Byzantine Budapest

In Hungary over the past 48 hours it’s the Nika riots all over again. 

Sort of.

First, political parties in Hungary do not immediately line up into conveniently-intelligible left-wing/right-wing definitions, though some are easily mappable for Americans (the SZDSZ are basically libertarians).  See my previous posts here and here for some quick shorthand.

What do we know?

  1. We know that Prime Minister Gyurcsány shot his mouth off at a private meeting of the Socialist Pary (MSZP), which was then leaked to the press, and the entire country fell into political paroxysms.  But that’s what happens when the Prime Minister publicly (and, oddly enough, angrily) admits to having lied to get re-elected. “We lied, morning, noon, and night for 18 years,” he thundered, in an obscenity-laced tirade calling for reform and condemning everybody who’s been in politics the last 18 years, but especially his own party.  Extensive translated excerpts can be found via  BUT… said party meeting and remarks were in May.  They have only now come out.
  2. FIDESZ predictably (and obviously) seized upon Gyurcsány’s gaffe (candor?) and called for his immediate resignation.  Protests were organized at Kossuth and Szabadság Tér (Kossuth Square and Freedom Square), endorsed by FIDESZ (though I don’t know who the actual organizers were).
  3. Late in the evening, those protests got violent.  GatewayPundit has an English-language quick-summary.  The Hungarian Television building was attacked and cars burnt.  Around a hundred-fifty people were injured, including 102 policemen, due to thrown objects, tear-gas, and outright physical assaults. has a gallery here, and one more here.  NOTA BENE:  Casualty figures this high on the police side, and that relatively low on the protestor’s side, argues that there was significant police restraint.
  4. FIDESZ will organize and hold an official demonstration in its own right on the  Heroes’ Square on 9/23.  Widespread demonstrations with moderate turnout throughout country today 9/19/06, and about ten thousand are on the Kossuth Square currently.

What are we reasonably certain of?

  1. According to liveblogging over at (in Hungarian), as of 6:30 a.m. Budapest time (call it 12:30 US East Coast), Index’s correspondents noted about seventy people still on the Kossuth Square, and circulating rumors of somebody having died a “heroic death.”
  2. Soccer Hooligans did this? And more fans are coming into town by the hour to match the riot cops the government is pulling in? The two worst-behaving soccer clubs in Hungary take on the government? Something’s not right here.
  3. Ultra-rightwing protestors are clearly implicated by television coverage on (00:53-1:11). (The red-and-white striped “Arpadian Flag” is a symbol of the extreme right-wing in Hungary.  But, again, caution required, b/c a Eurocrat or MSM’s “extreme rightist” can often (though very clearly not always, particularly in case of actual Hungarian irredentists and fascists) correspond to what in America sums up as a “quiet family-values type.”


General updates in English here and here courtesy of

Immediate Ramifications, Questions, and Outright Guesses

One, this is NOT a “Color Revolution, Round Two,” although the Hungarians are perfectly justified in being roundly furious at being lied to about tax cuts, again, in order to secure election.  (The Hungarians are simply crushed by the tax burden, which continues to chase social programs, which then serve to divide and conquer the population based on what goes to whom.)

Two, if indeed Jobbik (a movement of rightist parties WAY further right than FIDESZ) are shown to be responsible, as alleged by the MSZP and implicated on video, their mayoral candidate, István Tarlós, will withdraw, for obvious reasons.  Is this as simple as a bunch of right-wingers and hoodlums smashing things up because of anger at the Socialists?  It’s possible.  The talk noted earlier about a so-called “heroic death” isn’t football-hooligan talk (as anybody who’s experienced their drunken subway ravings can tell you,half the time these guys can’t manage to connect an adjective and a noun, let alone combine them with a verb to make a complete sentence).  That sort of language is par for the course for aggrieved hyper-nationalists, though.

Three, the MSZP looks bad, and FIDESZ now looks even worse.  This is about the only thing that could possibly have taken even a touch of the heat off of Gyurcsány.  Not only was it their rallies gone wrong, but Ibolya Dávid, the MDF leader (whose refusal to go along with Viktor Orbán’s highjinks cost FIDESZ the election, btw), has directly tossed this right into their lap while not giving Gyurcsány even a moment’s slack.  Would FIDESZ, whose campaigns this spring were a watchword for blatant demogoguery, coordinate with ultrarightists?  If this had been the case, though… what would Jobbik and Co. have to gain?  This is precisely the sort of thing that plays right into the hands of the left-media, which has portrayed even mildly non-left family types as dangerous, drooling nutcases.

Four, the political chaos is ongoing.  Conversations with folks in Budapest indicated that, at least prior to last night’s violence, a LOT of generally bitter folks were going to come out and protest.  That’s not really likely now, but that bitterness remains, as the political parties continue to fail to answer even the basic needs of its citizens.  The MDF under Dávid are now looking pretty good politically (not that this is immediately relevant, but if Gyurcsány’s government folds, which is a reasonable likelihood, it will be, particularly since they were the only folks to come out in favor of unriggable Ireland-style flat taxes).  The SZDSZ (“Free Democrats”) are obviously keeping their heads down, except for accusing FIDESZ of “doublespeak” in Parliament regarding demonstrations-vs-violence while their Socialist coalition partners take a heavy beating.

Five…. What’s up with the Ferencváros and Újpest soccer clubs?  Instead of the Blues and Greens giving the Byzantine state hell, now we have the Green-and-White teaming up with the Purple-and-White to randomly smash up a government building?  This simply doesn’t make sense:  either these guys are fakes, or else somebody successfully instigated something new and very dangerous in Hungarian politics.  In the “dirty tricks department,” I’m not sure which would actually be worse for Hungary.

Six:  Buses are coming in from the countryside.  Legit protestors, or more thugs?

I’m hesitant to guess any further than this, because Hungarian politics is a broth of poisonous recriminations and counter-recriminations at the best of times.  Now… any further conclusions are really working on a leap of faith until things are fully substantiated.  I don’t know how Gyurcsány can hold it together at this point, though he has publicly stated that he will not resign.

Leave a comment


  1. And to think I wanted to get in touch with my Hungarian heritage and learn about the Hungarian politique and all it entails… this has just about muddled any understanding I’ve since developed.

  2. Hey, the Hungarian heritage is awesome. But it *is* extremely complex… with a lot of both the horrible and the beautiful, side by side.

  3. Attila Dubecz

     /  September 23, 2006

    Ok, its complex. But letme explain you this really simple.
    1. PM Gyurcsany´s party: MSZP is the ex-communist party. Never, ever trust a communist. Dont even then trust him when he wears Armani.

    2. The PM said (NOT admitted) to a bunch of party people, that we: (he ment the party that governed between 2002-2006)
    a. DID NOTHING for 4 years
    b. LIED all the time to win the 2006 election
    c. FUCKED UP. In Hungarian: elkúrtuk. (alcoortuk) its much more of a slang then fuck.

    AND, when this tape came out, he said he is proud and he wanted to break the lies in HU politics. Yeah, right.

    3. The protesters are hooligans.
    4.The police force is in such a bad physical and mental state, that they couldnt stop 300-400 non-armed hooligans.
    5. The PM must step down.

  4. happycrow

     /  September 24, 2006

    Dubecz Attila,

    No question, I’d be thrilled if he stepped down. But on the other hand, I view Orban as very, very dangerous. Who can be trusted in Hungary not to simply rape the citizen’s wallet for his own gain?

    Not Fidesz. Probably not SZDSZ. Should it be MDF’s turn again?
    Don’t know…


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