Rise of Hungary's far-Right Jobbik party stirs disturbing echoes of the 1940s

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As Hungary prepares to vote in a crucial election, the far-Right Jobbik party expects great success - to the consternation of democrats and those old enough to remember the fascist past.

As the youthful leader of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party arrived for an election rally, his followers gave him a welcome that had disturbing echoes of Europe in the 1940s.

Two ranks of Hungarian Guards, in paramilitary-style uniforms, snapped to attention as Gabor Vona marched past them. Party leaders saluted, and a red and white banner was raised - one that looked suspiciously similar to Hungary's old fascist emblem.

The enthusiasm showed that Mr Vona has come a long way since Jobbik launched seven years ago. Its fierce nationalistic agenda and far-right rhetoric were soundly rejected by the electorate then. In national elections in 2006 it polled a miserable 2.2 per cent, failing to get a single member of parliament elected.

But now as Hungary prepares for crucial new elections the tide has turned, and it is flowing strongly Jobbik's way. To the horror of democrats who thought Hungary had shaken itself free of political extremism in 1989 with the fall of communism, Jobbik is on course to become the second biggest party in parliament.

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