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Hungary: election liveblog – fascist Jobbik’s vote rises to more than 20%

By Martin Smith and Tash Shifrin | 6 April 2014

Grafitti tells the truth about fascist Jobbik. Pic credit: MTI/Sándor Ujvári

Grafitti tells the truth about fascist Jobbik. Pic credit: MTI/Sándor Ujvári

Welcome to our liveblog of Hungary’s parliamentary elections – with a focus on fascist party Jobbik.

>> Go here for an in-depth look at the rise of Jobbik – Europe’s biggest fascist party

Scroll down for the election night story as it unfolded.

Monday 7 April, 8.30am: Latest election results

With 98.97% of the votes now counted here are the latest statistics.

Fidesz (KDNP/Conservative) 44% of the vote and 133 MPS
MSZP (Socialist) 25.9% of the vote and 38 MPs
Jobbik (Fascist) 20.5% of the vote and 23 MPs
LMP (Liberal) 5.2% of the vote and 5 MPs

Monday 7 April, 12.24am: MAIN HEADLINES

Jobbik
With more than 97% of the party list votes counted, the hardcore fascist Jobbik party is on 20.64%. This is four percentage points up on its score of 16.7% in 2010.

Jobbik’s vote in real numbers is also up from 855,436 in 2010 to 959,294 now, despite overall turnout for the election falling.

Jobbik is now the fascist party with the highest vote in Europe – more than one in five of those who voted. This is even higher than the 17.9% that Marine Le Pen, leader of the fascist Front National in France, won in the 2012 presidential elections. And unlike the FN, Jobbik is openly fascist, with a huge paramilitary force backing up its parliamentary exploits.

But despite its hopes of second place, Jobbik has come third, behind the centre left Unity alliance in second place. The centre left took 25.94%.

The hard right ruling Fidesz party won the elections with 44.48% of the vote.

Parliamentary seats
As the count stands at present, Fidesz is set to take 133 seats in the national assembly – giving it the two-thirds majority it sought. The centre left will have 38 seats and Jobbik 23. The green-liberal LMP enters parliament for the first time with five seats.

Key seats
It looks at present that the centre left will take the constituency seat in the important industrial city of Miskolc that has been involved in a three-way tug of war between the left, Fidesz and Jobbik. The fascists’ leader Gábor Vona also looks to have narrowly lost out in Gyöngyös.

The centre left have a seat in Miskolc, one in Szeged and eight out of 18 in the capital Budapest. All the other consituencies have fallen to Fidesz.

23.55pm GYÖNGYÖS: where Jobbik’s leader is standing

There has been a very tight race in Gyöngyös, northern Hungary, where Jobbik leader Gábor Vona is the constituency candidate. With 96.74% of the votes counted, Vona is on 35.83%, only marginally behind the Fidesz candidate who has 36.96%.

The town of Gyöngyöspata is in this constituency – a town that has witnessed some of the worst violence and racism aimed at the Roma community. In 2011 Jobbik supporters held nightly demonstrations against Roma residents. An unofficial wall has been built around the Roma area and the local school segregates Roma children from “Hungarian” children. Martin has visited the town. He writes:

I visited the town, which has a Jobbik mayor, a year after the violence, in 2012. Many of the Roma in Gyöngyöspata live in terrible conditions, in homes without electricity or running water set amidst unpaved roads.

We visited the local school, which segregates the children. The ground floor for the Roma and the first floor for the “Hungarian” children. We saw a huge difference between the quality and condition of equipment on the two levels. The classrooms on the upper floors have modern electronic whiteboards; downstairs, the Roma have to make do with a blackboard.

Roma children we spoke to complain that only “upstairs” children are allowed to use the pool and receive swimming lessons, and that they are not allowed to use the computers. They are excluded from after-school activities and are not allowed to use the children’s toilets on the first floor.

We interviewed a doctor who told us that many Roma families have left the town in the wake of the violence, fearful for their lives. He also detailed how many Roma children suffer from panic attacks and nightmares as a result of the terror.

23.45pm MISKOLC: Now the centre left alliance has overtaken Fidesz in the town. All three parties are still very tight. It would be very bad news for Jobbik to take a constituency seat outright…

23.40pm MISKOLC: Fidesz has overtaken Jobbik in Miskolc, but it is still early days. This is a very slow constituency count, with almost nothing between Fidesz, Jobbik and the left candidate. It could go any one of three ways.

11pm MISKOLC: bad news. Jobbik is in pole position to take a constituency seat in the heavy industrial city of Miskolc, north east Hungary. But so far only 46% of the votes have been counted there, so this may change.

10.50pm: We now have almost 90% of the votes for the party lists counted.

Fidesz has 44.75%, the centre left has 25.54%, Jobbik has 20.86% and the green LMP have 5.15% which will see them in parliament for the first time.

Fidesz leader Viktor Orbán has declared victory. The only thing he is waiting for is to see whether the final result will give him that two-thirds majority he craves.

In the single-member constituencies, Fidesz has won everywhere except for nine of the 18 districts of Budapest and a seat in one other town, Szeged in the south of the country.

10.45pm: SEATS IN PARLIAMENT

With more than 86% of the ballots counted, here is how the seats in the national assembly break down:

Fidesz – 133 seats (66.83% of parliament – the two-thirds majority that will give it huge powers)
The centre left alliance – 37 seats
Jobbik – 24 seats
LMP greens – 5 seats

These are not yet finall results. It is important to remember that we cannot compare the number of MPs this time round with the make-up of parliament in 2010 because of major changes to the electoral system and the reduction of the total number of MPs from 386 to 199.

10.35pm: Jobbik’s town hall bases.

The fascist party controls four town halls, which it won in the 2010 munipal elections. They are Tiszavasvari and Hencinda (Eastern Hungary), Hegyhathodasz (Western Hungary) and Gyongyospata (Central). Given the way the parliamentary vote has gone up for Jobbik today, there is a danger that they will control more municipalities after the local elections this autumn.

10.10pm: MORE RESULTS COMING IN

With 71.86% of the ballots counted, here is the state of the parties so far.

Fidesz is on 45.12%. The centre-left alliance has pulled away from Jobbik slightly with 24.8%. Jobbik has 21.17% and the LMP greens have 4.89%.

9.50pm: Why are people voting for fascist Jobbik?

Jobbik first made its breakthrough in the 2009 Euro elections. No other fascist party has managed to achieve nearly 15% of the national vote having achieved less than one percent a year before.

Two leading academics in the political science department at Budapest University interviewed 500 members of Jobbik in 2011. The survey was to ascertain the key issues that motivated them to vote for the party.

Here are the five most popular reasons – it makes depressing reading.

1. Opposition to Roma and Jewish minorities in Hungary
General opposition to Roma, Jews and migrants was cited as the main reason people voted Jobbik. Roma were labelled as dependent on social benefits and at the same time cited as the main cause of crime. Jews were accused of trying to take over or control the Hungarian economy. Migrants were blamed for taking jobs and being welfare dependant.

2. Crisis of the welfare state
Jobbik voters believed high levels of unemployment and welfare cuts were the responsibility of the mainstream parties and the Roma.

3. Crime
Jobbik voters believed their party would put more resources into the police/state and clampdown on crime. There was also a belief that Jobbik would ensure the police clamped down on “Roma crime”.

4. Rejection of mainstream parties
Jobbik supporters cited their belief that all mainstream parties were both responsible for the economic crisis and were corrupt and therefore what was needed was a strong party and leader to deal with the problems.

5. Strong state/leadership
Disaffection with the established parties meant that Jobbik voters believed the party would provide a strong leadership and deal with the country’s problems.

9.05pm: RESULTS STARTING TO COME THROUGH

With 41.5% of the vote counted, Fidesz are on 46.45%, the centre-left alliance on 23.51%, just ahead of Jobbik’s 21.49% and the green LMP on 4.57%.

That means so far, 38 MPs for Fidesz, 29 for the centre left and 26 for Jobbik. More results to come…

The race for second place is going to go down to the wire.

8.30pm: European Jewish leader says Jobbik vote must be a wake-up call

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, has issued a strong statement urging people across Europe to take the threat of Jobbik seriously. He said:

The gains made by Jobbik, an unashamedly neo-Nazi political party, should serve as a wake-up call for the whole of Europe. Once again in Europe we are witnessing democracy being appropriated by those are the enemies of democracy. This is truly a dark day for Hungary.

These results have given the far right a strong tailwind going into next month’s European Parliament elections. It is the duty of both European leaders and voters to ensure that a strong message is delivered by supporters of democracy throughout Europe to show these racists and xenophobes that hate has no place on our continent.

7.30pm – Exit poll: Another exit poll, this time from the Századvég (Century) institute, gives a range of figures for each party. It puts Fidesz on 47% to 51%, the centre-left list on 19% to 23%, Jobbik on 18% to 22%, with the greens on 3% to 7%. It’s a bit vague – maybe they are hedging their bets – but suggests that the battle for second place is very tight between the centre left and Jobbik. The poll was carried out by phone.

7.20pm: Jobbik has not gone soft

Some press reports in the run-up to the election mentioned that Jobbik was trying to soften its public image, shunting the hardcore Hungarian Guard paramilitaries out of the way and circulating pictures of Jobbik politicians with fluffy kittens. But Jobbik has not gone soft. The fascist party – notorious for its anti-Semitism as well as attacks on Roma people – launched this election campaign in a particularly offensive way – in a former synagogue.

6.50pm: Hungarian news site Index estimates that Fidesz will retain its two-thirds majority in parliament.

Under the new constitution – introduced by Fidesz – a two-thirds majority allows the ruling party to change laws as it wants without negotiating with the other parties and to appoint its own choice of heads of major public bodies like the Hungarian State Bank or the constitutional court.

In a recent interview, Szabolcs Hegyi of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union describes the undermining of democracy under Fidesz leader Viktor Orbán, with the threat of Jobbik pressing it from the fascist right.

6.20pm – Exit poll: An exit poll carried out by Nézőpont Intézet (Viewpoint Institute) puts Fidesz on 48%, the centre-left Unity Alliance on 27%, Jobbik on 18%, and the green-liberal LMP on 6%. If accurate, that would be an increase for Jobbik on its 2010 result, but not as much as some opinion polls were suggesting earlier this week.

5.30pm: The picture at the top of this page is just one of many Jobbik billboards defaced by anti-fascists. In January, the fascist party complained at a press conference that several dozen of its adverts had been attacked in an “organised” campaign.

Jobbik's paramilitary Hungarian Guard

Jobbik’s paramilitary Hungarian Guard

It’s worth remembering that Jobbik has a huge paramilitary organisation – see picture left. This is not just a parliamentary party, but one that follows the traditional twin-track fascist strategy – pioneered by Hitler and Mussolini – with both an electoral and a paramilitary streetfighting wing. Congratulations to the anti-fascist grafitti artists.

5pm: What to look out for

The previous governing party Fidesz – an increasingly reactionary hard right populist party, like a more authoritarian UKIP – is expected to win comfortably. An opinion poll published on 3 April put Fidesz (with its Christian Democrat coalition partner) on 47%.

In the same poll, Jobbik scored 21% – substantially higher than the 16.7% of the vote it took at the last parliamentary elections in 2010. If its actual election results are that high today, this will represent a worrying growth in support for the fascists.

An even worse outcome would be if Jobbik is able to push the centre-left opposition alliance into third place – that would be a big breakthrough for the fascists. The opinion poll put the centre-left alliance led by Socialist party chair Attila Mesterhazy slightly above Jobbik, on 23%.

Controversial changes to the electoral system – “free but not fair”

Fidesz has pushed through a series of highly controversial changes to Hungary’s constitution. These include huge changes to the electoral system.

The changes mean there will be a new parliament of just 199 MPs, a drastic reduction from 386. There will be a single round of elections, unlike the former two-round system. These will be elected from 106 single-member consituencies on a first past the post system. Another 93 MPs are set to be elected through a party list system.

Votes cast for losing candidates in the constituencies will count towards the total of their party list vote. But controversially, surplus votes for the constituency winners will also be transferred to their lists, a system that gives the strongest party – likely to be Fidesz in many cases – an extra bonus. Election analysts have described Hungary’s 2014 election as “free but not fair”.

The changes mean that it is best to avoid direct comparisons between the number of MPs elected for any party this year with the numbers elected in 2010.

A racist system of “minority lists”

The new consitution also established a system where members of ethnic minorities (such as Roma, Slovaks or Germans) could sign an ethnic register and be allocated a vote for a candidate to represent their minority from a “minority list”. The measure is aimed primarily at the Roma, the only minority sizeable enough to pass the minimum threshhold to elect an MP – although a minority would be allowed only a single MP via this system regardless of the number of registered voters.

But in addition to concerns about ethnic registration (with its echo of the Nazis’ regime) this is a system designed to disenfranchise the Roma – already facing severe persecution and discrimination in Hungary. Anyone who registers themselves as a member of an ethnic minority is then denied the right to a vote on the national party lists.

Roma organisations have campaigned against the minority list system and urged people not to register and lose their right to vote according to their political preferences.



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