Scenes from the Opposition Demonstration

On April 21, 2018, the Facebook group Mi vagyunk a többség (We Are the Majority) held an opposition demonstration in Budapest. The demonstration drew tens of thousands of participants, though was somewhat smaller than the demonstration the group held in the city one week earlier.

Participants from across the political spectrum attended the demonstration—a new phenomenon in Hungary, where the opposition to the Orbán government has been fragmented into nationalist, socialist, liberal and green factions that do not cooperate with one another.

The main speaker: Mayor Péter Márki-Zay of Hódmezővásárhely, a city in southern Hungary that was considered an unassailable Fidesz bastion until he won a mayoral by-election there in February 2018 as an opposition independent.

The main explicit message of the demonstration: “You are the new opposition!”

The main implicit message of the demonstration: opposition must be extended from Budapest to the “countryside” (vidék) in order to have any chance of defeating the Fidesz-Christian Democratic People’s Party governing alliance.

The most sobering message of the demonstration (from journalist Réka Kinga Papp): “I must note that I already stood here on a stage [at an opposition demonstration] seven years ago, on October 23, 2011.  And the end of the crowd wasn’t visible then either. I didn’t suspect that seven years later we would be demonstrating against the same political power. I would be very happy if seven years from now we were able to go out onto the streets to celebrate a success.”

The most poignant symbolic occurrence: the “Ode to Joy”–based anthem of the European Union played at the end of the demonstration—following the national anthem of Hungary.

Below are some photos from the demonstration.

Click on any photo for gallery view.

See all 24 photos.


2018 National Assembly Election

National Assembly seats won in 2018 general election.

The FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) alliance won its third-consecutive two-thirds majority in the National Assembly of Hungary in the general election held in the county on April 8, 2018.

Fidesz-KDNP won 133, or 66.8 percent, of the 199 seats in the National Assembly. This two-thirds majority will again enable the governing alliance to pass so-called cardinal laws (sarkalatos törvények), including those amending the Fundamental Law of Hungary, without support from National Assembly opposition parties.

Five opposition parties won 64 seats in the National Assembly: the nationalist party Jobbik won 26 seats; the Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue for Hungary alliance won 20 seats; the social-liberal party Democratic Coalition won 9 seats; the green-liberal party Politics Can Be Different won 8 seats; and the liberal party Together won 1 seat.

An opposition independent, former Hungarian Central Statics Office director Tamás Mellár, and the National Self-Government of Germans in Hungary won the remaining two seats in the National Assembly.

In comparison to the 2014 National Assembly election, Fidesz-KDNP won the same number of seats in the 2018 National Assembly election, while the Democratic Coalition gained five seats, Jobbik and Politics Can Be Different gained three seats, Together lost two seats and the Hungarian Socialist Party and Dialogue for Hungary, which contested the 2014 election separately, lost ten seats.

Voters cast two ballots in National Assembly elections in Hungary—one for an individual candidate in their electoral district and one for a party at the national level. Of the 199 seats in the National Assembly of Hungary, 106 are derived from elections between individual candidates in an equal number of electoral districts in the country, while 93 are derived from votes for parties at the national level.

Results of 2018 National Assembly election in electoral districts outside Budapest.

In the 2018 National Assembly Election, Fidesz-KDNP candidates defeated their opposition rivals in 91 of 106 electoral districts in Hungary. Fidesz-KDNP candidates won in 85 of 88 electoral districts located outside of Budapest, though won in only 6 of 18 electoral districts in Budapest.

Opposition candidates defeated their Fidesz-KDNP rivals in 14 electoral districts: Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue for Hungary candidates in 7 Budapest districts and 1 Szeged district; Democratic Coalition candidates in 3 Budapest districts; Politics Can Be Different and Together candidates in 1 Budapest district each; a Jobbik candidate in the single Dunaújváros district; and independent candidate Tamás Mellár in a Pécs district.

Fidesz-KDNP won 49.6 percent of votes cast for parties in the 2018 National Assembly election, while the seven main opposition parties won 49.2 percent of votes and minor parties, most of them so-called sham parties (kamupárt in Hungarian) that participated in the election exclusively in order to obtain government campaign-funding, received 0.2 percent of the votes.

Of the seven main opposition parties, Jobbik received 19.2 percent of all party votes cast, while the Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue for Hungary alliance received 12 percent, Politics Can Be Different received 7.1 percent, the Democratic Coalition received 5.4 percent, the Momentum Movement 3.1 percent, the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party 1.7 percent and Together 0.7 percent.

Results of 2018 National Assembly election in electoral districts in Budapest

Fidesz-KDNP won 42 of the 93 National Assembly seats distributed proportionally to parties via the party lists based on the number of votes cast for the parties at the national level plus the number of so-called fragmentary votes (töredékszavazat) cast for candidates affiliated with the parties in the individual electoral districts—that is, those votes cast for losing candidates in the electoral districts as well as those cast for winning candidates beyond the one vote needed for victory over the second-place candidate.

Opposition parties won 50, or 53.8 percent, of the 93 National Assembly seats distributed to parties based on the number of votes cast for parties plus the number of fragmentary votes. Jobbik won 25 of these 50 seats, while the Hungarian Socialist Party-Dialogue for Hungary alliance won 12, Politics Can Be Different won 7 and the Democratic Coalition won 6.

the National Self-Government of Germans in Hungary won the remaining seat in the National Assembly distributed via party votes.

The opposition parties Momentum Movement, the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party and Together failed to receive the minimum of five percent of all votes cast for parties in order to gain seats in the National Assembly via party and fragmentary votes.

Fidesz-KDNP won 96.2 percent of the 224,564 votes that Hungarian citizens who do not have a permanent address in Hungary cast via mail in the 2018 National Assembly election. Around 60 percent of such Hungarian citizens who registered to vote via mail were from the two countries surrounding Hungary that permit dual citizenship—Romania and Serbia (source in Hungarian).

A total of 70.2 percent of all eligible voters in Hungary participated in the 2018 National Assembly election, up from 61.2 percent from the 2014 National Assembly election.

Source of data (in Hungarian): website of the National Election Office.


Pre-Election Sampler from the Freesheets

Below are scanned images from the final two issues of the free daily newspaper Lokál and the final issue of the free weekly newspaper Lokál Extra published before the April 8 National Assembly election in Hungary.

The 12-page Lokál has a daily circulation of 150,000 copies and is distributed at public-transportation, railway and inter-city bus stations in Budapest. The 24-page Lokál Extra has a circulation of 1,160,000 copies and is delivered to homes and residential buildings in Budapest and 24 other cities in Hungary (source in Hungarian).

The newspapers operate under the ownership of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s chief strategic adviser Árpád Habony and former legal adviser Tibor Győri.

The free newspapers derive a significant proportion of their revenue from publicly financed advertisements for the Orbán government or state-owned companies such as the Hungarian Electrical Works, Hungarian State Railways and lottery company Szerencsejáték.  

Both free newspapers overtly support the Orbán government and the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) governing coalition.

Most of the articles published in Lokál and Lokál Extra just before the April 8 National Assembly election promoted the campaign strategy and platform of the Orbán government and the Fidesz-KDNP alliance, portraying Muslim migration as a grave security, cultural and religious threat to Hungary and depicting Prime Minister Orbán and the parties under his command as the political forces that are willing and able to defend the country from this menace and the opposition parties and their leaders as the pawns of Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist George/György Soros and the local proponents of his alleged pro-migration policies known collectively as the Soros Plan.

Appearing underneath the scanned images of pages from Lokál and Lokál Extra are translations of the main titles and some of the secondary titles from the given page as well as excerpts from the text of some of the attending articles.

Note that Gábor Vona, who is the subject of many of the articles appearing below, is the president of the opposition party Jobbik.

Click on images to enlarge.


Lokál, April 6, page 1

 Viktor Orbán: “There is going to be a big battle this weekend. Nobody should stay at home.” 

This Sunday Two Times Fidesz


Lokál, April 5 and April 6, page 2

 Orbán government campaign advertisement showing a stop sign superimposed on a dense column of migrants marching through the countryside somewhere along the Balkan migration route in 2015.


Lokál, April 5, page 3

Soros’s Candidates SAID NO to the Fence

“They are lying. This summarizes the electoral machinations of the opposition. These political officials are eating from György Soros’s plate and can hardly wait to win on Sunday so they can open the way for migrants to come pouring into Hungary.”


Lokál, April 6, page 7

 A Migrant Murdered a Women Who Wanted to Help Him

“A Somalian migrant stabbed to death a 22-year-old woman who was helping refugees at the reception camp in Mölndal in southern Sweden.”

Facts About Migration

“There are 186 no-go zones in Sweden, of which 55 are particularly dangerous. Migrants rape one in eight Swedish women. The number of sex crimes has risen 26 percent in Austria and 670 percent in Leipzig because of migrants. People of ‘foreign background’ commit one out of two crimes in Australia. Migrants commit 93 out of every 100 crimes in Germany. The number of crimes has risen 10.4 percent as a result of this. Migrants attacked 1,035 physicians in France last year alone. A total of 70 million people could leave Nigeria for Europe over the next five years.”


Lokál, April 5, page 6

 A Migrant Murdered Two Women and Lived with Their Corpses for Months

Africans Committed Rape in Prague

An Immigrant Committed a Stabbing While Shouting Allahu Akbar

Orbán: the Fence Protects Budapest as Well

See entire post.


The Land of Two Peace Marches

March 15: Hungary’s national holiday commemorating the outbreak of the 1848 revolution against Habsburg rule.

Always a lot of street politics on this date, especially this year with the general election just over three weeks away.

Orange Files covered simultaneous events in Budapest on this day: the Civil Cooperation Forum (CÖF)–organized pro–Orbán government Peace March (Békemenet) and the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party (Kétfarkú Kutya Párt, or MKKP)–organized anti–Orbán government Peace March.

It was the seventh Peace March that the government-organized non-governmental organization CÖF has organized since 2012.

It was the first Peace March that the extra-parliamentary joke party MKKP has organized.

The official and unofficial slogans, respectively, of the Civil Cooperation Forum’s Peace March: “The Homeland Before All Else!” (A Haza Minden Előtt!); and “Hungary Protects Europe!” (in English).

The official and unofficial slogans, respectively, of the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party’s Peace March: “The Banner Before All Else!” (A Molinó Minden Előtt!) and “Let Hungary Be the Land of Two Peace Marches!” (Legyen Magyarország a Két Békemenet Országa!).

Below are some of the photographs that Orange Files and his assistant (wife) took at the CÖF and MKKP Peace Marches held on March 15, 2018.  Many tens of thousands of demonstrators participated in the Civil Cooperation Forum Peace March. Around 10,000 people participated in the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party Peace March.

Click on any photo to see gallery view.

See all photographs from seventh Civil Cooperation Forum Peace March.

See all photographs from the Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party Peace March. Most of the photographs of the MKKP Peace March focus on signs that display absurd or punny Hungarian-language text or refer to current scandals involving Fidesz and Christian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) officials and their family members.

Below are two short videos taken at the dual Peace Marches in Budapest. The video on the top shows the CÖF Peace March proceeding past a stage on which an opposition group placed loudspeakers playing Stalinist-era communist anthems. The video on the bottom shows the MKKP Peace March proceeding with communist anthems of the same type playing from a loudspeaker on an accompanying truck. Both refer to the playing of such anthems at May Day parades during the communist era in Hungary. The communist anthem played at the CÖF Peace March was a serious reference to the communist-like authoritarianism of the Orbán government and the Fidesz-KDNP alliance. The communist anthem played at the MKKP Peace March was an absurd reference to the restoration of authoritarian government in Hungary two decades after the fall of communism.



Orbán Gov’t and Party Campaign Signs

Above are Orange Files photos of the two main 2018 election campaign signs (click to enlarge) of the Viktor Orbán–led government of Hungary and Fidesz political party. They currently appear in large number on billboards, advertising columns and bus-stop shelters throughout Budapest (and presumably all of Hungary).

The sign at left is that of the government of Hungary. It reads:

The UN wants us to continuously receive immigrants.


The sign at right is that of the Fidesz party. It shows Hungarian-American investor and philanthropist György/George Soros flanked by the four main opposition candidates for prime minister (from left to right: Bernadett Szél of Politics Can Be Different; Ferenc Gyurcsány of the Democratic Coalition; Gábor Vona of Jobbik; and Gergely Karácsony of the Hungarian Socialist Party and Dialogue for Hungary). It reads:


The Orbán government sign refers to the proposed “Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration” that the United Nations published in February 2018 (see document).

Minister of External Economy and Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó announced on March 1, 2018, that the Orbán government rejects the basic premise of the proposed UN compact, which according to Szijjártó is that “migration is a good thing and unstoppable” (source in English).

In his annual “State of the Nation” address on February 18, 2018, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in reference to the UN compact, specifically to the statement in it that “Migration has been part of the human experience throughout history, and we recognize that it can be a source of prosperity, innovation and sustainable development in our globalized world” (source in English):

This is obviously utter nonsense. It’s incomprehensible why they would think us to be such raving lunatics as to accept this and then implement it. We must bluntly state that Hungary is not a country of deranged people. We understand that George Soros’s organizations have not only installed themselves in Brussels and Budapest, but also in New York, at the UN. We understand that they are spending incalculable sums of money on pushing through acceptance for migration at a global level.

The Fidesz sign refers to the so-called “Soros Plan” pertaining to the 2015 European migration crisis (see National Consultation on the Soros Plan). According to a post regarding the sign published on the official Fidesz Facebook site (source in Hungarian):

For the opposition leaders, Soros’s will is the most important. They are prepared to implement the Soros Plan: they would dismantle the border barrier and settle immigrants [in Hungary]. Therefore, although they appear to be hopelessly feeble, they are nevertheless dangerous.

In fact, neither George Soros nor any of the four prime ministerial candidates shown on the sign, nor the five parties they represent advocate dismantling Hungary’s southern border barrier (source in Hungarian).

Both signs correspond to the single-theme campaign platform of the Orbán government and Fidesz for the April 8, 2018, general election. Prime Minister Orbán concisely described this platform during a March 1, 2018, television interview (source in Hungarian):

Hungary stands before two paths from which it can choose: either there will be a national government and then we won’t be a country of immigration; or György Soros’s people will form a government and then Hungary will become a country of immigration.

Update: two weeks before the general election, the Orbán government and Fidesz replaced the above campaign signs with those shown below. On the left is the government sign, which displays a stop sign superimposed on a dense column of migrants. On the right is the Fidesz sign, which displays the same five people as the party’s previous sign next to text reading “Let’s Stop Soros’s Candidates!


From the Archives: The Phony Realist

The author: István Bibó.

The author.

Hungarian lawyer and political scientist István Bibó published a book in 1946 entitled The Misery of Small Eastern European States (A kelet-európai kisállamok nyomorúsága) in which he employed psychoanalytical precepts to determine the cause of “the adulteration and corruption of democracy in its most diverse forms” in the states of central and eastern Europe, specifically Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.

Bibó’s diagnosis: political hysteria stemming from unresolved historical traumas—in the case of Poland, partition of the Russian-Prussian-Austrian partition of the country beginning in 1772; in the case of Czechoslovakia, the German-Hungarian partition of the country in 1938–1939; and in the case of Hungary, defeat in the 1848–1849 revolution against Habsburg rule and partition of the country’s Dual Monarchy-era territory via the 1920 Treaty of Trianon.

Bibó determined in The Misery of Small Eastern European States that Hungary’s defeat in the 1848–1849 revolution had had two primary effects: first, it prompted Hungarians to conclude that “Europe had abandoned Hungary in its fight for independence”; and second, it initiated “the developmental path that distanced Hungary from democratic ideals, because following the 1848–49 catastrophe the fear took root in Hungarians that assumption of all the consequences of democracy would lead to the secession of nationality-inhabited regions [of the country].”

With regard to the Treaty of Trianon, Bibó asserted that the “Hungarian political perspective attributed the partition of Hungary to mere brute force and the hypocrisy of the victors and was unable to distinguish between the detachment of nonHungarian-language territories that were ready for separation and the groundless and unjustified detachment of Hungarian-language territories. As a consequence, it [the Hungarian political perspective] could not abandon the illusion of historical greater Hungary and became increasingly convinced that Europe owes it for a great injustice.”

Bibó maintained that the partitions of Poland and Czechoslovakia had engendered the same attitude of skepticism toward Europe and democracy among the Polish and Czechs and Slovaks and prompted the leaders of those countries to conduct the forced expulsion of Germans and Hungarians following the Second World War.

Existential Fear for the Survival of the Community 

Bibó wrote in The Misery of Small Eastern European States that these historical traumas had produced existential fear for the survival of the national community in Hungary and other states of the region:

This situation gives rise to the most characteristic trait of the imbalanced central and eastern European mentality: existential fear for the survival of the community. . . . For a western European, the talk of statesmen from any small, eastern European nation referring to the “death of the nation” or the “destruction of the nation” represents empty phraseology: a western European can imagine extermination, subjugation or slow assimilation, though the notion of total political “destruction” is for them nothing more than a bombastic image, whereas for eastern European nations it is a palpable reality.  

Anti-Democratic Nationalism 

Bibó believed that existential fear for the survival of the community inhibited the development of democracy in the countries of east-central Europe:

Existential fear for the survival of the community was the decisive factor that rendered the status of democracy and democratic development unstable in these countries. . . . these nations experienced historical situations which appeared to confirm that the collapse of the oppressive political and social powers of the past and the adoption of democracy along with its ultimate consequences expose the national community to heavy risks, even catastrophe. This shock gives birth to the most hideous monster of modern European political development: anti-democratic nationalism. 

Distortion of Democracy 

In addition to inciting anti-democratic nationalism, Bibó contended in The Misery of Small Eastern European States that existential fear for the survival of the community inhibited and distorted democratic development in the following ways:

It is not possible to take advantage of the benefits of democracy in this state of convulsive fear which believes that the advance of freedom threatens the national cause. To become a democrat above all entails the absence of fear: fear of other opinions, of other languages, of other races, of revolution, of conspiracy, of the unknown evil intentions of the adversary, of enemy propaganda, of contempt and all other imaginary dangers that become real dangers if we fear them. . . . In the midst of this fear and continual feeling of threat, that which in true democracies gains recognition only in the hour of true danger, becomes standard procedure: the restriction of liberties, censorship, the search for enemy “stooges” and “traitors,” the imposition of order or the appearance of order and national unity to the detriment of liberty. The distortion and corruption of democracy has appeared in diverse forms through the use of methods varying from the most subtle and often unconscious to the most crude: the manipulation of universal suffrage against democratic development, the system of coalitions and compromises founded on unhealthy and ambiguous terms, electoral systems or abuses serving to either inhibit or distort the healthy formation of collective will, putsches and transitory dictatorships.

The Phony Realist 

Bibó concluded that this syndrome of trauma, fear and hysteria generated a unique type of national leader in the states of central and eastern Europe:

In the course of this development, political figures of a unique type became characteristic of political life in central and eastern Europe: the phony realist. This type of political figure, which either descended into politics from an aristocratic environment or rose into it on the wings of representative government and democratic forces, was characterized by both unquestionable talent as well as a certain cunning and a certain aggression that made him perfectly suitable to become the administrator and repository of the distortion of democracy, of anti-democratic government flowing within the boundaries of democratic form or of some other kind of aggressive political forgery.

Revival of Political Hysteria 

The prototype: Viktor Orbán.

The prototype.

Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary suffered the further historical trauma of communist dictatorship and Soviet military intervention in the four decades following István Bibó’s publication of The Misery of Small Eastern European States. These countries, Czechoslovakia in the form of post-dissolution Czech Republic and Slovakia, all began the process of healing their historical wounds through integration with western Europe and adoption of liberal democracy following the collapse of communism in 1989.

Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia continue to travel down this uneven road toward political, social and economic integration with western Europe, whereas in Hungary a highly competent political leader—one who conforms perfectly to Bibó’s “phony realist” prototype—has either consciously or instinctively revived Hungarian historical trauma and its attendant political hysteria in order to regain and consolidate his personal power within a hybrid authoritarian-democratic state modeled on Putin’s Russia and Chávez’s Venezuela.

Orange Files translated all quotes from The Misery of Small Eastern European States that appear in this post, which was published on April 27, 2014—thus before the government of Poland began to pursue illiberal policies similar to those of the Orbán government. 


Scenes from the Jobbik Demonstration

Arriving to Heroes’ Square on a rainy winter night: about 2,000 people, many of the same bad faces (rossz arcok) as at Jobbik demonstrations in the old days, though with the baddest faces now gone; the same old party flags with the double cross emerging from some kind of red-lidded green eyeball, though the neo-Hungarist Árpád-striped flags that used to be so many now nowhere to be seen; national rock thundering from amplifiers on the speaker’s platform, though no longer the bellicose Kárpátia mantras, but something milder, less aggressive, less threatening.

Very few cops in sight, though just 50 yards from Fidesz party headquarters, unlike the old days when there were hundreds in full riot gear.

This is the new Jobbik, the “people’s party.”

But what is really new here is the presence of the liberal opposition: around 100 people affiliated with Momentum, Together (Együtt) and allegedly Politics Can Be Different (LMP) as well, though saw no sign of the latter party. They stand in back, away from the dense crowd gathered around the platform, holding Hungarian and European Union flags as a couple of unknown Jobbik speakers cough and stutter through speeches about the wrongdoings of the State Audit Office (see Legislative Amendments on Outdoor Political Advertising) .

The opposition news website is here doing interviews and one of the people in the liberal group, a balding man in his 40s, tells the reporter with a quiver of antipathy in his voice: “I am the person at whom this crowd used to shout dirty Jew and scumbag liberal. The difference between the two [the liberals and the Jobbik supporters] is that we stand up for them, though they don’t stand up for us.”

The journalist Róbert Puzsér stands to the microphone, steadies himself with arms extended to the lectern, and begins to speak in his somewhat enervated voice. He is unaffiliated with Jobbik and can therefore talk with his customary explicitness about the party’s transformation:

I look out at the participants in this demonstration and it makes me think of the joke about the Gypsy, the rabbi and the skinhead who get together in order to save the rule of law. This coalition is surreal. Ágnes Heller, the Marxist prophetess. Árpád Schilling, the apostle of me-too and feminist ideology. The liberal icon György Konrád. The Ron Werber-led LMP. The Momentum [party] that is campaigning with its Orbán look-alike president. The Outlaw Army [Betyársereg] founder now playing border-castle captain, László Toroczkai, and all the other Jobbik politicians who not long ago were still reviling Jews and Gypsies and rhapsodizing about Putin, though who feeling Orbán’s whip on their backs have learned to like democracy. And, moreover, [Jobbik President] Gábor Vona, who used to serve the causes of racism, militarism and Horthy nostalgia with precisely the same enthusiasm and determination as he now plays the role of the angel of democracy . . .

And now Vona. The same old vehemence, though with Viktor Orbán in the role of enemy-from-within: “Like a low-down, worthless, sneaky thief he slips into our gardens at night and steals our inner freedom.”  The leader of Jobbik acclaims the new coalition that he hopes will one day make him the leader of Hungary: “I think that today is not merely an episode, I think that today is not a simple protest against some unlawful procedure. I believe that here today many different kinds of people have taken a historic step toward a just, honorable and free Hungary, toward a twenty-first century Hungary.”

The speech over, the crowd disperses. Walking down Andrássy Avenue next to former LMP leader András Schiffer the dampness on the sidewalks has assumed an icy sheen. A few stray snowflakes fall to the ground.

Click on any photo to see gallery view.