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Jobbik Leader Hails “Historic Victory” As Left-Wing Parties Fear Of Rising Radicalism

Tamás Székely 2015.04.13.

Radical nationalist Jobbik scored a narrow lead over its Fidesz-Christian Democrat opponent in the Tapolca by-election, in western Hungary, according to the preliminary result. Lajos Rig scored 35.27% of the votes ahead of Zoltán Fenyvesi with 34.38%. Ferenc Pad, the joint candidate of the Socialists, the Democratic Coalition and the Hungarian Solidarity Movement had the support of 26.27% and Barbara Sallee of the green LMP party 2.05%. The final result is expected to be announced on Thursday.

Jobbik leader Gábor Vona hailed the result as a “historic victory”, noting it was the first time that Jobbik had won a parliamentary mandate in an individual constituency. If Jobbik managed to get this mandate in western Hungary, “it is worth pondering about what the situation could be in eastern Hungary,” he added, referring to his party’s stronghold. PM Viktor Orbán on his Facebook page thanked Fenyvesi and Fidesz-KDNP’s activists for their efforts, adding there are times “when the ball hits the goal-post”.

Socialist (MSZP) leader József Tóbiás said the outcome of the by-election shows that a new situation has emerged in Hungarian politics. Fidesz must now make it clear whether it stands on the side of democracy in which there are rivalries and disputes, but dedication to European values and respect for human lives and values are never questioned, he added. The Democratic Coalition said the result of the election showed that voters are disillusioned with the ruling alliance. Yet its “latest fiasco” also serves as a warning to democrats, too, said Zsolt Gréczy, DK’s spokesman.

Tamás Lánczi, chief analyst of the Századvég Foundation, said the preliminary result could be considered as final even if there is a mathematical possibility that Fidesz and Jobbik could switch places. He told public television M1 that it would be surprising were the result to change before the final announcement. No conclusions from the by-election outcome, however, can be drawn concerning national trends, he said, adding that Jobbik had done a good job of mobilising its supporters in a region where traditionally Jobbik has fared well. The left wing “lagged behind dismally”, he said, noting that whereas the difference between Jobbik and Fidesz was a few hundred votes, the gap between Fidesz and the left was several thousand.

Political Capital, a think-tank, said Jobbik’s biggest success on Sunday was a critical mass no longer sees the party as extremist. The taboos associated with the party that had kept previously undecided voters away from Jobbik have been broken, the think-tank said. The outcome in Tapolca shows that there is now no ceiling above Jobbik’s potential growth. Only political rivals would be able to stop Jobbik in its tracks, though there is no sign of this happening, Political Capital said.

Sámuel Ágoston Mráz, head of the Nézőpont Institute, said the outcome pointed to a “protest vote” amid the current public mood, in which Jobbik came on top. Mráz told public television news channel M1 that an important factor to consider was that voters had not turned out to decide who would govern the country. Further, the matter of a two-thirds majority was not at issue, either, he said, adding that “Jobbik’s biggest problem is that it is unfit to govern.”

via hungarymatters.hu photo: Tamás Kovács – MTI