Les nouvelles relations magyaro-roumaines. Quelles conséquences politiques en Roumanie? Retours historiques, situation actuelle, perspectives

Jean-Michel Lemonnier

This paper focuses on the issue of the legitimacy of the Hungarian ethnic group in Transylvanian space, summarizing the partisan arguments of various historians. It discusses recent political events in Hungary since 2010, with Viktor Orbán’s return to power, exploring how the ruling political party, FIDESZ, occasionally reactivates discussion on the theme of Greater Hungary and various irredentist issues. Speeches from various Romanian political parties are also analysed, including the Romanian government’s official line in response to provocative statements by the Hungarian government and other political groups, such as the far-right nationalist party Jobbik, on the status of the Hungarian minority in Romania. These verbal interventions signal the reactivation within the public debate of pan-Romanianist concepts associated with Corneliu Zedea Codreanu’s Legion of the Archangel Michael (Iron Guard), the military junta of Ion Antonescu, and Nicolae Ceauşescu’s national communism. While Viktor Orbán seems to limit himself to verbal provocations and symbolical measures, some Romanian and Hungarian nationalists are reconnecting with the ethno-nationalist ideologies of the inter-war years, rejecting cosmopolitanism, internationalism and supranational bodies, finding a new audience among citizens hostile to the rulers of the post-communist era. The role of the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (HDUR), playing a double political partition in Romania, is also examined. This multifaceted nationalist resurgence, which can even be seen in moderate Romanian political organizations, is symmetrical to the discursive orientations of certain Hungarian political parties outside Romania and, to a lesser extent, within the country (HDUR party). We hypothesize that Viktor Orbán’s return to power and the political tropism toward nationalist themes is indirectly causing a reconfiguration of the Romanian political spectrum. The ideological lines of battle in this mutation-evolution are dominated by a broad anti-Liberal Front movement, which may presage the end of the post-communist era and, indeed, the gradual marginalization of communist dissidents who converted to social liberalism. In other words, the positions of certain Hungarian politicians regarding Hungarian minorities in Romania could herald, in response, the marginalization of the ruling Romanian political class, bringing medium to long-term benefits in terms of new poles of political perspective and a new political system.

Central and Eastern Europe, Romanian political parties, Hungarians in Transylvania, Siculian regionalism, Viktor Orbán.