Hungary's crackdown on the left

By Gyula Thurmer

March 27, 2013 -- Morning Star -- Hungary is in crisis. Almost 500,000 people are officially registered as unemployed -- just over 11 per cent of the workforce. About the same number of young people are working in other EU countries, notably Britain, Austria and Germany, because they could not find a job at home. Even so, the rate of youth unemployment (under the age of 25) in Hungary stands at more than 28 per cent.

The Fidesz (Civic Union) government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban is well aware of these facts, while proclaiming the "Hungarian miracle". The reality is that many ordinary people are worse off than they have ever been.

The real winners under this capitalist government are those who earn more than 900,000 forints (£2500) net a month. The rest are on or below the average net salary of 157,000 forints (£434), which is absolutely nothing considering that prices in Budapest are similar to those in Vienna.

The pro-capitalist forces in Hungary know very well that only the Hungarian Communist Workers Party (HCWP) proposes a real alternative to mass unemployment, poverty and the colonial occupation of Hungary by multinational companies.

The parliamentary opposition parties, including the Socialist Party and the right-wing extremist Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary) do not propose any real alternative. Their aim is to change one capitalist government for another.

More and more people are waking up and realising that it is not only capitalist governments that are to blame for their plight. It's the capitalist system in general that isn't working -- at least for them.

They also appreciate that Hungary's communists are on the side of the workers. The HCWP has accumulated considerable moral capital in our society.

That is why the Hungarian government has launched a new and very serious attack on the party. On November 19, 2012, parliament in Budapest adopted a new statute banning the public use of names connected with the "authoritarian regimes of the 20th century".

The law came into force on January 1, 2013. According to Hungary's constitution and current government policy, "authoritarian regimes" mean the fascist dictatorship headed by Ferenc Szalasi, which existed from October 1944 until April 1945, and all the governments of socialist construction between 1948 and 1990. Not, you'll note, the Miklos Horthy dictatorship of 1919 to 1944.

Accordingly, no political party, company, organ of the mass media, street, square or public place can include the "name of persons who played a leading role in founding, developing or maintaining the authoritarian political regimes of the 20th century, or words and expressions or names of organisations which can be directly related to the authoritarian political regimes of the 20th century".

This means that 43 Lenin streets, 36 Karl Marx streets and six Red Star streets will have to be renamed.

So, too, will 44 Liberation streets -- named originally to celebrate the liberation of Hungary from Hitlerite fascism -- and the 53 Endre Sagvari streets named in honour of Hungary's most famous anti-fascist martyr, killed in 1944 by the fascist police. His name shall not be spoken.

All the People's Army, People's Front and People's Republic streets have to go. Budapest's well-known Moscow Square has recently been renamed.

In effect, the public use of such words and categories as "communist", "socialist", "liberation" and many others has been made illegal.

Organisations registered before the law came into force have until January 1, 2014, to call themselves something else.

Therefore, the Hungarian Communist Workers Party will be forced to hold an extraordinary congress on May 11, 2013, to change the name of our party.

We want to continue our fight against capitalism openly, rather than be forced into illegality. The HCWP central committee is therefore recommending that the congress modifies the party's name in order to register as the Hungarian Workers Party.

Although our name will change, our principles will not. We remain a Marxist-Leninist communist party fighting against capitalism.

[Gyula Thurmer is president of the Hungarian Communist Workers Party ( Individuals and organisations can email messages of solidarity to the HCWP congress to Letters of protest should be sent to the ambassador, Hungarian embassy, 35 Eaton Place, London SW1X 8BY, or emailed to]