One of the biggest losses of this election is the Jobbik party losing 17 MPs. In addition, according to several analyses, the opposition alliance’s shocking defeat was also due to Jobbik’s voters changing their mind and choosing other sides. After the formerly far-right, now centrist-right party was rather low-key in the campaigning, some on the opposition call into question their very spot within the opposition alliance.
“Invisible” in the campaign
Along with Democratic Coalition (DK), Jobbik was the other party that wasn’t so enthusiastic in terms of appearances on the streets. In addition, they were reportedly half-hearted in their financial contributions to the campaign.
Like the party’s key faces, Jobbik leader Péter Jakab only appeared at the larger, joint events, their activists not at all visible on the streets, therefore in no way comparable with some other parties such as Péter Márki-Zay’s Everybody’s Hungary Movement (MMM), Párbeszéd and Momentum (of the opposition alliance), Mi Hazánk, or even the Two Tailed Dog Party (MKKP).
Meanwhile, Jobbik president Péter Jakab had repeatedly been criticizing Márki-Zay during the campaign. In addition, Jakab was not present either at the opposition alliance’s campaign closing event, or at the election results event.
Jobbik’s voters scattered
Several analyses have come out by now, confirming with the numbers that the opposition losing some 900,000 voters in comparison to 2018, were in large part due to Jobbik voters changing their minds. In fact, the party at its peak had some 1 million voters.
Péter Márki-Zay himself also argued that according to his calculations, while left-wing voters were all there at the ballots, right-wing voters were missing from the opposition alliance’s support.
Anyhow, according to the findings of the analyses, Jobbik’s voters may have “gone” in three main directions (+1). Some of them certainly remained by the opposition alliance and some may have stayed home on April 3. Many, however chose far-right Mi Hazánk (who may have been closer to their political principles), and many others definitely chose ruling Fidesz.
If we take a look around the constituencies, Mi Hazánk was on fire in the districts where Jobbik was previously strong. Meanwhile, Fidesz also got more votes than expected in several constituencies and for the national list, too.
Blame game initiated by Jobbik
Perhaps not entirely independently of the fact that they may have lost a huge number of voters, it was Jobbik (and DK’s Ferenc Gyurcsány) who began the blame game, putting the blame exclusively on PM candidate Péter Márki-Zay. When asked why he didn’t go to the opposition alliance’s results event, Jakab responded that he was angry. “For six months, I have been doing enough of the prime minister candidate’s dirty laundry,” he argued, in reference to some of Márki-Zay’s controversial moves and statements.
This, however, also led to inner conflict. János Stummer (who lost in Békés 1st) hit back in a sarcastic joke to Jakab, and later he also explained that now “it is time for introspection, and not for pointing fingers.”
What is next for Jobbik?
In light of all this, it is hard to tell whether there was any future left for the formerly radical party, or if there are a measurable number of Jobbik voters at all at this point. And ideologically they are squeezed between ruling Fidesz and far-right Mi Hazánk, who to the surprise of many, easily jumped over the parliamentary threshold.
In any case, at the party meeting held one day after the elections, Jobbik leadership confirmed that the people party’s direction is to be followed.
Is Péter Jakab’s resignation in the cards at least? For now, no. He said he wouldn’t resign, arguing that he won’t turn his back on the party as Gábor Vona had done earlier. This was also a riposte to Jobbik’s former, long-time president who argued that Jakab should step down after the shocking failure.
In fact, Vona ironically said Jakab should go over to DK and take Gyurcásny’s spot there as after he made a pact with the leftist party, Jobbik’s existence has become “devoid of purpose.” About Jakab he said that he
“turned a modern conservative party with character into a one-man celebrity show. He confused the [social media] like contest with political performance (…)
It’s not a problem if a politician does things that are…surprising or funny, in fact that can be downright cool. The problem is when a politician’s performance is limited to this. If there is no depth behind the performance, if it becomes increasingly embarrassing.”
There definitely will be turbulence in and around the party, however. One of Jobbik’s iconic faces, Lajos Rig (who was only narrowly beaten by Fidesz strongman Tibor Navracsics in and around Tapolca) just recently announced his retirement from politics and return to his original profession: hospital nurse (in which he was active as a volunteer during the pandemic, too).
But the partners within the opposition alliance were not too happy either, many already discussing Jobbik’s faults and speculating on their future, if there is one. Tamás Mellár (independent but member of the opposition alliance, who is winning his constituency in Pécs, Baranya, although the race is still open as there still are a couple of hundreds of votes to be counted) said that in retrospect it was a bad decision to include Jobbik in the opposition alliance. The question is if there will be any opposition alliance left to discuss the future of.
Jobbik will still have nine MPs in the next parliament as things now stand, equal with the Socialists (MSZP). This means that the party has lost 17 seats and besides the two ruling parties (Fidesz and KDNP), DK and newcomer Momentum will all delegate more representatives to the National Assembly.
featured image: Péter Jakab voting on April 3; via Zsolt Czeglédi/MTI