Hungary’s Anti-Semitic Jobbik Party Is Spreading Across Eastern Europe

Marcin Goettig and Christian Lowe, Business Insider, April 9, 2014

In a rented public hall not far from Poland’s parliament, about 150 people gathered one afternoon late last year to hear speeches by a collection of far-right leaders from around Europe.

The event was organised by Ruch Narodowy, or National Movement, a Polish organisation that opposes foreign influences, views homosexuality as an illness and believes Poland is threatened by a leftist revolution hatched in Brussels.

Chief attraction was Marton Gyongyosi, one of the leaders of Hungarian far-right party Jobbik.

In a 20-minute speech, Gyongyosi addressed the crowd, mostly men in their thirties and forties, as “our Polish brothers,” and railed against globalization, environmentalists, socialists, and what he called a cabal of Western economic interests.

Poles needed to resist the forces hurting ordinary people, he said, before urging “regional cooperation between our countries.”

{snip} Reuters has found ties between at least half a dozen of the groups in Europe’s ex-Communist east. At the network’s heart, officials from those groups say, sits Jobbik.

The party won 20.54 per cent of the vote in Hungary’s parliamentary election on April 6, up from the 15.86 per cent it won in 2010, cementing its status as by far the largest far-right group in Eastern Europe.

From its strong base at home, Jobbik has stepped up efforts to export its ideology and methods to the wider region, encouraging far-right parties to run in next month’s European parliamentary elections, and propagating a brand of nationalist ideology which is so hardline and so tinged with anti-Semitism, that some rightist groups in Western Europe have distanced themselves from the Hungarians.


In a statement sent to Reuters, Jobbik said that it hoped the people of central and eastern Europe would unite in an “alliance that spreads from the Adriatic to the Baltic Sea,” to counter what it called Euro-Atlantic suppression.

Jobbik rejected any link between the growing strength of radical nationalists and violence. “Jobbik condemns violence, and its members cannot be linked to such acts either,” it said.


The day after Gyongyosi’s speech last November, Jobbik’s leader, Gabor Vona, addressed another rally in a Warsaw park.

“The path to final victory involves a million small steps,” he told the crowd, through a translator. “You should take up this challenge. Take part in the European elections.”

The crowd chanted: “Poland and Hungary are brothers!”

As they marched through the city earlier that day, some of the Polish participants fought pitched battles with police and set fire to a rainbow sculpture erected as a symbol of diversity.

Poland is not the only example of Jobbik’s regional outreach. Far-right groups in Poland, Slovakia, Croatia, and Bulgaria told Reuters they have ties with fellow parties in several countries in the region. Jobbik sat at the center of that web, the only one with contacts with all the parties.

Nick Griffin, leader of the British National Party (BNP), one of the few far right parties in Western Europe with close relations with Jobbik, said the Hungarian party is the driving force behind efforts to forge a far-right coalition.


Jobbik appears to operate on a shoestring. It has an annual budget of $US 2.34 million, according to the Hungarian state audit office, most of it from a state allowance to parties in parliament. Jobbik denies giving financial aid to other groups, but it can afford its own staff, travel, and facilities–all factors that enhance its influence.

“Jobbik is a market leader of sorts,” Gyongyosi said. “There are shared values, and the way Jobbik grew big, why could the same thing not happen elsewhere?”


Broadly speaking those shared values include a strong opposition to Brussels, a dislike of immigrants, and a suspicion of Jews and of the Roma, an ethnic minority who number about 10 million in Eastern Europe and who have faced centuries of discrimination.


Jobbik has had less success in Western Europe, where more established nationalist parties reject its anti-Semitic views. In 2012, Jobbik’s Gyongyosi told the Hungarian parliament that Jews were a threat to national security and should be registered on lists. He later apologized and said he had been misunderstood. But parties such as the Dutch Party of Freedom, which is staunchly pro-Israel, and France’s National Front, which has sought to move away from its anti-Semitic past, are both wary of the Hungarian group.

Jobbik’s principal ally in Western Europe is the British National Party. Griffin, its leader, said the BNP and Jobbik were working together on building a functioning bloc of nationalists within the European Parliament.


Opinion polls in Britain suggest the BNP will lose the two seats it currently holds in the European parliament.

One far-right party that polls predict will win seats in Brussels is Greece’s Golden Dawn, which says it wants to rid the country of the “stench” of immigrants. But Jobbik told Reuters Golden Dawn was “unfit” for the Hungarian party to cooperate with. Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris said there was no official cooperation with Jobbik.


Jobbik’s network-building has been most successful in Poland in part because Poland and Hungary have no historical claims on each other’s territory, an issue that has often hindered cooperation between Jobbik and nationalists from other neighbours.



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