The First Constituency

Jobbik's Gábor Vona on the Tapolca By-Election Victory: 'The 21st Century has Defeated the Parties of the 20th Century'

2015. április 13. 11:02

Gábor Vona, the president of Jobbik, and Lajos Rig, the Jobbik candidate who has apparently won Sunday's by-election, will not, contrary to the campaign promise, be stripping to their waists to dispel rumors about certain tattoos. Vona says that it is the 21st century that has defeated the parties of the 20th century in yesterday's vote to elect a parliamentary seat for a constituency in western Hungary. According to the party president, Jobbik does not receive any unfair, dishonest funding from Russia, nor from Iran. Mandiner reached Mr. Vona on the phone just minutes after his press conference in Tapolca on Sunday night.

Mandiner: We didn't see you and Mr. Lajos Rig taking off your clothes at the press conference after the election victory.

Gábor Vona: I am standing here half naked.

Really?

No, it was just a joke.

But taking off your clothes [to dispel the rumors about the Jobbik candidate supposedly having a controversial phrase tattooed on his body in German - the editor] was your promise during the campaign.

It was solely my promise, sorry. Lajos never promised that. I said that rash sentence at one of our campaign rallies, that we will both get half-naked if we win. I hope - for myself and for Hungary also -- that that will be the only campaign promise that I fail to keep.

So you do not intend to keep your promise at all.

As the president of Jobbik, I don't think that I have to stoop to that level.

Is there perhaps another reason? Maybe it's that you're not yet taking the result as final? There is still one box of ballots uncounted.

One can take our victory as the final result. Our candidate, Lajos Rig, lives in that part of the constituency where the votes are not yet counted. As we have won all the districts in that town, Tapolca, there is technically only a miniscule chance that the result will change. In reality, it is impossible. We have won this election. The future cannot be stopped. That was our slogan in 2013, and it has became reality today. The 21st century defeated the parties of the 20th century.

So Előd Novák [Jobbik vice president and a member of parliament] can get ready for his position as minister of Interior?

It was Gábor G. Fodor who nominated Előd as minister of Interior, not me. I've never said such a thing. Until we win the election in 2018, I would not ponder names. If we win, that will be the time to appoint ministers.


"It was unbelievable that Fidesz could be beaten"

Fidesz was less popular in 2012, than it is today, but they won a two-thirds majority last year. Isn't it a bit early to draw conclusions for 2018?

We'll see. I think the situation has completely changed since 2012, but the people will decide if that's the case or not.

You say it's an election that carries national importance, but Fidesz will stay in power with an overwhelming majority, even if one seat less, in the parliament."Nix ugribugri," as Viktor Orbán said [to mean that nobody should get too excited or over-react to the news].

Everybody considered this an election of national importance, although some have tried to deny it. Of course Fidesz will try to interpret the results that way, but this election had a much greater importance. For many people, it was unbelievable until now that Fidesz could be beaten, that it could lose against a party, not just against independent candidates supported by different parties. In Tapolca, Lajos Rig and Jobbik has proven not only that there is a demand for change in the country but also that there is a political force that can make this change happen. So: nix Viktor Orbán, nix Fidesz.

So this election was not about Lajos Rig, but about you? Do you consider yourself to be the official challenger to Mr. Orbán?

It would be folly to say that. But it has become certain that Jobbik is able to defeat Fidesz, and as the president of Jobbik, I will have to know my responsibilities and my duty.

Are there former Fidesz voters voting for you, or did they just say home, making it possible for your candidate to win?

We won in small villages north of lake Balaton, in communities that were considered completely pro-Fidesz. I cannot recall the last time when Fidesz did not win in Kékkút, Szigliget, or Badacsonytördemic. So in addition to those who punished the government by staying at home, there were also people who switched to Jobbik.

We have exactly three years until the next national election, it's more than enough time for Fidesz to prepare for the threat of Jobbik. Wasn't this victory too early for you?

Fidesz has known the dangers of Jobbik since 2009, and it conducts its politics accordingly. If we see their communication, their legislative proposals, we can see that they have tried to win the support of Jobbik voters. They will have to reconsider their strategy towards Jobbik for sure, but let that be their own problem. We go on the way that we started in autumn 2013 to become a people's party. Its essence is that we keep our values but we conduct politics in a sober, professional and - if you like - a civic way that is suitable for addressing the widest range of different groups of society.


"I do not have any plans with Mr. Simicska"

You defended the idea of a civic Hungary when Gábor G. Fodor said it was only a political invention of Fidesz. You defended it in [the daily newspaper] Magyar Nemzet, where you are featured more and more frequently. Can you count on the support of Lajos Simicska?

We are featured in Magyar Nemzet [Mr. Simicska's daily - the editor] and on Hír TV [Mr. Simicska's news channel - the editor] according to our political weight. Nothing more. Previously, we were featured less than our political weight, and if we were covered, it was negative coverage. So things have just been put on their appropriate track there. But this does not mean that Lajos Simicska would scheme with Gábor Vona or with Jobbik. Such a turn would surprise me. And I do not have any plans with Mr. Simicska.

Haven't you negotiated with each other?

No, we haven't.

There are rumors, and it would make sense, too.

I don't know if there are any rumors that have not been spread about Jobbik.  We have been - according to these rumours - financed by Russia, by Iran and now by Lajos Simicska...

You visit Iran occasionally, don't you?

I was there once, not so long ago. It was a conference on the new policies of Iran. It was about the reconciliation, the opening.

When the State Audit Office finds defects in your party's finances, it's obvious there will be gossips about where the money is coming from...

I have not had time to study such statements by the State Audit Office, but one thing is for sure: Jobbik does not acquire any funding in an unfair, dishonest way. Neither from Hungary, nor from Russia or any other countries in the world. My conscience is completely clean.

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