By Martin Smith and Tash Shifrin | 12 October 2014
Welcome to our liveblog of Hungary’s local elections – with a focus on fascist party Jobbik.
Scroll down to see the results as they came in. There is commentary about Jobbik, the other parties, and key towns and cities interspersed throughout the blog.
Monday 13 October HEADLINES: With 100% of the vote counted, these are the final results.
• Jobbik has 14 mayors. The fascist party controls the town halls in: Bánokszentgyörgy, Tapolca, Mátraballa, Devecser, Tuzsér, Tiszavasvári, Ózd, Kosd, Törökszentmiklós, Recsk, Gasztony, Hencida, Monorierdő and Ásotthalom.
It has 469 councillors. In 2010, the fascist party won just three mayors, so these results are a major increase.
• This is not just an electoral gain. Jobbik follows the classic fascist twin-track strategy of having both an electoral wing and a paramilitary organisation, and uses both to gain and enforce control. When Jobbik gets control of a town – as we have seen previously in Tiszavasvári and Gyöngyöspata – this means a surge of anti-Roma violence as well as measures like segregation in schools.
Jobbik went into the election with the three mayors it won in 2010 plus four more from byelections. It has held the town halls of Hencida, Tiszavasvári, Kosd and Monorierdő, gaining ten more.
It lost its previous control in Békésszentandrás, Hegyháthodász and most notably Gyöngyöspata (see below).
• Jobbik got 1.24 million votes, more than twice the 610,000 of the centre-left MSZO. Fidesz took 4.54 million votes.
• The total election gains for the ruling far right Fidesz are now 624 mayors and 3,495 councillors.
• The centre-left MSZP has 31 mayors and 521 councillors.
12.45am HEADLINES: 98% of the votes have now been counted in Hungary’s elections.
• The hardcore fascist party Jobbik has had a major boost tonight, taking 13 mayoral positions – up from just three in the last full-scale local elections in 2010, although it had added four more in byelections. It now has 468 councillors.
The only good side to this is that the figure is well below Jobbik’s target – and also the 20-30 that some commentators thought they might gain. But a more than four-fold increase in the town halls under its control is definitely bad news for antifascists.
Jobbik’s successes have been in small towns – it failed to take its target city of Miskolc. And, although the full results for the smallest towns are not yet in, it looks as if it has lost mayors in towns where it previously had them, although its gains have substantially outweighed any losses. Counting is not yet finished in Gyöngyöspata, one of the towns we have been watching – see below – for example, but Fidesz is now well ahead of Jobbik with 58% of votes counted.
• Fidesz, the reactionary, right-wing and authoritarian governing party has swept up a huge 619 mayors and 3,442 councillors. It is in control of Budapest, most of the major cities and county adminsitrations. See below for details.
• It has been a bad night for the centre left, with the MSZP social democratic party – formally Hungary’s Socialist Party, but in no way a radical left organisation – taking 31 mayors’ positions and 517 councillors, although other parties of the centre-left alliance will have added to the centre-left total.
• You will find more information on key results, commentary on Jobbik’s politics and activities in particular areas, and much more further down the blog.
We will have confirmed results later today when all the votes are counted. Thanks to all those who have followed the liveblog tonight.
12.10am FIDESZ: As expected, the reactionary right-wing and increasingly authoritarian Fidesz has dominated these elections. The governing party has changed the constitution – and electoral law – to embed its power further. Fidesz could be seen as in some ways similar to UKIP but with authoritarian rather than libertarian traits.
With more than 97% of votes now counted across the country, Fidesz has 613 mayors and 3,385 councillors.
That compares with 30 mayors and 515 councillors for the MSZP social democrats.
11.50pm JOBBIK AND MUSLIMS, JEWS AND ROMA: Since winning control of Tiszavasvári three years ago – a town it has retained control of in these local elections – Jobbik has proudly announced that Tiszavasvári is twinned with Ardabil, a town in the rugged mountains of north-west Iran.
On the face of it, there is no obvious reason why a drab rustbelt town in Hungary’s former mining area should seek links to a city in a hardline Islamic Republic 2,000 miles away. But this is no ordinary cultural exchange programme, and friendship has very little to do with it. Marton Gyongyosi, a Jobbik MP and its leading foreign policy voice says:
The Persian people and their leaders are considered pariahs in the eyes of the West, which serves Israeli interests. This is why we have solidarity with the peaceful nation of Iran and turn to her with an open heart.
A Jobbik supporter at the ceremony was more candid – he told a reporter – “They hate the Jews, we hate the Jews.”
In fact Jobbik, unlike most European fascist and racist movements, does not promote Islamophobia. The main focus of its racism is traditional anti-Semitism – particularly vile given the fate of Hungary’s Jews during the Holocaust – and anti-Roma racism, continuing Hitler’s murderous designs on the Roma, 500,000 of whom were also wiped out in the Holocaust.
Jobbik has a “Eurasian” orientation, looking east and seeking allies in mainly Muslim countries such as Turkey as a bastion against the West. Leader Gábor Vona has said:
We have been urging… the improvement of … relations with Russia, China, India, Central Asia and the Muslim world.
But anti-fascists across Europe will know that one form of racism feeds into another. There is nothing acceptable in either Islamophobia or anti-Semitism, and many of the stereotypes traditionally applied to Jews by western European fascists have been adapted wholesale and applied to Muslims.
In Hunagary’s reactionary climate, Jobbik’s violent anti-Roma racism is a key mobilising theme and one that is terrifyingly popular. In August 2013, three men were found guilty of assaults in northeast Hungary that killed six Roma. One poll found 60% of Hungarians agreeing that “the inclination to criminality is in the blood of Gypsies”.
11.20pm THE BIG CITIES The main cities have largely gone to Fidesz, which has picked up the major’s position in 20 of the 23 biggest cities. The centre left has taken two, with the other going to an independent. As we saw earlier (scroll down for details) Jobbik failed – by quite a margin – to take the industrial centre of Miskolc.
11.15pm JOBBIK’s MONEY: If you were wondering how the most successful hardcore fascist party in Europe finances its increasing electoral presence, here’s the answer.
According to the Hungarian state audit office, Jobbik has an annual budget of $2.34 million, most of it from a state allowance to parties in parliament. Jobbik denies giving financial aid to other groups. But they were happy to invite Hromoslav Skrabak, 19-year-old leader of Slovakian fascist group Slovenska Pospolitost, to a Jobbik rally where he argued for racial segregation and “humanitarian” methods to reduce Roma fertility. He also said he viewed “homosexuality as a disease”.
Reuters news agency exposed Jobbik’s regional outreach in an article earlier this year, revealing that Jobbik had links with fascist groups in Poland, Slovakia, Croatia and Bulgaria. Reuters claimed that Jobbik sat at the center of the web, the only organisation with contacts with all the parties.
11.10pm BUDAPEST: In the capital, Fidesz have comfortably won the city mayor election with 49.1% for its candidate Tarlós István. The conservative Bokros Lajos, controversially backed by the centre-left, took 36%. Fascist Jobbik are far weaker in the capital and scored just 7.1%, marginally ahead of the green LMP on 5.7%. The liberal MLP took just 2,1%.
In the 23 districts of Budapest, Fidesz took 17 of the district mayors’ positions, with the remaining six split between the parties of the centre left.
11pm JOBBIK: fascist party leader Gábor Vona is happy, declaring tonight’s results so far “a major breakthrough for us today” with “a major increase” in the number of Jobbik mayors. He added:
Tomorrow we start work, and we begin to prepare for governance, because in 2018 Jobbik will run the country!
That is probably an exaggeration, given the dominance of Fidesz, but there is no denying that the threat from Jobbik is increasing at every election – and that the hardcore fascists have substantial paramilitary forces to back up their foul anti-Semitic and anti-Roma politics more brutally.
10.45pm DEVECSER: This small town in western Hungary with a population of just over 5,000 has been won by Jobbik’s Gábor Ferenczi tonight from Fidesz.
This was the town at the centre of massive anti-Roma intimidation. Two years ago, Jobbik’s paramilitary wing the New Hungarian Guard, its offshoot the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future, and assorted gangs of nazis and violent racist thugs including the Sixty-Four Counties, the Defense Force, the Guard motorcyclists, and the Outlaw’s Army, surrounded the house of a Roma resident forcing them to flee.
Now the town has a Jobbik mayor, the situation for local Roma is likely to get even worse.
10.30pm JOBBIK Jobbik now has 13 mayors – a figure that could well rise as the late results of the mainly smaller towns it has targeted come in. Although 90% of the vote has been counted nationally, the confirmed results are mainly from the larger cities, towns and county centres. The last 10% of votes are likely to change the picture. It has 446 councillors so far.
As it stands, 13 mayors would be a big increase on the three the fascists gained in 2010, but well below the number they were aiming for this time. Let’s wait and see what the final figures are… We’ll keep you updated.
10pm COUNTY ASSEMBLIES: 85% of the vote has been counted nationally now, so lets have a look at the 19 county assemblies.
The authoritarian governing party Fidesz is, as expected, dominant and has taken most of the seats in all 19 assemblies. But Jobbik is in second place in 18 out of 19, falling behind the social democrat MZSP in just one.
9.50pm: Worth noting that Jobbik’s supporters are disproportionately young. A survey conducted by Budapest ELTA University in February 2014 found that 25% of voters aged between 18 and 29 voted Jobbik – twice as many as the MZSP social democrats. Jobbik got 20% of the entire electorate in April’s general election.
9.40pm: Just over 80% of the votes have now been counted across Hungary.
So far, Jobbik is set to take the mayoralty in 12 towns: Bánokszentgyörgy, Tapolca, Mátraballa, Devecser, Tiszavasvári, Ózd, Törökszentmiklós, Recsk, Gasztony, Hencida, Monorierdő and Ásotthalom.
It has 399 elected representatives in total so far.
9.20pm TISZAVASVÁRI: Jobbik’s Erik Fülöp has held on to the mayor’s seat here with 52% of the vote, ahead of his main rival – an independent candidate who took 46.4%. Another independent picked up the remaining 1.5% of the vote.
Shamefully, the social democrat MSZP party apologised two weeks ago saying that it was “so weak it has not been able to field a candidates in the town”.
Tiszavasvári is about 125 miles east of Budapest – a town with a population of over 13,000. In 2010 it was the largest Jobbik-controlled municipality. Erik Fülöp, the 32-year-old Jobbik supporter first came to power opposing “Gypsy crime” – a racist rallying call for Jobbik supporters. He created a militia that has harassed and attacked the town’s Roma population.
8.50pm MISKOLC: Good news as the Jobbik fascists flop in their target city of Miskolc, the third largest in Hungary and a major industrial area. With 92% of the votes counted, Jobbik’s candidate Péter Jakab is in third place with 20.6%. The social democrat Albert Pásztor is on 33.3% and Ákos Kriza, the incumbent Fidesz mayor has retained the seat with 42.3%.
The parliamentary constituency of Miskolc was a three-way tug of war until the last moments at the general election in April, so Jobbik has fallen back since then.
Whether today’s result has anything to do with the particularly strange selection of candidates in Miskolc – scroll down for the details – is not clear.
8.40pm Gyöngyöspata. One to watch out for, also in the Gyöngyös area is the old village of Gyöngyöspata, 50 miles north-east of Budapest, where the outgoing mayor was Jobbik. It has a population of about 2,800, including 450 Roma.
Gyöngyöspata has been one of the centres of anti-Roma violence organised by Jobbik supporters.
In 2011, fascists wearing black uniforms and calling themselves the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future (Szebb Jövóért Polgárór Egyesület) marched through the village singing war songs and bellowing abuse. Soon, they were joined by groups including Vederö (Defence Force), and the Betyársereg, wearing camouflage fatigues and armed with axes, whips and snarling bulldogs. For almost two months they roamed the streets day and night, abusing and assaulting Roma.
Jobbik organised mass demonstration in the town and won the mayoral election in 2011.
Since then it has tried to segregate the Roma from the rest of the community. The primary school in the town is run on a sort of Apartheid system, with Romani children illegally separated from non-Roma in separate classes.
The classrooms are also physically separated from each other (Roma classes are on the ground floor, non-Roma are on the upper floors). The segregation between Roma and non-Roma children extends to the toilets, school festivities and school lunch.
8.30pm: JOBBIK. The fascists have held the town of Hencida, in the far east of the country, near the Romanian border.
They have also taken Recsk, formerly the site of a secret forced labour camp under the old Communist Party regime. Recsk is not far from the larger town of Gyöngyös, a key area for Jobbik where party leader Gábor Vona only narrowly lost out in the race for the parliamentary seat in April
Jobbik remains in the lead in nine mayors’ seats.
8.15pm: With 50% of the vote counted nationally, Jobbik is set for nine mayors, and 305 council representatives in total.
These are the towns where Jobbik had mayors going into the elections: Békésszentandrás, Hencida, Hegyháthodász, Monorierdő, Tiszavasvári, Gyöngyöspata and Kosd.
7.50pm BUDAPEST: In the capital city, around 23% of the votes for the city’s mayor have been counted, and as exepected far right Fidesz is in the lead with more than 50% of the vote so far. As it stands, the conservative Lajos Bokros – cobntroversially backed by the centre-left parties – is second with 34% and Jobbik have 8.3%.
7.45pm: With just over 25% of the votes counted nationally, Jobbik have already outdone their 2010 results – they are set to gain eight mayors already, and a total of 262 representatives. They had just three mayors elected in 2010.
The Jobbik mayoral canditates in the lead are in the towns of Devecser, Tiszavasvári, Pilis, Ózd, Cegléd, Törökszentmiklós, Recsk and Ásotthalom.
Tiszavasvári is the only one of these towns that already had a Jobbik mayor.
5.45pm: The governing party Fidesz – an increasingly reactionary hard right populist party, like a more authoritarian UKIP – is expected to come first in the elections that cover mayors and local councils across Hungary.
Jobbik, which took 20% of the vote in the parliamentary elections in April and was only narrowly beaten into third place, desperately wants to take second place this time, ahead of the centre-left block of the social democratic MSZP, the Democratic Coalition (DK), the centrist Together (E-PM) and the green LMP parties.
The fascist party won three mayors in small towns at the last local elections in 2010 and has added four more in byelections. It is standing candidates in 266 cities and towns, including for the first time all 23 districts of the capital Budapest, and says it expects to take 40 to 50 mayors’ seats this time.
Political commentators in Hungary put the likely figure at closer to 20 or 30 – but that would still be a huge increase for the unashamed nazis of Jobbik. Commentator Attila Juhász has noted:
With more than 4000 names on its various party lists, it is fielding more city council candidates than all the left-wing parties combined.
An opinion poll published by Median on 8 October put Fidesz on 50%, Jobbik on 21%, the MSZP on 15%, with the E-PM, DK and green LMP parties making up the rest of the field.
Jobbik also has its eyes on the mayor’s seat in the important industrial city of Miskolc, the third-largest in Hungary. This city will be hotly contested by Jobbik, Fidesz and the centre-left, as it was in the parliamentary elections in April.
The Miskolc battle has a couple of added twists. The first is that Jobbik candidate Péter Jakab has revealed that his mother’s family are Jewish – something that appalled Hungary’s Jewish community. This is the virulently anti-Semitic party whose MP Marton Gyongyosi said lists should be drawn up of officials of Jewish origin as they might be a “national security risk”.
The last senior Jobbik figure to discover he was Jewish was Csanad Szegedi, the Miskolc-born former deputy party leader and MEP. When news of his background broke, Jobbik forced him out of all party positions. He has since renounced his fascist past.
Meanwhile, the centre left has made the appalling decision to back former Miskolc police chief Albert Pásztor as the city’s mayoral candidate – a man who was almost sacked in 2009 after claiming that petty crime in the area was carried out only by Roma people and declaring, “coexistence with our Roma fellow citizens is simply impossible”.
Centre left disarray
The centre left is also in disarray elsewhere, with splits opening up both between the parties and within them after its candidate Ferenc Falus stepped down, ostensibly to allow for the formation of a wider anti-Fidesz bloc. The E-PM and DK threw their weight behind Lajos Bokros, who is standing on the platform of the conservative Modern Hungary Movement (Moma).
But some members of the E-PM refused to back the move, and in the MSZP national leaders refused to support austerity champion Bokros while the Budapest leadership backed him.