Matt Forney
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The Overton Turf War: Fidesz vs. Jobbik in Outer Budapest

NOTE: This article was originally published at Medium on June 1, 2017. I’m re-posting it here because I recently deleted my Medium account.

One of the reasons why many nationalists—including myself—backed Donald Trump was because his unapologetic arguments against illegal immigration supposedly helped shift the Overton window (the range of publicly acceptable political opinion) to the right. And while Trump did manage to revive the token opposition to illegal aliens that the GOP had jettisoned years ago, he hasn’t so much shifted the Overton window right as he’s enlarged it in both directions. America is in full Weimar Republic mode, with communists (misleadingly called “antifas”) and nationalists duking it out on the streets while the more squeamish on both sides of the aisle alternately cheer and condemn them.

To truly see what it looks like when the Overton window shifts right—i.e. when it comes unacceptable to hold left-wing views—take a look at politics in Hungary.

As I mentioned earlier this week, the leftist parties in Hungary have withered under the rule of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party. The second-most popular political force in the country is Jobbik, a nationalist party that believes that Orbán hasn’t gone far enough. Nationalism has become so strong in Hungary that Jobbik successfully got the country’s supreme court to ban journalists from describing them as “far-right,” eliminating the primary smear that the fake news media uses against Marine Le Pen and other anti-globalist leaders.

For all intents and purposes, Jobbik is the only real opposition to Orbán and Fidesz. Beyond their lack of support, the Hungarian leftist parties are incapable of cooperating: Összefogás (Unity), the alliance they formed to contest the parliamentary elections in 2014, collapsed after only three months. Barring some major catastrophe, Fidesz will win next year’s vote with at least a plurality of seats, if not a majority, with Jobbik in second.

This is evident by just jaunting around Budapest. Earlier this week, I had to go to District XV, on the edge of the city, to pick up a package. District XV is part of Budapest in the same way that Staten Island is part of New York City: it’s so far away that you might as well be in the suburbs. There are no tourists there and there’s nothing to do aside from gawk at communist-era apartment blocks. Depending on your tolerance level for the British stag partiers currently drowning in their own vomit in the city center, those might be points in its favor.

Not only have Fidesz and Jobbik plastered Districts XV and XIV with billboards, they’re defacing each others’ property. I’ve already mentioned the ubiquitous presence of Jobbik’s posters across Hungary, but this is the first time I’ve seen Fidesz propaganda. Take a look:


These billboards, put up by Fidelitas (Fidesz’s youth wing), can literally be found on every block in both districts. The bit in the center roughly translates to “Billionaires’ Puppets.” It depicts MSZP (the Hungarian Socialist Party, the largest left-wing party) prime ministerial candidate László Botka as a puppet of George Soros, which is to be expected: Soros is about as popular in his home country as Gary Glitter is in his. Interestingly, it depicts Jobbik leader Gábor Vona as a puppet of Lajos Simicska, a wealthy Hungarian mogul who used to support Fidesz until two years ago.

Jobbik’s posters are found in Districts XIV and XV, as they are everywhere else, but here, Fidesz’s youth wing has given them a bit of a makeover:


The sticker, “Simicska-part,” translates to “Simicska’s party,” alluding to the Fidesz billboards’ claim that Vona is owned by Simicska.

Jobbik’s people weren’t taking that lying down, either. On the way back, I saw someone had spray-painted “Geci Orbán!” on one of Fidesz’s billboards. “Geci” is a Hungarian obscenity that literally translates as “cum” or “jizz,” though a more idiomatic translation would be “son of a bitch Orbán!” Unfortunately, I was on a moving tram and couldn’t get a good picture.

One thing I didn’t see in the Fidesz vs. Jobbik mudslinging match was any left-wing billboards. I’ve never seen them in the city center either, which is odd considering that urban centers are usually full of leftists. If you’d just arrived in Budapest from abroad and knew nothing about the place, it’d look like Fidesz and Jobbik are the only games in town.

That’s because they are. Viktor Orbán’s policies have so shifted Hungary to the right that the left—as Westerners perceive it—has fallen off the map. In the context of Hungarian politics, Fidesz is now a centrist party, arguably even center-left, and Jobbik is a standard right-wing party. My earnest hope is that the U.S. and the rest of the West follow Hungary’s example.

Read Next: Hungary Kicks George Soros’ Central European University Out of Budapest