After a long labor, two of the three Hungarian parties reunite. Some are afraid of “Orbánistan”, others of giving up the “Hungarian cause”. We asked editor Zsolt Beke.
– It depends on what we consider success. The formation of a common party can also be a success, it will certainly be. Will this party have a program to make a meaningful contribution to the problems of Slovak society? I have my doubts about that. Obviously, it is possible to start with a good ethnic program, but for me it is still not enough, as it will not improve the environment, the situation of workers, the social system, the school system, etc. in the country. Local solutions are important, but only within the framework of a comprehensive reform. I say this because Slovakia also has local characteristics in terms of the climate crisis or the situation of workers. Another measure of success is the successful parliamentary election – I have even greater doubts here, as a significant part of the Hungarian community in Slovakia has always been averse to ethnic politicking during its more than a hundred years of existence. On the other hand, it will be a great job to convince fans raised so far of the blind anti-Bridge anti-need party.
– In your opinion, why did the attempt of the three-party MKP, Coalition and the Bridge to unite since August run aground?
– There were a lot of pitfalls in this process from the beginning. On the one hand, due to the dominance of the MKP (+ Co-operation) in terms of election results, the chances of non-ethnic politicking became equal to zero. This is problematic for them because in Hungarian society in Slovakia, not only in the past, but also today, there are a large number of voters who do not insist on or reject ethnic politicization, as can be seen from the Hungarian votes cast for Slovak parties. A good part of the latter is the protest vote rejecting the Hungarian party selection. The conservative-national orientation of the new Hungarian party is not in question, nor is it that it will maintain a good relationship with Fidesz.
– What makes you think that?
– A good example of this is that the president of the Bridge, László Sólymos, spoke in a supportive way during the autumn standings of the students and teachers of SZFE, to which the president of the MKP, Krisztián Forró, received a harsh reaction. But the Coalition also spoke while a former board member and deputy candidate serves as secretary of the SZFE’s state board of trustees. And then we didn’t even talk about the vague issues of party funding. But I do not see the problem in the ideological orientation of the new party, at most, along with many other Hungarian voters in Slovakia, I am voting for another party, but in the relationship it will establish with the unreliable and unacceptable Fidesz government. I think these also had to be discussed all along, which involved a series of tensions. Or there was the Coalition, the party of self-contradictions, which, with noisy and incomprehensible steps, made calm negotiation impossible and tried to place itself in a position of public and negotiation that never existed.
– Are the concerns of those from ‘Orbistan’ real? To what extent have Hungarian politics and public life fallen victim to the NER?
– Slovakia was the country that withstood the influence of Viktor Orbán the longest. This is also due to the success of the Bridge Party, which was formed in 2009. Its success also stems from the fact that, from the very beginning, Hungarian rhetoric was less heated by national rhetoric than in other cross-border regions. The Bridge has been a parliamentary party for ten years, twice in government and once in opposition. It was based on the idea that in Slovakia we should focus on common problems and solve them together, not on an ethnic basis, but in a problem-centric way, all spiced up with a conservative, liberal mixed ideology. With this perception, the Bridge was in the parliament for ten years, while the MKP, which defined itself as an ethnic party and acted as a strategic partner of Fidesz, could not get into the parliament, but at the regional level it was successful in terms of local governments.
– However, the 2020 elections opened a new chapter.
– Yes, neither the Bridge, nor the MKP and the Coalition Election Coalition, the Hungarian Community Coalition, got into the parliament. For the first time, Hungarians in Slovakia were left without parliamentary representation. In addition, the Bridge did not reach the 3 percent threshold above which a party receives state support.
– What do you think caused this election failure?
– Electoral failure is the result of several things. One is that the Bridge did not leave the Fico-led governing coalition after the Kuciak murder. For many, the change of government in 2016 was already a disappointment, but it ultimately lost its credibility in the hitherto inclined part of the Slovak political scene. With this, the Bridge lost voters on the Slovak side, but due to the notable anthem law (they voted “accidentally” so that it is not possible to sing the anthem of other countries in Slovakia, only in special cases, but no longer at football matches) and targeted MKP and Due to the MKÖ expiration campaign on the Hungarian side as well. However, corruption and political scandals and politicking that seemed to deviate from the original direction did not have a good effect on the party’s popularity.
– And what is the reason for the fact that the Hungarian election coalition also remained below the parliamentary threshold?
– The Hungarian electoral coalition could have been successful only if it was as wide as possible if the entire Hungarian unity were formed. The fact that this did not happen was mainly due to the Co-operation, which was still a new formation at the time, and which successfully broke the agreement between the Bridge and the MKP in the autumn before the election (and they were also the wheelers of the current merger negotiations). How much role the Hungarian will played in this can only be guessed at. Obviously, it would have been uncomfortable for the Hungarian side to negotiate with the MKP with the Bridge, which had been almost completely ignored until then. In any case, there were speculations that Viktor Orbán had an interest in leaving the Hungarians in Slovakia without parliamentary representation so that he could be the one to act as an advocate. In my opinion, they just counted themselves smoothly. The fact that the ethnic / national coalition almost did not get into the parliament in the end proves that ethnic politicking is still not as popular among Hungarians in Slovakia as they want to be seen.
– However, the reunification of the Bridge and the MKP, which have been in opposition for more than ten years, seems to be really supported by the entire Hungarian public life in the Highlands, which does not suggest that there is no need for ethnic politicization.
– There has always been a demand for this, the Hungarian society in Slovakia is quite diverse. After the election failure, the Hungarian political parties in Slovakia had two steps ahead – one was to form a grand coalition on ethnic grounds, and the other was to maintain the two political lines along the appropriate party groupings. Personally, I would have chosen the latter by re-establishing its very progressive ideology and professionalism as its main weakened, losing Bridge, seeking relations with Slovak parties along them and cutting it with them for the next parliamentary election. A suitable Slovak partner is easy to find. At the same time, the 2020 campaign already predicted that an ethnic turn had taken place at the Bridge: in the first 20 places on the electoral list we could meet almost only Hungarian politicians, two Slovaks, two Ruthenians and one Roma were present, only in the second half. . There were hardly any women on the list, only three in the top 20, and the election program, but especially the campaign, was much more about Hungarians in Slovakia than about common problems and other ethnicities. It was clear that this was no longer the party we met in 2009. And most of the Hungarian public life in Slovakia sees the future of Hungarian politics in Slovakia with a strong right-wing turn in the party unification after the failure of 2020, so they believe that a parliamentary presence can be achieved. The panic mood is almost palpable, the buoyancy of which can also be seen, the question is how long it will last and what will be enough for all the Slovak parties that absorb Hungarian votes.
– The election data of recent years have also indicated that the support of Hungarian parties among young people, who are increasingly targeting the new Slovak democratic parties, has significantly decreased. To what extent can this increasingly isolated Hungarian world catch and retain young people in the Highlands?
– Again, this is only a double process in Slovakia. In the case of the National-Christian Coalition, the support of young people is very strong – also due to the fact that the main organizer of the Gombaszög Festival was included in the leadership of the party and the fact that their operation started with a well-practiced campaign aimed at young people. On the other side are the young people who are more interested in the problems of the country, of society as a whole, than in ethnic and national problems. Their number is also significant, they voted partly for the Slovak parties and partly in the hope of its resurrection for the Bridge. It is important in this respect that the Progressive Slovakia party came up with a Hungarian platform, the core of which is also provided by young people, and the issues of the fight against corruption, the environment, the economy and health are obviously more important to them than the nation’s symbolic issues. are also monitored. If they manage to acquire professional advisers and routines, there may be important factors in the next parliamentary election in the question of whether the new “unified” Hungarian party will enter the parliament. However, research shows that a relatively small proportion of young Hungarians in Slovakia go to the polls.
Source: Népszava by nepszava.hu.
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