dubious transactions of politicians. Is there something in the ideas that are communicated between Hungarians in the neighbouring countries that they appear to be more immune against OV? Or is the difference that Romania and Slovakia do in some way protect the rights and freedoms of those Hungarians who have a more modern outlook – against their nationalist fellow citizens and their “seizure” by OV and the Hungarian nationalists…? Well, the main difference is that they don’t live in Hungary, and hasn’t for almost a hundred years now. That means a different 100 years of… Read more »
Kirsten
Guest

Na, your suggestions are quite convincing. In particular that those who were the most opposed to living “abroad” will have moved to Hungary. I still have hopes that the Hungarians in Romania and Slovakia could be of use for Hungary proper, in exactly the opposite way of what Laszlo Köver may envisage. Currently at least their example shows that one can easily discard the idea of subservience, culturally or otherwise.

Guest

London Calling!

I don’t want to put the cat amongst the pigeons – but are the Hungarians stranded in Trianonland really Hungarians?

Trianon was based on Hungarian-‘SPEAKING’ demographics.

In 1848, for example Romanians and Slavs were effectively forced to learn only Hungarian in school. (When Latin was the official language too?)

It is entirely likely that multi-lingual inhabitants would have felt it necessary to say Hungarian was their first language.

So Hungarian-speaking non-Hungarians! (Who don’t give a hoot about OV and Hungary proper?)

So will we ever know the true picture?

Regards

Charlie

Na (formerly An)
Guest

So, if all these Romanian Hungarians were forcefully Hungarized, why didn’t they just switch back to Romanian identity? Not to mention that Romanians were just as keen on “Romanizing” Hungarians … though later.

By the same logic, only a small percentage of people living in Hungary is really Hungarian (as there was so much mixing with other people even in recent history, with Slavs, Germans)

And what about you own homeland? Who is English, really?

This really does not add anything to the point; let just people define their own ethnic identity. If these people identify themselves as Hungarians, then they are.

An
Guest
“In 1848, for example Romanians and Slavs were effectively forced to learn only Hungarian in school” Sorry, I know we were note exactly nice to the nationalities living in Hungary during the times of Austria-Hungary, but I had to look this one up… especially that compulsory schooling for the public started in 1868… so in 1848, probably a lot of the nationalities (and poor Hungarians) were not even going to school, and those who were, probably were going to church schools. So in 1868, when they made schooling compulsory, there was no restriction as to the language of instruction. Later, the government made attempts to promote the Hungarian language, so in 1879 they made the teaching of Hungarian compulsory in schools (not as the language of instruction, but as a school subject). So minorities could still get schooled in their native language, but they had to learn Hungarian on top of that. Then in 1907 the law became even stricter (creating an outcry among nationalities), having stipulations, such as: “According to Article 18 the language of instruction at the schools of the nationalities would continue to be determined by the organization sponsoring the school, but where there was no school… Read more »
An
Guest

I checked the link…don’t really like it, seems like another Wass Albert crowd…. but I assume they do quote the 1907 law true to the original, as I read similar info on Hungarian sites as well. Just included here because it was in English. Other than the quote, nothing else is from that site.

Guest
London Calling! An(na) – Your homework is very illuminating – and didactic – thank you! I hope I didn’t offend you. But I may have inadvertently set a hare running. The bit you focussed on was preceded by the words: ‘for example’ – and it may not have been a good one. The point I was making is that the Trianon treaty has been analysed against the information available at the time – namely census data which was based on ‘Hungarian-speaking’ self-selecting data series. As you better expressed the point – this is not necessarily an indication of nationality – the true definition is “If these people identify themselves as Hungarians, then they are” – as you say. But of course this is un-measurable. You are also correct in saying that ‘imposed-lingua-franca’ was occurring all around the region and may well have resulted in a zero sum gain – or not. As for the date – I thought that the Romanians had voted ‘reluctantly’ for Hungary rather than Austria in 1848 – and assumed that ‘Hungarianisation’ had started then. Yes education and language teaching was taught mainly by the churches at that time (I read that too somewhere!) – and… Read more »
An
Guest

Charlie, I never liked what OV is doing in terms of the Hungarian minorities; I absolutely hate the idea that they are given the right to vote and that OV is meddling with the affairs of neighboring countries. I hate this renaissance cult of Trianon, and I agree with all of you that the country should just move on.

That said , I have an issue with painting the Hungarians in this 200-300 years of history (since nationalism appeared in Eastern Europe) as the sole bad guys who only got what they deserved. Atrocities, forceful”nationalization” (Hungarianisation, Slovakisation, Romanisation), disrespect of minorities had happened on all sides over the years.

I wish Hungarians, Romanians, Slovaks, etc… could just come together, look at the grievances they hold against each other, apologize and move on.

I know Wikipedia is not the most reliable of sources, but just checking out these entries may give you an idea of the complexity of the issues:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magyarization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanianization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovakization

Guest

This really does not add anything to the point; let just people define their own ethnic identity. If these people identify themselves as Hungarians, then they are.

Guest

London Calling!

An(na) – Yes precisely!

That’s why so few have re-located to Hungary. That’s why no conclusions can be drawn – let Trianon be!

Yes I am English! And would choose nowhere else to live – I enjoy Scotland, Wales and Ireland – even with an Anglo-Saxon/Celt/Pict DNA, I have no urge to live there!

Regards

Charlie

Guest

BTW – I don’t call myself Scottish-English; Welsh-English; or Irish-English either!

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Despite Kövér & Co were campaigning for Fidesz near parties in Transylvania RMDSZ was successful
http://atv.hu/cikk/20120611_szekelyfoldon_tobb_nagyobb_telepulesen_az_rmdsz_jeloltje_nyert

GW
Guest

Maybe the RMDSZ should organize a party in Hungary and compete in the next parliamentary election against Fidesz!

Karl Pfeifer
Guest

Intervention of Fidesz abroad against a party is a sure guarantee for success. This happened in Slovakia and Serbia and now in Romania.

An
Guest
CharlieH : London Calling! An(na) – Your homework is very illuminating – and didactic – thank you! I hope I didn’t offend you. But I may have inadvertently set a hare running. The bit you focussed on was preceded by the words: ‘for example’ – and it may not have been a good one. The point I was making is that the Trianon treaty has been analysed against the information available at the time – namely census data which was based on ‘Hungarian-speaking’ self-selecting data series. As you better expressed the point – this is not necessarily an indication of nationality – the true definition is “If these people identify themselves as Hungarians, then they are” – as you say. But of course this is un-measurable. You are also correct in saying that ‘imposed-lingua-franca’ was occurring all around the region and may well have resulted in a zero sum gain – or not. As for the date – I thought that the Romanians had voted ‘reluctantly’ for Hungary rather than Austria in 1848 – and assumed that ‘Hungarianisation’ had started then. Yes education and language teaching was taught mainly by the churches at that time (I read that too somewhere!)… Read more »
Guest

London Calling!

An! I don’t understand why you have done this?

Is it a mistake? (If it is – then I haven’t cracked the ‘quote’ function either!)

But it appears to have no follow-up (yet!)

My response was too long in the first place! – It’s really troubling to see it taking yet more space.

What is your point please?

Regards

Charlie

An
Guest

Charlie, don’t know what happened here. My reply to this post is posted above (under your original post, under #24). In fact, now that I look at it, my reply is “awaiting moderation” (?), so it probably didn’t post. Don’t know why, I didn’t use any bad language, I can assure you 🙂

An
Guest

Ok, decided to repost:

Charlie, I never liked what OV is doing in terms of the Hungarian minorities; I absolutely hate the idea that they are given the right to vote and that OV is meddling with the affairs of neighboring countries. I hate this renaissance cult of Trianon, and I agree with all of you that the country should just move on.
That said , I have an issue with painting the Hungarians in this 200-300 years of history (since nationalism appeared in Eastern Europe) as the sole bad guys who only got what they deserved. Atrocities, forceful”nationalization” (Hungarianisation, Slovakisation, Romanisation), disrespect of minorities had happened on all sides over the years.
I wish Hungarians, Romanians, Slovaks, etc… could just come together, look at the grievances they hold against each other, apologize and move on.
I know Wikipedia is not the most reliable of sources, but just checking out these entries may give you an idea of the complexity of the issues:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magyarization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romanianization
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slovakization

An
Guest

Hah, tried to repost, but still doesn’t show up (awaiting moderation)… must be some really bad stuff 🙂

Kirsten
Guest

Éva: “I don’t think that a direct connection can be drawn between Magyarization and the poor state of schooling after 1868.”

Perhaps I should have left out this particular sentence. The problem is that the poor schooling in Tiszaeszlár has “only” led to the social problems within Magyars (exclusion of some segments of society, limited size of middle class, dominance of the nobility, franchise), while the poor schooling in areas with a majority of non-Magyar speakers has intensified the national conflict. I even doubt that this type of Magyarisation was done intentionally or was intended in that way by all, equally I do understand why many leading Magyar politicians wished a more linguistically united political nation. But it is a problem if national aspirations, defined linguistically, are overriding for one nation and doubted in the case of the other nationalities. After all, despite a realm of 1000 years, some of the other linguistic groups on Hungarian territory have been around before the Hungarians and then it was not that difficult to apply Hungarian national reasoning also to the other ethnicities. Then such education policies, even if perhaps accidentally, can be interpreted as Magyarisation (and this was also done).

Guest

London Calling!

When I said I didn’t want to set the cat among the pigeons – I think I did just that.

The subject is much broader than I realised and the dialogue has been fascinating.

Thank you Eva – your personal experience throws such a spotlight on the issues – and as an outsider I didn’t realise how short a time lapse this ‘melting pot’ of languages transpired.
If only the censuses had asked the questions you suggest……. (I fear if they are incorporated in any future census it would start a propaganda war!)

And An – I owe it to you to bog up on the links you posted – for a better understanding of the issues. I never thought Hungary was the lone transgressor in the region – but as my focus is on H S I may have an unbalanced view – which I will correct! Thanks for the links.

I respectfully withdraw from the fray – or pick the cat up and have a strong word!
No milk for you tonight, Tumble!

Regards

Charlie