After the landslide victory of prime minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party in Hungary’s parliamentary elections in April 2014, it would be a surprise if the party managed anything but a decisive triumph when voters elect the country’s 21 MEPs on May 25 – with possibly only far-right Jobbik standing in the way of further impressive gains by Fidesz.
In 2009, Hungary elected 22 MEPs, handing 14 seats to Fidesz, four to socialists MSZP and three to Jobbik.
A sign of Fidesz’s confidence is that the first seven candidates on its list for May 2014 are sitting MEPs. And, as an odd footnote, the last place on the long list is taken by Orban himself.
In the April parliamentary elections, MSZP trailed a poor second, said to have had a severely demoralising effect on the party that could discourage its voters from going to polls on May 25 in the face of certain Fidesz victory, but Jobbik ended up with about 10 per cent of the seats in Hungary’s parliament.
The only other players, among the total of eight parties competing in Hungary’s European Parliament elections, that could make it over the five per cent threshold for a share of Hungary’s EP seats is Politics Can Be Different, an eco-liberal party, which won five of the 199 parliamentary seats in April.
Jobbik’s 21 per cent in April has made it a force to watch, and its leader has argued that proportionately it is the strongest far-right party in any country in the 2014 European Parliament elections.
Denying that it is racist, it is standing on a platform that emphasises “Gypsy crime is real”. Jewish lobby groups also have alleged Jobbik to be anti-Semitic.
In strengthening its vote in April, Jobbik is said to have taken voters away from the MSZP.
Jobbik’s performance on May 25 will, obviously, have implications beyond the bounds of Hungarian domestic politics, as a key theme in the 2014 European Parliament elections will be whether a group of far-right, eurosceptic and ultra-nationalist parties with a strengthened presence will be able to form a coherent and effective group in the new EP.
(Photo of Budapest: Yane Frenski)