Hungarian left-wing opposition parties support a „repentant” anti-semitic politician

Ten years ago it was unimaginable that Hungarian left-wing opposition parties would support a joint candidate who had previously made anti-Semitic remarks. Now this is happening at an important by-election. They support a politician of the Jobbik party, which considers itself centre right but used to be called extreme right in the Western press.

As an MP back in 2012, Jobbik’s current deputy chairman and MEP Marton Gyongyosi made a remark in the parliament, which caused general uproar and rejection both in Hungarian and international politics. Left-wing opposition politicians shared the stage with pro-government, Fidesz politicians to reject Gyongyosi’s anti-Semitic comments. The Jobbik politician’s remark could be interpreted as if he wanted to list the Jewish people living in Hungary.

He said in the Hungarian parliament that it was time to measure how many people of Jewish origin there are in Hungary and “especially in the Hungarian parliament who present a national security risk to Hungary”.

Marton Gyongyosi apologised for his remark several times, claiming that his sentences were wrongly formulated, it wasn’t what he actually wanted to say. He wanted to raise the question that it should be checked whether Israeli-Hungarian double citizens in the parliament present a national security risk. Last February, he told conservative Valasz Online that in 2006 Jobbik started to expand as a subcultural movement and at that time they deliberately played upon racist, anti-Semitic feelings.

These weren’t the only objectionable comments Gyongyosi, who currently sits in the EP’s AFET committee as an independent MEP. At an anti-Zionist event in 2013 he said – among other things – that some people want to “distract attention from the crimes of Zionism” and this is why “the Holocaust must be remembered more and more often” and higher and higher compensations should be paid to Holocaust survivors “whose number is miraculously increasing”. Gyongyosi also said that “the Jewry, serving the interests of Zionism, played a dark role in the management of communist dictatorships”. He agreed with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who – according to Gyongyosi – called Zionism a crime against humanity. “It’s a brave, clear and compact phrasing of the entity”, Gyongyosi emphasised. He said that President Janos Ader goes to Israel “to lick boots”.

These serious comments, which can’t be interpreted as “bloopers”, have been forgotten in Hungarian politics. Nowadays Jobbik has been consistently defining itself as a centrist party. The opposition party’s former president, Gabor Vona said several times that Jobbik has been moving from radicalism to the political centre since 2013, but the not-so-old anti-Semitic remarks of Jobbik politicians often appear in the press. But as the opposition hasn’t been able to present any results against Viktor Orban’s government since 2010, they already consider Jobbik a necessary partner to replace the government – despite the party’s problematic past – and ignore the anti-Semitism and racism of Jobbik politicians which is swept under the carpet.

By-elections must be held at a constituency on October 11 after the death of its Fidesz MP. The election is important both for the government and the opposition. The latter can show whether they have a chance to win against the ruling parties (Fidesz-KDNP) with a joint candidate. If yes, it can determine the strategy of the opposition parties for the 2022 elections. This means they’ll have one opposition candidate against the pro-government candidate, in order to unite the opposition votes.

Due to an administrative reason Jobbik couldn’t nominate its own politician, but left-wing parties “adopted” Laszlo Biro, who reached a strong result in the 2018 elections against Fidesz. The opposition parties don’t even mind that Biro made anti-Semitic remarks when Jobbik was already in its so-called centrist people’s party phase.

“I see the guests of Hungarian wellness hotels. Here in Tarcal there is a four or five star hotel. Full of Poles, Russians and Israelis! My dog goes crazy when the kikes walk by the house. It’s not the ordinary Hungarians who come here. I have friends who work in the hotel industry, they can tell what’s going on”,

the Jobbik politician wrote in a comment on his Facebook profile. He used a hard-to-translate, very offensive Hungarian slur – “tetűcsúszdások”, those who wear “lice-slides” – which refers to sidelocks. He also called Budapest “Judapest”, a well-known extreme right anti-Semitic phrase, which implies that the capital is under the influence of the Jewry or that many Jews live in Budapest.

Laszlo Biro apologised and explained his remarks by saying that the 2018 elections pushed him into deep apathy. He didn’t further elaborate. The left-wing parties, who eight years ago organised protests because of Gyongyosi’s “wrongly phrased” remarks and demanded Jobbik to be banned, simply said that they accept Biro’s “sufficient, honest apologies”.

The Hungarian press has been covering several anti-Semitic and racist remarks of Jobbik pelicans. While the Hungarian government has often been accused abroad and in the international press of xenophobia and anti-semitism, Jobbik’s dark past and questionable present seems to be forgivable and forgettable for many who want a different government in Hungary. But what sort of alternative can the opposition present to Hungary if it closes its eyes to anti-Semitic and racist remarks, if it serves its interest?

Source: Hungary Journal

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