Hungarian media and the public attuned to politics have been unable to recover from the shock of a by-election in Ásotthalom, a larger village near Szeged, close to the Serbian border. László Toroczkai, an infamous neo-Nazi who has been banned from Slovakia, Romania, and Serbia because of his openly irredentist views and illegal activities, became the new mayor of the borough. How could this have happened?
“Political scientists” offered some highly unlikely explanations for this outrage, but these people rarely move from their desks in Budapest and therefore have no first-hand knowledge of local politics and the politicians who more often than not influence the outcome of these elections. Moreover, they rarely bother to delve into the background of events they try to analyze. I who couldn’t just drive down to Ásotthalom had to gather information from at least two dozen sources before I had a fair idea of what was really going in that village.
Two of these political scientists, Gábor Filippov of Magyar Progresszív Intézet (which is becoming less and less progressive) and Zoltán Ceglédi of Republikon Intézet, blamed the democratic opposition for not coming up with a candidate of their own and thus letting Toroczkai be the sole challenger of Ferenc Petró, the former mayor who was just ousted by four of the six members of the council. Let me add that Ferenc Petró has been the mayor of Ásotthalom for sixteen years. Earlier he ran as an independent although the locals knew that he was a Fidesz man. In 2010 Petró decided that there was no longer any reason to hide behind the “independent” label and ran officially as the candidate of Fidesz.
As for blaming the democratic parties (MSZP, Együtt14 and DK) for Toroczkai’s victory, that is total nonsense. The inhabitants of Ásotthalom are known to be super loyal Fidesz voters. At the 2010 national election Fidesz-KDNP received 1,261 votes while MSZP got a mere 205. And yes, there were 164 Jobbik voters. Not an overwhelming number. Petró, the mayor ever since 1998, always won handily. He never had less than 55% of the votes, and there was at least one year when he received 70% of the votes. I would like to see a candidate of the left challenge this Fidesz mayor, however unpopular he is at the moment.
So, what happened? Ásotthalom’s budget shrank due to the policies of the Orbán government and the mayor of the village had to introduce austerity measures. Half of the staff of town hall was let go. Petró was heard making critical remarks about the government’s policies concerning municipalities and had conflicts with the district’s Fidesz member of parliament. According to some sources, Fidesz no longer supported Petró and perhaps even encouraged the four disaffected members of the council to dissolve it and force a by-election. Rumor has it that they had their eye on one of the Fidesz members of the council who in the last minute decided to drop out of the race. That left the door open to our neo-Nazi Toroczkai who moved into the village just this summer. He won with 71.5% of the votes. Mind you, only 37.4% of the voters bothered to go to the polls.
I wrote several times about this young man. He was involved in so many far-right, neo-Nazi organizations that I’m sure one could spend days listing them all. Looking through the laundry list, I’m convinced that in a western country this man would already be sitting in jail instead of running for office.
Toroczkai was born with the pedestrian name of László Tóth, but surely such a great Hungarian patriot cannot be called Mr. Slovak. (Tót means Slovak in Hungarian.) He picked the name Toroczkai, allegedly because his ancestors came from the town of Torockó/Râmetea, naturally in Romania. After all, someone who established the Hatvannégy Vármegye Ifjúsági Mozgalom (HIVM/Youth Movement of the Sixty-four Counties), a reference to Greater Hungary’s counties, must find his origins somewhere outside of the Trianon borders.
As a high school student Toroczkai had a lucrative business smuggling alcohol and cigarettes from Subotica in Serbia to Szeged where he lived. He began his political career in 1998 at the age of twenty as a candidate of MIÉP. In the same year he became parliamentary reporter for István Csurka’s anti-Semitic Magyar Fórum. On the side, he organized a paramilitary organization called Special Unit of the Sons of the Crown, and a couple of years later in 2001 he set up HVIM, which became one of the most important organizations on the far right. He became known nationally when he led the mob from Kossuth Square to the building of MTV in September 2006. The crowd he led stormed, burned, and eventually occupied the building. During the siege 190 policemen were wounded, some of them seriously. The damage to the building was considerable, costing millions to repair. There were two attempts to charge him for his role in the attack, but both times he was acquitted. Nothing happened to him even when he threatened to murder Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány.
After Fidesz won the election Toroczkai kept a low profile. And once in Ásotthalom he took on a whole new persona. He frequents the local Catholic Church. The parish priest, who didn’t like the former mayor because he didn’t let the public workers cut the grass of his parish, supported him. Toroczkai is married by now to a Romanian woman from Moldavia and the two have a child. The inhabitants of the village consider him a devoted and caring father. He also seems to have business interests in and around the village where a number of his voters managed to get jobs. In brief, he is popular, especially since he assured the people of Ásotthalom that there will be no austerity program and he himself will work for minimum wage. Moreover, according to a reporter of Népszabadság from Szeged who visited the village, it is almost certain that the majority of the voters have no idea of Toroczkai’s neo-Nazi career and his anti-Gypsy, anti-Jewish, anti-gay and anti-lesbian past and most likely present. The few videos I saw of him showed a young, thoughtful, soft-spoken man who takes his job seriously.
What will happen now? The town hall of Ásotthalom was in a great hurry to make sure that the borough’s website was immediately updated. Toroczkai’s name is already there for everybody to see. Toroczkai has no administrative experience, and the same is true about the new members of the council. Also, one doesn’t know what Toroczkai’s real plans are over and above those soothing words about the great future Ásotthalom will have under his leadership. At one point he wanted to create “a parallel state” in Hungary. I wonder whether it is his secret plan to set up one in Ásotthalom.
His great grandfather Gustav Tutsek was an infamous judge at several post-1956 trials, while his grandfather Toth was a csendőr in the Horthy era – at least this is the info I found in the Hungarian edition of wikipedia.
He is also a representative of Jobbik in county Csongrad.
Fideszization on the march:
Orban gov’t nationalized the credit unions (except one belonging to a friend of Orban’s) in August 2013. They just announced a March 30, 2014 deadline for the privatization.
They want to own this cash cow before the April 6 election, in case they lose.
Apparently the beating the Serbian secret police gave László Toroczkai in May 2008 was insufficient to keep the good fascist down. It may be that those that turned out to elect Toroczkai in Ásotthalom voted far more for his positions on the Serbian control over towns like Palics than on the internal reality of austerity in Ásotthalom. Toroczkai will ultimately impose austerity too, all be it in the name of national unity and preparation for war for those enemies enslaving Hungarians across the Tisza. Yes there is nothing like a good and glorious losing battle against the Serbs to take our minds off the szar vagyunk.
If the outrage over austerity was so great why was the turn out in the election only 37.4%. I think the Jobbik and 64 Counties Youth Movement turned out their supporters based on Toroczkai’s anti-Serbian and greater Hungarian politics. It is a sign of the times and the fight has been taken out of the liberals, socialists, who are not even turning out to vote, few though they may be in Csongrád county. This may be a harbinger of what is to come this spring. Maybe the EU will fix everything with a resolution or possibly the US State Department will issue a critical statement – yes that will work.
@Istvan, about your question about the low turnout. The fellow who apparently had Fidesz’s support and who withdrew in the last minute claims that his supporters were disappointed and didn’t go to vote. Maybe, maybe not.
Toroczkai is simply a warning sign. People all over Hungary are fed up and many places it is inconceivable that they vote for the left. (Of course the right wing voters are always more closed against the political left than the other way round.) So Jobbik is a natural option for them. But it is not just the protest, however, that too, but also Jobbik’s ideology is absolutely in line with what these people naturally want. That left does not even see the issue, but practically it abandoned the rural people, it simply don’t speak the same language as these rural people, not that Jobbik would not have a lot of urban voters. Expect Jobbik to gain significantly in 2014, especially in rural places where Jobbik has a very strong grass-roots network and the left has zero traction.
(I guess there will be a blame game about who was responsible for the 2014 gain in the votes for the far-right, but that will not interest the actual voters, they will happily vote for Jobbik.)
This one is an interesting Phd, probably the conclusions are enough (in Hungarian, though).
Click to access paksyzoltanphd.pdf
“Maybe the EU will fix everything with a resolution or possibly the US State Department will issue a critical statement – yes that will work.”
Depressingly to the point.
OT: Paks II. Lázár and his cronies want to make damn sure that the thing is built — without any public calculation/debate about the costs, the necessity of it, environmental consequences and the like.
Of course, there will be a fair tender, it will be even international, anyone can participate, may the best offer win…Right.
First I have to say that I admire Eva – she gets so much relevant info from far away while here you just read that the new mayor is a Jobbik – not much background on him and his sordid past. Of course the reason for this might be that Fidesz doesn’t want people to remember what really happened in 2006 – their propaganda says only that the MSZP government did something horrible …
This phenomenon of disappointed people voting locally for radicals is nothing new however – it even happened a few years ago in the (usually very liberal) city of Hamburg!
And low voter turnout also is common – I was astonished to read that just a few weeks ago in the USA voter turnout for the election of mayors in some big cities was only around 25 %.
So one shouldn’t make too much out of this “non-event” – let’s wait for the big thing next April. Though I’m afraid that Fidesz will surely win the elections (with a large majority), how large the majority will be and how the other parties will fare is the point to watch and analyse.
Quite a career? This is nothing compared to the story of some European politicians. Just think of Joschka Fischer who started his adult life cheerfully beating up policemen and socialising with terrorists, and went on to become Germany’s foreign minister.
“Don’t cry for Hungary’s forex borrowers”
The CHF denominated loans resulted in cheaper installments from 2006 to 2010 than HUF loans, they are equal now.
“Borrowers in Swiss francs and euros are universally better off. Yet the government has been helping out those holding foreign exchange loans – the ones who took a gamble on the exchange rate, rather than the ones who stuck with the forint. Its borrower relief scheme – which bails in the banks who made the loans – was further extended to holders of foreign exchange mortgages in excess of Ft20m (where it had previously been capped) on November 5.”
Golden words about the Orban government that are generally true:
“the government seems more interested in making itself popular than in the long-term economic implications and fairness.”
Ft account: firstname.lastname@example.org/password
Issues with this analyst are, the cheap money encouraged people to take more money than they should have. The banks hedged all of the mortgages so the loss is covered by that. By dragging things out they are in this case sending signals that it is ok to skip a payment or two. You can’t complain if people pick up on that.
OT and days old, Malta enters the passport for sale scheme. Price is ~870,000USD. Expected market is about 25/year. Question is, how long before others follow and will Germany, France and the uk go along.
Quite interesting, that nobody seem to care of the real problem, what – in my opinion – is the devaluation of the HUF since the “talented boys of the Fidesz” managed to bring it down and keep it that way. Icing on the cake the miserable employment situation and the shameless taxation and the other similar revenue enhancements just to name a few.
The original sin isn’t borrowing, but trusting in your government, while they robbing every assets from you as long there is something to take – and then you are the only one to blame.
“You worth as much as you own.” – as we learned from comrade Lázár, so keep yourself to the rule, stop complaining and vote for them again… they haven’t finished you yet…
Though it certainly does reflect a certain truth about the man, the photo in this very interesting piece is not of Toroczkai.
New poll results, source: hvg.hu
Democratic opposition, including LMP: 22%
no answer: 45%
among the “active uncertain voters”
58% do not like the direction of the country,
26% are satisfied with it.
Democratic opposition, including LMP 24%
no answer 29%
I think the two polls contradict each other (this is not a strict mathematical statement)
Median categorized 16% additional uncertain voters,
giving 11% to Fidesz, 3% to Jobbik and only 2% to the democratic opposition.
This is in sharp contrast with Ipsos’s findings that the majority of the uncertain voters
do not like the Orban government.
Core voters, 2.5 million:
Fidesz 1.2 million
Jobbik 0.3 million
Democratic opposition 1.0 million
let me add and estimate:
5.5 million (including 0.5 million in Western Europe, who practically cannot vote??)
ethnic Hungarian “new” voters, mainly from Romania and Serbia
0.4 million ?? (85% Fidesz, 15% Jobbik ???)
[the registration counter is almost at 0.1 million now]
Violence, violence, violence.
The neonacis empower their members to hate, to loot, to kill.
These mini tyrants rise from regular small rightwing meetings.
They manage to recruit many absolute idiots, to come to their party discussions.
After a few weeks, a few sandwiches, the new recruits will be brainwashed.
All in the spirit of love.
They march with the great leaders, the put on the current relevant Garda vest and cap, and like virus spread in the neighborhoods.
They can swing elections.
As said, the desktop politilogues will never discover the process.
Tappanch: I find Median’s numbers more plausible. It polls 10% Jobbik vs. 24% the entire non-right wing opposition. I think this is plausible, Jobbik may be even stronger i my view. Jobbik is extremely strong in places where Fidesz ruled in 2010: rural areas and even in Western-Hungary where it previously was not so popular.
I also think Szondas’s figure according to which only twice as many people say that things don’t go well than say they do go well is plausible. Note that just for pensioners (perhaps as many as 1/3 of the electorate) things do go well, in fact for them it could not go any better (pensions increased, the utility rates went down and the news say all is well in Hungary why would not they be happy?). Those outside of Hungary and probably unhappy with the government, that is the 500k and counting will not vote, this is probably a better deal than the votes of the Transylvanians and Serbians (the latter is an effort).
The best outcome can be if MSZP/Együtt/DK together get 1/3 of all Parliament places (and LMP perhaps get another 3-4 spots at max.).
Obviously some from the lefty coalition will help Fidesz/Jobbik to take decisions with 2/3s from time to time, after all MSZP/Együtt are both a wuss, they will want to show that they work for the country and will want to act bipartizan. So expect no firm resistance from them. And of course by that time the Fidesz government by decree will be a possibility too, so no problems. Fidesz’ Hungary will be built further and entrenched further.
re Turkey. Turkey’s demographic is important, most of the people are now solidly conservative and will never vote any secular party. As a result the Atatürk secular majority and power base with the army gradually disappeared, so the ‘liberals’ (seculars) are condemned to an eternal minority position which in the Turkish or in the Hungarian systems has no value whatsoever, it’s role is to play the bogeyman and the punching bag.
In Hungary, under the current system, the Western-leaning, modernizing electorate (15-35% at best) cannot gain a majority (cannot get the necessary votes from the rest to go over about 42-45%). There is no such outcome. We will comment on the decline for years to come (as the decline will continue), even if the opposition was smarter and more visionary. But the electorate will be united only under ever more extremist and authoritarian politicians.
I have waited for the word: disgusting.
Petofi was not here. The rest of the readers need to firm up their moral outlook.
I have to inject my own utter disgust regarding this violent guy.
Father/grandfather left a corrupting foundation, and in their footsteps, the son/grandson really managed to fool a whole sleepy Hungarian village, called Asotthalom.
Waiting for the open revolt against this deceitful election victory.
The guy in the picture is not Toroczkai.
(Not that there is a big difference in behavior.)
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