Not much of any political relevance happens over weekends in general but on a long weekend, as Easter is in Hungary, politics takes a real holiday. Today’s highlight was the resurrection of Hungarian football and the “great game” at Felcsút, with 4,500 fans in attendance. Ferenc Puskás Academy went up against Real Madrid’s football academy; both teams were made up of seventeen-year-olds. The final score was Real Madrid 1, Puskás Academy 0. At least it wasn’t a rout. Earlier Real Madrid beat Melbourne 10-1.
I’m taking advantage of the holiday to take a historical trip back to Hungary in the 1930s. Not that these were happier times. On the contrary, then just as now the Hungarian extreme right made considerable gains. One often hears from Horthy apologists that the governor and his conservative governments were just as hard on the extreme right as they were on the extreme left, i.e. the communists. This wasn’t the case. Politicians of the Horthy era were much more zealous when it came to the few hundred illegal communist party members than they were with representatives of the extreme right. Horthy and his friends had a blind spot when it came to the extreme right even though by all measures they were the ones who posed a much greater threat to the regime than the weak and ineffectual communists did. Yet men like Mátyás Rákosi or Zoltán Vas received very long prison sentences while extremists on the right were rarely jailed. The longest sentence ever handed down for a right-wing extremist was three years, in the case of Ferenc Szálasi. Zoltán Vas, on the other hand, spent sixteen years in the infamous jail of Szeged.
Why did the interwar regime wage a half-hearted battle against the extreme right? Certainly not because government politicians found their racist ideas abhorrent. After all, more often than not they shared these people’s anti-Semitism. They found nothing wrong with nationalism; on the contrary, they pursued an openly revisionist foreign policy. What they found unacceptable was the socialism in “national socialism.” Official Hungary considered these men “revolutionaries” who wanted to turn the existing order upside down. Mátyás Matolcsy, a talented economist of extreme right views who died in jail after the war, didn’t mince words: “we must give up the idea of the sanctity of private property,” and “everybody can dispose of their property only so long as it does not infringe upon the universal interest of the nation.” The Arrow Cross party program called for the introduction of the Soviet system of a centrally organized planned economy. Their program also included total state control of the banking system. While Matolcsy wanted to expropriate only Jewish property, the Arrow Cross party was more “egalitarian.” They would have taken away, for example, all agricultural lands from large landowners, including lands owned by the Hungarian Catholic Church. In 1938 the Arrow Cross party published a pamphlet on the fundamental principles and beliefs of the movement, which was intended to serve the needs of the swelling numbers of followers. In it the author explained that the party wants to exchange the liberal capitalist regime for a “collective economy.” So, it’s no wonder that contemporaries labeled the Arrow Cross leaders Bolshevik revolutionaries who presented a danger to the existing order.
Krisztián Ungváry in his latest book, A Horthy-rendszer mérlege: Diszkrimináció, szociálpolitika és antiszemitizmus (The Balance Sheet of the Horthy Regime: Discrimination, Social Policy and Anti-Semitism in Hungary), quotes from a speech by the legitimist (opposition) Hugó Payr who visited a slum area full of unemployed workers. One of them said to him, “Sir, we are all Bolsheviks here.” When Payr inquired whether they were followers of the Arrow Cross movement, the answer was in the affirmative. Payr warned his fellow members of parliament that the middle classes who had been stirred up to embrace anti-Semitic passions didn’t realize that they were in fact helping to establish a new proletarian dictatorship. He invited them to accompany him to working class neighborhoods where “people already talk about which apartments they will requisition or rob.”
I think that while we are grappling with the growing influence of the neo-Nazis in today’s Hungary we should keep in mind what transpired in Hungary in the 1930s. There the result of the economic crisis was not the growth of the Hungarian Social Democratic Party but the incredible spread of the ideas of national socialism’s local version, the Hungarism of Ferenc Szálasi.
One has to assume that Viktor Orbán is unhappy about the growth of Jobbik because it may become a threat to his own party’s position, as was already seen at the election. If he has any sense, he will turn his attention to the poorest segments of Hungarian society and offer them tangible economic incentives. Until now he competed with Jobbik in the domain of nationalistic humbug, but surely that will not be enough.
The socialists have also neglected the poor and frustrated masses, whose numbers are growing. People talk about four million people under or very close to the poverty line. If one of the two major parties doesn’t take the initiative, Jobbik may triumph.
Moreover, until now the socialists and liberals refused to engage in a dialogue with Jobbik. After all, they are a racist and neo-Nazi group with whom the “better half” of society should refuse to conduct business. But this also meant that there was no public forum in which the ill-conceived ideas of Jobbik politicians could be confronted.
The socialists must pay more attention to Hungary’s poor as well as to the Hungarian extreme right. Those who voted for Jobbik must be convinced that Jobbik’s remedies are no remedies at all. On the contrary, they would mean a total collapse of the Hungarian economy and society. But at the same time the socialists have to offer about half of the citizenry a way out of their present misery.
The sad part of your entry Eva is that Orban / Fidesz maybe now will take notice because of the possibility of loosing seats for Jobbik. Yes, it will translate to more attention given to the neglected part of society, bit it will not be form the conviction of helping or of justice. It will come from a very selfish place of hanging on to power in order of economical and mental gain. Do not forget that Fidesz’s mantra was expressed by Janos Lazar (who’s carrier just rose after he said it), who was also the mayor of a town can be heard telling the city council in 2008 that “those people who don’t achieve anything through their life are worth just that much [nothing].”
Well, since then he worth a way more thanks to Fidesz and the Hungarian taxpayers.
Why the socialists? Another racist anti-Semite group, exactly like Fidesz. Who voted for closing the wells in Ozd? Who posted gypsy comments on Egyenlito blog ? Who had anti-semite comments on Braun and Konrad? Never again socialists, fidesz or Jobbik, the same anti-semite racist crowd
The whole country is, fundamentally, anti-semitic. For a long time, it was closet anti-semitism but Orban has given the signs that it’s fine to display it openly.
When you’re out to ruin a country you pick a few victims with which to distract the masses.
So it is. When the country will have imploded, the people will claim: “The bloody jews have done this to us!”
Hungarians–the sad sacks of the 21st century.
Creme de la creme:
Not surprisingly chief prosecutor Polt sits almost closest to Orban (but below him) at the opening ceremony of the Felcsút Pancho Arena.
Just so people get the message: the prosecution is owned by Orban.
It seems that son-in-law is not too interested in the game. Neither is Deutsch. Polt’s presence in this crew is especially interesting.
@Petofi – “The whole country is, fundamentally, anti-semitic. For a long time, it was closet anti-semitism but Orban has given the signs that it’s fine to display it openly.”
I can see you are getting busy recruiting! Your comments are truly stomach turning!
(I’m glad you are smiling….job well done!)
Hungary needs a HERO to stop this vindictive name calling on both sides before she ends up with an English speaking, psychologically disturbed and therefore destroyed young generation.
LOVE before HATE!
Wake up Hungary!
@latefor, don’t be mad at @petofi. S/he’s calling it like s/he sees it (I don’t know if the writer using that name is male or female, sorry!). “Faith and optimism can be forms of denial that only prolong our suffering.” (from the summary of a recent NYT op-ed.. here’s the link: http://nyti.ms/1hXP0NU ) .. @petofi is just trying to be realistic.. and using history as a guide.
Sorry if the comments are ‘stomach turning’, but the reality is a lot worse, I maintain.
Hungary does not need a hero: Hungary needs a return to real values, but for that to happen, the values have to be appreciated as leading to advancement, rather than the present case were lying, cheating, and sycophancy is what gets one ahead. The problem is deep and systemic. Cultural values have got to be brought in line with traditional virtues.
‘Holding up the mirror to Nature’….and the people get mad at what they see!
@karmester – ” “Faith and optimism can be forms of denial that only prolong our suffering.” (from the summary of a recent NYT op-ed.. here’s the link: http://nyti.ms/1hXP0NU ) .. @petofi is just trying to be realistic.. and using history as a guide.”
Thanks for the N.Y. Times link. I’m NOT an admirer of Nietzsche, I’m a Roman Catholic and Nietzsche hated God and Christianity.
Re: Simon Critchley – In his last sentence, he writes the following: “Often, by clinging to hope, we make the suffering worse”. I disagree with his statement as I believe in hope, that is hoping for something better, not worse. If you are hoping for something really bad to happen, yes, you can make your own suffering worse.
@Petofi – “Hungary does not need a hero: Hungary needs a return to real values, but for that to happen, the values have to be appreciated as leading to advancement, rather than the present case were lying, cheating, and sycophancy is what gets one ahead. The problem is deep and systemic. Cultural values have got to be brought in line with traditional virtues.”
May I ask dear Petofi: how is the return to cultural values will take place in your opinion? Do you believe that name calling on both sides will lead to enlightenment? It will create even more resentment and hate on both sides. And where do you think this will lead to? Civil war, maybe?
Whatever you say, I still believe in love and rainbows.
Well, you now have a country in line with Bulgaria and Russia…where the mafia has taken over the government. How do you correct that? Damned if I know…
Hungary stood as an icon of decency during the mid to late 19th century. Maybe it was WWI that threw the country off course? There are good values in Hungary, even among casual Fidesz and Jobbik supporters.
As far as I can tell, the best way to fight Fidesz is to let them destroy themselves. Any long-standing government will eventually annoy the public, and we shouldn’t get in their way. We need to build up our side, regardless of what Fidesz does. We need to make our side intellectually deep, and fun at the same time.
@Gardonista – Hm…interesting concept.
OT: a more relevant subject for investigation on contemporary HU affairs could be the hapless leader of MSzP. An influential left-wing weekly has reported over the weekend that he is on the paylist of Fidesz.
The allegation is not far-fetched. And that would indeed explain the impotence and inaction of the Socialist party leader.
This was written about by tappanch two days ago. Most of this is probably BS.
More probable is that the party is really indebted, although why would any sane bank give unsecured credit to a party, I am assuming that the party does not have any significant assets. If that is true, and it has not been denied, then there is no way to pay back any loans and the party will be liquidated. The problem of the left-wing will solve itself.
The former Supreme Court, renamed Kuria ordered a full recount of Budapest 15th election district today.
The Fidesz-dominated Election commission had allowed a recount in 2 out of the 76 precincts only.
Fidesz margin is 56 votes, and there are 394 invalidated votes in the district.
Fun fact of the day:
The picture shows from right to left Bence György (news director at TV2), Zsofia Puka (publicist for Antal Rogan) and Fanni Kaminsky (publicist for Viktor Orban).
Another fun fact:
Remember that TV2, which has been ‘purchased’ recently by its CEO and CFO (for the uninitiated who act as strohmanns for Lajos Simicska/Zsolt Nyerges), is known to be more Fidesz-loyal than the official state tv, unlikely that statement is.
But interestingly Bence György is also the son of sometime MSZPnik Gabor György, who, besides having been once MSZP’s delegate in the board of directors of the state radio was also the CEO of Slager Radio and its point man in its efforts to secure the frequencies with MSZP. He did not succeed, as the desired frequency eventually went to Neo Radio which duly went bust a couple of years later and Slager Radio just lost its arbitration case against Hungary.
@Major Tom, I am not sure what are you getting a. It is probably me, but I really do not understand the “fun fact”.
The blog writer is deserving a major price.
She has been a visionary, and her description of the 1930s is a revelation of the social illnesses of Hungary.
Gardonista/Raul is correct that the decency of the Deak-Szechenyi et co. was a an exceptional positivum in the Hungarian history. This inspirational group resurrected the dying nation for a short time. The dying started soon after again.
Fidesz is an embodiment of the dead Hungarian moral.
More EU money will be skimmed by Fidesz “businessmen”. The aim is improve water quality.
It will improve the quality of life of a few people close to Fidesz, all right:
It is only 140 billion forints.
Announcement by the US embassy in Budapest about the German occupation memorial, which will be placed close to the embassy building:
In short, the Hungarian government should talk to the various layers of the society before proceeding with the memorial.
Petrovics writes: “The whole country is, fundamentally, anti-semitic. For a long time, it was closet anti-semitism but Orban has given the signs that it’s fine to display it openly.”
Hmm, from 2012 to 2013 tourism from Israel to Hungary increased by 60 %.
I think it is important to point out that we are talking about 455,980,000 euros of Europen Union money.
AS you can recall Orban / Fidesz / COF from taxpayers money lobbied and protested against the European Union. Orban by his own words “told [the EU] off”.
The EU money now is given to Orban’s relatives and friends to “improve” water quality.
Let me translate this: Orban’s friends will pick-up the money, then subcontract the work out, and use the public work employees to do the work. The public work employees will work under minimum wage, and the companies who employ them will receive a tax break. THe EU will also provide some money incentives for companies who provide work to the under-employed.
As it turns out the option to tender out he contracts were taken away by Fidesz from the local governments, so they can award the contracts.
It will be no double-sipping here. It will be triple dipping.
I am not sure what happened with all the investigation the EU supposed to conduct regarding the EU contracts awarded w/o tender and such. Does anyone know?
Probably even higher for 2014 with the Rabbi Conference that was held in Budapest this year to “protest” the revival of anti-semitism in Hungary.
A survey carried out by TEV, the umbrella organization for combating anti-Semitism in Hungary, came up wit some very interesting numbers:
“In the survey, Hungarians were asked about their attitudes toward the country’s Jews. The results were presented in a comprehensive study that analyzed the results based on various social cross-sections.
Among the questions asked was, “Do Jews have too much influence in Hungary today?” – to which 27% responded positively. A full 34% agreed that there is “a secret Jewish conspiracy behind political and economic processes.”
Anti-Semitic incidents in Hungary in recent years include the country’s chief rabbi being verbally abused on a Budapest street, anti-Semitic chants at a football match against Israel and pig’s trotters being placed on a statue of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Budapest Jews in World War II.
Just several days ago, residents of the Jewish community in Tatabanya discovered that unknown vandals had desecrated the local Jewish cemetery.
The vandals spray-painted anti-Semitic graffiti on the tombstones, including swastikas and statements such as, “Smelly Jews” and, “The Holocaust didn’t happen, but it will.”
So you point is Kovach?
Petofi made a correct comparison between Hungary and Bulgaria/ Russia in terms of the Mafia state. I find that Bulgaria is in particular very interesting because here in Chicago we have a very active Bulgarian Mafia. Bozhidar Lazarov who operated a Bulgarian credit card fraud operation out of Chicago was recently sentenced to 3 years in prison. Gheorgui ‘Mitsubishi’ Martov another leader of the Bulgarian Mafia in Chicago was caught on tape in a discussion with other Mafia leaders in Sofia that he was generating $200,000 a week in credit card fraud profits and laundering the money in Central Europe.
As I have discussed on this blog repeatedly there are criminal links between Hungarian criminal networks and the so called “red mafia” in Russia. In particular in relation to human sex trafficking, money laundering, and the drug trade. The Mafia links are not just at the political level in relation to Fedesz patronage, or Putin’s patronage, it also goes to a real criminal class. Martov for example was caught on tape threatening to cut another Bulgarian to pieces if he didn’t pay $20,000.
@Louis Kovach: It is always easier to tolerate visitors–they go home. In my visits to Hungary, often people have mentioned “he’s a jew”. Or “She’s a jew”. Never, “he’s a Calvinist/Catholic/Lutheran.”
Istvan: “The Mafia links are not just at the political level in relation to Fidesz patronage, or Putin’s patronage, it also goes to a real criminal class.”
Do you mean that corrupt Fidesz politicians and their accessories are not real criminals? Do you think that Fidesz legalized crime is not crime?
So did zoo attendance … You know, despite you posting here your regular anti-semitic crap, the readership of this blog is still increasing. It maybe the same thing.
@ L. Kovach
“…Hmm, from 2012 to 2013 tourism from Israel to Hungary increased by 60 %.”
Not really tourism, per se, but Hungarians returning to their beloved city.
(Oh, excuse me, Louis, according to Lazar, jews are not Hungarians…) Anyway, one-time Hungarians are used to the perennial anti-semitism: it’s only us ‘foreigners’ who’ve stayed
away some 60 years and have returned, that seem to have developed a nervous itch and
an accompanying rash.
(Jews are just too bloody sensitive: eating daily rations of anti-semitism is just not good
On the other hand, the only direct flight from Budapest to New York City (forgot whether it was JFK or EWR, AA) lasted only one summer …
So what does that tell us ?
Btw, we met several Jewish passengers on those flights and had interesting talks …
Jean the type of legalized crime Fidesz perpetuates exists all over the world it is an organized extension of the patronage system. Fidesz looks honest compared to how political parties operate in India. But there is a very dark side to what is happening in Central Europe where we see characters like Semion Yudkovich Mogilevich and his Hungarian wife are given protection by the Russian state. http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/topten/semion-mogilevich/view
Take a look at the INTERPOL National Central Bureau (NCB) for Hungary it is part of Hungary’s International Police Co-operation Centre (NEBEK) which is in Budapest. It has a staff of 20. It is targeting things like the illegal trade in birds, and operations against stolen motor vehicles run by Roma gangs. In general the discussion of the Fidesz mafia on this blog excludes the uglier aspects of the real criminal under world operating and thriving in Central Europe today.
Some1 writes: “So you point is Kovach?”
My point is that events that you describe occur in many European countries, as an example France, wher it deteriorated into killings. All the time picking only on Hungary both here and several other blogs and fellow traveler publications make it appear that it is solely Hungary where such events and actions existed, which is not the case.
Kovach’s Kindergarten logic again:
The other guy did something similar last week – so why am I being punished?
Just a little reminder:
Our dear hostess named this blog “Hungarian Spectrum” and not French, EU or European Spectrum – there are enough sites for these topics, just have to find them …
This a blog about Hungary by a Hungarian with many Hungarian readers! I am sure you will be able t find similar Blogs on other countries. It is not a travel magazine, or a chapter of tripadvisor, but a critic on Hungarianpolitics. For upbeat a publication about the blessed outcome of the “new Hungarian life”, you can pick up Kerenyi’s subsidized Magyar Kronika. “Kinyilott a pitypang. Megirom.”
For that matter: Are there any analyses regarding the voter structure for Jobbik in the 2014 elections yet? (Because at least for the european elections 2009 I am aware of evidence that economic crisis/regional unemplyoment correlated negatively with Jobbik’s result; the voter’s demographics point to the same direction. In 2010, if I remember correctly, only LMP had similarly highly educated and wealthy voters as Jobbik. But that might have changed, so I am interested in any study/survey/analysis).
Louis Kovach wonders why Israeli tourists visit Hungary. For one thing, many have Hungarian roots and can manage at least a bit of the Hungarian language. For another, you can find kosher food in Budapest, rare outside of other European cities except for Paris and Antwerp. Also, as far as accommodations and food goes, Hungary is still considered a budget destination in Europe. I usually tell visitors who ask about the presence of antisemitism in Hungary that if you don’t read or speak Hungarian, you probably will not notice it. As for those of us who live here, it is a pretty constant dull buzz in the background of social interaction, especially if you keep up with the local media.
We all can appreciate your pseudo-patriotic attempt to defend Hungary against the accusation of being a nest of antisemitism, but the truth is as long as the leadership considers using the role of the Jews in Hungary to be a useful political tool antisemitism will grow here. The change has to come from the top, so don’t expect it to get better before it gets worse. Look at how cowardly and botched the Holocaust / “German Occupation” memorial was handled. Orban’s peacock dance of “protecting the Jews” and memorializing a fake, imaginary history of Hungary’s past while having the imbecilic Deutsch play the role of token “court Jew” impresses only the FIDESZ loyalists. For the rest – and I include the majority of the Hungarian populace here – it is a morally sickening display.
wolfi writes: “Our dear hostess named this blog “Hungarian Spectrum” and not French, EU or European Spectrum – there are enough sites for these topics, just have to find them ”
A large part of the blog comments and often the blog itself continuously compares the bad events in Hungary with the good events in Western European countries. What is proper in one case is also proper in the reverse. …
Some1 writes: “This a blog about Hungary by a Hungarian with many Hungarian readers! I am sure you will be able t find similar Blogs on other countries. It is not a travel magazine, or a chapter of tripadvisor, but a critic on Hungarianpolitics. For upbeat a publication about the blessed outcome of the “new Hungarian life”, you can pick up Kerenyi’s subsidized Magyar Kronika. “Kinyilott a pitypang. Megirom.”
I appreciate your misplaced irony! Please read my answer to wolfi.
Kave writes: “Louis Kovach wonders why Israeli tourists visit Hungary. For one thing, many have Hungarian roots and can manage at least a bit of the Hungarian language. For another, you can find kosher food in Budapest, rare outside of other European cities except for Paris and Antwerp”
Be careful you will be chastised by wolfi and Some1 for comparative posting.
I will try to find an article from the Jerusalem Post about the Jewish renewal in Budapest, it is not exactly in the tone that is predominant here.
Louis, it seems you’ll never get it!
Most of your posts are excuses: This happens in other places too – so why are you angry at Hungary?
Don’t you have anything to say on Hungary itself and what’s going on here under the Fidesz mafia?
wolfi writes: “Don’t you have anything to say on Hungary itself and what’s going on here under the Fidesz mafia?”
Yes, I do. According to Eurostat, the economy is far better than it was under the MSZP maffia.
And , although you may not have heard the saying, it is still valid : “The economy stupid!”
On this blog, there is a lot moaning and groaning, but most of you are on the side of the parties that are not wanted by the Hungarian people.
Of course that you’ll never get!
“not wanted by the Hungarian people”
As I remember the election results, only around 44% of the voters living in Hungary voted for Fidesz (of course those 95% of new citizens voting for Orbán is a different story …) but as usual your interpretation is a bit off the truth …
And I don’t see any upside to Orbán’s economic policy yet – the positive effects on Hungary’s economy have other reasons like EU money and so many Hungarians working abroad – but of course I live near the Balaton (part time) while you live …
wolfi writes: “As I remember the election results, only around 44% of the voters living in Hungary voted for Fidesz (of course those 95% of new citizens voting for Orbán is a different story …) but as usual your interpretation is a bit off the truth ”
In most countries the full voting enabled population votes only in fractions. Very typical. In all elections it is the percent of casted votes results in loss or victory. You can NOT claim a unique peculiarity for the recent Hungarian elections, regardless how you twist and masticate the results. Your side lost and not by a few votes!
I live in the USA, most of the time, but you know that so why ask???
I should have made myself clearer:
Only 44% of those who cast their vote at all voted for Fidesz – but you people call that an “overwhelming victory” …
And please don’t compare the established democracy of the USA (with all its shortcomings …) with Hungary – in most European countries Fidesz with these votes would have had to enter a coalition with another party, that might have been interesting!
wolfi writes: “And please don’t compare the established democracy of the USA (with all its shortcomings …) with Hungary – in most European countries Fidesz with these votes would have had to enter a coalition with another party, that might have been interesting!”
You are wrong, as an example in the UK Fidesz would have got over 90% of the seats in Parliament. Winner takes all. It would help if you would check the background info rather than just writing your erroneous assumptions.
Kovach you’re an idiot.
‘Fidesz’ would not have got the votes.
In the UK no party would own all the printed media; the TV stations; and so-called ‘civil’ organisations.
Nor would they ‘own’ the voting commission.
Nor would they ‘own’ the judiciary.
Nor would they barstardise the voting system with ‘external’ votes.
Nor, nor nor nor…… Ad infinitum.
And nor would the voters be as naive and as simpleton minded as the majority of Hungarians are – including you – when it comes to democracy.
You wouldn’t know democracy if it hit you in face – nor would most Hungarians, sad to say. How else can the recent travesty be explained?
(Hungary won’t have a democracy until the present generation relinquish their stranglehold on all the wealth resources. The Polish have a proverb:
‘Where there is death there is hope’
Only when the younger generation involve themselves with politics will there be any hope of a hint of democracy – only then, if they don’t all leave.)
So don’t insult the Mother of all Parliaments.
And that goes for Johnny Boy too.
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