Hungary’s tilt: Right-wing parties gain in the latest election

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Right-wing parties gain in the latest election, harking back to what was not the best moment of the country’s political past.

Landlocked in the center of Europe with a population of 10 million, Hungary has always had a hard time maintaining its stature in the face of sometimes difficult neighbors.

Before and during World War II it was led by a military dictator, Admiral Miklos Horthy, whose government was zealous in pursuit and persecution of the nation’s Jews during the Nazi years.

Hungarians’ courage and tenacity was demonstrated, however, in the face of domination by the Soviet Union, including the 1956 uprising. It was a member of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviets’ economic union, COMECON.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, Hungary became an early member of NATO and the European Union, seeking economic advancement and protection from potential enemies. At the same time, there have remained dark strains in its political life — which may have been strengthened by the outcome of the latest election.

The new government will be led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who will begin his third term. His party, Fidesz, in coalition with the small Christian Democratic People’s Party, will hold 133 of 199 seats in the parliament, a large majority. To the right of the conservative Fidesz will be Jobbik, with a paramilitary wing, a record of anti-Semitism and a policy called national populism, which is sometimes hard to distinguish from national socialism. Jobbik raised its tally this time by four percentage points over the last election in 2010.

The recent rise of right-wing parties goes beyond Hungary, however, to other countries in a Europe mired in recession. The next test of their strength will be the elections in individual countries to the EU parliament in late May.

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