Fidesz vice president concerned that ruling party is unappealing to Hungarian youth

Gergely Gulyás, vice president of the ruling Fidesz party, expressed concern that the party which once limited its membership to people under the age of 35 has now lost Hungary’s youth vote. “Success is most certainly rather attractive to young people, but let me exercise self-criticism: even if Fidesz is successful, today it is not appealing enough to young people,” said Mr. Gulyás to the Fidesz propaganda daily, Magyar Idők.

The Fidesz politician then offered an olive branch to the tens of thousands of young Hungarians who took to the streets to protest the attack against Central European University this spring, after both his party and the ruling party’s media consistently labelled the protesters as paid agents of George Soros. Mr. Gulyás said that “naturally” these people were not hirelings of the American-Hungarian billionaire, adding: “it is everyone’s constitutional right to use his or her right of assembly, in order to protest a government decision that is believes to be mistaken.”

Gergely Gulyás. Photo: hirado.hu

Mr. Gulyás is considered more moderate than the party’s dominant line. It is also HFP’s understanding that Mr. Gulyás has been markedly uncomfortable in recent years with the direction of his party. Yet while he has been troubled by the ruthless belligerence of Mr. Orbán’s inner circle, Mr. Gulyás has also shown no courage to speak out in any way, with the exception of the occasionally conciliatory statement. As such, while on the one hand the Fidesz vice president seems to strike a moderate tone in relation to demonstrating Hungarian youth and distances himself from the hogwash that his government spouted about Soros hirelings, Mr. Gulyás has had no problem labelling the criticism levelled against the regime by the European Commission on the issue of CEU as being “Bolshevik.” He then offered the following qualifier:

“When we talk about Brussels, we don’t mean the European Union, but rather the EU’s bureaucracy. With our accession to the EU, one of the most important goals since regime change came to fruition. Membership in the EU is in Hungary’s national interest. But this does not mean that we must nod to every proposal from Brussels. He who wants such a government should vote for the socialists.”

Mr. Gulyás noted that the generation which established Fidesz is now between fifty and sixty years of age. Back in 1998, when Viktor Orbán formed government for the first time, he was a 35 year old young man who ran against the then 66 year old socialist prime minister, Gyula Horn. According to Mr. Gulyás, it was no question who young Hungarians would support. The same could be said in 2002, when Mr. Orbán, just under forty, ran against Péter Medgyessy, who was in his sixties. Mr. Orbán ultimately lost a closely fought campaign, despite opinion polls that pointed to his victory. In 2010, the generational divide was no longer as significant, because Fidesz–in its landslide victory–managed to sweep up all demographic groups, following the admittedly chaotic and ultimately visionless eight years of MSZP rule.

Magyar Idők asked Mr. Gulyás to comment on whether his colleague Szilárd Németh’s words on how young Hungarians should “pump the world full of babies,” in order to solve the country’s demographic decline was helpful in shoring up the youth vote. Mr. Gulyás suggested that the style that his colleague used was unfortunate, in that it shifted everyone’s attention to style, rather than the legitimate substance of what was being discussed.

The daily also asked Mr. Gulyás to comment on the upcoming Pride march in Budapest–an event that always attracts a disproportionately large number of young Hungarians. “So long as it occurs within the existing legal framework, it can be held and it enjoys constitutional protection, just like my own freedom of opinion is protected too. I stay far away from the effected areas of Budapest during the event, ” said Mr. Gulyás. When asked to confirm that, as in previous years, no Fidesz politician would participate in Pride, Mr. Gulyás noted that “everyone does as he/she pleases, but I would really not agree if a Fidesz politician participated, and I ultimately feel this is unthinkable.”

Mr. Gulyás, who will run as a candidate in a single constituency riding in 2018, said that he would be happy to continue his career in national politics after the election, adding that he “feels great.” As with others in Fidesz, private discussions with people like Mr. Gulyás provide a far more nuanced picture and point to significant displeasure and frustration with the ruling party’s perpetual war-time language and far-right transformation.

2 Comments

  1. Governments that do not perform according to the public’s expectation, are destined to be discarded by the population.
    Should have learned from Cameron’s and May’s destiny!

  2. It’s never the age, but what they may offer and do for the population.

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