Móres, avagy Bethlen István megpiricskeltetése

September 2013
Multunk;2013, Issue 3, p168
Academic Journal
The study describes the antecedents and the aftermath of an insult, which was directed at Prime Minister István Bethlen in June 1926 when he was representing Hungary in front of the Council of The League of Nations regarding the relaxation of the financial control of the budget. The attack was carried out "in the name of the Hungarian people" by one of the activists of the Hungarian Octobrist emigration in Paris, who wanted to use this slap as a protest against the "oppressive" and "corrupt" policy of the Bethlen administration. The incident sparked a great interest; the reactions of the foreign press, the Hungarian press and political scene were mostly sympathetic to Bethlen, with the Hungarian parties unanimously condemning the attack. The Hungarian government started a criminal procedure against the attacker, even though they risked allowing the defence in the trial to voice the critical ideas of the political powers supporting the attacker, which were very critical of the Bethlen administration, in front of a large audience. The trial was embarrassing for The League of Nations as well, since it had to abstain from voicing an opinion regarding the home affairs of its member states, and in this case, the internal affairs of the Bethlen administration, but it could not remain neutral in the case of an attack against a delegate of The League. Due to the delicate political overtones of the affair, representatives of the Hungarian and Swiss governments as well as those of The League of Nations were present in the preparations of the trial. During the trial the defence described the accused as an innocent victim who acted out in the name of his people against the oppressive power, and they also attempted to turn the trial into a political demonstration against the Hungarian government, since that was their only chance of making the jury think of the insult as a forgivable sin. The witnesses of the defence were mostly politicians and they declined any participation in the trial. By the end of the two-day trial the defendant was sentenced to time in prison, which incidentally was the same amount of time he had spent in prison while awaiting sentencing, and a moderate fine. The League of Nations, the Hungarian government and the Swiss administration were all content with the fact that the defendant was condemned, even though they were not necessarily satisfied with the extent of this condemnation.


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