BUDAPEST, Hungary – The leader of Hungary's far-right Jobbik party is trying to strengthen his power by forcing a key party member to resign from parliament, experts said Monday.
Lawmaker Elod Novak said he was giving up his seat at the request of party president Gabor Vona but wanted to remain in Jobbik, the second-largest opposition group in parliament.
In a post on Facebook, Novak called his resignation "the most painful decision" in his life, describing his ouster as "incorrect and unethical."
Vona was recently re-elected party president with 80 percent support, but blocked Novak and others from running for leadership positions.
Political Capital Institute analyst Attila Juhasz said Vona was resorting to the method also used by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who emphasized personal loyalty and consolidated his leadership by sidelining potential rivals.
"Vona wants to demonstrate that there is no alternative or deviation from the direction he has set," Juhasz said. "Heading toward parliamentary elections in 2018, Vona wants to end the internal squabbles and have discipline and centralized leadership in the party."
Novak's wife, Dora Duro, one of Hungary's few female lawmakers, didn't wish to comment on her husband's ouster, which Juhasz said was another indication of Vona's dominance.
Jobbik, which entered parliament in 2010 with 16.7 percent of the votes, improved to 20.2 percent in 2014, but has had difficulty increasing its support in the past year in part because of Orban's success with his popular anti-immigrant position, usually a right-wing policy.
Juhasz said the ouster of Novak, one of the more militant and outspoken Jobbik officials, wasn't connected to the party's efforts to soften its image and appeal to more voters, as Vona's new deputies, such as Laszlo Toroczkai, were no less radical.