Jobbik

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Movement for a Better Hungary
Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom
Leader Gábor Vona
Founded 24 October 2003
Headquarters 1113 Budapest, Villányi út 20/A
Ideology Hungarian nationalism[1]
Radicalism[2][3][4]
Euroscepticism[5][6]
Political position Far-right[7][8][9]
International affiliation None
European affiliation Alliance of European National Movements
European Parliament group Non-Inscrits
Colours Red and silver
National Assembly
23 / 199
European Parliament
3 / 21
County Assemblies
81 / 419
Website
www.jobbik.hu (Hungarian)
www.jobbik.com (English)
Politics of Hungary
Political parties
Elections

Jobbik, the Movement for a Better Hungary (Hungarian: Jobbik Magyarországért Mozgalom), commonly known as Jobbik (pronounced [ˈjobːik]), is a Hungarian radical nationalist[3][4] political party. The party describes itself as "a principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party", whose "fundamental purpose" was the protection of "Hungarian values and interests."[10] Jobbik rejects "global capitalism",[11][12] European integration[13] and Zionism.[14][15] Instead it adheres to Pan-Turanism, an ideology that asserts that Magyars (Hungary's main ethnic group) originate from the same root as Turkic and Mongolic peoples.[16][17] The movement has been described by scholars and international media as fascist,[18] neo-fascist,[19] Neo-Nazi,[20] extremist,[21] racist,[22] anti-Semitic,[23][24] anti-Roma,[25] and homophobic[26] though the party rejects these labels.[27] After the Hungarian parliamentary elections on 6 April 2014, the party polled 1,020,476 votes securing 20.54% making them Hungary's third largest party in the National Assembly.

Name[edit]

The Movement for a Better Hungary more commonly goes under its abbreviated name Jobbik (pronounced [ˈjobːik]), which is in fact a play on words. The word Jobb in Hungarian has two meanings, the adjective for "better" and the direction "right"; the comparative Jobbik therefore means both "the more preferable choice" and "more to the right". This is similar to the English phrase "right choice", which could mean both "a choice on the right side of the political spectrum" and "a correct choice".[citation needed]

Platform and ideology[edit]

The party describes itself as "a principled, conservative and radically patriotic Christian party", whose "fundamental purpose" is the protection of "Hungarian values and interests".[10] Jobbik's ideology has been described by political scholars as right-wing populist, whose strategy "relies on a combination of ethno-nationalism with anti-elitist populist rhetoric and a radical critique of existing political institutions".[28][29]

For its part, Jobbik rejects the common classification of the political spectrum in left and right. It prefers a distinction of political parties based on their stance towards globalisation. On this scheme, the party sees itself as patriotic.[30] The party also rejects the term 'far-right', and instead labels itself as 'radical right-wing'. It has also criticised media companies for labelling them as 'far-right' and has threatened to take action towards those who do.[31] In 2014, the Supreme Court of Hungary ruled that Jobbik cannot be labeled "far-right" in any domestic radio or television transmissions, as this would constitute an opinion because Jobbik has refuted the 'far-right' label.[32]

Economy[edit]

Jobbik rejects globalised capitalism, and the influence of foreign investors in Hungary.[33] Jobbik specifically opposes Israeli and Jewish investment in Hungary. On 4 May 2013, protesting the World Jewish Congress's choice to locate their 2013 congress in Budapest, party chairman Gabor Vona said, "The Israeli conquerors, these investors, should look for another country in the world for themselves because Hungary is not for sale."[34]

Public order[edit]

Jobbik officially maintains that it rejects violence and supports democracy.[35][36][37] The party argues that the national police should be greatly strengthened and, along with the Fidesz, supports introducing a "three strikes law".[38] However, Jobbik's connections to the now-banned Magyar Gárda militia have raised concerns about the party's commitment to ensuring peace and order within Hungarian society, even within the party.

Radical nationalism and irredentism[edit]

Hungarian losses of territory in the Treaty of Trianon, which Jobbik seeks to reverse.

Jobbik's Greater Hungarian irredentist claims can be found in pleas for cross-border ethnic self-determination. For example, the party demands "territorial autonomy" for the Székely Land in Romania and desires to make Transcarpathian Ukraine an independent Hungarian district.[39] Jobbik frequently calls for a return to pre-Treaty of Trianon borders in political rhetoric.[40]

A quarter of Hungarians live outside the country.[41] Jobbik dedicates itself to supporting the cause of the significant Hungarian minorities residing in adjoining countries.[42]

The meaning of the party's 2009 election slogan "Hungary belongs to the Hungarians" (Magyarország a Magyaroké!) was also the subject of considerable scrutiny. Some critics thought the slogan essentially tautological,[43] while others were sufficiently concerned to mount a successful complaint at the National Electoral Commission; which ruled it "unconstitutional" on the very eve of the election.[44]

On 11 March 2014, in response to a demonstration in Târgu Mureș, the Romanian president Traian Basescu publicly asked the Romanian Government and the Romanian Parliament to issue a document to ban Jobbik members from Romania.[45]

History and development[edit]

1956 veteran Gergely Pongrátz: a Jobbik founder

Foundation[edit]

Originally established in 2002 as the Right-Wing Youth Association (Jobboldali Ifjúsági Közösség – JOBBIK) by a group of Catholic and Protestant university students, Jobbik was eventually founded as a political party in October 2003.[46][third-party source needed]. The new party elected Dávid Kovács as president of the party, who served as chairman of the party since the beginnings until 2006. Instrumental in this was the person of Gergely Pongrátz, who in a speech to the founding conference made reference to the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.[47][third-party source needed]

Around Christmas 2003, Jobbik started a nationwide cross-erecting action to remind Hungarians of the "true meaning" of the holiday. The move was disapproved by several Christian intellectual groups.[48]

Alliances[edit]

Even though the far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIÉP) and Jobbik had publicly shown their mutual aversion beforehand, both parties entered an electoral alliance for the 2006 national elections, called the MIÉP–Jobbik Third Way Alliance of Parties. Its intention was seen as winning votes from the major conservative Fidesz party.[49]

In the 2006 Hungarian national elections the alliance won only 2.2% of the votes. Therefore, Jobbik termed the alliance a failure and virtually broke it up. In 2009 the State Audit Office (ÁSZ) reported the alliance for grave breaches of accounting rules. Jobbik blamed MIÉP alone for the irregularities.[50]

It has been speculated that this movement, like similar groups in Europe, is supported by Russian money[51]

Magyar Gárda and conflicts in the party[edit]

Main article: Magyar Gárda
The Hungarian Guard in their cultural role. Here a Guard choir sings in Békéscsaba.

In June 2007, Gábor Vona, supported by the party, founded and registered the organisation called Magyar Gárda, which says in its deed of foundation that it intends to become "part or core" of the national guard to be set up in accordance with the Bethlen Gábor programme, and it also wishes to participate actively "in strengthening national self-defence" and "maintaining public order" as well as supporting and organising social and charity missions, in disaster prevention and civil defence. The foundation of the Guard was accompanied by sharp political debate.

On 10 March 2008 three leading figures resigned from the party: Dávid Kovács, the founding president of the party, Ervin Nagy, committee chairman, and Márton Fári, former chairman of the party's ethical committee. They indicated the Hungarian Guard as the cause of their resignation, stating that "Jobbik has been merged inseparably with the Guard, taking responsibility for something that it cannot really control in the long run".

On 2 July 2009 the Metropolitan Court of Appeal (Fővárosi Ítélőtábla) disbanded the Hungarian Guard Movement because the court held that the activities of the organization were against the human rights of minorities as guaranteed by the Hungarian Constitution. The Guard has attempted to reorganize itself as a civil service association, known as the Magyar Gárda Foundation, engaged in cultural and nation building activities rather than politics. Its renewed activities are opposed by the Hungarian authorities[52] and prosecutors claim that the founding of the new organization is in contempt of previous court rulings.

Electoral performance[edit]

Growth and electoral success[edit]

Krisztina Morvai, who successfully headed the party's 2009 EP candidate list; and Gábor Vona the Jobbik party chairman; during their nationwide tour.

The party faced its first electoral test with the coming of the 2009 European parliamentary elections. The election's results shocked their opponents:[53] with the party sending three MEPs to Strasbourg; coming close to equal in number of votes with the governing Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) while eliminating their liberal coalition partner Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), to become the nation's third largest party.[54]

In London on 16 May 2008 the delegation of Jobbik's Committee of Foreign Affairs met Nick Griffin, chairman of the British National Party. They discussed cooperation between the two parties, and the elections for the European Parliament. Griffin spoke at the party rally in August 2008, while former vice-president Zoltán Füzessy is presently resident in Gravesend, Kent, England.[55]

The Alliance of European National Movements (AENM) was formed in Budapest on 24 October 2009. The alliance's founding members were Jobbik (the Alliance was established during their sixth party congress), France's National Front, UK's British National Party Italy's Tricolour Flame, Sweden's National Democrats and Belgium's National Front.[56] Since January 2014 Béla Kovács has been its president.[57][58]

Hungarian Parliamentary Elections 2014[edit]

In November 2013, the party leader Gábor Vona, expressed optimism about the election saying that the party planned "no less than election victory in 2014". He argued that Jobbik candidates had been faring well in local elections and that opinion surveys had showed that Jobbik was the most popular party among voters aged under 35.[59] The party has prepared its election programme dubbed "We'll say it, we'll solve it," which focuses on guaranteeing people a livelihood, safety and order. Vona said his party would initiate a referendum on protecting Hungarian land and on amending Hungary's European Union accession treaty.[60]

On 26 January 2014, Vona held a rally in London where he sharply criticised the election law for preventing Hungarians living abroad from voting by mail at the parliamentary election.[61]

Election results[edit]

For the Hungarian Parliament:

Election year National Assembly Government
# of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
+/–
20061 119,007
2.2 % (#5)
0 / 386
extra-parliamentary
2010 855,436
16.67 % (#3)
47 / 386
Increase 47 in opposition
2014 1,020,476
20.3 % (#3)
23 / 199
Decrease 24 in opposition

1In an electoral alliance with MIÉP, under the name of the "MIÉP-Jobbik Third Way Alliance of Parties", joined by Independent Smallholders’ Party (FKgP) organisations from 15 counties.

For the European Parliament:

Election year # of overall votes  % of overall vote # of overall seats won +/- Notes
2009 427,773 14.77 (#3)
3 / 22
2014 340,287 14.67 (#2)
3 / 21
Steady 0
2009 Seat winners:
  1. Krisztina Morvai
  2. Zoltán Balczó – His seat EP was taken over by Béla Kovács, when he became a member of the Hungarian Parliament in May 2010.
  3. Csanád Szegedi – He left the party in July 2012.
2014 Seat winners:
  1. Krisztina Morvai
  2. Zoltán Balczó
  3. Béla Kovács

Mayoral:

Allegations of anti-Semitism[edit]

The party has strenuously denied[80][81][82] allegations of anti-semitism or racism, as being either politically motivated[83][84][85] or simply false. It has also dismissed the criticism of perceived anti-semitism, racism and homophobia as the "favourite topics" of an "ignorant and misled" European Union.[86] Even so, the movement has been accused of playing on those fears.[86] Jobbik has also been linked to homophobic incidents in Budapest.[87][88]

Comments by members[edit]

On the eve of the 2009 elections to the European parliament, a comment was posted on an unofficial and unverified Hungarian political internet forum, allegedly in the name of Krisztina Morvai, who then headed the party's electoral list. Addressing their remarks to Hungarian Jews the comment poster stated that they "would be glad if the so-called proud Hungarian Jews went back to playing with their tiny circumcised dicks instead of vilifying me."[89][90][91] News of this comment, which has been roundly condemned,[92] spread rapidly around the world[93][94] and eventually even featured in an article by The Economist.[95] Morvai's critics have pointed to her refusal to even discuss the issue,[96] let alone deny it;[97] implying that this is sufficient to unquestioningly ascribe authorship of the remarks to her.[98]

Her supporters however, claim that though she certainly has a record of being critical of the state of Israel[99] given a sympathy for the Palestinian cause she developed while working as an international human rights lawyer,[100] the idea of Morvai being an anti-Semite is "simply ridiculous," given that at the time of her alleged remarks she was married to a Hungarian of Jewish origin,[101] with whom she has three children,[102] but from whom she is now separated.[101]

In a newsletter published by a group calling itself The trade union of Hungarian police officers prepared for action, the following was allegedly printed: "Given our current situation, anti-Semitism is not just our right, but it is the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover, and we must prepare for armed battle against the Jews." The editor of the union, Judit Szima, is a Jobbik candidate in the upcoming election for the European Union parliament. Haaretz alleged Szima "didn't see anything wrong with the content of the article."[103]

During spring 2012, Jobbik representative in Hungarian parliament Zsolt Baráth caused an outrage by commemorating 1882 blood libel against the Jews in Parliament. The Tiszaeszlár blood libel, found later to be unrelated to Jews, was known as first major anti-Jewish event in modern Hungary, predating the Holocaust.[104]

In November 2012, the party's deputy parliamentary leader, Márton Gyöngyösi, posted a video speech on the Jobbik website in which he stated: "I think such a conflict makes it timely to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here, especially in the Hungarian Parliament and the Hungarian government, who, indeed, pose a national security risk to Hungary."[105] As Al Jazeera reported, this led to "international condemnation of Nazi-style policies and a protest outside the legislature in Budapest.[106] Around ten thousand Hungarians[107] in Budapest protested against Gyöngyösi's anti-Semitic remarks. All major Hungarian political parties took part in the protest. At the protest, Attila Mesterházy the leader of Hungarian Socialist Party, described Jobbik as a "fascist possessions virus", while Budapest mayor Antal Rogán, representing the governing conservative Fidesz party, described Jobbik as "evil".[108] Jewish organizations responded to Gyöngyösi speech by describing it as a reintroduction of Nazism in Hungarian parliament and by describing Jobbik as a Nazi party.[109]

In 2014 Tibor Ágoston, the deputy chairman of Jobbik's Debrecen and Hajdú-Bihar County organization, referred to the Holocaust as "holoscam". Tamás Horovitz, the chairman of the Debrecen Jewish Congregation and the mayor of Debrecen, Lajos Kósa, condemned Ágoston’s remarks.[110][111][112]

World Jewish Congress Protest[edit]

Members of the New Hungarian Guard stand at a Jobbik rally against a gathering of the World Jewish Congress in Budapest, 4 May 2013

On 4 May 2013, Jobbik members protested against the World Jewish Congress in Budapest, claiming the protest was against "a Jewish attempt to buy up Hungary".[113] Jobbik MP Enikő Hegedűs vociferously condemned both Israel and Jews at the rally as her husband, Lóránt Hegedűs Jr., stood nearby.[114] An ordained minister in the Hungarian Reformed Church, Lóránt Hegedűs himself had served in the National Assembly as an MP of the far right Hungarian Justice and Life Party from 1998 to 2002.[115] He invited Holocaust denier David Irving to his Budapest church in 2007 as a "special guest",[115] and has also been accused of anti-Semitism on several occasions for statements he has made about Jews at Jobbik events. At a 2011 rally, he claimed that Jews orchestrated World War II and controlled the international media,[116] and a year prior had alleged that the Hungarian government was secretly cooperating with Mossad to facilitate an Israeli takeover of Hungary with the assistance of Hungarian Jews and mainstream churches.[117] After his wife's statement regarding the World Jewish Congress, the Reformed Church launched an inquiry into the minister's conduct, with presiding bishop Gusztáv Bölcskei denouncing Hegedűs's activism for Jobbik as "permanent provocation" which was incompatible with scripture.[114]

Other issues[edit]

Slavery and fearing of ethnic shift in Hungary[edit]

According to Gábor Vona, Hungarians became slaves because the European Union had only wanted Hungary to enter the EU because of its cheap workforce.[118] Vona also stated that "the number of Hungarians continues to fall while the gypsy population grows ever larger. This was not racism but a real social and economic problem. Anyone who doesn’t understand this is not normal." [118]

Support for Miklós Horthy[edit]

Independence March 2013 in Warsaw, Poland, with Jobbik flags

On 3 November 2013, Márton Gyöngyösi and other Jobbik members unveiled a bronze bust of Miklós Horthy, a nationalist military commander who served as Regent of Hungary from 1920 to 1944, in front of the "Church of Homecoming" in downtown Budapest's Liberty Square, where Lóránt Hegedűs serves as pastor.[119] The ceremony drew strong public and official condemnations over the legacy of Horthy, who forged close—if uneasy—ties with Adolf Hitler from the 1930s and led Hungary into World War II in 1941 on the side of the Axis powers (which the country had officially joined the previous year). Many Hungarians thus see Horthy as a source of deep national shame and Nazi collaborator, complicit in the murder of half a million Hungarian Jews in the Holocaust in Hungary. Others, however, revere him as a national hero, ostensibly for guiding the country to stability in its chaotic interwar period—at the ceremony, Gyöngyösi proclaimed Horthy "the greatest Hungarian statesman of the 20th century".[120]

Several thousand individuals—some of whom had pinned yellow Stars of David on their clothingcame out to protest against the statue, and were met by a smaller crowd of far right protesters near the church who responded with anti-Semitic and racist slurs. Mayor Antal Rogán condemned Jobbik's move as a "political provocation" that would allow the "western European left-wing press" to unfairly characterise Hungary as being plagued by anti-Semitic extremists. Hegedűs, who had already hung a portrait of Horthy by his church's entrance well prior to the statue's installation,[115] defended Horthy's legacy to journalists after the unveiling, calling it "unjust and historically wrong" to implicate the former leader in crimes against humanity because he was not prosecuted at the Nuremberg Trials.[120] In light of the furore over the statue, church officials announced they would launch another official probe into Hegedűs's political activities.[119]

Attempts to criminalize homosexual propaganda[edit]

In April 2012, Jobbik tried to introduce a bill into the Hungarian parliament that would change the national constitution to allegedly "protect public morals and the mental health of the young generations" by banning the popularisation of "sexual deviancy". The legislation was drafted by party spokesman Ádám Mírkóczki. This was to target "homosexuality, sex changes, transvestitism, bisexuality and paedophile behaviour". The proposed amendments would criminalise anyone who "popularises their sexual relations—deviancy—with another person of the same sex, or other disturbances of sexual behaviour, before the wider public". The penalty would be three years in prison, or five years if 'popularising' is done in front of minors. The draft legislation ultimately failed to pass.[121]

Literature[edit]

  • Kovács, András (2013). The Post-Communist Extreme Right: The Jobbik Party in Hungary. Right-Wing Populism in Europe: Politics and Discourse (London/New York: Bloomsbury). pp. 223–234. ISBN 978-1-78093-343-6. 

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ The political effects of the European elections, budapestanalyses.hu, 2009-06-11 
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  4. ^ a b Radical nationalist Jobbik for toppling Trianon borders, says MEP, The Budapest Times, 2009-06-14, Hungary's radical nationalist Jobbik party plans to fight for the toppling of borders set by the 1920 Trianon treaty, newly elected MEP Csanad Szegedi said at the memorial meeting. 
  5. ^ http://www.politics.hu/20121206/survey-finds-lmp-most-eu-friendly-hungarian-party-jobbik-most-hostile/
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  41. ^ Inder Singh, Anita (2000). Democracy, ethnic diversity, and security in post-communist Europe. Central European University Press. p. 97. ISBN 0-275-97258-5. [including the nations of the former Soviet Union] Magyar and Russian minorities are the largest minority groups in Europe, about one-tenth of all Russians and a quarter of Magyars live outside Russia and Hungary respectively. 
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