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MSZP campaign trailer under fire

March 11th, 2013

Right-wing columnists condemn the Socialist Party for using the images of famous Hungarians for propaganda purposes, while left-wing commentators accuse the government of trying to control the way past Hungarian luminaries can be used.

The MSZP published on the internet a 20-minute campaign trailer, in which the opposition party criticized the Fidesz government for unfulfilled promises, increasing inequality and sluggish economic growth. Several commercial TV stations and the police claim that the MSZP violated their copyright laws by using footage without permission. The families of famous Hungarians, including 19th century statesman Lajos Kossuth, composer Béla Bartók and footballer Ferenc Puskás protested against the use of their ancestors’ portraits in Socialist publicity material, and demanded that the film be taken off the air. The MSZP initially rejected the accusations and claimed that the trailer did not violate rights, then announced that it will remake the film.

A new era is emerging. If Fidesz so decides, images of our great ancestors can only be used when and how this is allowed by Orbán and his team,” Péter Németh comments in Népszava. The editor-in-chief of the left-wing daily speculates that the families of Hungarian dignitaries raised their concerns because Fidesz pressurised them to do so.

Ferenc Puskás was undeniably the best Hungarian football player ever, but establishing a copyright on his place in the national pantheon is a sad reminder of the quality of public culture in the country, Magyar Narancs comments. The left-liberal weekly supposes that Puskás’s widow was persuaded by Fidesz to protest against MSZP’s campaign video, and finds it “tragic” that the Fidesz government puts sportsmen and other pop-culture figures into the heart of national imagination and pride.

In Magyar Hírlap, Zsolt Bayer writes that what he calls . Bayer finds it peculiar that the left-wing opposition party does not seem to understand why the widow of Ferenc Puskás, who fled the country under the Communist dictatorship objects to the use of the memory of the great football player by the MSZP, the legal successor to the Hungarian Socialist Workers” Party.

Such propaganda films full of hatred used to be made by past totalitarian regimes, Zsuzsanna Körmendy suggests in Magyar Nemzet. The MSZP campaign video indicates that the MSZP wants to blame all the economic and social problems of the country on the current Fidesz government, whilst completely ignoring the fact that Hungarian public and private debt increased as a result of the irresponsibly politics of the past Socialist-Liberal coalitions, Körmendy argues. “Whoever falls for these lies deserves the Socialists” return to power,” she concludes.

In the same daily, Ágnes Seszták and Dávid Megyeri, in two separate opinion columns, maintain that the MSZP has no other message than to criticize the current government, rather than drawing up a constructive and credible political programme.

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