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Far-right has worrying success in Hungary

By STEFAN NICOLA, UPI Europe Correspondent

BERLIN, April 13 (UPI) -- Hungary's extreme right scored its best election result since the Nazi era, continuing an upsurge of support for far-right parties in Europe.

The far-right Jobbik Party, which campaigned on anti-Roma and anti-Semitic slogans, won 17 percent of the vote in Sunday's national elections, slightly less than the government Socialist Party, which managed only a devastating 19 percent. Jobbik is poised to enter parliament for the first time.

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The conservative Fidesz party was Sunday's big winner with 53 percent. Its top candidate Viktor Orban is expected to become the next prime minister of a one-party government -- a very rare phenomenon in Europe.

Yet it's the upsurge in support for Jobbik that has observers worried.

Britain's Telegraph newspaper quotes the country's largest Jewish organization as saying that the vote is "the first occasion (since the Nazi era) that a movement pursuing openly anti-Semitic policies" is moving closer to taking power.

Gabor Vona, 31, and Krisztina Morvai, a 46-year-old European Parliament lawmaker, are Jobbik's two main leaders. Vona was also behind the "Hungarian Guard," an extremist group that has attacked Roma settlements and is now outlawed.

It was organized like a paramilitary neo-Nazi group, acted as the security wing of Jobbik and was harshly criticized by mainstream Hungarian politicians. Vona has nevertheless promised to enter parliament wearing his black Hungarian Guard uniform.

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Jobbik's success follows a European-wide trend.

Last month's regional elections in France saw a revival of the anti-immigrant National Front. In the Netherlands, the anti-Islam Freedom Party led by the far-right populist Geert Wilders leads the polls less than two months before national elections.

In Hungary, the political turnaround was widely expected.

Voters have been frustrated by the Socialists' problems in dealing with the Hungarian budget and stop the rise of unemployment, still towering at more than 11 percent.

When Socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany in 2006 admitted lying to the public, angry protesters took the streets and forced his resignation.

The country has since suffered economically. Hungary in 2009 became the first EU member to ask the International Monetary Fund for a $27 billion bailout.

"Jobbik was strongest in the eastern part of the country, where unemployment and frustration is highest," Kai-Olaf Lang, an eastern Europe expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, told United Press International in a telephone interview.

The expert added, however, that Jobbik will be isolated in parliament.

"Fidesz is not interested in integrating Jobbik because it is a competitor from the right," Lang told UPI. "Viktor Orban has a huge responsibility to turn around the economy and consolidate the national budget. That's his main task now."

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