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Crisis boosts far-right Jobbik party before EU elections

Text by Alexis ROSENZWEIG

Latest update : 2009-05-18

Boosted by political instability and a recession that has badly hit the country, polls show that the Hungarian far-right party Jobbik can reach the five percent required at the European elections to enter the EU Parliament.

We are at a campaign rally of the far-right Jobbik party in a neighbourhood of Budapest. Party leader Gabor Vona could be one of the big winners in a crisis that has crippled Hungary. He is the founder of the Magyar Garda, a paramilitary group whose members – girls and boys included – wear uniforms and parade in the streets on national holidays. "This national guard has been created by Hungarians to defend Hungarians. Our main goal is to protect the interests of our nation," explains Gabor Vona, Chairman of the Jobbik party.

Young and not so young people are attending today’s meeting. Off camera, they all say they have lost confidence in other political parties, who have shared power since the fall of communism. Recently, Hungary has come close to bankruptcy. The recession has become one of the main topics of Vona’s speeches: "In 20 years, they have managed to destroy everything: the army, the administration, the health and education systems – even the railway network," he says. "Today they are scared of our slogan, 'Hungary for Hungarians', because it means the end of this cycle they have profited from, and they know they will have to pack and leave."

Recent polls suggest Jobbik, literally ‘The Movement for a Better Hungary’, can reach the five-percent threshold needed to win seats in the European Parliament. Nostalgic for a glorious past, its leaders often berate Roma, or Gypsies, while deadly attacks on this minority have been more frequent in recent weeks all over the country. Sociologist Maté Zombory is writing a thesis on Hungarian nationalism: "Their speeches are always within the bounds of political correctness. So nobody says that one has to mistreat Jews, Gypsies, etc. But between the lines, what they say is always very clear."

A new non-party prime minister was appointed last month to try to lead the country out of the crisis: "After European elections on June 7th, the Jobbik party will actively launch its campaign for the next national elections, already planned for next year."

Date created : 2009-05-18

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