BUDAPEST (JTA) — Hungary’s lawmakers rejected constitutional amendments to make Holocaust denial a punishable offense.
Some local Jewish community leaders believe that Monday’s vote secured the first parliamentary victory for Jobbik, a rapidly rising local neo-Nazi movement widely predicted to win several seats in the national elections due within a year.
The proposals, put forth by the ruling Socialist caretaker government, attracted fewer than half the votes needed to adopt a constitutional amendment.
The frequently populist, ultra-Conservative Fidesz opposition party rejected the proposals along with the neo-Liberal Free Democrats, the erstwhile coalition partners of the Socialists.
The Association of Hungarian Jewish Religious Communities, or Mazsihisz — the country’s largest Jewish organization — has not issued an official comment. However, a commentary published on the Mazsihisz Web site by Tamas Palmai, an intellectual writing in his personal capacity, says many believe that Fidesz turned down the reforms for fear of provoking the wrath of Jobbik.
Holocaust denial is outlawed in many countries which, like Hungary, were occupied by the Nazis during World War II. The Hungarian government’s attempt at introducing the legislation that failed was made in response to provocations by neo-Nazis at Buda Castle that marred the last Holocaust Remembrance Day.