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HUNGARY: Democracy Digest: Magyar Holds Huge Anti-Orban Rally, Reveals Party for EU Elections

Edit Inotai, Peter Dlhopolec, Jules Eisenchteter and Claudia Ciobanu

Bratislava, Budapest, Prague, Warsaw

BIRN

April 12, 2024 07:47

Courtesy opf Balkan Insight [website: https://balkaninsight.com]

di Emanuele G. - lunedì 15 aprile 2024 - 515 letture

ungary’s rising political star, Peter Magyar, announced this week the party through which he wants to contest the European Parliament elections on June 9. TISZA (Tisztelet es Szabadsag, or Respect and Freedom) was actually established in 2020 as a non-ideological centrist movement, which – at least in its original program – wanted to stop migration, join the Eurozone, curb PM Viktor Orban’s generous funding to Hungarian communities in neighbouring countries, and limit the mandate of MPs to two legislative periods. It received zero per cent of votes cast in the 2022 general election. Last weekend, Magyar attracted well over 100,000 demonstrators (he put the number at over 250,000) in the biggest rally yet seen against Orban’s government. Magyar announced he would contest the EU elections and launched an online call for MEP candidates. One of those could be Protestant priest Zoltan Tarr, who gave a remarkable speech at Saturday’s rally, criticising Hungarian churches for making pacts with the government and turning into “political churches” instead of doing their real job. Unsurprisingly, Tarr, had been was serving a probationary period at a state-owned company, was unceremoniously fired on Monday for the critical remarks, a clear acknowledgement of how little free speech is tolerated in Hungary nowadays.

Meanwhile, the state media, little more than propganda outlets for Orban’s government, continued their attempts to paint Magyar, who has been a Fidesz insider for the past decade, as a “leftist”, a “psychopath” and “paid by foreign powers”. Opposition parties also began voicing criticism this week, no doubt fearing their disappointed voters will start drifting towards the charismatic Magyar. The 43-year-old lawyer, who was once married to ex-justice minister Judit Varga, is tight-lipped about his specific program, but he is not hiding the fact that on European issues he has more in common with Orban than the opposition, in that he opposes a “European superstate” and vows to defend national sovereignty. On the flip side, he said he would support Hungary joining the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and would also work more constructively with the EU.

Hungary’s government-linked Centre for Fundamental Rights will once again host the foreign edition of the US conservative gathering CPAC in Budapest on April 25-26 – but ‘critical’ voices won’t be welcome. Dutch journalists who wanted to cover the speech of Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom, at the conference received an atypical but clear response to their accreditation request. The Hungarian host organisation wrote: “We regret to inform you that we cannot accommodate your accreditation request this time. As organizers, we must abide by one of the conference’s ironclad rules: CPAC is a NO WOKE ZONE [sic]. We look forward to welcoming you to future events if and when your organization become significantly less woke.” At last year’s event, The Guardian’s correspondent was famously escorted out as she interviewed one of the US guests. This year, the hosts are taking no chances and have said critical journalists, both Hungarian and international, won’t be allowed inside the venue. As well as Wilders, speakers will include Santiago Abascal, leader of Spain’s far-right VOX party and nicknamed “the Spanish bullfighter” (although he lost badly in last year’s Spanish general election). From the US, fringe politicians such as former cage fighter-turned-senator Markwayne Mullin and Congressman Andy Harris have been booked to appear. The head of the Centre for Fundamental Rights, Miklos Szantho, a self-described “wokebuster”, introduced the latter as someone who has been fighting “in the liberal jungle” for 13 years, successfully beating back “the attacks of gender fanatics and the liberal media”. Congressman Keith Self, “the border warrior, the daredevil of border security”, will also speak. As usual, PM Orban – a keen fighter for “national sovereignty” – will give a keynote speech and is expected to call for a Donald Trump victory in this year’s presidential election.

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