Hungarian Far-Right Jobbik Party Holds Year-Opening Conference
Tom Szigeti 2017.01.30.
At his party’s year-opening event this past Saturday, Jobbik leader Gábor Vona promised a “new era of reform” for his supporters, Hungarian wire service MTI reports.
In a keynote speech on January 28th, the far-right party’s leader vowed rallied his supporters with the slogan of “No rulers or landlords but Hungary for Hungarians”.
Promising a “new era of reform”, Mr. Vona, who has been attempting to bring his party away from its radical right-wing roots and towards the political center, faced a demonstration before the event by activists belonging to the legally banned Új Magyar Gárda (New Hungarian Guard), a quasi-paramilitary outfit affiliated with Jobbik that has been associated with acts of violence against Hungary’s Roma minority in the past. The several dozen activists protesting against the new moderate direction in which the Jobbik leader is trying to take the party, had also come to demand that Vona hand back his Magyar Gárda vest.
József Sirip (center), of the banned right-wing paramilitary group Magyar Gárda, addresses the press regarding his proclamation addressed to Jobbik leader Gábor Vona, demanding that the latter return his Gárda vest. (Phot: MTI- Zsolt Szigetváry),
Addressing around a crowd of 2,000 that included MEPs, diplomats, and party members, as well as members of the Új Magyar Gárda and the Hungarian Self Defense Movement, Vona declared that Hungary was divided by “petty political games.” He added that the country is “suffocating” in “a political smog,” referencing both the recent smog outbreak in the country as well as Vona’s claims regarding Fidesz corruption.
Hungary, Vona insisted, would be successful if it built bridges with people of different habits, characters and worldviews, with the ultimate aim of creating freedom and security while opposing “rulers and landlords”. Vona said the government of Ferenc Gyurcsány had put the country at the disposal of foreigners, while a circle around Viktor Orbán, the current prime minister, now determined the country’s fate.
Jobbik leader Gábor Vona speaking at the party’s year-opening event on January 28th. (Photo: MTI- Zsolt Szigetváry)
Going further in his criticism of Hungary’s current and former prime ministers, the Jobbik leader told his audience that, while the 19th century had been a prosperous century for Hungary, the 20th century was not due to the long series of historical traumas that filled its hundred years, according to a report in Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet. Vona went on to argue that the 21st century would be a successful one, but that there were two obstacles standing in the way; the first is that Hungary has yet to enter the 21st century in a political sense, and this is in fact related to the second obstacle in Vona’s view, which is that Gyurcsány and Orbán are both “creatures of the 20th century. It is the job of Jobbik, the party leader proclaimed, to “lift the country onto our shoulders and carry it into the 21st century.
Vona went on to claim that, In contrast to Orbán and Gyurcsány, he desires a “party of the people”. He warned that the difficulties that Jobbik had faced over the past 14 years of its existence were “nothing compared to what can be expected in the next one to one-and-a-half years”. The Jobbik leader claimed that outside forces were determined to “completely decimate” the party. He told his audience that the party, far from having strayed further away from its founding principles, was actually far closer to them, given that it now strove to represent the whole nation.
By way of context, two weeks ago in the Eastern Hungarian city of Debrecen, several-dozen ex-members of Jobbik gathered to protest against the direction that Vona had taken the party in. Protesters, who slashed Jobbik banners and chanted anti-Vona slogans, shouted that the current party leader had “betrayed national radicalism.”
Former Jobbik members in the Eastern Hugnarian city of Debrecen on January 14th, protesting against the party’s current, more centralist policies under leader Gábor Vona. (Photo: MTI- Zsolt Czeglédi)
Vona added that the terms “left” and “right” no longer had currency. Rather, every Hungarian was important to him. Vona said governance by a people’s party meant adhering to the principles of “freedom, security and service”.
According to Vona, Freedom requires an active, brave, yet sober foreign policy, as well as a policy for Hungarian communities abroad. Important include halting migration and setting up a border guard, he added. Security requires decent wages, health care and education. Rather than stealing development funds, a fair social security system must be created, he said. Vona also vowed to “raise the issue of Hungarian-Gypsy coexistence”, which he described as a “ticking bomb.”