Jobbik divided — Radicals challenge party moderates

The Hungarian opposition’s implosion continues. On Tuesday, László Toroczkai, the leading radical in Jobbik, announced that he was launching a new platform within Jobbik called “Mi Magunk” (or “We Ourselves,” a clear nod to Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein), in order to give radicals within the party a voice. There was speculation that people like Mr. Toroczkai, Előd Novák and his wife Dóra Dúró would leave the party, out of unhappiness over the decision by newly elected chair Tamás Sneider to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor, Gábor Vona, and build a “socially-sensitive” moderate party, to the left of Fidesz. Some of the more moderate Jobbik politicians would have been quite happy to see the back of Mr. Toroczkai and his group. One politician speaking to Index anonymously said: “We would be happy if Laci would go to hell…”

Mr. Toroczkai, mayor of Ásotthalom, has joined forces with seven other Jobbik mayors to launch his “We Ourselves” radical platform. This is half of all Jobbik mayors in Hungary. Recently, he criticized the Jobbik leadership, because he believes that they portray Fidesz as “Satan,” whilst willingly cooperating with centre-left opposition parties. Mr. Toroczkai calls on Jobbik to reject the politics of moderation of the last two or three years and return to its far rights roots. We Ourselves will officially launch on 23 June, in the town of Ásotthalom, and this public event will be a test to see just how much support he has within the party base.

László Toroczkai in front of Jobbik party offices on Bécsi út, in Budapest. Photo: MTI.

Meanwhile Jobbik’s leadership struck back, questioning the legitimacy of such a platform. The party’s by-laws don’t mention platforms at all, but as such, they do not ban them either. The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) was known to have several platforms, but it is believed that today few of them are still active.

Péter Jakab, Jobbik’s spokesperson, noted that it was in the interests of Fidesz to encourage a split within Jobbik and to then devour the remains of the party–similarly to what happened to the Smallholders, the Hungarian Democratic Forum and arguably even the Christian Democratic People’s Party.

“I am not claiming that László Toroczkai is Fidesz’s agent, but it is certain that Fidesz is trying to use him,” said Mr. Jakab.

A great deal will depend on what happens on 23 June in Ásotthalom. This could be an opportunity for Mr. Toroczkai to display power and strength, particularly if it appears that much of the party base is behind him. In the next few weeks and months we will see if the radicals manage to take back their party and ensure that Jobbik changes course, reverting to its extremist past.

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