The first two days: Hungarian extremists in the European Parliament

One could continue with yesterday's topic because today Hungarian soccer fans spread the good name of Hungary in Romania! And this group is not associated with Fradi but with Újpest FC. Anyone with a burning desire to know more about Újpest can read about the club at About five hundred members of this illustrious fan club yelled their way to Bucharest where the team was playing against the Romanians. From the railways cars they threw beer cans at people standing at the stations, poured soft drinks on people trying to embark, showed Romanian-language posters that read "Transylvania is ours," and on the top of their lungs screamed "Gypsies, Gypsies" and "Romania is filth." Another group of fans who went by bus ended up in a Romanian hospital rather than at the soccer match. The bus driver fell asleep and had a serious accident.

But I'm moving on to Jobbik's debut in the European Parliament. While foreign papers were full of stories about the Ferencváros-Hertha match, I couldn't find anything in English-language, German, or French papers about the welcome mat laid out for the three Jobbik members of the new European Parliament. Last Saturday at the "reorganization of the Hungarian Guard" Gábor Vona, Krisztina Morvai, Csanád Szegedi and others, including a Protestant minister and a former minister of defense, donned the uniform of the Hungarian Guard to show that they belong to the organization. Szegedi vowed that he would appear in the Guard's uniform on the opening day of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. And he did. Krisztina Morvai and Zoltán Balczó were less daring. They put on a garb known as "bocskai" after István Bocskai (1557-1606), Prince of Transylvania, that became fashionable between the two world wars as a school uniform and in nationalistic middle-class circles. After the change of regime in right-wing circles the "bocskai" once again became a desirable item. Mind you, in the old days there was no female version of the "bocskai" but today there are several tailors specializing in making them. They are sold online at 

Szegedi's guardist uniform caused an outcry. First the Slovaks raised their voices. Juraj Horvath, chairman of the Slovak parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, called Szegedi's outfit "an international scandal." The Hungarian foreign minister, Péter Balázs, wasn't thrilled either. He feared that the very fact that "three representatives of the extreme right are there [in Brussels] is surely injurious to Hungary's reputation and image." Well, he wasn't joking. Krisztina Morvai will be a very active member. She spoke on the very first day. The topic was human rights violations in Iran that immediately reminded her of Hungary. She brought up the "atrocities" of the events surrounding the "celebrations" of the fiftieth anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. We know from past experience that Krisztina Morvai is not exactly a stickler for the truth. So in her speech she claimed that on October 23, 2006, hundreds were arrested  and tortured while in jail. And if that weren't enough, she continued with other so-called atrocities. "In the last three years every time there were demonstrations against the government brutal police aggression occurred. Not in Iran, not in China, not in Honduras, but in a country within the European Union, in Hungary. On the last occasion, 216 peaceful demonstrators were arrested." Just to remind everybody, this was an illegal gathering of the Hungarian Guard that had been dissolved by court order earlier. She asked the help of her colleagues "to put an end to these violations of human rights." If some people thought that Morvai would change tactics in Brussels, they were certainly wrong. She will go on spreading all sorts of lies and misinformation.

After she finished the speech she passed out 100 DVDs to other parliamentary members containing videos of these atrocities. Before the films begin one can read: "The participants of the peaceful, spontaneous sit-in strike are the victims of brutal police attack." Well, we know all about these peaceful demonstrators! Morvai had to make her speech as an "independent" because even the EFD (Europe of Freedom and Democracy) caucus in which the European nationalists gather refused to admit the three Jobbik representatives. EFD is a new group consisting of representatives from Denmark (Dansk Folkeparti), Finland (True Finns), France (Mouvement pour La France), Greece (LAOS), Italy (Lega Nord), Lithuania (Order and Justice), Netherlands (Reformed Political Party), Slovakia (Slovak National Party) and United Kingdom (United Kingdom Independence Party). These parties indicated that they "don't wish to cooperate with fascists": the Hungarian Jobbik, the Greater Romania Paty of Corneliu Vadim Tudor, and the French Front National of Jean-Marie Le Pen.

Meanwhile Martin Schultz, head of the social democratic caucus, reminded the assembled members of a parliamentary rule forbidding wearing military or paramilitary uniforms in the chamber. Schultz said that as a German he was especially sensitive about clothing that reminds him of Nazism and the Holocaust. Csaba Tabajdi, an MSZP member of the European Parliament, also had a few things to say. He explained that the uniform belongs to an organization whose activities have been forbidden by the court. He called Szegedi's wearing of the uniform "an unequivocal and unacceptable provocation." He rightly pointed out that in the last five years all Hungarian members of the European parliament, independently of their party affiliations, have tried their best to be useful members of the EU parliament. "The actions of Jobbik are ruining the good name of our country. Unfortunately this isolated extremist party doesn't only discredit itself but brings shame to Hungary."

I know several people who have been trying to guess what Krisztina Morvai would do in Brussels. Some were sure that she would be quiet and well behaved because "she is smarter than that." Well, I think these people were wrong. And this is just the first day. I hate to think what else is in the offing.


  1. “But I’m moving on to Jobbik’s debut in the European Parliament. While foreign papers were full of stories about the Ferencváros-Hertha match, I couldn’t find anything in English-language, German, or French papers about the welcome mat laid out for the three Jobbik members of the new European Parliament.”
    This would seem largely because they don’t need to. Jobbik’s antics have been very well-covered in western Europe, and they are largely now defined as the most of extreme of extreme parties, largely due to the antics of the Hungarian Guard. This report on the far-right continent-wide after the European elections was broadcast on Channel 4’s main evening news programme in the UK last week. It gives a good idea of how Jobbik is seen:
    The good news is that without a parliamentary group their influence on opportunities to cause trouble in the European Parliament will be limited. The last attempt to create a Europe-wide neo-fascist group foundered after the Romanians walked out when their Italian partners blamed Romanian immigrants for “crime” in Italy. I expect future attempts to be dogged by similar problems – I especially look forward to agreement between Jobbik and the Greater Romanian Party over the future of Transylvania that will be necessary to create such a grouping!
    The bad news though is obvious from the opening of this television report. Hungary can do without a reputation in the rest of the EU as place where right-wing extremists can march around in uniforms with impunity. It is a shame that these “patriots” are not prepared to recognise the damage they do to their own country.

  2. I think this is actually good news. There are a few people (a couple of percent I guess) in Hungary that probably voted for Jobbik in the past election as a pure protest vote (“to hell with all of you political bums”) that are perfectly happy for Jobbik and the MG to prance around Hungary looking like grown ups in a neo-fascist version of Greenwich Village’s (NYC) Halloween party. But when the show is taken on the road, and the result is almost complete ridicule for Hu, they may have second thoughts. Not to mention, this will just be one more way that the wedge will be driven between FIDESZ and JOBBIK. Even guys who are not easily ashamed (e.g., Deutsch, Schimidt Pal and Ader) must have been mortified.

  3. @blogpost
    “If some people thought that [she] would change tactics… … they were certainly wrong. She will go on spreading all sorts of lies and misinformation.”
    Takes one to know one, eh, Eva?
    I was particularly enamoured by the totally irrelevant prefacing remarks about football hooliganism, and then the oh-so-smooth segue, into Jobbik at the EU. Hmmm. I wonder. What impression is the reader supposed to leave with? Regardless of your doe-eyed false protestations of innocence… “Who, me?” The “subtlety” of your techniques, as always, betray you.
    Look, if you’re so miffed with Dr Morvai because your Kádár-Communist perspective will no longer have the international English language monopoly of interpretation on contemporary Hungarian events: just say so. Why attempt to hide it so disingenuously and so clumsily?
    The only things Britons are convinced of chummy, is that Channel 4 news represents the vituperative socio-liberal zenith of the socio-liberal mainstream media. Who wouldn’t know investigative journalism if it came up and slapped them in the chops with a wet haddock.
    I particularly liked the naked attempt to make unfounded comparisons with Nazis and Germany in the narrator’s opening clause, to the backdrop of wobbly out-of-step middle aged tummy-tums. When the fearsome fellow in the near row expressed his para-militarism by checking his watch, I almost fell from my chair.
    And as for western Europe? Don’t make me laugh!
    Do you really think us so ignorant of the abject terror in which the British establishment fears the possibility of open civil war in their diversity paradises of Oldham and Blackburn, and how that consensus permeates the media, and therefore the slant on any European story, with even a scintilla of nationalist association?
    The European liberal left (and their mainstream media stranglehold) are like religiosity when faced with science, in Dawkins’ analogy. Unable to accept the relevance of anyone who doesn’t hold their own views, they remain puddles in the sunshine, growing smaller and smaller, ever convincing themselves that because their Universe is shrinking, their influence is actually growing.
    As if folks, as if.

  4. Thrasymachus: “The European liberal left (and their mainstream media stranglehold)”
    I amused to learn that the “European liberal left” now includes those far right, anti-immigrant parties like the Lega Nord, or the United Kingdom Independence Party that refused to have Jobbik (even Morvai on her own) in their group because they don’t want to have anything to do with “fascists”. The “liberal left” appears to be extending everyday, to include people who are neither “liberal” nor “left”, in inverse proportion to the extent they discover what Jobbik really is!
    I’m not a right-winger by any stretch of the imagination, but I would respectfully suggest to those that are that it is perfectly possible to be nationalist, or conservative, or right-wing, and also be anti-fascist. Because of the Second World War and the destruction it brought there is a broad anti-fascist consensus across Europe (including many nationalists, conservatives, and other right-wingers – and if you don’t believe me, just listen to what a right-wing populist party, like the United Kingdom Independence Party has to say about fascism). And that is not going to change ….
    As for the UK’s “diversity paradises”, as you put, I’d suggest going to one. The only near “civil war” state that exists there is in the minds of the neo-Nazi far right. Don’t believe everything you read on the lunatic fringe of the blogosphere.

  5. I just want to warn everybody who uses this blog for personal attacks instead of intelligent discussion that I will delete all ad hominem messages. As I did already two just today.

  6. My own feeling is that the European Parliament will see the Jobbik MEPs prancing around dressed in whatever as being bit part actors from a ‘Comadie Buffant’ or a Ruritainain comic opera which are still known about in the West (ie Merry Widow and White Horse Inn etc). The may well prove a great joke and only a slight irritation.
    I think that this will annoy the Jobbik MEPs who will then try to disrupt the workings of the parliament and will find themselves suspended as was Dr Ian Paisley (DUP) for complaining that his countries flag (the Union Jack) was being flown upside down which is a sign of distress. I think suspension means no pay and no expenses and no offices.

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