Encouraging immigration plays a key role in the ideology of an open society, to which domestic left-liberal political forces seek to align in several respects.
What do Péter Márki-Zay and Ferenc Gyurcsány think about migration?
Since the beginning of the migration crisis in Europe, the summer of 2015, the phenomenon of illegal migration has occupied a prominent place in public discourse. The issue was raised again as a leading topic due to the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan in 2021. The position of the Hungarian government regarding immigration is well known. However, as the election approaches, the position of Péter Márki-Zay in this issue, who previously identified himself as a Christian, “conservative” politician but will be a candidate for prime minister of the left-wing parties, is also important.
The left has been long committed to the idea of an open society
In September 2015, George Soros American businessman wrote in an article published on the website of Project Syndicate that the European Union must be prepared for admitting at least one million migrants yearly in the near future
and the burden must be shared “fairly” between Member States. According to Soros, the European Union should support immigrants with EUR 15,000 per person for the first two years and provide them with safe routes. The possible practical consequences of pro-immigration politicians, who favour the vision of an open society, coming to power are illustrated by Joe Biden’s presidency and the migration crisis unfolding at the southern borders of the United State. Biden, among other things, overruled Donald Trump’s “Stay in Mexico” measure (which required migrants to wait in Mexico until their application was processed), stopped building the border wall, and decided not to send unaccompanied immigrant minors back from the border. In addition, Joe Biden raised the entry ceiling of migrants from 15,000 to 62,500 in May 2021, and then announced to further raise the ceiling to 125,000 in September.
The Hungarian government’s response to the migration challenges was to strengthen border protection as a “flexible solidarity” proposed by the V4 countries, to establish a physical and legal barrier and reject the Brussels quota plan called the “European solution”, which aims at the mandatory distribution of migrants. In contrast,
in the spirit of the vision of an open society, following the example of international progressive politics, domestic left-wing parties have taken a pro-immigration stance
and sharply criticised the measures taken by the national government.
Márki-Zay and Gyurcsány emphasize the admission and integration of immigrants instead of limiting migration
Ferenc Gyurcsány, leader of Demokratikus Koalíció, has been considered the domestic advocate of pro-immigration voices for years. The former prime minister called the border fences, which played a significant role in curbing mass migration, “inhuman” and “also symbolically unacceptable” in 2015, and later called on the government to “open the borders, let them come”, because “once the crowd starts to move, there is no law that stops them”. It is also noteworthy that the Gyurcsány party started collecting signatures in September 2015 in support of Brussels’ quota system.
The mayor of Hódemzővásárhely, Péter Márki-Zay’s view on migration is intrinsic to the concept of the progressive left that fights for the realisation of an open society.
Although, just like the cautious political position currently prevailing in Brussels, in his speech on 23 October, he said that “the fence would remain”, his vision of immigration is in line with the multicultural vision of an ‘inclusive Europe’. It should be remembered that the political elite in Brussels is no longer openly demanding to dismantle the border fences, given that this move would provoke serious opposition from the population. Although the position and goals of Brussels and the left-wing parties have not changed on the issue of illegal migration, for strategic reasons, they are trying to take it off the public debate agenda. A sign of this is that Gergely Karácsony told the German Die Zeit: “It is our moral obligation and part of our program to guarantee the asylum seekers’ human rights, but we will not print it on our election posters.”
Regarding immigration, Márki-Zay explained in 2018 that “It is important for us to have an inclusive, loving society where these people become Hungarian in a generation or two at the latest”. In addition, Péter Márki-Zay stated in the book written about the mayor of Hódmezővésérhely by Olga Kálmán from DK that “The most important issue is not immigration itself but integration” and that “Overall, large-scale, simultaneous immigration has had a positive effect on the economic development of a given area”.
Márki-Zay has said in several statements that he considers the example of Canada, a multi-ethnic, multicultural immigrant state, to be followed in terms of migration policy.
The left-wing candidate for prime minister believes that Canada is “much better at integrating”, “immigrants there can be integrated in a moment or two”, and that “a society like Canada based on love and acceptance is needed in Hungary as well, to make society much more inclusive in a generation at the latest and children born of mixed marriages become patriots”.
Thus, the mayor of Hódmezővásárhely has classic left-wing, progressive views on the issue of immigration, which are in harmony with George Soros’ concept of an open society and fit well into the policy of the left-wing coalition led by Ferenc Gyurcsány.