In Hungary as well as in Europe the far-right is gaining more and more popularity. Hungary’s right wing extremist party, Jobbik is now the second biggest party in the country, with 20% of the votes behind them. With the EU elections coming up, polls show that with a Eurosceptical agenda, the far-right will attract many people, enough in fact to be one of the major forces.
The joint event of the Hungarian Free Market Foundation and Political Capital was searching for answers to the ever present questions such as: what is the program of the far-right, how certain far right groups in Europe differ, should the media give these parties a voice, what effective counter strategies exist and is it possible that these parties form a partnership in the EU parliament.
The conference, titled Anti-capitalism, Anti-Europe sentiments and Extremism took place on 14th May with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. The speakers came from a wide variety of fields: there were people from NGOs, political analysts, journalists and artists amongst them.
There was a general agreement as to why Jobbik and the far-right did and will continue to do so well. It is positioning itself as a third way party, a relatively new alternative to the older parties in whom people lost faith. Jobbik could distinguish itself by the extreme and militant views it represented in contrast to the more level-headed agendas other parties put forth, which provided no novelty value to voters. Jobbik managed to utilize the growing Euroscepticism of the population and thus singled itself out as the savior from the clutches of the EU. Their campaign was more direct, unlike other parties they interacted in areas of the country which everyone else neglected.
Up until now Jobbik was isolated by the media and by other parties. They did not give the far-right a platform to express its ideas, they did not engage them in debates. This helped further Jobbik’s image as a rebel party which goes against the mainstream. This tendency is no changing. A consensus is being reached, that the media should embargo Jobbik, and other parties should start arguing with Jobbik, nevertheless with great caution. In this latter issue people are still disagreeing as to how what is the best way in communicating with the extremists and how and to what length should they do it.
In conclusion Jobbik has grown to be a major force that cannot be disregarded. Its popularity reflects the failed policies in Hungary as well as the general discontent of the voters. In the EU parliament however despite the more centralized rebranding Jobbik is still deemed as a too extremist entity, and for this reason it probably won’t find many allies.