Do we know what Jobbik is all about?

I have somewhat neglected the affairs of Jobbik, but the speech that Gábor Vona, the leader of the party, delivered on October 23 was significant enough to prompt me to take stock of what’s going on in what was once the most notorious extremist right-wing party in all of Europe. The reputation of Jobbik was so tarnished a few years ago that not even the very right-wing Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) in the European Parliament wanted anything to do with the party’s three European parliamentary members. They sit with the independents. In 2015, however, Vona and people close to him in the party decided to abandon their former ideology and move toward a more centrist position on the political spectrum.

The move was logical because, over the years, Viktor Orbán had moved his own party, Fidesz, more and more to the right until the two parties were practically indistinguishable. Vona’s move resulted in a loss of support on the extreme right wing of the party. These people most likely today are Fidesz supporters. As the election nears and the size of the liberal and socialist camp shrinks, Vona has been making great efforts to appeal to disillusioned MSZP voters. The job is not easy because too many people remember the party’s anti-Semitic outbursts, their burning of the European Union’s flag, their support for all sorts of extremist groups, and their establishment of the Hungarian Guard, whose flag bore a suspicious resemblance to that of the Hungarian national socialist Arrow Cross movement of the 1930s and 1940s.

Because of the heavy baggage Jobbik carries, for the time being there is solid opposition on the left to cooperating with Vona’s party, even though there is quite a bit of pressure from below to enter into some kind of “technical coalition” because otherwise Fidesz might emerge with an even greater plurality than in 2010 and 2014. But Gergely Karácsony of Párbeszéd put it well when he said that “once Jobbik made it clear that it doesn’t want to cooperate with the other parties but is interested only in its own voters, any discussion on the subject would be counterproductive.” Moreover, if the opposition parties on the left made a deal with Jobbik, it would essentially be rolling out a red carpet for Jobbik voters.

Yet there are observers like Béla Galló, a political scientist who formerly had close connections with the socialist party, who are convinced that although Vona and his comrades swore in 2010 that they would never have anything to do with the members of the pre-2010 political elite, they are in fact surreptitiously flirting with the left opposition. Indeed, there are signs that may be interpreted as Jobbik making efforts at getting closer to the other parties. For instance, Vona readily accepts invitations to conferences organized by the other side. A couple of days ago Gábor Vona, together with Bernadett Szél (LMP), Zsuzsanna Szelényi (independent), Gyula Molnár (MSZP), and Péter Balázs, former foreign minister, participated in a conference organized by Political Capital and the Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung, a socialist think tank. He was also recently invited by Momentum to a meeting, after which he announced that the young leaders of this new political party had made a very good impression on him.

Gábor Vona and Péter Balázs at the Conference of Political Capital and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung / Source: zoom.hu

Gábor Vona’s October 23 speech was the latest and perhaps the clearest indication that he now wants to position his party exactly opposite the stance that originally elevated the party to considerable heights in Hungarian politics. Instead of basing the party’s policy on harsh opposition to mainstream politics, he wants to cooperate with others. As he put it, “the destructive energies must come together.” He has had enough of strife. He is no longer “interested in who is on the right and who is on the left, he is not interested in who is moderate and who is radical, and he is not interested in who is conservative and who is liberal.” He agreed with Viktor Orbán that Hungary is “a freedom-loving nation,” but “the country’s whole history must be a continuous fight for freedom not just against foreign powers but also against domestic potentates.” The reporter of 24.hu had the impression during the speech that “Vona has become so tame that one had the distinct feeling that he even buried his own extreme right-wing, semi-Nazi past.”

This might be too optimistic an assessment of the situation. There are plenty of issues on which Jobbik hasn’t changed its mind at all. It is still an extremely nationalistic party, and although there is no more overt anti-Semitism coming from the very top Jobbik politicians, many of the loudest anti-Semites are still in leading positions within the party. So are some Islamophobes. In addition, it is not at all clear what Jobbik’s position is on the Horthy regime and Hungary’s responsibility for the Holocaust. Vona’s foreign policy ideas are also worrisome. A couple of days ago Jobbik organized an international press conference for foreign journalists where Vona tried to explain Jobbik’s position on a number of issues. I found his foreign policy ideas convoluted, unrealistic, and even dangerous. They wouldn’t be an improvement over those of Viktor Orbán because “he would place Hungary in a German, Turkish, Russian, American, and Chinese sphere of influence (erőtér).” I remember similar noises from Viktor Orbán often enough. Vona’s ideas on Jobbik in the European Parliament are difficult to comprehend. What does he means when he says that he “sees the place of Jobbik and the country not in a party family [párpolitikai család] but in regional cooperation?”

Finally, just a short note on a new development. Krisztina Morvai, one of Jobbik’s three EP members of parliament, gave a long interview to Magyar Idők in which she wholeheartedly supported Viktor Orbán’s war against the “Soros Plan.” In brief, she turned against her own party, which just sued the Orbán government to produce the so-called Soros Plan which Vona and friends don’t think exists. Fidesz is most likely thrilled because Zsolt Bayer, whose writing is a good barometer of Fidesz’s positions on issues, welcomed his old friend, Krisztina Morvai, who returned to the fold. He joyfully announced that “this interview could have been given by Viktor Orbán himself.” That’s a real compliment. A left-wing internet news site wryly commented that Gábor Vona must be a happy man because Krisztina Morvai’s radicalism and anti-Semitism were heavy baggage for this new allegedly right-of-center Jobbik. Actually, Krisztina Morvai’s political career deserves a separate post, if not two, which I will certainly write one day.

October 29, 2017
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Michael Kaplan
Guest

Eva, I think you have done as objective a job as possible, especially given the lack of any serious chance to oust this regime. Nevertheless, your article is a warning to any one thinking one can ride a tiger e.g. work with jobbik. The socialist think tank should be ashamed for inviting Vona to any meeting.

Member

There is no question that Jobbik is winning the public relations war here. Their billboards are very clever anti-Fidesz messages; whereas, the Fidesz ones are horrible, especially the current Soros-plan messages. We now get a small weekly Jobbik pamphlet in our mailbox that covers Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County. No other party sends out such a thing. Their message is anti-corruption, returning the money for education, healthcare, etc. It makes sense with the rampant corruption that everyone here knows about.

The worry is whether or not they have actually changed their pro-Russia view. They have a lot of funding clearly. Where does it come from? Some from Simicska, but what are their other sources?

Guest

This “mixing of right/extreme right” seems to be a kind of general trend in “East Central Europe” – in Slovakia a conservative politician right now started a campaign against “Roma crime”, a concept which used to be a fascist slogan:
https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article170093425/Slowakei-sorgt-mit-Ansage-zur-Roma-Kriminalitaet-fuer-Empoerung.html
Maybe there’sa report on this in English somewhere?

Observer
Guest

An interesting article, supported with figures, finds that while:
“There will hardly be a formal co-operation between MSZP-DK and Jobbik, this is barred by the parties’ leaders. Voters, however, are not so faint in some districts and in particular in tense situations. The interim elections demonstrate that left or right-wing voters easily voted for a candidate of the other side, against Orban. In many districts the wall between the opposition sides crumbles and this should be a real concern for the dominantly leading Fidesz.”
http://index.hu/belfold/2017/10/24/baloldal_jobbik_szavazok_atjaras/

The voters don’t always follow their parties exactly and with a little wink and nudge such district level co-operation is possible, most probable and imho highly desirable (while the parties’ leaders can hold their fig leaves).

Morvai, on the other hand, is a died in the wool fascist and a somewhat nut case. She, and a couple more, should be removed, if Vona/Jobbik is to occupy the desired position of legitimate right as opposed to the extreme Fidesz of Orban.

wrfree
Guest

Re: Morvai ‘communicating’

She packs a punch with an apparent motormouth and it has to be difficult to get in a word edgewise. And she appears quite ebullient when venting sarcasm.

mics
Guest

OT:

Masha Gessen has a good summary of the rules of the Russian media (substitute – state and Fidesz-owned – Hungarian media) which makes up and broadcast conspiracy theories 24/7. Since Hungary gets a lot of know-how from Russia the rules are useful.

“The default approach to any story about the U.S. is to create a cacophony that hints at conspiracy.”

Nothing is what it seems. Everything is connected. And it’s all Clinton (substitute Soros or Gyurcsan etc.) fault.

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-weinstein-scandal-seen-through-russian-eyes-is-a-lesson-in-conspiracy-thinking

petofi
Guest

Gessen is KGB…or she would’ve been long gone from Moscow/Russia.

Ferenc
Guest

OT – breaking – case of Ahmed H
Today the case of Ahmed H for retrial in court.
Live tweets from the courtroom by Amnesty HU representatives
https://twitter.com/demeteraaron?lang=en
https://twitter.com/TodorGardos?lang=en

Ferenc
Guest

Some typical newspapers/sites reporting, just actual titles:
*Magyar Idők: Today starts again the Roszke terror trial (Újrakezdik ma a röszkei terrorpert)
*Magyar Nemzett: Again starts the retrial of, with terrorism accused, Ahmed H.(Újrakezdték a terrorizmussal vádolt Ahmed H. ügyének tárgyalását)
*Nepszava: –no actual item found about case–
Note: case mentioned in M1 news 13hr – followed up by item about an Afghan human trafficker (currently in HU custody)

In general HU government mouthpieces try to dehumanize the case by pushing ‘Roszke terror‘, while others first of all mention the name of the accused Ahmed…

Ferenc
Guest

“Here comes the story of Ahmed H.
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin’ that he never done
Put in a prison cell…”
–[paraphrasing] Bob Dylan – Hurricane (1975)

Observer
Guest

The fascist/mafia regime hardens.

This Kafkaesque trial is a test run of the repression stage. The trial is against a “migrant” i.e. a terrorist whom nobody would care for, right?
Once the machinery is set anyone can be fed in.

I bet, the next test will be with some of the NGO people or journalists critical of the regime – they are already being tarred as paid foreign agents, conspirators, traitors and we know what do such people deserve, right? Probably not to be just liquidated (as L.Földes suggested), but to be imprisoned, at least.
If a “spontaneous” mob beat them up or lynch some, it will be a “rightful expression of the people’s opinion” (as Orban said).
Capissi?

Observer
Guest

Note the TEK chocolate heroes in full gear, armed to the teeth, two of them holding the restrain chains of the poor Ahmed.

Note also that this Orban praetorian guard costs 100 billion a year, while the whole higher education receives 250.

And btw
Where is Vera Jurova, European Commissioner for Justice ..?

Ferenc
Guest

Today’s hearing finished, will continue thursday Nov.02 – 09hr

Tweet by Todor Gardas [from courtroom]: “We listen to police testimonies. Many of those accuse Ahmed H. sketchily. He “maybe” and “probably” said “something” – How is that terrorism?”
https://twitter.com/TodorGardos/status/924983835418390529
Tweet by Kartik Raj‏ [about 2016.Nov trial]:
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget listening to police testimony in that courtroom which basically said all migrants with beards look the same.”
https://twitter.com/Kartik__Raj/status/924989469186551808

Istvan
Guest
Since Eva brought up the dark fascist side of Hungarian politics in her post it is only fitting that Sebastian Gorka be discussed, because he is back in the news here in the USA. In March representatives of Vitézi Rend told The Forward magazine that Gorka took a lifelong oath of loyalty to their organization. The US State Department lists Vitézi Rend as a Nazi-linked group, which could render members ineligible for visas. Gorka became a US citizen only in 2012. In a tweet on Friday Gorka wrote: “If this man’s team (meaning special prosecutor Robert Mueller) executes warrants this weekend he should stripped of his authority by @realDonaldTrump. Then HE should be investigated.” The news reports have indicated that some of the 24 FBI agents working for Mueller may arrest unarmed individuals as early as today in the Russia Trump campaign probe. Because Mueller was appointed by the US Department of Justice which is under the authority of the Office of the President, Trump could in theory remove Mueller from his position or he could pardon any associate indicted. That would set off calls for his impeachment based on the crime of obstruction of justice (https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL34303.pdf ). There have… Read more »
petofi
Guest

The strangest case of all is Comey, who did more than anyone to plant the seed of Hillary’s culpability. HE should be investigated…

wrfree
Guest

Re: impression of leading lights of some political parties

Appears as if some leaders have learned the tactic of moving ‘bal vagy job’ politically as the try to hit the moving targets which constantly change in a fluid environment. Orban took the walk from left to right. Vona now seemingly is testing the waters to go left. The former can only be called an unequivocal disaster. Looks as if the new outfits sport a chameleon look.

And if Mr. Vona’s jaunt comes through it will show simply how slimy things that can be called ‘blobs’ fill each loose crack and crevice to gather and build their constituencies. Worrisome to say the least considering how events in the past have worked out.

Jean P
Guest

DO WE KNOW WHAT JOBBIK IS ALL ABOUT? No, it depends on circumstances. They are opportunists without an ideology, exactly like Fidesz. This doesn’t mean that there cannot be cynical arguments for voting for them.

Guest

Not too much OT re the right wing:
Breitbart’s Bannon is not only a good friend of UKIP’s Farage – breitbart also worked for Brexit:
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/30/revealed-ukip-whistleblowers-raised-fears-about-breitbart-influence-on-brexit

petofi
Guest

Sounds like Bannon and Breitbart are a Russian asset…

Istvan
Guest
In the Steve Bannon case Petofi he is an admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin but also of Russian mystical conservative nationalism known as Eurasianism. Alexander Dugin is the ideological father of Eurasianism and Bannon both believe global elites, especially liberal Jews, have conspired against ordinary people. Their enemies are: secularism, multiculturalism, egalitarianism. In both Bannon’s and Dugin’s worldview, the true global ideological struggle is not between Russia and the United States but between culturally homogenous groups founded on Judeo-Christian values. This is why Bannon repeatedly inside the White House along with Gorka and Lt General Flynn advocated with a strategic block with Putin on a global level to confront common non-white enemies. In general Trump sees China as the greatest danger to the USA, so does Bannon. Since the start of his campaign, Trump painted China as the enemy and the stealer of American jobs that must be vanquished. So in the normal sense Bannon probably is not an “asset” in my opinion. Bannon talks about the US deep state meaning typically influential members of government agencies or the military, believed to be involved in the secret manipulation or control of government policy. The Russians claim this also and… Read more »
Observer
Guest

Not only sounds, but also looks like – all these little pricks from ghe US to UK to Hu are destroying the fabric of democratic western societies and their union – the counterweight to the monolith Russia dictatorship.
What better service could Putin or Xi Jinping could ask for?

Farkas
Guest

I would not be surprised if Fidesz and Jobbik were to amalgamate, sooner or later, into one unified party, with Vona anointed as Orbán’s successor, if and when Orbán chose to move ‘up’ into an Erdogan-style or Putin-style presidency.

At that point the hard-line neo-Nazi Jew-hater and Gypsy-hater faction in the amalgamated party would however most likely split off and set up a Jobbik 2.0 which would continue to command between 15-20% electoral support. However, coalition arrangements between the amalgamated party and Jobbik 2.0 would not of course be entirely out of the question.

Anything is possible, as is its contrary, in the bizarro world of mindless and lunatic nationalism in contemporary Hungary, a kind of modern day Lower Slobbovia on the European periphery (Li’l Abner, anyone?).

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