Jobbik Pledges to Join French President Macron’s Planned “EU Debates” After Election Victory

The formerly far-right Jobbik party (which has worked to distance itself from its racist, anti-Semitic past) has called for Hungary’s participation in the Europe-wide consultation initiated by the French president about the EU’s future.

Emmanuel Macron’s initiative was welcomed by every democratic political community, even those who have expressed strong criticism about the European Union, according to Jobbik politician Andrea Varga Damm said. She argued that it was “shameful” that Macron had to single out Hungary last week as the only EU member country that rejected the initiative. Varga-Damm added that Jobbik leader and prime ministerial candidate Gábor Vona had sent an open letter to Macron promising to the French president that

“after the April 8 general election, Hungary’s Jobbik-led government would join the European consultation”.

The lawmaker also criticised the Orbán government for staying away from the security policy conference held earlier this month in Munich, which was attended by heads of state and government of 20 countries and 500 senior politicians and experts.

Macron’s initiative, which has similarities to the ruling Fidesz-KDNP government’s National Consultation, wishes to initiate a consultation on the values and future of the European Union, and will probably start on the 17th of April in Strasbourg, France. As a first step, potential respondents could fill out a questionnaire, which would be followed by debates in each participating member state.

A Jobbik billboard: “With Europe for European Wages”. (Photo: Székelyhidi Balázs / Magyar Nemzet)

This latest move seems to fit in Jobbik’s centrist turn, towards becoming a people’s party and being an alternative to governing Fidesz. Party leader and prime ministerial candidate Gábor Vona has so far put a lot of effort into softening the image of his formerly radical-nationalist party and to get rid of its far-right reputation and most radical elements, such as Előd Novák who was notorious of his controversial racist comments. Many however view this turn skeptically, and remain concerned that Jobbik is, at its heart, still the xenophobic, anti-Semitic party that it once was.

The radical party had a reputation of being hardcore EU-skeptic as, for example during a gathering in 2012 they even went on to burn an EU flag. However, for now Vona’s party seems to regard the EU as a partner, which is reflected in one of the main points of their campaign, the so-called “wage union,” a call to raise Hungary’s wages to the level of the European average. This itself began as a European Citizens’ Initiative,  and would naturally involve broader coordination and partnership with the EUThe plan itself has, however, been criticized as unrealistic by both the Orbán government and some outside observers.

Macron’s plan for EU-wide debates on the bloc’s future has gained the support of 26 of the bloc’s 27 (non-UK) countries, including Poland, which has had a number of conflicts with the bloc recently over the migrant crisis and concerns of the rule of law in the country. According to Reuters, Macron’s scheme would see EU states

consult their people during a period of six months to help lay the foundations of Europe for the next 10 to 15 years and give Europeans an opportunity to discuss issues in more detail than in a “yes/no” referendum.


via hungarymatters.hu, MTI, Magyar Nemzet, and Reuters

image via Mohai Balázs/MTI