In an article published last week in the far-right wing newspaper Magyar Hirlap, commentator Zsolt Bayer unleashed a tirade against the Roma — the preferred term for “gypsies” — for their suspected involvement in a bar fight. The rant borders on the genocidal given the language used, made all the more horrific due to the connection Bayer shares with the Prime Minister of Hungary:
A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals, and they behave like animals. When they meet with resistance, they commit murder. They are incapable of human communication. Inarticulate sounds pour out of their bestial skulls. At the same time, these Gypsies understand how to exploit the ‘achievements’ of the idiotic Western world. But one must retaliate rather than tolerate. These animals shouldn’t be allowed to exist. In no way. That needs to be solved — immediately and regardless of the method.
The Roma, who were among the many targets of the Holocaust in 1940s Germany, make up approximately seven percent of Hungary’s total population and are the frequent target of attacks by vigilantes enforcing “public order.” While right-wing parties have made a stir for xenophobic and anti-Semitic language recently, including a politician in the third-strongest party calling for a “list of Jews,” the proximity of Bayer to power makes his comments all the more stunning.
Bayer was one of the founding members of the ruling Fidesz Party, which has over the last year consolidated power in the hands of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. While some members of the party have condemned Bayer’s statements, including Justice Minister Tibor Navracsics, the odds that Bayer will be prosecuted for incitement or expelled from the party for his statements are slim. Though he holds no official role in the government, Bayer was one of the organizers of the “Peace March” in Jan. 2012 that showed support for Orbán’s government amid European Union protestations that Hungary’s new Constitution violated E.U. treaties.
The unwillingness of Fidesz to officially criticize Bayer reflects the growing prominence of far-right wing parties in European politics during a time of economic downturn. The Golden Dawn party in Greece has made a name for itself — and increased its standing in the polls to enter Parliament for the first time — by railing against foreigners amid Greece’s lengthy depression.