Editor's note: As a follow up to our article about Jobbik and their MEPs, we received a report by a group of Hungarian students wittnesing the residential forum held by Jobbik in London on January 26th and the protest against it.
A few weeks ago a number of Hungarian youngsters studying in the UK attended the residential forum in London held by Jobbik, one of Hungary’s most popular parties. The owner of the event’s original venue (that Jobbik supposedly booked under a fake name) cancelled the permission after light was shed on the controversial nature of the forum and the party: Jobbik is one of the strongest far-right movements in Europe. Finally, a group of about 100 people ended up actually participating in the forum in Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park. A handful of Hungarian students decided to attend the event as well in order to protest against the extremist views of the party, whose members claim Jobbik is the party of the Hungarian youth, among other things. The forum was protected from approximately 200 antifascist demonstrators by at least as many police officers as the number of the attendees.
Gábor Vona, the leader of the party held a speech in which he drew everyone’s attention to several interesting issues and answered some critical questions afterwards. We collected some of his claims that we found slightly absurd.
It wasn’t just his speech that had surrealist traits. The atmosphere of the forum also sent shivers up and down our spines, especially when one of his supporters shouted out with joy, making us feel like in North Korea: “Gábor Vona has brought us sunshine!”. Indeed, sunshine followed the gloomy Sunday morning; yet, the only rainbow visible in Hyde Park was on a flag carried by a protesting Hungarian student. The flag of gay liberation was certainly odd-looking in the middle of a crowd of Árpád-striped flags, one of the commonly used symbols of right-wing extremists in Hungary.
In his populist speech, Vona pointed out quite a few things he wanted to change in Hungary; however, he never explained how his reforms would actually be implemented. For the more critical questions his answers were rather evasive. One of the Hungarian students asked about the alternatives that Jobbik would provide to those Hungarians who would lose their right to work in the UK if a potential future Jobbik government would lead Hungary out of the EU. Obviously the party would want them to return home; however, he did not explain how he would provide better living conditions for the homecomers. Instead of being given clear explanations, everyone was just reassured that if Jobbik won the general elections coming up in April, everything would become better.
With regards to political correctness, Vona guaranteed that if the party ever came to power, law-abiding, trustworthy Romas would have equal rights to law-abiding, trustworthy Hungarians, a promise he had already made in another speech, along with making death penalty legal.
In spite of the anti-European views of the party, all of their supporters gathered in the park taking advantage of their right to free movement and labour provided by the EU - otherwise there would not be any need for London campaign. According to Vona these workers are merely slaves in England (despite the fact that this "slavery" is fully voluntary and their wages are three times higher than in Hungary), and Jobbik is dedicated to somehow end this condition.
Vona’s views are rather remarkable when it comes to foreign affairs. In his speech, he claimed that Hungary should tighten its relations to countries such as Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in order to counterbalance the western influence in Hungary. Why these countries? “The people of these countries love us because they all know that we are all the descendants of Attila the Hun” – he claimed and then explained a theory, not scientifically proven, about a common ancestry. He then pointed out that despite the warm friendship, Turkish people should not migrate to Hungary just like Hungarians are not moving to Turkey either.
Vona also presented a revolutionary theory of macroeconomics that questioned the foundations of both the Neoclassical and the Keynesian schools. He said there was a strong correlation between the strength of Hungarian nationalist consciousness and the Hungarian GDP, the declaration of which was followed by a round of enthusiastic applause. He believes that “if the levels of nationalist consciousness rises, Hungarian GDP will increase as well”. Although he admitted that he couldn’t show evidence to prove this, he believed in it and that should be enough.
One of the opposing students raised the issue of death penalty and the fact that it wasn’t consistent with the party’s claimed Christian values. Vona described himself as a Roman Catholic in his reply and thus acknowledged that it went against the values of the Church. As he claimed, “We are going to save lives with the death penalty”. Sándor Pörzse, a Jobbik MP escorting the party leader, complemented his fellow’s argument by bringing up the example of Jamaica where the capital punishment appeared to have been effective to reduce violent crime.
Eventually the issue of the outrageous call to list Jewish people in the Hungarian government by another Jobbik MP and foreign policy specialist Márton Gyöngyösi was also mentioned. Vona vaguely admitted that this was a mistake and accused the public of misinterpreting the true intentions of this proposal, as their goal was merely to list all the people with dual citizenship in the sake of Hungary’s national security.
Not all of the questions of the forum were relevant to the future of Hungary; most of his supporters were expressing their gratitude to Vona for visiting them, while others were asking about how Jobbik would fight against the current government’s corruption. In his answers, Vona cited the main promises of the party’s election campaign. Apart from these, some of the ideas that the supporters expressed didn’t make much sense but were a joy for the ear to listen. Someone asked about the party’s future policy regarding the protection of acacia trees from the EU; somebody else suggested that the party should provide dental care and schooling for the Hungarians living in the UK, for profit.
Later on we were lucky enough to get a glimpse of his personal life: Vona explained that long ago, he decided to change his original family name, Zázrivecz, to Vona, his grandfather’s name who died a heroic death.
The absurd atmosphere persisted throughout the forum, right until the end. One of the enthusiastic attendees of the event, a lovely, grandma-like lady advised us, the protestors to move closer to Vona, otherwise our demonstration wouldn’t succeed. Perhaps she would’ve also told us to wear a hat in that cold winter weather later on, had we not lost her in the crowd.