Positionspapier zum Vertiefungsangebot "Rechtsextremismus in Europa" im Rahmen der Fachtagung "Entgrenzter Rechtsextremismus? Internationale Perspektiven und Gegenstrategien" der Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung in München, 09.-10.02.2015.
Ever since the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1989, the extreme right has been politically active in Hungary. Yet Jobbik, the most successful party on the far right, did not even emerge as a party until 2003. In the 2006 parliamentary elections, Jobbik captured a mere 2.2 % of the votes, but soon thereafter its popularity increased dramatically. The real breakthrough for the far-right radicals came with the founding of the Magyar Gárda (Hungarian Guard Movement) in 2007, the party’s paramilitary wing. For years, the party has resisted the temptation to moderate its tone in the interest of capturing voters who have reservations about radicalism. In early 2014, too late to turn the election but in time to improve its performance, Jobbik toned down the extremist rhetoric and was openly trying to woo voters closer toward the centre of an electorate that had shifted decisively to the right. As a consequence, the far right party gained 20.22% at the general elections. By 2015, with the growing fragmentation of the left-wing parties in Hungary, Jobbik undoubtedly became the second most popular party in the country.
We can identify many reasons behind the growing demand for far-right politics. Public opinion researches show that a relatively large segment of the electorate is open to far-right ideals. This group harbours prejudices, an anti-system attitude, and also has staunchly right-wing values and is fearful and pessimistic. A study shows that the proportion of persons that are extremely prejudiced is surprisingly high in Hungary, reaching 48%. There is widespread popular disappointment with the entire political elite and the results of regime transition.
Moreover, there has been a growing economic and social crisis since 2006, exacerbated by the world financial crisis of 2008/2009. Poverty is increasing especially in eastern Hungary – the country’s poorest region – which has led to growing social tensions and fears especially in the lower middle-classes. It has also heightened tensions between rural non-Roma and Roma segments of the population. The crisis has generated a demand for left-wing economic policies – which in substance Jobbik also subscribes to – coupled with anti-establishment politics. Meanwhile, the political left has collapsed with the former ruling party, MSZP losing over half its voters since 2006. Many voters alienated by the left are up for grabs.
Since 2010, the governing party, Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz has realised a number of policies and symbolic gestures that were in Jobbik’s election manifesto but had never figured in Fidesz’ programmes. Fidesz and Jobbik are now competing against each other to win over the extreme right voters (and not the centre-right voters), thus, they are pushing the whole political and media agenda further to the (extreme) right.
However, while Viktor Orbán is euroskeptical (but not anti-European), Jobbik has been against EU membership right from the start, when membership was still popular. Drawing on the experiences of the past years, it sees its concerns that small nations cannot assert their interests in the Union reinforced. Jobbik wishes to anchor Hungarian foreign policy in the East instead, working with Russia, the emerging Asian powers and the Arab world.