MEP Márton Gyöngyösi was elected the new chairman of opposition Jobbik at the party’s congress on Saturday.
Gyöngyösi received 68 percent of the votes, against 29 percent received by his opponent István Földi.
He said Jobbik members wanted to leave behind a period of turmoil and wished for Jobbik to start rebuilding itself. “Considering that Hungary currently has no real nationalist and conservative party,” Gyöngyösi said he was determined to lead such a party.
He promised to develop Jobbik as a pro-Europe party which is based on values and takes its principles seriously.
“I would like Jobbik to be an intellectual home and community for everyone pursuing democratic values and proud of their home country,” he said.
He added that there might be a cooperation of opposition parties once again in the future, but currently Jobbik must focus on strengthening its own nationalist conservative policies.
In response to a question, he said he would keep his mandate as an MEP.
The party’s renewal congress had to be convened following the resignation of former party president Péter Jakab, after a fierce internal conflict within Jobbik that ultimately led to the politician’s ousting.
Jakab’s decision comes after Jobbik, a former member of the Hungarian opposition’s pre-election political alliance, suffered a colossal defeat in the 2022 general elections. (Jobbik shrunk from winning 26 seats in 2018 to only nine in April 2022). This was followed by the emergence of a previous sexual harassment scandal in the party, which the Jobbik leadership seemingly tried to sweep under the carpet.
However, the newly-elected leader of Jobbik is himself not without scandals either.
It was Gyöngyösi back in 2012 – well prior to the formerly radical right-wing Jobbik’s alleged repositioning into becoming a center right party – who urged the government to draw up lists of Jews who pose a “national security risk.”
The Jobbik politician said the list was necessary because of heightened tensions following a brief conflict in Gaza at the time.
“I think such a conflict makes it timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here [in Hungary], especially [MPs] in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary,” he said.
Gyöngyösi later apologized for his words, however, he also tried to downplay the incident, claiming he was simply misunderstood.
Featured image by Tamás Kovács/MTI