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Contrasting views on PM Orbán's Turul statue speech

October 3rd, 2012

Népszabadság criticizes Prime Minister Orbán for unveiling and praising a Turul-sculpture, which the daily considers a nationalistic symbol. According to a pro-government commentator, that criticism shows that the left cannot tolerate feelings of national belonging.

On October 29 at the Ópusztaszer National Memorial Park, Prime Minister Orbán inaugurated a Turul-sculpture dedicated to the Unity of Hungarians. In his speech, PM Orbán said that the mythical Hungarian falcon is a symbol of the common Hungarian ancestry and their common homeland. During the interwar period, the Turul was appropriated by nationalistic and anti-Semitic political groups. More recently, the Turul and other pagan symbols have been primarily used by the far right, including the radical Jobbik party. The left considers its use as a coded expression of nationalism and irredentism.

Népszabadság writes in a front page editorial. The left-wing daily contends that in the absence of political achievements, Fidesz is trying to boost its support by strengthening neo-pagan myths of a non-existent ancient Hungarian golden age. This strategy, Népszabadság speculates, will not only result in Fidesz’s electoral defeat, but could also destroy the centre-right vision of a modern, democratic, free and civic Hungary.

In Magyar Hírlap, Péter Szentmihályi Szabó believes that “the left has still not recovered from its Turul-phobia”. Szentmihályi Szabó points out that falcons and eagles are common symbols of freedom and national unity. The pro-government pundit wonders what other symbol could be used at the National Memorial Park instead of the Turul to depict Hungarian national belonging. Szentmihályi Szabó suggests that such reactions to the Turul sculpture clearly indicate that the left endorses only cosmopolitan ideals, and looks down on those who still consider national belonging valuable.

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