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Vona to purge the Jobbik leadership of radicals

April 25th, 2016

As Jobbik leader Gábor Vona announces plans to get rid of Vice-Presidents associated with the exterme right wing of the party, commentators wonder what the implications of his move may be.

Jobbik leader Gábor Vona announced that he would use his right to veto the re-election of four current Vice-Presidents (including Előd Novák, see BudaPost through 2012) who are widely considered to represent the party’s radical right. Vona says that he wants to make his party more moderate, and elect new Vice-Presidents who have experience in local government as mayors. 

In Népszabadság, Miklós Hargitai and László M. Ferenc suspect that Vona wants to weaken opposition to him within the party rather than purge radicals from Jobbik’s leadership. The left-wing analysts suggest that some of the politicians Vona named as more desirable deputies are no less radical than the unwanted current Vice-Presidents. Among others, Vona named the radical-minded mayor of Ásotthalom László Toroczkai (see BudaPost December 19, 2013) as a desirable candidate, and said that he had no intention to replace Vice-President Tamás Sneider, a former skinhead leader (see BudaPost May 8, 2014).

Writing in the same daily, Ervin Tamás wonders if a more moderately branded Jobbik would attract more votes than a radical-extremist party. If an intra-party fight breaks out within Jobbik, some of its current supporters could turn their backs on their party, Tamás concludes.

Gábor Vona has realized that he can only defeat Fidesz at the elections if Jobbik distances itself from the extreme right, Róbert Friss suggests in Népszava. The left-wing columnist likens Vona’s move to the “Night of the Long Knives”, the operation in which Hitler purged his party of some of its most extreme luminaries in an effort to appear not so radical, after all. Friss suggests that all this is just tactical manoeuvring, as there is no real centre in Hungary, and both Fidesz and Jobbik are radical right-wing parties which try to embrace more moderate voters as well.

Magyar Idők’s Péter Szikszai wonders in an ironic opinion piece what motivated Gábor Vona to launch the purge. One possible reason the pro-government commentator mentions is that Vona wants to earn the support of rich and influential entrepreneurs dissatisfied with the Orbán government, including former Fidesz treasurer Lajos Simicska. Another possibility Szikszai mentions is that the tactical move was suggested by Jobbik’s alleged Russian supporters. Concerning Vona’s decision to move to the political centre, Szikszai wonders how far Vona would go to distance himself from radicalism.

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