Author: Daniel Gyollai, PhD candidate in Social Sciences, GCU; Researcher, D.Rad: De-radicalisation in Europe and Beyond: Detection, Resilience, and Reintegration.
This blog post raises questions about radicalization in Hungary, rather than answers them. As discussed in our latest report (D3.1), the polarization of society between communists and non-communists, citizens and non-citizens, Christians and non-Christians, and straight and gay constitutes the bedrock of the Orbán regime. In other words, enemy construction, in- and outgroup formation are essential to the stability of the political system created by the Hungarian PM. However, if we look closer, the picture is not as black and white as one might imagine.
The Fidesz-KDNP made considerable efforts, and spent significant funds, to scapegoat George Soros for masterminding mass migration in order to destabilize European nation states. It was later revealed that senior members of Fidesz, including Orbán himself, received Soros-funded scholarships at the early stages of their careers.
The Hungarian government has become infamous for its Islamophobia, portraying Orbán as the defender of European Christianity against the Muslim hordes besieging the borders. (It has been recently, although falsely, reported that Pope Francis was not planning to meet neither the PM nor the President during his forthcoming visit to Budapest due to Hungary’s asylum policy. Fidesz propagandists, András Bencsik and Zsolt Bayer (see D3.1) responded to the news by claiming that the Pope is “anti-Christian” and perhaps he should reconsider coming at all.) It is less known, at least to the international audience, that the residency bond business launched by the government has had an Abu Dhabi branch; residence permit has been sold, among others, to a key figure of the Bashar al-Assad regime.
Amidst the government’s latest crackdown on LGBTQI rights, writing “the mother is a woman the father is a man” into the constitution, former MEP József Szájer, founding member of Fidesz, ended his political career by sliding down a gutter to escape police raiding on a gay sex orgy in Brussels. Szájer was personally responsible for laying down the constitutional basis of LGBTQI discrimination as co-author of the Fundamental Law (Hungary’s new constitution) which defines marriage as a relationship between man and woman.
Most recently, the government signed an agreement with the Shanghai-based Fudan University to open a campus in Budapest by 2024. According to leaked project proposals, the construction will be carried out by Chinese property developer companies and some $1.5bn of the full cost ($1.8bn) will be covered by a loan from a Chinese bank. The construction site was initially earmarked for a student accommodation for students unable to afford rent. Although Fidesz take every opportunity to portrayal the left as direct successors of the communist state party, PM Orbán has maintained close ties with Beijing.
Irrespective of the above anomalies, Fidesz has continued to maintain its status as the most popular party in Hungary, having the most stable voter base. What I am implying in this brief blog post is that the following questions must be revisited in order to better understand the dynamics of polarization, at least in the Hungarian context: How can group attributes remain sustainable when the boundaries of the ingroup turn out to be permeable and / or there is an overlap between in- and outgroups? How do errant members and intragroup biases (i.e. deviation from group norms) affect, if at all, group cohesion and the credibility of its leader?