Hungarians haunted by history — especially in memory of the 1920 Treaty of Trianon. Stripped Hungary of two-thirds of its territory and half its population in the wake of the victorious allies of the first world war.
Over 100 years later, Trianon’s wounds remain untreated. It is almost a personal trauma for many people in Hungary: it remains unjust, cruel and a source of controversy about the rights of Romanians and Ukraine.
Yet analysts say that “Trianon Syndrome” is also useful for nationalist populists interested in portraying themselves as national protector. And few do better than Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party.
As the 100th anniversary of the Treaty comes next year, in Kossutt Square, is preparing for a big commemoration with a brand new monument.
In Central Europe, where the borders were often re-drawn over time and the entire communities had to pack their bags and relocate, such a sense of violence is unlimited.
Democracy observers in Hungary say that the left-wing and liberal parties have for a long time neglected the field of memory politics and left the nationalists to shape their narrative.
The Left believed that, while solving history and making the nation-state obsolete, the EU would solve all the problems of the country.
Most people regard the emergence of populism in Hungary and elsewhere in the region as a demonstration that the voter has a sense of belonging to the complex world.
In the 1990’s, the peaceful reunification and protection of the rights of the ethnic Hungarians were one of the main pillars of Hungarian foreign policy, shared from right to left across the political spectrum.
But the emphasis gradually shifted towards Europe to the left and the vicinity and a nation building project to the right.