Political Risk in Hungary has increased due to actions of the Hungarian Guard

2007-12-17

  1. The most serious risk regarding the Hungarian Guard established in August 2007 by Jobbik Movement for Hungary (Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom) is that it may induce violent conflicts between the gipsy and non-gipsy population even in the short run by strengthening present ethnic tensions. The strategy of the Hungarian Guard aims at provoking such actions. Hungarian political actors have made a mistake by underestimating the seriousness of the problem and letting radical political groups expropriate public discourse about gipsies’ problems. Thus these groups were given the opportunity to build a political strategy on the gipsy-non gipsy controversy in Hungarian society. This deepens the problem, makes normal dialogue impossible, strengthens public support of far-right groups and increases the possibility of violent conflicts.
  2. Due to extensive national and international media coverage of the Hungarian Guard’s recent activities, the reputation of Hungary and the trust in the country’s stability and the success of  its democratic development have significantly deteriorated in foreign countries. As a part of the reorganization of the radical far-right in Hungary, more “national self-defence” groups were established in Hungary in the past year. The common feature of these groups is that they define themselves as “civic organizations” whilst they declare their intention to prepare their members for national defence, law enforcement and catastrophe recovery tasks; justifying this with the impotence and incompetence of the police, the army and, more generally, the entire state. This is a part of a general strategy of masking political initiatives as civic actions, building upon the anti-political sentiments of society. Therefore civic self-definition and the selection of association (and not party) as organizational form are not only instruments to avoid legal ban but constitute a genuine political strategy as well.
  3. The activity of the Hungarian Guard increases risks concerning relations with neighbouring countries. In the past months, the Hungarian Guard has been mentioned as a potential threat by neighbouring countries and some countries’ ultranationalist political forces justify their anti-Hungarian politics by referring to the danger of the Hungarian Guard’s actions. This may influence the political stability of the region as well.
  4. The establishment of the Hungarian Guard is not an isolated phenomenon in Central Eastern Europe thus political risks have increased in the entire region. The activity of the Hungarian Guard resembles to that of the Bulgarian National Guard, which was founded on 19th August 2007 by the National Union of Bulgaria (BNU). The establishment of the Bulgarian National Guard had been the aftermath of extensive disturbances in the gipsy population in one of Sofia’s quarters (“Krasna Poljana”). BNU decided to establish the National Guard following these insurrections, saying that the aim of the organization is “national self-defence”. According to BNU, in the last 17 years there has been “gipsy terror” in Bulgaria but state remained passive and ignorant. The appearance of this organization induced harsh public debate in Bulgaria. The reaction of the Bulgarian gipsy organizations was the declaration to found their own guard which reflects a growing possibility of ethnic clashes is the country. Whilst the activity of the Hungarian Guard is similar to that of the Bulgarian National Guard, it is possible that  Hungarian gipsy organizations will react the same way by  organizing their own self-defence groups.

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