Momentum, one of the newest parties of Hungarian politics, first came to prominence through its 2017 campaign to prevent Hungary from hosting the 2024 Olympic Games. Since then the party has grown exponentially. Although they still do not hold any seats in the Hungarian National Assembly, they were able to gain two seats in the European Parliament at the 2019 elections after winning the third most votes. Later that year, they won several mayoral seats (including that of Budapest) in the municipal elections as members of a larger coalition with the other opposition parties. They have built their platform around the young, and successfully misrepresenting themselves as a “centrist party” to pick up disillusioned centre right voters.
Polls solidly show those aged between 18 and 29 are the most likely to vote for Momentum. This is partially due to the party’s focus on topics that are relevant to university students (education, European identity, freedom or diversity) and also to presenting a young “European” alternative to the Fidesz establishment. The fact that the party’s leadership consists of people who are “fresh faces” on the political scene also allows them to avoid attacks aimed at the pre-2010 socialist government.
The party has been incredibly careful not to refer to themselves as left-wing or liberal as most Hungarians still associate the label with socialism. Instead they seek to create a platform which implies that “technically you don’t have to be on the political Left in order to support us, we welcome even right-wing voters”.
However, at the very least the idea that Momentum is a centrist party is a blatant distortion of reality.
Let us start with the fact that Momentum’s EP representatives sit in a party called Renew Europe, which belongs to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe which is a liberal (as the name suggests) transnational political alliance. ALDE is a group that stands for the decriminalisation of soft drugs, supports abortion within the so called “she decides project”, supports the Istanbul convention (along with its redefined meaning of gender), and views migration as a human right.
Another example of the party’s liberalism is the LGBTQ+ campaign they have been engaging in. The party’s politicians have repeatedly stated that the current government’s traditional view on marriage is outdated and exclusionary.
This summer, Anna Donáth, one of the party’s EP representatives made an all rainbow Facebook post in which she wrote that since the Hungarian government insists on denying LGBTQ individuals equal rights (potentially referring to the fact that the Hungarian constitution correctly posits that marriage is between a man and a woman) and their identity, it is more important than ever to stand up for the Pride movement.
What was most shocking and appalling however was a recent article Momentum put out on its website about the need to introduce LGBTQ lessons into children’s books. The article starts out by asking “didn’t you ever find it strange that in tales it is always the prince saving the princess and there are no princes saving other princes? Or princesses saving other princesses?” (To be honest, no.) The article’s writer takes issue with so-called heteronormative thinking and believes that children should hear stories with LGBTQ+ people in it because it will not affect them in any negative way. The article makes the case that without sensitisation (which they claim is not the same as indoctrination) in kindergarten age children’s books, they will not be able to grow up and become tolerant and loving adults.
The party’s leftism can also be observed in how they approach the issue of gender. In 2018 a reporter asked Anna Donáth whether a man, if he believes he is a woman on the inside, can lay claim to be included in a female quota. To which the MEP responded “I believe so, but it will require many legal changes [in Hungary] (…) if this person feels and identifies as a women, why couldn’t this person apply for a female quota? “She” is a woman.”
It is worth mentioning Momentum’s support for abortion. Last year Katalin Cseh, Momentum’s other EP representative, asked people to help her raise money for Planned Parenthood on her Facebook page. For those unfamiliar with Planned Parenthood, it is one of the world’s leading abortion providers, performing about 300,000 abortions each year in the United States.
Overall, Momentum is nothing short of a mainstream left-wing party that shares some of the most liberal views regarding marriage, gender and society. To pretend otherwise would be naïve and short sighted. They believe in the “love is love” approach to marriage, they believe gender is a social construct not simple biology, and they claim abortion is a right.
There is a real danger in their ability to mask their leftism behind labels such as “centrist” and “religious”, as Anna Donáth routinely does, reminding people that her father is a pastor. Which is true, but he was also a representative of the Hungarian Socialist Party. This disguise can deceive voters.
Momentum needs to be shown for what it is: a radical leftist group. Conservatives need to make this obvious to the Hungarian public in the coming years.