The Hungarian far-right: Jobbik’s chances

Yes, I know that Jobbik did very well at the European parliamentary elections, and a lot of people fear that next year at the national elections they will do even better. However, I belong to the camp–if it even exists–that thinks that Jobbik's future might not be as bright as its leader, Gábor Vona, believes. Jobbik's success hinges on the real life problems created by the presence of a fairly large, unassimilated Roma community. The fact is–and it is useless to ignore or deny it–that the culture, customs, and everyday behavior of perhaps even the majority of the Gypsies is markedly different from the majority culture. So it is no wonder that Jobbik did best in places with a large Roma population. But aside from the "Gypsy question" does Jobbik have anything more to offer? I somehow doubt it.

The party suffered a setback when its brainchild, the Hungarian Guard, was banned. Jobbik can no longer send its paramilitary units to villages with Gypsy minorities because the police would surely arrest them en masse. Police Chief József Bencze made that crystal clear. A few days ago an anonymous caller phoned the mayor of Kisléta, the village where the latest murder took place, and threatened him personally. He was also told that members of the Hungarian Guard not in military formations but one by one, on motorcyles, would harass him and the inhabitants of the village. Up to now nothing has happened. Moreover, the mayor of nineteen years doesn't strike me as being afraid of anything. He is an older man with an eighth grade education, but many university graduates could learn a thing or two from him. Especially about decency.

Jobbik's past success hinged on action or threat of action against the Gypsies with the help of a paramilitary organization that would "make order." However, the government learned a few things from the spectacular growth of Jobbik. Despite the austerity program, no money is being spared to create a larger and more visible police force, especially in smaller villages. The local civilian "neighborhood watch" will  include Roma volunteers. Smaller thefts will no longer be ignored. Sentences will be tougher. If the local police force is enlarged and security in the villages improves, Jobbik's appeal might diminish on the "law and order" front.

And "law and order" is the main appeal of Jobbik. When on Monday (August 3) Jobbik organized a demonstration against the banks, barely anyone showed up. Perhaps one hundred people and of these about 25 were from the media. The organizers always find some explanation for a non-event: it was during the summer and everybody was on vacation. Gábor Vona attended flanked by his two bodyguards, Zsiráf (Giraffe) and Szkinhed Bandi, two men from the underworld, both with police records. They present a frightening sight.Testorok I wouldn't want to encounter them in some dark alley. Vona doesn't seem to be bothered either by their past or by their looks, but I wonder what the majority of Jobbik voters will think if he appears in their company time and time again.

The demonstration may have been sparsely attended, but "Jenny, the Hungarian bloodhound," was there. Of course, Jenny is not a bloodhound, and in any case, most Hungarians haven't got the foggiest about the gentle nature of the bloodhound. They think that it is an attack dog whose name has something to do with going for blood. Of course, in this case the "Hungarian bloodhound" was said in jest. Jenny showed up in patriotic attire.Jenny, a magyar vereb According to the article I read, Jenny is not as harmless as she looks. She bites.

Apparently, the people present began singing a song popular in certain circles, "We don't give up!" It seems that this is the signature song of a far-right rock group called "Egészséges Fejbőr" (Healthy Scalp). Knowing nothing about rock music, I can't pass judgment on their musical talent, but their knowledge of history is sorely lacking. Attila the Hun was, of course, a Hungarian. On one Internet side featuring this recording I read a comment that proudly announced that "even the Chinese know about the Hungarians being the Huns." Well, in that case, there can't be any further discussion! One of the recordings of "We don't give up!" shows the members of the rock group in garish "attilas." An "attila" is an outfit similar to "bocskai" about which I wrote earlier except that while the bocskai is all black, the "attila" has gold braiding on fabric of a contrasting color.

The leaders of Fidesz love to travel to Transylvania and send political messages back to Hungary. Vona decided to imitate them. There is a far-right Hungarian youth organization in Romania called "Erdélyi Magyar Ifjak" (Transylvanian Hungarian Youths) that was the host to Gábor Vona and other Jobbik leaders in Gyergyószentmiklós (Gheorgheni) in the middle of Harghita (Hargita) County where about 90% of the population is ethnic Hungarian. Harghita County seems to be the center of far-right Hungarian politicians, and the County Council assisted the gathering financially. There were all sorts of lectures, exhibition war games, and rock concerts by right-wing nationalistic groups, for example, the Kormorán.

The big attraction was most likely Vona's speech. He sent his message to "Inner Hungary,"as a Romanian-Hungarian paper, Új Magyar Szó (New Hungarian Word) called Hungary of today. There's no question that if Hungary proper is Inner Hungary, the surrounding areas are "Outer Hungary." The Romanian National Security Office is surely listening! Vona never mentioned Viktor Orbán by name in his speech. He reiterated that Jobbik is preparing to be a governing party next year. Yes, he is willing to form a coalition with Fidesz but only if the government program is Jobbik's program. The answer from Fidesz was immediate: Bertalan Havasi, head of the press corps working for Fidesz, announced that the Fidesz government will have no Jobbik member.

For the time being the offer of a coalition is certainly not being accepted but, let's face it, everything will depend on the election results. However, as I said at the beginning of this blog, Vona might be too sanguine about Jobbik's chances.

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As I am not fluent Hungarian, can you explain why “Vona”, but no longer “Zázrivecz”.

Eva S. Balogh

Bill: ‘As I am not fluent Hungarian, can you explain why “Vona”, but no longer “Zázrivecz”.”
I guess because Zázrivecz is too obviously not a Hungarian name. I read somewhere though that the family’s name was originally Vona but Gábor’s grandfather, also called Gábor, died in World War II somewhere in Russia and his grandmother got married to a Zázrivecz who adopted Gábor’s father. So, allegedly, he took back his rightful name. The name changed occurred when he was in college. Whether this is just Vona’s explanation, I don’t know.