"It's already a positive sign that the EPP prevaricates in terms of the Fidesz issue"
Do Jobbik MPs need to worry that the new board will ask them to return their mandate? Will there be a truce between István Szávay and Péter Jakab? How will Jobbik reach out to Fidesz orphans and why does the party still wish to join the EPP? Jobbik’s new president Péter Jakab answered Azonnali’s questions.
Jobbik’s new board called on Hajdú-Bihar County councilman Gergely Kulcsár, who had spat into the Holocaust memorial shoe statues at the Danube bank, to resign from his office. Has he reacted yet?
He did receive the official letter but we haven’t seen any reaction from him by Tuesday afternoon.
Dismissing Kulcsár was part of your recently announced merit-based party concept. Do Jobbik’s current MPs need to worry about getting a similar letter?
Our MPs do an excellent job and stand their ground in the political arena. However, Gergely Kulcsár has been unworthy for years to serve our nation and community as a representative. It would have been the previous board’s responsibility to do what the new leadership has just made up for. We did so not only because we owed it to our own conscience but also because we had to draw a clear line between what is acceptable in a people’s party and what is not.
So it was a symbolic decision, too. On the other hand, we have drawn the line with Gergely Kulcsár’s case, so everybody starts off with a clean slate from now on. Meanwhile, we will implement some changes in HR policies; we want to develop a much more intensive and performance-oriented work schedule for Jobbik’s politicians. Nobody can rest on their laurels, everybody will need to perform but if they do their job well, they will be appreciated.
Will there be a truce with István Szávay? There were reports of tensions between you two.
Frictions tend to naturally occur before an election of new officials, even conflicts of opinions may emerge during a campaign because we don’t need to agree on everything, fortunately. Thank God, this is not Fidesz where Viktor Orbán just tells what’s going to happen. When the Parliament’s fall session finished, we gave a team jersey to each of our MPs. When we handed them over, I said we were facing an election of new officials, there would be debates and perhaps even tensions but we need to go on as a united team no matter what.
So does the clean slate apply to István Szávay and others who were said to have different opinions than you?
It applies to everybody. The merit-based approach means that if you’re talented and you wish to serve the community, we will count on you. If you can’t do that, take a step back.
Are you going to pull Jobbik out of the leftist alliance?
There no leftist alliance. There’s a cooperation in opposition. Jobbik is not a leftist party and we don’t want to be the leader of the opposition. We want to be the leader of the forces that replace this government. That’s why it’s so important to have integrative personalities in the forefront of the opposition cooperation instead of polarizing politicians. Just as we’ve taken the expected step with regard to Gergely Kulcsár, we expect the other opposition parties to take similarly important and symbolic steps.
Can you tell me a polarizing name on the opposition side, other than Ferenc Gyurcsány?
He’s quite enough of a burden for the opposition cooperation on his own. It might sound harsh for DK Democratic Coalition’s supporters but as far as the cooperation goes, Ferenc Gyurcsány is DK’s Gergely Kulcsár.
So if Gyurcsány’s name did not appear on the joint opposition list, would Jobbik consider taking a part in it?
If the symbolic actors of the pre-2010 world showed some self-restraint, it would be far easier to develop an efficient cooperation.
Obviously, the opposition needs to present a challenger for Viktor Orbán; someone who is intellectually equal to the prime minister and can attract voters, too. Do you see such people in the Hungarian public sphere? Who are they?
I can see such people but I definitely don’t want to name them. What I can tell you is that I would very much prefer someone coming from outside the political parties.
Do you consider yourself suitable for such a role?
I am a party politician, but I have gathered enough experience over the years to be able to reach out to people, regardless of ideologies and party politics. Many DK and Socialist supporters come to my rallies and they ensure me of their backing. I don’t know if they were willing to vote for me when it comes to that, so we need a person who DK supporters and disgruntled Fidesz backers could vote for without stomach cramps.
What’s your strategy to attract Fidesz orphans?
Disgruntled Fidesz voters have the easiest way to migrate to Jobbik because we are a centre-right party with a patriotic, national approach. Viktor Orbán doesn’t consider you a part of the nation unless you participate in maintaining his corrupt system. In contrast, we consider all honest Hungarian people as full members of the nation.
Who are the Jobbik politicians that former Fidesz voters could find particularly likeable?
I do hope that moderate Fidesz supporters may find me likeable because I took an oath to represent justice and I fight for such causes as making sure there are no unheated schoolrooms or disintegrated hospitals any more. I think Jobbik MPs can also attract Fidesz voters, we are a diverse group. For example, Balázs Ander tends to make edgier statements than our other MPs while Dániel Z. Kárpát finds a way to disappointed government supporters through special professional policies. I could also mention our Olympic champion Ádám Steinmetz, who represents the entire nation both in the water polo pool and in Parliament, too.
Is Jobbik supposed to reach out to Budapest’s urban elite, too?
We must be able to reach out to everyone but I’m not quite sure who we mean when we talk about the elite. I’ve just been asked the question recently if it was more difficult for Jobbik to reach out to the intelligentsia since I primarily target my communication towards low-income people. Yes, but intellectuals are low-income people in Hungary, too. So when we’re talking about major issues like pensions or the quality of healthcare services, we can reach out to the Hungarian intellectuals who would otherwise be part of the elite in Western Europe. But the people who have a mind to think are not typically considered as part of the elite in Hungary.
Is Jobbik’s foreign voter base rather coming from Hungarians living in London or in the neighbouring countries?
We have always represented the Hungarians living in the neighbouring countries, and we will continue to do so. What we can see is that Fidesz tends to rake in most of their votes as they have developed a certain kind of dependency between the government party and the people living there, that’s why Fidesz does not support their autonomy. And that’s exactly why we do support it: we want to help the local communities to become independent so they wouldn’t need to rely on the motherland’s support.
One more thing about votes coming from abroad: my experience of the last years tells me that we can expect a lot of support from the Hungarians living in London. When I entered the parliamentary race in Miskolc in the 2018 national elections, I lost with a narrow margin against the local Fidesz candidate, mostly due to the missing votes of the Hungarians working abroad.
How do you evaluate the performance of your MEP, Márton Gyöngyösi? So far he’s been unable to join any faction in the EP. Isn’t that a failure?
No. Márton’s most important task is to build Jobbik’s international relations in and through the EP. With his sense of diplomacy and experience, he will do an excellent job. There might possibly be a historical moment when we can join the European People’s Party, thanks to Márton’s work and Jobbik’s credible people’s party politics. Of course, it could only happen if the EPP does not tolerate such anti-democratic parties as Fidesz.
The EPP has apparently been prevaricating in terms of the Fidesz issue. Aren’t you annoyed that they can’t make a decision?
It’s already a positive thing that they prevaricate at all. The fact that they’ve suspended Fidesz’ membership rights is a clear indication that something may have started in the EPP. You have to give a chance for everyone to change. Jobbik didn’t change overnight, either.
By the way, why did Jobbik’s presidents come from Eastern Hungary? You are from Miskolc, Tamás Sneider is from Eger, Gábor Vona is from Gyöngyös.
Perhaps we are the closest to Hungary’s reality there in the eastern frontier, so we may be able to better understand the problems of average Hungarian people. As a result, we may be the most credible ones to represent the voice of the people in the Parliament.
Marianna Hutter / Azonnali.hu - Jobbik.com