REPORT on the 1st Hungarian Pan-Leftist Festival


Venue: Budapest, 14th district, 56-osok tere, Municipal Park

The Festival was organised by Transform Network, financed by the European Left Party.

Hungarian co-organisers: ATTAC Hungary, Hungarian Workers Party 2006, Le Monde Diplomatique Hungarian – (Magyar Diplo), Green Left Party,

Participants: about 25 organisations and one thousand people as visitors

Main organisations/Parties (Leading figures in the debates): Hungarian Socialist Party (Tibor Szanyi, Gyula Hegyi), Hungarian Workers Party 2006 (Attila Vajnai, Ferenc Havranek, Peter Buzasi, Tamas Morva), Dialogue for Hungary (Gabor Scheiring), Green Left Party (Krisztina Noé, György Droppa), Fourth Republic- 4K! (Andras Istvanffy),Transform Hungary (Peter Szekely), Le Monde Diplo (Judit Morva), Unconditional Basic Income (Farkas Hatlabu), Hungarian Antifascist Organisations ( Krisztina Noe, Tibor Ballo, Tamas Hirschler, Zina Mihajlova), Feminists (Erika Banki, Reka Szatmari, Peter Konok), Latin-American Society ( Laszlo Kupi, Ivan Harsanyi), Civil Movement (Kata Toth), Hungarian United Left Movement (Gyula Meszaros, Gabor Szasz), Karl Marx Society (Peter Farkas, Csaba Balta), HSF Foundation (Vera Zalka).

Alltogether 12 big tents were erected on a territory of about 100 x50 meters. There was a central podium with amplifiers and microphones, where three panel discussions were held consecutively, namely:

1.) Future of the European Union – How to transform the EU into a social one? Panelists: Peter Szigeti, Gyula Hegyi, Gabor Scheiring, Ferenc Istvanffy, Judith Morva (facilitator). They agreed that the EU should expand significantly its social budget to tackle unemployment and to ease social problems. This can take away the edge of nationalist propaganda in Hungary.

Peter Szigeti stressed that we can create a more social Hungary in a more social Europe, as the world is heading towards large integrations.It is not possible to return to the welfare state in the nation-state framework at European Union level. There is a need for competition of bourgeois democracy and democratic socialism – he added.

Andras Istvánffy said that Orban’s freedom fighters rhetoric is „fake”, but Orban is playing with the people’s disillusionment about the European Union. Liberal position on the unritical support of the EU does not mean its antidote – he added.

According to Gabor Schering the only way out of the economic crisis is an international cooperation, and creating meaningful social and environmental programs and doing so the air will run out of „FIDESZ’ narrow-minded nationalist policies”.

2.) Social situation in Hungary – What is the real situation and what are the ways out of this situation? Panelists: Istvanne Szöllősi, Marta Lang, Kata Toth, Tamas Totyik (facilitator)

3.) Neofascism, racism, populism in abroad and in Hungary – The catastrophic social situation has brought up the rise of neofascist, neo-horthyst and racist political groups and movements. Panelists: Krisztina Noe, Tamas Hirschler, Tibor Ballo, Attila Jakab

Attila Vajnai, the leader in Hungarian Workers Party 2006 said to the Hungarian News Agency (MTI) that the slogan for the European Left was to make Europe become more social. It is important that the European Left should appear in Hungary, because the crisis phenomena experienced in Hungary, the decreasing value of pensions, the problem of foreign currency loans, the increasing child famine are not specific (only) to Hungary.

The social crisis appeared almost in all of Europe. For this reason the aim of the European Left is to find solutions applicable to the continent as a whole. Consequently, a significant part of the European funds is to be paid to prevent massive crowds from slipping into poverty – said Attila Vajnai.

Smaller group discussions were organized before and after the big panel debates, like e.g.:

in Hungarian Socialist Party’s tent:
a.) The situation of the Hungarian Youth
b.) Alliance of the Young Hungarian Trade Unionists
c.) The Youth and the Left

In the Feminists’ Tent:
a.) Feminist canon in the 21st century
b.) Invisible oppression
c.) Women in the class struggle
d.) Women’s fates

In the Bookstore Tent:
a.) Attila Csernok: History lessons
b.) Gyula Hegyi: The end of the road: Timbouktou
c.) György Ivanfy Jaksity: In the captivity of illusions
d.) Peter Farkas: From the tax havens till the green movements (Critical encyclopedia about world economy and globalization).

In the Civil Society Organisations Tent:
a.) 90 degree turn (into socialism) – Program of the Hungarian United Left
b.) Civil politics, self-organisation, social resistence (Left Alternative)
c.) Social Watch Reports – ATTAC Hungary

In the European Children’s Tent:
a.) Drawing and hand made sculptures competition
b.) Poems and tales
c.) Games

Brief evaluation of the Festival:

Taking into consideration that this type of Pan-Leftist Festival was the first one organized after the systemic change I do think that this event was a success. It has proved to the participants and also to the wider Hungarian public that building a broad alliance of progressive democratic forces, the right-wing Orban goverment can be replaced maybe in 2014, but surely in 2018.

Links and articles:‘nemzeti-focialista’-kormany-megdontesehez

Budapest, 12th September 2013.

Matyas Benyik,
One of the organizers of the Pan-Leftist Festival

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