French paper Le Monde has declared that Hungary’s extreme-right Jobbik is still among Europe’s most radical parties despite recent attempts by party leadership to moderate its image. According to the paper, “Jobbik is trying to rid itself of its extremist demonization, and attempting to step up as a centrist party that runs on fairness and security.” But according to Le Monde, the party under the leadership of chairman Gábor Vona (pictured) remains essentially true to its extremist roots.
Le Monde traces the path of Jobbik from its beginnings as a political manifestation of the since-outlawed extreme-right militia the Hungarian Guard, which Vona founded and which was known for terrorizing Roma communities. The paper suggests that Jobbik’s rise to Hungary’s most popular opposition party is largely attributable to its attempts to moderate its positions: it no longer publicly supports Hungary leaving the European Union, it supports freedom of religion, and no longer clings to Hungary’s pre-Trianon borders. Vona has even been quoted as saying he wishes everyone would feel good in Hungary, “regardless of where they come from.”
But the about-face from the distinctly anti-Semitic roots of the party, which took hold among far-right voters in Hungary, have caused many to distrust Jobbik’s honesty. Where once it was denied a spot in a far-right European Parliament group started by France’s National Front because of its anti-Semitism, Jobbik has now engaged in a moderating strategy which partially manifests in its opposition to Fidesz. Jobbik refuses to form a coalition with the governing party because it claims Fidesz stole a major part of its platform, but when not openly criticizing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in parliamentary sessions, Vona and his party typically support Fidesz’s policies, especially on issues such as immigration.