Left-centre daily reports that claims of an Orbán assassination plot were credible

According to Hungary’s largest circulation political daily, Népszabadság, claims surrounding a possible far-right assassination attempt against Prime Minister Viktor Orbán were credible, despite widespread incredulity in much of the media, when news of the so-called Hungarian National Army (Magyar Nemzeti Hadsereg) and its plot were leaked. Népszabadság refers to police and Interior Ministry sources, who told the opposition daily that the two suspects who were taken into custody–both men in their early sixties–had collected items and objects in their homes that bolstered their “undeniable intention” to assassinate the prime minister. Police also found weapons in the trunk of their car. As well, police and the anti-terrorist TEK unit had the two men under suveillance for some time and had tapped their telephones. It was in these discussions that authorities overheard the men, who see Hungary’s World War II Nazi (Arrow Cross) leader, Ferenc Szálasi, as a role model, talking about “convincing the government with a bullet to the head” to hand over power to their group.

A private source told Népszabadság that the men’s demeanour had changed as the day of the planned assassination (November 22, 2015) approached. They had become withdrawn and determined, in the words of the Népszabadság source. On that day, Mr. Orbán was reportedly shuffled out of the building where the assassination attempt was scheduled to occur.

Viktor Orbán on December 13th, 2015. Photo: MTI.

Viktor Orbán on December 13th, 2015. Photo: MTI.

It’s worth noting that both suspects have prior criminal records: one of them was handed down a 7.5 year prison sentence on weapon and drug-related charges.

TEK believes that the Hungarian National Army has between 15 to 20 members. The shady, extreme right organisation distanced itself from the two suspects who planned the attack.

Initially, when the story of the alleged plot first broke, TEK chief  János Hajdu tried to draw a connection between the attempted attack and extreme Islam: he suggested that authorities had foiled a terrorist plot on Hungarian soil and that he could not rule out the possibility that it involved international terrorist groups. It was quickly revealed, however, that if anything, this story involves homegrown terrorism and extremism.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán still seems energized and told a Fidesz party congress this past weekend, that he plans to run for office again in 2018. This puts to bed some earlier speculation that he may have his eyes set on the president’s role (which is largely ceremonial), and rather intends to hold on to the prime minister’s job even beyond 2018. Mr. Orbán told Fidesz party members that they would be around for at least the next thirty years.

Mr. Orbán also referred to Fidesz as “Europe’s most successful political party,” noting that everyone first mocks Fidesz for its policies (such as the hardline on refugees), but these people are paralyzed and stunned on the sidelines, once Fidesz succeeds.

“We are the ones who act. And it’s important that we understand our own race. We believe in Hungary and in Hungarians,” declared Mr. Orbán.

One wonders, yet again, what still distinguishes the prime minister from the far right.

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