It is hard to assess the most recent party congress of Jobbik, Hungary’s far-right party, where the emphasis was primarily on preparations to emerge as Hungary’s governing political force. In the part of the world where I live, we are celebrating Halloween on this Monday: the day to remember the macabre, the ghoulish and the hideous aspects of our collective lives. I dedicate this post, therefore, to the liberal leftist cosmopolitan values of Halloween as much as to every one of my readers who is concerned enough to find the following report (a report on the third, perhaps second most popular party in Hungary) frightful.
According to party chairman Gábor Vona, the congress held on October 29 aimed at reinforcing in the membership the idea that Jobbik was a movement. The work of the membership has always been crucial to the party, Vona told the 600 delegates gathered in Budapest (ethnic Hungarians living in countries surrounding Hungary included): their activism has always been needed, and will be even more important in the future.
As Vona emphasized, his party’s strength relies on two pillars: inner unity and truthfulness. Therefore, he decided to debunk three types of criticism one might level against the far-right party (though not stated implicitly, these appear to be voiced from within, and were posited as critical ideas that might occur to the membership). Firstly, having gained representation in the Hungarian parliament (as well as in municipal governments, and in the European Parliament), Jobbik appears to have become part of the political regime. According to the second, the party has lost its radicalism. Finally, the third criticism contends that too many people no longer believe in party politics.
It was to the third of these potential ways in which the party’s membership may have become disenchanted with Jobbik that Vona provided the most interesting response. Many people in Hungary do not believe in parties or in Hungary’s party system, but Vona stated that he does not consider party politics the ultimate solution either. As he put it, he only believes in God and the resurrection of Hungary.
To counter the rest of the criticisms, Vona argued that with reason and with calm but radical statements one can achieve more than by shouting and physicality. “That someone pursues a militant, radical policy does not mean that he shoots everyone to death. In many cases, reason leads to more results than force.”
The delegates were also told that, in its radicalism, Jobbik is above every other party, as well as the civil movements organized on Facebook. What is more, in Hungary Jobbik represents the “normal approach.” In any other country, their national radicalism would be characterized as a completely natural patriotic sentiment, Vona surmised.
On the topic of unifying the party’s SS-style “Hungarian guard,” an initiative announced in early September of this year, Vona said that this might prove to be more difficult than he first thought. To be sure, one hundred percent of the guard’s membership supports their unification, but only ten percent of the leadership of the various splinter organizations can be convinced of this. Secret security interference is to be blamed for the later. In accomplishing this task, Vona said he has to struggle with “real serious” interference from intelligence agencies, though Hungary is going to need the Hungarian Guard and Jobbik more and more.
Jobbik also remains a supporter of the “peaceful coexistence” of Hungarians and Gypsies [sic]. To underscore what he means in the concrete, Vona stated that “we must create a country in which two choices are presented to those – both Hungarians and Gypsies - who do not imagine their place to be in the world of work, law and education: either jail, or emigration from the country.”
Looking outside of Hungary, Vona told the delegates that he does not want to die before Hungarians living beyond the borders of Hungary acquire political autonomy. He also called for organizing the first worldwide “turanian” conference in Hungary for next year (the reference is to the turanian or turanoid race).
During his approximately 45-minute Speech, Vona laid out plans to found two “party academies” for training Jobbik’s membership. One of these would be named after Bishop Ottokár Prohászka, a key figure in the anti-semitic intelligentsia of Hungary during the early decades of the 20th century. Prohászka was vocal in the cultural wars of the turn of the century, and well-known for his attacks on representatives of the symbolist-impressionist literary magazine Nyugat. Perhaps even more importantly, he was an advocate of the numerus clausus in 1918, and his anti-semitism was an important influence on the Christian middle class far beyond his death in 1927. Jobbik’s second academy would provide scholarship opportunities – and “the best of instructors” – to the youth who are born to serve as the country’s new generation of leaders. This institution is to be called “the grandchildren of Attila.” Vona also announced 2012 the “year of Attila.”
According to Jobbik’s party chairman, his party stands high above the regime. While it is continually growing, it must become mature because soon it is going to have to govern the country. The delegates broke out in a standing ovation upon the completion of the speech. Krisztina Morvai and several other leaders of the party addressed the congress as well.