In The west’s battle against the far right will define this century, Sadiq Khan’s well-founded concerns about political extremism and condemnation of political terror (focusing only on the far right) make reference to a number of countries normally cited as “model liberal democracies”. Hungary is not on that list, because such terror has no place here.
Nevertheless he attempts to shoehorn our country into his narrative, repeating long discredited tropes seeking to support the breathtakingly absurd claim of “the far right having unconstrained power in Hungary”. He thus fatally undermines his own argument. Here the far right has no power. The far-right party currently in Parliament gained under 6 per cent of the vote in this year’s election, compared with the centre-right Fidesz-KDNP alliance’s share of over 54 per cent. Furthermore, in the campaign left-wing parties entered into a cynical – but thankfully unsuccessful – alliance with the rump of the far-right Jobbik party.
Khan rightly links extremism with economic hardship and political uncertainty. In Hungary, stable governance and increasing prosperity over the past twelve years have reduced the potential for political violence to negligible levels. In the period leading up to 2010, however, left-liberal administrations presided over political instability and economic decline, erosion of the rule of law, the rise of far-right quasi-paramilitary groups, and heightened ethnic tensions. One result was a series of murders in 2008-09 targeting the Roma community. Since 2010 there have been continuous, concerted and exemplary efforts at government level to improve the situation of the Roma population and promote inter-ethnic harmony. The success of these have been internationally recognised by impartial observers.
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