The Leftist Island Festival was held at Horány, about 25 kms North of Budapest on the Danube riverside, from 4th till 6th September 2020 at Regatta Leisure Center with about 100 participants. The 3-day event was co-organized by European Left-Workers Party 2006, Organizers for the Left (SZAB), Hungarian Roma Parliament (MAPEI) and ATTAC Hungary. The following themes with well known Hungarian academicians, politicians and CSO activists as well as foreign speakers via online (ZOOM) were in the focus:

On Friday 4th September:

1.) Trianon (Paris Peace Treaty after WWI) from a leftist point of view

a.) Negotiation strategy. Hungary in the Palace of Trianon.

b.) What do we have to do with Trianon?

c.) Elections before and after Trianon

d.) What is taught in 2020 about the Trianon Treaty for the future?

e.) Horthy system, Kádár system, and what is it today?

f.) Neo-weimar: PM Viktor Orbán`s power engineering

g.) Dynamic power. Cultural production and politics in Hungary after 2010. Is there a chance for a culture of solidarity?

h.) In memoriam Manolis Glezos, Greek Resistence Fighter and Attila Csernok, ex President of the Hungarian National Bank

i.) Collaboration of Civil Society Movements of Central and Eastern Europe via ZOOM with members of Prague Spring Two Network

On Saturday 5th September:

2.) Climate change, poverty and coronavirus

a.) Interrelations among pandemic, poverty and the world of work

b.) Is our pension in danger?

c.) Does the coronavirus help or worsen our chances of survival?

d.) Green New Deal for Europe (New Green Turn in Europe) with Yanis Varoufakis and Violeta Tomic, Slovenian MP

e.) Interrelations of discrimination, exclusion, climate change and pandemic

f.) Being poor and Roma in Hungary

g.) World economic crisis, social consequences, far right tendencies

h.) Economic and social crises and rebuild

i.) Dialogue with the representatives of the Hungarian progressive organizations

On Sunday 6th September:

3.) The Far right only brought trouble to Europe

ª) Situation report – with Maite Mola, Vice-Prresident of PEL via ZOOM

b.) The role of the far right in the history of the last hundred years

c.) Prison for politics with read out of Algirdas Paleckis`s letter and via Zoom by Alexander Oparin

Besides the above mentioned political debates high quality exhibitions were opened, e.g. exhibition of Roma painters -culture exiled to underground, political cartoons, photo and bycicle exhibitions.

In the cultural programs participants could enjoy film projections, theater performance, Choir of Working Class Heritage.

The goals of this year`s festival we hoped for were met only partially. Our main goal was and still is to organize the Hungarian progressive civil organizations and parties to cooperate. Among the particpants very few of the progressive Hungarian opposition parties` showed up at the Festival, like the now falling apart Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) and the green Dialogue (Parbeszed), the new Party (YES Solidarity- ISZOMM). The number of cooperating civil organizations has not been or just slightly expanded. It is a very positive development that our invitation extended to the Hungarian Roma Parliament was gladly accepted.

The biggest problem was that the Organizers for the Left (SZAB), as well as the above named parties, maily the European Left -Workers Party 2006 are not attractive to the majority of young people in Hungary not just because of our aging community. It is more likely that our ideological background and nostalgy for the Kadar era does not meet their interest either. Young people`s resistance against Capitalism in Hungary is very poor, protests and demonstrations remain in the frame of anti-neoliberalism, or anti-Orban slogans.

Due to COVID-19 the participation in the Festival was less than what we expected. Some of the programs of this year`s Festival was only possible via Zoom, which hardly worked. Regretfully, simultaneous interpretation and the ZOOM technology attached to it often failed.

Despite all difficulties the 3-day Leftist Isdland Festival was a success, however the event remained unechoed in the Hungarian wider public and the official media did not cover it at all. We have recorded all the event and it will be put on Youtube soon.

Budapest, 1st October 2020.

Matyas Benyik

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