Admiral Horthy may be long gone, but just lately he appears to have become all the rage in modern Hungary. Newspapers sympathetic to the governing Fidesz party continually run glowing editorials about this ‘honourable’ man, along with statues and parks being awarded his name.
Despite their legacy as ‘The Alliance of Young Democrats’, some in the ageing and increasingly authoritarian Fidesz party have found a historical hero who was certainly no democrat. As the 1930s progressed, the electoral franchise was progressively choked off in Hungary, quietly ensuring a succession of increasingly nationalistic and right-wing governments. Areas where the social democrats were strongest were effectively deprived of the vote through bureaucratic manipulation and banning of trades union activity. Meanwhile, in rural areas, landlord control of the franchise was overt. The ‘good old days’ to which many Fidesz supporters refer to, were also the days when Roma were physically segregated into remote slums, invisible but for the occasional presence of the gendarmerie, who would brutally and violently ensure that the locals knew their position at the very base of society.