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.
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.)
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.”
“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