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Russia (GNCA)November 13 2022, 18:35 pm

Controversial German Professor to Co-Lead New Brussels Branch of Hungarian “College”- Werner Patzelt Accused of Supporting Far-Right Movements

A GIOR inves­ti­ga­tion reveals the new Brus­sels branch of the Math­ias Corv­i­nus Col­legium (MCC), a Hun­gar­i­an edu­ca­tion­al facil­i­ty sup­port­ed by the Hun­gar­i­an gov­ern­ment, will be co-led by a Ger­man pro­fes­sor accused of sup­port­ing an anti-Islam, far-right polit­i­cal move­ment. MCC Brus­sels has iden­ti­fied Pro­fes­sor Wern­er J. Patzelt as its Research Direc­tor. Accord­ing to his MCC bio:

Before serv­ing as Research Direc­tor of the Brus­sels MCC, Wern­er J. Patzelt was a full pro­fes­sor of com­par­a­tive gov­ern­ment at the Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty of Dres­den (1992–2019) and a senior fel­low at the MCC Budapest (2021–22). Through­out his aca­d­e­m­ic career he has com­bined a com­par­a­tive per­spec­tives pol­i­tics with the­o­riz­ing as well as extend­ed empir­i­cal research. His career has includ­ed being guest pro­fes­sor at the École Pra­tique de Hautes Études in Paris and the High­er School of Eco­nom­ics in Moscow, and he has been a mem­ber of the Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee of the Inter­na­tion­al Polit­i­cal Sci­ence Asso­ci­a­tion for many years as well as for­mer chair of the IPSA Research Com­mit­tee of Leg­isla­tive Spe­cial­ists. In addi­tion to pub­lish­ing 15 mono­graphs, 16 edit­ed vol­umes, more than 100 jour­nal arti­cles, more than 260 book chap­ters and more than 300 jour­nal­is­tic texts, he has been active as a polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor on radio and TV. Mar­ried and with two grown-up chil­dren, he uses his leisure time for music, active­ly both as a choir­mas­ter and as a cel­list. His hope for MCC Brus­sels is that the new insti­tu­tion will become a cen­tre for fun­da­men­tal reflec­tions about and for pol­i­cy advice on Euro­pean coher­ence, sus­tain­able EU insti­tu­tions, and Europe’s place in a loom­ing post-occi­den­tal world.

A Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report on the Glob­al Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive Alliance (GNCA) explained the role of the MCC in the Orbán gov­ern­men­t’s strug­gle to con­trol Hun­gar­i­an high­er edu­ca­tion and to cre­ate a plat­form for rightwing fig­ures. The report also detailed the poten­tial role of the Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tives in Russ­ian influ­ence operations:

The MATHIAS CORVINUS COLLEGIUM, a Hun­gar­i­an edu­ca­tion­al facil­i­ty, is a key part of the ORBÁN government’s strug­gle to con­trol Hun­gar­i­an high­er edu­ca­tion and is the cen­ter of Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive activ­i­ty in the coun­try. This facil­i­ty, fund­ed by a mas­sive gift of stock from the ORBÁN gov­ern­ment, has spon­sored events and teach­ing posi­tions for promi­nent US right-wing fig­ures. Rus­sia has already begun to employ Nation­al Con­ser­v­a­tive themes in its influ­ence oper­a­tions which will like­ly find a more recep­tive West­ern audi­ence than in the past. Hun­gary is par­tic­u­lar­ly fer­tile ground for Russ­ian exploita­tion of Nation­al Con­ser­vatism giv­en the exist­ing close rela­tion­ship between Russ­ian and Hun­gar­i­an elites and an exten­sive pre-exist­ing Russ­ian influ­ence network.

Read the full report here

GIOR report­ed ear­li­er this month on the open­ing of the MCC Brus­sels branch and Hun­gar­i­an media have fur­ther iden­ti­fied Patzelt as the co-leader of MCC Brus­sels along with Frank Füre­di, offi­cial­ly the MCC Exec­u­tive Direc­tor. Patzelt’s con­tro­ver­sial back­ground has not been report­ed in cov­er­age of his new role at the MCC. In 2015, Ger­man pub­lic radio said that uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents had accused Patzelt of being an apol­o­gist for the Pegi­da move­ment, described by an NGO as a world­wide far-right move­ment orig­i­nat­ing in Dres­den, where Patzelt has been a professor:

The acronym PEGIDA has been asso­ci­at­ed with grass­roots anti-Islam protest for some years. In fact, the group – full name ‘Patri­ot­ic Euro­peans Against the Islami­sa­tion of the (Chris­t­ian) West’ – is one of the largest exam­ples of sus­tained far-Right protest in west­ern Europe in recent decades. What is less known is that local PEGIDA chap­ters have emerged out­side Europe – in Cana­da, for example.The anti-immi­grant and anti-elit­ist organ­i­sa­tion orig­i­nat­ed in Dres­den, in for­mer East Germany,

Read the rest here.

Accord­ing to the Deutsch­land­funk report:

For weeks, the Dres­den polit­i­cal sci­en­tist has been a sought-after con­ver­sa­tion part­ner on all waves when it comes to the top­ic of “Pegi­da and its con­se­quences”. The 61-year-old polit­i­cal sci­en­tist, orig­i­nal­ly from Bavaria, can for­mu­late catchi­ly and does not neglect humor. But now his pop­u­lar­i­ty has become a prob­lem. Stu­dents protest­ed last week with leaflets against the pro­fes­sor’s inter­pre­ta­tion of this top­ic. Their main accu­sa­tion: Patzelt was more of a polit­i­cal actor than a sci­en­tist through­out the Pegi­da debate and, in the name of polit­i­cal sci­ence, played down the appear­ance, goals and actions of the Islam­o­pho­bic pro­test­ers. [Trans­lat­ed from Ger­man with Google Trans­late with edits]

The Deutsch­land­funk report goes on to say that some of Patzelt’s col­leagues also accused him of being a Pegi­da apologist:

Some of his col­leagues are react­ing increas­ing­ly angri­ly to polit­i­cal sci­en­tist Patzelt’s repeat­ed appeals for under­stand­ing for the plight of the group of bour­geois Pegi­da sup­port­ers. At the same time, he had repeat­ed­ly sharply attacked the behav­ior of the counter-demon­stra­tors. In an open let­ter last week, a pro­fes­sor and eleven teach­ers dis­tanced them­selves from Patzelt’s state­ments. Julia Schulze-Wes­sel agrees: “We fol­lowed the inter­views he gave very close­ly and found that he judges the counter-demon­stra­tors very sweep­ing­ly, judges them polit­i­cal­ly. He accus­es them of cul­ti­vat­ing ene­my images, he calls them hys­ter­i­cal. He accus­es them of call­ing Pegi­da demon­stra­tors fas­cists, neo-Nazis, racists.” This is wrong, says Schulze-Wes­sel, the counter-demon­stra­tors were more con­cerned with point­ing out the dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion of migrants in the city. A point that hard­ly or not at all occurs in Patzelt’s analy­ses, accord­ing to the polit­i­cal scientist.

An aca­d­e­m­ic the­sis says that Patzelt was sar­cas­ti­cal­ly called the “Man who under­stands Pegi­da” and that he attend­ed Pegi­da-march­es, seen by his oppo­nents as proof of his ide­o­log­i­cal atti­tude, while Patzelt said he was there for pur­pos­es of his research. The Deutsch­land­funk report also hints at Patzel’s asser­tion of a “can­cel cul­ture” in Ger­man, mak­ing it impos­si­ble for any­thing by the voic­es of “left-lib­er­al media” to be heard:

Stu­dents and lec­tur­ers are par­tic­u­lar­ly angry about an arti­cle that the polit­i­cal sci­en­tist Patzelt recent­ly pub­lished in the Frank­furter All­ge­meine Zeitung under the title “Edel sei der Volk­swille”. In his analy­sis, the CDU man comes to the con­clu­sion that the pub­lic per­cep­tion, shaped by – as he writes – most­ly left-lib­er­al media every­thing that was once con­sid­ered “right of cen­ter”, is already seen and eval­u­at­ed as right-wing pop­ulism, right-wing rad­i­cal­ism, right-wing extrem­ism and fas­cism. This has result­ed in a seem­ing­ly clear canon of what approach­es, con­cepts, lan­guage for­mu­las and argu­ments “go” or “does not work” in Ger­many. Only those who adhere to it are allowed to par­tic­i­pate in the pub­lic discourse.

In Jan­u­ary 2019, Ger­man media report­ed that the Tech­ni­cal Uni­ver­si­ty of Dres­den (TU) had end­ed its rela­tion­ship with Patzelt, reject­ing his appli­ca­tion for a posi­tion as Senior Pro­fes­sor. Accord­ing to the report, Patzelt was known as an expert on Pegi­da and the far-right Ger­man polit­i­cal par­ty Alter­na­tive for Ger­many (AfD), but crit­ics accused him of being too close to the sub­jects of his research. The report also cit­ed Patzeld, who said the uni­ver­si­ty had jus­ti­fied its rejec­tion by say­ing that he “undu­ly con­fused the sci­en­tif­ic and polit­i­cal roles,” an accu­sa­tion he reject­ed, say­ing, “I did­n’t mix any roles. I have always stood up only for the free demo­c­ra­t­ic basic order — also against its ene­mies and opponents.”

In addi­tion to Patzelt’s rela­tion­ship with far-right move­ments, he has also known to have taught in Rus­sia. As not­ed in his MCC bio above, he has been a guest pro­fes­sor at the High­er School of Eco­nom­ics in Moscow, and cur­ric­u­lar mate­ri­als indi­cate he has taught at a sum­mer school pro­gram in con­nec­tion with the HSE Uni­ver­si­ty- St. Peters­burg. GIOR report­ed in Octo­ber that MCC Brus­sels Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Frank Fure­di is an author for the Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da media oper­a­tion RT (for­mer­ly Rus­sia Today), where he has pub­lished mul­ti­ple arti­cles on cul­ture war themes. GIOR has also report­ed on MCC guest lec­tur­er John Laugh­land, a leader in the far-right Dutch polit­i­cal par­ty the FvD and said to fit the pro­file of a KGB enabler.

Patzelt spoke at the Nation­al Con­ser­vatism Con­fer­ence held in Brus­sels from March 23–24, 2022.

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