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From: The Socialist issue 872, 30 September 2015: Organise, strike, resist!

Search site for keywords: Hungary - Right-wing - Government - Refugees - EU - State - Racism - Serbia - Fascist - European Union - Austerity

Hungary's xenophobic right-wing government

The Hungarian government led by Viktor Orban has been the most vociferous of any EU state in blocking the northward flow of refugees. Tilman M Ruster, SLP (CWI, Austria), examines Orban's regime.

Since 15 September, Hungary has been in a state of emergency. The leader of the right-wing Fidèsz party, Prime Minister Viktor Orban, announced it in order to "protect the borders". Along with building a razor wire fence along the border with Serbia, he announced harsh measures against refugees, including the setting up of "transit zones" which lay outside EU laws.

Under pressure from the neo-fascist Jobbik opposition, Orban has gone all-out to spread fear about refugees and the idea of Hungary being a "besieged fortress". He connects his agitation against immigrants with agitation against Roma people.

Orban's re-election in 2010 was based on racism and nationalist resistance to the EU and the Troika (European Union ministers, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund).

In 2008 the former social-democratic government accepted the first bailout/austerity package in the course of the international financial crisis. Hungary had been hit hard by the crisis. Orban got elected using strong rhetoric against the Troika and the widely hated social democrats.

Although his ultimate goal is to save capitalism, Orban likes to portray himself as a fighter against banks and big business.


Ultimately, Orban's power is based on three pillars: the establishment of authoritarian rule, playing off various imperialist powers at international level against each other, and, in particular, the recent inability of the opposition to build a real alternative and organise effective resistance.

Approximately 40% of the electorate did not vote in the last elections. And while Fidèsz won a parliamentary majority in 2014, its 44.5% share of the vote was down on the 52.7% achieved in 2010.

Fidèsz holds all positions of power. Freedom of the press is restricted in Hungary. Add to that the constitutional and electoral counter-reforms, as well as attacks in the cultural field.

Most crucially, however, is the struggle of the government against the trade unions and the rights of the workers' movement. Every strike must first be approved by a Fidèsz-loyal court, which basically is never the case.

Various forms of employment are used to undermine the already extremely low minimum wage. And attacks have been made on the payment of union fees by employers and the state.

A new workers' party is needed in Hungary to formulate a programme and to organise mass opposition. The foundation of such a party could begin around a 24-hour general strike, when the demands from the initiatives around issues like refugees rights, freedom of the press, internet control, and resistance to housing evictions would be absorbed.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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