Dignity for all – Who are the main exclusionists?

The goal of the joint initiative by Ténytár and Mertek Media Monitor was and continues to be to fight against exclusion and discrimination. 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. This is our third analysis, here are our previous writings and you will find the methodology here.

In terms of disseminating exclusionary messages, Jobbik holds a commanding lead in the third two-week period of the campaign. That is hardly surprising in the case of a party that openly espouses extremist views, but it does evoke doubts concerning the authenticity of the party’s election campaign efforts to cast Jobbik in a youthful and dynamic – we might almost say cuddly – light.

But a politician exercising public power has also made it onto the list. Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén spoke of creating jobs in a manner that proved exclusionary vis-à-vis the poor and those who depend on public assistance to secure their livelihood. Semjén’s comments implied that people freely choose to be poor and unemployed, rather than being forced into such a situations for lack of options and because of their vulnerable status. At the same time, despite all the good news, there are some glad tidings as well, specifically the Facebook group “Vote against Jobbik” (Szavazz a Jobbik ellen), which protests against extremist ideas.

Jobbik leads the pack in exclusion

All three of the most exclusionary message were voiced at Jobbik campaign events, and all of the impugned statements were directed against the Roma minority. It was primarily a speech by party vice chair Előd Novák that put lie to Jobbik’s recent efforts at changing its image. Novák proclaimed that those in “Jobbik don’t change and will always call it like they see it. They won’t stop using the term “Gypsy criminality”, they will address political criminality, nor should they be expected to use all sorts of euphemisms to refer to homosexuals”.

MP Dániel Z. Kárpát pointed out that a programme for providing young people with state assistance to meet their housing needs cannot be realised because the state spends funds on integration programmes instead.

Zoltán Pakusza, an assemblyman in the town of Miskolc, argued that the most important issue for the northeastern Hungarian municipality is to restore public safety, which requires self-sustaining prisons, initiating a referendum on bringing back the death penalty, and the widespread introduction of the so-called Érpatak model (a key element of this model is that social assistance only be paid out if the qualifying persons have paid their public utility fees and/or keep their gardens in order). A common thread in all three campaign speeches is the hostility against Roma, which always includes forceful threats, severe punishments, taking away social assistance and the imposition of rules of “coexistence” (see the Érpatak modell above) that even the middle class does not necessarily adhere by. It appears that the smiling young faces on the Jobbik posters conceal the same crude and extreme ideas as previously, before Jobbik began cultivating its new, softer image. Jobbik’s political message in this campaign hasn’t changed either, the main thread of their ideas continues to be suffused with anti-democratic elements, the exclusion and threatening of others.

Dignity for all

Zoltán Pakusza, Jobbik

Zoltán Pakusza believes that the most important issue in the eastern Hungarian town of Miskolc is the restoration of public order, which in his assessment takes self-sustaining prisons, a referendum on bringing back the death penalty and the widespread introduction of the so-called Érpatak model (see above for more details)

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Előd Novák, Jobbik

Előd Novák stated that “Jobbik politicians don’t change and will always call it like they see it. They won’t stop using the term ‘Gypsy criminality’, they will discuss political criminality, nor should they be expected to use all sorts of euphemisms to refer to homosexuals”.

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Dániel Z. Kárpát, Jobbik

Dániel Z. Kárpát pointed out that a state programme to assist youths’ access to housing can’t be implemented because the state spends funds on integration programmes instead.

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Zsolt Semjén, KDNP

Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén believes that creating jobs is crucial in order to ensure that parents do not pass on the poverty trap to their children; so that the children see their parents get up in the morning and go to work rather than just waiting idly for public assistance. This remark is not only hypocritical and disingenuous but is also exclusionary vis-à-vis those who have no access to jobs.

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 Új Magyarország Párt (New Hungary Party)

Given its obscurity, most of our readers probably haven’t heard of the New Hungary Party, which was founded in 2013. Its slogan “He is Hungarian, he works and he is heterosexual – is he doomed to extinction? No!” is an exclusionary statement par excellence, for it impugns the dignity of not one but three minorities. The message is simultaneously directed against Roma, the unemployed and gays.

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For Zsolt Semjén, workfare is the solution

Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén believes that creating jobs is crucial in order to ensure that parents do not pass on the poverty trap to their children; so that the children see their parents get up in the morning and go to work rather than just waiting idly for public assistance. This remark is not only hypocritical and disingenuous but is also exclusionary vis-à-vis those who have no access to jobs. It is disingenuous because rather than creating jobs, the government considers that workfare is the best solution, which is closer to 19th than 21st century approaches.

It is exclusionary because the poverty trap, as Semjén put it, is called a trap because no one has ended up there by choice, willingly, but for reasons beyond their control. If someone lives in a municipality where there are no jobs and can’t move because his/her house or flat is nigh worthless precisely on account of lacking access to jobs, then he/she has no real choice. Zsolt Semjén may not be aware of this, but no one chooses to be poor or unemployed. And it ought to be the responsibility of the powers that be to provide an educational system and employment policies that reduce poverty and prevent it from being reproduced from generation to generation. It would appear that the current governing parties have had very little success in this regard.

Új Magyarország Párt (New Hungary Party)

Given its obscurity, we assume that not many of our readers have heard of the New Hungary Party, which was founded in 2013. Its slogan “He is Hungarian, he works and he is heterosexual – is he doomed to extinction? No!” is an exclusionary statement par excellence, for it impugns the dignity of not one but three minorities. The message is simultaneously directed against Roma, the unemployed and gays. The exploitation of the financial incentives offered by the new election laws, the establishment of fake political parties and their electoral participation is in itself a serious violation of the principles that democracy is based on. But it appears that it is possible to top even that. What we have here is a fake party with extremist and exclusionary views.