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Further ruminations on Jobbik’s turn to the centre

January 16th, 2017

Although all the involved parties have dismissed such speculations, pundits both on Left and Right continue to discuss the potential of a broad anti-Fidesz opposition including both the left-wing parties and Jobbik.

In Magyar IdőkSlomó Köves, executive rabbi of EMIH Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation replies to his left-wing and liberal critics who condemned him for rejecting Jobbik leader Gábor Vona’s Hanukkah greeting (see BudaPost January 9). Köves defends his decision by claiming that despite Gábor Vona’s efforts to rebrand it as a moderate party, Jobbik is still an anti-Semitic radical group. Köves finds it puzzling that left-wing and liberal pundits who for years have called on Fidesz to distance itself from Jobbik and its extremist, anti-Semitic ideology have struck such a conciliatory tone and would now even welcome Jobbik into a broad anti-Fidesz coalition. Rabbi Köves claims that the Left would thus facilitate the ‘banalization’ of anti-Semitism and lose all credibility to criticize racist language if it cooperated with Jobbik. In a separate article in the liberal Magyar Narancs Köves further develops his argument and adds that the increasingly radical right-wing politics of Fidesz cannot be defeated by forming an alliance with another far-right party, Jobbik.

Magyar Demokrata’s editor-in-chief András Bencsik thinks that Jobbik supporters are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with Gábor Vona’s leadership. The pro-government commentator recalls that some local branches of Jobbik openly criticized Vona’s letter to Rabbi Slomó KövesBencsik thinks that Gábor Vona has lost all credibility by trying to distance himself from his party’s anti-Semitic and radical rhetoric.

Writing in Heti VilággazdaságLászló Seres also thinks that Gábor Vona’s strategy to moderate his party is a highly risky enterprise. The libertarian pundit is highly sceptical about Vona’s calculation that by moving to the centre, he can earn more centrist votes than the number of radical supporters likely to turn their backs on Jobbik.

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