Jobbik’s new president, Márton Gyöngyösi has a scandalous past behind him. In 2012 he proposed that a list of Jewish people in the country and within the government should be drawn up to assess the national security risk they pose.
Jobbik was the runner-up in the 2022 elections in Hungary. The party garnered the second largest support behind Fidesz-KDNP in the Parliamentary elections. Since then, however, the party has started to fall apart. Scandal after scandal, and feuds within their ranks split the faction.
Péter Jakab, the previous president, had the support of his party in the spring of 2022. He was elected for a term of two years. After his election, however, he became involved in a sex scandal of the party, and not much later (after he had resigned) he gave a position with an enormous remuneration to his lover. When the news of this misstep broke, merely a month after his re-election, he stepped down.
Jobbik elected their new president, Márton Gyöngyösi, on the 2nd of July, with what can be called a landslide victory, as he gathered 68 per cent of the votes. Gyöngyösi’s past, however, merits analysis and scrutiny to understand the decision of the party.
Jobbik is a party that started out as far-right, and later, mostly under the leadership of Jakab started to pull toward the left. Gyöngyösi’s past correlates with the original ideas of the faction. In 2012 in the Hungarian national assembly he declared that he thinks every representative of Jewish descent should be put on a list. In his own words:
‘It is about time that we research how many of us living here (Hungary), and especially how many of us in the parliament and in the government are of Jewish decent that pose a national security risk against Hungary. I think that Hungary needs a list like that.’ At the time his party did not dissociate themselves from the statement.
In the same year he was sued by the Socialist Party (MSZP) for Holocaust denial after Gyöngyösi gave a statement to The Jewish Chronicle where he questioned the number of victims in the Holocaust, and the fact that over 400,000 Hungarian Jews were either murdered or deported during the Second World War.
While he apparently does not approve of Jews, he is more than happy to build relations with Russia. In 2014 he observed elections in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics – neither of which were recognized by the EU at the time. According to press reports, because of his visits he was banned from entering Ukraine.
He also responded positively to the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. After the referendum in Crimea he stated that ‘Jobbik sees the vote as a victory. The referendum is legitimate and valid’. Following the annexation, in 2015, he was invited to Crimea, where he was supposed to represent Jobbik, however, that trip did not materialize.
Since then, he has had a change of heart regarding many topics. Currently he is fighting for the adoption of more economic sanctions against Russia.
The parties on the left that are at present allied with Jobbik have not issued statements commenting on the election of the new president. At this point, none of them has expressed support for or distanced themselves from him. However, Tímea Szabó of Párbeszéd previously stated that Gyöngyösi is unfit to be a representative. Earlier, Ágnes Vadai of DK simply wanted to dissolve Jobbik, while Ferenc Gyurcsány stated that one ‘cannot come to an agreement with Nazis’ and reminded his voters of Gyöngyösi’s proposal to have a ‘Jewish list’. Despite these scathing statements, left-wing parties did not hesitate much to enter an election alliance with Jobbik earlier this year.
Gyöngyösi as the Last Resort?
To summarize, Gyöngyösi’s controversial track record raises serious doubts about suitability for the job of president of one of the largest parties. The perhaps saddening fact is that the party has no other candidates left. After the wave of scandals, and many of their representatives turning their backs on the faction, Gyöngyösi might be the best of the rest. Jobbik essentially had no one else to choose.