Jobbik Leader Maps out New Strategy to Boost Party

The leader of Hungary’s nationalist Jobbik party has vowed to pursue a “Hungary for the Hungarians” platform in the run-up to the next election on policies which will include halting immigration, setting up a border guard, minimum wages, reform to the social security system, and the issue of “Hungarian-Gypsy coexistence,” which he described as a “ticking bomb.”

Speaking during the party’s recent national conference, held at the Sport11 Sports Center in Budapest, party leader Gábor Vona promised a “new era of reform” to his supporters in order to propel the party forward as an alternative government instead of just an opposition party.

Addressing a crowd estimated to be in excess of 3,000 people, which included Members of the European Parliament, Members of the Hungarian Parliament, and activists from around the country, Vona said that it was important to build bridges with people of “different habits, characters, and worldviews, with the ultimate aim of creating freedom and security,” while opposing “rulers and landlords.”

“Hungary was divided by petty party political games,” he continued, adding that the country was “suffocating in a political smog”—a reference to a smog problem in Budapest and to his assertion that the ruling Fidesz party was mired in corruption.

Vona said the government “had put the country at the disposal of foreigners, while a circle around Viktor Orbán, the current prime minister, now determined the country’s fate.”

It was the job of Jobbik, he said, to “lift the country onto our shoulders and carry it into the 21st century.”

He went on to warn that the difficulties that Jobbik had faced over the past 14 years of its existence were “nothing compared to what can be expected in the next one to one-and-a-half years.”

Outside forces, he said, were “determined to completely decimate” the party. He told his audience that the party, far from having strayed further away from its founding principles, was actually far closer to them, given that it now strove to represent the whole nation.

Vona said that the terms “left” and “right” no longer had currency, and that every Hungarian was important to him. Governance by a people’s party, he said, meant adhering to the principles of “freedom, security, and service.”

Vona also revealed that the party had undertaken a “national consultation” process among voters, in which over half a million people had taken part. Their views, he said, had helped create the Jobbik platform of the future.

With regard to immigration, Vona said that the party’s position remained unchanged, and it would oppose the government’s current policy of allowing rich aliens to buy their way into the country.

Not all hardliners in Hungary are happy with the party’s process of softening its public image. Small groups of dissidents—many from the now-banned New Hungarian Guard militia, once closely associated with the party—demonstrated outside the conference, and demanded that Vona hand back his militia uniform which they had given him when the movement was founded.

The unity inside the hall, however, appeared unbroken, and Vona’s speech was met with a standing ovation. The next election is due in Hungary in or before Spring 2018.

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