Are antisemites coming to power in Hungary?

“Far-right party joins anti-Orban alliance” reads the subtitle to Bence Bauer’s article on Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Hungary, published on the German daily Bild’s website. Bauer is director of the Hungarian-German Institute for European Cooperation at Matthias Corvinus Collegium (MCC).

In his piece, “Will antisemites come to power in Hungary?” Bence Bauer emphasizes that Viktor Orbán is the longest-serving member of the European Council of EU heads of state and government, and polls show that he has a good chance of re-election.

The 58-year-old politician is „often reduced abroad to his unique role in the European Union,” but „his government stands firm in the eyes of many voters.” In particular, „his policies on family, the economy and migration are popular among many Hungarians,” but Russia’s war against Ukraine has „overshadowed” the election campaign, he wrote.

He added that Viktor Orbán is seeking re-election for the fourth time; the race is likely to be closer than before because, while opposition parties ran separately in the past three elections, this time they have joined forces and in the Hungarian electoral system, it is who wins in each constituency that matters most.

As he writes,

the opposition’s „strange” alliance includes left-wing, green and liberal parties, as well as Jobbik, which was previously considered radical right-wing.

Bauer explained that the left had previously ruled out cooperation with Jobbik, but that now that it was so close to power, the party was needed to replace Orbán. Jobbik is the second-largest formation of the opposition alliance and could even snag government roles if it wins.

He added that

Jobbik „tries to be more moderate in its communication,” but is „very much the same” in terms of its membership.

Its MPs have repeatedly drawn attention to themselves with antisemitic statements, such as a candidate in a by-election last year calling Budapest „Judapest.”

Bence Bauer also wrote that two of Jobbik’s vice-presidents had made Nazi salutes years earlier, and one of its MEPs demanded in the 2012 parliament that „the government should draw up a list of people of Jewish origin.”

Video emerges of Jobbik vice-president doing a Nazi salute

In a past image now published by a Jewish newspaper, György Szilágyi, Jobbik’s vice-president, can be seen waving with his arm in a Sieg Heil salute.

In his article, Bence Bauer claims that opposition prime ministerial candidate Péter Márki-Zay does not hide the „colorful” mix of his partners, that he has talked about „communists and fascists” being in his alliance, and that he knows how many Jews are in Fidesz.

Bauer said the 49-year-old politician was

 „discovered and built up by Jobbik.”

„Péter Márki-Zay doesn’t see this as a problem, but there is only one member of his own party who could get into parliament: himself”

– the director of the Hungarian-German Institute for European Cooperation wrote, adding that the prime ministerial candidate is „alone;” and his allies are diverse and not united, „with only the desire to replace Orbán binding them together.”

He stressed that Jobbik has a „very important role” in the alliance, and its representatives could even enter the government. Also playing an important role is the „strongest party” in the alliance, the Democratic Coalition, which has emerged from the „post-communist” camp.

„This makes the alliance of  ex-communists and ex-radicals perfect”

– Bence Bauer wrote.

He added that „this fact has hardly been acknowledged thus far in the rest of Europe,” but „it is not only in Hungary that Jewish associations and the media are sounding the alarm.”

He also wrote that many observers highlight:

„Jewish life in Hungary is diverse and our fellow Jews are much safer than in other countries.”

„There are virtually no violent antisemitic attacks, and the incumbent government supports Jewish communities and ensures a peaceful coexistence between different religious communities”

– Bence Bauer wrote, adding that

„Budapest is the only capital city in the EU where there are significantly more Jews than Muslims.”

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