Features 16 Nov 15

Hungarian Rightists’ Motives Remain Mysterious in Serbia

Far-right Hungarian party Jobbik raised fears of extremist provocations by opening an office in Senta, a mainly ethnic Hungarian town in north Serbia, but locals know little about the party's agenda and local staff were reluctant to talk.

Sasa Dragojlo
Jobbik poster in István Szávai's office in Senta | Photo: Sasa Dragojlo

The news that the far-right party Jobbik has opened an office in Senta echoed around the Serbian media, raising fears that it could lead to a rise in nationalist ideology in Hungarian-majority areas in the country's north - but a visit to the town suggested that the party appears to have little popularity among locals.

István Szávai, vice-president of Jobbik and a member of the Hungarian parliament, opened the office on October 31, claiming that it was not there to promote Jobbik’s own political agenda but just wanted to help the locals.

“We are not participating in Serbia’s political life, we just want to have direct contacts with Hungarian citizens who live there so that we can represent their problems to the Hungarian parliament in case it is necessary,” Szávai told BIRN.

The fact that the nationalist party calls Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina “southern Hungary” has undoubtedly worried the Serbian media and authorities. [Vojvodina was part of Hungary before the First World War.]

However, few people in Senta that BIRN talked to were aware of Jobbik’s presence in the town.

Indeed, BIRN had difficulties in finding the exact location of Jobbik’s premises, wandering through the foggy streets of Senta, where around 80 per cent of locals are ethnically Hungarian.

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