Gábor Vona likes to present himself as a man of the people, opening his election campaign recently by slipping into the role of an ordinary worker, chauffeuring old ladies to hospital and showing he wasn’t afraid to work with a chainsaw. Seemingly forgotten are the days when the Jobbik leader proclaimed that, to prove he was not Jewish, he would pull down his pants at any time to show he was not circumcised. Today, the far-right party’s main goal is to create a political home for the disenchanted.
When Jobbik held its annual assembly this month, Vona struck an unusually social tone and said the party “wants to create a country where people find a home, recognition and an environment worth living in”. Considering its now-ten-year history, he insists Jobbik is fully capable of making this idea a reality.
In contrast to the ruling conservative party Fidesz, which constantly singles out the preceding eight years of Socialist government as the root of all evil, Vona’s criticisms concern the last quarter century. “In Hungary there is nothing left to steal,” he says. “The riches of the state were already sold. Now they’re coming for your private property.”
He sees such an all-encompassing critique in a global context: the problem is that instead of renegotiating the public debt, every government since 1990 has willingly paid, thus making Hungary into a sort of colony.
Vona is optimistically looking forward to the parliamentary election on 6 April and sees great opportunities for his party outside Hungary’s borders. Hungarian citizens working, studying or traveling abroad will be able to vote in embassies and consulates, and Vona asks: “For whom are several hundred thousand of them going to vote?”
This is why Jobbik’s election strategy transcends the borders. Vona was in London on Sunday and addressed supporters in Hyde Park. Earlier he had been expected to speak at a rally at Holborn Tube station, in central London, a day before Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday,
However, “dozens” of anti-fascist protesters met his supporters outside the Tube station, where police held them apart, the Press Association (PA) said. Officers lined the entrances to the station and put up barriers to keep the two groups apart, and after more than an hour inside the station the Jobbik supporters returned to the Tube platform, PA reported.
The Metropolitan Police said they “assisted” Vona and his supporters to assemble at an alternative location to “prevent a possible breach of order”. He had then addressed “more than 100 Jobbik supporters” in Hyde Park.
The Met said no arrests were made.
On Twitter, Unite Against Fascism wrote: “After scuttling around London Jobbik Vona pops up in rainy Hyde Park. No venue wants a fascist rally. So much for the master race.”
London Assembly member and former Labour MP Andrew Dismore, who was part of a campaign asking Home Secretary Theresa May to prevent Vona from entering the UK, joined the anti-fascist protesters at Holborn.
He said Vona led the “most powerful outwardly fascist political party in Europe. Jobbik is a racist party which targets Roma, it wants to segregate them into ghettos, and it targets Jewish people”.
Members of the Jewish community joined the protest .
Vona earlier denied claims he planned to meet other far-right parties including the British National Party while in London. “This is a forum for Hungarian citizens,” his spokeswoman said. “This is not to do with anyone else.”EKG