UPDATE: Perkáta’s municipal council reportedly revoked the permit for the bust on Monday.
The Hungarian village of Perkáta will have a new statue soon — a bust commemorating Hungary’s controversial World War II leader Miklós Horthy. The village’s Fidesz mayor, Balázs Somogyi, and the Fidesz-majority municipal council adopted a resolution approving the making of the Horthy bust this month. The unveiling ceremony is scheduled for May 20.
The unveiling of the bust of Nazi-collaborator Horthy is expected to draw notable public figures from Hungary’s radical-right, including leader of the New Hungarian Guard István Mészáros and far-right Reformed Church clergyman Loránt Hegedűs.
Hegedűs himself is well-known for idolizing Hungary’s far-right figures. In 2013, Hegedűs’ church unveiled its own bust to Horthy in Budapest’s Freedom Square. The clergyman invited notable Jobbik politicians to officiate the event. The incident generated significant international attention.
Ferenc Gyurcsány’s party, Democratic Coalition (DK), has announced that it will protest the latest event, just as it did against plans to erect a statue to wartime politician Bálint Hóman.
“The DK will be protesting at the scene of the ceremony on May 20 to prevent the erecting of the Horthy statue in Perkáta just as it prevented the erecting of the Hóman statue in Székesfehérvár. No one should praise the man responsible for the laws against Jews, the White Terror, and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Hungarians,” DK said in a statement.
According to DK, “the Horthy statue shows that Fidesz and Jobbik once again joined together, because several prominent Jobbik personalities will take part in the ceremony. It has become clear what belongs together will grow together, and Jobbik is incapable of anything other than what it is.”
In 2015, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán claimed that it would be wrong to erect a statue to any political leader who was in charge of the country during a time when – according to Hungary’s new constitution – Hungary lost its national sovereignty. Orbán said the government could not endorse the erecting of a statue to someone who collaborated with Hungary’s oppressors.
In 2016, then-US President Barack Obama announced the United State’s opposition to the erecting of the Hóman statue in Székesfehérvár. President Obama publicly stated that the US government “led the charge to convince [the Hungarian government] reverse course.”