“We have little choice but to employ radical means in pursuit of our values.” – Péter Juhász, chairman, Együtt (Together)
Translation of Péter Hamvay’s interview with Péter Juhász published in print weekly hvg on February 2nd, 2017 (pp. 21-22) under the title “Heightened street presence” (Fokozott utcai jelenlét).
Péter Juhász, who was elected chairman of opposition party Együtt (Together) at the weekend, promises actions similar to the “jeering concerts” protesting Orbán and Putin.
You won the lawsuit against Antal Rogán. There is a first-level court decision confirming that he can be called a criminal. Despite this ruling, the minister remains in his place.
Antal Rogán is the most unpopular politician in the country. He failed, and I have had a lot to do with that. The fact that he is not in prison is not a political but a legal question. But I will bet you that he will not run for office in 2018.
You will probably be elected chairman of Együtt this weekend. Where do you see yourself in a year and a half?
My personal ambition is not important. I would like for Együtt to be in parliament, for which I think there is a realistic possibility.
The public opinion polls indicate otherwise.
The small parties are systemically under measured. We received 7.2 percent of the vote in the European Parliament election when we were measured at 2-3 percent.
That was with extraordinarily low voter turnout. Furthermore, when asked how much they would like to [back] public figures in a position of responsibility, you are among those at the bottom of the list. What do you say to that?
I do not want to be a ruler, but a responsible politician who represents the people and does not tell them what is good for them. Three years ago nobody knew who I was. My successful communication to date has been in the service of Együtt.
Two years ago you stepped back as party chairman in favor of Viktor Szigetvári. What changed?
After Gordon Bajnai left, the task at hand was to hold together a party based on numerous platforms. Viktor was more suitable for this task, which is why I stepped back. We are past this stage, in fact we have created our own political product, which is to say that we have a vision about the kind of Hungary we want to live in. My task, and I hope I am the one most suited for it, is to sell this product to the voters.
So far you were the face of the struggle against corruption. Is the role of the “presenter of a great vision” a good fit?
Over the past three years it would have been difficult to conduct a constructive opposition politics, because for that you need a constructive government. I do not deal with Antal Rogán’s matters lightly. I know that we can break through by proving that Fidesz is unsuitable to govern because it is irreparably corrupt and employs mafia means. I succeeded in explaining this. Just as as a civil rights activist I succeeded in explaining that drug users are not criminals, or that the law should protect gypsies as well. I feel that I can credibly represent our politics.
How do you want to reach voters in order to get into parliament? We are familiar with the disruptive means, for example jeering Orbán and Putin.
We have a 500-page party program! I would like to spread the message that we want a Hungary where citizens have a say in questions affecting them, and where we spend money not on stadiums but on health-care, and not only [central bank governor György] Matolcsy’s foundations and fake universities, but on real education. We want cooperation in place of opposition. We have little choice but to employ radical means in pursuit of our values. If this is considered disruptive, then [poet] Sándor Petőfi or [1956 Uprising prime minister] Imre Nagy were also disruptive, and we are proud to follow their example. Since the number of independent media outlets decreases by the day, we would also like to launch an online television station. We must continuously be out in the streets and in contact with the people. We are also collecting signatures for Momentum. We are rooting for them. It would be good if finally one of the civil organizations could gain a foothold.
Do you see the possibility of opposition parties coming together?
I would remind you that in 2014 I resigned my place on the common party list because I thought it was a bad idea. It is certain that in the 2018 election Együtt will run its own slate of candidates. Naturally, this does not rule out agreeing on the candidates with other parties. I hope that Együtt will facilitate opposition cooperation and that politicians arriving on the scene after 2010 should be given a larger role.