Sunday, May 05, 2013
Are we living through the 1930s again ?
This is Gabor Vona, the chairman of the Hungarian party Jobbik, addressing his fellow racists. This weekend hundreds of them protested in Budapest against the city's hosting of the World Jewish Congress. Nor is this a minor party. It is Hungary's third largest with 43 MPs and 3 MEPs. The old Hungarian Liberal party, the Alliance of Free Democrats (Szabad Demokraták Szövetsége) has almost disappeared but there is hope in a new group, Together 2014 (Együtt 2014), four of whose members came to help us in the Cambridgeshire County Council elections.
The rise of right-wing populist parties such as UKIP in UK, Golden Dawn in Greece and the Five Star Movement in Italy is characteristic of European austerity. In hard times people reject traditional parties and gravitate to those offering nationalism, quick fixes, hatred and fear of others. Traditional parties meanwhile fail to present their core beliefs effectively for fear of losing votes to each other, thereby guaranteeing that they do lose votes because nobody knows what they stand for. This disastrous mixture of failure and demagoguery feeds of economic distress.
Have we learned nothing from the 1930s ? Please, please let not the 2010s finish as they did.