Hungary: rise of Jobbik

Stan Crooke’s article on Hungary’s Fidesz government (Solidarity 235) outlined its right-wing, anti-democratic programme. It is worth also noting the rising popularity of Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary).

In the 2010 election Jobbik won 17% of the vote. Fidesz’s spell in government has done nothing to undermine that support. Though the ruling alliance of Fidesz and Christian Democrats leads opposition parties, at the end of 2011 polls put Jobbik on 21%, just behind the Socialists on 22%.

Moreover, Jobbik is very popular with young voters, enjoying 30% among the 18-37 age group.

Jobbik has a sophisticated, slick image: as well as highlighting “traditional” anti-semitic and anti-Roma themes, it poses as being anti-globalisation, and for renewing “Hungarian culture”. But it also has links to fascist elements including Nazis of the paramilitary, uniformed type.

One such group, Vedero (Defensive Strength) was involved in disturbing events in the northern Hungarian town of Gyöngyöspata, which has a large Roma population, in spring 2011. There the group tried to organise a training camp. Patrolling around as vigilantes they made much of “gypsy crime” — a racist slur of wide popularity. Such was the level of intimidation the Roma community called on the Red Cross to evacuate women and children.

In July Jobbik 2011 won the local election. According to L’Humanité, they have since been forcing the unemployed to take part in public works or forfeit their benefits. The requirement is being applied far more strictly when it comes to unemployed Roma.

For years right-wing vigilantes have been marching into and intimidating towns with large Roma populations. Since 2008 there have been 37 racially motivated hate crimes against Roma people in Hungary. Nine of these 37 attacks were by serial killers who shot 11 and killed six Roma, including a five-year-old boy. No paramilitary member has ever been charged.

The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union have said: “We fear that Gyöngyöspata was a choreographed trial-run or ‘dress rehearsal’ for future extreme right campaigns in our country.” More here and here.