Fidesz and Zsolt Bayer: A close connection

I’m afraid I will have to return to Zsolt Bayer’s unspeakable article in Magyar Hírlap because since its appearance on January 5 a lot has happened.

In most civilized countries the editor-in-chief of a paper wouldn’t have allowed that incendiary piece to appear in print in the first place. But if the editor-in-chief made a mistake and published it, he would at the very first possible opportunity have apologized and distanced the paper from the author’s hate speech. Moreover, in a civilized country Bayer, the senior editor of the paper, would most likely have been summarily fired.

Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. Zsolt Bayer was given an opportunity to explain his first article “Who shouldn’t exist!” He offered up “Truly, what should be done?” In it, Bayer explained that naturally he could have written the original piece in a civilized manner but he chose this offensive style because he wanted to wake society up to the grave problem facing Hungary. He doesn’t want to kill anyone; he just wants “order.”  Finally, he brought up some poetic images including a Gyula Illyés line that he mistakenly attributed to Mihály Babits.

On the same day as Bayer’s explanation Gábor Széles, the owner of Magyar Hírlap, and István Stefka, the editor-in-chief, published a “Declaration.” It was a typical Hungarian right-wing rant that started with Ferenc Gyurcsány’s despicable treatment of Magyar Hírlap in 2009. It reminded its readers that after another horrendous article appeared in the paper the prime minister called on government offices not to subscribe to the paper. Thus, claims the “Declaration,” Gyurcsány violated the sacred principle of freedom of expression. It is no secret, the “Declaration” continues, that with its attack on Magyar Hírlap the opposition wants to break up the unity of the Right.

At the end, however, they apologized for any unintended affront and promised not to publish anything that might give rise to hate on either the left or the right.

Well, one could say that although the owner and the editor-in-chief didn’t admit that Bayer’s piece went beyond what can be considered legitimate freedom of expression and actually can be construed as an incitement against an ethnic group which is a crime in Hungary, at least they admitted that the article rightly caused consternation.

It would have been wise if Magyar Hírlap had stopped right there. The incident had already caused an upheaval in Hungary and abroad. Since Zsolt Bayer is one of the original founders of Fidesz and a personal friend of Viktor Orbán, it might have been a good idea to drop the whole topic as soon as possible and hope that the incident would be forgotten. But no, this is not how things work in Hungary.

By this morning the management of the paper decided to retract their semi-apology and stand by their man. Not only that, but for good measure they even dragged Fidesz and the government into this sordid business.

The original “Declaration” was taken off the paper’s website and instead a new “Declaration” was published. The tone of this new one is not at all conciliatory. On the contrary, it is wildly belligerent. The headline reads: “Answers to the Attacks.” The new version repeats the cardinal sin of Gyurcsány in 2009 when apparently friends of Magyar Hírlap demonstrated on Kossuth Square for their favorite paper which “in the last six years has supported democracy, freedom, and independence.”

The article by Zsolt Bayer is not the real question, Széles and Stefka claim.  The real problem is the left-liberal damage that has been inflicted on the country (országrontás) that led to the current conditions. Murderers and beastly, cruel criminals pillage in many parts of the country, but the liberal elite wants to cover up these crimes. What the liberals are doing is a form of connivance which, in their opinion, is worse than the original crime itself. Some members of the opposition consider anti-Semitism and racism the real problem in the country while they don’t allow the authorities to clamp down on the crimes of Gypsies. Magyar Hírlap‘s stand is that “There is no forgiveness for murderers. Even less for those who shield them. Magyar Hírlap rejects the latest witch hunt of the post-communists and at the same time asks the readers and supporters of the newspaper to stand by our senior editor, our paper and our national government working on our behalf.

What happened between yesterday and today? One explanation for this change of heart came this afternoon from György Balavány. I don’t think that I’ve mentioned his name before. He is a right-wing newspaperman who worked for Magyar Nemzet for ten years. But a few months ago he left the paper and since then has become a critic of the Orbán government. He seems to me somebody who likes to be in opposition. Magyar Nemzet was fine as long as it was an opposition paper but when it became a “government paper” Balavány had difficulty adjusting to the new situation. Now he writes for and has a blog,

Old friends: Zsolt Bayer and Viktor Orbán having fun

Old friends: Zsolt Bayer and Viktor Orbán having fun

Balavány told the following story on his blog this afternoon. Zsolt Bayer used to work for Magyar Nemzet (2002-2007) before he became senior editor of Magyar Hírlap.  According to Balavány, Bayer was not liked at the paper and his colleagues considered him “the man of the Party.” After Bayer left for Magyar Hírlap in 2007, as a result of some administrative mix-up Balavány inherited Bayer’s telephone number. One day a voice on the other end said: “Hi, listen, here is something, write about it, may I tell you about it now?” At this point Balavány introduced himself and asked with whom he was speaking. It was Gábor Kubatov. At this point Kubatov laughed and asked for Bayer’s telephone number.

Balavány closes his post this way: “Yes, we knew that he is a Proud Member of the Party but we didn’t know that he works under such direct orders. Zsolt is not a simple national-conservative reporter who criticizes left-liberal politics and politicians. Zsolt is the Voice of the Party. That is the case. So, we know that we cannot expect any distancing here on the part of Fidesz and the government.”

I suspect that Balavány is correct. Fidesz decided that there will be no retreat here. No apologies. It might even be possible that the original order came from Fidesz to write something on the latest brawl involving Gypsies but somehow the final product was a little too rough around the edges. Now somewhere on the highest level of Fidesz the decision was made not to bend but to stand by the spirit of Bayer’s original article. I suspect that Fidesz is in this shameful affair up to its collective neck. (If guilt can be collective, perhaps a metaphorical neck can be as well.)


  1. tappanch :
    Dear Eva,
    re: szia
    in singular:
    servus humillimus> szervusz, szerbusz > szevasz > sziasz > szia
    in plural:
    szervusztok > szevasztok > sziasztok
    It is just an (almost) coincidence with the English see ya

    I agree with Tappanch. I remember, “szia” had been used more than 50 years ago.
    Such accidental coincidences between words in languages are quite frequent.
    Sometimes they serve as the base of “close Hungarian – Sumer relationship”.

    Here is an interesting analysis of the transition of szervusz to szia from Wikipedia.

    A szerbusz népies változata, amely a v hang b-re változásával alakult ki.
    Eredetüket tekintve idetartoznak a főképpen a fiatalok nyelvhasználatában jelentkező szia [1952], sziasz [1964], szió, szióka [1985] tegező köszönések is, melyek játszi szóalkotással keletkeztek. A korábbi generációk vezették be a több személy üdvözlésére szolgáló többes számú köszönésformát: szervusz – szervusztok, ill. szevasz – szevasztok. A kövekező generáció ezt a megkülönböztetést általánossá tette, majd szóhatár-eltolódással: szevasz-tok → szeva-sztok a -sztok lett a többes számú üdvözlési forma: szia-sztok, heló-sztok, cső-sztök stb.

    Alternatively, one has to ask Ádám Nádasdy, professor of linguistics and specialist of continuosly dveloping Hungarian language.

  2. London Calling!

    Dénes – Thanks for your elucidation – but can you imagine the confusion that Google Translate gets itself into here – let alone the confusion for a non-Hungarian speaker!

    It entirely confuses ‘Hellos’ with ‘Goodbyes’ – I think!

    Good try though!



  3. Re “szia.” I’m surprised about the date 1952 as the beginning of the use of “szia.” I heard it first in Austria in late 1956. But maybe I was utterly out of it.

  4. I was confused myself when I spent a copuple of years in the USA, I tended to think that Hungarian speakers mistakenly copied a fashionable English way of saying good bye.
    Hungarian did not make any difference between hello and good bye at least in colloquial language.
    However, there is a new trend what people use lately for good by: its practically a mirror translation of English have nice day, evening, etc. (További szép napot!)
    I have to apologize to English speakers for not translating Hungarian Wikipedia article (of course, there does not exist an English version) the debate seems to be overwhelmingly academic compared to the original topic, anyway. (Fidesz and Bayer Zsolt).

  5. MagyarHírlap journalist Zsolt Bayer”…great, include accomplices (Fidesz, VO) please.

    Zsolt Bayer :”Whoever runs over a Gypsy child is acting correctly if he gives no thought to stopping and steps hard on the accelerator.”

    Der Spiegel:

    ‘The Party Speaks with Two Tongues’

    Nevertheless, critics doubt that Fidesz — and Prime Minister Orbán, in particular — will distance themselves from right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and antiziganism, a term denoting racism toward the Sinti and Roma.

    Kristián Ungváry, a historian who has just published a 700-page book on the interwar years of the right-wing extremist Horthy regime, describes the party’s policies as a “sham.”

    “The party speaks with two tongues,” Ungváry says. “On the one hand, one distances oneself from right-wing extremism in order to maintain a good reputation abroad and because one notes that the political damage would be too severe. On the other hand, Fidesz pays tribute to anti-Semitic writers of the interwar period, such as Albert Wass and József Nyírö, or expresses right-wing extremist positions in regime-friendly newspapers.”

    “that the political damage would be too severe”….which this regime will notice the coming weaks.

    So I am very happy also with the double talk about Minister
    Navracsics condemning Bayer in the English version of the governments
    website and nothing even mentioned in the Hungarian version.

  6. Eva S. Balogh :

    Lecso :
    Does anyone know if there are any links, connections between a Bayer and Jobbik?

    Well, yes and no. His good friend, András Bencsik, is officially a Fidesz member or supporter but he and his wife were heavily involved with the Hungarian Guard. I think the wife came up with their uniform. Bencsik was also one of the organizers of Peace March. Magyar Hirlap in ideological terms is very close to Jobbik although on paper it is supposedly supporting Fidesz.

    Thank you, I also searched for a bit and found this, Bayer’s letter to Vona.!news/i_kommentar_24/i_bayer_zsolt_levele_vona_gabornak_23097/t_Bayer%20Zsolt%20levele%20Vona%20G%C3%A1bornak/

    It gives you an idea of how really deranged this man is, the worst possible kind of Fidesz supporter, like Leto from

  7. New antisemitic libel in Magyar Hirlap, where Orban’s friend, Mr Bayer spreads his racist thoughts too. (Thanks to jotunder in vincent).

    In an article,
    they quote a certain Isaac Rothschild.

    As jotunder points out there was no Isaac in the Rothschild family at the end of 19th century, and the cynical quote

    “The few who can understand the system, will either be so interested in its profits, or so dependent on its favors, that there will be no opposition from that class, while on the other hand, the great body of the people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantages that capital derives from the system, will bear its burdens without complaint, and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests.”

    comes from a Jehovah’s witness text, and let me add that a Mr Sherman says this sentence there, not Mr Rothschild.

    at p 173.

    Of course, the readers of Magyar Hirlap do not know about this falsification and are convinced that they were given another proof of the evilness of Jews.

  8. Paul Wal :

    So I am very happy also with the double talk about Minister
    Navracsics condemning Bayer in the English version of the governments
    website and nothing even mentioned in the Hungarian version.

    Incredible but unfortunately true. Hungarian journalists should make something out of this.

  9. @ tappanch. Good research. When will we be able again to comment on such things and say: “incredible!” ?

  10. @Lecso:

    Thanks for your valuable insights and (a bit OT):

    When I saw your first comment signed with that name for a moment I thought: O no – leto (aka Orbán’s rabid kutya – that’s how I address this creature) is back …

    He’s my “favourite loonie” on – at first he tried to be reasonable but at the first discussion about “fags” he showed his true colours, so I was very glad that you weren’t him!

    Now back to reality:

    The aforementioned “Doublespeak” by Orbán and his minions is really worrying in a way – how do they get away with it ?

    Like trying to like the EU and the IMF and having those adverts in Hungary ” we will not be a colony” ?
    Or dismissing “fags” and welcoming an LGBT congress at the same time (only in English, of course) ?

    And their preoccupation with “Christian family values” ? Which Christians you might also ask – because not all churches are equal in Orbanistan …

    One could probably make a much longer list of that …

  11. “I am very happy also with the double talk about Minister
    Navracsics condemning Bayer in the English version of the governments
    website and nothing even mentioned in the Hungarian version.”

    That is just so incredible…
    Not the translators getting carried away, I presume.

    Charlie, I’m glad you are calm! 🙂

  12. Well, well…
    As you may have heard, a few hundred people demonstrated yesterday against Bayer and how the ruling party and it’s leadership reactions – or the lack of it, thereof – front of the Fidesz building, where the following banner greeted them:

    “Don’t stand by the killers!
    Don’t listen to Ron Werber!”

    (Ne álljatok a gyilkosok pártjára!
    Ne hallgassatok Ron Werberre!)

    The intention of the extremely ‘creative’ message is quite clear: as they happened to have that big piece of empty cloth, just as well send two messages at the same time, against two distinct target group, while implicating their political adversaries as well.
    Great idea, really.

    Not to mention the fact, that by doing it, they managed to explicitly define themselves as racists and anti-Semites at once, loud and clear.

    Thanks for the invaluable information, chaps, got the message!

    As much as I know, the demonstrators expressed that they siding with the Roma population – even by wearing “I am Roma too” signs, – but the Fidesz-banner didn’t called for “don’t stand by the Roma”, no, they said “killers”…!
    So, those, who supporting the Roma, supporting the killers, because – according to the Fidesz – they are the SAME, ergo, every Roma is a killer – I’ve failed to find any other explanation.

    The second line just as explicit: “Don’t listen to Ron Werber!”
    Ron Werber is a well known campaign-strategist, who according to news going to work again with MSZP in the coming campaign. (
    More about him:

    So, its clear, that since Mr.Werber is from Israel, only he was able to persuade the demonstrators to express their support for the Roma, isn’t he, so they shouldn’t listen to him, it isn’t something, what a real Hungarian supposed to do.. No!

    What a pity, though, that Mr.Werber working with MSZP, and the demonstration was – as it has been published too – organized and held by DK, oh, well. I am splitting hairs here, am I not..?

    Or it just doesn’t matter, as long as there is a chance that there will be some ‘pure blooded Aryan brother’ who’s got the message too, and decide, that voting to the Fidesz just as (far)’right’ thing to do as it was with Jobbik..?

    – But there is nothing, what would be against the law in this either, as we know, thanks God…

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