Dignity for all – Jobbik makes exclusion a campaign pledge

March 21, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

The goal of the joint initiative by Ténytár and Mertek Media Monitor was and continues to be to fight against exclusion and discrimination. Exclusionary speech is increasingly common in Parliament, in the media and in everyday communication. Exclusion questions the humanity of minorities or of individual groups within society by deeming them less equal than others. And where human equality suffers damage, democracy suffers as well. We wish to protest against racism and exclusion by analysing every fortnight the exclusionary statements of politicians, journalists and media in the course of the parliamentary election campaign. You will find our previous analysis here and the methodology here.

The most exclusionary statements were voiced in the second week of the campaign by the municipal government in Sajókaza. Words were also followed by deeds, however, when the municipal government made a decision involving exclusion. Sajókaza’s new rules require those who receive social assistance to open a bank account even though the municipal leaders were fully aware when rendering their decision that there is no ATM in the municipality. Thus those on assistance were discriminated against.

Apart from the municipal government of Sajókaza, only Jobbik politicians drew attention to themselves with exclusionary speech. On the one hand this is good news, since neither the governing parties nor opposition politicians, and in fact not even journalists and the media, disseminated statements that violated the dignity of others. At the same time it does call attention to the fact that on the part of Jobbik politicians, exclusion has emerged as an ongoing and general phenomenon, which renders the violation of other people’s dignity increasingly acceptable.

Where even the law can’t stand in the way of exclusion: Sajókaza

Pursuant to a decision by Sajókaza’s municipal government, welfare cash benefits can from now on only be paid by wire transfer. In certain contexts, we might even be pleased by such a decision, since it suggests that the municipal government is keeping up with the times and those in need of assistance can receive their money without having to queue up in person at the municipal office. Yet the story is not as simple as all that, the devil is in the details.

First, there is no ATM in Sajókaza. Citizens affected by the decision can collect their money at cooperative banks or at the post office. But drawing cash at the bank leads to additional costs, which thus reduces the amount of the assistance received. Aid recipients may of course also decide to travel; to Kazincbarcika, for example, where there is an ATM. Travelling also costs money, however, and also time. What this implies is that the introduction of aid distribution by way of wire transfers will certainly have an adverse effect on those entitled to collect aid.

Second – and this is a significant difference when compared to other exclusionary statements – the municipal government’s decision is unlawful. The modes whereby public assistance may be disbursed are laid down by law, and though the municipal assembly does indeed have a whole variety of competencies, amending the laws passed by Parliament is not among them. The decision is therefore not only disadvantageous for those affected, but is at the same time also unlawful.

The example of Sajókaza is also an apt illustration showing that exclusionary speech will sooner or later be followed by deeds. After all, as a body exercising public authority, the municipal government did not “merely” employ exclusionary speech but also rendered a decision that is binding for the residents of the municipality. This is no longer just about words, but about exclusionary acts.

Dignity for all

Municipal government of Sajókaza

The municipal government in Sajókaza decided that monetary welfare benefits, that is regular social allowances, employment substitution support and housing allowances would only be paid out by wire transfer.

120 points

Ádám Mirkóczki

Jobbik spokesperson Ádám Mirkóczki argued in favour of introducing wage slavery. One manifestation of his suggestion that if Jobbik ascended to power, the party would conclude intergovernmental agreements with eastern countries, which would hold prisoners at considerably lower prices than the current incarceration costs in Hungary.

110 points

Gábor Vona

Gábor Vona: And the audience is pleased. They laugh when they are meant to laugh (“Chemical castration won’t be carried out with a gelding knife!”), they applaud when they are meant to applaud…

100 points

Előd Novák

Novák believes that the change has come about because they have talked enough about the EU or Roma, their opinions on these issues are well-known. Thus “they need no longer focus on their party base but can explore other issues.”

100 points

Zsolt Egyed

In general terms, the situation of the Roma was raised repeatedly. On several occasions, Egyed introduced the issue as a “problem of Hungarian-Gypsy co-operation” and kept repeating that he only knows decent and indecent people: He said that the former would be supported but they would be “cruel” to the criminals, those who reject jobs and those who are useless. He didn’t specify further what he means by this, but he did note that they would be driven out of the county and the towns.

 

90 points

Second week: Jobbik sweeps

All of the next four exclusionary statements were made by representatives of Jobbik. A common feature – aside from their discriminatory bent – of all these messages is their menacing tone. Even in and of itself exclusionary speech constitutes a massive threat to democracy. The aggressive nature of exclusionary statements significantly enhances the scale of the threat, however.

Jobbik’s spokesperson Ádom Mirkóczki takes second place with his comment that if Jobbik were elected to lead the government it would send those convicted of serious crimes against life to serve their sentence in a foreign prison because domestic incarceration costs too much. It appears that for Jobbik’s representative everyone may be equal before the law, but some are somewhat less equal, since those who commit certain crimes may simply be deported. Whatever crimes a person may commit, he/she may not be deprived of his/her citizenship, nor may he/she be banned from residing in Hungary. Even those who commit crimes remain entitled to their human rights. Gábor Vona’s comment on chemical castration was also directed against those who commit criminal offences. Though there are countries where castration is being used, in the Council of Europe’s interpretation this punishment violates the right to dignity and the right to health.

Előd Novák’s outrageously cynical comment suggests that Jobbik had talked enough about Roma, and since everyone knows what they think about the issue the time had come to talk about other topics as well. That is since everyone was aware of the racist and exclusionary views Jobbik’s politicians hold about Roma, these no longer needed to addressed. Racism had taken roots, in other words, prejudicial statements against Roma had become integrated into public discourse. Novák’s statement makes clear that exclusion is an ongoing and widespread phenomenon, that the violation of the dignity of others is becoming increasingly accepted.

Jobbik MP Zsolt Egyed said at a campaign meeting that we need to be “cruel” to criminals and those who reject jobs, that we need to drive them out of town and county. This is a typical instance of scapegoating. The poor and jobless must be supported rather than driven out by persecution. The message is exclusionary and threatening at the same time, since the Jobbik politician’s word choice suggests that the “others”, those who are useless, do not have the same rights as the rest. They do not enjoy human rights and can thus be driven out of the places where they reside.