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Press: Jewish Org. Mazsihisz Silence Over ‘Anti-semite Opposition Candidate’ Angers PM Orbán

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.10.15.

Viktor Orbán thinks it is the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities (MAZSIHISZ) and personally its president’s fault that opposition parties backed the joint candidate of last Sunday’s Borsod 6 constituency by-election, László Bíró, heavily criticized for his past anti-semitic statements, pro-government news site Mandiner writes. Reacting to this, the Jewish organization underlined it does not interfere in party politics, however, they saw with relief that Bíró did not make it to the Hungarian National Assembly, “where no representative with such views has a place.”

Last Sunday,  Fidesz candidate Zsófia Koncz won the by-election in the Borsod 6 constituency in northeast Hungary. Securing a win was key to the governing parties as their constitutional majority was on the line. During the campaign, László Bíró, the joint candidate of the opposition was under heavy criticism as many found him ill-fitted to be running for the position due to his prior anti-Semitic comments on social media. In one instance, he called Budapest “Judapest,” in another, he complained that there were too many foreign Jews among the guests of the spa hotels in Tarcal. He later apologized for his remarks.

Fidesz-KDNP Retains 2/3 Majority by Winning Borsod By-Election
Fidesz-KDNP Retains 2/3 Majority by Winning Borsod By-Election

Fidesz-KDNP’s candidate Zsófia Koncz won the by-election of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén County’s 6th district with 51% against the joint opposition candidate László Bíró’s 46%, securing the governing parties a continued two-thirds majority in parliament. The district encompasses Szerencs and Tiszaújváros, and some smaller settlements. The by-election were held because the previous representative Ferenc Koncz, representative-elect Zsófia Koncz’s […]Continue reading

Now Viktor Orbán finds MAZSIHISZ and its president, András Heisler responsible for opposition parties backing Jobbik politician Bíró, pro-government news site Mandiner reports.

According to sources from the inner circles of the government, the Prime Minister, “was shocked that Mazsihisz, relativizing its weight, was indecisive regarding the incident.”

In August, when asked about the opposition candidate’s remarks, Heisler told Mandiner that he completely condemned all forms of incitements against any ethnic or religious group, or sexual minority, regardless of which political group they belong to.  (Since then, several Hungarian Jewish leaders slammed Bíró for his statements.)

Jewish Leaders Condemn Opposition Politician for Anti-Semitic Statements
Jewish Leaders Condemn Opposition Politician for Anti-Semitic Statements

Several Jewish leaders have slammed László Bíró, a joint candidate of the opposition, for his anti-Semitic and racist statements, pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet wrote on Wednesday. Chief Rabbi Tamás Róna told the paper that politicians who influence public opinion were doubly obliged to weigh their words carefully. Jobbik politician Bíró, who will run as an […]Continue reading

However, according to the news outlet, Orbán found Heisler’s one-time response “indecisive and weak”, and he was surprised that Mazsihisz did not call on the opposition parties not to support Bíró.

Many people in the prime minister’s circle believe that the organization “tried to relativize Bírós’s former remarks with the generalized wording, and it could sway Mazsihisz’s credibility on the issue,” Mandiner said.

Mazsihisz: organization does not interfere in party politics

Mazsihisz responded with a statement claiming that the organization “…regularly forms opinions on public policy and social issues directly affecting Hungarian Jewry – especially with regard to specific anti-Semitic phenomena and memory politics. There is a clear consensus within our alliance that we do not want to interfere in issues of party politics, as a religious denomination we do not and cannot have competence in such matters. Especially during a campaign, it is important that no competing forces are able to use us for political purposes.”

Supreme Court Rules Jobbik Can't Officially Back Their Nominee at Crucial By-Election
Supreme Court Rules Jobbik Can't Officially Back Their Nominee at Crucial By-Election

After the Kúria, Hungary’s supreme court, upheld the Election Committee’s (NVB) decision, it is now official that Jobbik member László Bíró cannot be officially backed by his own party at the by-election that decides whether Fidesz-KDNP will still have a two-thirds majority in Parliament. However, the logos of all the other parties backing the joint […]Continue reading

“Obviously, we strive for a dialogue with the actors of Hungarian public life – both the governing parties and opposition. This is in all of our interests. However, due to its unacceptable past, as declared, we have no relationship with Jobbik and we have no plans to change our position. We have stated this countless times before,” Mazsihisz emphasized.

Talking about the by-election, Mazsihisz said that after the end of the campaign, the organization saw with relief that Jobbik’s candidate, “…famous for his anti-Semitic remarks, thanks to the wise decision of voters, did not make it to the Hungarian National Assembly, where no representative with such views has a place.”

Mazsihisz intends to maintain a constructive, forward-looking relationship with the Hungarian government. “We are proud of the values ​​we have created together in recent years,” the organization emphasized.

Featured photo by Balázs Szecsődi/MTI