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Quo Vadis, Hungarian Radicals? – Press Reactions To Jobbik’s Intra-Party Conflicts

Tamás Székely 2016.04.25.

Radical nationalist Jobbik party leader Gábor Vona announced last week that he would use his right to veto the re-election of four current Vice-Presidents, including Előd Novák, who are widely considered to represent the party’s radical right. Gábor Vona says that he wants to make his party more moderate, and elect new Vice-Presidents who have experience in local government as mayors. Press reviewer budapost.eu points out that political commentators in Hungarian media now wondering what the implications of Vona’s surprising move may be.

In left-wing Népszabadság, Miklós Hargitai and László M. Ferenc suspect that Vona wants to weaken opposition to him within the party rather than purge radicals from Jobbik’s leadership. The left-wing analysts suggest that some of the politicians Vona named as more desirable deputies are no less radical than the unwanted current Vice-Presidents. Among others, Vona named the radical-minded mayor of Ásotthalom László Toroczkai as a desirable candidate, and said that he had no intention to replace Vice-President Tamás Sneider, a former skinhead leader. Writing in the same daily, Ervin Tamás wonders if a more moderately branded Jobbik would attract more votes than a radical-extremist party. If an intra-party fight breaks out within Jobbik, some of its current supporters could turn their backs on their party, Tamás concludes.

Gábor Vona has realized that he can only defeat Fidesz at the elections if Jobbik distances itself from the extreme right, Róbert Friss suggests in radical left-wing daily Népszava. The columnist likens Vona’s move to the “Night of the Long Knives”, the operation in which Hitler purged his party of some of its most extreme luminaries in an effort to appear not so radical, after all. Friss suggests that all this is just tactical manoeuvring, as there is no real centre in Hungary, and both Fidesz and Jobbik are radical right-wing parties which try to embrace more moderate voters as well.

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Meanwhile in right-wing Magyar Idők journalist Péter Szikszai wonders in an ironic opinion piece what motivated Gábor Vona to launch the purge. One possible reason the pro-government commentator mentions is that Vona wants to earn the support of rich and influential entrepreneurs dissatisfied with the Orbán government, including former Fidesz treasurer Lajos Simicska. Another possibility Szikszai mentions is that the tactical move was suggested by Jobbik’s alleged Russian supporters. Concerning Vona’s decision to move to the political centre, Szikszai wonders how far Vona would go to distance himself from radicalism.

via budapost.eu photo: Tamás Kovács – MTI