Fidesz vice-president Szilárd Németh (pictured) and Együtt (Together) president Viktor Szigetvári appeared on ATV’s Szabad Szemmel Friday night to discuss the Hungarian government’s migrant quota referendum. Also discussed during the exchange was a recent article that appeared in Politico which made the case that doing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s bidding in Brussels is a rather thankless job.
The 30 minutes could best be described as a half-hour of Németh ranting about national sovereignty and an overbearing EU. Szigetvári, who managed to sneak in only a few measured words during the exchange, represented the complete antithesis of Németh’s bulldozing style of argument.
Németh, who is not known for his ability to appeal to the intellect of an audience, became more and more hostile as Szigetvári explained that Fidesz desperately needs the quota referendum to draw attention away from a myriad of corruption scandals.
After twenty-odd minutes of unexciting demagoguery from Németh in defense of the government’s quota referendum, host Antónia Mészáros asked the Fidesz vice-president to comment on the recent Politico article.
Németh called it “a plain lie.”
“They will do anything to downplay the referendum. This is what I’m talking about. They use everything, and will use their domestic politicians and their domestic economic interests. They will use everything,” Németh said before being interrupted by Szigetvári.
“Who, the Jews, right?” Szigetvári asked.
Németh demanded that Szigetvári take back his words. When the Együtt politician refused, Németh got up and walked out of the studio.
While 99 percent of the exchange was not interesting, that 1 percent at the end certainly did show something new.
A ranking politician was finally called out on television for using veiled anti-semitic rhetoric, and this caused him to leave the studio.
Why is this important? It isn’t.
“Global financial elite”, “foreign agents”, “colonizers” and so on are just some of the pejorative terms used as a blanket to cover anyone not toeing the far-right line.
Fidesz, which has employed the tactic to win over the hate vote from extremist party Jobbik in the wake of increasingly embarrassing corruption scandals, has become incredibly successful at personalizing the vocabulary of the far-right.
Szigetvári made it clear on Facebook after the interview his party would continue to “translate into Hungarian the cowardly and evil language of Orbán.”
“When they are saying ‘Soros’ and ‘foreign agents’, they are referring to Jews,” Szigetvári wrote after the exchange. “When they say they are building a ‘class of national capitalists’, they are actually stealing. They are deceiving, but we’ll speak straight so that everyone understands what they are doing.”