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European Elections: The writing is on the wall

In the third part of his Euro elections survey, VICTOR GROSSMAN examines the rise of Hungarian’s fascist party Jobbik

The Euro elections in Hungary follow quickly on the landslide victory of right-wing ruling party Fidesz in the April 6 parliamentary poll under Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s new constitution. Third placed in those elections was the extreme-right Jobbik party.

Officially the Movement for a Better Hungary, the name Jobbik is an acronym of its original title, Right-Wing Youth Association, which is also a pun meaning something like “better go right.”

Founded by Catholic and Protestant university students as “a principled, conservative, radically patriotic Christian party … to protect Hungarian values and interests,” others describe it as fascist, neonazi, extremist, racist, anti-semitic, anti-Roma and homophobic.

Since inland Hungary does not have large numbers of refugees or immigrants from Africa or Asia to attack, the fascists seek domestic prey. Its population of close to 10 million includes 50,000 to 100,000 Jews and 700,000 to 800,000 Roma people (“Gypsies”). The latter, the poorest group, are its main target.

Again and again Jobbik utilises local disputes or its own provocations to send gangs, mostly young men, to terrorise Roma communities, sometimes inflicting severe casualties.

“Not all Gypsy people are criminals,” Jobbik avers, but “certain specific criminological phenomena are predominantly and overwhelmingly” associated with the Roma minority.

To solve “one of the severest problems facing Hungarian society,” Jobbik proposed the creation of “public order zones … sealing off, registering and monitoring criminal elements,” segregating Roma children by sending them to boarding schools, increasing the  “deterrent power of tough punishment and long sentencing” with a strengthened police force and a return to the death penalty.

When polls indicated a temporary drop in public support for Jobbik three years ago it renewed its campaign against Roma with rallies in villages across the country, often ending in violence.

Attacks were often carried out by a formation called Magyar Nemzeti Garda, founded in 2007 by Jobbik leaders and similar to nazi stormtroopers even in its uniforms.

But in 2009 some judges, remnants of a more moderate era, ruled it illegal. With or without uniforms, it still makes itself felt.

The reactionary, authoritarian ruling party Fidesz with its wannabe dictator Viktor Orban has said little to all this. As one Green member of the small opposition stated, near silence at national level allows Fidesz “to avoid confronting right-wing voters sympathetic to Jobbik whom they hope to keep in their camp.” One poll found 60 per cent of Hungarians agreeing that “the inclination to criminality is in the blood of Gypsies.”

On the question of anti-semitism Jobbik is equally fascist though less violent ­— as yet. A newsletter edited by a Jobbik candidate for the EP included the sentence: “Given our current situation, anti-semitism is not just our right, it is the duty of every Hungarian lover of his homeland, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews.”

A Jobbik deputy in parliament wanted a commemoration of the notorious anti-semitic “blood libel” case of 1882 on trumped-up charges of “Jews murdering Hungarian children.”

In 2012 a leading Jobbik deputy publicised his speech saying it is “timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry here, especially in parliament and the government, who indeed pose a national security risk to Hungary.”

The other parties, also the ruling Fidesz, vigorously denounced this and Jewish organisations called it a reintroduction of nazism in the parliament. But Viktor Orban remains cautious ­— he dislikes unfavourable international attention, but then he also wants those votes.

During attempts to erect statues idolising the pro-fascist head of state Horthy and his government (1920-1944), Orban tried to avoid taking any position.  

Like most righ-wing parties, Jobbik loudly opposes the EU, building on popular views ranging from apathy or scepticism to hatred of “the slave-drivers in Brussels.”

Scepticism is more than appropriate, but for very different reasons, and meanwhile Jobbik takes part in the Euro elections. In 2009, with a surprisingly high 14 percent, it won three of Hungary’s 21 seats, and hopes to seize many more in the polls happening now.

Jobbik and the Golden Dawn mob in Greece are probably the most rabid and openly fascist of the far-right parties in Europe.


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