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Faces from Facebook
13th november 2012 | Written by Gellért Rajcsányi

A real people's movement or just a virtual Facebook page? Leaders of the new opposition or just a bunch of political amateurs? The Milla movement is a new phenomenon on the Hungarian political scene, but some have doubts about what they and the Together 2014 coalition can really achieve in the coming years.

One Million for the Freedom of Press in Hungary: that’s the official name of the movement, though it’s better known by its nickname, “Milla.” Their name is already a target of irony among their opponents: the leaders of the movement envisioned one million people behind their banner even as it launched. After almost two years of existence, they have 101,000 followers on Facebook. This fact - and a number of others - are dilemmas that Milla, now involved in the new opposition movement Együtt 2014 (Together 2014), must solve if they are able.

 
A "negligent guy"

The real story of Milla did not begin in 2010. Rather, its roots are in the past of its founding father and front man, Péter Juhász. The 41-year-old activist lived a typical life of a Hungarian who came of age after the fall of communism in 1989. Juhász had a degree in communications, and in the ‘90s and the millennial years he launched a number of telemarketing and e-commerce startups. Most of these businesses have failed, some due to administrative and procedural shortcomings that led to their removal from the business-registration rolls. Mr Juhász himself once admitted to the news site Origo that he used to be a "negligent guy."

While Juhász somehow managed to stay in business, he had another life as well: he became the most famous advocate for the legalization of soft drugs in Hungary. As with most European countries, soft drugs are illegal in Hungary, only the nature of criminal punishment has been a subject of debate over the past two decades. Support for decriminalization of marijuana remained limited to a small number of activist groups, and Juhász, who faced a criminal case in 1996 when he tried to bring a small amount of marijuana from The Netherlands to Hungary and was caught at the border, figured among their leaders. The legal process dragged on for seven years, which he saw as an outrage, so he founded the Kendermag Egyesület (Hempseed Association) in 2002 to advocate for the legalization of marijuana. The group organized a number of protests and other initiatives for the cause, and, along the way, Juhász became one of the most prominent figures in Hungarian NGOs and underground, liberal networks. More recently, Juhász has organized anti-racist and other human rights protests.

It is not surprising then that at the end of 2010 a student contacted Juhász to help organize a protest against the new Hungarian media law. According to some critics, the law limited the freedom of the press in Hungary. The protest on Dec. 20, 2010 was a small gathering, but the next day, Juhász launched a Facebook group called Egymillióan a magyar sajtószabadságért. It became the core of and forum for the Milla movement. "I wanted to create a channel for communication" Mr Juhász told the Hungarian weekly Magyar Narancs.
 
Popularity and dead ends

Milla’s Facebook page quickly became popular among critics and opponents of the current conservative government in Hungary, which, despite its popularity and stable parliamentary majority, came under significant pressure at the beginning of 2011 when passage of the new law coincided with the country taking up its six-month turn at the presidency of the European Union. On January 14th, Milla organized a large protest in Budapest against the government, drawing tens of thousands of people, a scale that surprised even the organizers. Mass protests had long been the exclusive domain of the Hungarian center-right, and this was the first time that mostly urban liberals and left-wing supporters rallied against the government in such large numbers. Two months later, on the March 15th national holiday, Milla organized another big demonstration and yet another October 23, 2011. These events presented real opportunity for the hard-core opposition to make some noise, but the many speakers addressing the protests, while apparently enjoying their long-winded intellectual meditations, generally failed to draw up real goals for the movement. Recently, for the October 23rd holiday, they announced events outside of Budapest, but there was no real interest. Ultimately, their only demonstration was in Gyula and saw very limited turnout. Since then they haven't tried to organize anything outside the capital.
 
A real leader was missing – and, some would say, still is. Milla tried to hold the people's and the media's attention with actions that proved more divisive than inspiring. For the October 23 protest, a song called "Nem Tetszik a Rendszer" (or, “I Don't Like the System”) was released. The song features all the classic clichés and banal laments of young, urban liberals like "I don't like that I feel crappy in my own country", "I don't like that the poor have to pay for everything", "I don't like that my friends and relatives will soon emigrate", and so on. In early 2012, Milla organized an "alternative presidential campaign" in which different personalities in and around the young opposition movement competed for the "presidency" of the Republic of Hungary.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, perhaps, but the campaign devolved into
something of a fiasco. One of the two finalists was Dopeman, a so-called gangsta
rapper and harsh critic of Hungary’s conservative government. The other finalist was a rather ambiguous radical, left-wing philosopher. When it became clear that the other candidate would emerge the winner, the organizers came up with some new rules to prevent it, marring the credibility of the election and prompting charges of fraud as Dopeman ultimately became the "alternative president".
 
Then there's the figure of Dopeman himself and his, well, artistic work. Here is a
sample from his "A strici visszatér" (The Pimp returns) album: "When I see a good p****, I lose my mind and I have to get it / It's OK if I get it for free but no problem if I have to pay for it." Or, "I am not the dream of the family guys, after the daughter her mother is next / You think it's disgusting if we f*** an underage? But if she bleeds then she can f*** too". How a musician known for foul-mouthed, sexist lyrics like these could be the face of a movement that purports to stand for tolerance, human rights and dignity is something of a wonder.

But that wasn’t all. Milla’s most baffling action was a protest against a controversial documentary film about the conflicts between Roma and non-Roma people in Hungary. The film depicts some of these conflicts in ways that the liberal mainstream did not appreciate. The documentary was broadcast on public media but was pulled down after Milla’s protest. The organization, which again purports to stand for freedom of the media, applauded with delight public media’s decision to pull the film. They stated that they hope that such documentaries will not be screened in the media in the future. "Milla has no problem with censorship, only when it is not them who compile the list of media that should be censored” wrote Mandiner’s own deputy editor-in-chief, Ákos Balogh, earlier this year.

These anecdotes illustrate how Milla has struggled to find effective ways to get their message across – or, whether they really have a message at all. The lack of a genuine leader, the immaturity of the organization, and its lack of strategy have all weakened the movement, which could have otherwise spent the last two years growing and gaining momentum.
 
Where is the new coalition?

Milla has tried to cultivate an image of itself as a new opposition movement, not associated with the old and decayed left-liberal parties of the past. But it also lacks common ground with other new opposition forces, except perhaps the common cause to defeat Hungary’s conservative government. The green-liberal LMP, the Szolidaritás trade-union movement, the small but vocal 4K! (Fourth Republic Movement) and the other smaller groups in opposition are still feeling out their positions. And then there is the grand old Socialist Party (MSZP) as well as the small party of the discredited former Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, the Democratic Coalition (DK). Milla has emerged as but one of these - although one of the more influential – opposition players in a difficult and complicated game. And its future alignments and political allegiances remain unclear.

As recently as August, some strategists of the new opposition were forecasting a new coalition forming in Hungarian politics around LMP, Milla, Szolidaritás and 4K! However, only a few weeks later, Milla and Szolidaritás joined forces with former Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai under the name of Együtt 2014 (Together 2014). They envisioned him as the leader of a new opposition (excluding the radical right wing) aligning against the governing Fidesz. Bajnai, Milla's Juhász and the leader of Szolidaritás were the stars of this year’s October 23 opposition protest. Recent public opinion polls showed Together 2014 taking second place behind Fidesz in party preference questions. The results received broad media coverage, but the survey methodology raised some questions.
 
In a further twist, just days before October 23, Juhász announced that "finally, we turned from a Facebook group into an NGO." The stated goal of Milla's official organization is the "reconstruction of the democratic framework and rule of law as well as the strengthening of civic awareness." Juhász stated that it is not enough today to maintain a forum. One has to agitate and actively participate in politics. According to the news site Index, he also declared that he finds this project so important that in recent months he has stopped smoking marijuana.

Time will tell what Juhász is capable of without the aid of recreational drugs. Tens of thousands have participated in Milla’s protests. A hundred thousand people follow it on Facebook. But will there be a time when Milla, as a movement, really reaches one million supporters? It takes millions of voters to win an election in Hungary. Immature, amorphous movements and organizations headed by "negligent guys," pushed and pulled by slick political operators and enthusiastic, idealist newcomers can take stunning turns in politics. Milla as an organization may have become reality, but for the most part it is still only virtual.
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Yes, the most important fact is that Juhász is/was a smoker... :/

Whats next? He is a servant of the Dark Gods 'cos he choosed to smoke weed instead of drinking spirits?


Not was, he still a legalization activist, he just claimed that he stop smoking marijuana, because the importance of the oncoming task of his life.

Can you show me any other public figures or politican, who gave up using drugs, including alcohol or any other dangerous psychotropic materials because of the same reason?

No? That speaks volumes, and shows your and the right-wing collaborators hypocritical attitude, just like this article (http://hvg.hu/itthon/20110712_..) as well.

Válaszok:
CyB | 2012. november 26. 00:56

and this, without any comment...

http://www.palinkanemzetitanac..

The National Council of Pálinka


I dont think so, maybe if the E2104 gather enough support from the voters, he will bring the legalization/decriminalization interests into the Parliament, and if this happen, hopefully there can be begin a public talks about that problem without your prejudices.

And dont forget, the money in the sober and frankly drug policy is much more than you can imagine.

That 'shit' could be help out our country economy, in many way.


hat just a wishful thinking nothing more. Decriminalization or legalization is not about the consumption or the junkies, that's just your prejudices and religious arrogance. Its about efficiency and wasted money on an unreachable goal. Many citizen wouldn't want to finance your pointless and useless war on drugs, wich is ruined many young life, families, careers, existences, and collapsed entire countries economies (Mexico for example). There are many other way that can really lower the consumption or the risk in psychotropic materials, one of them is the state controled trade, instead crime-rings owned untransparent black markets, that you, and the right-wing prefer.

That's why we need public discussions, because your unfounded dogmas and propaganda just waste our money, and cause heavy damage in the society

"Anybody who tries to push soft drug legalization is bound to lose votes overall and to get marginalized."

You know nothing about the patterns of "soft" drug using in Hungary.


Im just talking about interests and public discussions, wich could lead to decrim. or legalization, and im just claimed, that Juhász may be bring it into the House, against your (yes, religious, because your kind _belive_ that the prohibition is working, it doesnt matter that you cannot prove this "fact", or how ineffective, harmful and how much cost of this) arrogant, unfounded, dogmatic and hypocritical attitude.

It maybe happen, maybe not. That was you who claimed "wishfully", its never gonna happen.


Yeah, of course, everybody is a commie or liberal, who are not with you, or your traitorus party ;)


Just another wish from a right-wing treasonous traitor.

That "discussion" terminates here.


Im almost forgot this: http://atlatszo.hu/2012/11/27/..

Gellért, do not you think that you should write an article about this as well? The title could be the similar: A real people's movement with real peoples or just a government funded organization? :)


Since you are unable to say any single argument why you wasting our money, of course there hasn't been any discussion.

Im 28 years old. I cannot be a postcommie, Mr. collaborator :)


Just as you. Everyone who born before 1990 literally is a postcommie, it's a very cheap marker, and its didnt excuse you for betraying this nation. You are wasting a lot of money without any justified reason, just because your unfounded and arrogant beliefs. Thats the situation is.



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