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Antisemitism in an Era of Transition

Continuities and Impact in Post-Communist Poland and Hungary

François Guesnet and Gwen Jones

The post-Communist transition in Eastern Central Europe has brought about democratic reform, liberalized economies and accession to the European Union, but also the emergence of political movements that revert to antisemitic rhetoric and arguments. This volume compares the genealogies and impact of antisemitism in contemporary Poland and Hungary. Leading and emerging scholars contrast developments in both countries from the last quarter of the nineteenth century to the present, analysing the roles played by organised religion, political leaders, media and press, but also by Communist Parties. They present historical analysis as well as the results of qualitative and quantitative research on contemporary public memory, the image of the Jew, antisemitic media, political constituencies and the interplay of prejudices, specifically anti-Roma racism. A topical bibliography of research on antisemitism in post-Communist Eastern Central Europe offers pathways to further research.
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The indicators of Hungarian national populism: What does antisemitism show?: Pál Tamás


Pál Tamás

This essay aims to discuss forms of national populism in contemporary Hungary, to locate antisemitism and ideas about ‘the Jews’ within this spectrum of political and historical ideas, and to present the findings of our qualitative research undertaken at the Institute of Sociology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences into the dynamics of radicalization in Hungary. We also offer a number of perspectives on the data gathered, including the complex relationships between mainstream and radical populism in Hungary, and finally a conclusion that brings together the main insights gleaned from our research.

In Hungary after 1989, the phobias, repressed feelings and fears of pre-1945 social groups were revived in the public sphere.1 It was only in the second half of the 2000s however, when support for the post-1989 system fell dramatically, that more modern and radical variants of national populism broke through, almost without any serious political rivals. Although Hungary was not the first post-Communist country where such movements have been able to form governments—here, Poland was the pioneer—in comparison to all other transitional countries, Hungarian populist parties enjoy much broader levels of support from more diverse groups of voters. It appears that notwithstanding possible reorganisations between these parties, this state of affairs will continue for the next few years.2 While antisemitism is undoubtedly present in sections of Hungarian society, and used by both mainstream and radical national populists, it is our contention that antisemitism does not have a crucial...

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