The political right in Hungary: The latest poll

Only a few days ago I ventured to predict that Jobbik would lose its appeal. After all, I argued, the party's only trump card is whipping up anti-Roma feelings; its leaders have practically nothing to say about other important matters–for example, the economy. I based my opinion on a demonstration organized by Jobbik against banks and bankers that was a flop. Hardly anyone showed up. Well, so far I'm being proved wrong. According to the August poll of Szonda Ipsos, if elections were held this Sunday 12% of those who claim that they would definitely participate would vote for Jobbik. As opposed to 9% in July. That number is 7% in the electorate as a whole. Fidesz is still doing well. It has three times more support than MSZP. While Fidesz has approximately three million voters, MSZP has only one million. Keep in mind, however, that 40% of those asked said that they are either undecided or would definitely not bother to vote. At Hungarian national elections participation is higher than 60%. In fact, in 2002 it was close to 75%. So it is still possible that disappointed MSZP voters will in the last minute decide to go to the polls and cast ballots for their old party. Jobbik's support is substantial: half a million people would vote for Gábor Vona's party.

There are other interesting last-minute developments. Out of ten Fidesz or Jobbik supporters only six indicated that they would definitely vote. That is fairly low by Fidesz-Jobbik standards. The socialist supporters are even less enthusiastic: out of ten only five would be willing to go to the polls. The big new development in Hungarian political life is the appearance of Jobbik, and therefore the pollsters spent considerable time analyzing its position. Although only 7% of the electorate would vote for Jobbik,  when they were asked about their secondary party preference another 8% indicated Jobbik as their second choice. "The potential reserve of Jobbik is Fidesz. Nine-tenths of those who indicated Jobbik as their second choice are Fidesz supporters."

Szonda Ipsos tried to analyze the background of Jobbik voters. The most obvious characteristic was age. In the 19-29 age group Jobbik received 16% of the votes, twice as many as for MSZP (8%). The 30-49 age group was less enthusiastic about the extreme right. Only 10% would vote for Jobbik and 21% for MSZP. Over the age of sixty Jobbik has a 6% share with MSZP at 39%. Jobbik is relatively weak in the capital with 8% of the votes, in larger cities 11%, while in villages 13%. As far as ideology is concerned Jobbik's camp resembles that of Fidesz but is much more uniform and cohesive. While three-quarters of Fidesz voters consider themselves "right-wingers," nine-tenths of Jobbik voters wholeheartedly follow the right-wing ideology.

Peculiarly enough, when asked if they were liberal, centrist, or conservative, Fidesz voters were all over the map; half of Jobbik's voters identified themselves as conservative. Of course, these self-descriptions show a great deal of ideological confusion. Jobbik is not a conservative party. Neither is Fidesz. The only truly conservative group is MDF, currently supported by only 2% of the population. I can't imagine Fidesz voters who are liberals in the true sense of the word. What is even funnier is that every sixth Jobbik voter thinks that he is a liberal.

One thing is sure: Jobbik voters don't consider themselves followers of an extreme ideology. A Jobbik voter phoned György Bolgár a few days ago to express his dismay over foreign Nazis wanting to demonstrate in Budapest. It was hard to tell whether the emphasis was on foreign or Nazi. If I had to guess I would say both. The Hungarian extreme right has always been very keen on making sure that it is in no way identified with German national socialism or Italian fascism. However, the Hungarian neo-Nazis belong to the international neo-Nazi movement. The targets may be different in the Netherlands, in Great Britain, or in Hungary but the ideology of these groups is very similar.