Saturday, May 26, 2018
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Hungary’s tilt

Hungary's election this month renewed the power and improved the electoral position of two right-wing parties. That harkens back to a dismal moment of the country’s political past.

Landlocked in the center of Europe, Hungary has had a hard time maintaining its stature in the face of difficult neighbors. Before and during World War II, Hungary was led by a military dictator, Admiral Miklos Horthy, whose government was zealous in persecuting the nation’s Jews during the Nazi years.

Hungarians showed their courage in the face of domination by the Soviet Union, including a 1956 uprising. Hungary was a member of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviets’ economic union.

After the Soviet Union fell, Hungary became an early member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union. Yet dark strains remain in its political life, which may have been strengthened by this month’s election.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban will begin his third term. A coalition led by his party, Fidesz, will hold 133 of 199 seats in the parliament.

To the right of Fidesz is Jobbik, a party with a paramilitary wing, a record of anti-Semitism, and a policy of “national populism.” Jobbik improved its performance from the 2010 election.

The recent rise of right-wing parties extends to other recession-mired European countries. The next test of their strength will be in elections in individual countries to the EU parliament next month.

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