Gábor Vona: Jobbik is ready to govern

January 30, 2018

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Photo: Budapest Beacon/Balázs Pivarnyik

After eight years of being in parliament and spreading the party’s network to the four corners of Hungary, the Movement for a Better Hungary (more commonly known as Jobbik) is ready to govern, its chairman Gábor Vona told party faithful at a congress on Saturday.

“We are prepared to push Hungary’s carriage in a different direction together with the Hungarian people on April 8,” said the far-right party’s candidate for prime minister in the general election, adding that “we would like to liberate ourselves from [Prime Minister] Viktor Orbán.”

Sporting a new beard, Vona told supporters that Jobbik alone has a chance of defeating the Fidesz-KDNP political alliance in the election, possessing the very “strength and determination” he finds lacking on the part of the left-liberal opposition parties.

The Jobbik leader claimed that the current government’s politics and communication reflect the current prime minister’s view that people are essentially bad. Vona, by contrast, believes that while people may possess bad qualities, “they are basically good.”

He then presented the main planks of Jobbik’s program, claiming Hungary was in dire need of a “historical change of direction.”

On security

“For three years we’ve heard from the government at an astonishing volume that Viktor Orbán makes Hungary free of migrants, and then Kristóf Altusz delivered the head of government’s Öszöd speech,” Vona said (referring to the expletive-laden speech delivered by MSZP prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány at the resort town of Balatonöszöd in which he acknowledged that his administration had lied in the run-up to the 2006 election-ed.).  Vona added that, despite the government spending HUF 22 billion on anti-migrant propaganda, Hungary had “taken in 2300 foreigners over the past three years.”

If elected his government would protect Hungary from migration and terrorism even more determinedly than the Orbán administration, meaning that the southern border fence would remain and even be augmented should it be necessary. He rejected Brussels’ proposal to temporarily settle asylum-seekers in Hungary while their applications are processed.

Referring to the controversial settlement bond program that has enriched various off-shore companies at the expense of Hungarian taxpayers, the Jobbik leader said “[Minister] Antal Rogán and company will repay the amount with interest.”

On democracy

“We all had great democracy here for 16 years in which one government sent police to shoot at its political rivals and the other set its media hyenas and the State Audit Office onto its political rivals,” said Vona, adding that “the style of democracy is liberality” which he regarded as a sign of weakness in Fidesz.

He said a Jobbik government would restore the independence of democratic institutions, with democratic leaders needed to head state institutions as opposed to the “attached files of Viktor Orbán,” in the persons of central bank governor György Matolcsy, chief prosecutor Péter Polt, and State Audit Office president László Domokos.

If elected on April 8, Vona promised to respect opposition parties, including Fidesz, adding that while it was necessary to hold to account the leaders of the current governing party, dialogue was needed with supporters of the political community.

On corruption

Referring to the corruption of the current regime as a “herb that needs to be eradicated,” Vona called for it to end, telling followers that “in Viktor Orbán’s garden not only is it not weeded out, it is nourished and even planted.”

Jobbik would be the first party that did not just talk about a reckoning, but once in government would actually bring this about by setting up an anti-corruption prosecutorial service that, when necessary, would enlist the aid of European prosecutors.

On the subject of Hungary’s Roma or “gypsy” minority, which Jobbik has conflated with criminality the same way the Orbán government conflates migrants with terrorism, Vona promised “substantive change,” adding that “gypsies born at the end of the Kádár regime [in the late 1980s-ed.] had a better chance of advancement than those born now.”

On competition

Calling the past 28 years since the change of political system “a failure of competition,” Vona said Hungary had gone from being the regional leader to being the regional laggard, He called for drastic change in education and health-care, and an improvement in wages and working conditions of social workers.

On emigration

The Jobbik leader spoke at length on emigration, promising to do everything in his power to stop it.
Speaking critically of the Orbán government’s failure to acknowledge the problem, let alone address it, Vona said dictatorial governments are happy for emigration because fewer will criticize the government.

He proposed to solve the problem through the introduction of a “wage union” as well as a “historical home creation program.”  He also promised to resolve the foreign-exchange loan crisis once and for all.

On restoring Hungary’s reputation abroad

Vona blamed Hungary’s poor reputation abroad on both  Orbán and Gyurcsány, calling the notion that Orbán is regarded as a strong leader abroad “a huge deception.”

“They consider him a notorious figure, not a respected person.  In the west he is known for being unreliable, in the east for being reliable in that he only needs to be paid and anything can be arranged” said Vona, seemingly alluding to the controversial extradition of Azeri ax-murderer Ramil Safarov.

“A new compromise is needed. We need to move beyond the divisiveness and traumas of the 20th century.”