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Jobbik leader Gábor Vona’s annual speech

February 2nd, 2016

Commenting on the Jobbik leader’s annual address to his party, a moderate columnist wonders if the radical right-wing party can move to the political centre and challenge Fidesz as a more moderate people’s party.

In his ’state of the nation’ address on Friday, Jobbik leader Gábor Vona criticized the current government for polarizing Hungary and called for the reunification of this ideologically divided country. Vona likened centralizing efforts by the Orbán government to the anti-democratic measures of pre-1990 Communist rulers, and called Jobbik “the real people’s party”. The leader of the radical party also called for improvements in health care and education, and promised to fight corruption if elected. 

In Magyar Nemzet, Albert Gazda wonders if Jobbik can become a credible centrist and moderate challenger to the Fidesz government. The moderate commentator recalls that in the past twenty five years, major political actors have often changed their ideological views for strategic purposes – former Communists endorsed liberal ideas, Liberals became Conservatives, moderates have radicalized and vice versa. Originally libertarian Fidesz has occupied the political centre stage, while becoming increasingly radical in its rhetoric, while at the same time also embracing the main welfare issues of late state Socialism, Gazda suggests. He believes Fidesz has thus taken the wind out of radicals’ sails, and that is why Vona is trying to rebrand Jobbik as a more centrist party bent on uniting the highly polarized Hungarian public. He describes Vona’s project as far from being easy as Jobbik still has an extremist image and many of its leading politicians follow a far-right ideology.

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