A Brief Outline of Hungarian Political Parties

It can take quite a while to begin to understand how political parties work in Hungary. I can’t say that I have achieved this level of expertise, but I’ve seen them frolicking around for a long enough time that I can kinda guess what their game is. In this post, I will present a general description of the main parties so that you, kind reader, won’t be completely lost in the future.

But first, some terminology. Hungary has left- and right-wing parties, but the only way to actually split the parties into the two groups is to look at their attitudes towards nationalism: left-wing parties don’t know how to deal with it, so when it come sup, their only response is awkward silence, while their right-wing counterparts can’t shut up about it for five bleedin’ seconds. In any other way, the two sides both exhibit a chaotic mixture of political and economic ideas, where Anarcho-Stalinism and Occultist Nazism could easily go hand in hand in the same press release. As long as the pensioners are happy. Sidenote: pensioners are the largest and most active voting demographic. They are the ones at whom the campaigns are aimed, the ones at the protests and the ones hurling antisemitic abuse and eggs at Budapest Pride. 

So, here’s the list.

MSZMP: Let’s start with the basics. The Hungarian Socialist Workers Party came to power in 1956, during the post-revolution facelift that was aimed at making the Marxist-Leninist dictatorship cuddlier so that the people may not attempt to hang anyone associated with it on the nearest lamppost as soon as physically possible. Its emblematic General Secretary, János Kádár ruled the country until 1988 in a similar fashion, creating a semblance of wealth and trying not to seem too oppressive. I’m not saying he wasn’t a nasty fellow, but he was no ruthless ‘feed your uncle to the dogs’ crazyperson by any means. His longest-lasting achievement was levelling  every state-controllable aspect of life in Hungary, from cuisine to pop music, to the lowest tier of mediocrity. After the change of regime, the more cunning MSZMP members formed MSZP, the social democratic successor party (aka. Bozo the Kleptocratic Clown and his Merry Bunch of Pathetic Losers), the slower ones became christian democrats (aka. the Catholic Taliban). The party is now defunct and Kádár’s skull was dug up and stolen by some fellow.

MSZP: One of the dominant political parties of the post-dictatorship era. Founded by former state party members, but on democratic principles. It started out as a more or less social democratic formation and have been steadily moving towards populistic neoliberalism ever since. After a strong ten years, they have now managed to completely destroy themselves, mostly thanks to a cuckoolander Prime Minister, Ferenc Gyurcsány, who just did now know when to call it quits. The riots would have been a useful hint.  At the moment it is still the strongest faction on the left, no thanks to their PM candidate, who might  as well be a drawing that kinda resembles a person. They achieved this status simply on the merit that they are not FIDESZ. Not that they didn’t try to steal everything as well, but they were just too stupid and clumsy to succeed.

SZDSZ: The now defunct liberal party, famous for being socially liberal in word only and not even trying to pass any progressive legislation through during their two terms in power as MSZP’s lapdogs. Then, it became a proper neoliberal party led by a dude who had a helicopter (this was his only memorable trait) and promptly disappeared. Now some of its members are reappearing to take votes away from opposition formations.

FIDESZ: The other main player, or, to tell the truth, THE main player in Hungarian politics. Led by a ‘definitely not autocratic, just fond of having everyone do what he likes’ Prime Minister and a gang of lapdogs of different shapes and sizes, this nationalistic, theocratic bunch of grumpy men actually started as a progressive, democratic and anti-clerical party, but then they realised that it won’t get them elected. Plus, did I mention the leader Viktor Orbán really likes playing with giant, inflatable copies of Earth in his study? Well, that helped a lot. Since they were elected in 2010, in the “Ballot Revolution” (their terminology), they have aggressively reshaped the country so that it resembles an ultra-nationalistic version of the old Marxist-Leninist regime, invading every public institution and making us all look really bad in the process. Their name means Coalition of Young Democrats, but they are not a Coalition, definitely not Young and most certainly not Democrats. The sheer amount of certifiably insane characters surrounding this party is astounding.

KDNP: This Christian Democratic party, the previously mentioned Catholic Taliban, is the liver-eating twin conjoined brother of FIDESZ. The two have been in permanent alliance for many years now, which is good for the Taliban because they get into parliament (Hungary isn’t particularly religious and this bunch would get at best fifteen votes altogether) and even into juicy positions and FIDESZ can actually have someone else do the dirty work. This party is lead by an avid killer of defenceless animals and populated by the most zealous supporters of the old regime, who 25 years ago suddenly realised that they have been confusing Stalin and Jesus all along, and they actually meant to worship the latter. Their stars include Rózsa Hoffmann, the Umbridgesque Minister of Education who managed to transform the whole educational system of the country into something that is so backwards and inefficient that 19th century Caucasian mountain communities would have rejected it on principle, and those were the folks who thought that an escaped Sub-Saharan slave was Bigfoot.

Együtt 2014: After the crazy Prime Minister destroyed the political left with the drive and efficiency of a three year-old tearing up a roll of toilet paper, a quiet, neoliberal mini-oligarch called Gordon Bajnai became the Prime Minister for a year. Since he managed not the burn the whole gorram place to the ground, people, mostly him, think that he knows something and should be given a second chance. He formed the coalition on the ashes of a promising anti-establishment protest movement that he hijacked (effectively chasing away all its supporters). After he ran that ship onto the rocks, he gathered a few backstabbing career politicians from other parties and some old folks no-one wants to see ever again in order to form a grand coalition. This Robert Walpole then managed to get himself outmanoeuvred and outclassed in every way by the completely weightless and pathetic MSZP. He can be found standing quietly in the corner, artfully blending into the grey tapestry.

Jobbik: The nazis everyone loves to talk about. Just don’t call them nazis, because they get upset and might even cry. I have to give it to them, they are by far the smartest politicians of the whole bunch. They might be completely repulsive, but they know how to handle the media in the 21st century and they are the only ones who have been seriously campaigning and organising amongst young people. I still don’t get it why everyone is surprised that they are so popular with young folk, as they are the only ones talking to them. Too bad they are talking about the evil Joos and Roma and Slovaks and whatnot. Though they like Arabs as long as they are far away. Their supporters are like wee little jackbooted fairies, who can miraculously turn any online discussion into antisemitic hate speech with two well-placed comments. They are also notable for the sheer amount of party members who previously achieved worldwide fame thanks to the kosher bareback  scat porn movies they starred in. While the Taliban and FIDESZ are mostly Catholic, the nazis have significant support in the Reformed church.

LMP: Politics Can Be Different. A party that always sounded promising, but has a tendency of splitting up every five seconds. While they are really good at performance art, no-one know what they actually stand for. Difference, I suppose. Some of its members have been known to utter phrases that could resemble political thought.

DK: After the crazy Prime Minister managed to get himself chased out of MSZP, which is a great achievement for any politician, he formed this bunch. Despite their fanatical following of elderly pensioners who would probably die for their beloved leader if needed, the party only exists to troll other opposition political parties. Not even Gyurcsány can think that he could be re-elected. Or does he? DUN DUN DUN…

4K: These young folks are the closest Hungary has to a proper left-wing party. They are under-financed and under-manned, but within a few years, when all the other opposition parties managed to destroy each other, they could theoretically become an interesting faction. We shall wait and see.

This should be what I could whip up. Now that this is out of the way, we can have fun!

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10 thoughts on “A Brief Outline of Hungarian Political Parties

  1. It is very good to read the above – thank you. I am an Englishman with about 18 years experience of visiting Hungary, and am AMAZED that some Hungarians think that an opposition grouping having anything whatsoever to do with Gyurcsany has a hope in hell of electoral success. As you know FIDESZ are having lots of fun with their “bohóc” posters, and this muck will stick!

  2. Well, they were simply outmanouvered by Gyurcsány, who is, despite all his faults, a cunning politician. Plus, they got really serious about this alliance nonsense, don’t ask me why.

    • That last question is easy to answer: the Fidesz ballot revolution led to some revolutionary changes in legislation that practically kills any party smaller than Fidesz. The alliance is a practical necessity for all except Fidesz and MSZP.
      Bajnai is actually not bad as a CEO, but for sure not charismatic enough to make politics in this region and to survive in this caste.
      What I find very funny though is that the crazy prime minister guy is actually mainly ostracised for having said the only honest words uttered by a politician during the last 25 (but more probably the last 250) years. Of course this is understandable, since he basically said that in this country, in order to get elected, you have to lie to the voters, since any otherwise decent middle class person will sell their votes for 5 euro per month raise in children’s allowance or pension.

      • “What I find very funny though is that the crazy prime minister guy is actually mainly ostracised for having said the only honest words uttered by a politician during the last 25 (but more probably the last 250) years.”

        I’m firmly convinced that loads of other baboons honestly discuss those things with their fellow party members behind closed doors, just as he did. The difference is that he was dumb enough to have it recorded, so one of his opponents could have leaked it and destroyed his credibility – and as a collateral damage, their party.

      • “What I find very funny though is that the crazy prime minister guy is actually mainly ostracised for having said the only honest words uttered by a politician during the last 25 (but more probably the last 250) years.”

        Well, what he said was, among other things, that they lied morning, noon and night, and pretended to achieve things when in reality they didn’t do anything, not a thing.

        Which raises the question: If someone honestly tells you that he does nothing but lie to you, is that really a reason to trust him? And if his honest confessions include that he and his friends didn’t do anything but run the country into a ditch for six years, is that really a reason to reelect him?

        Especially if you consider that he didn’t actually say those “honest words” to the people – he said it behind closed doors, secretly, and was just incompetent enough to be caught. So why on earth would someone vote for a guy whom they know is saying, behind closed doors, that he does nothing but lie to you and isn’t actually achieving anything in his job? If that’s honesty, it’s a pretty psychopathic kind of honesty..

  3. “I’m not saying he wasn’t a nasty fellow, but he was no ruthless ‘feed your uncle to the dogs’ crazyperson by any means.”

    Actually, after having the leaders of the the ’56 revolution executed (mostly his own former comrades), he had them buried face down, hands cuffed behind their backs, in holes dug near the cemetary fence. He didn’t feed them to dogs indeed, but perhaps only because the idea hadn’t come to him in time.

    Btw,
    1) 4k! is actually a bunch of nonentities with a supporter base hardly exceeding their closest families.
    2) MSZP, Együtt 2014 and DK together are practically the MSZP of 2010, sharing a joint election list and having distributed the constituencies among each other.

  4. Please correct ‘Joos’ —> ‘Jews’

    What is most scary is that there is not even one party close to libertarian or objectivist ideas. Nobody represents creative capitalism and personal freedom. We have no chance of getting out of this mess.

    All of our parties are socialist of various kinds.

    • After I did the Partkereso.hu test about whom I should vote for, I tried mapping out the answers which the different parties gave to all the questions on to a kind of Political Compass — you know, the kind of chart where one axis is about socialist vs capitalist and the other about progressive vs conservative. It’s a steep challenge, because almost all the parties’ economic policies are just a populist mish-mash of left-wing and right-wing points.

      I wouldn’t say they’re all “socialist” — just like there are no proper libertarian parties, there are no real socialist ones either. Certainly not the MSzP, which is siding with the banks and multinationals over the special taxes Fidesz slapped on them, doesn’t like the state-,mandated reductions in utility costs, and doesn’t like the newly state-organized National Tobacco shops, which are all kind of state socialist-leaning ideas.

      Oddly, as far as I got any kind of recognizable patterns on that axis, it’s not just the Liberalisok but also Gyurcsany’s DK which ended up right of center. And only 4K! and, a tiny bit, the LMP and KTI ended up left of center, but then again none of those three parties are going anywhere these elections. There was practically no difference between Fidesz, MSzP, Jobbik and Egyutt, because the various things they disagree on pretty much cancel each other out when you try to map them out on a left-right divide.

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