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László Toroczkai is party leader of the fast-growing Mi Hazánk party in Hungary. Photo: hungarytoday.hu
Budapest

New Hungarian nationalist party challenges Fidesz

When Hungary went to the ballot box in the spring, the world's focus was on whether Hungary's conservative ruling party Fidesz could be defeated or not. To the great disappointment of the West, the opposition's attempt ended in a flop, even though several opposition parties had been gathered in a joint list.

Published: November 5, 2022, 6:49 am

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    Viktor Orbán’s coalition, which consists of Fidesz and the Christian Democrats, managed to achieve its own majority again. However, what many have overlooked is that the government is now also being challenged from the right. The new party Mi Hazánk – Our Motherland – took a seat in parliament as the third largest party. They regard Fidesz as a party in power that cannot be trusted, and see it as their task to push for an even stronger nationalist policy in the country.

    Swedish weekly Nya Tider interviewed Andreas Feymark (AfS), who recently visited the party in Hungary.

    Andreas Feymark is one of the party leaders in Alternativ för Sverige (AfS). He says that Mi Hazánk contacted the party earlier in the summer. As a party without parliamentary representation nationally or in the EU, it is unusual for the AfS to be approached and invited by other parties. It is often Alternative for Sweden that reaches out to other European nationalist parties, who, however, often choose to decline cooperation in anticipation of a national breakthrough for the AfS. Mi Hazánk was different, he says. They want to connect with like-minded European parties based on their values, not based only on parliamentary success.

    “Alternative for Sweden was therefore the natural choice for Mi Hazánk,” Andreas Feymark told Nya Tider.

    At the end of July he visited Hungary for a busy schedule with Mi Hazánk. The newly started party had then just entered the Hungarian parliament. In the election on April 3, it had received 5,9 percent of the vote and became the third largest after the government coalition and the opposition list.

    “Party leader László Toroczkai met me at the parliament in Budapest together with Gunnar Lindemann, politician from Alternative für Deutschland.” Toroczkai is widely considered a very strong card for the party and has a style that resonates with many Hungarian voters. Before he was elected to parliament, he was the mayor of his home town of Ásotthalom.

    International panel. The party is now actively working to strengthen relations with nationalist parties in Europe. In the past, there has been contact with several Eastern European parties, but now the focus is increasing on establishing cooperation with like-minded people in Western Europe. In the photo, Andreas Feymark from the AfS is speaking and Gunnar Lindemann from the AfD (second from the right) can also be seen among the participants. Photo: Private

     

    Despite the differences between Sweden and Hungary, Feymark believes that an exchange between nationalist parties is important and can strengthen both parties.

    Jobbik in free fall

    Mi Hazánk was formed in the summer of 2018. “They were formed as a breakaway party from nationalist Jobbik. Their view is that Jobbik liberalized and abandoned its old values. The new breakaway group remained in the values ​​that Jobbik had before,” said Feymark. Jobbik lost a third of its voters in the 2022 elections.

    Andreas Feymark explained that Hungarian politics today consists of three main options.

    “They have a system where they have three party groups. One group includes Fidesz and a Christian Democratic party. Then they have the largest opposition group where there are socialists, liberals and all kinds of mixed things, and Jobbik joined that group. Then there is the third alternative and that is Mi Hazánk. It is the only alternative that consists of its own list, and thus is not a coalition.”

    Thus, being an independent opposition party against Fidesz, has been the success factor for Mi Hazánk. Erik Almqvist, a Swede who had lived in Hungary for 10 years, explained why voters trusted the new nationalist party: “They are independent and that is why they are growing: They have taken Jobbik’s voters. Most Jobbik voters don’t think it’s great fun to vote for a split list of socialists and liberals.”

    Andreas Feymark shared Almqvist’s view. “It is very interesting. The threshold for taking a seat in parliament is five percent. Mi Hazánk managed to get almost six percent in his first election. They may not have direct parliamentary influence as Fidesz has its own majority. On the other hand, they push forward on conservative issues and on the immigration issue. Among other things, they want to send the military to the border.”

    Not only voters from the crisis-ridden Jobbik, but also Fidesz voters, are now interested in the party, which for the first time recorded a double digit in opinion polls – and almost double its tally in the April election.

    Challenging Fidesz

    The relationship between Mi Hazánk and Fidesz is complex. Mi Hazánk believes that one cannot trust Fidesz, which is a distinct party in power, and that therefore a nationalist opposition is needed that pushes for continued nationalist reforms in the country.

    Their description of Fidesz is of a party without deeper convictions that is ready to adapt its views to what gives them power. They pointed out that Fidesz was previously a liberal party and only later became more conservative, a journey that Viktor Orbán also undertook.

    “He [Orbán] came from a liberal background initially and has since moved more to the conservative side. They don’t fully trust him. They see themselves as an alternative to Fidesz and of course would like to replace him, but since that is not realistic given Fidesz’s dominance, the method is instead to influence Fidesz by being a nationalist and conservative watchdog themselves.”

    Feymark described László Toroczkai as a strong and charismatic politician. “He is not afraid to debate, he likes to stand for his opinions, he does not back down.”

    The party governs a town in southern Hungary

    In 2013, Toroczkai was elected mayor of Ásotthalom, which is located right on Hungary’s southern border with Serbia. Twice since then he has been re-elected. His conservative local politics are popular. The small town with about 4 000 inhabitants is one of the most vulnerable in Hungary to the illegal immigration that takes place across the Serbian border. In 2015, the city was hit hard when tens of thousands of migrants poured in to make their way to Germany and Sweden.

    Even if they do not seek asylum in Hungary (the country is at the bottom of the list of the number of asylum seekers in the EU), the country is heavily affected by the migrants’ destruction, littering and widespread crime such as burglary as they make their way through to greener social grant pastures.

    Toroczkai has since banned Muslim dress, Muslim prayers and other expressions of Islamization in the city. He has called on all Christians to stop Islam and multiculturalism, and has also been noted for talking to vulnerable white farmers in South Africa about settling in Ásotthalom. Public LGBTQ propaganda has also been banned. A female representative even called a press conference to run LGBTQ propaganda in the paper shredder in front of journalists.

    Mi Hazánk’s big issue is immigration, but they have also positioned themselves as opponents of NATO and EU sanctions against Russia.

    “There is a closeness to Russia in Hungary, but it is a complex issue. They are not Putin supporters. The general attitude is that the US has more or less provoked a pointless war in Ukraine, that NATO has gotten involved in things they shouldn’t,” said Feymark.

    The Hungarian border fence with Serbia began to be built after 2015 by the Fidesz government, but it came about at the initiative of Mi Hazánk party leader László Toroczkai who was then, and until very recently, the mayor of Ásotthalom, which is right on the border. Arabs and Africans who wanted to pass through Hungary to get to Sweden or Germany caused major problems in the local community, and Toroczkai then demanded from Orbán that a border fence be built. Double fences with a road in between are now in place, but staffing is insufficient and many manage to get past. Mi Hazánk wants to establish a special police unit to protect the border and deploy the military. Photo: Private

    Another issue that has been important to them is the opposition to Orbán’s handling of Covid-19, both the restrictions and the mass vaccination. “They have been very critical of Hungary’s vaccine policy, the country had, for example, compulsory vaccination for primary school staff and school staff. Mi Hazánk’s international secretary said that his wife was fired from her job as a primary school teacher because she did not want to be vaccinated.”

    At a festival in the town, Mi Hazánk’s own tents were here and there, next to other tents where food was served or crafts were sold. Hungarian bands performed on stage, mainly in the genre of folk rock, which mixes Hungarian folk music and rock. The music functions as part of a larger national revival.

    Feymark then participated in a panel discussion with other invited European guests: Forum voor Democratie from the Netherlands, Alternative für Deutschland, and the Bulgarian party Vazrazhdane (Revival).

    “László told us that he has many contacts with European parties, but most do not want any official cooperation. They talk, and are very good friends, but the other parties prefer to cooperate with Fidesz because it is the governing party. This is despite the fact that Mi Hazánk has a policy that they like better.

    Mi Hazánk now speaks with pride about how they developed a collaboration with like-minded people in Sweden and other Western European countries.

    “As president of Mi Hazánk’s international unit, it is extremely important for me to have as many friends and allies as possible in Europe. In addition to our former allies from Estonia, Bulgaria and Poland, our relations with Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands are becoming increasingly important,” wrote the party’s international secretary János Árgyelán on social media after the meeting.

    Visit to the border fence

    After the panel discussion, perhaps the most interesting episode of the visit was the trip to the Hungarian-Serbian border, where Hungary has now built a border fence.

    “First we went out to the fence itself. It’s not really just a fence, but double barbed wire fences with a road in between. Watchtowers are where armed police keep a lookout.” The fence construction began in 2015, during the ongoing migrant invasion, and according to Mi Hazánk, it was their initiative.

    “László is from there, he has a farm right on the border. Now he sees the fence from his window. He said that he had had some journalists there who asked if it didn’t feel tragic to see a fence from the window. ‘No, it’s the most beautiful thing you can see, it’s something that defends our country,’ he had replied then.”

    Toroczkai himself told Andreas Feymark that Fidesz would like to take credit for building the fence, but that in fact he was behind it.

    “The story began in 2015. As mayor, he demanded that the government build a fence. There were migrants everywhere in the village, breaking and entering. He pushed that issue against the government. At first they answered more or less that it would never work, but then suddenly changed their minds. Without László, there would probably never have been a fence, at least not so quickly.”

    A forest full of Arab men

    The border fence is still under construction. Staffing is insufficient. Without the help of the local community, it remains a struggle.

    “It is basically private individuals who go around and help the police. The whole system is based on volunteers encouraging and supporting the police. In addition, Amnesty is on them all the time and constantly reports them for trivial things. Of course, they want to stop the fence so that immigration can continue.

    “The police are understaffed and that has been criticized. The night we were there, there were only two policemen on the entire long stretch – two miles – and that’s not enough. Therefore, Mi Hazánk proposes to bring in the military to secure the border.”

    The assault on the border has not subsided. “Quantities [of migrants are still crossing]. In the invitation, we were told that we were likely to see illegal immigrants on site. And so it was. […] We drove into the forest somewhere, near the border. Then the cars stopped. Suddenly we saw about thirty heads sticking up inside the forest, probably Arabs. They started running and we heard shots being fired. László and another ran straight into the forest, completely fearless, to the place where the migrants were seen. László said that gangs are starting to form there, rival migrant gangs that are armed and shoot each other.”

    In the place that the migrants had just left, there was rubbish everywhere, said Feymark. Moreover, there were only men, not a single woman or child was among the migrants.

    “A migrant who had not been able to run away remained and the police were called to the scene to take care of him.”

    Mi Hazánk believes an invasion of all of Europe is being organised by globalist forces. “The party is doing its utmost to stop the migrants. They are working at all levels for it: in the parliament in Budapest, and with the help of the local community in Ásotthalom. They do it not only for their own sake and that of the Hungarians, but for the whole of Europe.”

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