Five points on the activities of the Hungarian far right on 23 October

2019-10-28

The actions of far-right organisations in Budapest on 23 October surprised many, and several premature explanations have been published. Here is Political Capital’s take on the topic in five points:

  1. The Hungarian far right has been less visible in the public eye in the past few years compared to the period after 2006 and early in the 2010s. The main reason for it was the crisis and reorganisation of the scene, which is connected to Fidesz’s slide towards the radical right and Jobbik’s moderation strategy.
  2. The movement focused on itself: they revised their strategy, messages and design, emphasising community-building and networking. They organised larger events regularly throughout this time as well (e.g., the “Honour day” celebration in Budapest, attracting hundreds of participants).
  3. The far-right scene remains heterogenous: various groups differ in ideology, topics of focus, design and the profile of their followers. Regardless, cooperation between the groups remains strong and there are issues that connect them: (1) anti-gender and anti-LGBTQ and (2) anti-immigration views, and (3) the fight against political correctness. These topics are connected to each other through the “Great Replacement” theory based on fears from losing social privileges, and ethnical and cultural “replacement”. This vision has become the main issue for the global far right and the main justification for terrorist act by members of this scene.
  4. Civic movements and opposition parties that proudly represent their values can naturally mobilise the far right because its ideology is built on fighting and the feeling of being threatened. Considering that the number of smaller-scale far right actions has increased recently, more frequent, larger, spectacular mass activities can be expected in the future.
  5. Hindering the work of opposition mayors and the operation of opposition-led settlements is clearly a goal for Fidesz to retroactively justify the party’s campaign focusing on the incapability of opposition candidates and undermine the popularity of new leaders. However, it would be a conspiracy theory if we assessed the far right’s activities on 23 October in this context. These actions had been prepared for a long time before the national holiday. In the future, the work of the police and secret service will indicate whether they have improved in managing such situations effectively. We are waiting for the police to strictly implement in practice the hate crime protocol that came into force in the summer, which aims to make police investigations into such acts more effective and fruitful. The protocol requires the use of prejudice indicators, the monitoring of the activities of hate groups, and the use of communication supporting the victim.

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