A "final solution to the gypsy question" has been demanded by a founding member of Hungary's ruling Fidesz party.

Zsolt Bayer's remarks, echoing the Nazi sentiment that led to the Jewish genocide, has embarrassed the government of Hungary's populist prime minister Viktor Orban.

While Orban kept silent about Bayer's comments, which also referred to Roma gypsies as "animals", deputy prime minister Tibor Navracsics said: "Nobody must be put in a category based on his origin."

Writing in the right-wing Magyar Hirlap after alleged Roma assailants stabbed two athletes in a village bar south of Budapest, Bayer said: "A significant part of the Roma is unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals, and they behave like animals. These animals shouldn't be allowed to exist. That needs to be solved - immediately and regardless of the method. "

Former prime minister Gordon Bajnai called on "democrats both on the right and left" to join forces against Bayer, who is close to prime minister Orban.

"Hungary justly expects them to remove the stain [of Bayer]," Bajnai said. "Fidesz should clearly indicate whether it allows people advocating such racist and hatred-inciting ideologies to remain as party members."

Paying tribute to anti-Semitic writers

The left-wing Democratic Coalition (DK) urged the public prosecutor to investigate the anti-Roma remarks but critics were sceptical action would be taken.

"The party speaks with two tongues," historian Kristian Ungváry told German weekly Der Spiegel. "On the one hand, one distances oneself from right-wing extremism in order to maintain a good reputation abroad and because one notes that the political damage would be too severe.

"On the other hand, Fidesz pays tribute to anti-Semitic writers of the interwar period, such as Albert Wass and József Nyírö, or expresses right-wing extremist positions in regime-friendly newspapers," he said.

Magyar Hirlap rejected the criticisms of Bayer. "Because the left-liberals have destroyed the country, murderers and bestial, merciless criminals commit monstrous deeds in many places," it said.

"We condemn the witch-hunt against our employee and call on readers to stand behind him, behind our newspaper and behind our hard-working national government."

In November, a leading member of the far-right Jobbik party, Marton Gyongyosi, called for a list of Jews who pose a "national security risk".