Gábor Vona is a co-founder and chair of Hungary’s far-right, neo-fascist Jobbik party. A former history teacher, Vona believes Hungary’s problems are caused by politicians who put their own well-being above that of the public’s.“Party Leadership – Gábor Vona, Party Chairman,” Jobbik, May 6, 2010, http://www.jobbik.com/party_leadership_-_g%C3%A1bor_vona_party_chairman. Vona has directed the party’s ideology of militant ethno-nationalism mixed with anti-Semitism and anti-Roma racism. Under his leadership Jobbik has advocated for Roma “deviants” to be put into labor camps and called Jews a “national security risk.” Damien Sharkov, “Far-Right MEP Accused of Acting as Russian Spy,” Newsweek, September 26, 2014, http://www.newsweek.com/far-right-mep-accused-acting-russian-spy-273444.
Vona helped create the paramilitary Hungarian Guard in 2007 to “safeguard Hungarian culture and traditions.” Nicholas Kulish, “Hungarian Extremists Reflect Discontent, and Add to It,” New York Times, October 24, 2007, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/24/world/europe/24hungary.html. Hungarian courts later banned the group because of racist rallies targeting minorities, particularly gypsies. “2009 Human Rights Report: Hungary,” U.S. Department of State, March 11, 2010, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eur/136035.htm.
Vona backed away from past anti-Semitic and anti-Roma statements ahead of Hungary’s 2014 elections. Derek Gatopoulos, “Europe’s far-right softens image for elections,” Associated Press, May 20, 2014, http://bigstory.ap.org/article/europes-far-right-softens-image-elections; “’I Am No Holocaust Denier – Interview with Jobbik Leader Gabor Vona,” Hungary Today, December 13, 2014, http://hungarytoday.hu/cikk/holocaust-denier-interview-jobbik-leader-gabor-vona-41939. Jobbik held a rally at a former synagogue in February 2014 “because I am not an anti-Semite or a Nazi,” Vona said. Marton Dunai, “Anti-Semitism taboo under threat in Hungary,” Reuters, May 21, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/21/us-hungary-antisemitism-idUSKBN0E10E420140521.
Vona believes that the restoration of the Hungarian people’s self-respect will heal Hungary’s economy. “Party Leadership – Gábor Vona, Party Chairman,” Jobbik, May 6, 2010, http://www.jobbik.com/party_leadership_-_g%C3%A1bor_vona_party_chairman. He advocates restricting voting rights based on education. “I Am No Holocaust Denier – Interview with Jobbik Leader Gabor Vona,” Hungary Today, December 13, 2014, http://hungarytoday.hu/cikk/holocaust-denier-interview-jobbik-leader-gabor-vona-41939. Vona has reportedly worked shifts as a waiter, a construction worker, and other minimum wage jobs to show he is connected to the people.Krisztina Than and Gergely Szakacs, “Hungary re-elects maverick PM, far-right opposition gains,” Reuters, April 6, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/06/us-hungary-election-idUSBREA3502V20140406.
Although Jobbik is represented in the EU Parliament, Vona advocates for Hungary to withdraw from the European Union. Owen Matthews, “The Kremlin’s Campaign to Make Friends,” Newsweek, February 16, 2015, http://www.newsweek.com/2015/02/27/kremlins-campaign-make-friends-307158.html. He has praised Russia for preserving “its traditions” and not following “the culture of money and the masses” Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, “Far-Right Europe Has a Crush on Moscow,” Moscow Times, November 25, 2014, http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/far-right-europe-has-a-crush-on-moscow/511827.html. and has stated that the United States is the “deformed offspring” of Europe. Gabor Vona had a lecture at Lomonosov University in Russia,” Jobbik, May 24, 2013, http://www.jobbik.com/g%C3%A1bor_vona_had_lecture_lomonosov_university_russia. He has called Israel a terrorist state and demanded Hungary cut its ties. “Vona: Israel operates the world’s largest concentration camp,” Jobbik, November 22, 2012, http://www.jobbik.com/vona_israel_operates_world%E2%80%99s_largest_concentration_camp.
Vona called Jobbik “the strongest radical party in the EU,” Damien Sharkov, “Far-Right MEP Accused of Acting as Russian Spy,” Newsweek, September 26, 2014, http://www.newsweek.com/far-right-mep-accused-acting-russian-spy-273444. but he denies Jobbik is a far-right party. “’I Am No Holocaust Denier – Interview with Jobbik Leader Gabor Vona,” Hungary Today, December 13, 2014, http://hungarytoday.hu/cikk/holocaust-denier-interview-jobbik-leader-gabor-vona-41939.