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Sep 05, 2020 - Zoltán Kovács

That moment when the liberal opposition nominated a far-right candidate with a disturbing history of anti-Semitism, Part I

In the run-up to a by-election to fill a parliamentary seat for a constituency in northern Hungary, the so-called “democratic” opposition jointly nominated a far-right Jobbik candidate with a long history of stomach-turning, anti-Semitic and anti-Roma statements. Here’s the shameful story in brief.

Following the tragic death of long-standing Fidesz MP Ferenc Koncz in July, a by-election has been called to take place October 11 in Hungary’s Tiszaújváros-Szerencs constituency. With a little more than a month left until election day, Hungary’s self-proclaimed “democratic” opposition has jointly nominated a far-right member of Jobbik, László Bíró, who is notorious in Hungary for his deeply disturbing anti-Semitic and anti-Roma slurs.

The opposition has touted their decision to work together as a great achievement and supposedly a harbinger of more to come. That’s more than a little troubling, considering their questionable judgment in the selection of this candidate.

The case of László Bíró, the man deemed the best fit for the job by the Hungarian opposition, serves up an excellent example of how Hungary’s left-liberals don’t think twice about giving up core European values – as well as their own dignity – in their desperate quest for power.

In the past, Bíró has made several racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-Roma comments on social media. Among these, for example, he referred to Budapest as “Judapest,” while on another occasion, he complained that there were too many foreign Jews visiting the spa hotels in his district. And Bíró didn’t simply complain, he did it in a deeply offensive way.

“My dog goes crazy when those with the lice-infested 'sideburns' pass by the house,” László Bíró wrote on social media, referring to the Polish, Russian and Israeli Hasidic Jewish tourists who practice a custom of growing sideburns into payot. In Hungarian, Bíró used the highly offensive word “tetűcsúszdások, a term that includes a reference to lice. It’s difficult to find an English term that would properly capture the overflowing hatred behind his comment. It suffices to say it was an awful slur.

What’s more, in another comment referring to a common Roma family name, Bíró wrote that “the country must be protected not only from the Hassan but also from the Sztojka.”

But what would we expect from a member of Jobbik, a party whose representatives gained notoriety during the last decade for proposing to draw up a list of all people of Jewish origin in the Hungarian Parliament? It was also a Jobbik politician who bragged about spitting into the “Shoes on the Danube Bank” Holocaust memorial, called the Holocaust “Hoaxocaust” and celebrated his wedding by raising a Nazi salute.

Sadly, the number of incidents is extensive – and still growing. People should be clear about the (lack of) values these people – and those who support them – represent.

As Fidesz MEPs József Szájer and Tamás Deutsch wrote in a letter to the Socialists and Democrats and Renew Europe in the European Parliament, the left-wing groups to which these Hungarian parties belong:

“That this electoral coalition of opposition parties – parties that call themselves democratic – includes the extremist Jobbik party is incompatible with democratic principles and European values. Although opposition parties claim that Jobbik has left extremism behind, the case of Mr. Bíró illustrates very well that Jobbik’s extremism has not been rooted out of the party.”