Kossuth tér outside Parliament has moved closer to the pre-1944 state envisaged for it by conservative governing party Fidesz following Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s inauguration of a statue of former prime minister István Tisza (1903-1905 and 1913-1917).
Orbán said in his speech that he and Fidesz have had enough of the square being a “parking place closed off with mobile fences”. The removal of one statue (of former leftist prime minister Count Mihály Károlyi [1875-1955]) symbolises the end of a historical period, while the installation of Tisza (1861-1918) means that a new historical era has begun, he said.
Orbán said that in the past four years his government had managed to regain respect for Hungary. So today it had meaning again to speak about “Hungarian future”. He said some “self-proclaimed democrats” in his government had read the Levites when they picked up and raised their sticks against the “bureaucrats in Brussels” again.
The prime minister borrowed some words of Tisza, who told critics: “We stand on a national base.” Addressing the leftist parties, Orbán spoke of “Europeanism with a nebulous content”.
Minister of Human Resources Zoltán Balog, Interior Minister Sándor Pintér and president of the Parliament László Kövér also represented the government at the inauguration. The opposition was represented by representatives of radical-right party Jobbik and green party LMP.
István Szávay, of Jobbik, expressed his hope that the public acceptance of Tisza’s historical role would result in a revaluation because still today many people see him as a warmonger (Tisza played an important role in the so-called July crisis that led to the outbreak of the First World War), even though he managed to avoid the war for a long time.
István Ikotity, of LMP, described Tisza as a “national liberal” statesman who deserved the appreciation.
Neither the opposition Socialists (MSZP) nor Democratic Coalition (DK) participated in the celebration. The MSZP said Tisza had not liked progressives and did not incorporate unity of the nation, therefore he should not be on Kossuth tér. DK said Tisza followed a policy that was “anti-democratic, aggressive and discriminative on poor people”.
Opposition party Together-PM said Tisza did not deserve the honour. There should be a statue of him side by side with one of Mihály Károlyi, not in its place.