Socialists and Liberals have called for the resignation of Jobbik MP and deputy parliamentary speaker Tamas Sneider. Last week Vigyázó blog released a recording of Sneider making racist comments to members of radical right-wing Jobbik and extremist hate group Betyársereg (Highwayman army) in Szekszard.
In that recording Sneider claimed that Jobbik’s objectives remained the same but it had modified its communication strategy so as to project an image of “peace” and “calm.” He said this was necessary in order to win the support of Hungarian pensioners, without whose support Jobbik could not come to power. More importantly, his comments indicated that Jobbik and Betyársereg were two sides of the same coin, the only difference being that the latter was at liberty to do and say things which he and fellow Jobbik MPs were not.
The Hungarian Liberal Party (MLP) responded to the recording by calling for Sneider’s resignation, arguing that in light of the politician’s racist statements he has no place in parliament either as an assemblyman or as the deputy speaker. The Liberals announced “it is not surprising that a former skinhead given a suspended sentence for assault” should continue to profess such “unacceptable” views.
The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) also called on Sneider to immediately resign his seat in parliament. MSZP MP Zoltán Lukács called on Jobbik chairman Gábor Vona to confirm that the radical right-wing party’s communication has changed. If so, says Lukács, then Jobbik has deceived the people and tricked them into voting for a party which turns out not to be “‘consolidated” and which does not want to represent people, and is “wearing a mask solely for the sake of coming to power”. He accused Jobbik of continuing to be an “extreme, inhuman party that maintains connections with criminals” and called on parliamentary speaker László Kövér not to entrust Sneider with any duties befitting a deputy speaker of parliament.
MSZP chairman József Tóbiás announced that he was convoking a meeting of the national security committee over the recording. Deputy MSZP caucus head Tamás Harangozó believes the committee needs to clarify the connection between Betyársereg and Jobbik, whether Betyársereg members are collecting protection money and, if so, whether any of this money is being remitted to Jobbik. He says it is also necessary to examine whether Betyársereg holds training sessions at which it uses Islamic State (IS) training films, and whether there is a connection between the extremist group and Islamic State.
Jobbik professes not to understand why MSZP is outraged over the fact that Jobbik has refined its communications strategy without changing its political program. Vona (pictured here with members of the Betyársereg) said objections on the part of MSZP politicians were difficult to understand given the party’s tendency to “change their programs and ideology more often than an average person changes his underwear.” He said the Socialists were “frustrated over the fact that Jobbik continues to strengthen even as MSZP has been languishing for five years.”
Sneider dismissed calls for his resignation as an “April Fool’s joke.” He said Jobbik is not an “MSZP-type party” in that it steadfastly represents its own ideas, and that this clearly came across on the recording. “The goals are the same but the communication is in need of improvement,” says the Jobbik MP. Regarding his personal secretary, Zsolt Dér, Sneider has no knowledge of him ever “going some place to kill”. He said Dér had protected a Hungarian settlement in Croatia against Serbian aggression, and that in a normal country he would have been given a medal.