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Will Jobbik split?

August 6th, 2012

Commentators on both the left and right agree that recent scandals affecting Jobbik indicate grave conflicts and deep rifts within the far-right party. Analysts contend that this could foreshadow either its split or decline .

MEP Csanád Szegedi, a former Jobbik Vice President resigned from the leadership of the radical party and gave up his membership in Jobbik after it was revealed that he attempted to bribe a blackmailer in order to conceal his Jewish origins (see BudaPost July 25) . He has not, however, resigned from the European Parliament, although his party expected him to do so.

In a letter to his fellow Jobbik leaders, Vice President Előd Novák claimed that if Szegedi’s origins had been known, he would never have become a leading figure of the radical party. The Jobbik leadership said earlier that Szegedi had to leave the party not because of his Jewish roots, but rather for lying and trying to resort to bribery to cover up his ancestry.

It was also reported by Heti Világgazdaság that Novák, who is widely assumed to be the editor in chief of the harshly anti-Semitic, anti-Roma and anti-EU, kuruc.info website, was contracted as an assistant to Szegedi, and thus he (along with other far-right radicals associated with kuruc.info) was on the payroll of the EU.  Heti Világgazdaság does not believe that Novák actually served as an assistant for Szegedi as his contract would have required.

This is a disgusting, but illuminating scandal. It has become apparent who these people are,”  Szabolcs Szerető remarks in Magyar Nemzet. The pro-government columnist suggests that Novák’s statement about Szegedi’s ancestry is an open admission that Jobbik policies are determined by its fanatic anti-Semitic supporters. Szerető also finds it peculiar that Novák, who in January burnt the EU flag in public and advocated Hungary’s withdrawal from the European Union, appears to be drawing a salary from Brussels – ‘hardly suitable behavior for a full-blooded freedom fighter,’ he adds, ironically.

If the speculations of Heti Világgazdaság prove to be true, and Szegedi indeed offered fake contracts to his comrades who run kuruc.info, the main mouthpiece of the far-right, then there will be no doubt that Jobbik is a mafia-like organization Véleményvezér writes. The centrist blogger suggests that after all that has happened, Jobbik will have a hard time to convince its sympathizers about its commitment to fighting corruption.

In Népszabadság, Gábor Czene finds absurd the claims of the Jobbik leadership, according to which their call for Szegedi’s resignation has nothing to do with his Jewish origins. As for the implications of the intra-party feud, Czene speculates that the dismissal of a former Vice President, who was also a founding member of the paramilitary Hungarian Guard suggests that there are serious rifts within the radical party.

Jobbik’s success has been to a large extent due to its ability to unite the diverse and divergent far-right groups into a single party,”  the centrist Fent és Lent blog comments. It is precisely this unity, Fent és Lent contends, that seems now to be threatened by the recent intra-party feuds, which could therefore seriously weaken Jobbik. Radicalism in Hungary would not disappear even if Jobbik could not cross the parliamentary threshold at the next election. But without a strong party which institutionalizes the far-right, the influence of far-right ideas will weaken, Fent és Lent speculates.

Jobbik is at a crossroads,” Gábor Török contends. The centrist analyst thinks that the Szegedi case and the Tiszavasvári scandal could seal Jobbik’s fate. Tiszavasvári, ‘the capital of Jobbik’, has had a Jobbik mayor and a Jobbik majority local council since the 2010 municipal elections. But two Jobbik representatives have now switched to Fidesz out of dissatisfaction with the mayor, and the council has called an early election.

If Jobbik cannot somehow restore its credibility and overcome the internal tension with some major achievement in the near future, it could easily become a paralyzed and insignificant political force, Török speculates. If that happens, the main benefactor would be Fidesz, which could thus get rid of its right-wing contender.

In a report surveying extremist opinions, Népszabadság claims that Jobbik members disappointed with the achievements of the radical party are planning to quit en masse within weeks. The left-wing daily believes that renegade Jobbik supporters will create a party even more right-wing than Jobbik.

Jobbik proposes racial crime statistics

On August 2, Jobbik MP Ádám Mirkóczki announced Jobbik’s plan to submit a bill to Parliament on crime statistics. According to the proposal, to be modelled on US and Israeli crime records, authorities would classify criminal offenders by their race. The Fidesz Parliamentary faction in a press release rejected this ‘racist proposal’, and noted that discrimination on an ethnic, racial or religious basis is ruled out by the new Basic Law.

Writing in Népszava, Iván Andrassew finds it extremely tasteless that Jobbik announced such a disgusting racist proposal on the anniversary of the Roma Holocaust. The left-wing columnist regrets that Jobbik was not banned “by the cowardly Socialists and Free Democrats,” for their nasty racist statements made under the former government.

Referring to a brief article in Magyar Nemzet, the main pro-government daily, Andrassew ironically notes that Fidesz, “the only hope of Hungarian antifascists” have realized the need for bashing the scandal-torn Jobbik by provoking their unpleasant and racist proposals. Andrassew hopes that Fidesz will in the future openly confront the racist party. Ádám Tompos, a correspondent for Magyar Nemzet asked  Mirkóczki in which of the proposed racial categories the Jobbik MPs would fit. Mirkóczki refused to answer such a ‘derogatory and disgusting,’ request and said that racial categorization should be reserved for anthropologists.

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