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Europe, Politics

Hungary swings right

By Marco Santopadre

The parliamentary elections in Hungary Sunday confirmed a trend already evident in recent years – a right wing government that maintains its position of dominance and a growing neo-Nazi opposition. The election also saw an increase in voter turnout, by four percentage points, reaching 61% participation.

The former Liberal party Fidesz, led by outgoing Prime Minister Viktor Orban and positioning itself as openly reactionary, populist, xenophobic, won 44.5% of the vote, a percentage that gave it an ample majority in the parliament in Budapest.

It led the Social Democrats by as many as 20 points; they garnered only 25.9% against the Nazi Jobbik which soared to 20.7% of the vote (it was 16.7 in 2010 ). The ecologist LMP gained 5.2%, however, this is enough to allow him entry into parliament, as the minimum threshold is set at 5%. Based on these almost definitive results Fidesz would get 133 seats, the center left 38, the extreme right Jobbik 23 and ecologists 5.

In the coming days, however, we need to factor in hundreds of thousands of votes cast by Hungarians living in neighbouring countries, to which the Orban government has recently granted the right to vote and that could further increase the advantage of the populist right.

Sure, Fidesz has lost eight percentage points compared to the elections four years ago – when he took 52.7% – but with 133/134 seats Orban can still count on two thirds of the total seats of the National Assembly of Budapest. This will allow the party to have enough votes without having to negotiate with any of the opposition parties, and to enforce the laws of a constitutional nature.

Orban and did not hide his excitement at the results. “Hungary is the most united country in Europe,” said the prime minister triumphantly of his third four-year term in an explicit dig at the EU establishment that in recent years has strongly criticized and pressured the government of Budapest after the launch of a number of laws and constitutional reforms considered not in line with EU ‘values and norms’, and marked by aggressive nationalism, authoritarianism and xenophobia.

For example, in 2012 the government unilaterally changed the electoral law, modifying the geography of electoral districts to favour his candidates and cutting the seats in parliament from 386 to 199, as well as moving from runoff to single round elections. Other measures challenged by Brussels, as well as the opposition, have been the reduction of the powers of the Constitutional Court, the mandatory retirement of judges disliked by many in the government and the introduction of a harsh censorship of the media, not surprisingly called ‘gagging laws ” .

But for many Hungarians Orban is a champion of national interests, as he has reduced income taxes and lowered electricity bills, increasing state control over the energy sector (thanks to an agreement with a Russia now unpopular in Brussels). During the election campaign the leader of Fidesz promised to cut mortgages in foreign currency that weigh on many families, attacking the interests of banks of various countries in the EU who lord over Hungary. Also, in recent years the government has reduced the public debt, increased wages and reduced unemployment below 10%.

The growth of Jobbik is a worry of course. In many districts the neofascist party exceeded the votes gained by the block formed by the Socialists and their allies.

‘No to the European Union, Hungary the Great’, “We want to do away with the old political class – shouted in many campaign rallies Márton Gyöngyösi, one of the party’s leaders. ‘Our goal is to distance ourselves from Brussels, fight crime, corruption and the dominance of the banks. ”

They adopt a Eurosceptic language fused with openly fascist and racist overtones, supported in recent years by attacks against leftists and especially the Roma community in November of 2012. While the far-right gangs that survived the dissolution of the party’s Militia assaulted whole villages inhabited by the ‘Gypsies’, in parliament Gyöngyösi proposed lists of the Roma minority, but also parliamentarians of Jewish origin.

During the victorious election campaign he demanded “the establishment of a national gendarmerie on the model of the militias created in the First World War by Admiral Horthy,” the fascist dictator from 1920 to 1944 that led the country with an iron fist, allying with the Nazi Germans. The government of Orban competes with the fascists – the arguments of the respective sides are often the same – but at the same time legitimizes them, gradually shifting his political discourse to the right.

“Today, Hungary is dominated by a political-economic lobby with oligarchic characteristics – said the defeated opposition candidate, the Socialist Attila Mesterházy. The forces of the left have been literally gagged. In addition, there has been fraud in the collection of signatures. The government forces have given rise to a genuine parliamentary tyranny, dismissing pluralism and the rule of law. ”

But it now seems obvious that neither conformity nor pro- Europeanism on the part of the economic and social opposition will stop the rise of Right, both in its government and extremist guise.


Translation/edit by revolting europe.

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope


One thought on “Hungary swings right

  1. Reblogged this on Ubeudgen’s Blog.

    Posted by ubeudgen | April 8, 2014, 1:22 am

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