Two-Thirds Minus Two: the Jobbik Breakthrough

Jobbik President Gábor Vona (left) and victorious party- candidate Lajos Rig shake hands (photo: MTI).

Jobbik President Gábor Vona (left) congratulates victorious party-candidate Lajos Rig (photo: MTI).

On April 12, 2015, radical-nationalist Jobbik party candidate Lajos Rig narrowly defeated his FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) rival in a National Assembly by-election in Veszprém County.

Rig thus became the first Jobbik candidate ever to win a National Assembly election. The other 23 representatives in the current Jobbik caucus and all party representatives in the previous parliamentary cycle gained their seats in the National Assembly via party lists (see National Assembly Election System).

Fidesz-KDNP candidates have lost both by-elections held since 2014 National Assembly elections (see Two-Thirds Minus One). The governing alliance has thereby forfeited the second consecutive two-thirds supermajority it commanded in Hungary’s parliament.

See entire post.


Interview: Jobbik President Gábor Vona


Jobbik President Gábor Vona (photo:

Below is an Orange Files translation of the final two-thirds of an interview that a journalist from the Lajos Simicska-owned newspaper Magyar Nemzet conducted with Jobbik President Gábor Vona at the end of March 2015  (source in Hungarian). The journalist’s initial question in the translated text refers to Vona’s call in a major speech earlier this year for reconciliation among the sharply divided political factions in Hungary (see Taking the Ball) and to two incidents involving Jobbik officials that surfaced in the Hungarian media recently: Mezőtúr Municipal Council member János Kötél’s anti-Gypsy Internet postings and National Assembly representative Gergely Kulcsár’s spitting on the Shoes on the Danube Bank Holocaust memorial in Budapest (sources A and B in Hungarian).

See entire post.


Taking the Ball

Jobbik President Gábor Vona (Orange Files photo).

          Jobbik President Gábor Vona           (photo: Orange Files).

On January 31, 2015, President Gábor Vona of the radical-nationalist party Jobbik presented his annual “appraisal of the year” (évértékelő) address in Budapest (source in Hungarian). Below is an Orange Files translation of an abridged version of Vona’s speech:

Hungary is in trouble. How often do we hear this on the street, in our everyday lives, on the television, everywhere. For this reason, this phrase has become worn out, often it means almost nothing―it is an empty cliché. I would nevertheless begin my speech with it: Hungary is in trouble. And what’s more, big trouble. . . .

(For the entire translation, see Gábor Vona Appraisal of the Year Speech—January 31, 2015). 

Jobbik President Vona’s address was similar in theme, outlook and tone to those that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has delivered for years, even as Fidesz president before his return to power as head of government in 2010 (see: Proclamation of the Illiberal Hungarian State; Prime Minister Orbán’s Speech to National Assembly – May 10, 2014; Prime Minister Orbán’s Speech to Supporters – May 10, 2014; Vlad Beyond Reproach; and Notable Quotes: Prime Minister Viktor Orbán). The Vona speech shares the following specific attributes with many Orbán speeches: 

—Emphasis on the notion that “Hungary is in trouble” in order to exploit the ingrained political hysteria of Hungarians as a means of garnering political support (see The Phony Realist);

—The claim that “the type of liberal democracy that gained power over Hungary in 1989 is not a functioning system” and that “the system of the past 25 years became exhausted and failed” and “was built upon lies”;

—The allegation that “Brussels currently rests on profit-oriented foundations from which the West can exploit the eastern states and as glass beads offer a little support in exchange”;

—The precedence of the “community” of the Hungarian nation over the individual (“the multitude of people”);

—Reference to God and Christianity forces unifying the Hungarian nation;

—The assertion that “dramatic international transformation” has placed Hungary in a perilous position “at the intersection of global conflict”; 

—Rejection of the “the unilateral world domination of the United States”;

—The insistence that “Hungary must develop and independent Russian policy” and “remain neutral” in the renewed conflict between the West and Russia.

—And the contention that “the fate of a quarter million Hungarians in Ukraine has come into doubt” and criticism of the policies of the latter country toward its Hungarian minority because it has “humiliated and threatened them and circumscribed their rights.”

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaking to supporters outside the Hungarian Parliament Building after taking his oath of office for the new parliamentary cycle beginning in 2014.

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán speaking to supporters outside the Hungarian Parliament Building in May 2014 (photo: Hungarian News Agency).

Both Vona, as the leader of Jobbik, and Orbán, as the leader of Fidesz, have long articulated these common attitudes and positions (see Follow the Evil Twin). However, the speech that Vona delivered on January 31, 2015 lacked the central element that distinguished the Jobbik president’s previous discourse from that of Prime Minister Orbán: expressions of collective antipathy toward Hungarian Jews and Gypsies (see Notable Quotes: Jobbik President Gábor Vona).

Over the past few weeks, Vona has distanced himself from anti-Gypsy and -Semitic racism. On February 9, 2015, he issued a statement condemning “in the most resolute manner possible” the anti-Gypsy Facebook posts of a newly elected Jobbik municipal-council member from Mezőtúr and required him to move into the house of the Gypsy leader of the party’s local chapter in nearby Hajdúszoboszló for a period of three days (source in Hungarian). On February 11, 2015, Vona said during an interview on the opposition television station ATV “Maybe I expressed myself somewhat angularly on certain matters, but I don’t think that I [ever] made any anti-Semitic statements” (source in Hungarian)

Vona has presumably attempted to divest himself and Jobbik of the mantle of racism in order to appropriate in its full material and spiritual form the political program that propelled Fidesz to landslide victories in Hungary’s past two National Assembly elections in 2010 and 2014, but which the Orbán government has been compelled to moderate considerably over the past few months as the result of pressure from the United States and the European Union, specifically Germany (see Back in the Fold?, The Spectacular Fall and Teutonic Shift).

Gábor Vona’s gradual transformation into the leading proponent of many of the Hungarian nationalist tenets and policies that Viktor Orbán skillfully employed to attain an unprecedented degree of power for a head of government in a Western democratic state after 2010 has arguably been one of main factors behind Jobbik’s steady rise to all-time highs in opinion polls since October and Fidesz’s drop to multi-year lows over that same period (source in Hungarian).

The phenomenon of a political leader renouncing his formerly explicit racism in order to consolidate his authority is not without precedent in Hungarian history: in his first speech after becoming prime minister in 1932, the former leader of the anti-Semitic Racial-Defense Party (Fajvédő Párt), Gyula Gömbös, declared “To the Jews I openly and frankly state: I have revised my opinion. I wish to regard those Jews who recognize a community of fate with the nation as brothers and sisters in the same way as I do my Hungarian brothers and sisters” (source in Hungarian).

And indeed, although he did much to incorporate Hungary into the authoritarian political sphere of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, Prime Minister Gömbös initiated no measures that served to directly impair the rights or otherwise harm the interests of Hungarian Jews during his four years in office from 1932 to 1936. 


24 Bastions

Marking party victories at the Jobbik municipal-election headquarters on October 12.

“The Future Cannot Be Stopped”: marking party victories at the Jobbik municipal-election headquarters on October 12, 2014 ( photo).

On November 9, 2014, candidates from the radical-nationalist Jobbik party won mayoral elections repeated in the city of Ózd and the village of Recsk, both in northern Hungary, after regional election officials determined that balloting at these locations in early October had failed to produce bona fide winners (source in Hungarian).

These victories raised the number of Jobbik mayors in Hungary pursuant to 2014 mayoral elections to 14, compared to just three as the result of 2010 mayoral elections (main source in Hungarian).

A further 10 independent candidates who ran with official support from Jobbik were victorious in mayoral elections held throughout Hungary on October 12.

Therefore, 24 communities in Hungary now have Jobbik or Jobbik-supported mayors, compared to 12 at the end of the last municipal-government cycle (see note below).

Ten of the latter 12, including László Toroczkai of Ásotthalom (see First Little Pinprick) and Mihály Zoltán Orosz of Érpatak (see The Second Little Pinprick), won reelection this fall.

Supporters carry newly elected 27-year-old Mayor Dávid Janiczak of Ózd on their shoulders on November 9, 2014 ( photo).

Jobbik or Jobbik-supported candidates won two-thirds of their victories in the Northern Hungarian Mountains and the Northern Great Plain, thus signifying a continuation of the party’s success in these impoverished and highly Gypsy-populated regions of the country.

And, for the first time, Jobbik and Jobbik-supported candidates won mayoral elections in cities with populations of over 20,000—Békéscsaba, Ózd and Törökszentmiklós.

One should not exaggerate the significance of the gains that Jobbik achieved in 2014 mayoral elections: party or party-supported mayors still serve as the highest-ranking elected officials in less than one percent of the 3,177 communities in Hungary with municipal governments. However, this fall’s mayoral elections show that Jobbik has not only gained popularity in the party’s established rural strongholds in rural northeastern and eastern Hungary, but has also made political inroads in towns and small cities in these sections of the country and begun to extend its political reach into the more economically developed region of Transdanubia. If these trends continue over the next four years, Jobbik could challenge the Fidesz-KDNP governing alliance’s local-level political supremacy in the part of Hungary lying to the east of the Danube River in 2018.

Note: Four of these 12 mayors won 2010 elections—three as Jobbik candidates and one as a Jobbik-supported independent; two won 2010 elections as independents before joining Jobbik in 2012; and six won by-elections—four as Jobbik candidates and two as Jobbik-supported independents.



Jobbik victories in 2014 mayoral elections: black = Jobbik mayor; gray = Jobbik-supported independent mayor (Orange Files graphic).


Communities in which Jobbik candidates won 2014 mayoral elections:

Ózd (pop. 33,944);

Törökszentmiklós (20,827);

Tapolca (15,823);

Tiszavasvári (12,954);

Devecser (4,378);

Monorierdő (4,073);

Ásotthalom, (3,855);

Tuzsér (3,397);

Recsk (2,696);

Kosd (2,447);

Hencida (1,219);

Mátraballa (764);

Bánokszentgyörgy (641).

Gasztony (430).

Communities in which Jobbik-suppported independents won 2014 mayoral elections:

Békéscsaba (60,571);

Rakamaz (4,442);

Békésszentandrás (3,660);

Gyöngyössolymos (2,823);

Érpatak (1,681);

Szabolcsbáka (1,181);

Jéke (727);

Kemenessömjén (591);

Lovászhetény (302);

Martonfa (213).


The Second Little Pinprick

Érpatak Mayor Mihály Zoltán Orosz stomps on a modified Israeli flag.

Érpatak Mayor Mihály Zoltán Orosz stomps on a modified Israeli flag.

On August 2, 2014, de facto Jobbik (de jure independent) Mayor Mihály Zoltán Orosz of Érpatak (eastern Hungary, population 1,700) hanged current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former President Shimon Peres of Israel in effigy from gallows erected in front of the village council building. Mayor Orosz conducted the mock executions after ceremonially trampling on an Israeli flag bearing a Masonic Square and Compass in place of the Star of David to protest the “continual holocaust taking place in Palestine,” specifically the hundreds of Palestinians killed during Israel’s military operations in Gaza (video of event in Hungarian). 

Orosz, who became the mayor of  Érpatak in 2010, has become well-known in Hungary for appearing at public events in various types of Hungarian historical costume and for his so-called “Érpatak Model” of maintaining order in the village, which essentially consists of imposing coercive measures on its Gypsy inhabitants in order to compel them to do public work and respect the law (source in Hungarian).

Orosz is also a known for his close connection to radical-nationalist organizations such as the New Hungarian Guard, the Outlaw Army (Betyársereg) and the 64 Counties Youth Movement (Hatvannégy Vármegye Ifjúsági Mozgalom) as well as various neo-Nazi Hungarist groups (source in Hungarian). 

Mayor Orosz watches as the executioner kicks the stool from underneath the effigy of Shimon Peres.

Mayor Orosz watches as the executioner kicks the stool from underneath the effigy of Shimon Peres.

During one of his annual public commemorations of the attempt of German and Hungarian military forces to break out of the Soviet siege of Budapest in February 1945, Orosz referred to Second World War fascist Arrow Cross head of state and government Ferenc Szálasi as Hungary’s “martyred national leader” (source in Hungarian). 

Orosz has also launched an increasing number of high-profile attacks on liberals and manifestations of liberalism in Hungary, most recently making the 200-kilometer trip to Budapest earlier in the summer to heckle participants in the city’s annual gay parade (source in Hungarian).

On June 18, 2014, the Nyíregyháza Court of Justice ruled that Orosz had committed an illegal act of political discrimination when he ordered police to remove a local member of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union from his 2013 commemoration of the 1945 German-Hungarian attempt to escape the Soviet siege of Budapest (source in Hungarian).

The hanging in effigy of Israel’s head of government and former head of state that Orosz organized on August 2 may entail further legal proceedings against him: on August 5, Hungary’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office announced that at the request of the Israeli embassy in Budapest it had initiated an investigation of the mayor of Érpatak on suspicion of incitement (source in Hungarian).   

Sign on the gallows used to hang the effigy of Shimon Peres.

Sign on gallows used to hang the effigy of Shimon Peres.

And, for the first time, the Orbán administration condemned Orosz’s antics: on August 4, Minister of External Economy and Foreign Affairs Tibor Navracsics issued a statement in which he declared that “Arbitrary and symbolic administration of justice toward the leaders of other states is incompatible with European norms and rule of law. The mayor is exploiting the innocent victims of the Gaza war as a pretext for disseminating his malicious propaganda (source in Hungarian). 

Perhaps the Orbán government will soon decide that it really wants to inhibit the spread of racist radical nationalism in the economically disadvantaged regions of rural eastern and southern Hungary after either ignoring or tacitly encouraging this phenomenon during the 2010–2014 parliamentary cycle. However, Mihály Zoltán Orosz’s ardently anti-liberal, anti-Semitic, anti-West and anti-democratic policies and activities as mayor of Érpatak, the victory of 64 Counties Youth Movement leader László Toroczkai in by-elections for mayor in the village of Ásotthalom in December 2013 (see The First Little Pinprick) and the significant degree of support for the New Hungarian Guard (see Uniform Disorder) and Jobbik (see Crunching the Election Numbers) in these parts of the country suggest that it may be too late.  

Postscript: a reporter from the opposition weekly Magyar Narancs talked to the man who played the role of executioner in the mock hanging: he reported that Mayor Orosz had enlisted him to do this job as part of his village “social work” duties and that “It doesn’t matter to me who’s shooting who and who they are hanging” (source in Hungarian). 



The Jobbik May Day Celebration

Scene from the annual Jobbik May Day celebration.

Scene from the annual Jobbik May Day celebration.

Always the dilemma for the historico-political observer in Budapest on May 1: which reincarnation of the oppressive twentieth-century isms to observe—the Workers’ Party at its May Day celebration in the City Park or Jobbik at its May Day celebration at Hajógyári [Ship Yard] Island.

This year: the neo-communists are on the rise, there is a new freshness to their red, more young people at their events, though they are still very small—only a half percent of the votes in the April National Assembly election. The neo-fascists are also on the rise, very much on the rise, in fact they form the third-largest party in the National Assembly after getting over 20 percent of the votes in the spring elections.

Really no contest: on the bike and up the Danube to Shipyard Island to see Jobbik.


Jobbik European Parliament representative Krisztina Morvai.

Krisztina Morvai.

To the Big White Tent just in time to see the end of a speech from Jobbik European Parliament representative and former presidential candidate Krisztina Morvai: she predicts that the European Union may not last another ten years, because such an “unjust and inhumane” organization cannot survive too long. The banner hanging behind her reads “Shall We Be Members or Shall We Be Free?” in reference to an 1848 revolutionary poem from Hungarian national poet Sándor Petőfi. 

The tent is full. The crowd of several hundred applauds, especially when she says if the British don’t want Hungarian workers, then “Tesco go home!”

Morvai still uses the exaggerated facial and hand gestures that make it hard to get a good photo of her. She has also become very plump, though pleasantly so. They say her mother was a top model in Hungary back in the communist days.

Next up: Jobbik President Gábor Vona and National Assembly representative Sándor Pörzse, a former television journalist and present editor of the Jobbik weekly Barikád who smiles like he’s been told a thousand times that he has a nice smile.

Gábor Vona (left ) and Sándor Pörzse.

Gábor Vona (left ) and Sándor Pörzse.

Vona uses a very nasty term to describe the Hungarian Socialist Party—can’t remember which one exactly, heard this kind of political invective so many times before it just all kind of melds together in one big destructive and negative jumble. It probably had something to do with filth [mocsok] or refuse because the Jobbik president concludes his statement amid a crescendo of derisive laughter from the audience: “It doesn’t really matter anyway, because the socialists will soon end up in the trash heap of history!”

How on Earth can all of those people sit through these speeches? Must be looking forward to the food and drink, watching the fly settle on the head of the lady in front, thinking of something else.

Take a tour around the grounds as Vona drones on about the newest tragedy to befall Hungary—the expiration of the moratorium on the sale of agricultural land in the country to foreigners (i.e., citizens of other European Union countries).

The sound of a swooping jet from a nearby air show; Vona announces with mock relief: “I know that the EU doesn’t have any armed forces.” More applause, more derisive laughter.

Greater Hungary wall clocks and other nationalist wares.

Greater Hungary wall clocks and engravings.

This event has become much bigger and more sophisticated than it used to be: five years ago it had the feel of a village market fair—a few hundred people milling about, cheap wares, cheap attractions, the low-fi blare of oration and music; today several thousand people, dozens of stands with artisan-made Hungarian folk clothing, crafts and implements (expensive nationalist-kitsch), kids cracking whips with men dressed as traditional Hungarian Great Plain herdsmen, professional staging, hi-fi amplification.

The freshly made potato chips are delicious, but salty to the supreme and raise a mighty thirst. One beer is good, two even better at almost the same price as water. Many others have made the same calculation: faces are ruddy, eyes gleam. Spirits are high on this beautiful May 1 afternoon.

Sit on the grassy slope, listen to speech from Pörzse over loudspeakers and he says something that is actually candid and interesting: Jobbik has been unable to form alliances with other radical-nationalist parties in Europe because those from other countries in the region (Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia) are anti-Hungarian due to their Hungarian minority populations, while those from western Europe tend to be “pro-Israel” due to their Muslim minority populations. 

The folly of colliding nationalisms.


Man dressed as Hungarian herdsman-outlaw speaks to family near stand selling Hungarian folk ware.

Back to the Great White Tent for a few more photos before the long ride home. Vona and Pörzse have turned their sights on Hungarian Socialist Party European Parliament party-list leader Tibor Szanyi, a preferred target ever since he gave the finger to the Jobbik National Assembly caucus during a plenary session of parliament last year. Pörzse says he would debate with Szanyi on the spot, though being a holiday the socialist EP-list leader probably wouldn’t be in condition to do so (in reference to Szanyi’s alleged fondness for drink).

Look down at feet and Krisztina Morvai is there squatting down right there, listening to Vona and Pörzse castigating Szanyi. She is wearing a loose-fitting Hungarian folk skirt and short-cut embroidered blouse. There is a large gap of rather sensuous bareness between them. The top of the crack of her backside is clearly visible (see This Kind of Place).

Ancient Hungarian drum ensemble.

Ancient Hungarian drum ensemble.

Stop at the main stage on the way out: a group of drummers in ancient Hungarian headgear and old-fashioned outfits beats out an ominous tribal rhythm. The desperation of radical-nationalist identity-seeking has begun to transcend the boundaries of the absurd in these parts. Then: young women, many of them copiously tatooed, display evening dresses with Hungarian embroidery and nationalist colors (namely the brown-red of the Hungarian uniforms in the 1848 revolution). Up next: concert from the nationalist rock group Ismerős Arcok (Familiar Faces). Heard them last on Szabadság Square in 2007, lead vocalist prompting audience with refrain, cupping ear and holding the microphone outward to catch the mass response: “Ferenc Szálasi!” (name of the prime minister who headed Hungary’s fascist Arrow Cross government in 1944–1945).

Unlock the bicycles from the security fencing around the stage. The crowd growing for the start of the main attraction, the coarse faces of those who suffer from poverty, ill-health and lack of education. Looking hard for deliverance, they think they have found it in the form of a party, a movement and a cultural force that make them proud to be who they are and tell them that all their problems stem from the foul doings of internal and external enemies. One gets the feeling that this whole thing is going to get much bigger before it starts getting smaller. And there may be hell to pay for it. 

The man standing alongside is wearing a shirt bearing the inscription, both front and back:  “I Am a Hungarian, not a Jew” [Magyar vagyok nem zsidó]. 

See Jobbik May Day Celebration photo gallery.

I Am a Hungarian, not a Jew.

I Am a Hungarian, not a Jew.


The Soul of Hungarian Radical Nationalism

Below is a screenshot of the well-visited Hungarian radical-nationalist website from the morning of April 30, 2014:




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Jobbik party emblem (1)

Banner (2)

Unlimitedly Hungarian (3)


Anti-Hungarianism (4)

Gypsycrime (5)

Holohoax (6)

Humor (7) 

Letters to the Editor (8) 

Politicalcrime (9) 

Videos (10) 

Jewishcrime (11)


The For a Better Future Trial: according to the Jewish Attorney, the Judge Violated the Rights of the Gypsycriminals with Her Proclamation of the Truth, for Which They Should Receive Damages (12)

The Algiers Memorial to the One and a Half Million French Genocide—Those Who Dare to Pull Down the Cordon Are Riddled with Bullets. A Genocide that Really Did Take Place (13)

At Last: the Police Carried Off the Oy-Veying Jews from Szabadság Square (14)

European Parliament Party-List Leader Debate: Morvai Accepted Banjai’s Challenge (15)

-The Foreign Affairs Ministry Does Not Represent Public Opinion in the Russian/Ukrainian Affair Either: the Majority of Hungarians Do Not Want Sanctions against Moscow (16) 

Police Proceedings Initiated against Cordon Breachers, Who “Last Experienced Passing Contact with Physical Labor 70 Years Ago”  

They Shot the Turncoat Jewish Mayor of Kharkov in the Back—He’s Being Treated in Israel (18)  

Headline Notes

12-Refers to attorney György Magyar’s assertion that Gypsies have the right to launch legal proceedings against Gyula Court of Justice Judge Dr. Erika Mucsi for allegedly racist statements she made about Gypsies in the court’s March 24, 2014 decision not to dissolve the radical-nationalist For a Better Future Self-Defense organization on charges that it has intimated the Gypsy populations of several communities in rural Hungary. 

13- Alleged statement from Hungary’s Ambassador to Algeria Csaba Mohi regarding how police in Algiers would respond to trespassing at the site of the city’s Monument des Martyrs in reference to protesters having pulled down a cordon around the controversial memorial to the 1944 German occupation of Hungary under construction in Budapest (see What Is Truth?). 

14-Reference to the police removal on April 29 of demonstrators from the site at which the German Occupation Memorial is being built in Budapest. 

17-Reference to initiation of legal proceedings against demonstrators whom police carried away from the site of the German Occupation Memorial in Budapest. 


Too Close for Comfort

On February 28, 2014, Hungarian journalist Ferenc Szaniszló declared during his foreign-affairs program Világ-Panoráma [World-Panorama] on the pro-government television station Echo TV that Hungary must be prepared to reincorporate the Hungarian-inhabited regions of Subcarpathian Ukraine into the Hungarian state in the event that Ukraine collapses (see video in Hungarian and Orange Files transcription in English below): 

I welcome our kind viewers from Paso Robles, California to Stavanger, Norway, from Rochester in the state of New York to Moscow. Whether it wants to or not, Hungary must prepare to take back Subcarpathian Ukraine, at least its majority Hungarian-inhabited parts located alongside the Trianon border. In the event that Ukraine falls apart, we cannot pretend that we have nothing to do with the Verecke Pass, Munkács (Munkacheve) or the Carpathians. The new political powers in Ukraine are limiting use of the Polish, Russian and Hungarian languages once again. And it doesn’t really console us that the European Union also supports the genocidal, Hungarian-killing Beneš decrees. The Russian, Polish and Hungarian inhabitants of Ukraine cannot satisfy themselves with the fact that the European Union is supporting the Nazis and financing the fascists. It is the deeply held desire of Brussels that the new Ukraine be nationalist against the Russians, the Poles and the Hungarians, though internationalist toward the repositories of surreptitious global financial power—the EU, NATO and the IMF. And all of this from our money, because Hungary is also an accomplice to the EU, NATO and the IMF.

Revision of the territorial changes stemming from the 1920 Treaty of Trianon, according to which Hungary lost two-thirds of its Austro-Hungarian Monarchy-era territory to the newly created or expanded states of Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia and Austria, has been one of the greatest political taboos throughout the region of east-central Europe since the end of the Second World War. The only voices that have openly advocated the reincorporation into Hungary of Hungarian-inhabited territory in surrounding countries have been those of the radical-nationalist Hungarian fringe arising from extra-parliamentary political organizations such as the 64 Counties Youth Movement (Hatvannégy Vármegye Ifjúsági Mozgalom) and extremist websites such as

Echo TV owner Gábor Széles (center) at the head of a pro-government Peace March processions in Budapest.

Echo TV owner Gábor Széles (center) at the head of a pro-government Peace March processions in Budapest.

Ferenc Szaniszló, though notorious for his outlandish conspiracy theories and racist innuendo, is nevertheless much closer to the Hungarian political mainstream than others who have made similarly explicit irredentist statements. Echo TV, though only the 40th most-watched television station in Hungary, is the most popular pro-government news station ahead of the more moderate Hír TV [News TV] (source in Hungarian). The owner of the Echo TV channel that broadcasts Szaniszló’s twice weekly program is staunchly pro-Orbán media tycoon Gábor Széles, who has been one of the main organizers of the massive pro-government Peace March processions that have taken place in Budapest about every six months since 2012.

Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog (left) presenting journalist Ferenc Szaniszló with a Mihály Táncsics Prize on March 14, 2013.

Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog (left) presenting journalist Ferenc Szaniszló with a Mihály Táncsics Prize on March 14, 2013.

On March 14, 2013, Orbán government Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog presented Szaniszló with a state-sponsored Mihály Táncsics Prize in recognition of outstanding achievement in the field of journalism. However, after several days of sharp protest from the socialist and liberal opposition and the US and Israeli ambassadors to Hungary, Balog requested on March 19 that Szaniszló return the prize, claiming that he had been unaware of the highly publicized incendiary statements the journalist had made during his program over previous years, including an anti-Gypsy diatribe in February 2011 for which the National Media and Infocommunications Authority fined Echo TV 500,000 forints (1,800 euros) for violating regulations prohibiting incitement to hatred (source in Hungarian).

Szaniszló complied with the minister’s request, asserting during his following television program “Israel has triumphed over Ferenc Szaniszló” (source in Hungarian).

Although Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and the members of his administration have been very careful to avoid making statements that can be construed as irredentist and have never given any indication that they, themselves, maintain anti-Gypsy or -Semitic attitudes, Ferenc Szaniszló’s open reference to the possibility of territorial revision on February 28 and previous racist commentary during his television program on the pro-government television station Echo TV provide evidence of the direct connections that exist between the Orbán government and the exponents of radical Hungarian nationalism.


The First Little Pinprick

The new mayor of Ásotthalom: Toroczkai leading demonstrators to Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest to hold anti-government demonstration on October 22, 2007 (Orange Files photo).

László Toroczkai leading anti-government demonstration in Budapest on October 22, 2007 (photo: Orange Files).

In by-elections held on Sunday, December 15, voters in Ásotthalom (southern Hungary, population 4,000) elected the president of the radical-nationalist 64 Counties Youth Movement, László Toroczkai, to serve as mayor of the village. Toroczkai, who serves as a Jobbik representative in the Csongrád County General Assembly, ran for mayor of Ásotthalom as an independent, defeating a single rival candidate from the ruling Fidesz party with over 70 percent of the vote. Following the announcement of the election results, Jobbik issued the following communiqué: “Jobbik heartily congratulates its Csongrád County General Assembly representative and president of its ally, the 64 Counties Youth Movement  (Hatvannégy Vármegye Ifjúsági Mozgalom), László Toroczkai” (source in Hungarian).

Toroczkai is one of the most prominent radical nationalists in Hungary. He gained national recognition as the leader of the group of 1,500 football ultras and political extremists that overwhelmed police guarding the Hungarian Television headquarters in Budapest and laid waste to the building on September 19, 2006. He was one of the main leaders of the frequent and occasionally violent anti-government demonstrations that took place in the city over the subsequent two years.

Toroczkai-led extremists lay siege to the Hungarian Television headquarters in Budapest on September 19, 2006.

Toroczkai-led extremists lay siege to Hungarian Television headquarters on September 19, 2006.

The Toroczkai-lead 64 Counties Youth Movement is the organizer of the annual radical-nationalist festival Hungarian Island (Magyar Sziget) that hosts explicitly anti-Semitic, anti-Gypsy and anti-West speakers and rock bands. Toroczkai, himself, is known for his extremist rhetoric, such as when he spoke openly at the Hungarian Island festival in 2011 of  the “shooting to death” (agyonlövés) of both Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, stating that “We would have done an even greater favor for the Hungarian nation had we shot him [Gyurcsány] to death at the Communist Youth League’s camp when he was ten years old” (source in Hungarian). 

One should not draw overarching conclusions from the results of local by-elections. Nor should one ignore them completely. The election of the radical-nationalist icon László Toroczkai to serve as the mayor of a village in southern Hungary over a Fidesz rival may be the product of purely local, personal politics with no greater political implications. However, it may also suggest that the effort of Jobbik to build the party’s base of support in rural Hungary at Fidesz’s expense through the espousal of tough measures to combat “Gypsy crime” may have begun to pay off.


Butting Heads with the Wonder Deer

A late-summer garden party in a town on the outskirts of Budapest. 

250px-Csodaszarvas.svgA middle-aged couple standing under an apple tree in the half dark, away from the row of tables where the other guests are eating stew prepared in a bogrács, a traditonal Hungarian cooking pot. 

She: Did you see what Éva is wearing? How tacky. It reminds me of Republican taste in the United States. 

He: I’ve got to think that from an intelligent person like her it must be intentional. You know, the principle that something that is in really poor taste actually becomes beautiful again. The part I didn’t like was the Wonder Deer [Csodaszarvas] hanging on her neck. 

She: That part didn’t bother me. I really love ancient symbolism. 

He: The problem is who else really loves it. The anti-Semitic, anti-Gypsy, anti-West, anti-democracy, anti-capitalist people. They have taken these ancient Hungarian symbols,  yurts and archery and horses, and made them into something ugly. 

She: I don’t care. For me they don’t mean those things. 

He: Maybe for you they don’t, but for me and I would dare to say most Hungarians they do, whether they approve of those things or not. 

She: That is what I hate about politics. It ruins everything. 

They look at one another coldly. One of those reemerging disagreements. 

Note: The Wonder Deer is an animal from the mythology of the ancient Hungarians and other central Asian peoples.