As Hungary is blanketed under the “Let’s Stop Brussels!” propaganda campaign, members of the ruling Fidesz party are canvassing society, holding town hall-style forums across the country to drum up support for the government’s latest national consultation.
Propaganda minister Antal Rogán hosted one such forum Tuesday in Budapest’s XVII District. Rogán’s appearance was important because the Fidesz politician has been out of the limelight for the past year due to his declining popularity and ties to nefarious deals that have been widely covered in the press.
Együtt (Together) chairman Péter Juhász attended the meeting and live streamed it via his Facebook page. The opposition politician quietly provided commentary to his viewers as the forum took place.
Juhász and Rogán have a bit of a history. Rogán was mayor of Budapest’s V. District from 2006 to 2014. Juhász was elected to serve on the V. District municipal council in 2014, a position he used to relentlessly shine light on the unscrupulous sale of municipally-owned properties under Rogán’s mayorship.
At the forum, the audience was asked to submit questions in writing for a Q&A session after Rogán finished his speech. Juhász and activist Zoltán Vajda filled out some of these question cards, asking:
- Why do you steal?
- How long do you plan to continue stealing?
- Do you consider yourself a criminal?
When the floor finally opened up to questions, Juhász and Vajda shouted questions at the propaganda minister.
- “Anti, why do you constantly steal?”
- “Why are you ruining our country on purpose?”
Rogán continued with his presentation, in which he explained which groups and media outlets are tied to the Open Society Foundation’s George Soros.
At one point, Rogán explained that it is very important that everyone – even those who disagree with the government’s position – respond to the national consultation questionnaire.
According to Rogán, “I haven’t seen an opposition force that has been able to organize as many people as [Fidesz] has.”
“That’s because we have no money, because you guys are stealing all of it! We have no money!” a man in the audience shouted.
This disruption was too much for Rogán, and the propaganda minister walked off the stage for a few minutes.
When he came back, he said he would not address Juhász because the opposition politician had insulted his wife and family. Juhász responded by calling Rogán a liar, and implored the propaganda minister to recite one instance in which he had ever insulted Rogán’s family.
“You’re lying! There are 200 people here that you just lied to!” Juhász shouted. “I never insulted your family! I only talk about you, and say that you steal!”
With the event disrupted, the activists got out of their chairs and walked out of the hall.
Juhász walked to the trunk of his car, from which he removed a megaphone. He then walked back to the building, positioned himself under a window, and proceeded to pepper Rogán with questions from the megaphone.
- “Why are you lying so much?”
- “Why do they steal so much?”
- “Why is it that they want to latch Hungary to Russia instead of the European Union?”
- “Why is Orbán cozying up to Putin and Erdoğan?”
- “Why doesn’t Rogán talk about the damages he caused to Budapest’s V. District under his mayorship? The almost 1,000 properties that they sold for one-third of their market rate?”
- “Answer these questions, Mr Rogán, instead of lying to the nation by saying that I have insulted your family! I have never done anything like that and I never would! Not like that garbage that you orchestrate as propaganda minister with Fidesz’s paid propagandists!”
- “Just yesterday I won 18 court cases against TV2, where the court found that [the station] lied, just as you are lying right now! This is what you should respond to, these are the important issues!”
- “Why are you playing Hungary into the hands of Russia?”
Rogán quietly left the event through the back door.