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Hungarian Press Roundup: MSZP MP Calls Fidesz Supporters ’Rats’

MTI-Hungary Today 2019.04.29.

Commentators almost unanimously condemn a Socialist (MSZP) MP who referred to rats when speaking about the popularity of Fidesz. One, however, accepts her denial.

Hungarian press roundup by budapost.eu

Background information: In a live interview with ATV television, Ildikó Bangó Borbély said “there are too many rats in Hungary” and later denied that she had Fidesz voters in mind. However, her words were uttered in the context of a reply to the question why Fidesz remains so popular, despite widespread allegations of corruption. “Since I am so outspoken”, she said, “and since the problem has become so acute in Budapest, there are too many rats in Hungary”. Her remarks have been condemned by leading politicians of other left-wing parties, but not the MSZP itself. Bangó is not a member of any of the MSZP’s leading bodies but is one of its most active MPs. Her remark was related to the recent proliferation of rats in two districts of Budapest. The Budapest City Council has subcontracted a new enterprise to keep Budapest free of rats, but apparently, the subcontractor has failed dismally to do the job. The city administration is still pondering whether to scrap the contract or hope for improvements.

In Magyar Nemzet, Bálint Zelnik dismisses Bangó’s explanations and takes it for granted that she called 3 million Fidesz voters ’rats’. He remarks that opposition politicians have recently sharpened the tone of their criticism of the government, have staged sit-ins and provocative performances during which they have competed with one another to deploy the fiercest language in their remarks. But calling three million adversaries ‘rats’, he writes, simply lacks decency.

Mandiner’s Mátyás Kohán admits that slips of the tongue are frequent in politics, but believes Bangó’s comment was more than that. Dehumanising other people mirrors the speaker’s soul, he writes. He believes it is an expression of something deep down in a politician’s soul that he or she is normally trying to hide but which erupts under special stress. ‘That’s when the politician’ s expiration date comes’, he concludes.

On Mérce, András Jámbor urges the MSZP to immediately withdraw Bangó from politics. He admits that vulgar expressions have become frequent in public discourse, and pro-government pundits (he mentions Zsolt Bayer by name) have used similar expressions when writing about individuals. However, he believes the Left should propose an alternative, rather than the same thing. In addition, he argues, insulting millions of Fidesz supporters will certainly not help winning any of them over. For both moral and practical reasons therefore, he writes, ’the MSZP should act and Bangó should leave’ the political scene.

In Népszava, on the other hand, György Sebes confines his comment to the ’rat problem’ in Budapest. He condemns the City Council for turning a blind eye to that problem instead of revising its mistaken choice of the subcontractor in charge of keeping Budapest rat-free. Throughout his comment, he refrains from mentioning Bangó by name or referring to her TV interview. Nevertheless, in a final hint, he repeats what Bangó told journalists when denying the charges against her. In fact, she quoted the ancient saying whereby ‘shamed be who thinks bad of it’.