What evil forces lurk behind the Hungarian demonstrations?

On December 29, 2014 Antal Rogán, whip of the Fidesz caucus, announced a new program called the “National Defense Action Plan” which, he claimed, was needed because the country is under siege. Details were not revealed at the time, but I suspected that it was intended to take the wind out of anti-government sails. “Action plan”–it sounds so manly, Ildikó Lendvai sarcastically remarked in an opinion piece that appeared in Népszava on January 3. She found the whole thing ridiculous until she read an interview with Gergely Gulyás, chairman of a newly created parliamentary committee on legislative activities. In this interview Gulyás said that it was time to make the law on free assembly more restrictive. “I immediately stopped laughing,” Lendvai wrote. This new action plan–because this is not the first in the history of the Orbán regime–should really be called the “Government Defense Action Plan.” The goal is to put an end to anti-government demonstrations.

A sharp-eyed reader of Népszava also became suspicious even before the appearance of the Gulyás interview. What does the government have in mind when it talks about a “National Defense Action Plan”? “Is this perhaps the beginning of limiting our basic human and political rights?” He found the whole idea “frightening.”

Within a week after the Gulyás interview, Viktor Orbán must have realized that he went too far. With all the international attention on the demonstrations and anti-government sentiment, tightening the law on free assembly might be seen as overreach. László L. Simon, undersecretary in the prime minister’s office who lately has been close to Orbán, was given the task of discrediting Gulyás. On January 7 he announced that “the government is not contemplating any changes in the law on assembly.” Gulyás simply expressed his own private opinion. Oh, sure!

Although Viktor Orbán abandoned the idea of changing the law, he is still bent on “dealing” with the anti-government forces. The Fidesz brain trust came up with another idea–putting pressure on the organizers of the demonstrations. Last Friday Rogán was the guest of HírTV’s P8 where he wondered “who is financing these more and more expensive demonstrations and for what reason?” And, he continued, “if someone for political reasons or because of economic interest finances such events, he should reveal his identity in order for us to see who is behind these demonstrations.” In his opinion, the organizers are trying to convince the public that the demonstrations are the handiwork of civic groups alone, “but they are not.” Unmasking the forces behind these demonstrations “might be part of the ‘National Defense Action Plan.'”

Since the Orbán government and its supporting media equate the government with the nation and the country, Magyar Nemzet argued that any support of the demonstrations by the democratic opposition parties is more than suspect. If opposition parties stand behind the demonstrations–as they don’t at the moment–it is a mortal sin, bordering on treason, from their point of view.

The truth is that the organizers ask for donations from the participants on the spot, and each time they manage to collect a few million forints. They have also made their financial records public on Facebook.

The anti-Semitic caricature sent by a student which Tényi found so hilarious

The anti-Semitic caricature sent by a student, which István Tényi found so hilarious

Antal Rogán made only veiled references to taking the case of financing the demonstrations to court if necessary, but a young teacher of Hungarian literature, István Tényi, decided to act. He filed a complaint against the organizers of the recent mass demonstrations on suspicion of fraud.

Tényi has a lot of experience in filing charges. He was the one who filed a complaint against Ökotárs, also for fraud, in connection with the group’s handling of the Norwegian Civic Funds. While he was at it, he filed a complaint against HVG because of its cover story showing Fidesz politicians gathering around the NAV chairwoman, Ildikó Vida, as if around Joseph and Mary with the baby Jesus.

What I found out about Tényi isn’t pretty. He was fired from his first job because he sent threatening e-mails to his students indicating that the school will meet the same fate as Baghdad under the massive American bombing. Currently he teaches at the Károly Than Ökoiskola. A writer of a micro-blog found a “disgusting” item–his adjective–on Tényi’s Facebook page. One of his students sent him an anti-Semitic caricature of Gyurcsány. The former prime minister was depicted with the body of a cockroach and a Star of David on his face. The message was “the Israeli Gyurcsány should be crushed” just like a cockroach. Tényi must have enjoyed the caricature because he was one of the five who “liked” it. The other four, I suspect, are his students.

Otherwise, Tényi is 32 years old and graduated from ELTE’s Faculty of Arts in 2006. He is a member of the presidium of Fidelitas in Terézváros (District VI) where he functions as a coordinator. His favorite film is Star Wars IV-VI and his “ideal” is Sándor Petőfi. His favorite drink is mineral water. Most important, he enjoys filing charges against people who don’t agree with his party and the Orbán government. This man, if one can believe the messages on his Facebook page, is quite popular among his students. Imagine the education they are getting from this man. And unfortunately, there are far too many István Tényis among the followers of Viktor Orbán.


  1. Here comes the last act of taking over the country “to protect it from Foreign Enemies”….(of course Russia is not included among the enemies list) It was predictable. They (Fidesz) encouraged and probably financed some of the demonstrations, so they have the reason/pretext to grab dictatorial control…The possibility of a coronation of Orban is not a joke any more!! God Save Hungary from this diseased brained bunch of devious misfits!!!

  2. This place and the people who populate it can be hard to fathom. Have the faithful followers not read about the Emperor’s new clothes? It’s as if they don’t see anything. Anything at all.

  3. I can’t understand why anyone is surprised at this. The big surprise to me is that Orbán has allowed these demonstrations for as long as he has.

    But, in a way it’s good news – the more he shows his hand, the more ammunition it gives the opposition (outside Hungary, there is none inside) to label him what he is. This sort of thing can only help speed his end.

  4. This is way beyond irony:

    “If opposition parties stand behind the demonstrations–as they don’t at the moment–it is a mortal sin, bordering on treason, from their point of view.”

    Fidesz extra-parliamentary tactics 2006-2010 anyone?

  5. PS (and OT) – Wolfi, thanks for that Der Spiegel link the other day. Quite staggering what that newspaper did – not only cropping the photo to get rid of the women, but actually cutting two of them out (including Merkel!). What is their problem?!

  6. Something does not line up. I went to check out Norbii Kale’s Facebook page. The kid who posted the above photo. You should check out his posts from Dec 21. I also could not find the photo in his library. ALso it is missing from Tenyi’s Facebook. He may removed it..

  7. Hungarians by en large (the majority) don’t know how to fight any Government and win for themselves true Democracy, but most of them don’t have the need for it either, for various reasons. Some of them are the lack of individual discipline, planning for the distant future and being consistent and creating continuous, well thought out, and successful social programs. They never had a chance to learn it, never had anyone to teach it to them and they would not learn it anyway, if it was suggested to them by people beyond their borders.
    However the majority of Hungarians are very good at living in dictatorships, because they have hundreds of years of experience and the ability to survive in them was acquired and became part of their culture.
    As the Fidesz slogan says: Hungarians Are Doing Better! It is true.
    In 25 years, after they became free and independent from foreign occupation and influences, ALL BY THEMSELVES, they turned the clock back 75-100 years and doing a much better job in organizing a dictatorship, than Horthy, Szálasi and Rákosi did in their own time.
    What is even more tragic, that the writers, novelists, poets, painters, film makers, actors, directors, etc., somehow disappeared and they shirk their responsibility to fight the authorities, leading society out of dictatorship.
    Hungarians are very proud people, they think Americans are stupid, have no culture and history, while they have a 1000 year history and culture. So I will not mention Timothy Leary’s name. But I guess they should heard of the saying, “Question Authority”, since Socrates was the first who stated, that the foremost responsibility of every citizen is to question authority to avoid fallacious appeal to authority.
    Where the people don’t fight for themselves for a true democracy, against authority, there will never be one!

  8. You are entirely correct. Love of Freedom does not create Democracy! Hungarians love to fight oppressors,….Tatars, Turks, Austrians, Russians.But they do not have discipline to be a Law Biding society. Communism added a load to their bad traits of “Stealing without guilt feeling”. After all we were the Proletarians, the People, and we own everything…etc.(I lived there during the Rakosi regime). Orban cleverly created the outside threat the Hungarians love to disobey and fight….EU, Banks, America, even Democracy is turning into a bad word!!! The only hope is the young generation that travels to the west, studying and living in Western European countries, and hopefully will come back to Hungary some day and help enlightening the rest of the Csoda Szarvas and Turul Madar worshiping nationalist-socialist majority. ..

  9. Paul: “But, in a way it’s good news – the more he shows his hand, the more ammunition it gives the opposition (outside Hungary, there is none inside) to label him what he is. This sort of thing can only help speed his end.”

    This sounds very much like what was said about Hitler at the beginning of the Nazi regime in Germany. Then they started taking the opposition into concentration camps. The end came not from the opposition, they were all dead or coopted.

  10. gybognarjr: “What is even more tragic, that the writers, novelists, poets, painters, film makers, actors, directors, etc., somehow disappeared and they shirk their responsibility to fight the authorities, leading society out of dictatorship.”

    I would say that there are a very few film makers, actors and directors who do fight. Alfoldi comes to mind right away. THere are great performances in the Vig Szinhaz. There are actors who show up at public events and recite important poems. Moviemaking requires money, and of course Orban put his own people into positions where the money could come from. Orban cut off the National Theatre also. For the lats decade the National Theatre had an amazing run with sold out performances, and now take a look. Radio stations are shut down by Fidesz, and all independent media is suffering if they do not make a deal wit the devil.
    I am not familiar with any “underground’ publications although. Do they exist?

  11. Some1: I did not express myself well. Part of the moral responsibility of the thinking “intelligentsia” (let’s put all the artists, thinkers, philosophers in one bag) is to present the readers, viewers, listeners with creations, which dissect and discusses social behaviors, problems and gives opinions, guidance to possible solutions, educates people, society, by improving the prevailing value system.
    I did not deduct entertainment, that is also very important.
    However, please review just the Hungarian films between 1945-1990 and you can see many great stories, which, artistically and in contents are the highest quality. Miklós Jancsó, Zoltán Fábri, Márton Keleti, Éva Zsurzs, and many more, etc.
    People in all societies receive part of their education and material, to develop their value system, partially from liberal artists, who are ahead of their times and the conventions, who are very critical of prejudice, anti-Semitism, dictatorship, intolerance, injustice and so on. These kind of artist are almost entirely disappeared from the public life in Hungary. So did a large number of citizens, who paid very close attention to the deeds of the politicians and the subservient intelligentsia and the government mandated arts and education forced upon them and fight that from the start and NOT AFTER the entire infrastructure of the budding democracy is completely destroyed.

  12. @gybognarjr

    Hungarians are not taught to think. They are taught to obey; to cheat; to envy thy neighbor;
    to gain by surreptitious and illegal means. That’s the country and the society. Look at the tax system: they’ve set up something that forces the average citizen to cheat in order to survive.

    People do not object collectively because, in their hearts, they’re hoping to be a rung higher and to be feeding, themselves, at the trough. It is beyond disgusting.

    But one can say one thing: Hungarians now have the government they deserve…and that goes for the dark future that awaits them, too.

  13. petofi: I tend to agree with your opinion, except I would not generalize it so much, since there are plenty of exceptions.
    What is a general statement from me, is that the good people are more difficult to find and many cannot be noticed, they work, raise a family and stay quiet, while the nasty, bad people are almost always make themselves very visible, they have a big mouth so they are easier to notice.
    Of course the really bad and wicked ones sometimes do their deeds quietly and with proxies.
    By the way in Central-East Europe, most of the people are similar to Hungarians, just not quite as bad (Hungary Performs Better) due to the common historical background and of course the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy which was a bit of a melting pot under Emperor Franz Joseph I.

  14. Eva — This “unseen enemies want to attack us” seems to smack of Kadarism to me. Do you see any link to propaganda from the Kadar era?

  15. Tenyi can’t have graduated 8 years ago, and still be only 26. But he is a real person, with sick tendencies, that’s for sure.

    When he first emerged as a “feljelentő” (filing a complaint with the police against Ökotárs), I checked his FB page and then it seemed from the pictures that he rather likes to have a friendly relationship with his female students (who naturally oblige and act so cute when in the company of Mr. Teacher).

    Tenyi is a creep, but Fidesz, the party of power, and is full of them because this belonging gives them total protection. At the same time MSZPniks have to apply to jobs the hard way (ie. yesterday it emerged that the former Pécs chairman of MSZP is looking for a bus driver’s job).

  16. Orban will soon cut the utility price further and ask, OK guys, so you hold demonstrations and shout, while I help the little people, so is this your strategy? The commies can only increase prices, while Fidesz cuts them ruthlessly. Case closed.

  17. Hungarians are not better or worse or cleverer or more criminal or less brave than anyone else. And Hungary is not the only country with a dodgy government where people do not know how to stand up to the government or make the kinds of changes they want to see happen. The point is to keep on trying to find ways to do it – no-one has the answer, we are making it, no-one else.

  18. gybognarjr: I think we can say it’s even beyond your remark ALL BY THEMSELVES. It’s in spite all the help of the west. Hungary is part of the NATO and doesn’t even have to protect itself with an army. Even more important: billions and billions of euros and dollars have been send to support the country to built up a solid democracy and economic growth….and still many Hungarians feel that they are under attack. There are many many people like Tényi in this country who are blindly following their leader. These people are so mindbogglingly stupid that it’s frightening. Even this pathetic attempt to blame all the problems of the Hungarians on foreigners is believed by many.

  19. @BritInBudapest: I don’t agree. It’s unthinkable that for example a teacher in Germany would so blindly support Merkel as to file charges against anybody who is in her way. The idea is already laughable.

  20. Tényi is just one of many – he is only different in that he has learned how to file charges. Throughout the country faithful Fidesz people are sending in reports to the party on their neighbors, co-workers, teachers, doctors, etc. People can be fired from their jobs, based on these reports – people who work in state jobs (teachers, administrators, garbage men, etc.), or in companies run by Fidesz supporters (CBA, for example).
    This is why I have said, repeatedly, that the protesters deserve our respect and patience, even if we disagree with some of their goals. Many of them have everything to lose, and yet they still protest.

  21. @BritInBudapest: I simply don’t agree either. Cheating and stealing is so deeply rooted in Hungarian society. Solidarity is almost non-existing. There are so many horrifying examples of abuse of power in Hungary, and there will be much more to come. This situation is simply unimaginable in many European countries. A free press is digging out the dirty business of creepy politician, and the justice system and the people are punishing the guilty ones. It’s already cleverly said. People in Hungary is not taught to think, they are taught to obey. Well, and they are raised to be disgustingly xenophobic. Globalisation is here to stay, and it will only grow further. Illiberal and xenophobic nations will fall behind in isolation and poverty. I’m not Hungarian, my roots is Scandinavian, the freedom loving Scandinavia. Now my son is half Hungarian, but I can assure anyone, that although we live in Hungary, he is not taught the dark minded values of this country. Of course, I will not allow him to be a non critical, immoral, xenophobic cripple with a lack of solidarity and knowledge of democracy and basic human rights.

  22. @ Eva: No, the guy is a creep. Teachers in the UK are encouraged not to even have Facebook accounts (publicly-viewable ones, anyway), let alone post photos of themselves with their arms around two young female students (with comments like “FUCKYEAH tanarur!!”).

    This person shouldn’t be employed as a teacher.

  23. @Fishguard re creep. Well, I just did not want to use strong words. I think that he is very creepy looking too. A friend of mine, after I showed her his picture, said: “he looks like an aged eunuch.”

  24. Petofi: “Hungarians are not taught to think. They are taught to obey; to cheat; to envy thy neighbor;”

    If your generalising characterisation of Hungarians is true – I am reluctantly beginning to feel that there may be something to it – the envy thy neighbor bit explains why there was no uproar when the tobacco trade was taken away from people who had made a living on it for decades and given to party friends. The envious neigbors were actually satisfied.

    Same thing about giving away land that families had lived on for decades to party friends who were innocent of agriculture but not of subsidies. There was no expression of solidarity among the peasants. The envious neigbor was actually happy that his cousin had lost his land.

  25. “The EU can’t protect its citizens. The member states must protect themselves.”

    In other words::

    “The brown terrorists are coming, but Hungary has to ignore the weakened, incompetent, decadent Brusselites and the liberal European politicians if it wants to survive. At stake is our very survival and we can’t depend on the Europeans any more. Like Russia we must be tough, otherwise we end up like those journalists.”


  26. I don’t agree that the Hungarian people are exceptionally corrupt or morally bankrupt. I see nothing different in the cselszövő aspect of society than in Serbia. NATO’s KFOR experience with Serb duplicity would lead one to argue that Serbs are exceptionally corrupt, my daughter’s experience as a civil affairs officer in Afghanistan could lead one to declare tribal leaders and their followers in Afghanistan are completely morally corrupt. Americans who have had nightmarish experiences in Mexico with kidnapped relatives could argue the political structure of that society is totally corrupt.

    The framework of what is depicted on this blog in posts of the moral corruption of Hungary is simply a common phenomenon in poorer societies world wide. It’s not based on some type of cselszövő gene. But one interesting thing I noticed last month during my time in Hungary was that during interactions Fidesz and Jobbik supporters were on average far more verbose than were supporters of the EU and a more democratic state. This indicates to me that even inside of families there is a fear of consequences for openly opposing the Fidesz state. Because some of the younger more cosmopolitan people believe they have nothing to lose they are less fearful, but even their older MSZP parents wanted them to tone down their opposition to Orban particularly for those youth who were working in EU states. At one point a cousin said to his daughter it’s easy for you to say these things – you don’t live here day to day.

  27. What idiocy. Hungarians are not more or less able to create a democratic government than another other country. Democracy, as Churchill famously described, is a horrible form of government- the problem is that the other options are worse.

    Democracy is not supposed to be easy. It’s the least bad form of government BECAUSE humans are selfish and often corrupt.

    And I detest the anti-Hungarian sentiment of Orban. The Hungarians fought so bravely against tyranny in 1848, and the March 15 means a passion for free speech. The protesters that Orban demonizes are part of a great, hyper-Hungarian tradition.

  28. I think people in this debate have a certain level, and of course you can’t generalize. Nothing wrong with the genes in Hungarian or other babies. The heritage, the society and the education do the trick. Eva do hint some of the educational mistake. Hungarian education emphasizes on lexical knowledge. In Denmark, there is a therm, “The Black school”. The Black school belongs to the past, where education emphasizes on lexical knowledge instead of pure and simple understanding. The days of “The black school” are long gone in modern developed countries.

  29. Istvan’s comment: “At one point a cousin said to his daughter it’s easy for you to say these things – you don’t live here day to day.” Rings a bell with my personal memories under the Rakosi regime’s fear of the AVO!!!. The older generation still remember the state security’s powers. What bothers me is the revival of the similar threat in Orban’s TEK (the Centre for Terror Prevention). If “It Looks like it, It squawks like it, It walks like it”…so…it must be a duck!!!

  30. gdfxx – I take your point about the similarity of the reactions, but I don’t think we can stretch it much further.

    First of all, Hungary exists in a post-Hitler world – having seen it happen once, our reactions/understanding are different. But, secondly, and more importantly, Germany at the time was potentially the most powerful country in Europe and was rapidly rearming – Hungary, on the other hand, is a small, poor, member of the EU.

    Orbán may want to be another Hitler, but he hasn’t got the ability or wealth (or opportunity) to be so.

    For which we should be very grateful.

  31. Paul, I agree with your points and I am grateful too.

    But it is very sad that today this kind of similarity can be contemplated at all.

  32. Not too much OT:

    Welcome, Viking!

    Good that you have decided to comment here – you’ve probably already realised that this is a much more productive environment than pol.hu 😀

  33. Thanks Wolfi. It’s indeed much more productive. I\m not the “Magyarviking” though, but still sharing the same opinions. This blog has a lot of quality and those who comment indeed have some good points and a lot of intellectual capacity. It’s uplifting to follow.

  34. The leading conservative newspaper in German aka “Die Welt” has a new article on Orbán’s way of “leadership”:
    The article starts with Czech president Zeman but continues with Orbán whom Die Welt also called Putin’s little brother …
    Also “very funny” this comment from December:
    Putin – Erdogan – Orbán aka The Illiberal Axis

    PS and not totally OT:

    I’m a bit surprised that die Welt finds such harsh words – the paper often represents our Christian Democrat Union (Mrs Mekel’s party) so this seems to me a clear sign that she is distancing herself, her party and the government even more from Orbán.

    Someone just said that Orbán leads Hungary as if he were leading a football team …

    I wonder what she’ll tell him when she does that “fly-by-visit” (only five hours …) in Budapest next month.

  35. Among the biggest scares that arose in the second part of the twenties century were the scare of nuclear power generation and the scare of genetically manipulated organisms (GMO) in food production. As the two scares seem to appeal to the same audience it needs some explanation that Orban has succumbed to the GMO scare and not to the nuclear scare. Especially since only the latter has been proven justified beyond doubt. (Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima). The explanation may be that Putin has prohibited GMO in Russia because Russia does not master the GMO technology and needs ten years to catch up.

  36. “The EU can’t protect its citizens. The member states must protect themselves.” (courtesy of tikitaki)

    – And just who/what the EU supposed to be in this sentence? Aren’t Antal Rogán missed some information along the way, never hade it, or simply couldn’t came up with more suitable BS, in order to connect the EU with ‘danger unspecified’, but serious enough?

    Apart from the fact that Hungary (still) member of the NATO, just who else more supposed to ‘protect’ and/or defend Hungary, than the Hungarians?

    But than again, Hungary is (still) part of the very same EU which ‘can’t protect its citizens’ –
    so, how is it, really!

    Oh, man…

    Otherwise I’m afraid that the whole ‘National Security’ notion will give a fine camouflage to introduce Hungary’s own version of the “Patriot Act”, and thereafter they don’t even have to explain any further, why limiting the civil rights is necessary.
    What would you say to something like this:

    “We are under attack and the EU just can’t protect us, so from now on wherever we’ll find more than two people, it will count as ‘unlawful gathering’, potentially danger to the state and treated accordingly!”

    – And there will be loyal ‘protectors too! According to news, “In five years salary within the law enforcement will increase by 50%”


    When there is a will…

  37. Visiting Iran near the end of the Shah’s regime, if an Iranian approached 3 of us visitors in a public park, armed police would ask us to disperse. Exceedingly uncomfortable. One had to be watching all the time.

  38. @gybognarjt: Miklós Jancsó, Zoltán Fábri, Márton Keleti, Éva Zsurzs.. They received money from the government at the time.They were not filmmakers who spoke up against the regime. They were great filmmakers, but they were supported too. Bacso, Gothar, Body had a harder time. You cannot make movies with no money. Also, there is a possibility that films are being made but w/o marketing we are just not aware… I am not sure. Again stages performances, even in the amateur scale are very strong in Budapest now.

  39. Some1: Almost all filmmakers after WWII received the money from the Government to make the movies. Since 1989, also Government money paid for the films, except since 2010. Since then only Andy Vajna gets money and he does not make films. He does not give money to anyone, either, unless they make a movie expanding the Fidesz cult and the adoration alf the viktor and his gang.
    Soon, North Korean style Government art will be financed only.
    You are not considering the fact, that movies, arts, literature don’t have to be AGAINS a given political system, and/or the Government, to be valuable, there are plenty of issues within any society and within human life that can be analyzed and critiqued, yet they are not specifically against the prevailing political system, and/or the Government as a whole, instead the statements and solutions they depict are for the purpose of improving the existing one.
    In Hungary there is only Fidesz Government Art receiving money
    now and everybody else is quiet.

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