In by-elections held on Sunday, December 15, voters in Ásotthalom (southern Hungary, population 4,000) elected the president of the radical-nationalist 64 Counties Youth Movement, László Toroczkai, to serve as mayor of the village. Toroczkai, who serves as a Jobbik representative in the Csongrád County General Assembly, ran for mayor of Ásotthalom as an independent, defeating a single rival candidate from the ruling Fidesz party with over 70 percent of the vote. Following the announcement of the election results, Jobbik issued the following communiqué: “Jobbik heartily congratulates its Csongrád County General Assembly representative and president of its ally, the 64 Counties Youth Movement (Hatvannégy Vármegye Ifjúsági Mozgalom), László Toroczkai” (source in Hungarian).
Toroczkai is one of the most prominent radical nationalists in Hungary. He gained national recognition as the leader of the group of 1,500 football ultras and political extremists that overwhelmed police guarding the Hungarian Television headquarters in Budapest and laid waste to the building on September 19, 2006. He was one of the main leaders of the frequent and occasionally violent anti-government demonstrations that took place in the city over the subsequent two years.
The Toroczkai-lead 64 Counties Youth Movement is the organizer of the annual radical-nationalist festival Hungarian Island (Magyar Sziget) that hosts explicitly anti-Semitic, anti-Gypsy and anti-West speakers and rock bands. Toroczkai, himself, is known for his extremist rhetoric, such as when he spoke openly at the Hungarian Island festival in 2011 of the “shooting to death” (agyonlövés) of both Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, stating that “We would have done an even greater favor for the Hungarian nation had we shot him [Gyurcsány] to death at the Communist Youth League’s camp when he was ten years old” (source in Hungarian).
One should not draw overarching conclusions from the results of local by-elections. Nor should one ignore them completely. The election of the radical-nationalist icon László Toroczkai to serve as the mayor of a village in southern Hungary over a Fidesz rival may be the product of purely local, personal politics with no greater political implications. However, it may also suggest that the effort of Jobbik to build the party’s base of support in rural Hungary at Fidesz’s expense through the espousal of tough measures to combat “Gypsy crime” may have begun to pay off.