The right-wing media on the parliamentary debate on Hungary in Strasbourg

While the opposition papers published scores of articles before and after the European parliamentary discussion in Strasbourg, government organs have been fairly quiet. Of those few articles that did appear in Magyar Nemzet and Magyar Hírlap some were simply personal attacks on European parliamentary members who are in one way or the other connected with the Hungarian case.

Way ahead of the parliamentary debate Magyar Nemzet made certain that its readers know who that horrible Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, is. Where he came from and how he got the top EP job. The article was written by János Boros, a professor of philosophy who made a rather unsavory name for himself as one of the henchmen of the Orbán government involved in the attack against liberal philosophers back in 2011. I wrote about him and the Institute of Philosophy of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences at that time. His new mission was to explain to those unsuspecting Hungarians who don’t read Der Spiegel or any other foreign newspaper that Schulz is a truly despicable character.

A while back Der Spiegel had a spread on the career of  Schulz–from a troubled youth to one of the best known figures in European politics. But while Der Spiegel talked about the road he traveled in admiring terms, Boros finished his article this way: “His first girlfriend, who left him because he was in a drunken stupor too often, today is proud of him. Schulz is also proud of himself. But whom should Europe be proud of? And the European Hungary?” Although the article is not at all original because Boros only quotes a sentence here and a sentence there from Der Spiegel, his choices were intended to show Schulz in the worst possible light.

T. Gyula Máté of Magyar Hírlap wrote an even more tasteless piece on Hannes Swoboda, the leader of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, whom he called “the lapdog of Reding.” He imagined a breakfast meeting with the Hungarian socialist MP Zita Gurmai–Genosse Zita, as Máté called her–who naturally misinforms Swoboda about the Hungarian situation. As if Swoboda needed a lot of outside information. He is an Austrian who is connected to Hungary by family ties. His mother’s family is from Miskolc and he visits Hungary quite often. In any case, according to Máté, Swoboda’s argumentation during the debate clearly showed that Reding’s strategy of courting the socialists and liberals to bolster her candidacy for the presidency of the European Commission is bearing fruit. I might add that Máté misspelled the name of Swoboda as well as Luxembourg throughout.

Only Hungary has gripes against Viviane Reding? Europe's bulldog / Heti Válasz, April 11, 2013

Only Hungary has gripes against Viviane Reding?
Europe’s bulldog / Heti Válasz, April 11, 2013

Well, if Swoboda is a lapdog, Reding is a bulldog. At least according to Heti Válasz, a pro-government weekly. A bulldog is considered to be stubbornly persistent. But it seems that Reding is more than that. She is also a schemer, at least according to Magyar Nemzet, who most likely passed on the “lie” about the dissatisfaction of the European People’s Party with Viktor Orbán to Új Magyar Szó, a Hungarian-language paper from Cluj/Kolozsvár. She decided to pick a journalist from a Hungarian paper in Romania to spread the news worldwide!

Another Magyar Nemzet article appeared today under the headline “The left uses the methods of the communist secret police.” This piece of nonsense came from Ágnes Hankiss, a Fidesz member of the European Parliament. In her opinion the very fact that the debate on the “Hungarian question” took place in Strasbourg signifies that the 2014 European parliamentary campaign has already begun. At the center of the campaign is “the weakening of the EPP and the Christian Democratic parties.”  She also immediately addressed a letter to Viviane Reding asking her opinion on the Slovak government’s prohibition of dual citizenship for its Slovak-Hungarian minority. Surely, this is an attempt to prove Reding’s partiality.

I might also mention here that during the parliamentary debate only a Pole from the PiS of Jarosław Kaczyński and Krisztina Morvai of Jobbik defended the Hungarian government. Morvai’s speech is available on YouTube. Judging from the comments, it seems that only Jobbik members and sympathizers have visited the site. Morvai, just like her close friends in Fidesz, lobbed personal attacks on Viviane Reding and Rui Tavares, the chairman of  a parliamentary committee (LIBE) that is in charge of preparing the working documents on the Hungarian case for consideration by the whole parliament.

She declared that since neither Reding nor Tavares has a law degree neither of them is qualified for the job. Moreover, the whole procedure against Hungary is unlawful and “explicitly arbitrary.” It is part of the “European Union’s war against Hungary.”

This is how the Orbán government, its media, and their Jobbik friends are casting the European Union debate. Surely, if they were so confident that their legislative actions would pass scrutiny they wouldn’t have to resort to character assassination. But we shouldn’t be surprised. This is exactly what Fidesz politicians have been doing for almost twenty years. They have plenty of practice.

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This is so disgusting. What other country does this against the group that has taken it in and doles out huge developmental funds yearly? I can’t imagine
a more distasteful situation. It’s as if this ‘barn-cleaner’ brings his uncivilized, Felcsutian manners
to an elegant gathering. And we, the citizens, must
stomach his representation of us and our country.
It really is too sick for words.

And, thank heaven for videotape because these lapdogs like Morvai, Szajer, Szijarto, Matolcsy and the rest should be forced to watch their slobbering
selves for years on end after they’re booted out of power.


petofi:And, thank heaven for videotape because these lapdogs like Morvai, Szajer, Szijarto, Matolcsy and the rest should be forced to watch their slobbering
selves for years on end after they’re booted out of power.

That is exactly it, These lapdogs think and will probably be in power for many years to come. Why? Because most Hungarians do not have internet and/or understand a second language.


The Fidesz PR goons are thick enough to believe that anything they write or broadcast in Hungarian will not find its way to its targets in Brussels. It also can’t help their case that much amongst civilised Europeans to have one of their far-right apologists standing up for them but internally? Articles and speeches are written by Fidesz-fascist zombies for the sole purpose to be read and watched by Fidesz-fascist zombies, so I am not sure that this kind of offensive nonsense is that important in the bigger picture; it doesn’t change one voter’s mind one way or the other.


“The left uses the methods of the communist secret police.” This piece of nonsense came from Ágnes Hankiss, a Fidesz member of the European Parliament.

MEP Ágnes Hankiss must know what she is talking about as both of her parents (Erdős Péter and Köves Erzsébet) had served at the communist secret police.

London Calling! As you sow – so shall you reap. With the Hungarian media so stitched up, it was indeed a smart move to talk to a “..Hungarian-language paper from Cluj/Kolozsvár…..” – if indeed she did. It would have been (was?) buried by Orban’s media goons and would never have seen the light of day. Well done Viviane! You have an assured and tested route for future publication of information that bypasses MTI. Propaganda-proof. (I’m sure they will be so objective too, those Hungarians in Romania!) I too had a suspicion, like many here Max, that the Fidesz MEP would have a special insight into how the “The left uses the methods of the communist secret police.” I am also surprised that they are vilifying Martin Schulz – I thought, up to now, that he was kindly disposed to Hungary. All this seems to be leading up to a crescendo. I think everyone is positioning themselves for when the punishment-sanctions finally come crashing down on Orban. If they are too politically unacceptable for Fideszians then they will take their ball away and play somewhere else. Possibly to preserve the election victory. If the money dries up – what’s the point… Read more »

btw – to add to this ‘Hungarian witches brew’ are the media concerns of Neelie Kroes – KlubRadio was only a ‘fraction’ of her concerns about the Hungarian media.

Or are the press preparing a special ‘ambush’ for her later?

J Grant

I agree. Having to resort to character assassination is a sign of weakness, nothing else. Unfortunately, most of the time, Hungarian political discourse seems to consist of personalities, not of ideas. I often wondered why? It is probably part of the general dumbing down of the political debate, or is it that most of them in politics do not have one intelligent idea in their heads. I lived in the UK for decades and the one thing I miss now in my retirement is intelligent debate. I can’t even talk to most of my friends without running the risk of either upsetting someone, losing a friend or two or the whole tone deteriorating into personal insults. Just as it is in parliament, in the papers and most other places. Oh, how I miss a good ding-dong in the pub, followed by a “let’s agree to disagree”, if I didn’t manage to convince anyone. Civilised or what?

J Grant, very simple. Voters can relate to people, to individuals, because they live among other people. Most people just can’t get a handle on abstract ideas, often they don’t even know what they mean (even if they hear concepts over and over agan, like democracy, they would be hard pressed to say even a couple of clear sentences what it means). Ideas are just too abstract. Hungarians tend to get offended very easily and take everything personal. There is no such thing as a professional or impersonal debate. Conversly, Fidesz knows that exactly these personal attacks would hurt a Hungarian person the most, get him/her the most upset, which Fidesz, always the bully, loves the most; so that is how their media works, even if Reding probably could not care less. Fidesz’s approach is that you don’t have to be a politician. But if you enter politics you assume the risk that Fidesz will get you character-assassinated. They have the media, the determinaton, the strategy and they execute. They take no prisoners. Media is their domain, you enter it at your peril (of course Reding could not care less about Heti Válasz, but local right-wing voters are made sure… Read more »

I just wanted to say that the Heti Valasz cover with Reding’s face is very prominent on advertising boards around Budapest. So even if you don’t read this magazine, you’re still left with the EU bogeyman (or woman) scowling down from you all over the city.

The new government propaganda (Hungary is doing better!) is also everywhere right now. Good to know they have money for this.

And Kossuth Ter too. Cycled past it yesterday, and it’s all closed off for renovation. 70 trees were cut down today, I read. The money’s obviously flowing.

Lastly, the extreme-right ‘Step on the gas!’ motorbike parade in defiance of the holocaust is actually going ahead this weekend. Different name, but exactly the same people and same agenda. I hope Orban feels proud of his trickery. He intervenes to ‘ban’ the event, and can claim from here on that he personally stopped an anti-semetic parade, but it actually goes ahead anyway, on a different day, slighty under the radar. Bravo, prime minister!

Joe Simon

FIDESZ reaction to criticism is often immature. They really need a better PR. How would the US Republican party react to foreign criticism? They are the laughing stock of the world, yet not much investigative journalism by the CNN. So FIDESZ, learn from the GOP!!! Just ignore criticism, donot stoop to reply.

Well, what is allowed to Jupiter is not allowed to the little ox. (Amit szabad Jupiternek, nem szabad a kisökörnek). I mean the US, China etc. can get away with a lot — well, in fact Hungary can get away with a lot too. Anyway, the US, China will not be cricitied, Hungary will be. Heti Válasz is not just a mouthpiece of Fidesz, tailored for the moderate (that is right, for moderate) conservatives. (The hard core Fidesz voters have Demokrata. Jobbik’s weekly Barikád is even further to the right than Demokrata). But more importantly Heti Válasz’ cover page is printed every week all over Budapest, courtesy of Fidesz-archoligarch Lajos Simicska, who owns the outdoor ad surfaces which and thus provides such surface cheaply to his pals at HV (well, Simicska owns HV). So really Heti Válasz’ cover page is rather a free Fidesz advertisement, the topic of which changes every week. Again, Fidesz is an extremely strategic and smart user of media — they own every segment of it and control the rest in one way or another. Note also that in Barcs (upcoming by elections) the MSZP candidate resigned (Bajnai, DK, LMP did not even have a candidate,… Read more »
Joe Simon : FIDESZ reaction to criticism is often immature. They really need a better PR. How would the US Republican party react to foreign criticism? They are the laughing stock of the world, yet not much investigative journalism by the CNN. So FIDESZ, learn from the GOP!!! Just ignore criticism, donot stoop to reply. Western minds seem to miss the unique, childish nature of the average Hungarian mindset. Fidesz PR perfectly fits these ‘child-like’ minds. The Hungarian culture has been permeated with the idea of subjection–to the government; the church; and other power centers. This is begun in schools were independent, logical, thought is not promoted: memorization is paramount. Hence, the habit of ‘taking in’ and ‘following orders’ is begun at a very early age. With this kind of simplistic background, the people are easily confused. Perforce, they can only assimilate one point of view…therefore the connection to the heroic past; and the similarly useful, and very important, role of the Catholic Church–“we alone tell you the truth…Don’t believe in foreigners who, largely, are jews connected to banks and multinationals and trying to deprive you of what’s yours’. Once the folk cast their fate, they’re captive. And so it… Read more »
Paul Wal

His government, he said, was ready to exempt European elections from the rule on campaign advertising.

??? EU elections only?


On the other hand, it is another reminder that MSZP is just toast in the country, without which they cannot win. End of story.

I don’t think that’s the only reason the regime cant be taken down through traditional means but I am interested to hear what you think the next step should be for democrats in Hungary? Stating the problem and presenting the depths to which the nation has sunk is actually quite easy but, really, what next?


All the trees of Kossuth square were cut down today at dawn.
The square will be renamed “Square of the Nation”.

Fidesz cut down 200 trees from the square.
The guys in yellow jackets were ordered there to keep out demonstrations.

The official Fidesz aim is to revert the square to its state in 1944. That year is Fidesz’s favorite.

Szajer was very proud in the EU parliament two days ago that the Orban government had banned an anti-Semitic march on April 21. He took full credit for it. Orban & Szajer seems to have lied about this too – it will be permitted after all.

@Paut Wal
EU elections only.

So I fully expect early Hungarian elections without any chance for the opposition to advertise in commercial media.

I am not sure that at this moment power in Hungary could be taken by “democratic” (as defined by the laws made entirely by Fidesz) means. This impossibility is a significant portion the fault of the opposition, no question about that. MSZP and Bajnai seem comically incapable of presenting enthusiasm, passion, leadership, charisma or vision. Having said that, obviously in the Orbán-system (as this is nothing less than a system, like Kádár’s socialism) everything works against new players. In fact, there is not one single element or condition which would not directly favour Fidesz. Unfortunately in “developing countries” it is rare that there are many sets of people capable of taking over and keeping (at least for one full cycle) power. (Like the Republicans and the Democrats or the German CDU-Social Democrats both can fill government positions – admittedly, they only have to govern, while a new Hungarian government will have the unenviable task of trying to dismantle the Orbán-system, which is not just a legal, but also a sociological phenomenon, entrenching itself by the day). Fidesz obvioulsy has one such set of extremely loyal and politically/legally savvy set of agressive, focused and ruthless leaders. Do we have another set… Read more »
d d d

Petofi: “Western Minds…”
After filling up the ranks with liars, the Hungarian leadership has lost all decency.
The lies of jobbik and fidesz leaders casued an epedemy.


“This is exactly what Fidesz politicians have been doing for almost twenty years. They have plenty of practice.”

And it invariably works.

The left has no answer to this sort of thing. And that’s not unique to Hungary, we had almost the same situation under Thatcher – clever, simplistic, propaganda, that the left just didn’t know how to counter.

The Devil has all the best tunes.


Very interesting comments from Hetman and Kamillka. In particular about the impact of personal insults. The limited attractiveness of Bajnai etc. for me makes it even more important that those people who feel uncomfortable in Fidesztan and who already feel the painful consequences of the ‘revolution’ get involved in public matters. The alternative politicians still need to be ‘recruted’, and the alternative to Fidesz needs a broad basis. That is why also small involvement is very useful – with the express understanding that it is political business, on whatever level. The pressure from outside is of course helpful but the basis are Hungarians who want to live good lives in Hungary and have good relations with the other European countries.


Nation polarized, frightened, weakened.
Bike riders, football hooligans.
The return to law is a long road.
Ordinary people must read the history in the times of Deak.
He fought for the freedom of press, religion.
So much has been lost. The slow nation building will have to be repeated.
Save ourselves from orban/vona/morvay.