The Capitol Hill riot has inspired Hungarian policy-makers. Although the conflict was generated by pro-Trump, right-wing activists, Fidesz-KDNP politicians began to draw parallels between the recent US conflict and demonstrations organized by the Hungarian opposition in 2018. The 2006 demonstrations (under the social-liberal government) were also brought up when the police attacked peaceful demonstrators as well. Opposition politicians, on the other hand, think that Orbán, just like Trump, cannot lose, and some drew a parallel between the recent events at the Capitol and the 2006 riots in Hungary.
It was the Foreign Ministry’s State secretary Tamás Menczer who first linked the Capitol Hill events to Hungary’s “left-wing.” He said “if we look around in our own backyard, aggression has always been characteristic of left-wing politicians. From this footage, the 2006 events popped up for me, when Ferenc Gyurcsány shot among the Hungarian people. Those scenes popped up when András Fekete-Győr threw a smoke grenade on to the police or when Ákos Hadházy was rampaging in different places.”
The 2006 autumn demonstrations, following Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s infamous Őszöd speech, in which he admitted to lying to the country before the elections to save his position (and decided not to step down after it had been leaked out) are still matters of debate. While the police brutally attacked
the mostly right-wing demonstrators, some protesters were also aggressive. While Gyurcsány never apologized for the abuse, many on the left still partly blames Orbán’s and Fidesz’s statements and background activity for what happened.
In his regular radio interview last Friday, the Prime Minister also said that the left-wing had “resorted to the use of violence in Hungary as well,” saying that they had “besieged the Parliament building” together with opposition politicians and the building had to be protected by a police cordon. “We also know that there is still an opposition party leader who has been brought to justice for throwing a smoke bomb or a grenade at the police on such an occasion. So what just happened in America is something that we know.”
Likewise, KDNP MP Bence Rétvári also claimed that “what protesters are doing in America, is being done in Hungary by left-wing politicians and members of parliament (…).” Another KDNP MP was also reminded of the ‘left-wing’s’ alleged violent acts back in 2018. According to Lőrinc Nacsa, “the left rioted inside and outside Parliament.”
The 2018 demonstrations
against the government-forced amendment to the employment bill (a.k.a. the “slave law”) not only united political opposition forces for the first time since 2010, but were going relatively peacefully despite the high number of participants. Amid minor conflicts
on the streets, the opposition politicians, however, tried to prevent
the acceptance of the bill by various methods, something that the government labeled as hindering the National Assembly’s work and something for which the House Speaker later handed out hefty fines.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor’s office asked for 1.5 years of suspended prison term for the Momentum president for throwing a smoke grenade towards the police in front of the Parliament during one of the demonstrations. You can read more about this here.
Opposition: Orbán is like Trump
Anyhow, Orbán’s aforementioned statement has drawn criticism from the Prime Minister’s opponents. Both Jobbik leader Péter Jakab and Fekete-Győr compared Trump to Orbán and described them as building their power by turning people against each other and hate-mongering.
According to Fekete-Győr, “…apparently, it is no coincidence that unlike the leaders of the Western world, Orbán didn’t even think of blaming Trump for the siege of the Capitol building. How could he do that when he has built his politics on the same thing for the last ten years: hatred, lying, building his own alternative reality, poisoning society with propaganda, utterly mocking and desecrating conservative and Christian values. We see it firsthand how a political leader who cannot lose, is stuck in his own alternative reality. We see firsthand what false propaganda does to a society. [Sounds] familiar?
Commenting on the events, leftist Democratic Coalition MEP Klára Dobrev (Ferenc Gyurcsány’s wife) also drew a parallel between Trump’s and Orbán’s “incitement.” She said “…being a democrat also means accepting that we think differently about our country.” Not only democracy but also peace and freedom end where someone thinks that only he himself can be right. Anyone who thinks otherwise, who does not vote the way the “leader” [under ‘leader’ meaning Orbán] thinks, is branded as traitorous, anti-national, she explained. According to Klára Dobrev, Trump has been inciting his political opponents for years, “the result of which is embarrassingly similar to what happened in Budapest whenever ‘the leader’ was defeated in a democratic election,” insinuating that Orbán, then the leader of the strongest opposition party, was responsible for the after-election riots in 2006 that broke out after then Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány’s “lies speech” came out into the open.
featured image via MTI/EPA/Michael Reynolds