Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party has gone to great length to keep up appearances that it intends to participate in the democratic practices of Hungarian politics. It is being rumored that their parliamentary caucus has been split ever since one of their representatives brought up blood libel charges in the Hungarian parliament; according to the reports, quite a few in the leadership believe that it might hurt the party’s chances to emerge as the winner of the 2014 elections if fringe elements within the party are so clearly visible in the party’s parliamentary representation.
It has yet to be seen how realistic are Jobbik’s aspirations to take over the government of Hungary through electoral means (Jobbik’s support did grow in the wake of the blood libel scandal – see poll taken Apr. 6 through 13). But it looks like Jobbik has long been considering an alternative plan. As a tape-recorded discussion among Jobbik politicians now shows, plans to take over by military means are also under consideration.
The tape was recorded in Gyöngyöspata in May 2011, while members of Jobbik’s paramilitary organization Szebb Jövőért Polgárőr Egyesület (For a Better Future Civic Guard Association) were stationed in the small town to combat “Gypsy crime.” The lengthy standoff brought the northeast Hungarian town to the brink of ethnic conflict. Yet the residents of the village were so deeply impressed with the events that had cast them in the limelight of national politics that, during a special election held in the summer of 2011, they chose Oszkár Juhász, Jobbik’s local representative and the instigator of the paramilitary occupation as the town’s new mayor.
The discussion full of expletives takes place between Juhász, Gyöngyöspata’s currently serving mayor and his campaign manager, an aid to Juhász appointed by Jobbik’s national organization whose identity is not known (the original recording is available here). There are several other men witnessing the conversation; according to the description provided of the tape by ATV, the Hungarian television channel that published the material, they are likely members of the For a Better Civic Guard Association.
The first portion of the recording contains discussions of grand plans to wage a “civil war,” which, as noted on the tape, is an inevitable escalation of the Jobbik agenda. Fantastic deliberations are heard about what it would take to win this war; the topic of how to take over the country by force is ostensibly neither novel nor unusual for either Juhász or the far-right party’s appointee as a topic of conversation.
[4:15] unknown witness to the discussion: There is no need to argue, there is going to be civil war here in time [end of sentence inaudible].
Jobbik campaign manager: well, inevitably, and there are no problems with that, ’cause sooner or later it will happen anyway. But it must happen at a time when it can end in our victory. Because right now…
Juhász: When we are prepared for it appropriately – in numbers, technical equipment, and everything. Right now, fellows, they would put us down like a stamp. 7000…
Jobbik campaign manager: That’s the problem.
Juhász: They have seven thousand police who are armed to the chin and are loyal with faith to Zsidesz [a combination of zsidó, Hungarian for Jewish, and Fidesz, the name of the governing party].
Jobbik campaign manager: By now, more.
Juhász: There are forty-something thousand in the police force, forty-something thousand, but seven thousand of them, who are active, well-trained and well-earning, belong to them. Like a stamp would they put us down.
(one of the witnesses to the conversation giggles at the simile)
Jobbik campaign manager: Now this is not the problem, this is not the [real] problem. Even at a later time, speaking of this civil war, let’s call it that, even at a later point there will not be time to go on fighting for weeks or months, no!
(another voice interrupts shortly, with inaudible content)
Jobbik campaign manager: Within a few days we are going to have to grind in…
Juhász: … within days we are going to have to grind in that type [or race].
Jobbik campaign manager: Once it starts, it has got to be closed within days. There isn’t more time. [3:15]
Within three or four days the United States – as the obvious gendarme of the world (inaudible remark) – could bring such military forces to Hungary, within three of four days, which we will not be able to handle. If the command of the air forces does not fall to a person close to us, to someone who can guarantee that no airplane takes off, it’s over. This is a small country, fuck it, the Hungarian air force can ruin it in minutes.
Juhász: You can be sure that the Jew will avail himself to the opportunity, as soon as he can shoot us without any reason he won’t care how many (inaudible word) will perish.
After what sounds like a cut in the recording released by ATV, the subject matter of conversation turns to Juhász’ post-election plans. He describes what has since been implemented – in partnership with the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior – as Hungary’s mandatory work program.
In the government’s billing, this program is simply a means of job creation. Its innovations lie in the fact that those who refuse to participate in the program – or those who are fired from it by their superiors – automatically become ineligible, for a certain period of time, to receive state aid or social benefits of any sort. In August, after the election of Juhász as the town’s mayor, the Hungarian Ministry of Interior chose the Gyöngyöspata mayor to implement the trial version of the program. Since then, the model has been exported to several to other small towns in Hungary.
Some of the rights abuses that have been documented about this joint Jobbik-Fidesz effort to employ welfare recipients in mandatory job programs are due to ministerial design (e.g. the participants are paid below the prevailing wage and the work rules are poorly defined). In Gyöngyöspata, the plans of the ministry were implemented alongside further pay deductions (Juhász arbitrarily docked the participants’ pay to collect municipal charges and money owed for violating local ordinances) and though the worksite lay several kilometers outside the town’s borders, the municipal council refused to provide transportation or bathroom facilities at the worksite. All of the participant of the program came from the Roma minority. All of them vowed to stick with the program, several of them were fired by the mayor, under contested circumstances.
The tapes show that Juhász was planning to implement this plan since before his election, and that making the work conditions as hard as possible was always a part of the plan. He also makes it clear that these plans did not really aim at job creation as much as at forcing on the Roma a “free choice” – that between labor designed specifically for “their low level” and the punishment of being cut off from social benefits. This discussion follows Juhász’ boasting of being able to bring in serious financial support to Gyöngyöspata:
Juhász: (2:37) For Fidesz, it was fuckin’ important to have a major city, to have one single city where they can prove themselves. For Jobbik it’s similarly important…
Voice: There is [a Jobbik town] in Tiszavasvári [the reference is to a famous small town under the leadership of a Jobbik mayor].
Juhász: Gyöngyöspata is especially important in this way. We have foreign connections, we can bring in such money to Gyöngyöspata, fuck it, of which you don’t even dream, neither about the source nor of how much money we can mobilize. And they don’t give a shit about the gypsies and the authorities roistering. Because you can bring in here, fuck it, security groups – not even Hungarians, fuck it – such that no one will set foot near them. Not a gypsy, not even an (inaudible word – suits?), nor a government agent because they will screw his dick off [if he does].
Jobbik campaign manager: (2:02) What is more, the stinking gypsy will get an opportunity…
Juhász: … according to his ability …
Jobbik campaign manager: … he can work.
Juhász: … to work in accordance with his ability, get it?
Jobbik campaign manager: … but then he has to (rest of the sentence inaudible with Juhász speaking).
Juhász: He can work at his own low level, he won’t work anyway, it is evident that he doesn’t give a fuck or shit to work, but then all his welfare can be withheld ….
(one of the witnesses to the conversation): Are you talking about the Érpatak model? [The Érpatak model is Jobbik’s official program of small town management, it focuses on penalizing by harsh penalties every single infraction discovered in the town]
Jobbik campaign manager: No, a bit more…
Juhász: No, something more severe.
In the third portion of the recording, the participants of the discussion speak about the Roma. At first, they discuss a Fidesz politician of Roma origins, Flórián Farkas:
Jobbik campaign manager: (1:33) The Farkas scum is a Fidesz-made politician: Flórián Farkas, an outstanding figure in the gangland of Szolnok [a Hungarian city], who was locked up for 1.2 billion recently.
Jobbik campaign manager: He got out in three months, that’s all there is to the story…
Another voice: Flóri Farkas (talking simultaneously, but not loud enough with others also talking) talked to a resident in [Gyöngyös]Pata …
Jobbik campaign manager: But there was no reporting on this [the fact that he was sent to jail]. Why was there no reporting on this? Is he not a Fidesz guy, fuck it?
Juhász: We already found it. We are also collecting the material, because now they formed a … the national security, errr, cabinet created an investigative committee in the parliament. Two of our people, two Jobbik [MPs] are its members.
We found this video, fellows, these numbskulls themselves put it up on YouTube, where Flóri Farkas tells (1:01) the vajda [a title of leadership in Roma communities], and the vajda‘s father, that fellows, if there is no row, then make one. At least have a gypsy kid slapped in the face, because then we can take action.
Voice: We know about this video (rest inaudible from Juhász’ interruption).
Juhász: You get it? We can take action, if at least, hecor says … he says don’t [really] hurt him, then he says beat someone up, so that there is a row, so that there is a scandal, and then we are able to take action against [the far-right paramilitaries].
Finally, at the end of the recording, Juhász recounts his experiences of being prosecuted by the press:
Juhász: (0:35) Now we are starting a media trial against the Magyar Hírlap [a daily owned by financial interests close to Fidesz], fuck it, because they put out a report featuring me, in Keresztút [name of the series], what’s more with things I never said.
So they are at this a level of trying to degrade me, to slam me with a court case, because they are out of options. They published, in Magyar Hírlap, that Oszkár Juhász said in response to a question by Magyar Hírlap that a gypsy is genetically faulty, defective, if he wants to work. Because according to him none of them do.
It’s another thing that unfortunately this is true for about 80 to 90% of the gypsies, and those who commented also wrote this, but the point is that one may be put away with an accusation of racism here.
Though the identification of the main voice on the tape as belonging to Juhász relied at first only on ATV’s reporting, and though Juhász at first denied the charges, there is less and less credence given to his position that the tapes are manipulated. Not even his own party denies that Juhász was caught on the secret recording: they are trying to make light of the implications of its content for the party by telling the press that the statements constitute “private opinions” held by Juhász.
According to a Facebook post by civil rights activists Péter Juhász, at some point the tapes were offered for sale by Tamás Eszes, leader of Véderő – another far-right militia that moved its operations to Gyöngyöspata in the spring of 2011. Eszes and Juhász both ran in the mayoral election, but they did not see eye to eye (a brawl between the two got Eszes in trouble with the police during the campaign). Out of work and money, Eszes committed suicide in Gyöngyöspata last fall.
The Hungarian Socialist Party and the Politics Can Be Different green party issued statements calling for an investigation of the statements made by the Jobbik politician. Hungarian law sets severe penalties for the crime of “conspiring to overturn the constitutional order” of the country. The Hungarian parliament’s committee on national security was called into session this (Friday) morning by its presiding socialist chair. They were especially interested in the details of the plot under discussion on the tapes.
However, state secretary of the Hungarian Ministry of Interior Károly Kontrát did not think the tapes noteworthy, except as the product of “infighting within Jobbik” and of the “party struggle between Jobbik and the Hungarian Socialist Party.”