Party leadership - Gábor Vona, Party Chairman

The Jobbik chairman was born into a staunchly anti-Communist farming family in rural Hungary. He was accepted to read History at the prestigious ELTE University in Budapest, where he eventually qualified in his trade of school history teacher.

 Though involvement in the University’s Catholic society was his main social pursuit while there, a chance encounter in the refectory led to him being invited to a gathering of Christian conservative students, concerned about the welfare of the Hungarian nation. This gathering led to the formation of a society that was the precursor of the Movement for a Better Hungary, or Jobbik. He was elected party chairman in 2006 at the age of 28. Since that time, it is no exaggeration to say that he has become the defining figure of Hungarian politics, given that almost all political parties in Hungary now concern themselves with the agenda that he has brought into the public sphere.

The pattern has been the same. First, Jobbik has broken a political taboo. Extending the moratorium on foreign arable land ownership, for example. Or addressing the socio-economic circumstances of Hungary’s Gypsy population, through the provision of a dedicated rural police force, or gendarmerie, to deal with crime; combined with social policy and educational reform, to deal with the causes of that crime. Second, Jobbik’s statements are then met with fierce political outrage nationally and incited hysteria, at times, internationally. Third, all the other parliamentary parties eventually resign themselves to realizing they have no choice but to – finally – face the valid issues Jobbik has raised. Fourth, these eventually then become part of their own political agendas. Extending the moratorium, initially subject to persistent and indignant claims of unfeasibility, is now the policy of everyone. Similarly, all parties now recognize the need to establish a dedicated rural police force; only omitting to calling it by its historic name.

Mr Vona accomplished this by pioneering a form of political thought that considers nationalism not so much as an ideology, but as a criteria for judging the comparative value of political action. His assertion that Hungary’s crisis is as bad as it is, because of the deliberate actions of politicians who sought their personal enrichment above the public good, and that the disasterous consequences require radical intervention; has struck such a chord with the Hungarian electorate precisely because it is that electorate that has been the wellspring of this sentiment.

According to Mr Vona Hungary’s recovery will be accomplished by those politicians that succeed in returning the Hungarian population’s confidence and self-respect. Cerebral and softly-spoken, he cuts an unprepossessing yet resolute figure on the Hungarian public stage; and is perhaps most notable for his disarming sense of humour, which frequently causes members of the audience at Jobbik public forums to be doubled-up with laughter. He lives in a modest apartment on a housing estate in the suburban Óbuda region of Budapest, with his wife and young family. And describes the fear of having to look his infant child in the eye one day, to tell him that when their nation was in crisis, he did nothing; as the main source of his motivation and energy.