The Rise of the Far-Right in Hungary
By Máté Hajba
Politics is shifting in Hungary. The ruling party, Fidesz, which is bent on creating an illiberal state, is rapidly losing both power and popularity. Another group is waiting for Fidesz to weaken and to feed from its once almighty body. This group is the infamous party Jobbik, with a terrifying neo-Nazi past and an even more terrifying vision for the future.
On April 12th, elections were held in a Western region of Hungary encompassing beaches of the popular tourist attraction, Lake Balaton. The majority of the voters cast their ballots for the candidate of Jobbik, a party which gained popularity because of its outspoken far-right ideology. Although Jobbik is now trying to disguise itself as a center-right party, its past and indeed its presence is riddled with anti-semitism, racism, and xenophobia.
This blow drove yet another nail into the coffin of the governing party Fidesz, which enjoyed a two-thirds majority in the parliament until recently. In February, however, this supermajority was shattered at another by-election, where an independent candidate backed by the democratic opposition managed to bank on the dissatisfaction of the population.
This dissatisfaction is well-based. Since Fidesz gained power in 2010, it made a real effort to reorganize the country after the previous, highly unpopular socialist government. Unfortunately, despite being self-branded as conservative, the new measures of Fidesz have been even more socialistic than previous governments, so much so that the country has never before seen such a scale of authoritarian policies in the country’s 26 years of democracy. The government went on a frenzy of nationalization starting with the private pension funds and extending even to education. Democracy has also been under fire, as a new constitution was written which curtails the power of the constitutional court and limits civic liberties as well. New election laws, which were constantly redrafted before every major election, ensured that Fidesz retained its power and two-third majority in 2014.
However, shortly after its re-election, the governing party wanted to implement measures that it couldn’t justify by its nationalist propaganda. A plan to tax the internet sparked huge protests against the government and the discontent has only grown ever since. Although the first major blow to the party was delivered by a libertarian candidate in February’s by-election that broke Fidesz’s supermajority, the party’s decline in the popularity has strengthened the far-right Jobbik.
Jobbik now contests being called far-right, as they want to pose as a centre-right party. Their campaigns involve youth in colorful, fashionable clothing and puppies. While other parties can learn from Jobbik’s marketing skills, the sad truth is that the party is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It doesn’t require much to shatter this new image of Jobbik, which in fact appeals to a lot of young people to the point that it’s the most popular party amongst students.
Jobbik built up its image on a radical nationalist theme. The party was associated with skinhead, tattooed thugs and violent gangs for years. Now with the new seemingly more centrist image, only the packaging changed. Jobbik’s leadership still associates itself with radical gangs, many of its MPs are still racists and anti-Semites. A couple of years ago,Márton Gyöngyösi, an MP of Jobbik had to audacity to call for the listing of people with Jewish origins and see how many of them poses a national security threat. This he did in the parliament and got away with it. As this the other MPs who denied the holocaust, desecrated memorials and spoke up against the Roma community.
Jobbik is closely tied with a militaristic organization called the Hungarian Guard, the members of which wear uniforms and march the streets of villages to terrify the Roma on the pretext of protecting the safety of the community. While this organization has been formally banned by the courts, it still appears on the events of Jobbik without so much as a nasty look from the police.
Besides its disregard for human rights, Jobbik poses a threat to the integrity and security of Europe as well. Along with a growing number of far-right parties, the Hungarian neo-Nazis are all too happy to play by the books of Putin, who in some cases provides them with financial aid as well. A Béla Kovács, a Member of the European Parliament for Jobbik turned out to be working for Russia as an agent, tasked with weakening the EU from the inside so that it will not be able to respond firmly to the threat Putin now poses to Europe.
With more and more people being beguiled by Jobbik’s new image, it is a viable threat that the party will in the near future be in power, if only as a junior coalition partner. Their campaign strategies as superior to other parties, and they are tackling issued other parties dare not touch. If Jobbik continues along this road it has a future in the government. Only then will their true colors be shown, and this color is black as the uniform of the Hungarian Guard.
All Rights Reserved with The Oslo Times