The Rise of the Far Right and Anti-Gypsyism in Hungary

Open Society Institute Roma Initiatives Fellow Szilvia Varró, a journalist with the Hungarian weekly Magyar Narancs, was recently awarded the 2010 Joseph Pulitzer Memorial Prize for investigative journalism. Varró published a series of articles about the wave of gun and bomb attacks on Roma settlements that left six dead and many wounded. She has also extensively covered the rise of the right-wing extremist Jobbik party. She spoke recently with Bernard Rorke of OSI. Jobbik is trying to remold itself as a radical rather than fascist party. How would you categorize Jobbik? Jobbik is an openly anti-Semitic and racist party which uses populist ideas borrowed from left and right, covered with a strong hatred of Jews and Roma. They successfully manipulated a widespread and growing fear of crime, which Jobbik links to the Roma. But Jobbik’s success cannot be described adequately in ethnic terms. During the European Parliamentary elections many young people voted for the party. A substantial section of the Hungarian population is fed up with mainstream political parties, wants law and order, and no Gypsies. Jobbik became a protest party which could attract the votes of people disenchanted with politics, who view the political class as distant and incompetent. Hungarian society was sensitive to corruption before the global financial crisis, but the meltdown made ordinary people particularly sensitive. Under these conditions the extreme right has been and is able to exploit the political vacuum with its quasi- fascist demagogy.

viaThe Rise of the Far Right and Anti-Gypsyism in Hungary | Open Society Institute Blog.