Making Politics of Migration: the Civil Cooperation Forum Signs

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“A happy, festive crowd has arrived to Hungary”      (photo: Orange Files).

On October 5, 2015, the pro-government political organization Civil Cooperation Forum (Civil Összefogás Fórum, or CÖF) erected twelve signs at a park near the Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest juxtaposing images of opposition political officials and aggressive or seemingly aggressive migrants (see CÖF website in Hungarian).

The signs also display migration-related quotes which the depicted democratic opposition officials have made over the past few months and which radical-nationalist Jobbik President Gábor Vona—who supports the Orbán government’s current migration policy—made during the previous parliamentary cycle.

See entire post.

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Orbán Government Notable Quotes: October 1–2, 2015

Prime Ministry Chief János Lázár:

“They regularly find people [migrants] infected with syphilis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV as well.” October 1, 2015, speaking about the migration crisis during his regular Thursday press conference (source in Hungarian).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán:

“Eighty percent of the immigrants are young men. They resemble an army more than they do asylum-seekers. They are uneducated, the majority of them speak only Arabic.” October 2, 2015, speaking on pro-government Kossuth Radio (source in Hungarian).

“Let’s not regard what the Croatian prime minister says as the opinion of the Croatian people. The Croatian prime minister and his party are the representatives of the Socialist International whose job it is to attack Hungary.” October 2, 2015, speaking on pro-government Kossuth Radio in reference to tension between the governments of Hungary and Croatia over the migration crisis (source in Hungarian).

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán during October 2, 2015 interview on Kossuth Radio (photo: index.hu)

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán during October 2, 2015 interview on Kossuth Radio (photo: index.hu)

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Viktor’s New Sign

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The People Have Decided: The Country Must Be Defended (photo: Orange Files).

The Orbán government has posted new anti-migration signs in Hungary reading “The People Have Decided: The Country Must Be Defended.” The government published the design of the signs on its Facebook site just hours after a few dozen of the two thousand migrants stranded in northern Serbia following the closure of the final gap in the Hungarian-Serbian border clashed with Hungarian police and Counter Terrorism Center commandos at the Horgos frontier crossing on September 16. The government announced earlier on this date that it would spend 381 million forints (1.2 million euros) on “information connected to the migration situation” (source in Hungarian).

See entire post.

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Sign War I

IF YOU COME TO HUNGARY YOU CANNOT TAKE AWAY THE WORK OF THE HUNGARIANS!

IF YOU COME TO HUNGARY YOU CANNOT TAKE THE WORK OF THE HUNGARIANS!

In June 2015, the Orbán government launched a 381-million-forint (1.2-million-euro) “informational campaign” connected to its National Consultation on Immigration and Terrorism (source in Hungarian). This campaign consists primarily of billboard signs displaying the following three messages, in Hungarian, to migrants who arrive to Hungary (source in Hungarian showing design of all three signs):  

IF YOU COME TO HUNGARY YOU CANNOT TAKE THE WORK OF THE HUNGARIANS! 

IF YOU COME TO HUNGARY YOU MUST RESPECT OUR CULTURE! 

IF YOU COME TO HUNGARY YOU MUST RESPECT OUR LAWS! 

People started to deface these signs immediately after their appearance on billboards in Budapest on June 5. Vice-President Péter Juhász of the opposition liberal party Együtt (Together) announced days before the signs appeared that “if they put them up, we will tear them down” (source in Hungarian). In the early morning of June 7, the Budapest Police arrested six activists from the party’s youth organization after seeing them obliterate the lettering on some of the signs with spray paint (source in Hungarian). Later on June 7, two people, one of them an employee of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ), turned themselves in to police after defacing one of the signs in a conscious act of civil disobedience against what TASZ referred to as the “government’s hate campaign” (source in Hungarian). Already on June 6, an interactive map of Hungary allowing users to identify the site of the government signs under the flag markers “untouched,” “modified” and “erased” appeared on the Internet (see map). In addition to the large number of signs that have been defaced and torn down, many have been creatively modified to deliver alternate messages (source in Hungarian, including gallery).

Below are Orange Files photographs of six signs in central Budapest, five of which have been defaced (click on any photo to see in gallery view):

 

On June 8, the farcical Hungarian Two-Tailed Dog Party (Magyar Kétfarkú Kutya Párt) and the pro-democracy Vastagbőr (Thick Skin) blog launched a campaign seeking three million forints in donations to pay for 50 billboard signs to counter those of the government (source in Hungarian). As of June 10, the campaign had already collected 18 million forints in donations (source in Hungarian).

Illustration from Vastagbőr blog.

Illustration from Vastagbőr blog article on collection of donations for counter signs.

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National Consultation on Immigration and Terrorism

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Original questionnaire.

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Original letter of introduction.

During the second half of May 2015, the Orbán government sent its National Consultation Regarding Immigration and Terrorism to eight million voters in Hungary. The government estimates that its newest national consultation will cost 960 million forints, or 3.14 million euros (source in Hungarian). Recipients will have until July 1, 2015 to return the questionnaire to the Prime Ministry in a provided postage-free envelope. Below is an Orange Files translation of Prime Minister Orbán’s introductory letter as well as the 12-question consultation.

LETTER OF INTRODUCTION 

Esteemed Compatriots! 

In 2010 we Hungarians decided that we would discuss all important questions with one another before we make decisions. This is why we initiated national consultations regarding the country’s new Fundamental Law, our social security and improvement of the situation of pensioners, among other things. And this is why we have now initiated national consultation on the question of subsistence [megélhetési] immigration. 

As you certainly remember, an unprecedented terrorist act jolted Europe at the beginning of the year. In Paris they extinguished the lives of innocent people in merciless cold blood and with frightening brutality. That which took place appalled every one of us. At the same time, this humanly incomprehensible monstrosity also showed that Brussels and the European Union are not capable of handling the question of immigration in an adequate manner. 

Subsistence immigrants cross the border illegally and although they portray themselves as refugees, they in fact come for social benefits and work opportunities. In just the past few months, the number of subsistence immigrants in Hungary has risen around twentyfold. This represents a new type of threat that we must stop. 

Since Brussels has failed in the handling of immigration, Hungary must take its own path. We will not permit subsistence immigrants to threaten the workplaces and subsistence of Hungarian people. 

We must decide how to defend Hungary against illegal border-crossings. We must decide how to limit explosively increasing subsistence immigration. 

I respectfully ask you to get into contact with us, tell us what you think with regard to the question raised [above], fill out and return the questionnaire. I count on your opinion. 

Kind regards, 

Viktor Orbán

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QUESTIONNAIRE 

National Consultation on Immigration and Terrorism

1] One can hear many different opinions with regard to the increasing acts of terrorism. How important do You consider the advance [térnyerés] of terrorism (the massacre in France, the alarming acts of ISIS) from the perspective of your own life?

-Really Important     -Important     -Not Important

2] Do You believe that Hungary could be the target of terrorist acts over the coming years?

-There is a serious chance of this     -It could happen     -It is totally excluded

3] There are those who believe that the advance of terrorism is connected to the poor handling of immigration by Brussels. Do You agree with these opinions?

-I completely agree     -I mostly agree     -I do not agree

4] Did You know that subsistence immigrants cross the Hungarian border illegally and that the number of immigrants in Hungary has risen twentyfold over the recent period?

-Yes     -I have heard of it     -I did not know

5] One can hear many opinions regarding the question of immigration. There are those who believe that subsistence immigrants threaten the workplaces and subsistence of Hungarian people. Do You agree with these opinions?

-I completely agree     -I mostly agree     -I do not agree

6] There are those who believe that the policy of Brussels toward immigration and terrorism has failed and that a new approach is therefore necessary with regard to this question. Do You agree with these opinions?

-I completely agree     -I mostly agree     -I do not agree

7] Would You support the Hungarian government if, contrary to the permissive policy of Brussels, it introduced stricter regulation of immigration?

-Yes, I would completely support it    -I would partially support it    -I would not support it

8] Would You support the Hungarian government if it introduced stricter regulation on the basis of which it would be possible to take into custody immigrants who cross the Hungarian border illegally?

-Yes, I would completely support it    -I would partially support it    -I would not support it

9] Do You agree with the opinion that immigrants who cross the Hungarian border illegally should be turned back to their own homelands as soon as possible?

-I completely agree     -I mostly agree     -I do not agree

10] Do You agree that subsistence immigrants should themselves provide for the cost of their provision while they are in Hungary?

-I completely agree     -I mostly agree     -I do not agree

11] Do You agree that the best means of fighting against immigration would be for European Union member states to help with the development of those countries from which the immigrants arrive?

-I completely agree     -I mostly agree     -I do not agree

12] Do You agree with the Hungarian government that instead of immigration, it is necessary to support Hungarian families and children to be born [születendő gyermekek]?

-I completely agree     -I mostly agree     -I do not agree

Returning the questionnaire is free. Deadline: July 1, 2015.

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Sign of Things to Come

The Orbán government has recently put up signs like that shown below all over Budapest, ostensibly in response to the European Union’s suspension of developmental funding for Hungary until it receives more detailed information regarding the country’s administration of such EU support since the Prime Ministry assumed this task from the National Development Ministry late last summer (see source in Hungarian).

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LET’S TELL BRUSSELS: RESPECT THE HUNGARIANS!

This is the same tactic the Orbán government used during its frequent conflict with the European Union during the 2010–2014 parliamentary cycle: attempt to rally support among the population by suggesting that the EU has attacked or disparaged the Hungarian people as a whole. This ominous sign suggests that the Orbán government’s relations with the European Union are likely to remain just as bad or perhaps become even worse over the next four years as they have been over the past four years.

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Peace, Bread and Utility-Fee Cuts!

DSC_0400The caretaker at the residential building in Budapest where Orange Files is edited recently erected the mandatory lockable enclosure containing monthly itemized bills showing the precise amount that each resident has saved as a result of the Orbán government’s twenty-percent cuts in household fees for gas, electricity and district heating (see Minus 20 Everywhere). Residents had to pay the cost of the enclosure that must be placed in a “conspicuous (figyelemfelkeltő) and clearly visible” place in all residential buildings in Hungary pursuant to Law CCXXXI which the Fidesz-controlled National Assembly passed on December 17, 2013 (text of law in Hungarian). Residential-building caretakers are subject to fines of between 15,000 forints (50 euros) and 500,000 forints (1,600 euros) for non-compliance with the law (source in Hungarian). 

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