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Hungarian Workers Party Chairman Gyula Thürmer to 888: “Being left-wing also means protecting our national interests” by József K. Horváth

original Hungarian version can be found here

During the Gyurcsány government, the national element was completely pushed out of leftism – Gyula Thürmer, president of the Hungarian Workers’ Party, emphasized, among other things, in response to our question. He added: they did roughly what Adolf Hitler did in the thirties of the last century: he took the red flag of the workers’ movement and put the swastika in it. He promised everything to the people, the workers, and the workers, and then he didn’t fulfill what big capital expected of him. Something similar happened in Hungary as well. 888 interview. The Gyurcsányist left suffered a huge defeat on April 3. Can the same be said for the entire left?

Gyula Thürmer: In the 2022 election, the opposition coalition made up of parliamentary parties suffered a heavy defeat. This coalition called itself left-wing, thus trying to position itself in political life. In reality, however, he did not represent left-wing values. He has stripped himself of the values ​​that the average person on the street would think of as left-wing. He pretty much did what Adolf Hitler did in the 1930s, taking the red flag of the labor movement and putting the swastika on it. He promised everything to the people, the workers, and the workers, and then he didn’t fulfill what big capital expected of him. Something similar happened in Hungary as well. The swastika is also present here, because it reminds people of Jobbik.

Gyula Thürmer: That’s right. It can be said that way. Everyone who thought that Viktor Orbán should be replaced came together in the coalition. That was the only consideration in this election. They didn’t care about leftist values. Of course, it can be said that Fidesz has implemented a series of things that are the usual task of the left. From reducing utilities to family support and increasing minimum wages. What the Gyurcsányist left specifically attacked and wanted to eliminate.

Gyula Thürmer: That’s right, what they specifically attacked. Nevertheless, there would have been a number of things that they could have taken on. For example, we should tax billionaires, let the rich pay, spend more on healthcare, not develop private healthcare. Before 2018, László Botka entered the scene as a left-wing candidate for Prime Minister with the slogan “The rich should pay” , and then he was confused.

Gyula Thürmer: Yes, there were a few months when he was the Prime Minister candidate. This did not fit into their liberal thinking. They said that the rich should not pay.

Gyula Thürmer: That’s right. So they, the Gyurcsány coalition, suffered defeat, not the left in general. However, there are left-wing people in Hungary, there are left-wing feelings. In this election, the left was actually embodied organizationally and politically by the alliance of the Workers’ Party and ISZOMM. Others tried to run, from the Social Democrats to the European Left, but they didn’t make it through either, and in fact they didn’t have a candidate. In this duality, Tibor Szanyi, who broke away from the MSZP, is not the most credible personality as a left-wing politician. Why did you do this?

Gyula Thurmer: Leftism is a multifaceted concept. A significant part of this is embodied by the Labor Party. We are consistently against capitalism, the rule of capital and money. We preserve the traditions of the Hungarian labor movement and the good values ​​of socialism. But there are a number of other issues in which we are less at home. Starting from environmental protection, through green problems, to the problems of the European Union and much more. On the other hand, today’s world is so complicated that it requires multifaceted responses. Even on the left, a party cannot exhaust these answers. It is no coincidence that there are two parties on the right, Fidesz and KDNP. That is why we felt that content cooperation was necessary. But maybe there would have been no cooperation if the Fidesz government had not forced us to do so. Previously, in order for a party to have a national list, 27 individual candidates were required. We always had this, we were always able to start, we always collected the votes. Now it has been raised to 71. With this, we were excluded in the first place. That’s why we thought, let’s try the two of us, the two of us might be able to issue this 71. Is there a chance that this tandem will take the group in the direction of strengthening the national left?

Gyula Thürmer: Based on the experience of the past 30 years, I think that Gyula Horn committed the grave sin of teaming up with the SZDSZ, the liberals, against the left. He accepted their economic policy, the Bokros package and other hogwash. And AZ SZDSZ committed the grave crime against the right-wing, which it claimed to be, and then switched to the left.

Gyula Thürmer: Yes, it is. Gyula Horn needed a certificate to enter the gentlemen’s club. And the SZDSZ gave this proof to the world and the Hungarian people. The SZDSZ needed some kind of force that would bring them to power. It was a big deal. These two couples began to live in a kind of symbiosis. This led to the fact that the MSZP’s leftism was sharpened, and the entire policy of the MSZP became liberal. Under Gyurcsány, this got even worse. And instead of going back to the left, they switched completely to the liberal side. Continuing on the path of the SZDSZ to the extreme left, pushing the national element into the background.

Gyula Thurmer:Yes. In doing so, they tore up their own roots. And a party that eradicates its roots has no future. This is the reason for their death, and the current MSZP is also going in this direction. The other crime committed after Horn, especially during the Gyurcsány government, was that the national element was pushed out of leftism. All nationalities were considered bad, sinful, harmful, outdated and tried to replace this by mentioning pan-Europeanism, pan-Europeanism, transatlantic values, and similar things. This was a serious mistake. We have always said that we want a communal society, that we represent left-wing values, but the Hungarian people have to create them at home, in Hungary. Being left-wing also means protecting our national interests, traditions, and national customs. The Labor Party has done a lot in the last 30 years. For example?

Gyula Thurmer:During migration, for example, we clearly said that whatever the government says, we are still against migration. Even if they scold, it is because it is in the national interest to protect ourselves from illegal immigration. But we also stood up for national agriculture, national culture, and the national language. Absolutely: let’s protect the right of national self-determination in the cooperation of European peoples. That is why we rejected the EU’s attacks, and we will reject them. We also believe that a Europe of peoples and nations is needed. But we also made changes in historical issues, such as, say, Trianon. Trianon was not talked about during the decades of socialism. We used the 100th anniversary of the First World War to say: please, we were the losers of this war, and Trianon was a crime against the Hungarian people. Yes, we also keep the memory of this. And we have been laying wreaths at the World War I memorials in Trianon ever since. We consider what they have committed against the Hungarian people to be a great act of hogwash and an unfair step. In these matters, we tried to bring up the national element on the left. It is no coincidence that in our slogans we say that we are an opposition party, a left-wing party and a national party. We can use these three words to describe the Labor Party. Irrespective of this, the distance from the representatives of the national left, which appeared in 1990, after the system change, when the Social Democratic Party was put on hold from one moment to the next, can still live on. Making it impossible for Anna Petrasovits to operate. Can something be done about it? Is it possible to fight for a greater role for national left-wing politicians? A large number of left-wing people have a national sentiment and love their country.

Gyula Thürmer: He mentioned Anna Petrasovits and the MSZDP. The Social Democratic Party of Hungary was a historic party that undoubtedly stood up for national values ​​throughout its long history. It was a sin to waste it after the system change. This was a conscious process.

Gyula Thürmer: This was a conscious atrophy, they consciously made him a servant of the liberals. No one remembers it anymore, but in the mid-1990s, the Labor Party and the MSZDP, then led by László Kapolyi, now deceased, wanted to make a historic alliance. We agreed that we will run in the elections as an electoral party. We were very strong then, we would have given the strength, he would have given the confirmation that we were also members of the club. Still a historical party. We discussed everything, we even agreed on the program. And then László Kapolyi appeared at my place once and whispered:“Look, Prime Minister Gyula Horn called and said: there are two options. Or you create a new party with the Labor Party, that’s your business, but then you’ll have problems at the customs office because of your Ukrainian deals. Or you don’t create a new party, and then you can continue doing business with Ukraine, and the billions can multiply.”As we know, we did not form a joint party, he retorted, in exchange he could sit on the list of the MSZP in the next parliament. Unfortunately, the national forces in the MSZP, for example Katalin Szili, tried to go her own way, but she was not strong enough, and in the end she fulfills a respectable function today, but still only within the scope of Fidesz and the government. In this sense, he left the left. There were no other attempts. We were the ones who said that we stand for national issues. We supported the fact that the Hungarians living in our area were indeed granted citizenship. We think that we should continue on this path, let’s find our partners. During the elections, I noticed that now in 2022, a lot of people signed up for us. And they said that you are a decent, national, Hungarian party, we support that,

I think that the government would do Hungarian politics a favor if it allowed the national left to develop both organizationally and legally. It hasn’t hindered you so far, or has it?

Gyula Thurmer:The launch of 71 individual representative candidates is a serious obstacle to the establishment of a national list. We should be given media so that I can tell you what I am saying now. If I can’t tell you, a few people know, but a lot of people don’t. And now, in 2022, we have seen that we are no longer held accountable for the perceived or real faults of socialism. It’s not interesting anymore. volt. OK. 30 years have passed, new generations have grown up. There are those who don’t even remember the system change, because they weren’t even alive then. It is quite certain that today’s performance and today’s messages matter. A left wing relying on national foundations would be a really important part of the country’s balanced development. But we are also fighting this battle in the international labor movement. There are parties that speak exclusively on the basis of class and internationalism. What is their relationship with Chinese socialism?

Gyula Thürmer: We can acknowledge the Chinese type of socialism. The Chinese said that they are building a society based on their own image and customs, which they call socialism, and that no one has the right to judge whether it is good or not. This is for the Chinese to judge. We see a lot of good in the Chinese example. And especially the aspiration that each nation must decide its own destiny on a national basis. Despite the indicated obstacles, do the fourth two-thirds of Fidesz help the Labor Party function and possibly strengthen it?

Gyula Thürmer: I have been in political life for quite some time. Over the decades, I got to know many different Fidesz leaders. As they used to say: you have seen Lenin… János Kádár, Károly Grósz… You worked closely with them.

Gyula Thürmer: Hungarian politics has two veterans. One is called Viktor Orbán, and the other is me. There is no one who was here thirty years ago. The two of us are here, both of us in leadership positions from the first minute. I think there are pragmatically thinking people among the civil forces who say that we don’t particularly want socialism because we don’t like socialism, but the Labor Party is a normal-thinking, national party. That’s why we tolerate him, let him run in the elections. It might even benefit us. Then there are those who don’t even want to hear the word labor party, communist, or socialist, and are totally opposed to our presence at all.

We experienced this in the 2022 elections as well. We collected signatures on the street. Sometimes we had the Fidesz-KDNP tent next to us, we greeted each other and shook hands, but there were cities where they were quite hostile towards us.

In my opinion, the pragmatic relationship is the right one. We are not in love with Fidesz either, but we said that we support what Fidesz, the government, does good for the people. Be it family support, utility reduction, opening to the east or anything else. We will not support what we think harms the people and causes harm. I think this is a fair relationship.

Now the question of socialism or capitalism is not on the agenda in Hungarian politics, there are established relationships. Today, the main question is whether Hungary will survive the changing gender relations. Can we survive the war? If there is a war, will Central Europe, including Hungary, survive? What about our culture? How can we act against the curses of liberalism? The conservative side should also realize that the main enemy today is not the Labor Party, but liberalism. And liberalism is our enemy too. We must act against this in order to protect the nation, our children, and our families. Can serving the Hungarian interest be the common denominator?

Gyula Thürmer: We don’t have to officially cooperate with the right wing. You have to accept each other, you have to be in dialogue, you have to negotiate, you have to tolerate each other’s existence, and it helps that everyone can protect the interests of the nation in their own area. There is already a good example of this. You cooperated with the then mayor János Lázár in the defense of the hospital in Hódmezővásárhely.

Gyula Thurmer:Yes, there is a historical example. When the Medgyessy government wanted to privatize hospitals in 2004-2005, we, the Labor Party, launched a referendum initiative. We said don’t sell the hospitals. It was obvious that we alone could not collect so many signatures in a short time, then the civil circles and Fidesz officially and publicly declared that you should go and sign. Not because it’s a Labor thing, but because it’s a good idea. I have known János Lázár since then, we defended the hospital in Vásárhely together. As he alluded to, when he was mayor, there was a quote from Solzhenitsyn displayed on the door of the mayor’s office, which went something like this: Communists are the most guilty people in the world. Despite this, I met János Lázár countless times. Because it’s okay, that’s his belief, I think differently too, but that’s not the point. It’s about the hospital, it’s about the villages, it’s about the people who live there. And in that – yes – you can think together and even work together.


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