On ­­the left and on ­the up

The blog Fent és lent [Above and below] began as a platform for the left-wing, patriotic movement 4K!. While it has since made itself independent from 4K!, it retains close links with the movement. Its contributors comment on national and international politics, as well as urban topics. The idea is to change Hungarian society on the local level and re-establish a sense of community. The blog is now one of the largest in the country.
Balázs Szőllőssy stands in a blue-and-white-striped circus wagon behind the bar of Valyo Part and presses juice from oranges. Valyo Part, in the shade of the Chain Bridge, is designed to be a place where locals can enjoy the summer at low cost. The word “valyo” is a hybrid of the Hungarian words for city (város) and river (folyó). Szőllőssy explains: “If you need something that doesn’t exist yet, you have to create it yourself.” That attitude prompted him to establish the blog Fent és lent together with a group of people in 2009.

A new language

The blog’s target group consists of young, left-leaning people. Fent és lent/Above and below refers to the growing divide between rich and poor. The posts are also marked with “up” or “down” to indicate whether they approve of the matter in question in not.
“We want to create a new left-wing language, away from theoretical rhetoric,” Szőllőssy says.
The contributors avoid terms over-used during the communist period, such as “solidarity” and “fraternity” in order not to alarm readers, since they do not want to see a return to the old system.
High-quality texts and everyday language have given the site up to 12,000 readers per month at its best. The site’s roughly 20 contributors write on a voluntary basis alongside their regular work.
They are involved in non-governmental organisations, work at the university, study or are engaged in politics. They comment on national politics, in particular the Orbán government. Their blog posts report on initiatives and urban topics such as transport.
The contributors also write about festivals and are following the revolution in Syria. “We want to show that politics is a broad field that affects everyone and reawaken people’s interest in it,” Szőllőssy says.
The posts attract lively debate. “We’ve had to learn to moderate,” he says. A post on the privacy of workers in public works programmes, for example, received almost 600 comments. “We’re exercising our freedom of speech and expressing our ideas.”
The site has good relations with the website (profiled in The Budapest Times, 30 August-5 September 2013), which acts as an advocate for freedom of information and enables investigative journalists to publish their articles without being subject to the influence of the political sphere and large media enterprises.

Blogs as alternative

Szőllőssy, activist, writer and poet, initiated not only the blog but also the establishment of Valyo Part. In 2009 he organised various urban projects as part of 4K! movement such as the Capture the Flag game in Budapest to draw attention to the poor use of public space.
At the time that the blog was established had conquered the digital media and was the first news website to hit the mainstream with a large readership. “We recognised that blogs can be very important for the goals of our movement,” he says.

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