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Why Hungary’s Jobbik Party Won While it Lost

This weekend’s elections cemented the neo-fascist movement’s political role

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Chairman of the far-right parliamentary JOBBIK party Gabor Vona reacts to the result of the parliamentary election with his party members in Budapest on April 6, 2014. (PETER KOHALMI/AFP/Getty Images)

On Sunday, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party won a resounding victory in nationwide parliamentary elections. Due to Hungary’s complex voting system, Fidesz’s 44.5 percent tally will garner it some 133 seats in the 199-seat parliament—the size of which was cut in half since the country’s last election—while the Socialist-led opposition alliance will wind up with about 38 seats, even though it won 26 percent of the vote.

But the real news out of Hungary is the continued rise of Jobbik, a neo-fascist movement that gained 21 percent at the polls. By means of comparison, consider that Fidesz earned 630,000 fewer votes this election than it did four years ago, while Jobbik picked up 130,000.

The party, which rails against “Gypsy crime” and promotes Jewish conspiracy theories, shocked observers four years ago when it entered parliament for the first time with 16 percent of the national tally. Due to infighting amongst the country’s left and liberal opposition, which unified solely for the purpose of the election and will now have to divide its 38 seats among five separate parties, Jobbik is now likely to be the second largest parliamentary bloc, even though Hungary’s voters are in a much less revolutionary mood now than they were four years ago.

The bottom line, observers say, is that Jobbik has managed to establish itself as a real part of Hungary’s politics, rather than a vehicle for expressing passing populist outrage. “The far right’s ideas and supporter base have remained, and anti-Semitism is an increasing issue,” Peter Kreko, an expert on the Hungarian far right, told the New York Times.

Orban has long presented his Fidesz party as a bulwark to the rise of the extreme right, and stated that yesterday’s election results proved that “People have said no to hatred.” But Jobbik’s power in the new parliament likely means that the Hungarian leader will continue to cater to the country’s far-right electorate, as he has over the past four years. Such pandering has manifested itself in anti-EU rhetoric, creating a day of remembrance for the Treaty of Trianon, the pursuit of stronger ties with Russia, and the erection of a Holocaust memorial that pins blame for the murder of more than 400,000 Jews solely on Germany while absolving Hungarians of responsibility. Lauding the fact that only one out of every five Hungarians voted for a fascist party is damning the electorate with faint praise.

Previous: It’s Hard to Be a Jew in the Jobbik Party
Related: Meet Europe’s New Fascists

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Why Hungary’s Jobbik Party Won While it Lost

This weekend’s elections cemented the neo-fascist movement’s political role

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