Novice MP Out to ‘Destroy Prejudice’ in Hungary
Hungary’s politics may have swung sharply to the right and in favor of anti-immigration policies, but one of its new young MPs intends to swim against that intolerant tide.
That is hardly surprising as Olivio Kocsis-Cake, of the opposition Parbeszed (Dialogue) party, is black and the son of a Cold War immigrant from Africa. He was sworn in as an MP for a seat vacated by a colleague who stepped down.
Kocsis-Cake has ruffled feathers in Hungary, where anti-migrant rhetoric has been stoked by the governing Fidesz party, a supine national media and various far-right groups.
He told news website Index.hu he had experienced problems of his own because of his ethnicity: “In the 1990s I was physically in danger a number of times when confronted by skinheads on the street. But now this is very unusual. Mostly I just get suspicious looks.”
Parbeszed won five seats in the 2018 election and its MPs sit in alliance with the Socialist Party forming an opposition bloc of just 20 seats. Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party secured a majority of 133 seats with ultra-nationalist Jobbik Party in second with 26.
Orban has set about stopping non-EU migrants from settling in Hungary, claiming that racial diversity threatens the ethnic and cultural history of Hungary.
News legislation going through Parliament will make it a criminal offence for NGOs to give assistance to asylum seekers – the so-called ‘Stop Soros’ laws in reference to Hungarian billionaire George Soros.
Last month Mr Orban said his priority was to “preserve Hungary’s security and Christian culture”.
Hungary rejects an EU scheme for resettling refugees EU-wide and has built a huge fence on its southern border to keep migrants out.
Mr Kocsis-Cake said: “Fidesz always finds an enemy of the day who must be hated. Brussels, Soros, refugees, the homeless, or the Roma (Gypsies).
“Fidesz has been pursuing a hate campaign in recent years. I want to destroy the prejudices and stereotypes that Fidesz has planted in Hungarian society about immigrants,” he added.
“That we have to fear immigrants; that they cannot integrate – these are obviously ridiculous notions. I am living proof that you do not have to be afraid of someone else’s skin colour.”
Kocsis-Cake was born in 1980 to a Hungarian mother and a Guinea-Bissau father who arrived in Communist Hungary via Senegal aged 18 in 1976.
His father graduated from the Karl Marx Economics University and found work as a Budapest tram-driver, whereas Olivio grew up in post-communist Hungary, graduating in history and sociology from Péter Pázmány Catholic University.
He was a founding member of Parbeszed and was a campaign leader and a party director for four years.
Kocsis-Cake says he has been warned that Fidesz are targeting him because of a link with their arch-opponent Mr Soros. “This reaction was to be expected,” he said. “Anyone who does not agree with their politics is immediately called a Soros agent.
“I did participate in a sponsorship program, in which we researched education programs for the Soros Foundation. Opposition politicians are criticised for everything, in my case this will include the colour of my skin. I have become used to it.”
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