The state of votes
Tóth Szilvia|translated by: Kummer Lívia
Radicalization is not the right answer
Tóth Zoltán| translated by: Kummer Lívia
Tóth Szilvia | translated by: Kummer Lívia | 2012. May 31. 12:47
Dozens of pollsters claim the influence of the right-wing is rising steadily both in Hungary and abroad. According to some recent polls, Jobbik became the second most popular party in Hungary among young people. But why is Europe afraid of a young political party wishing to represent the unity of the nation?
"2011: the year of Jobbik?”, “The European conquest of the extreme-right?”. Such and similar rotund titles caught the attention of readers in the past two years. Dozens of pollsters claim that the influence of the radical right in Hungary and abroad is rising steadily. According to certain polls Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom (Jobbik), the Hungarian radical right party, has become the second most popular party, above all amongst young people. Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu, the Romanian ex-Prime Minister, has turned to the President of the European Council because of what he perceives as the rise of anti-European radical-right-wing protests and the increasing demands of ethnic movements. But what is Europe afraid of?
The Hungarian far-right party, Jobbik, is radical in its methods. However, it is also a value-principled young party, wishing to represent the whole of the nation. They openly claim that national identity in their eyes is a basic value of human life. They also declare that a nation - therefore, also the Hungarian nation - is characterised by a commonly shared territory, a common language and culture, a commonly experienced history and a common set of core values. One of the most popular suggestions of the party is that excessive support for multinational companies should be retrieved. According to the party, Hungarian agriculture should flourish from the hard work of Hungarian farmers, especially since Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has called Hungary an agrarian country on the inauguration of the Agricultural and Food-industry Exhibition in 2011. Is this perception - the safeguarding of our internal values - the cause for anxiety among the leaders of the European Union?
According to Martin Schulz, the newly elected socialist President of the European Parliament, the break-up of the European Union is a realistic scenario. Daniel Cohn-Bendit has yelled at the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán, in 2011 for the new bills his government has passed (the new law on the Media), but Poland has since raised its voice to declare its support and agreement on the fact that we should protest against the conventions forced upon us and that we should not let the leaders of European Union meddle with the internal affairs of our country without any justified reason.
The governors of the Union regard themselves as a monitoring, controlling state, ensuring perfect conformation among its citizens through lies, intimidation and brutal punishment. For Hungary this kind of behaviour is not a novelty since the country had been under almost continuous oppression since the middle of the 1500s, first under Turkish, then under Habsburg domination. Jobbik often emphasizes this historical fact in its discourses. Hungary was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy for 50 years, which was broken-up after the First World War. Because of the Trianon Peace Treaty, Hungary has lost two-thirds of its original territory. The people tried to resist the Stalinist dictatorship in 1956, forced upon the country after the Second World War, but the revolution, just like the War of Independence in 1848, was repressed by the oppressing powers.
Maybe we all think of these repressed revolutions when we hear about protests, riots or movements expressing negative criticism. We condemn every protest aimed at a common bad from the start. We give up before we even get to it because we, Hungarians, are incapable of independence or of forming an independent opinion. In the meanwhile we actively support other countries in need. We entered the UN, the NATO, we participated in the Afghan war. We joined the camp of the European Union in 2004. Does this prove that we, Hungarians, are incapable of independence?
We are afraid of European Deputies expressing their opinion about us: we are scared of the voice of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the frowns of the Dutch, and even of minorities living within our country, so much that we do not dare to use their ethnic names determined in the Bill of Ethnicities. The European Union calls nations racists and rebels because they dare to think different, because they so much as dare to think! George Orwell’s fiction, 1984, is again relevant today: the Big Brother keeps an eye on us all the time, sees everything and hears everything. Somehow the concept of “Thoughtpolice” seems not at all surreal. The Big Brother in 2012 takes shape in the form of the European Union.
After that the dreaded euroscepticism and Jobbik have full right to become more and more popular.
After the defaulter procedure has started against Hungary on 17th January 2012, Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom has expressed its opinion, according to which the “campaign” against us is an obvious form of colonization. Jobbik asked the Prime Minister to take steps towards exiting the European union. It is not my tasks to decide whether that is the only and best solution against the latest incorporation of our country by an authoritarian regime. It is, however, certain that the more frequent radical movements and their growing support Europe-wide are the warning signs of a possible revolution which is better to be prevented than repressed from political, from economic as well as from social perspectives.
Tóth Zoltán | translated by: Kummer Lívia | 2012. May 31. 12:47
“National self-determination, social justice”. In the context of the years 2011/2012 these were appealing slogans to people, slogans which increased the support for the right-wing radical party, Jobbik. Are the rise of and the growing support for the right-wing radical party good for Hungary?
In conjuncture cycles with high employment and security of living, there is no need for radical programs. During the twenty-two year long history of Hungarian democracy only two parties - Magyar Igazság és Élet Pártja, the Hungarian Party of Justice and Life (MIÉP) and Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom, the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) - presented themselves with a radical program. The latter has been, ever since its foundation in 2003, a story of success. Its first success was its entry into the European Parliament in 2009. However, this was rather due to people voting against the governing (socialist) party at that time. Becoming a relevant party on the political scene was due to the financial crisis in 2008. Hungary found itself facing a dilemma because of the failing economic steps of the socialist government, in power for eight years, and a huge national debt. The repeated austerity and reform programs helped the emergence of radical rallying cries.
Following the 2010 elections, Fiatal Demokraták Szövetsége, the Association of Young Democrats (Fidesz), and Kereszténydemokrata Néppárt, the People’s Party of Christian Democrats (KDNP), gained a two-third majority in legislation. In the year of the election - and according to polls to this day - only Fidesz was able to use such rhetoric and promote such program, which convinced the citizens of its competence. The newcomer Lehet Más a Politika, Politics Can Be Different (LMP), and Jobbik only had a small and relatively homogeneous supporter base. However, by becoming a relevant party and by the parliamental publicity, Jobbik succeeded in winning over people in a way LMP and the Democratic Coalition founded in 2011 could not yet achieve.
In 2011, according to the measures of the Tárki polls, Jobbik has become the second biggest opposition party in Hungary, luring to themselves above all the conservative voters of the centre-right. According to a representative poll executed amongst university students, 30% of them would vote for Jobbik. The key to the party’s success is its populist rhetoric, since they try to become popular by emphasising the fault-lines between rich and poor, tax payers and those on state-aid, majority and minority (they refer to ethnic divisions).
At the same time, Jobbik does not accept any view of conviction that is different from its own. In Parliamentary life Jobbik is perhaps the most constructive opposition party; they criticise the right-wing Fidesz just as much as they attack the divided Socialists. In simple terms: Jobbik creates unity among its voters in order to attack the groups on the other side of the fault-lines. That is, of course, quite far from creating national unity.
In January István Csurka, the founder and President of MIÉP, held a simpathy demonstration in Szeged, and a few days later Jobbik also had a demonstration. The latter event ended in police reports, since the participants burned the flag of the European Union in front of cameras as a protest against the limitation of freedom and independence. Parallel to that, heated debates over the Hungarian reforms and constitutional changes followed in the European Parliament. Finally, at the beginning of January, Hungary had to suffer from a third downgrading of its credit rating and the continuous weakening of the national currency, the Forint. In March the European Union decided to withhold 495 million euros, starting from January 2013, from the Cohesion Fund.
During the commemoration ceremony held on March 15th, Jobbik encouraged the public to “active resistance” and a “revolutionary style of living”, which, a few months after the concept of street politics, sounds dangerous. Due to this, some radical events followed: a few members of Jobbik and the members of 64 Counties Movement entered the center of IMF in Budapest to “humiliate the world-power seeking IMF”. Although the police had taken action against them, they claimed that “it was only a start”, so we can suppose that such atrocities are yet to come.
The European Union is of course not without any faults. The fiscal policies, the deepening of the integration process, or the emergence of a European identity often come to a halt between the support groups of a nation-state or a supranational entity. There is no consensus on these topics even among the leading states. However, if the economic differences between East and West deepened, it could lead to a multi-speed integration and might even cause the disintegration of the Union. According to the official standpoint of Jobbik, “the European Union does not lead anywhere but to disintegration”. It is in turn worth considering whether the disintegration is occurring by itself or if some parties and movements do everything to make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Tóth Szilvia|translated by: Kummer Lívia
Tóth Zoltán| translated by: Kummer Lívia
Would you like to take part in the Duel Amical project? Or would you just like to publish an article? Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for more information.