Parliamentary Elections in Hungary - An Alarming Shift to the Right
The landslide victory of Hungary's center-right opposition party Fidesz in the Parliamentary elections on Sunday has digged over Hungary's political landscape. Its leader Victor Orban is the great political winner. The ultra-right party Jobbik enters with his significant gains the Hungarian parliament for the first time. The Socialist government of the last 8 years suffered a desastrous defeat. The election result was a consequence for years of misgovernment and corruption in Hungary. Once the front-runner in the Eastern European transformation process Hungary has become an applicant for international government aid in fall 2008. The country was almost bankrupt and could only be saved by a substantial financial aid of the I.M.F.
This economic crisis brought political turmoils in a then deeply splitted country with an unforgiving stand-off between the political Left and Right. In this political environment the ultra-right Jobbik began to florish. This party offers today the seducing impression to the many loosers of the transformation that they are taken care of. Jobbik agitated with fervant anti-semitic, anti-european and nationalistic torrents of hatred against the Roma. It denigrated the entire political leadership as corrupt traitors of the Hungarian nation. This election agitation has apparently paid off for Jobbik. Twenty years after the peaceful revolution in Eastern Europe it demonstrates how many Hungarians have lost their confidence in Hungary's political institutions and democracy. After the second round of the elections at April 25 Victor Orban will have to distance himself and his party Fidesz distinctively from Jobbik. It will become decisive how he will deal with the "Hungarian Guards".
This paramilitary, Neo-Nazi-unit of Jobbik was already prohibited, but is still politically active. A cooperation with Jobbik would seriously undermine the credibility of Fidesz. Politicians from Fidesz already announced their wish to change the constitution from 1989 if they gain the necessary 2/3 majority which seems to be very likely. The big question will be for which constitutional changes Fidesz will use the majority. For Orban it requires a sensible policy in Budapest to overcome the deep political rifts domestically without undermining the country's economic recovery and without loosing the confidence of the other 26 EU member in Hungary's way of democracy.
Jörg Himmelreich is a Senior Transatlantic Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., Berlin
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