Péter Jakab on Jobbik’s national policy: “We represent the entire nation, not just ourselves”

Some politicians left Jobbik in the past few days. Alfahír asked the party’s president Péter Jakab about that and the background of some recent decisions.

In the Parliament’s Tuesday session, Jobbik unanimously backed the bill on the protection of national regions. How important are national and memorial policies for Jobbik?

It’s so important that we’ve just stood up in Parliament again for providing self-government for ethnic Hungarian communities and demanded to release the Communist secret police files. These issues represent a bare national minimum. Any party that attaches great value to nation and democracy must never overlook these matters.  

The reason I’m asking is because János Bencsik, after he quit Jobbik, claimed you told the faction meeting these issues were no longer going to be important.

What I said was that Jobbik was going to continue following a rightist, Christian conservative ideology but our daily policies will be determined by the people’s daily problems. These problems go far beyond ideologies and political affiliations. The disintegrating hospitals, unheated classrooms, slave wages and humiliatingly low minimum pensions affect all losers of the Orbán regime, not just pro-right people. I’m sorry if someone is willing to twist these words and say that we would not focus on national policy on account of the leftist voters. On the contrary. We will very much focus on these matters because we represent the whole nation and not just ourselves.

After an MP, some local councilmen have also left Jobbik recently, saying Jobbik can’t conduct a 21st-century rightist policy. As party president, how do you react to this criticism?

Addressing our national congress, I talked about a merit-based and human-centred party which is national because it raises back up all those people into the nation who were rejected by the Orbán regime, and not because it carries slogans on its banner. This is what 90 per cent of the congress agreed to, which also obliges me to follow their direction but does not oblige anyone to stay with us on this journey. As I said in my programme speech, some people will leave us on their own and some people will be dismissed. But they are not the ones who matter. Who matter are the ones who carry on. We wish everyone success following their own path.

According to the latest polls, Fidesz and Jobbik have both gained. Analysts also say that Hungarian voters can be divided into three, roughly equal groups: one third is pro-government, one third supports the opposition while the last third has no particular party to choose. What conclusions can you draw from that?

I’m glad that we could finally move from the standstill and I’m happy that Jobbik could reach out to some of the undecided voters rather than gaining at the opposition’s expense. The reason why it’s so important is because we can’t replace the government just by adding up the current opposition voters. We’ll need more voters and Jobbik seems to be able to mobilise indifferent voters in order to replace this government.

By the way, in the debate on the so-called prison business, the pro-government MPs asked Jobbik’s representatives to fill out the national consultation form. Will you do it?

The problem is real, the consultation is not. The solution has been in the government’s hands for years. The money they’ve had to pay out on account of the legislation adopted by Fidesz in 2016 could have easily financed building the prisons needed to eliminate the basis of all those compensation claims. But then how could they run yet another propaganda campaign? In other words, more work and less consultation, dear government.


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