By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent reporting from Budapest
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY (BosNewsLife)– Hungary’s main far-right party, accused by rights groups of spreading anti-Semitic views and hatred towards the country’s up to 800,000 Gypsies, known as Roma, has received three seats in the European Parliament, official results showed.
The far-right Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) got over 15 percent of the ballots, much better than expected. The main center right opposition party Fidesz was seen gaining 14 seats. Hungary’s ruling Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) was the big loser, holding on to just four seats, amid public anger over the country’s deepest recession in decades, results showed.
The tiny conservative Hungarian Democratic Forum (MDF) managed to reserve one seat in the 736-member European Parliament.
At Jobbik’s campaign headquarters in Budapest shouts of “Hungary, Hungary” and “Hungary belongs to Hungarians” reverberated throughout the room after the results were announced. Jobbik President Gábor Vona told supporters his party had been feeling like “Palestine being bombed by Israel,” but that Jobbik managed to prevail.
He personally thanked Jobbik’s paramilitary wing Magyar Gárda, or Hungarian Guard, for playing a role in his party’s victory. Wearing uniforms and waving flags used by Hungary’s pro-nazi regime, Magyar Gárda recruits have been marching through Roma villages and settlements.
The Budapest based European Roma Rights Center (ERRC), a major advocacy group, has said that groups such as Jobbik’s Magyar Gárda contributed to an atmosphere of hatred in Hungary where at least 7 Roma were killed in recent attacks.
Jobbik’s primary European candidate, Kisztina Morvai, said she wanted to be the candidate for Hungarians. Morvai, a former human rights lawyer, stressed she would partner with euroskeptics and defend Hungary’s sovereignty by fighting against the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union’s reform agreement.
At home, her party wants to tackle “Gypsy crime”, re-introduce the death penalty and set up “gendarmes” in rural areas of the country. At the same time, Morvai pledged to fight against the “terror of multinational companies and multinational capital.”
Jobbik has also signed an agreement with a radical group within Hungary’s police force, ‘The Trade Union of Hungarian Police Prepared for Action’ (TMRSZ), which has anti-Jewish and anti-Roma views in publications.
At least one of its affiliated writers has even asserted that “anti-Semitism is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover” and that “Hungary must prepare for armed battle against the Jews” as well as “a Hungarian-Gypsy civil war…triggered by Jews.”
Jobbik’s entry into the European Parliament came as a major setback for Hungary, said MSZP Chairwoman Ildikó Lendvai in a somber speech to the party faithful. “The society is split and we have to unite, especially in this difficult economic crisis. We have to make decisions that are helping people, especially those who have loans and can not pay them,” she said.
Lendvai described Jobbik’s success as “not good for Hungary and not good for the parties” and everything the European Union stands for. “This is a very extremist party, nobody warned us. This is like a splash in the face of everybody in this room.”
Fidesz party leader Viktor Orbán, who hopes to become Hungary’s prime minister for a second time, did not mention Jobbik, but said his party’s victory was a clear message that Hungarians “want to take the country in a new direction” and demanded early general elections in Hungary.”We don’t want the Socialists to damage the country further,” Orban added.
Officials of MSZP made clear they do not want early elections and that the recently appointed Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai had a mandate to carry out needed austerity measures to overcome Hungary’s economic crisis.
MDF leader Dávid Ibolya said Jobbik’s succes underscored troubles in Hungary’s young democracy. “During all these debates, a party grew up such as Jobbik”, which, she warned, would undermine Hungary’s open society and European solidarity.
Jobbik was expected to be among other far right parties able to form a voting block in the European Parliament, observers said. Hungary was among 19 EU nations that voted in Europe’s Super Sunday, ending a four-day marathon poll in which 375 million people could participate, the world’s largest multi-national election.