The formerly far-right Jobbik party (which has worked to distance itself from its racist, anti-Semitic past) has elected as leader Tamás Sneider, seen as the more moderate of the two candidates to head the party.
Sneider garnered 298 votes, or 54%, of the party’s 556 delegates, party spokesman Ádám Mirkóczki said on the sidelines of Saturday’s congress. László Toroczkai, the other candidate who represented hard-line elements in the party, garnered 46% of the votes, Mirkóczki said, adding that two delegates cast invalid votes.
Asked about the close outcome and the possibility of a party split, Mirkóczki said two “very strong” candidates had competed for the post and neither had been expected to reach a decisive 80-20% win.
“Never before in Jobbik’s history has the leadership vote been this tight,”
he added. Toroczkai complained that voting at the congress had not taken place on a level playing field. Asked by a journalist whether or not he would remain member of Jobbik, he said: “For the time being, yes.” He added, however, that “if there are any reprisals”, he would quit the party.
Sneider said Jobbik’s goal was to be a socially sensitive people’s party, saying he wanted to remedy social injustices. Jobbik, he said, would not veer from its people’s party course.
Sneider: no party split expected
Tamás Sneider, the new Jobbik leader, said tasks ahead for the radical nationalist party included developing a strategy and preparing for the European parliamentary and municipal elections. As Hungary’s largest opposition party, Jobbik is well placed to bolster its strength by 2022, he added.
Asked about Toroczkai and his charge that conditions had not been fair for the leadership election, he said the election had been transparent and everyone, bar one of two objectors, had understood that this was an internal affair. Sneider said he did not expect the party to split or splinter.
Outgoing leader Gábor Vona opened the congress with an assessment of the leadership’s past two years, Mirkóczki said, describing Vona’s speech as “sufficiently critical and objective”. Asked about a delegate who threw his ballot card at the press when leaving the room, Mirkóczki said they must have backed Toroczkai. “But overall, the mood of the congress was not at all like that,” he said, noting that no more than 10-15 delegates had left the event.
images via Mónus Márton/ MTI