Populism in Europe: the Jobbik movement
Today we are releasing our report into the Hungarian far-right movement, the Jobbik Party. This report is the first in a series of country reports into far-right populist parties in Europe. The research is based on a research sample of over 13,000 Facebook supporters of far-right populist groups. This research was published in November 2011 in the Demos report, The New Face of Digital Populism. The country reports will present more detail for each country party or street movement, as well as their social and political context.
Jobbik, the Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobb Magyarországért Mozgalom), has emerged as the most successful extreme-right political party in Hungary following the Cold War. Founded as a political party in 2003, their breakthrough came in 2009 when they won nearly 15 per cent of the vote in European parliamentary elections. In general, they are a nationalist Hungarian group whose main concern is the Roma community in Hungary, and the perception that they are disproportionately prone to crime.
Among their Facebook fans (who number approximately 30,000), Jobbik supporters share a number of similarities with Facebook supporters of similar anti-immigrant, nationalist groups in Western Europe. Both groups of supporters tend overwhelmingly to be young men, with approximately two thirds of such supporters under the age of 30, and more than two thirds being male. They also tend to have much lower levels of trust than national averages toward social and political institutions such as the Government, police, army, religious institutions and the media. They are also much far more likely to express negative sentiments towards the European Union, and to think overwhelmingly that their respective country is on the ‘wrong track’. Moreover, these Facebook fans are not simply ‘keyboard warriors’. Their support for these groups extends into the real world. Significant proportions of Facebook supporters have voted for these groups, and participated in street protests and demonstrations. Understanding political movements in the 21st century requires understanding the role of politics on social network sites like Facebook.
Despite these similarities, there are also a number of important differences. The first and foremost difference is the anti-Roma and anti-Semitic sentiments of Jobbik supporters compared to Western European far-right activists. The latter are much more concerned about immigration and Islam. While far-right Western European groups are much more likely to express support for Israel against ‘Islamic extremists’, the Jobbik party and its supporters are much more vocal in their criticism of Israel and in support of pro-Palestinian groups. Aside from this obvious difference, there are a number of more subtle differences. Jobbik Facebook supporters are more likely to be university-educated, personally pessimistic, and are less likely to think that ‘politics is an effective way to respond to our concerns.’ Interestingly, Jobbik supporters are also more likely to say that other people in general can be trusted (possibly because they live in more homogenous communities), and more likely than most Western European far-right supporters to say that violence is acceptable if it leads to the right outcome.
These findings just begin to scratch the surface. Our report includes a number of interesting findings about the Jobbik movement in Hungary, and how they differ from far-right groups in Western Europe – including how Facebook supporters differ from offline voters in terms of their demographic background.