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One day of unity against anti-Semitism

December 4th, 2012

Columnists commenting on Sunday’s anti-Nazi demonstration wonder if the presence of both left and right-wing politicians is a harbinger of a new consensus to reject anti-Semitism. Both pro-government and left-wing pundits are skeptical about the possibility and the desirability of finding such common ground.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of Hungarians gathered in front of the Parliament building in protest against Márton Gyöngyösi’s anti-Semitic slurs in Parliament (see BudaPost November 28). At the demonstration, former PM Gordon Bajnai, MSZP leader Attila Mesterházy and Fidesz floor leader Antal Rogán spoke in unison against racism and condemned anti-Semitic rhetoric. Politicians from Fidesz and the left-wing opposition parties were reported as present at the event, while Jobbik accused Fidesz of forming a grand coalition with the MSZP “in order to destroy” the radical right-wing party.

Népszabadság in a front page editorial calls the Sunday event a “historic moment”, the first occasion since the 1990 regime change when all mainstream political parties united against Jobbik’s racism. Népszabadság believes that Antal Rogán’s decision to speak in front of the mainly left-wing audience is a clear indication that the governing Fidesz party wants to stand up against discrimination. “There is a slight hope that unconditional and categorical rejection of racism and anti-Semitism can become the national minimum,” the leading left-wing daily writes.

Writing in Népszava, János Dési also welcomes Rogán’s speech, but wonders whether the Fidesz floor leader’s words are really representative of opinion in Fidesz. The left-wing columnist, who finishes all his articles by demanding that PM Viktor Orbán should step down, writes that the Fidesz government has weakened democratic institutions and “often cooperates with the neo-fascist Jobbik if it suits its interests.” He especially deplores the fact that Fidesz has tried to resuscitate iconic right-wing intellectuals of the interwar period whom he describes as anti-Semitic.

These people cannot blackmail us. We will not join those who see Nazis everywhere, but always find excuses for communism, another ideology of mass murderers,” László Szentesi Zöldi comments in Magyar Hírlap. Szentesi Zöldi blames the former Socialist governments for the emergence of far-right Jobbik. He believes that the Gyurcsány and the Bajnai governments’ ideological battle to destroy traditional Hungarian values in the name of progressive, cosmopolitan liberal beliefs helped Jobbik to unite radical leaning young voters, national radicals and those attracted to social demagoguery. “We should take no steps to the left, since we have nothing to do with them,” Szentesi Zöldi remarks and contends that the cleavage between the right and the left cannot and should not be bridged.

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