Why you should care
When it comes to politics, regardless of where you stand, knowing what’s riding the fine line of the cutting edge can’t hurt. Much.
Neo-fascism and neo-Nazism are influencing politics in an E.U. member state, bringing anti-Semitism and radical nationalism to the forefront. Again. Thirty-five-year-old Gábor Vona has achieved movie-star status among supporters by putting a fresh face on an old brand of nationalism. His Jobbik Party resonates with many Hungarians, having won more than 800,000 votes and 47 of the 368 seats in parliament in 2010, making it Hungary’s third-largest party. Now Vona and his party — anti-immigration, anti-Roma, anti-gay and anti-Semitic — look to win more seats this spring.
Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov is in the middle of surges of instability in the North Caucuses — but he’s pretty into his Instagram these days. Kadyrov is not a typical president, but then again, there’s nothing typical about him. At 16 he led a unit of rebel fighters against Russian forces in the first Chechen war, fighting alongside his father, a Muslim imam. His father was later elected president of Chechnya but was assassinated in 2004. Which led to Vladimir Putin installing the then 30-year-old Ramzan in his father’s place three years later. The now 36-year-old wants to make his republic “more Islamic than the Islamists,” and gets plenty of credit on hometown shores for maintaining his nation’s stability. On the other hand, there’s the matter of human rights violations, including abduction and torture — which are pretty hard to deflect.
And we’ll kick it back in time, too — back to the foibles and flight of Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori (yes, that’s his real name). Let’s be clear: Fujimori is no hero in this story — in fact, he’d be described in starkly different terms by most historians. For starters, here’s what you’d see on his ledger: war crimes, human rights abuses, murder allegations, exile, death squads. How on earth does a Japanese-looking guy win an election in Peru? And with the slogan: ’A President like you?’ Bizarrely enough, by looking Japanese. Though Fujimori is known (sometimes affectionately) as el Chino, his face may well have carried him all the way to the top.