Weekly newsletter

Hungary’s governing Fidesz party has initiated a campaign against opposition parties, which they accuse of attempting to discourage the public from being vaccinated. Their announcement prompted the joint opposition to put up a video in which its leaders call on everyone to be vaccinated, putting the blame for the coronavirus crisis on the government instead.

The purpose of Fidesz’s campaing, according to the party’s communications director István Hollik, is to convince Hungarians not to listen to the “irresponsible anti-vaccination politics of the Left.”

Fidesz Accuses Opposition of Being “Two-Faced”

Hollik said the opposition is responsible for every life which is due to individuals who “listened to the Left and chose not to accept the vaccine which was provided for them.” He said that while the opposition creates petitions and spreads uncertainty around the vaccine, its politicians, such as social-liberal DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány, vaccinate themselves.

Orbán: Restrictions Could Only Slow Down Covid, Vaccination Only Way to Stop Virus
Orbán: Restrictions Could Only Slow Down Covid, Vaccination Only Way to Stop Virus

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said late on Wednesday that vaccination was the only way to stop the coronavirus epidemic, adding that restrictions could only slow down the pandemic. Orbán told public news channel M1 that the third wave was triggered by the British virus variant which is more aggressive than previous variants and is spreading […]Continue reading

Gyurcsány’s party has opposed the use of the Chinese vaccine due to its lack of available documentation. Their petition aimed at only allowing vaccines in Hungary which have been authorized by the European Medicines Agency.

The Politicization of Vaccination

Fidesz has already shared the campaign’s first video on Facebook, asserting that opposition parties are attempting to discourage people from being vaccinated.

The video is a clip of one of Viktor Orbán’s interviews, in which the prime minister states that if someone does not want to be vaccinated (referring to the opposition), they should not attempt to convince other people not to accept the vaccine. Orbán also accuses opposition leaders of advocating against the vaccine for political gain while they themselves are being vaccinated.

Fidesz has become very vocal about vaccines being a political tool, both domestically and internationally. President János Áder made a speech on Good Friday emphasizing that the act is “immoral, inhuman and unacceptable.”

President Áder: Refrain from Striving for Political Gain Amid Pandemic
President Áder: Refrain from Striving for Political Gain Amid Pandemic

The act of striving for political gain amid the coronavirus pandemic “is immoral, inhuman and unacceptable”, János Áder said in a Good Friday speech broadcast on public media. “Now is not the time for self-serving political games,” the president said. If politicians cannot help, then at least they should do no harm, he added. Áder […]Continue reading

In a joint press conference with Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the World Health Organization, Minister of Trade and Foreign Affairs Péter Szijjártó said that those in Brussels who had turned vaccination into an ideological issue had “practically caused people’s deaths.”

Fidesz Campaign Attacks Independent Mayor

Fidesz’s campaign is already having an impact on opposition officials. The mayor of Hódmezővásárhely, Péter Márki-Zay, a conservative politician elected with the support of the joint opposition, posted to Facebook accusing Fidesz representative János Lázár of framing him for the death of an elderly woman.

According to pro-Fidesz promenad.hu, an anonymous individual sent in a letter explaining that their mother had been an adherent to Márki-Zay, and that his statements had led her to reject vaccination, which ultimately caused her death. The anonymous informant accused the Hódmezővásárhely mayor of being responsible for the deaths of many people, and committing atrocities.

Márki-Zay, suspicious that this event was fabricated by Lázár, responded that if the individual followed any of the mayor’s posts on Facebook, they “would have accepted the vaccine long ago.”

Govt Official: Left Wing Capable of Any 'Grim Action'
Govt Official: Left Wing Capable of Any 'Grim Action'

The left wing’s anti-vaccination campaign is “just as unscrupulous as it looks”, and if they are capable of endangering people’s lives in the midst of a pandemic, then “they are capable of any grim action”, state secretary Csaba Dömötör said on public radio on Sunday. Dömötör told Kossuth Radio experts agree that any vaccine is […]Continue reading

Márki-Zay called on Lázár to specify when he had ever attempted to persuade someone not to be vaccinated, and when he had called hospitals “death factories.”

Opposition Reacts to Fidesz’s “Anti-Vax” Campaign

On Monday, the joint opposition of Párbeszéd, DK, Jobbik, LMP, Momentum, and MSZP posted a video to Facebook, encouraging everyone in Hungary to be vaccinated.

Fact

Several opposition leaders have already been vaccinated. LMP representative Péter Ungár and Jobbik leader Jakab Péter were vaccinated with AstraZeneca. Budapest mayor and Párbeszéd co-leader Gergely Karácsony received “the vaccine that was available,” and DK leader Ferenc Gyurcsány was administered the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

In the video the party leaders blame Fidesz for not developing Hungary’s Healthcare system enough, and for forcing more than four thousand healthcare workers to leave their jobs. They say that Hungary’s extreme death rate was caused by government inaction, and that officials chose to focus on trivial things while Hungary’s pressing issues were left unattended.

Coronavirus - Opposition Blasts 'Chaotic' Crisis Management of Gov't
Coronavirus - Opposition Blasts 'Chaotic' Crisis Management of Gov't

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s management of the coronavirus crisis “has not only been a failure”, but it “has also created such chaotic conditions that have brought Hungary’s health-care system to ruin”, the opposition parties said in a joint statement on Saturday. The Socialist Party, Jobbik, the Democratic Coalition, Párbeszéd, LMP and the Momentum Movement accused […]Continue reading

In addition to the video, their statement reads:

The stance of the opposition party alliance is clear: vaccination should be the only mode for us to defeat the coronavirus and get back our lives. Every Hungarian who registered should receive the vaccine!”

Their post says that “Orbán’s newest campaign of lies is attempting to push the blame onto the opposition in vain.” They say that it has been the government’s faulty decisions which have led to the hundreds of coronavirus-related deaths everyday, as well as the total death rate reaching above 20 thousand people.

What's Happening in Hungary's Hospitals? Lack of On-site Reports Lead to Public Apathy
What's Happening in Hungary's Hospitals? Lack of On-site Reports Lead to Public Apathy

Hungary’s hospitals are struggling under the pandemic, but their difficulties cannot be shared with the public. The government has ensured that independent media cannot provide on-site coverage of Covid-wards. Even state and pro-government media have only been allowed to report from specific hospital locations. This “guarding of information” (or censorship, according to critics) may help […]Continue reading

Fidesz reacted to the video stating that “left-wing parties are gathering signatures against Chinese and Russian vaccines,” despite the video not mentioning vaccine types at all. The party has called on the opposition to “stop the anti-vaccine petitions and the irresponsible defamation of hospitals and clinics.”

Featured photo illustration by Tamás Kovács/MTI