Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Unanimous concern over far right victory

July 20th, 2011

It is high time for mainstream parties to pull themselves together and face the gravity of the racial conflicts in rural Hungary – both right and left-wing commentators conclude from the election of a far right candidate as mayor of Gyöngyöspata, in Northern Hungary.

As BudaPost reported during our trial period, this village of 2100 citizens of voting age was the scene of patrols and marches by far right paramilitary groups in March this year, after inter-ethnic tension allegedly provoked by gangs belonging to the Roma minority. The radical right wing Jobbik party largely owed its success (almost 17 per cent) at last year’s parliamentary elections, to its claim that it had a strategy to solve the “problem of Gypsy delinquency.” At the local elections last autumn, the Jobbik candidate in the village finished last out of four with 68 votes cast. Nine months later, following the resignation of the mayor, new elections have been held and he won with 433 votes (over 33 per cent). The leader of an extreme right wing paramilitary group finished fourth, with 10 per cent of the ballots. Moderate independent candidates got over 55 per cent, divided among the five of them.

In a front page editorial, Népszabadság warns there are scores of settlements like Gyöngyöspata where disappointed voters might reach similar conclusions. For “the fields left barren by the mainstream parties, are being cultivated by Jobbik, planting the kind of seed it has in its barns.”

In an Op-Ed article on an inside page, Gábor Czene, Népszabadság’s expert on minority affairs suggests that the main loser of the Gyöngyöspata election was Fidesz, as the outcome expressed the failure of the government’s policies. But the vote was also a warning to the Socialists: “It is by no means evident that voters disenchanted with Fidesz will automatically turn left.”

In Népszava, veteran left wing political commentator Iván Andrassew urges consultations among the mainstream political parties, “if necessary behind the scenes, on what should be done to handle the Roma problem… If neither Fidesz, nor the Socialists, nor LMP say anything comprehensible to the non-Gypsy majority, Jobbik are left with a communication monopoly. Or at least with a bigger slice of the message than is bearable.”

In an editorial in Magyar Nemzet, Zsombor György agrees with the government when it rejects a role for self-appointed policing units in the maintenance of public order, but warns that citizens are right to expect the authorities to guarantee their safety. The government should also provide incentives for private investment in problematic regions, for instance by demanding job creation from big enterprises, as a condition for public subsidies. “Fidesz must realise that it can no longer stay away from events in the real world, and can no longer regard the case of Gyöngyöspata as an isolated incident.”

Tags: , ,