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Civic Nation Unity in Deversity

Radical Right-Wing Political Parties and Groups

Radical Right-Wing Political Parties and Groups

The oldest Hungarian radical right-wing party is the “Party of Hungarian Justice”. Created in 1990s, the party was able to actively promote its ideas in the parliament until 2002. Founder of the party, a well-known Hungarian playwright, poet, political activist and a no less famous anti-Semite, Istvan Csurka, died in February 2012. Currently, the party is promoting its views on the internet .

Party “For a Better Hungary” (Jobbik) was formed in 2003 under the leadership of Gabor Vona by the former members of the “Party of Hungarian Justice” who were unhappy with its policies. The party’s name consists of a play on words – word “Jobbik” has two meanings in Hungarian – “best” and “right”. Gradually, the party became a leading radical right wing party in Hungary, beating its predecessors from the “Party of Hungarian Justice” in their radicalism. Along with Jobbik, Hungary has several other nationalist organisations, including the Hungarian Phoenix Movement (Magyar Főnix Mozgalom), “Army of Criminals”, “64 Regions Youth Movement”, “Self Defence for a Better Future”. On May 24, the first self-defence unit of the Association for a Better Future was established in Sazskhalombatta.

The main slogan of the Hungarian Justice Party, which is apparently in decline since the death of its leader, is the traditional far-right slogan “Hungary for Hungarians”. This includes moderate anti-Semitism and no less moderate anti-Roma sentiments. The party opposes “foreign domination” and is characterised by its anti-communist and anti-socialist orientation.

“For a Better Hungary” (Jobbik) defines itself as radical and national-conservative party. Independent observers classify the Jobbik party as extreme right wing. The party actively uses anti-Roma, anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-immigrant rhetoric, even though it officially denies anti-Semitic and homophobic ideology. In its manifesto, the party calls for the recognition of the term “gypsy crime” and combating it. The leader of the party, Gabor Vona, also calls for gypsy birth control and forced transfer of Roma children “of lazy parents” to boarding schools.

The Hungarian Phoenix Movement is also primarily anti-Roma. Hungarian National Front aims to deport all Roma from the country, which they say they can achieve in 24 hours after coming to power . 64 Region Youth Movement demands restoration of Austro-Hungarian Empire frontiers. By the beginning of 2015, far-right party Jobbik had become the second largest party and largest opposition party in Hungary. The increase in Jobbik’s support has mainly been a consequence of three phenomena: the increasing dissatisfaction with the government’s performance; the non-existence of a potent opposition force within the democratic camp; and the rebranding strategy of Jobbik. The so-called “campaign of cuteness” started already in 2013. Since that time, Jobbik applied a completely new image affecting both the physical appearance of the party’s politicians and their rhetoric. While before 2013 the party was known for its harsh, anti-Semitic and openly racist statements, nowadays Jobbik focuses on sending positive messages. Instead of hate inciting comments, the party’s leading politicians concentrate on solving the people’s problem and fight corruption both within the governing party Fidesz and the second largest opposition party MSZP. The aim of the new strategy is to attract more moderate voters, persuade them that they have nothing to fear of Jobbik and make the party Fidesz’s main challenger in the 2018 general elections. In the framework of the new strategy, Gábor Vona talked about the importance of peace and calm in the society and promised the voters fairness, empathy and understanding in his “state of the union” speech in February . Later he announced the policy of opening to the West in order to settle relations with Germany and the US. According to Mr Vona the core of the party’s “rebranding” strategy is as follows: “Firm and strict programme on the one hand, calm and smooth tone on the other hand.”

A proof of the successful strategy was the by-election in Tapolca in April 2015, where Jobbik won its first individual constituency seat in the Hungarian Parliament. After the elections Mr Vona said in an interview that the party would go further on the path to become a people’s party and, while preserving its values. Jobbik would do politics in a calm and professional way and in a “civic” tone in order to reach the broadest audience. However, not everyone in the party is happy about the modest image and the manoeuvre into the political centre. In an interview Mr Vona admitted that there were some question marks regarding the new style and the process of becoming a people’s party within the membership. Indeed, while on the national level and in the party’s mainstream communications most leading politicians restrained from openly racist and anti-Semitic statements, members particularly on the local level could not but act “naturally” in accordance with their conviction.

As we already mentioned in the chapter about hate speech and incitement of religious and ethnic hatred, on 1 January 2015, deputy leader of Jobbik Előd Novák posted a photo of the family on Facebook next to the photo of his own family of five, and made strong anti-Roma statements. The post unleashed support from other Jobbik member and supporters, but was harshly criticized as racist by both the governing and opposition parties. Minister of Prime Minister's Office János Lázár labelled Novák a “cowardly criminal” for stigmatizing a new-born baby on the basis of ethnicity and said that it is the responsibility of the state to protect all children against discrimination.

Ahead of the by-elections in Tapolca many cases were revealed where either Jobbik politicians made racist or anti-Semitic statements or admitted that the modest image is only a facade. In February earlier Facebook posts of János Kötél, a Jobbik candidate for the council of a town in Southeast Hungary Mezőtúr were discovered.

Back in 2013 Mr Kötél posted about the execution of Roma people. Vona tried to distance Jobbik from these views, and forced Kötél to live with a Roma member of the party for three days. However media reports revealed later that the Roma man in question had some anti-Semitic posts on his Facebook wall as well. Shortly after, one of Jobbik members of a local council in Budapest caused public outrage when he refused to pay tribute to the recently-deceased Chief Rabbi of Hungary, József Schweitzer, mentioned earlier. A few days later, anti-Roma posts from the Facebook wall of Jobbik’s candidate in the Tapolca by-elections were discovered. One of the posts, for instance, praised an article which described Roma as “biological weapon of the Jews”. In March, Jobbik Member of Parliament Gergely Kulcsár’s anti-Semitic act from 2011 was leaked. In 2011 Mr Kulcsár desecrated the Holocaust memorial “Shoes on the Bank of the Danube” in Budapest by spitting into one of the shoes. As reaction Mr Vona sent Mr Kulcsár back to the scene to pay his tribute. Still in March an audio tape was released on which Tamás Sneider, the Jobbik deputy president of Parliament can be heard telling his audience that consisted of members of the extremist paramilitary group Outlaws’ Army (Betyársereg) that the cuteness campaign is not real and the party has not changed. They only had to temper their message so that they do not scare away the more moderate voters, especially pensioners. However, Outlaws’ Army can carry on delivering the real message of Jobbik since the two groups (plus Jobbik’s proxy organisation, the Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement, SCYM) complement each other on the basis of a division of labour.

Besides anti-Roma and anti-Semitic statements from earlier, explicitly discriminatory demands from the first half of 2015 prove that the party has not changed in its nature. They have just learned to better wrap their messages up. Jobbik continues to score via law and order policy, social populism, anti-elite and anti-poor (including anti-Roma) measures. In January, as it was mentioned earlier in the chapter “Discriminatory legislation and practices affecting minorities”, Jobbik insisted that disruptive kids should be put into special classes and in extreme cases into a boarding school. However, Jobbik MP Dóra Dúró serving also as a Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Education and Culture, tried to wrap up the party’s message, but it was clear that it was about segregation of Roma pupils.

In his state of the union speech in February Gábor Vona listed a few topics that are of importance for Jobbik and for which the party will stand up. For instance, he mentioned the possibility to limit the right of suffrage to those who terminated elementary school; to limit the number of children in families to a certain number that can be raised by the respective parents themselves; to make social benefits available only via a „social card” that can only be purchased in a chain of „social stores”; the duty of the minority to stick to the norms of the majority instead of the majority accepting the difference of the culture of a minority; possible curfew against repeated infringers.

Regarding the erupting refugee crisis, Jobbik’s position has been similar to Fidesz’s: instead of asylum seekers the far-right party has been talking about economic immigrants, threatening with the perishing of Christian Europe, and identifying refugees with criminals and terrorists. Therefore, Jobbik has been insisting on a harsh stance against refugees by closing the borders, deploying the army, creating an individual border patrol, turning the open refugee camps into closed facilities and speeding up asylum procedures. A month before the government’s consultation on immigration and terrorism started, Jobbik had launched a petition campaign in favour of the reestablishment of the border guard and to oppose that the state defrays the cost of taking care of the refugees.

Beyond the party landscape there are two major far-right organisations in Hungary, each has close ties to Jobbik. The Sixty-Four Counties Youth Movement (SCYM) was found in 2001 by László Toroczkai, current mayor of the village of Ásotthalom in South Hungary. Current leaders of the movement are György Gyula Zagyva, former Jobbik MP and Gábor Barcsa T. The organisation’s name is a tribute to “Greater Hungary” that consisted of 64 counties. The movement advocates revision of the Trianon Treaty and reestablishment of “Greater Hungary” in order to re-unite all ethnic Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries. The movement is mainly active on the local level (not only in Hungary but also in the parts of Slovakia, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine where ethnic Hungarians live) and unofficially functions as the radical wing of the party. Their main activity is to advocate stricter measures on the local level against those who do not stick to the rules (e.g., criminals and those who do not care about order and purity in a settlement; by these terms far-right groups always refer to Roma and only focus on Roma perpetrators and “Gypsy crime”). Furthermore they organise demonstrations and other activities (e.g., petition campaign) to spread anti-Roma, anti-Semitic and nationalist messages (e.g., marches commemorating “heroic acts” of German and Hungarian soldiers during WWII), and organise summer camps, sport activities and paramilitary training for the youth. They are visible at the national level only at certain occasions (e.g., yearly march commemorating the Trianon Treaty in June, march against a possible participation of Hungary in the war in Ukraine in February). In the first half of 2015 the movement did not undertake any major activities either against minorities or refugees. The movement turned to the topic of refugees only from May on, even though Mr Toroczkai’s village, Ásotthalom, which is situated at the border to Serbia, has been one of settlements that have been affected by the influx of refugees the most. However, their first major action against refugees was a demonstration in Budapest that took place only on July 10. Further actions took place later during the second half of the year.

Another paramilitary organisation that is even more radical and extreme than SCYM is the Outlaws’ Army, which poses a real threat to Hungary’s domestic security. It is an openly racist organisation, which does not accept Roma as members and whose members believe in white supremacy . Outlaws’ Army was founded in 2008 by László Toroczkai. Current leader of the Outlaws is Zsolt Tyirityán, who earlier served a prison sentence for grievous bodily injury committed with racist motive. According to Mr Tyirityán, Outlaws’ Army has about 200 members, including former officers of the security forces (e.g., former officers of the police, army and intelligence agencies and mercenaries). Many members of the organisation have close ties to the underworld as well. In 2009, Mr Tyirityán called upon the members for doing military trainings, practice the use of weapons and prepare for guerrilla warfare. Practically, Outlaws’ Army functions as an arbitrary security force whose services might be purchased upon online request in any settlement, in which inhabitants are not satisfied with public security. The Outlaws aim to re-establish public security through intimidation rather than the use of force or violence. Jobbik and Outlaws’ Army sealed a cooperation agreement in 2009. However, according to Tyirityán, the cooperation is limited to mutual support and participation in each other’s events. According to Jobbik’s chair Gábor Vona, there is no formal connection between Jobbik and Outlaws’ Army. He suggested, however, that there are informal ties and friendly relations between the members of the two organisations. There are a lot of personal ties between and even dual memberships in Outlaws’ Army and SCYM.

According to their website, Outlaws’ Army took part in seven deployments across Hungary during the first half of 2015. All the activities targeted Roma. The action, which generated the biggest echo, was a deployment in Szúcs, a village in North Hungary.

According to the Human Rights dogwatch NGO TASZ (Hungarian Civil Liberties Union), 30 members of Outlaws’ Army went to the village upon the request of a local landowner who accused one resident of stealing wood from his forest. However, an investigative report revealed that Outlaws’ Army was involved in a conflict between two local families. Besides living in the settlement for 3 months and showing general presence, they also regularly patrolled the village, made photos of Roma inhabitants, and threatened and insulted them. Just as SCYM, also Outlaws’ Army did not devote interest to the refugee crisis during the first half of 2015. They became active against refugees only in the beginning of July, when they visited Ásotthalom and the surrounding territories at the border to hunt refugees (the action failed).

A third organisation, which has to be mentioned, is the New Hungarian Guard, a successor of the infamous Hungarian Guard, which was founded in 2007 as an unofficial paramilitary wing of Jobbik. A few weeks after the Hungarian Guard had been dissolved by the Court in 2009, the New Hungarian Guard was formed. While the original Guard had a significant role in putting the term “Gypsy crime” on the top of the political agenda in Hungary during the years before 2010 (this term was the main reason that catapulted Jobbik into the European Parliament in 2009 and in the Hungarian Parliament in 2010), the New Guard hardly plays any role and has lost its significance. During the first half of 2015 the New Hungarian Guard was mainly occupied with organising sports days, securing events, renovating memorials, providing donations etc.

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