The Spectre of Neo-Fascism: Virulent Anti-Roma Racist Wins A Seat in Brussels Assembly

17 June 2024

By Bernard Rorke  

Hungary’s far-right Our Homeland Movement (Mi Hazánk Mozgalom) gained 6% of the vote in the June 9 elections, securing a seat in the European Parliament for the first time. The new MEP László Toroczkai, who heads a party which ranks as the most extreme in the Budapest parliament since World War II, will soon take his seat in the Brussels assembly. Toroczkai’s success is part of a wider wave of anti-democratic action across Europe.     

Despite jittery reassurances from Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen that ‘the centre is holding’, there is no escaping the fact that the next European Parliament will have more hard-right members than ever before, occupying close to a quarter of the 720 seats. In Germany, despite scandals and setbacks, Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) came second, while French President Emmanuel Macron’s party got trounced at the polls by the far-right National Rally party, and Austria’s far-right Freedom Party took 25.7% of the vote, finishing in first place in a nationwide election for the first time. 

In the case of Hungary, press attention focused on the discomfiture of Victor Orbán at the hands of Péter Magyar, a former Fidesz insider-turned-rival, and the big story was the success of his brand-new Tisza party, which “scored a mammoth 29% of votes and scooped seven seats.” There was scarcely a mention of Toroczkai, whose success at the Euro polls marks a new sinister first for one of the most extreme neo-fascist parties in Europe. 

Toroczkai, SS criminals, and raised right-arm salutes

In the wake of the controversy around the expulsion of AfD leader Maximilian Krah, Toroczkai commented in an interview on June 5, that his ally’s words were twisted, and that if the SS had 10,000 members then it followed that not everyone in the SS committed crimes. When pressed on the question whether or not he thought the Nazi SS commited crimes, Toroczkai became evasive, replied that he is not a historian, and asked "Why should I have any point of view?" 

According to Toroczkai “conflicts when Jews appeared en masse in Hungary. If a person comes to Hungary, his family usually assimilates and integrates into Hungarian society within one generation. If a group of people arrives en masse, integration will not succeed even in hundreds of years. But the point here is not the Jewishness, this is true for any ethnic group, it could have been the Gypsies as well.”

In the same interview, when asked about his being photographed giving raised right arm salutes, Toroczkai denied it was a Nazi salute: “I have never been a Nazi in my life. In the photo I did as the Romans do in Rome, Ave Caesar. I thought it was a good joke …”

Mi Hazánk: the party behind the politics of hate, homophobia and anti-Roma racism

Mi Hazánk Mozgalom was launched in June 2018 by former Jobbik MPs, László Toroczkai and Dóra Duró. Both had been expelled from the party as Jobbik attempted to rebrand itself as a ‘normal’ patriotic party by outwardly shedding the racism, fascism and homophobia that made it such a hit among 20%-plus of Hungarian voters. Mi Hazánk has remained true to such core values, with Toroczkai, who garnered some international media notoriety as the mayor of the border village of Ásotthalom with his paramilitary unit of “migrant hunters”, has proclaimed that Hungary should remain a “white island” in Europe.

When questioned about Mi Hazánk party members’ and leaders’ predilection for making Nazi salutes, Atilla Nagy, president of the Budapest chapter replied, “Mi Hazánk doesn’t believe that the party movement should be guided by the feelings of local or international Jews. We’re not saying we hate the Jews, but their feelings don’t determine what we do. There are many more important things to consider.” When challenged about party members veneration of the wartime Nazi Arrow Cross party – responsible for massacres of thousands of Jews in Budapest – as heroes and martyrs, Nagy replied that the Arrow Cross fascists were victims.

“Hungary will not become a Gypsy country”

Perhaps the most disturbing of the party’s obsessions is anti-Roma racism, and from the outset, election posters and leaflets for the 2022 general election pledged to prevent Hungary becoming a ‘Gypsy country’. In their national version of the great replacement, the Mi Hazánk program noted that while the birth rate of Hungarians plummets, “Gypsies are producing a population explosion typical of the Third World. The number of Gypsies doubles by generations, while the number of Hungarians is almost halved.” 

The party, its National Legion militia, and assorted paramilitary fellow-travellers have sought to harass and intimidate Roma under the pretext of fighting ‘Gypsy crime’ – aiming, but so far failing, to revive the climate of fear that prevailed in Romani communities over a decade ago – holding vigilante-style ‘demonstrations for order’ to defend Hungarians from ‘Gypsy terrorists’. 

As far as education policy is concerned, Mi Hazánk would segregate Romani pupils who do not behave in accordance with societal norms, and ‘antisocial elements’ would be sent to separate classes and, ultimately, to residential schools. According to their election program, segregation of Romani pupils is also needed so that Hungarian parents whose children are at risk do not have the burden of taking them out of the school. 

Virulent homophobia

In addition to its militantly racist anti-Roma stance, the party is virulently homophobic, and has made its mark in word and deed, with a steady stream of hate speech against ‘faggot propaganda’, marching in uniforms on community spaces, burning rainbow flags, and staging intimidatory disruptions of LGBTQ events. 

In September 2020, Mí Hazánk leader MP Dóra Dúró, posted a YouTube video of herself shredding a copy of a newly-published children’s book Fairy Tales for Everyone, declaring  that her party “will not tolerate exposing children to homosexual propaganda, and that homosexual princes are not part of Hungarian culture.” 

In June 2021, the Fidesz regime passed a law banning the use of materials seen as promoting homosexuality and gender reassignment in schools, and to restrict LGBT representation in the media by banning content depicting LGBT topics from daytime television and prohibiting companies from running campaigns in solidarity with the LGBT community.

Centrist parties have long facilitated the mainstreaming of the far right, and appropriated many of their themes to such an extent, that as Kenan Malik stated, “arguments that once were the staple of the political fringe now nestle at the heart of mainstream debate.” While the term far right may be thrown about too often for some tastes, one thing is clear concerning Hungary’s new MEP László Toroczkai and his party – they belong to the category of ‘unashamed neo-fascist parties’. European Parliamentarians who oppose neo-fascism should impose a cordon sanitaire around this extremist MEP, and completely isolate him from the everyday business of parliament.  


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