View Full Version : Borderless Hungary. New ethnicist based constitution.

Magda Hassan
04-18-2011, 06:16 AM
Borderless Nation

(own report) - In the midst of hefty protests, the Hungarian government is preparing to pass a new constitution oriented on German ethnicist policy. The document conjures up the "notion of the unified Hungarian nation," beyond the borders of the Hungarian Republic, to include Hungarian-speaking minorities of the neighboring countries. It bases itself on the mythical "Holy Hungarian Crown," "which embodies the constitutional national continuity of Hungary", while removing republic from the official name of the nation, as the designation of the form of state. Critics accuse the ruling Fidesz Party, of using its two-thirds parliamentary majority to constitutionally impose permanent ethnic conservative standards upon all of Hungary. This does not impede Berlin from continuing its close cooperation with Budapest. Just last week, the German Foreign Minister praised his Hungarian counterpart, for Budapest's very successful fulfillment of its functions chair of the European Council. Intensive cooperation is also planned within the framework of the so-called Danube Strategy, which is to be adopted during the Hungarian incumbency as chair of the EU Council. From Berlin's standpoint, which is itself following an ethnic based foreign policy, Budapest's ethnic escapades are no obstacles.

Ethnic Chauvinist Constitution
In various aspects, the draft of Hungary's new constitution, to be adopted by the Hungarian parliament April 18, carries the flair of the spirit of the German model. On the one hand, the material part of the text is oriented on the German Basic Law. One can recognize that German and Hungarian constitutional jurists had cooperated closely over an extended period. For example the former Hungarian president László Sólyom, a prominent constitutional jurist, had worked extensively together with Georg Brunner, professor of law in Cologne.[1] On the other hand, the preamble, the part of the draft constitution that is most sharply criticized, is oriented on an ethnic chauvinist concept shared by both Hungary and Germany. Budapest is free to develop these concepts in an EU under German hegemony. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[2]) The ruling Fidesz Party has a 2/3 parliamentary majority and, therefore, can adopt the constitution independently of all other parties' votes. The opposition parties, the Socialist MSZP and the Greens LMP have, with hefty protests, walked out of the preparatory committee, working on the draft constitution, because the Fidesz Party is using its parliamentary majority to give a constitutional rank to unprecedented, clearly ethnic chauvinist structures.[3]

Resurrection Festival
The ethnic concept of the Hungarian nation plays a central role in the future constitution. Hungarian, according to this concept, is whoever has Hungarian ancestors, which is valid also for the Hungarian-speaking minorities of neighboring countries. The new right of citizenship - corresponding to the German citizenship law - stipulating that they can apply for Hungarian citizenship is already bearing fruit. (The law took effect Jan. 1, 2011.) Budapest has already registered about 43,000 applications. Thousands more have been given to Hungarian consulates. The government is predicting that, by the end of this year, there will be about 200,000 new citizens among the "Hungarians Abroad." The new constitution stipulates that "guided by the idea of the united Hungarian nation - Hungary bears responsibility for the fates of the Hungarians living beyond its territorial boundaries, promoting the maintenance and development of their communities, supporting their ambitions in the conservation of Hungariandom and inter-community cooperation and cooperation with Hungary." Alongside the announcement of intentions to intervene in the domestic affairs of neighboring nations, the preamble - in characteristic ethnic style - declares, "one is proud that a thousand years ago, our King Stephan, the Saint, placed the Hungarian state on a solid foundation." It even promises, "to maintain the spiritual and emotional unity of our nation, which, has been dismembered during the storms of the past centuries."[4] The constitution strongly stresses, if nothing else, the conservative values of Christianity, and family. Hungary's president will sign the document into law on the symbolic date of April 25. April 25, 2011 is Easter Monday.

Made Good Progress
The ethnic oriented new constitution is the second internationally controversial measure taken by the Orbán government. At the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, the new Hungarian media law received wide attention throughout Europe. It imposed broad restrictions on the media's freedom of expression and, even after international protests forced a few light modifications; Hungarian critics still consider it very repressive. A board of the media, whose leading members are appointed by the government, has wide-ranging possibilities to intervene. Since protests have subsided, Berlin has again begun to praise Budapest for its loyal cooperation. "Europe" has "made quite a bit of progress, in key areas, under the first Hungarian council chair", declared German Foreign Minister, Westerwelle, last week, after his Hungarian counterpart, János Martonyi, visited Berlin. It is "remarkable", he said, "how successful the Hungarian government has mastered this chairmanship."[5] Nothing was said about the Hungarian repression against the country's media, despite the continuing protests in Budapest.

Neglected Potentials
Instead, Berlin plans to expand cooperation - also within the framework of the EU's Danube Strategy, announced by Brussels at the end of 2010. The strategy serves further German economic development along the banks of the Danube through southeastern Europe. German authorities have systematically prepared this and it complies with the German enterprises' plans of expansion. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]) One is "confronted with various sorts of challenges", along the Danube, according to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Ulm, which was primarily responsible for the formulation of the EU's Danube Strategy. In Southeastern Europe, there is a "neglected shipping potential, insufficient highway and railway networks", and "uncoordinated planning in the general and professional education, research, and innovation sectors". By 2020, freight shipping on the Danube is to be increased by 20 percent. The installation of faster internet networks throughout the entire region is also planned.[7] Above all the southern German regions Baden-Wurttemberg and Bavaria are working closely together on the project with Austria and Hungary. Even though the European Council's planned January adoption of the Danube Strategy has been postponed, it will be adopted in June 2011 - still under Hungary's European Council chairmanship.

Whips and Axes
Inside the country cooperating so closely, with the Federal Republic of Germany, the ethnic chauvinist component is not only growing in official government policies. For several weeks, the extreme right has again been intensifying its aggressions against the Roma community. The extreme right's parliamentary arm - the Jobbik Party - polled about one-sixth of the votes in the last elections. At the beginning of March, a Jobbik procession against "Gypsy Crime" through the northern Hungarian village of Gyongyospata made the headlines. In the meantime, vigilantes are patrolling Gyongyospata, with official toleration of their activities.[8] Observers point out that the justice system does apply the special "racism paragraph" of the law, in cases of violence - against the Roma. For example, recently several Roma were convicted to very long prison terms because they beat a "Magyar".[9] Human rights organizations have begun to protest the fact that the Hungarian authorities are not confronting the extreme right with anything resembling this severity and are allowing the vigilantes to patrol Gyongyospata. According to Amnesty International, for example, activists of the vigilantes stand outside of Roma homes at night "screaming death threats and threatening with weapons and dogs". Sometimes they were "armed with whips and axes".[10] Berlin is not known to have protested its friends' - the Hungarian authorities' - inactivity toward their violence-prone extreme right.

[1] see also Verdienstorden (http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/de/fulltext/53972?PHPSESSID=6911hauhds6v5hheqe9a6tgqc7) and Die zweite Welle (http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/de/fulltext/56925?PHPSESSID=6911hauhds6v5hheqe9a6tgqc7)
[2] see also Pillars of the Future (http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/fulltext/57901?PHPSESSID=6911hauhds6v5hheqe9a6tgqc7), Tragsäulen der Zukunft (II) (http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/de/fulltext/57981?PHPSESSID=6911hauhds6v5hheqe9a6tgqc7), Pillars of the Future (III) (http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/fulltext/57906?PHPSESSID=6911hauhds6v5hheqe9a6tgqc7) and Tragsäulen der Zukunft (IV) (http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/de/fulltext/57995?PHPSESSID=6911hauhds6v5hheqe9a6tgqc7)
[3] Das erste Wort sei: Gott; www.pesterlloyd.net 16.03.2011
[4] Die Verfassung Ungarns. Entwurf, Budapest 08.03.2011
[5] Ungarischer Außenminister besucht Berlin; www.auswaertiges-amt.de 04.04.2011
[6] see also Die Donaustrategie (http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/de/fulltext/57707?PHPSESSID=6911hauhds6v5hheqe9a6tgqc7), Mama Duna (http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/de/fulltext/57880?PHPSESSID=6911hauhds6v5hheqe9a6tgqc7) and Unter deutscher Führung (http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/de/fulltext/57963?PHPSESSID=6911hauhds6v5hheqe9a6tgqc7)
[7] Die EU-Donaustrategie; www.ulm.ihk24.de
[8] Neonazis übernehmen Polizeigewalt in Ungarn; www.pesterlloyd.net 17.03.2011
[9] Rechtsextremer Aufmarsch in Ungarn; www.pesterlloyd.net 08.03.2011
[10] Urgent Action: Roma schikaniert; www.amnesty.de 18.03.2011

Jan Klimkowski
04-18-2011, 05:44 PM
Lest we forget, there were two Hungarian SS divisions:

25. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS Hunyadi (ungarische Nr.1.)

26th Waffen-Grenadier Division der SS

One of their commanders, Waffen-Oberführer der SS László Deák, was executed for war crimes in 1946.

Amongst these war crimes was the massacre of at least 3000 civilians, mostly Serbs, Jews and Roma, during the sickeningly named "Great Raid", including the Novi Sad massacre, by Hungarian Axis (ie Nazi) troops in 1942.

Bertolt Brecht prophetically wrote (of Hitler/Nazism) in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui:

Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.

Helen Reyes
04-25-2011, 05:16 PM
Speaking of Novi Sad, the "New Hungary" has accepted an appeal by convicted Hungarian Nazi war criminal Sandor Kepiro to reinstate his libel case against Efraim Zuroff of the Jerusalem Simon Wiesenthal Center for calling him a Nazi war criminal. An earlier court dismissed the libel case when Kepiro failed to show up, although Zuroff flew in from Israel to attend.

old news:

new news:

random bits:

Helen Reyes
04-27-2011, 07:14 PM
I thought about this a little more and there's an additional problem here for the other EU states. Hungary is passing nationalist legislation, for example, making it a crime to disparage or deny the Hungarian "genocide" under Communism, so anyone who says anything can be tried in absentia, sentenced to three years and then extradited from any EU country automatically under the EU arrest warrant treaties.

Also, according to a UK Indpendence Party webpage,


In October 1999 in Tampere in Finland a summit of the European Council decided to create an area of so-called ‘freedom, justice and security’. The British Government’s representative might have pointed out that we already enjoyed one, but never mind nothing was to stand in the way of the harmonisation of our legal systems.

The Tampere summit decided the milestones needed to create an EU system of criminal law. Key to this is, was the doctrine of ‘mutual recognition’ of judicial decisions. This is the fiction that says that all the judicial and legal systems of member states are equally valid merely by virtue of their being members of the European Union. So a decision taken by a court in Romania or Bulgaria for example is as equally trustworthy as one taken in the Old Bailey. To deny it would probably result in an accusation of xenophobia.

The Tampere programme also set up mechanisms for greater so-called ‘co-operation’ between member states in criminal matters; to extend the powers of Europol, the EU’s nascent police force; and to abolish formal extradition between member states and fast-tack the extradition of criminal suspects.

Interestingly one of the bodies set up under Tampere was a European Police College, situated in Hampshire, to train senior European law enforcement officers. The new Director of the College is a Hungarian, Mr Ferenc Banfi. He reportedly wants to see the creation of a European-wide FBI style police force.

Mr Banfi was a member of the Hungarian Communist Party and a policeman under their murderous communist regime. Speaking of Europol he reportedly told the Daily Express on 29th August that, “It is only a question of time before Europol will have executive powers; it maybe five or ten years but it will happen”. Europol doesn’t yet have the power to arrest anyone directly but Mr Banfi thinks they soon will, and he’s an expert so we should pay attention. Remember that under Europol’s legal basis its officers have almost complete immunity from anything they do or say in the course of their duties. A privilege not even extended to the Soviet Union’s NKVD during the height of Stalin’s terror.

According to this webpage
the Hungarian parliament made punishment for denying Communist atrocities life in prison.

Hungary pretty much has the EU by the tail and can pass any crazy law they want, then enforce it on the whole of Europe. The only way out is for an EU boycott of Hungary a la Austria a few years ago. That, or the entire project falls down.


04-19-2011, 11:18 AM

An attack on pluralism, legislated intolerance, a crippling of checks and balances: Critics of Hungary's new constitution are not hard to find. The country's neighbors are also unhappy. German commentators say it is a scandal for Europe.

The ruling Fidesz party of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban used its two-thirds majority to whip a new constitution through parliament on Monday, and critics across Europe are in uproar. The move, they fear, will convert the party's conservative, nationalist ideology into a state doctrine, cement its power well beyond the end of its term and upset the democratic system of checks and balances.

German Deputy Foreign Minister Werner Hoyer said the constitution was even more worrying than the controversial curbs on the media that came into force in Hungary at the start of the year. "The media law testifies to a view of basic rights that is hard to reconcile with the values of the European Union," Hoyer said in a statement on Monday. "Our fears in relation to the media laws have been heightened rather than allayed by the constitution and by the way it came into being."

Critics say Fidesz should have consulted far more widely when rewriting Hungary's basic law. The Venice Commission, the EU's constitutional law advisory body, has questioned the transparency of the process.

Worrying the Neighbors

The new constitution curbs the powers of the top court in budget and tax matters. Analysts say a major problem is that it would allow Fidesz appointees to control key public institutions -- such as the budget supervisory Fiscal Council -- well beyond its government term, which ends in 2014.

Over the weekend and on Monday, thousands of people protested in the capital, Budapest, against the new basic law. But Fidesz has said that with its big parliament majority, it has the authority to enact changes.

The law is also worrying neighboring governments because it claims Hungary is responsible for Hungarians living in countries bordering Hungary. A quarter of all ethnic Hungarians live in neighboring countries, mainly in Slovakia, Romania and Serbia.

Several German commentators are fiercely critical of the new constitution.

German public television network ARD commentated on its late-night news program Tagesthemen on Monday night:

"It's strange, the more some countries profit from the European Union, the more prone they are to anti-European sentiments. The constitutional state has largely been abolished, future elections are efrfectively meaningless, the media are being whipped into line, as are theaters and museums and everything else that could shape the nation's culture."

"Barely a trace remains of pluralism, of variety, of the basic features of a free society. If you talk to people in Hungary about politics these days, you're confronted with fear, like in the days of East Germany. In this state, Hungary no longer belongs in the EU. It is a disgrace for Europe. But Europe is saying nothing."

Left-wing Berliner Zeitung writes:

"The good Hungarian as the right-wing ruling party of Viktor Orban sees him is a strangely anachronous being: Christian to a fault, awed by his nation's heroic past, more sympathetic to monarchism than republicanism. The good Hungarian sees his place between God -- the first word in the constitution -- and the mythical holy crown. He must be heterosexual and family-oriented in order to live up to the constitution."

"The Orban government wrote, debated and whipped this new Hungarian constitution with its florid, ideology-soaked preamble through parliament on its own. All it needs is the signature of the president who -- how else could it be -- was guided into office by Orban. He has succeeded where the Kaczynski brothers failed in Poland -- to elevate national-conservative ideology to a doctrine of state."

"But the constitution doesn't just postulate an intolerant ideology. The government has also rid itself of central elements of the separation of powers, by weakening the powers of the constitutional court, for example. Around Europe, many people were appalled by the Hungarian media law. The Orban constitution is a much greater scandal."

Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"The constitution enshrines a spirit of ideological, ethnic intolerance, both externally and domestically. Some are being reminded of the fascist rhetoric in Europe between the world wars. Neighboring countries are getting unpleasant memories of the cultural arrogance and power of the Hungary of old, whose Magyarization programs they were subjected to. The new constitution claims that the state of Hungary represents all other Magyars, meaning the three million living in neighboring countries."

Conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung has no problem with the new constitution:

"The preamble may seem antiquated to Western observers. But for the big majority of Hungarians in the country and for the Hungarian minorities abroad, the references to a 'national statement of faith' and a holy crown' are values as worthy of the constitution as are references to God and Christendom and the emphasis on marriage and family as foundations of society and state. There is no evidence in the text that the amendments are not in line with basic European values, as Orban's opponents are claiming."

Helen Reyes
05-04-2011, 07:08 PM
The Hungarian judge dismissed the libel case against Simon Wiesenthal Center Jerusalem director Efraim Zuroff and praised him for contacting Hungarian prosecutors before outing Novi Sad massacre perpetrator Sandor Kepiro to the Hungarian media.


Magda Hassan
05-05-2011, 12:01 PM
Thanks for the follow up Helen :tea: And good to know not everyone in Hungary has turned into a raving loon.

Magda Hassan
03-11-2012, 01:49 AM
Anonymous hacks Hungarian court website, rewrites new ConstitutionSubmitted by l33tdawg on Mon, 2012-03-05 09:25


Credit: Your Anon News (http://youranonnews.tumblr.com/)
Hacker group Anonymous changed passages of the new Hungarian constitution on the website of the Constitutional Court, internet portal Index reported on Sunday.
According to Index, the hackers added several passages to the basic law, such as stipulations that those working in IT jobs could retire at age 32, and should be entitled to pensions equal to 150 percent of their salaries. Another new section said that Anonymous and other grass-roots IT groups should fight internal or external threats against the country.
“Ideals and rulers of tyranny, or dictators represent but short periods of history. The people have the right to eliminate tyranny or rebel against it,” said the “revised” version of the constitution. The hacked text has now been removed from the court’s website, the body’s press chief Andras Sereg told MTI.

Magda Hassan
08-16-2012, 02:24 PM
Anti-semitic leader resigns after he is outed as JewishEmbedded radio link here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19286023
16 August 2012 Last updated at 13:07 GMTHelp (http://www.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/help/7277283.stm)
A leading figure in Hungary's far right Jobbik Party has been forced to resign after being exposed as Jewish.
Csanad Szegedi's grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor and his grandfather a veteran of forced labour camps.
5 live (http://www.bbc.co.uk/5live)Up All Night (http://ww.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0070h86) heard more from Krisztian Szabados, a political analyst and the director of Political Capital Institute based in Hungary.

Jan Klimkowski
08-16-2012, 07:47 PM
Of course, some of the Gladio/Opus Dei operatives in Bolivia, including leader Eduardo Rosza-Flores (https://deeppoliticsforum.com/forums/showthread.php?1304-Morales-assassins-Bolivia-gang-quot-fought-in-Balkans-quot) , had links to Jobbik.

Peter Lemkin
08-17-2012, 12:40 PM
Anti-semitic leader resigns after he is outed as Jewish

Embedded radio link here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-19286023
16 August 2012 Last updated at 13:07 GMTHelp (http://www.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/help/7277283.stm)
A leading figure in Hungary's far right Jobbik Party has been forced to resign after being exposed as Jewish.
Csanad Szegedi's grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor and his grandfather a veteran of forced labour camps.
5 live (http://www.bbc.co.uk/5live)Up All Night (http://ww.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0070h86) heard more from Krisztian Szabados, a political analyst and the director of Political Capital Institute based in Hungary.

I find myself almost without words......as a student of the Holocaust. As the nephew of the man who wrote the Genocide Convention; coined the word 'genocide' and was a legal expert at Nuremberg,this this is one of the more amazing outings [not the most extreme] I have seen. OBSCENE is the only English word I know that does it justice...an archaic term no longer recognized by any politically powerful countries nor entities.

Magda Hassan
12-07-2012, 02:42 PM
Anger as Hungary far-right leader demands lists of JewsBy Marton Dunai

BUDAPEST | Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:26am EST

(Reuters) - A Hungarian far-right politician urged the government to draw up lists of Jews who pose a "national security risk", stirring outrage among Jewish leaders who saw echoes of fascist policies that led to the Holocaust.
Marton Gyongyosi, a leader of Hungary's third-strongest political party Jobbik, said the list was necessary because of heightened tensions following the brief conflict in Gaza and should include members of parliament.
Opponents have condemned frequent anti-Semitic slurs and tough rhetoric against the Roma minority by Gyongyosi's party as populist point scoring ahead of elections in 2014.
Jobbik has never called publicly for lists of Jews.
"I am a Holocaust survivor," said Gusztav Zoltai, executive director of the Hungarian Jewish Congregations' Association. "For people like me this generates raw fear, even though it is clear that this only serves political ends. This is the shame of Europe, the shame of the world."
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Hungarian Jews died in the Holocaust, according to the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Budapest. According to some accountshttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/27/us-hungary-antisemitism-idUSBRE8AQ0L920121127#), one in three Jews killed in Auschwitz were Hungarian nationals.
Gyongyosi's call came after Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth said Budapest favored a peaceful solutionhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/27/us-hungary-antisemitism-idUSBRE8AQ0L920121127#) to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as benefiting both Israelis with Hungarian ancestry, Hungarian Jews and Palestinians in Hungary.
Gyongyosi, who leads Jobbik's foreign policy cabinet, told Parliament: "I know how many people with Hungarian ancestry live in Israel, and how many Israeli Jews live in Hungary," according to a video posted on Jobbik's website late on Monday.
"I think such a conflict makes it timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary."
Gyongyosi, 35, is the son of a diplomat who grew up mostly in the Middle East and Asia -- Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan (http://www.reuters.com/places/afghanistan) and India -- and whose office is decorated by Iranian and Turkish souvenirs. He graduated with a degree in business and political science from Trinity College in Dublin in 2000.
He worked for four years at the Dublin office of KPMG, then returned to Budapest in 2005. He has been active in Jobbik since 2006 and became their MP in 2010.
The government condemned the remarks.
"The government strictly rejects extremist, racist, anti-Semitic voices of any kind and does everything to suppress such voices," the government spokesman's office said.
Laszlo Kover, the Speaker of parliament, who is from the ruling Fidesz party, also issued a statement on Tuesday in which he called for a tightening of house rules that would allow a sanctioning of such behavior.
Gyongyosi tried to play down his comments on Tuesday, saying he was referring to citizens with dual Israeli-Hungarian citizenship.
"I apologize to my Jewish compatriots for my declarations that could be misunderstood," he said on Jobbik's website.
He later told a news conference that he would not resign and considered the matter "closed," national news agency MTI reported.
Jobbik's anti-Semitic discourse often evokes a centuries-old blood libel - the accusation that Jews used Christians' blood in religious rituals.
"Jobbik has moved from representing medieval superstition (of the blood libel) to openly Nazi ideologies," wrote Slomo Koves, chief rabbi of the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation.
Jobbik registered as a political party in 2003, and gained increasing influence as it radicalized gradually, vilifying Jews and the country's 700,000 Roma.
The group gained notoriety after founding the Hungarian Guard, an unarmed vigilante group reminiscent of World War Two-era far-right groups. It entered Parliament at the 2010 elections and holds 44 of 386 seats.
The centre-right government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban has struggled to pull Hungary out of recession as many European countries suffer from an economic crisis.
Orban's Fidesz has lost more than a million voters since 2010, even though it is still the strongest political force.
More than half of Hungary's electorate is undecided and having retained its voter base, some analysts say Jobbik could hold the balance of power in the 2014 elections between Fidesz and the fragmented left-wing opposition.
(Editing by Tom Pfeiffer and Anna Willard)

Jan Klimkowski
12-07-2012, 07:47 PM
This is from Tablet, and written by a New Republic editor.

Interesting nonetheless, and Gyöngyösi's background is intriguing and provocative:

Meet Europe’s New Fascists

Hungary’s far-right activists used to rally in the streets. Now they’re in parliament, where their party, Jobbik, is stoking hatred of Jews and Roma.

By James Kirchick (http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/96716/meet-europes-new-fascists?all=1)|April 12, 2012 7:00 AM|42comments

MPs of Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party pose in front of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest on May 14, 2010. (Ferenc Isza/AFP/Getty Images)

Hungary has made a hard turn to the political right, but Holocaust survivor Karl Pfeifer, who in three decades of journalism has assailed Hungarian communists and Austrian fascists, refuses to let anti-Semitism return unchecked

Márton Gyöngyösi, a member of the Hungarian parliament, does not look the least bit like a neo-Nazi. That may be the most frightening thing about him.

Born in 1977 to a globetrotting trade-official father, Gyöngyösi spent his formative years in places as diverse as Egypt, Iraq, Afghanistan, and India. He received a degree in economics and political science from Trinity College, Dublin, and went on to a successful career as a corporate accountant, working for firms like KPMG and Ernst & Young. But in 2006, he quit accounting to join Jobbik, “The Movement for a Better Hungary.” Founded in 2003, the far-right, nationalist party is now one of the most powerful political forces in the country.

While Gyöngyösi opts for well-cut suits over the leather jackets typical of Hungary’s neo-Nazis, he has the unfortunate habit of sounding like one. In a February interview with London’s Jewish Chronicle, Gyöngyösi asked whether Jews “have the right to talk about what happened during the Second World War,” given Israel’s “Nazi system.” Discussions about the forced transportation of over 400,000 Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz unnerves him: “Me, should I say sorry for this when 70 years later, I am still reminded on the hour, every hour about it? Let’s get over it, for Christ’s sake. I find this question outrageous,” he told the paper. “It has become a fantastic business to jiggle around with the numbers” of dead Jews. Holocaust survivors and their descendants who seek restitution for stolen property also grate. “This money-searching is playing with fire in Hungary,” he said. The comments only added to the growing sense of unease felt by Hungary’s 100,000 Jews.

A week after the dust-up, Gyöngyösi told me that the quotes printed in the Jewish Chronicle were “taken out of context” and “completely manipulated.” And when I sat across from him in his Budapest office overlooking the icy Danube, I didn’t see this side of Jobbik’s foreign-affairs spokesman. He was gracious and didn’t betray a trace of anger or resentment. But his distinguished pedigree and flawless English make his words—the sort of thing one would expect to hear from a half-literate skinhead—all the more chilling. Meet Márton Gyöngyösi, the clean-cut, savvy face of 21st-century European fascism currently on the rise in Hungary.


Last Thursday, Jobbik MP Zsolt Baráth delivered a five-minute speech from the floor of parliament commemorating a blood libel that took place 130 years ago. Several days before Passover in 1882, a young girl was murdered in the Hungarian village of Tiszaeszlár, and the local Jewish community was blamed. A group of 15 accused Jews were eventually acquitted in a court trial, but the murder victim, Eszter Solymosi, has since become a martyr figure for the Hungarian right. A memorial constructed in her honor several years ago is a pilgrimage spot for Jobbik members and other far-right activists. “As we can see, there is no clear explanation, we do not know what happened to Eszter,” Baráth said. “Nevertheless, there is one point common to the known variants: The Jewry and the leadership of the country were severely implicated in the case.”

This was hardly the worst outburst by a Jobbik figure; that honor would probably go to European Parliament Member Krisztina Morvai, who, in a 2009 Internet posting, wrote, “I would be greatly pleased if those who call themselves proud Hungarian Jews played in their leisure with their tiny circumcised dicks, instead of besmirching me. Your kind of people are used to seeing all of our kind of people stand to attention and adjust to you every time you fart. Would you kindly acknowledge this is now OVER. We have raised our head up high and we shall no longer tolerate your kind of terror. We shall take back our country.”

Jobbik leaders deny that they are a fascist movement. “We are not communists, fascists, or National Socialists,” Gabor Vona, the party’s 33-year-old leader, declared in a speech to several thousand Jobbik supporters this winter. “But—and this is important for everyone to understand very clearly—we are also not democrats.” (In his spare time, Vona founded Magyar Garda, or Hungarian Guard, a paramilitary organization whose members would strut around Budapest wearing fascist insignia condemning “Gypsy Crime” and demanding segregation. The Guard was officially banned by the country’s constitutional court in 2009, but it is not uncommon to still see Jobbik members dress in fascist regalia for public displays.)

The party’s rejection of democracy at home has translated into an affinity for authoritarians abroad. Prominently displayed on Gyöngyösi’s bookshelf is a “Twinning Agreement” between Tiszavasvári, a small town in eastern Hungary, and the sister city of Ardabil in Iran. Last January, after a Jobbik candidate won the mayoralty, Gyöngyösi and Vona paid a visit to Tiszavasvári with the Iranian ambassador to Hungary. Since then, Jobbik has taken a particular interest in Iran. In 2008, Vona said that representatives from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard should monitor Hungary’s 2010 parliamentary election to protect against any irregularities.

The Islamic Republic might seem like a strange ally for a group that describes itself as a “radically patriotic Christian party.” But given Jobbik’s virulently anti-Europe rhetoric, anti-Western worldview, and undisguised anti-Semitism, it’s not hard to see why the party has embraced the mullahs.

Jobbik’s turn eastward also has roots in a cultural philosophy known as “Turanism,” a pan-Turkic ideology emphasizing the alleged origins of Hungarians among the peoples of the Central Asian steppes. Ferenc Szalasi, the leader of Hungary’s wartime fascist Arrow Cross party, espoused the existence of a “Turanian-Hungarian” race. One of the unspoken functions of Turanism is to emphasize the racial peculiarity of Hungarians and thereby establish Hungary as a country in which the Jews and the Roma have no place. While the Communists suppressed Turanism, since it challenged their own claims to universal brotherhood, the Hungarian far right, with Jobbik in the forefront, has revived it. Jobbik leader Vona has declared that “an alliance based and developed on the principles of Turanism instead of the Euro-Atlantic alliance would be more effective in serving the needs and interests of our nation.”

Jobbik, Gyöngyösi told me, rejects the Western “neoliberal” order, describing the European Union as “a collapsing union.” The party’s rejection of the “Euro-Atlanticist foreign policy” is based on more than just disgust for the supranational structures of the E.U. bureaucracy, the euro-zone crisis, and the perceived decadence of the post-Christian West; it has a deeper, atavistic basis. In a discourse citing Samuel Huntington and Carl Jung, Gyöngyösi explained how Hungarians have a “double identity,” Western and Eastern, owing to the influence of 13th-century Mongol invaders and the 150-year-long Ottoman conquest that commenced in the 16th century. These are not just matters of historical curiosity, they are present in a “very living culture” revealed in the Hungarian language, folk dancing, and mythology. It can also be traced genetically. There are three groups, Gyöngyösi told me, into which Europeans can be racially divided: “Germanic, Latin, and the Slavic. We are neither. If you look at the Hungarian faces they are very different from the Latin, Slavic, Germanic.” Given this account of what constitutes a true Hungarian, it’s difficult to see where the Jews and Roma fit in.


Jobbik came to the fore two years ago this month, when, after eight years of unpopular socialist government, Hungarian voters elected Viktor Orban’s nationalist, conservative Fidesz party to power with an unprecedented two-thirds majority of seats in parliament. Jobbik stunned Europe when it won 17 percent of the vote, becoming the country’s third-largest political party. The relationship between Fidesz and Jobbik is complicated—Jobbik is not a formal member of the ruling coalition—and yet, Fidesz leaders play a dangerous game by trying to appeal to their constituents without going too far.

The Orban government has set out on a course of rapid and thorough change, passing over 350 laws since coming to power. Orban’s critics allege he has set about to undo the country’s democracy by purging the civil service and filling it with party loyalists, establishing a media authority that threatens press freedom, eroding checks and balances, robbing the judiciary of its independence, and introducing a new constitution without sufficiently consulting the opposition or the country at large. Among other changes, the new constitution proclaims Hungary to be a Christian nation, defines life as beginning at conception, and stipulates that marriage is between a man and a woman.

While Jobbik’s rise is a reflection of just how resoundingly the electorate lurched to the right, the party does not necessarily fit into the traditional left-right paradigm. Support for Jobbik is also a protest against the country’s political establishment. “If they only centered on anti-Semitism or anti-Roma issues, they would be a marginal thing,” Gabor Takacs, an analyst at the conservative think tank Nezopont, told me. “But what makes them attractive is their radicalism, their voice. And this is something that is very attractive to young people, mainly, who say ‘the politicians are all corrupt liars and I don’t understand their language and they always beat about the bush instead of tackling the problems.’ ” But unlike Western European countries, where right-wing parties rail against immigration, Hungary has a negligible immigrant population. What it does have are Roma and Jews.

In its warnings about an “Israeli occupation” of Hungarian business and real estate, its bloodcurdling cries against the Roma, and its slogan of “Hungary for the Hungarians,” Jobbik is tapping into very deep-seated Hungarian political traditions. One of the first things that struck me during my first visit to Hungary was the prevalence of bumper stickers and postcards depicting “Greater Hungary”—that is, Hungary as it was during the period of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, before it came out on the losing side in World War I. The loss of two-thirds of its territory and the dispersal of one-third of its people to the various successor states has left a profound psychological wound on the Hungarian right. Jobbik uses the map of Greater Hungary in its propaganda—a wooden engraving of one sits prominently on Gyöngyösi’s coffee table—and the party campaigned on the pledge that “the Trianon borders should be dropped within a few generations or as soon as possible.”

But popular support for Jobbik cannot be attributed only, or even mostly, to ideology. Most of the Hungarians voting for Jobbik do so because of what’s referred to as “the Roma issue”—that is, government’s persistent failure to integrate Gypsies (as they are colloquially, yet not pejoratively, known) into Hungarian society. A cultural lethargy and political correctness has inhibited the country from grappling with this issue, leaving many frustrated voters, particularly those in rural areas who live in close proximity to Roma, to choose a radical party that offers a simple solution to the problem: Put them in ghettos. Socialist Party leader Attila Mesterhazy accepts some share of the blame for the rise of Jobbik: “I would say the [Socialist Party] is responsible not for [Jobbik’s] creation, but how they could gain support in society, just because of the fact that our government did not pay much attention to these very poor people, frustrated people.” Many Jobbik voters, particularly in the more rural, eastern half of the country, are not ideological right-wingers, but frustrated, lower-middle-class people who abandoned the Socialists.

“If someone said 10 years ago that a neo-fascist party would get 20 percent of the vote, I would say they are crazy,” said Jeno Kaltenbach, the country’s first ombudsman for minority rights. But given that Hungary’s economic situation shows no sign of improving and that Prime Minister Orban has echoed Jobbik’s anti-E.U. rhetoric—even though he has resolutely resisted racism and anti-Semitism—the party is likely to remain a force in Hungarian politics for the foreseeable future.


“There’s a joke in Hungary about the researcher who is studying anti-Semitism,” Matyas Eorsi, a former member of parliament from a now defunct liberal party, the Alliance of Free Democrats, told me. “And he goes to a small village in Transylvania and asks an old man, ‘Excuse me sir, can I ask you: is there any anti-Semitism in your village?’ He replies: ‘Sir, not at all. But there’s a huge demand for it.’ ”

This apocryphal tale hints at a reality of Hungarian politics, which is that anti-Semitism has typically required clever ideologists and an adverse political and economic environment to make it truly dangerous. Though Jews, like members of other faiths, had to endure restrictions on religious practice during the Communist period, the sort of virulent anti-Semitism that one regularly hears today was kept under wraps. “Nowadays more people dare to speak openly about their anti-Semitic feelings,” said Laszlo Csosz, a historian at Budapest’s Holocaust Memorial Center. “So, I don’t think the number of anti-Semites radically increased. But they’ve become louder and more explicit.”

The strongest push-back against the nationalist right hasn’t come from the Roma or the Jews but has emerged from an unlikely source. Most Hungarians get their news from television, but because state media is now firmly in government hands, there is only one station that reliably airs news programs criticizing the government. During the day and early evening, this station’s news programs regularly feature stories about international criticism of the path Hungary has taken, and its talk shows provide a platform to Fidesz critics. And then, at 10 p.m., the Pat Robertson’s 700 Club begins.

This is ATV, owned by a group of Hungarian investors who are mainly members of the Faith Church, a Pentecostal Christian sect. Led by Pastor Sandor Nemeth, a former Catholic theologian who is one of the loudest and most passionate opponents of the Hungarian far right, the church claims about 50,000 members. Though he leads a socially conservative flock, Nemeth and the journalists in his mini-media empire stand foursquare against the type of nationalism that, in Europe especially, comes packaged with explicitly religious ornamentation. “Ever since the beginning of the 1990s, the right in Hungary has always represented traditional nationalism, and this is something we could not align ourselves with because we consider this whole ideology to be full of poison,” Nemeth told me. “What we’ve seen is a nostalgia and a sympathy toward the pre-Second World War ideologies and movements, which were all represented in the political right. And we saw that in quite a number of groups within the right, anti-Semitism wasn’t far from them. They haven’t distanced themselves. They haven’t put an end to this period.”

In addition to ATV, the church also publishes a weekly news magazine, Hetek, which regularly exposes the foibles and dangers of Jobbik. A few days before I interviewed Gyöngyösi, Hetek published an article in which anonymous sources within the party accused him of being a mole for Hungary’s domestic intelligence agency. When I asked Gyöngyösi about this claim, he replied that Hetek had paid the men to make these accusations. (“We don’t use such methods,” said Peter Morvay, who holds senior editorial positions at Hetek and ATV.) Morvay said that the station has doubled its ratings since the Fidesz government took power and regularly reaches a daily audience of about 1 million viewers—a huge number in a country of 10 million people. Only 5 percent of the station’s content is explicitly Christian-oriented, he says, and fewer than half of its employees are members of the church.

Nemeth feels an obligation to be involved politically because so much of the anti-Semitic rhetoric in Hungary emanates from prejudices that have been inflamed by Christian churches. “There are nationalists in Hungary who try to stand on Christian grounds, but when I say ‘Christian’ I mean in a cultural and political sense, not in the original spiritual sense because most of these people are not Christians, they are pseudo-Christians,” he told me. The church’s anti-extremist campaign goes beyond investigative journalism and stinging editorials. Members infiltrated skinhead movements beginning in the 1990s and hosted a road-show exhibition on the 50th anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary. It currently operates a “Jobbik-watch network” across the country, restores Jewish cemeteries, and plans to launch a campaign, “All Together for Jerusalem,” to emphasize the historical connection between Jerusalem and the Jewish people. The church’s media organs are unabashedly pro-Israel. Nemeth said that, through the church and its media, he wants to “promote people like Theodore Herzl, who was born in Hungary, and he’s the founder of the state of Israel, and many Hungarians don’t know of his connections to Hungary.”

The Faith Church has won praise from the country’s Jewish community and some liberal figures that are otherwise skeptical of evangelical Christians. Karl Pfeifer, an Austrian journalist who has reported frequently from and about Hungary for three decades, recalls that when he first met Nemeth in the early 1980s, the pastor promised him that he was going to build a movement to combat Hungarian anti-Semitism. “When I heard this I said the Yiddish word, ‘Halevai,’ It will be good,” said Pfeifer, a Holocaust survivor. “They are real friends of Israel and the Jewish people,” said Peter Feldmajer, the head of the Hungarian Jewish community. The church was originally aligned with the Alliance of Free Democrats, the extinct liberal party. But, according to Matyas Eorsi, the former MP, it “started to dislike us because we approved homosexuality, euthanasia, and abortion.” Today, while espousing socially conservative views, the church has not shifted to the political right, and, unlike most large institutions within the country, it is independent of Fidesz.

Hungary is not, as some in the European media have alleged, becoming a fascist dictatorship. The rise of the far right has, somewhat ironically, coincided with a revival of Jewish life. The opposition media, in spite of the new regulatory authority, remains fiercely critical of the government, as the popularity of ATV and Hetek attests. Public protests are frequent and proceed unhindered. But as Hungary faces the worst set of crises to befall it since the communist period, things are likely to get worse before they get better. As Gyöngyösi told me: “Extraordinary times create extraordinary situations.”


James Kirchick, a fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a columnist at Tablet and a contributing editor at The New Republic. Follow him on Twitter @jkirchick.