Finishing third in the Hungarian parliamentary elections held April 6th, Hungary’s radical right wing party, Jobbik has plenty of reason celebrate. Jobbik’s share of votes cast for national party lists increased four percentage points from 16% to 20%, from 850,000 in 2010 to one million despite low voter turnout. Furthermore, whereas in earlier elections most of its support came from eastern Hungary, it made solid gains throughout Hungary, especially in the south-western part of the country.
Conservative French daily newspaper Le Monde pronounced Jobbik the real winner of Hungary’s general election, observing that Jobbik managed to increase its voter base by a quarter (four percentage points) despite numerous obstacles put in their way by the governing Fidesz-KDNP alliance. Hungarian political analyst Laszlo Keri told ATV that the main result of the election was that Jobbik “became a national party”.
Toning down its anti-Semitic and anti-Gypsy rhetoric, Jobbik repositioned itself as a right wing party of young people by speaking to issues important to them such as employment and the environment. Conspicuously absent from Jobbik’s election night rally were the black vests and the red-striped banners of the New Hungarian Guard, successor organization to the banned Magyar Garda founded by Fidesz chaiman Gabor Vona.
Jobbik vice president Tamas Sneider said the strengthening of the party’s base alleviated several dangers confronting it, including lack of support among the elderly and among women and the fact that support for the party was concentrated in the northeast. The fact that women came out to support the party, attending party rallies in increasing numbers, was a major step forward according to Sneider.
High levels of poverty, unemployment, and mounting tensions between Roma and non-Roma made Hungary’s south-west receptive to Jobbik’s message of no tolerance for crime. In addition to the south-west. Jobbik made impressive gains across the country, including Budapest. Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen was the only county where Jobbik received fewer votes in 2014 than 2010 despite poor national voter turn-out (60% versus 68% in 2010). In the countryside, Jobbik candidates placed second ahead of left-wing opposition alliance candidates in no fewer than 41 electoral districts.
Receiving 640,000 fewer votes in 2014 than 2010, Fidesz certainly contributed to the growth of Jobbik supporters with its nationalist, conservative pronouncements of the past four years and the anti-liberal ideology permeating state media coverage of the election. Disaffected Fidesz voters have swelled the ranks of Jobbik supporters. Furthermore, throughout the campaign Fidesz took care not to openly attack Jobbik for fear of alienating right wing supporters, saving its vitriol for the left-wing Opposition Alliance.