Jobbik in financial ruin

Jobbik is right where Fidesz want it to be: effectively bankrupt, with almost no paid staff and with the insurgent far right movement of László Toroczkai siphoning away parts of the party base. This week RTL discovered that Jobbik has only 604,000 forints (circa C$3000) remaining in its bank account and has just three paid full-time employees. The party will receive no state funding until January 2019, due to hefty fines issued by the State Audit Office of Hungary and tax authorities. HVG reports that Jobbik may not be able to pay the salaries of the remaining staff in the coming months, though party chairman Tamás Sneider hoped that Jobbik will raise the necessary funds through private donations. There’s no question that over the years Jobbik received donations considered undeclared or illegitimate under Hungarian campaign law–primarily by obtaining billboards and advertising spots at below market rates. It is par for the course that these state agencies continue to turn a blind eye to the constant use of government taxpayer funds by Fidesz for party campaigning–both nationally and locally–and the use of “public service announcements” as party messages.

Mr. Sneider is trying to continue the more moderate course charted by his predecessor, Gábor Vona. But most of his time is spent dealing with the party’s disastrous financial situation. Mr. Sneider confirmed that Jobbik may have to sell its head office on Villányi út, in Budapest’s 11th District, in order to stay afloat. Politically, the chairman wants to see Jobbik focus on issues pertaining to civil liberties. He also expressed some regret for the party’s past handling of two social issues in particular: gay rights and the Roma community. Jobbik is still trying to cast itself as the Orbán’s regime’s main opposition–though it’s quite clear that for the foreseeable future the party will be in no position to contest elections and run campaigns.

Tamás Sneider in the middle (and Gábor Vona on the right) this summer.

Jobbik’s popularity has also taken a hit. Századvég, a pollster with close ties to Fidesz, found that Jobbik support has dropped to just 8%. The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) is now one point ahead at 9% and the Democratic Coalition stands at 4%, as does Politics Can Be Different. Fidesz has 36% of the vote, while 33% of all respondents are undecided or have no party preference. Századvég also found that one quarter of Jobbik’s voting base would cast a ballot for László Toroczkai’s breakaway far-right party, which he named Mi Hazánk, or Our Homeland.

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