The true colors of Fidesz became obvious this weekend

I’m afraid I’m returning with disappointing news about the Hungarian opposition’s feeble efforts to forge a united front against Fidesz. If this attitude continues, Fidesz’s victory is guaranteed come the spring of 2014. Vera Lánczos, a member of the Galamus group, rightly entitled her essay on the anti-racist demonstration organized by DK  “The final grade is F.”

However, there is at least something that is crystal clear now: the leadership of Fidesz no longer even tries to hide its racism and anti-Semitism. And that’s good in a way because perhaps the true nature of Fidesz will be more discernible to politicians of democratic countries.

I wrote two articles on the subject of a New Year’s Eve brawl in Szigethalom. In the first one I summarized Attila Ara-Kovács’s excellent article entitled “Roma strategy, from Balog to Bayer.” Hungary’s contribution to the European Union was the so-called Roma strategy. Hungary was supposed to be the torch bearer, but not much has been accomplished since the summer of 2011 when the details of the plan were released. The second article dealt with the very close connection between the government and Zsolt Bayer, the author of a despicable article on “a significant portion” of the Gypsy population who are not fit to live and should somehow be eliminated.

At the end of the second post I indicated that within twenty-four hours the Fidesz strategy for handling the case took a 180° turn. Instead of apologizing and promising to be more vigilant, the editor-in-chief and owner of Magyar Hírlap revised his stance and defended the views of Bayer; he asked the paper’s readers to stand by Bayer, Magyar Hírlap, and their government.

While this was going on, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) fined the Magyar Labdarúgó Szövetség (MLSZ) 35,000 Swiss francs as a result of what happened at the Hungarian-Israeli football game in August 2012. In addition, the Hungarian national team that is scheduled to play against Romania will have to play in an empty stadium in March. MLSZ is appealing the ruling. In addition, MLSZ claims that they learned about the decision only from the website of FIFA, while FIFA claims that they sent the information to Budapest in December 2012.

MLSZ considers the punishment unfair. I assume Viktor Orbán must think the same because, when asked what he thought of the ruling, he announced that it is much better if he says nothing. Right-wing papers call the ruling “madness” and naturally blame “certain Jewish organizations” for the severity of the punishment. Another article that appeared in Magyar Hírlap claimed that the ruling has nothing to do with football. It is a political attack against Hungary. In the past anti-Hungarian slogans weren’t punished by FIFA. Moreover, if it were any other country but Israel FIFA wouldn’t have done a thing. In any case,  the Israelis shouldn’t have been allowed into the European League because it was predictable that such incidents would occur time and again.

The rumor is already spreading in right-wing circles in Hungary that the whole incident was a planned provocation. The “fans” who were waving Iranian and Palestinian flags and who turned their backs on the Israeli anthem while yelling at their top of the lungs were “paid extras” hired by Hungary’s enemies, who are traitors.

But, let’s go back to the brawl on New Year’s Eve and Zsolt Bayer and what that has to do with the anti-Semitic behavior on the football field. As it turns out a great deal, because it seems that Fidesz politicians in their effort to defend Zsolt Bayer went a little too far and revealed that they not only agree with Bayer on the Gypsy issue but that they also share Bayer’s anti-Semitism. Or at least they are ready to use anti-Semitic slogans against their political opponents.

How did Viktor Orbán’s party end up in this unenviable position that most likely will result in Fidesz’s being dubbed an openly anti-Semitic party? A young Fidesz politician who was earlier a member of MIÉP became the spokesman of the party on the issue of Roma crime and the Bayer affair. When it became known that DK was organizing a demonstration demanding the expulsion of Bayer from Fidesz, Máté Kocsis, the young Fidesz member of parliament and mayor of District VIII known for his harsh views on the homeless, announced that while  Fidesz understands Bayer’s passion Fidesz politicians object to his style. I guess that means that if Bayer said what he said more politely it would have been all right. In Fidesz’s opinion, as translated by Kocsis, the relationship between Fidesz and Bayer is not really the issue. What is important is that a crime was committed. And, Kocsis added, if the opposition organizes a demonstration against “the reaction to a crime and not the crime itself, they unwittingly stand on the side of criminals and murderers.”

Selmeczi Gabriella, the official spokesman of Fidesz, also had a few harsh things to say about the demonstration. The left encourages criminals because, according to the opposition politicians, the guilty party is not the man who kills but the one who is aroused by the crime. She added that “Hungary had enough of the hate campaign of Ron Werber.”

Well, with Ron Werber we arrive at the link between Fidesz’s racism and its anti-Semitism. Ron Werber is an Israeli who was a political adviser to MSZP in the early years of the new century. Ron Werber became famous in the “campaign business” as Israeli Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin’s campaign manager in 1992. Ten years later the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) contracted Werber and won – reversing an originally losing position. After Werber left, MSZP hired American advisers Tal Silberstein and Jeremy Rosner, whom László Kövér referred to as “Rózenkranc és Szilverstein.” So, whether the advisers come from Israel or the United States Fidesz’s emphasis was on their Jewishness, says Zsófia Miháncsik in today’s Galamus.

And this is the sign that awaited the few hundred demonstrators yesterday afternoon in front of Fidesz’s party headquarters: “Don’t take the side of the murderers, don’t listen to Ron Werber!”

DK demonstration, Fidesz sign

So, the opposition takes the side of murderers and MSZP gets its cues from Israel or from American Jews. I think this is pretty clear.

While Fidesz was playing on the anti-Semitic sentiments of a sizable portion of Hungarian society the minister of defense, Csaba Hende, was giving a speech in the Holocaust Center in Budapest. He emphasized that “one must fight against hate and discrimination.” He even admitted that the Hungarian state didn’t defend its citizens in 1944 and 1945. The usual double-talk, but unfortunately Hende seems to be a welcome guest at the U.S. Embassy in Budapest.

As for the demonstration. After DK announced that it would hold a demonstration in front of Fidesz headquarters, both MSZP and Gordon Bajnai of E14 immediately announced their decision to join it. In the end, however, the leading lights of  MSZP and E14 weren’t present. It was only Solidarity that brought along its activists. The explanations given Sunday night on ATV by András Schiffer, Tibor Szanyi, and Gordon Bajnai were pitiful. I expected nothing from Schiffer, but I’m deeply disappointed in Bajnai. I’m afraid that Péter Juhász’s phantom organization, Milla, is holding him hostage. But I predict that this strategy will backfire. People want unity and hate party squabbles. They have a very bad opinion of parties already, and if they see disunity and petty quarrels they will hate them even more. That doesn’t bode well for active participation in the next elections.

83 comments

  1. Kingfisher :
    Surely, protests against Bayer’s vile article should be organised and conducted by Hungarian civic society, not discredited politicians campaigning for votes. The fact that it wasn’t is rather shameful.

    Yes, for sure. Leave out any politicians discredited by Orban…. bahaha that would live us with Fidesz protesting against itself. It is not going to happen. Orban discredits even his buddies. The only people who he did not discredited so far is an axe murderer.

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  2. Some1 :

    Kingfisher :
    Surely, protests against Bayer’s vile article should be organised and conducted by Hungarian civic society, not discredited politicians campaigning for votes. The fact that it wasn’t is rather shameful.

    Yes, for sure. Leave out any politicians discredited by Orban…. bahaha that would live us with Fidesz protesting against itself. It is not going to happen. Orban discredits even his buddies. The only people who he did not discredited so far is an axe murderer.

    I agree with Some1. Dividing the so-called “civic society” from parties is exactly what Fidesz wants. Anyone who falls for that is helping Viktor Orbán.

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  3. The following, not completely European countries are members of the European Football Federation, UEFA.

    Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, Turkey and Israel.

    Dear @nyaripal, why do you single out Israel?

    By the way, if we stuck to the original definition of the names of the continents, then

    Europe = Greece + Bulgaria
    Asia = Turkey
    Africa = Tunisia

    that would leave 100+ countries without a continent to belong to.

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  4. Meanwhile I watched the video Spectator recommended. The guy’s name is Tamás Pindroch.

    The only thing I can add that Pindroch was more subdued this time than his normal wont. Most likely because it is truly difficult to defend Zsolt Bayer’s article and he knows it. Otherwise, he is a despicable character I have been following for some years.

    I first encountered him in a program on ATV ages ago that turned out to be a flop. They got together four journalists who were supposed to “discuss” political events. The discussion turned out to be a shouting match impossible even to follow. He was one of those representing the right. He hasn’t changed a bit. I don’t remember which paper he worked for at that point. Perhaps Magyar Nemzet. But, after all, Zsolt Bayer also moved on to Magyar Hirlap from Magyar Nemzet. There is no distinct closure between the two publications, let’s face it. One of the regular contributors to Magyar Hírlap is László Bogár–allegedly an economist– who was secretary of state in the first Orbán government!

    Let’s not fool ourselves. Orbán’s ideology is not very far, if at all, from Jobbik and the far right.

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  5. tappanch :
    I have the feeling that this turnaround is a prelude to a Fidesz-Jobbik coalition in 2014.

    This has always been in the cards. Stealthily, Orban has building Jobbik strength by championing some of their policies; and what he allows them to get away–ie. monstrous,
    parliamentary speeches.

    Later, Orban will claim that western (read, ‘jewish’) conspiracies against Hungary have forced
    him to bolster his government by the addition of Jobbik participation.

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  6. Some1 :

    Kingfisher :
    Surely, protests against Bayer’s vile article should be organised and conducted by Hungarian civic society, not discredited politicians campaigning for votes. The fact that it wasn’t is rather shameful.

    Yes, for sure. Leave out any politicians discredited by Orban…. bahaha that would live us with Fidesz protesting against itself. It is not going to happen. Orban discredits even his buddies. The only people who he did not discredited so far is an axe murderer.

    How much does an axe-murderer go for?

    Ask the bankers in Dubai.

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  7. London Calling!

    Paul – you obviously missed – or chose to ignore – the subtly of my ‘Kazakhstan’ post – which Tappanch so perfectly fills out (Thank-you Tappanch).

    And you added ‘Zionism’ too to your comments.

    You don’t get it do you?

    I don’t propose to give a litany of your pops at Israel – however unbalanced – (because that’s how you express them) because – as I said – it is inappropriate here.

    Just consider – that when you do have a ‘pop’ – we are unable to ‘balance’ your statements because we, at least, observe ‘blog etiquette’ on Eva’s blog.

    Some of us feel that you – and more importantly – others – may get the impression that your views (even tacitly) represent the body politic of Hungarian Spectrum.

    Well they don’t. Geddit?

    Regards

    Charlie

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  8. The European Union commissioner for digital agenda Neelie Kroes today:

    “I am horrified by the words of Zsolt Bayer about Hungary’s Roma community (‘animals’ etc.). This is not what I call freedom of speech/media,” she tweeted.
    “If someone calls Roma community ‘not human’ – I’m talking about Zsolt Bayer of Fidesz in Hungary – that is a sign they’re not a worthy ally,” she said in another tweet.
    Last week Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, called Bayer’s remarks unacceptable and said that the European Union has no room for racism, hate speech or any other forms of intolerance.

    “that is a sign they’re not a worthy ally”…they…meaning VO, Fidesz and the other racist himself.

    BTW:

    Next storm is coming…
    “Jobbik’s Volner calls for restrictions on Gypsy births at site of stabbing”
    The international news agencies will combine the 2 stories and more. Making it very clear that VO is an “unworthy ally”.

    AND:

    Email:
    To Prem Radhakishun,
    Blah Blah Blah, insults….
    You liar pig!
    Best regards,
    Zsolt Bayer, columnist,
    Magyar Hírlap, Hungary bayer.zsolt@magyarhirlap.hu
    So here is the emailaddress of him. Feel free to
    mail him.

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  9. nyaripal :

    Karl Pfeifer :
    nyaripal Israel is as far as football is concerned in Europe, because it’s Asian neighbors are not ready to compete with teams of the Jewish state.
    Be it as it be. FIFA was right to punish the Hungarian football association because of the antisemitic riot.

    Football federations are geographically, not politically, based. You could have used the same argument re South Africa a few years ago. That would have been absurd, but it’s the same logic.

    FIFA had the right to put Israel on the European league because the Arab (Westasian) neighbours of Israel would not compete with teams of the Jewish state.
    The other solution would have been to dismiss the Arab countries from competing and let Israel compete against itself. An absurdity.

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  10. Not the storm, but the elections are coming. So expect more stories which fire up supporters.

    Rule number one: fire up and bring your own supporters to the election booths.

    Rule no. two: Do things which are good for your own voters, but which do not alienate undecided voters — these could be things which the other side hates, but it does not matter until your own voters get fired up and the undecided voters don’t care.

    Plus your own supporters may just looove when the other side gets angry. To see liberals angry — priceless. Fidesz and Jobbik are comin’ to getcha.

    (Sarcasm, if it would not be clear).

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  11. While I’m in total agreement with most of the contributors to this blog on Bayer’s article, I don’t think mentioning Ron Werber would be antisemitism. Tyker is right when he writes that his name is synonymous to the 2002 and 2006 MSZP campaigns and I don’t think even the most ardent MSZP supporters could be proud of those.

    Bottom line is, while I think referring to Ron Werber is a populist and cheap move, declaring it anti-semitism just strengthens the popular perception that criticizing people who happen to be jews is by definition anti-semitism.

    I have no idea about the origins of Árpád Habony, but I can totally see a reverse situation when right wing protesters are welcomed with a sign “Don’t listen to Árpád Habony!”. And I wish Fidesz didn’t…

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  12. Karl: “FIFA had the right to put Israel on the European league because the Arab (Westasian) neighbours of Israel would not compete with teams of the Jewish state.
    The other solution would have been to dismiss the Arab countries from competing and let Israel compete against itself. An absurdity.”

    But it’s the same reasoning then! Just because the Arabs doesn’t like them they play with other countries some of which seemingly don’t like them either? (Just a thought experiment, not my standing). Ok, I know that at least in Hungary they don’t have to face suicide bombers so for all practical purposes, it was a wise move. But in principle, the correct move would have been to dismiss the Arab countries and punish them as now they are punishing us. What if e.g. Israel makes it to the World Cup and the Arab teams refuse to play with them? You can’t steer away forever.

    As a sidenote, while I understand the reasons behind the punishment, I think it wouldn’t really hurt the ones responsible. On the contrary, it’ll give them another opportunity to make their paranoidic point and gain support for it (Don’t forget that anti-semitism is by all means more like a religion than a political ideology). The ones that are loosing the most on this are the players themselves who have to fight one of their most critical games without support on the spot.

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  13. On a related note, I just can’t understand why it is so impossible, to confiscate these kind of signs from the “fans”. If you think this is an Israel related problem you are wrong. Football fanatics somehow started to coincide with extremist throughout this region and it’s yet another obvious sign of the dysfunctionality of law enforcement to see all this symbols of hatred in the stadiums. Anybody remembers the Romania-Hungary game when the Romanian ultras had a giant sign saying:

    “How long does a Hungarian mother carry the shit before dumping? 9 months!”

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  14. Paul Wal :
    Zsolt Bayer, columnist,
    Magyar Hírlap, Hungary bayer.zsolt@magyarhirlap.hu
    So here is the emailaddress of him. Feel free to
    mail him.

    I wish that’s all it would take. Bayer’s whole life, and what comes with it, like circe of friends. prestige, career, and money are all tied to one single word “hate”. He is not even close to well-rounded journalist, as he was no-one before bringing attention to himself through hate propaganda. That his living, his bread and butter and the purpose of his life. He is Hungary’s Lindsay Lohan (he is known not for his “art” but for his controversies). Tomi Deutsch is not known for his great politics (mention one thing he has done), but for his potty mouth. There is a long line of mediocre (or below) people who found their living in this new era. Bayer will never give ip, but would get a kick out off all the email he receives, as he got what he wanted, the most read journalist…

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  15. It is difficult for me to understand the calculation of Viktor Orbán. Nevertheless I guess he believes, that by supporting Bayer and his racist rant, he is a) taking away votes from Jobbik b) catering for mainstream racists.
    While I doubt his success as far as a. he is of course right as far as b is concerned.
    Orbán did not learn the lesson of Hungarian history. Those who want to take out the wind of the sails of extreme right are never successful.
    Just yesterday galamus published an article with the facsimile of a “Christian political daily of Györ (1942 04 21). Prime Minister Miklós Kállay said: “Nincsen más végleges megoldás, mint a 800.000 zsidó kitelepitése”. “There is no other
    Final solution than the expulsion of 800.000 Jews”
    Now Kállay was under Hungarian conservatives a “moderate”. Orbán is when compared with Vona also a “moderate”. But in the long run, those who advocate for whatever reason an extremist (final) solution, always strengthen the extremists.
    I do not suggest that Orbán wants the expulsion of the 600000-800000 Roma. I do not suggest that he is a racist. But he is ready to use a racist rabble rouser to maximize votes…
    Orbán does apparently think he can rely on his friends from the European peoples
    Party and has not to worry about public opinion abroad. I guess this is a very short view of things.
    Not only the left and liberal Media is critical of racism. Just a few days ago FAZ published a very critical article on Bayer’s racist rant. FAZ is read by everyone in Germany who counts and it is in Germany where the image of Hungary is going now from bad to worse. So things could change in Germany rapidly.

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  16. http://www.information.dk/447809

    Recent overview in Danish (Google translator does a good job englishing it) by Tamas Gellert, apparently written before the Zsolt Bayer affair. Hungary’s downward slide seems inexorable, and is being driven even more by Fidesz’s (and especially Viktor Orban’s) psychopathic megalomania than by Hungarian culture’s burgeoning visceral bigotry; the former is just capitalizing on the latter. The only hope would be a unified opposition, but Hungarian culture seems so far incapable of mustering even that: The divisive xenophobia — ethnic as well as ideological — seems to be metastasizing at all scales, even within families. (I use the exotic words to hold the ugliness of it all at arm’s length.)

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  17. Jano, it is the Hungarian authorities’ job to supervise the behavior of the fans. As soon as the demonstration began the hooligans should have been removed by the police. This is what FIFA demands and what the Hungarian police doesn’t do.

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  18. Jano :
    While I’m in total agreement with most of the contributors to this blog on Bayer’s article, I don’t think mentioning Ron Werber would be antisemitism. Tyker is right when he writes that his name is synonymous to the 2002 and 2006 MSZP campaigns and I don’t think even the most ardent MSZP supporters could be proud of those.
    Bottom line is, while I think referring to Ron Werber is a populist and cheap move, declaring it anti-semitism just strengthens the popular perception that criticizing people who happen to be jews is by definition anti-semitism.
    I have no idea about the origins of Árpád Habony, but I can totally see a reverse situation when right wing protesters are welcomed with a sign “Don’t listen to Árpád Habony!”. And I wish Fidesz didn’t…

    I agree and I do not agree. I think there is not a coincidence that they brought that particular person into the “line of thought”. It is an association and affiliation game. Just like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are not Jews but I bet you anything if you would do a quick flaw-survey on Blaha Lujza ted, asking people what do you think about he heritage of the two names, 80% would say Jewish, maybe 40% would know that is from a play by Shakespeare. We are talking about the average Hungarian citizens here, those who these bozos are targeting. The more educated ones read between the lines. Eva, myself and others did. It is not a single event, it is not a slip of the tongue. It must be put into context of Hungarian politics.

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  19. Apparently the Dutch website for Prem Radhakishun’s broadcasts has taken notice of Bayer Zsolt and his supporters unique style for tasteful commentary, most of it in something resembling the English language: http://premtime.ntr.nl/2012/03/15/spreekbuis-fascistoide-regering-basht-prem-hongarije/

    Bayer’s comment is the fourth down, and unprintable here, but well worth a read for those who like listening to bullies shouting obscenities in the playground. From his awkward abilities in English it is a good guess he spends a lot of his time trolling around other English language websites leaving comments – we have seen this style before, haven’t we? Bayer comes off not so much a journalist as a party PR troll with a newspaper to play with. And if Bayer was hoping to convince anybody in the Netherlands or anywhere else that he does not represent racist views, well, this selection of responses is one heck of an own-goal!

    In fact, FIDESZ seems to have taken the ethos of the internet troll to its heart with the use of the giant banner announcing “Don’t stand by murderers, don’t listen to Ron Werber”… even the FIDESZ friendly Mandiner blog noticed it: “A Fidesz a fine art of trollin’ mestereként egy molinóval egyszerűen legyilkospártolózta a ránézésre főleg nyugalmazott szakszervezeti titkárokból és háztömbbizalmikból álló 300-400 fős társaságot,..” http://mandiner.blog.hu/2013/01/13/megint_tettek_a_rasszizmus_ellen

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  20. Jano :
    On a related note, I just can’t understand why it is so impossible, to confiscate these kind of signs from the “fans”. If you think this is an Israel related problem you are wrong. Football fanatics somehow started to coincide with extremist throughout this region and it’s yet another obvious sign of the dysfunctionality of law enforcement to see all this symbols of hatred in the stadiums. Anybody remembers the Romania-Hungary game when the Romanian ultras had a giant sign saying:
    “How long does a Hungarian mother carry the shit before dumping? 9 months!”

    Maybe you want to post this on a soccer forum. Hungary cannot be responsible for the Romanian or the English soccer fans, but it is responsible for its own. What you are saying here is the exact thing Fidesz does over and over, “but others do it”, “I seen it before”, etc. Most of those BS are taken out of context of course. You can also file a complaint with FIFA on the Romanian behaviour. Did you? I know for a fact that many people and organizations actually went to FIFA about what happened. THat is that. I am glad that something has been done, and I hope it will star the ball rolling for similar problems in other parts of the world.

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  21. Jano :
    While I’m in total agreement with most of the contributors to this blog on Bayer’s article, I don’t think mentioning Ron Werber would be antisemitism. Tyker is right when he writes that his name is synonymous to the 2002 and 2006 MSZP campaigns and I don’t think even the most ardent MSZP supporters could be proud of those.
    Bottom line is, while I think referring to Ron Werber is a populist and cheap move, declaring it anti-semitism just strengthens the popular perception that criticizing people who happen to be jews is by definition anti-semitism.

    Ron Werber is a consultant of MSZP. He has nothing to do with DK, who organized the demonstration against Bayer & Co. Did Ron Werber call for the demonstration? No, did Ron Werber say anything about subject matter? No.
    So why did they put his name up? How is putting his name up without any logical connection “critizising” him?

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  22. Re: Mr A. Habony, Premier Orban’s chief adviser and confidant.

    I have read, but not seen any proof of it that his father or grandfather was a high-ranking officer in Horthy’s army or gendarmerie (csendőrség).

    Children are not responsible for their father’s deeds, but fathers do influence their children’s thinking.

    See, for instance
    http://nol.hu/archivum/20101009-a_spindoktor_spindoktora

    Does anyone have more info?

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  23. @Karl Pfeifer:

    Not only FAZ but also our local Schwab newspaper had several very critical articles on Orbán and Fidesz lately (I had a link here to one of them) and of course the liberal/left magazines like SPIEGEL have been constantly reminding us that the Hungarian government is not centrist but very right wing!

    Racism that Bayer displays is not liked in Christian Democrat circles either.

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  24. tappanch :

    I have read, but not seen any proof of it that his father or grandfather was a high-ranking officer in Horthy’s army or gendarmerie (csendőrség).
    Children are not responsible for their father’s deeds, but fathers do influence their children’s thinking.

    If we accept that, then we also have to accept attacks on Bauer Tamás (and a great many other SZDSZ liberals) on the same grounds. I suggest we don’t enter that argument.

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