Moderate Fidesz as a bulwark against the Hungarian extreme right?

It was years ago that Viktor Orbán revealed for the first time his vision of what he later labelled illiberal or managed democracy. In those days he called it “the concept of central power.”

On September 5, 2009, in Kötcse, a picturesque village near Lake Balaton where Fidesz holds its annual “civic [polgári] picnic,” Orbán expounded on his theory of one central power that would preclude any strong and meaningful opposition for a long time to come. The idea was to create a political structure in which there was only one strong party that could, without interference from the opposition, run the country. Such a structure could not called be a dictatorship or a one-party system because there would be several parties. The others, however, would be so weak that they couldn’t challenge the leading political party, or if you wish, the central power.

Since then, Viktor Orbán, with the help of the Hungarian voters who handed him practically unlimited power, managed to make his vision a reality. Today Hungary’s political landscape strongly resembles the setup that existed between the two world wars, which may have been the inspiration for Orbán when he came up with the idea of a central power. Throughout the Horthy period the “government party” faced only a handful of parliamentary members who represented the Social Democrats and the liberals. The liberal party existed only in Budapest, where there was a sizable Jewish population (25%). The Social Democratic party’s activities were confined to a few large towns in addition to the capital.

Since 2010 it has been clear to everybody what “central power” meant in Fidesz’s vocabulary, but lately I have been noticing a transformation of the term. I guess “political products”–to use Gábor G. Fodor’s by now infamous phrase–must be adjusted to new circumstances. Although the left is fragmented and seems incapable of gaining ground, the same is not true about the right. Especially in the last three or four months the extreme right-wing Jobbik party has been attracting new supporters. The growth of a neo-Nazi party has frightened not only the Hungarian democratic forces but also the West. It is enough to glance at the major newspapers of Europe and North America to sense the concern over Jobbik’s robustness. Mind you, Fidesz’s reputation has not been soaring either, especially after Viktor Orbán described his ideal of an illiberal state. His friendship with Putin’s Russia further aroused suspicion. And now we come to the metamorphosis of the concept of “central power.”

As I heard from Gergely Gulyás a few days ago, it no longer means what it once did. Now “central power” simply means that Fidesz stands in the middle of the political spectrum, facing opposition from both the extreme left and the extreme right. Fidesz politicians are trying to sell their party as a moderate political formation that can keep Hungary in the democratic camp.

No one is especially worried about the so-called “extreme left,” because the parties that make up the democratic opposition can hardly be described as extreme. Moreover, they have never recovered from their devastating defeat in 2010. The extreme right is a different cup of tea. Both at home and abroad politicians as well as the democratic public are worried about Jobbik.

Under these circumstances it makes eminent sense to transform “the central power” into a bulwark against the extreme right. The message to the European Union and the United States runs along the following lines: “Stop attacking Fidesz and Viktor Orbán because they are the only ones who can save Hungary from Jobbik, which is a racist Nazi party in the true meaning of the word.” This is, of course, a ruse concocted by the Fidesz leadership, which is under considerable political pressure, and not just from Jobbik.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Chairman Vona Gábor of Jobbik

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Chairman Vona Gábor of Jobbik

Already back in 2009, before Viktor Orbán could carry out his plans, I considered both Fidesz and Jobbik to be extreme, anti-democratic parties, the only significant difference being that Jobbik is also racist and anti-Semitic. Between the two parties there is a “continuum.” One doesn’t know where Fidesz ends and Jobbik begins. At a conference held that year I said that “there are just too many signs that the messages of Jobbik and Fidesz are not radically different from one other. It is also becoming increasingly clear that supporters of the two parties overlap. It seems to me that on most fronts Fidesz says the same things as Jobbik but in a slightly more civilized manner.”

The recent development of a significant movement of former Fidesz voters to Jobbik illustrates this point rather eloquently. Polls have confirmed that the second choice of 30% of Fidesz voters would be Jobbik. Fidesz voters don’t consider Jobbik to be an extremist party. Therefore Viktor Orbán himself has never condemned Jobbik. In fact, back in 2003 he “looked upon the [youngsters] with encouraging love.” At that point he wouldn’t have advised them to organize a party, but he admitted that “it is possible that time will prove them right.” Yes, Jobbik began as a youth organization of Fidesz, and ever since on the local level the two parties have worked hand in hand.

Since then Fidesz has moved farther to the right. Expecting Fidesz to combat the extremism of Jobbik is at best a naive idea. There are some people, however, even on the domestic left, who fall for this kind of Fidesz propaganda. Perhaps the best example is Gáspár Miklós Tamás, a political philosopher whose ideological meanderings are hard to follow. He was a liberal, then a conservative, and currently is a Marxist who believes in a Utopian paradise. He got so frightened by the latest Ipsos poll that he wrote the following sentence in a long essay that appeared in today’s HVG: “Jobbik is quietly getting ready. And yes, in comparison to perdition Fidesz is still the lesser evil.” A totally wrong assessment of the situation.

Without Fidesz there would be no Jobbik in its present configuration. Expecting Fidesz to eradicate the noxious ideology of Jobbik and its followers, who freely move back and forth between the two parties, is foolish. If western democracies throw their weight behind Fidesz in the false belief that Fidesz is a moderate party, it is only Viktor Orbán who will emerge victorious from such an alliance. Such a policy would not only strengthen Fidesz but also weaken the democratic opposition. Surely, no one wants to do that. Especially since Jobbik would in the meantime happily cooperate behind the scenes with Fidesz in the Hungarian parliament, just as Professor Kim Scheppele outlined in The New York Times a couple of days ago.

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
petofi
Guest

This is an easy one.
The Fidesz abuse of the 2/3 majority indicates the level of political immaturity of Hungary.
The Constitutional Courts abrogation of its judicial responsibility to protect the constitution
is the sparkling, unarguable proof of the elevation of corruption within the society and the country.

Peter
Guest
To believe that Fidesz can now be a moderate conservative party against Jobbik is totally naive. But, I certainly can believe that westerners would fall for this simple argument because they already did so many times when Orban told them some bullshit. Westerners want to believe in an existing moderate conservative politics and Orban and his well-paid PR people are great at planting easily digestible stories into the ears of superficial Western people. There is no discernible difference between the policy preferences of the two parties. This is why people like Jobbik too, it wants what Fidesz wants (it’s nationalistic, unrelentingly bashing liberals, likes to appropriate the assets of foreigners who of course let themselves ripped off, trying to rewrite history etc.) only it’s still perceived as clean and righteous. One of the reasons why Fidesz doesn’t attack Jobbik (hasn’t ever attacked it) is because it is incapable of attacking its kinfolks. For local Fidesz politicians Jobbik is their natural second home and they don’t want to get into fights with a party which sooner or later might take over their rural district. Fidesz and Jobbik politicians want the same thing, think the same way, fideszniks just can’t be aggressive… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

” I considered both Fidesz and Jobbik to be extreme, anti-democratic parties, the only significant difference being that Jobbik is also racist and anti-Semitic.”

I agree completely, Eva.

Jobbik’s new argument is that they would not be as corrupt and nepotist as Fidesz is. I do not buy this.

Because Fidesz has bulldozed the checks and balances from the system in Hungary, any new ruling party would be corrupt to a great degree.

spectator
Guest

“Jobbik’s new argument is that they would not be as corrupt and nepotist as Fidesz is. I do not buy this.”

I do! Because it could be entirely true!
Just imagine, when they really won’t steal the whole 60 billions, only 59.9!

It still “not as corrupt as”, you see..!

It doesn’t help a bit, though, but they can count on the populace that it will take another eight years to wake up, or when the trumpets call for the Judgement Day.

István
Guest
Eva I respect your perspective when you write “One doesn’t know where Fidesz ends and Jobbik begins” or “It is also becoming increasingly clear that supporters of the two parties overlap. It seems to me that on most fronts Fidesz says the same things as Jobbik but in a slightly more civilized manner.” But let me quote Gabor Vona from a interview: “Americanism for us a deadly virus. It invades our minds, paralyzes our bodies, weakens our immune system, and finally kills us. The sooner we get this virus out of our system the easier the new beginning becomes because we need a new beginning.” See http://www.hungarianambiance.com/2013/02/claudio-mutti-interviews-gabor-vona.html I have read over the last two years many bad things about the United States from various supporters of Fidesz, but nothing to equal the hatred expressed against our country by Vona in that quote Eva. He sounds like an Islamic State terrorist in his hatred for America, our culture, and our values. We are the evil empire from his perspective. I think Eva your larger point about Fidesz playing the lesser evil card is correct. But Orban has never gone so far in his attacks on our country Eva as Vona has,… Read more »
Max
Guest

Zeitgeist in the world and in Hungary increasingly resemble 1938. While the world financial system is temporarily being kept afloat by the criminal fiat money printing zeal of the leading central banks, politics is radicalising and many states are disintegrating all over the world.

While in Hungary we had a senile Governor and marching Nazis in collaboration with Hitler in 1938, these day we have a mentally disintegrating Premier and marching Nazis in collaboration with Putin and his KGB thugs.

Nádas
Guest

Finally, Gáspár Miklós Tamás can be thrown on the scrap heap of history. And to think he was once considered potential prime minister material back in his SzDSz days.

TR
Guest

Istvan, I want to ask you about the deployment of the Hungarian military against the ISIS threat.

It is my understanding that the United States requested a Hungarian contingent to guard camps where Kurdish fighters are being trained for the fight. This request was the subject of great controversy inside Hungary because Fidesz supports honoring this request, while the largest opposition party MSZP opposes it. How should we think about this issue, do you think?

Follow the MSZP party line, or in this case (and just in this case) condemn MSZP for not giving proper thought, consideration and respect to a request coming from the military of the US. I feel MSZP has disrespected us by acting in this way, how do you see this issue?

István
Guest
The U.S. made a broad request to militarily support the array of forces now combating the Islamic State inside of Iraq. Hungary responded with a relatively significant commitment considering the small size of the commitments thus far, unfortunately some in the opposition have belittled that commitment as meaningless. No matter the role Hungarian troops play in Kurdistan they will be at great risk given the IS policy of executing non-believers and so called “crusaders.” As I stated in a post over a week ago I support the commitment Hungary has made and so do the Kurds whose military leadership visited Hungary shortly before the announcement of the troop deployment. As I indicated in that same post the internal reasoning for the deployment on the part of PM Orban is mutifactored, inclusive of MOL oil interests, the support of Hungarian churches for the Christian community in Iraq that has been systematically exterminated by IS, and playing up to NATO given the differences over the Russian threat. The MSZP in this context fails to grasp the global danger IS represents. I don’t disagree with the critique of the left that my country, the USA, totally destabilized Iraq after the 9/11 attacks. That… Read more »
Guest

I don’t believe that “the West” is smitten with Orbán as a defender against the Nazis, at least not the knowledgeable people!
When people in Germany ask me about the political situation in Hungary and I give a few examples of Fidesz’ activities they immediately realise that Fidesz is not a centrist or conservative party in our sense (like the CDU) but a right wing extremist organisation with a mafia structure.
Many of my friends have been to Hungary, a few have bought houses near the Balaton and my sister lived several years in Budapest and has visited me/us often – and they all know what kind of “values” Fidesz really stands for.

And the EU establishment including the big companies don’t care what happens in Hungary as long as Audi, Opel, Mercedes etc get their cheap work force!
Just look at Bangladesh or China – we all buy their products en masse and (almost) nobody really cares for the people there …

Member
” I considered both Fidesz and Jobbik to be extreme, anti-democratic parties, the only significant difference being that Jobbik is also racist and anti-Semitic.” I do not agree wit this statement as it is. I think Fidesz is in fact racist and anti-semitic, but I must add to the list the xenophobe. The only difference is that Fidesz (or mainly Orban) does the anti-this and that for popularity,while Jobbik does this from the core. Jobbik’s program was always about hate, and blaming others for “plight” of Hungarians, while Fidesz added this program to their “agenda”. THe interesting part is Jobbik’s fight against the past communists, and anything that has to do wit the Soviets while they are openly embrace Putin (more so than Orban does, who simply is a prostitute in the game) with its well known KGB past. Take a look on Csurka, who admitted his past with no fall-out. Vona’s fanaticism to some of the players in the middle-East is something that seems to go under the rug, but I call “danger”. THe interesting part about Vona’ past that according to his own accord he is not “clear-blooded” Hungarian but Italian, Slovakian descent, so really he is a… Read more »
gazillion
Guest

We’re very close to the agreement with the EU about Paks 2 — says the Hungarian project chief.

It’s gonna be a piece of cake as with all other EU “threats”…

http://www.napi.hu/magyar_gazdasag/paks_2_nagyon_kozel_vagyunk_a_megallapodashoz.595207.html

Webber
Guest
Don’t hold your breath. If the Hungarian govt. finds a solution for the fuel issue that satisfies the EU, it will next have to convince the Russians that the solution found is not a breach of contract. This is vital because there are hefty fines for breaches built into the contract signed with Moscow – which, although it was made a state secret for 30 years in Hungary was actually published in Moscow, as all contracts voted on by the Duma should be. (Note to Fidesz govt.: Don’t sign any more contracts with foreign powers until you are certain that EU regulations have been met.) Then, of course, there are the other two bits of the contract that might be in violation of EU regulations and that are currently being examined. 1st, that the contract was granted without an open tender; 2nd, that unacceptable state financing might be hidden within the contract. IF, as the Hungarian government insists, this is the greatest deal possible, there shouldn’t be too much trouble – but if that’s true, why have they not proudly published the details? The details published in Moscow suggest it is a lousy contract that enables the Russian partner to… Read more »
Webber
Guest

P.S. Please remind me, when did the EU back down when it told Hungary something needed to be changed? I can’t recall a single case – but perhaps my memory is failing me, so remind me if there was one.
Instead, I remember case after case after case taken before EU courts that the Orban government lost, and law after law after law that the government had to change because of EU decisions.
If it’s only Hungarian government media that you consume, you wouldn’t know about these decisions. They’ve gone against the Hungarian government time and again, and the government has been forced to change laws, regulations and practices.
If you watch Hungarian government media, you’ll just think it’s been victory after victory – but please, name one. I can’t recall any, as I said.

gabi
Guest

To be fair, the EU accepted the media legislation and the constitutional amendments which entrenched Orban (sure the EU has little to no jurisdiction) without much hesitation. Also there were threats about suspending subsidies, never happened.

spectator
Guest

As I gather you may need this link too, along with your cake:

http://www.protivogas.ru

Bon apetit!

buddy
Guest

No more trees will be sacrificed for the rabid right-wing newspaper Helyi Téma, which used to be delivered free to people’s mailboxes and has now gone bankrupt:

http://vs.hu/mind/osszes/tonkrement-a-helyi-tema-0320#!s49

spectator
Guest
Let us not to forget that Orbán didn’t only created the Jobbik, he also successfully demonized the liberal democratic side, so nowadays one must be very brave and open minded to openly support those pariahs who “stole the country”. Remember, even here reverberating sometime the Orbanist terminology, particularly in case of Gyurcsány, since he is the number one “Jack in the” box of the Orbanist dreamland, who still can make the great leader rattled. In my point of view this long lasting effect could be some explanation of the phenomena, that even if people turning away from Fidesz, they still don’t dare to turn toward the liberal democratic side. It has been totally embedded in their mind that they are nothing but homophile criminals, even ateists too, not to mention the ad definition assumption that every liberal automatically Jewish, oh horror! From here on the path clearly goes to the Jobbik, no additive persuasion really necessary. Yeah, and I don’t see that the so called liberal “left” can any way handle the challenge, let alone turn it. It would need enorm communications power to make something about it now, since at the time when it started and could have been… Read more »
latefor
Guest

Would somebody be kind enough to advice me what to do in a case like this. I’m desperate!

I’m totally devastated and beside myself and I don’t even know what to do!
This morning, I happened to look into my recently published paperback: “The Gresham Symphony” and to my surprise, the very first word on the first page was changed by somebody just before publishing! (I wonder what else is done to my book?)
It should read: “Surfers Paradise, Australia, 2013.” now it is: “Surface Paradise, Australia, 2013.” I have many proofs, that I did NOT write “Surface”, please see ‘The Gresham Symphony, Part One” published by Amazon/Kindle, just to name one! If you look into the “Look inside” feature of Part One, it is obvious, that I didn’t write this.
I have to speak to a few people for advice as I’m getting very tired to fight crafty hackers!
— feeling annoyed.

H E L P!

spectator
Guest

What I would do in your case is first of all proofread and correct/edit the actual published e-book – providing you have a copy and you can do that. There is a load of software suitable to use for the purpose, quite a few even free, depending on what OS you’re using.
Then I would notify my contact, publisher, or whoever who actually has anything to with your book being there and send the correct copy.

I know it’s a tedious task, but the only way to ensure you’ll get what you want at the end.
Good luck!

Latefor
Guest

Thank you “spectator” for your kind reply. I was going to do exactly what you suggested, but I don’t want to let this hacker off the hook this time. I will leave it as is, before I’ll get this investigated once and for all. I have enough proof of this ongoing nightmare (in 3 x copies, one never knows.)

Latefor
Guest

Dearest Eva, I promise you I’ll not write about this anymore, but our search of hacker extraordinaire is narrowing down. In Australia, Eastern European migrant women used to be laughed at when asked about their holiday destination because of their difficulty of pronouncing “surfers”. They used to say the following when asked where they’ll be spending their holidays: (Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast) I’m going to S U R FA CE (slowly dragged out)! My pet hacker could have a knowledge of this. 🙂 BINGO, this is a great start!

wpDiscuz