Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hungary Prepares for Shift in Power

Opposition leader Viktor Orban, who spurred the populist politics that have led to the rise of the far-right in Hungary, believes his party is set to win a two-thirds majority after Sunday's parliamentary elections. But it is the right-wing extremist Jobbik party that is setting the hateful tone of the campaign.

The state authorities have their backs up against the wall in front of St. Stephen's Basilica in Budapest. Three police officers, positioned in the shadow of an Art Nouveau palace, watch motionlessly as Hungary's National Front marches before their eyes.

Members of citizens' militias and neo-Nazi groups have taken over patrolling the streets on this day. In combat boots, camouflage or black military uniforms, they form human chains and divide the crowd.

Fifty thousand people have gathered in front of a speaker's platform. An easterly wind rattles the flags -- red and white striped, much like the armbands worn by members of Hungary's fascist Arrow Cross Party during World War II. The sound of speakers preaching nationalist beliefs reverberates from the loudspeakers.

"Hungary belongs to the Hungarians," the crowd hears. One speaker claims that Israeli investors and their local agents are in the process of buying up the country with its 10 million inhabitants. The speaker argues that the government doesn't care where the money comes from and that they're letting these people "buy Hungary up." The currently governing Socialists, another speaker warns, will be "obliterated from the face of the Earth" and Roma will be encouraged to emigrate.

"They should leave," the crowd chants in unison. "They should leave."

It's election campaign time in Budapest, the peak of the political hunting season, and members of Jobbik, the "Movement for a Better Hungary" founded in 2003, aren't pulling any punches. The party won nearly 15 percent of votes in elections for the European Parliament last year, and is gearing up for the first round of voting in Hungary's next national parliamentary elections on Sunday. The first round will determine party lists, and Jobbik wants to make gains.

To read more:,1518,687921,00.html

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