Opinion: After LMP’s Implosion, Now It’s Jobbik’s Turn To Self-Destruct

  • 7 Oct 2018 7:59 AM
  • Hungarian Spectrum
Opinion: After LMP’s Implosion, Now It’s Jobbik’s Turn To Self-Destruct
At least two opposition parties, LMP and Jobbik, are in the process of self-annihilation. Now it is Jobbik’s turn.

The present state of the party is more than precarious; the leadership is deeply divided and the disintegration of the party is likely. It is possible that soon enough we will witness the disappearance of these two parties and that a total reorganization of the anti-Orbán forces will follow.

The departure of Gábor Vona, founder and long-time chairman of Jobbik, and the takeover of the party by lesser-known politicians of lesser weight were bound to have a negative effect on the cohesion of the party.

Jobbik election results, by objective standards not disastrous, were seen by the leadership as a failure of monumental proportions that stemmed from a mistaken strategy.

However, the main reason for the departure of Jobbik politicians from the party was the deep ideological divide between the party’s moderates and its radicals. After László Toroczkai, Dóra Dúró, and Előd Novák left during the summer, all seemed relatively peaceful around Jobbik for a while, although it was evident that the new leaders were having serious difficulties regarding strategy.

At the time of the radicals’ departure, it seemed that as long as no other Jobbik members of parliament leave, the party will survive. Well, as of yesterday, three Jobbik MPs followed Dóra Dúró. And these three are possibly not the last to feel that Jobbik abandoned its true mission on the “national” side and that it went far too far toward making peace with the “left-liberals.”

Although one suspected that all was not well in Jobbik, that suspicion was confirmed by the appearance of a letter addressed to the chairmen and organizers of the electoral districts by János Volner (pictured on top), who was subsequently expelled from the party caucus. It was published in, of all places, Mária Schmidt’s Figyelő.

Before outlining Volner’s objections to the present leadership’s political program, a few words about the man. Although János Volner is not exactly a household name in Hungary, he has been a very important man within the party.

He began his political career in 2007 when he joined the far-right Hungarian Guard and eventually became the organization’s spokesman. In 2009 he joined Jobbik and a year later was chosen as one of Jobbik’s MPs.

In 2012 he became deputy chairman of Jobbik. He served as deputy whip of the Jobbik delegation between 2010 and 2016, when he was elevated to the leadership of the caucus. He was an important man within the party, so his expulsion is no small matter.

What are Volker’s gripes? Volker believes that Jobbik’s leadership is on the verge of forming an alliance with LMP. Such a move by itself would be unacceptable to Volner, but he is certain that “this is just the beginning” and soon enough Jobbik will stand as a party on “the left-liberal side.”

The first sign of such a development, according to Volner, was Jobbik’s decision to silently support Angéla Németh’s bid for the mayoralty at the by-election held a week ago in Budapest’s District XV. (She ran as an independent but had worked as district manager (jegyző) under DK’s mayor for the last four years.) Volner reminded his comrades that Jobbik from the start had been fiercely opposed to the Gyurcsány government.

Therefore, he argued, “we cannot make a deal with the devil even if such an arrangement offers advantages.” Angéla Németh won the election by only 697 votes. If Jobbik and LMP had put up candidates of their own, the Fidesz candidate might have won. Jobbik, if it is truly an opposition party, did the right thing by essentially supporting the DK-MSZP-Párbeszéd candidate.

What else drove Volner to write and publish this letter? His charge is that the current Jobbik leadership is working closely with the administration of Central European University when “it was not a long time ago that we nationalists (nemzetiek) and radicals acquainted the people of the country with the destructive activities of George Soros, the Freemason speculator.”

And yet the deputy rector of CEU and Márton Gyöngyösi of Jobbik, claims Volner, are in the process of organizing a conference in Brussels. It is true, Volner continues, that Fidesz “overdid the Soros bit,” but still “Soros and other similar scoundrels remain the enemies of the Hungarian people.”

Volner is a true son of the common man. He began working even before he finished high school and received his diploma while working as a sales clerk. He claims to be an economist, but his degree from a non-accredited institution in St. Petersburg is highly suspect.

Although he says he speaks English on the conversational level, according to rumor, Volner very badly wanted to be a Jobbik delegate to the European Parliament but his colleagues vetoed the idea because of his lack of foreign languages.

So, there is János Volner on the right whose expulsion prompted two more members of parliament to quit the Jobbik delegation, and then there is a new, rather impressive woman, Andrea Varga-Damm, a lawyer who has already made a name for herself in parliament as a smart, active MP.

Attila Tibor Nagy, a political scientist with the Méltányosság Politikaelemző Központ (Equity Political Analytical Center), called her “the hope of the opposition” on the pages of Magyar Hang, the successor of Magyar Nemzet. Both the think tank and the publication are highly respectable, so one must take notice.

Only yesterday Varga-Damm called upon Fidesz MPs to tell the truth and admit that there is no migrant threat to the country. Today Magyar Idők reported that she was defending the Sargentini Report.

Moreover, the word is out that she might leave Jobbik and join another delegation on the liberal side. If that is the case, the current Jobbik leadership is being beset from both left and right. It is possible that at some point they will have to take a stand on whether to remain on the nationalist side, strengthening Fidesz, or to take a deep breath and join the real opposition.

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MTI Photo: Kovács Attila

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Hungarian Spectrum features analyses in English about Hungarian political, economic, and cultural news. Its editor and primary pundit is Eva S. Balogh, who formerly taught East European history at Yale University. Guest contributors include Hungarian and international professors, experts and researchers of sociology, international affairs, and political science. The site, which is archived at the Library of Congress, is recognized by diplomats, journalists, scholars, and representatives of non-governmental organizations as a source of thoughtful analysis and high-level discussion of contemporary Hungarian affairs.