The second season of patrolling in Hungary

2011-05-04

Background

Far-right organisations closely resembling the banned, Jobbik-close Hungarian Guard (Véderő, Betyársereg, Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület) have been marching for weeks in Gyöngyöspata, Heves County in Hungary. On April 26, 2011 there was a violent confrontation between the guards and the Roma population resulting in four injuries. In response, the government promised police reinforcement and tighter regulations. On May 2 Parliament passed the government&

39;s Demand for Right-Wing Extremism Index, DEREX published in 2010, social demand has played an important role in the institutionalization of far-right politics in Hungary. In the age group over 15, between 2002 and 2009 the rate of those sympathizing with far-right ideas increased from 10 to 21% in Hungarian society, representing an all but unprecedented increase by international standards. The collapse of confidence in democratic institutions has been a major contributing factor in this process, which also led to a significant rise in prejudices. Looking at specific social categories, people living in rural communities and those with less education are more susceptible to far-right ideology. The index’ aggregate score is particularly high in the northern-Hungary region, which provides fertile breeding ground for a political rhetoric built on ‘Gypsy crime’.
  • This rhetoric has been given free rein in Hungary. For years, prominent public figures have left public discussion and the shaping of public opinion on the Roma issue to forces representing radical and extremist political organizations. This continues to exacerbate problems, eliminating all possibilities for a dialogue, consolidating the far right and increasing the potential for future violent conflicts.
  • The Guard-phenomenon in Eastern Europe

    The guard-phenomenon is not intrinsic to Hungary; it represents a form of organization typical of the far right in Eastern Europe. East European guards share the following features:

    1. Paramilitary-type organizations evoking the militaristic traditions of the far right.
    2. Policy built primarily on anti-Roma prejudice.
    3. Questioning the state’s law-enforcement monopoly.
    4. Closely tied to party politics: they are created by parties and play a major role in party building. (This is also why it is a mistake to compare the guards to neo-Nazi paramilitary organizations as the latter reject the entire political system and have no party affiliations, i.e., their political role is marginal).

    Guards in Eastern Europe – an Overview

    Slovakia - The Slovak Brotherhood (Slovenská pospolitosť) was established back in 2003. In November 2008, the Interior Ministry in Bratislava disbanded the anti-Hungarian, anti-Roma and anti-Semitic organization (sporting uniforms closely resembling that of the Slovak Fascist party active in World War II). In 2009 the country’s High Court overruled the order claiming that the required conditions for disbanding did not obtain at the time. The former leader of the organization, Marián Kotleba was charged with displaying the Nazi salute and making racial slurs (during the 2009 election campaign he promised to “eliminate legal preferences enjoyed by Gypsy parasites”). The court dropped all the charges and stopped the investigation. In the spring of 2010, Kotleba established the “Our Slovakia People’s Party” (Ľudová strana Naše Slovensko). In parliamentary elections the party won 1.33% of the votes. The latest public opinion surveys show a 0.7% support among decided voters with a party preference. “The elimination of the Gypsy problem” is one of the major objectives of the party and the organization.

    Czech Republic – In the summer of 2007, the far-right National Party (Národní strana) established the National Guard. At the time the party’s president, Petra Edelmannová, justified the establishment of the Guard claiming the police had been unable to guarantee public safety and the majority lived in fear of the minority. In 2007 the party initiated a “final solution” for the Roma issue, proposing the evacuation of the Roma population to India. In the 2009 ET election the party achieved 0.26% (receiving 6 263 votes) and it did not even run in the 2010 general election. Currently neither the party nor the Guard are active. A similar organization, the ultra-right Workers Party was banned by the government after the party's guard-like militant organization demonstrating against “Gypsy terror” clashed with the police protecting the population in the Roma neighbourhood of Litvínov.

    Bulgaria - In 2007, Boyan Rasate established that far-right Bulgarian National Union – Guard (BNS/Gvardia) stating that the Bulgarian society has “suffered enough under Gypsy terror of the past 17 years” as subsequent governments and the police watched the unfolding events passively. The formation of the Bulgarian guard was preceded by massive riots by the Roma population in a Sofia District (Kraszna Poljana). The National Guard is blamed for a number of violent attacks against the Roma living in the district. Rasate has been repeatedly charged with racism, xenophobia, as well as racial and ethnic discrimination. He was arrested in 2008 for throwing a Molotov cocktail at the first gay parade held in Bulgaria. In 2009 he described the Roma population as “Gypsy parasites”, “making a living from robbery and prostitution” and “killers of several Bulgarians”. In May 2009, the Bulgarian High Court cancelled the party’s registration.

    Romania – While a guard organisation similar to the ones described above has not emerged, earlier the radical right played a crucial role in Romanian domestic politics on several occasions. Following its formation the anti-Hungarian Greater-Romania Party has regularly passed the parliamentary threshold, although it failed in the 2008 general election. The reincarnation of a legionnaire’s movement active between the two world wars, Noua Dreapta (New Right – ND, established in 2000) currently plays a more important role, targeting almost exclusively the Gypsies and the gay community, and its members often parade around in uniforms. The organization stands up for religious values and its events are often attended by the clergy from the Orthodox Church.

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