Viktor’s Anti-Migration Gambit Pays Off

The survey unit of Hungarian research company Tárki recently released polling results showing that support for the FideszChristian Democratic People’s Party (KDNP) governing alliance jumped just over ten percentage points among respondents stating a party preference and around five percentage points among all respondents over the past three months (source in Hungarian). Since the issue of the 2015 Migration Crisis has totally dominated politics and the media in Hungary during this period, one must assume that the hardline anti-migration response of the Fidesz-KDNP government Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to the crisis is responsible for the sharp increase in popularity that the governing alliance has recorded in all party-preference surveys conducted this autumn (source in Hungarian).

The Tárki polling results reveal that Fidesz-KDNP generated its rise in support primarily to the detriment of the three main democratic opposition parties—the Hungarian Socialist Party, Politics Can Be Different and the Democratic Coalition—rather than to that of radical-nationalist party Jobbik. Below are bar graphs showing the results of the Tárki party-preference polls taken in the months of April, July and October of 2015.

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MSZP = Hungarian Socialist Party; LMP = Politics Can Be Different; DK = Democratic Coalition; Együtt = Together; PM = Dialogue for Hungary.

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Madam Ambassador’s Démarche

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U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Colleen Bell speaking at Corvinus University in Budapest on October 28, 2015 (photo: origo.hu).

Nine months after arriving to Budapest, United States Ambassador Colleen Bell voiced her first criticism of the Orbán government during an October 28, 2015 speech entitled “A Current Look at U.S.-Hungarian Relations” at Corvinus University in Budapest.

Until this speech, Ambassador Bell, a political appointee and former television soap-opera producer, had conducted purely soft diplomacy, e.g., attending a rural festival with the agricultural minister, meeting with a popular young pianist and composer, planting trees on the square outside the U.S. embassy in Budapest and visiting a Hungarian Air Force base.

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State of the Democratic Opposition

October 23: the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. One of the two public holidays in Hungary—along with the March 15 anniversary of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution—on which political parties and groups in the country typically hold public events. Powerful political parties can draw thousands, even tens of thousands, of supporters to demonstrations and rallies on these dates, while even modest groups and organizations usually manage to attract hundreds of people. Attendance at political events held on October 23 and March 15 provides one of the most accurate gauges of the active support for political parties and groups in Hungary.  

On October 23, 2015, Orange Files attempted to attend as many of the democratic opposition’s official political events in Budapest as possible. Below is a summary of these events.

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1956 Hungarian Revolution memorial near Heroes’ Square shortly after Democratic Coalition President Ferenc Gyurcsány’s speech (photo: Orange Files).

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Beginning of the End III: the Cops

Below are a some photographs that Orange Files took of police at anti-government demonstrations in Budapest from September 2006 to September 2009. It is the third of a four-part gallery that started with Beginning of the End I: the Demonstrators and Beginning of the End II: the Leaders and will eventually include photographs under the category Signs and Symbols as well.

Click on any photo to see gallery view.

See all 27 photographs.

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The Röszke Telephones

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“Shocking images on abandoned telephones”: Hungarian Television shows its anonymous source (Orange Files screenshot).

On October 9, 2015, state-run Hungarian Television broadcast a report on images and videos allegedly found on telephones that migrants discarded after crossing into Hungary near the village of Röszke along the Hungarian-Serbian border earlier this year. Hungarian Television reported three days previously that it had received the telephones containing the images from an anonymous resident of Röszke who had “helped the authorities as a civilian volunteer in their work at the border” (source in Hungarian from 7:54).

The October 9 Hungarian Television report is typical of those that Hungary’s state-run media has broadcast regarding the Great Migration regularly over the past few months in order to support the Orbán government’s contention that migrants represent a grave immediate threat to the security of Hungary and all of Europe.

See entire post.

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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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Scenes from the Great Migration 4: Leaving Hungary at Hegyeshalom

Migrants walking down bicycle path outside Hegyeshalom toward the Austrian border (photo: Orange Files).

Migrants walking down bicycle path toward the Hungarian-Austrian border (photo: Orange Files).

Since September 22, 2015, the Orbán government has been transporting migrants by train from the Hungarian-Croatian frontier to the village of Hegyeshalom located about two miles from the Hungarian-Austrian border. The government is not registering asylum requests from these migrants and is therefore able to shuttle them through Hungary to Austria in less than 24 hours.

After arriving to Hegyeshalom, the migrants walk through the village and down a roadside bicycle path to the border crossing, where Migration Aid, the Hungarian Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations provide them with food and water before they enter Austria.

On September 26, 2015, three trains carrying between 1,500 and 2,000 migrants each arrived to Hegyeshalom in a six-hour period from early afternoon to early evening. Below are photographs that Orange Files took of these migrants during their walk from the train station to the border of Austria on that date.

Click on any photo to see gallery view.

See all 42 photos.

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Below is an Orange Files video of migrants walking outside the village of Hegyeshalom on their way to the Hungarian-Austrian border.

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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).

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The Curtain Falls Again

The curtain falls: closing the last gap in the border.

Closing the final gap in the Hungarian-Serbian border (photo: Orange Files).

On this night the “new era” begins: the Orbán government is closing the final gap in the Hungarian-Serbian border fence, the place where the now defunct Szabadka-Szeged railway crosses the frontier, the place where tens of thousands of refugees have entered Hungary over the past few weeks en route to the West. The news has spread quickly among the tens of thousands more who are still on their way: Hungary will seal its border on midnight of September 14–15. The push to make it to the frontier before this hour has been intense, a massive forced march up the railway and dusty trackside roads in northern Serbia: the UNHCR official at the border says that his people counted around 29,000 refugees crossing the frontier into Hungary over the previous two days.

See entire post.

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Click on any photo to see gallery view.

See all 39 photos.

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Below is an Orange Files video of the closing of the border made from the Serbian side.

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