Why this story matters:
Simon Wintermans is not a typical “economic migrant”. He grew up in The Hague in a Christian-Democrat family of five children. For the past 22 years he has been living in the southern Hungarian city of Pécs, where, among other things, he taught Dutch.
He is one of several intellectuals who were once supportive of the party and its members, but grew disillusioned with it. Lately, many of these academics have “come out of the closet” and voiced their opinion at public events such as anti-government protests.
These people are authentic figures not only in the eyes of long-time critics, but also in the eyes of those citizens who are still loyal to the government yet are having second thoughts.
Wintermans and those like him can also be a source of inspiration to would-be "deserters,” other prominent figures of the right who are disillusioned with the party but are hesitant to speak publicly.
Details from the story:
- Simon Wintermans, an economic and art historian recently organized an anti-government protest in the city of Pécs. Approximately 1,000 people attended the demonstration.
- Several guests took to the podium that day. They told people that they should not make peace with the result of April’s parliamentary election but fight for democracy and freedom.
- Wintermans has not always been busy organising anti-government protests. In 2010, he supported Zsolt Pava, the current mayor of Pécs, who is a member of the ruling Fidesz party.
- But, in the past 8 years he has tired of the rampant corruption and the government’s anti-democratic policies.
- Wintermans is famous in Pécs for bringing 250,000 tulip bulbs to the city as a donation from the Dutch people. When Pécs, Essen and Istanbul were elected European Capitals of Culture in 2010, he cycled to the three cities. The distance was 6,600 kms. During the trip he gave speeches about Europe’s history, and the common challenges Europeans are facing.
- He has been an outspoken critic of the government for the past few years.