04:07 GMT +325 April 2018
Listen Live
    Chairman of the Hungarian right wing opposition party Jobbik Gabor Vona speaks at a rally during Hungary's National Day celebrations, which also commemorates the 1848 Hungarian Revolution against the Habsburg monarchy, in Budapest, Hungary March 15, 2018

    PM Orban's Opponents Target Support From Hungarian Voters in Britain

    © REUTERS / Bernadett Szabo
    Europe
    Get short URL
    0 03

    Hungary goes to the polls on April 8 and, with Prime Minister Viktor Orban expected to win a third consecutive term in office, opposition politicians and activists are tapping into Hungarian communities living in Britain to try to muster protest votes against the right-wing leader.

    Two of Hungary's leading opposition candidates — Gábor Vona and Gergely Karácsony — have visited the UK recently to try to maximise their support. Similarly, a group of Hungarians in London have started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for social media advertising trying to convince Hungarians to register to vote.

    One in Six Hungarians is born abroad

    Karácsony, a left-wing candidate for prime minister, has campaigned in Manchester to try to bring out Hungarian voters living there. He commented, "There are half a million Hungarian voters in other EU countries, and one in six Hungarians is now born abroad." He explained that he thinks that most Hungarians living in the EU are likely to support Orban's party Fidesz, but that persuading people to engage with Hungarian politics has proven difficult.

    READ MORE: 'Hungary Will Not Become an Immigrant Country' — PM Viktor Orban

    Vona, the leader of the right-wing party Jobbik, has been campaigning in London this month to try to bring out more votes from British-based Hungarians. A Jobbik meeting on March 9 was due to be held at King's College, but the opposition from anti-fascist protestors forced them to move locations.

    Weyman Bennett from Unite Against Fascism told the Socialist Worker, "Jobbik is not a normal organisation. Its Hungarian Guard was based on the Arrow Cross of the 1940s, an organisation that lined up Jewish people on the Danube River and shot them. And we will not stay silent as Hungarian fascists try to rebuild monuments to them."

    However, as Orbán and his party have become increasingly right-wing in its rhetoric, Jobbik have attempted to rebrand themselves as more centrists moderates. A Jobbik spokeswoman said, "Mobilising Hungarians living abroad includes giving them information about where and how to vote, and also to convince them that their participation could be decisive in the elections."

    Up to 600,000 Voters in the EU

    In the absence of official figures on the number of Hungarians residing in Britain, media reports vary from around 100,000 to double that number. Approximately 600,000 Hungarians live in EU countries, enough to make a substantial difference in an election where around five million people are expected to vote.

    The country's election rules mean that Hungarians living in the EU are required to vote in person at their local consulate on polling day. By contrast, ethnic Hungarians living in non-EU countries that neighbour Hungary have been granted citizenship by Orban's government, and can vote by post. Many of these voters are Orban supporters.

    At the 2014 parliamentary election only 5,314 people cast their votes at the Hungarian embassy in London — a little over one in a thousand of the total. Hungarians in the UK have until Friday to register to vote. "We want to mobilise people to register," one of the organisers of the crowdfunding campaign told the Guardian.

    The latest poll of polls for the Hungarian election has Orban and Fidesz well out in front with 49%, Jobbik on 17%, Karácsony's MSZP on 13% and the remaining coalitions and parties trailing.

    Related:

    Hungary's FM Says UN Rights Chief Must Resign Over Orban Racism Accusations
    'We Must Not Allow a Single Migrant' to Enter Hungary – PM Orban
    Hungary's PM Orban Accuses Soros of Buying Influence at Brussels and UN
    Hungarian PM Orban Vows to Block Any EU Sanctions Against Poland
    Tags:
    Viktor Orban, Hungary, Britain
    Community standardsDiscussion
    Comment via FacebookComment via Sputnik
    • Сomment