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The big surprise of autumn comes from Budapest. Péter Márki-Zay, the mayor of a small town, is fighting for the position of Prime Minister of Hungary with the current current Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán.
Until a few weeks ago, only those who watched the Hungarian political scene very closely knew who Péter Márki-Zay (49 years old) was. After October 17, things changed with his unexpected victory in the primary elections, also organized for the first time by the opposition forces in Hungary, in order to succeed in removing from power the long-lived politician Viktor Orbán, comments British magazine The Economist. Orbán has been in power for almost 12 years, during which time he radically transformed his country’s political scene, subjugated the press and the judiciary, and politically paraded without any serious rivals, notes Deutsche Welle’s analysis.
The mayor of a small town with an almost impossible name in Southeastern Hungary, Hódmezövásárhely (45,000 inhabitants), was elected by the vote of members of six opposition parties that nominated their sole candidate in the April 2022 parliamentary elections.
“We have won a battle, but we must also win the war,” Márki-Zay, a politically unaffiliated Catholic and the father of seven, said in Budapest during the election tour.
In his speech in Budapest at the time of his appointment as the only opposition candidate, Péter Márki-Zay, who stood out as a good speaker, electrified his audience with memorable and memorable phrases – “Not on the left, not on the right, but Forward! ”or Viktor Orbán and his party Fidesz will be defeated by a“ coalition of the clean, ”putting an end“ through love ”to the social divide of recent decades.
In an interview with Newsweek magazine, Márki-Zay said that “these choices are neither fair nor free. The situation has worsened in Hungary over the past 11 years and is now a matter of life and death “in his confrontation with the” most dangerous “politician in Europe.
The most notable absence from the tournament is that of her main rival for the primary election, Klára Dobrev, Vice-President of the European Parliament. In fact, Dobrev acknowledged his defeat and promised to join Márki-Zay in trying to land Orbán.
Dobrev won the primary in the first round, and Márki-Zay scored only the third, after Gergely Karácsony, the current mayor of Budapest. After some hesitation, Karácsony withdrew in favor of Márki-Zay. Both of Márki-Zay’s opponents understand that Dobrev cannot defeat Orbán, mainly because she is married to Ferenc Gyurcsány, a highly unpopular former prime minister who in 2006 staged strong protests after reports surfaced that he had lied in repeatedly on the state of the Hungarian economy.
But the hard part is coming. The six opposition parties covering the political spectrum from the left (Momentum or the Democratic Coalition) to the former Jobbik extremist movement, which has calmed down in recent years, must maintain a common front against the Viktor Orbán-Fidesz-led party. Márki-Zay becomes the sole candidate of the 106 constituencies. Only before the primary elections did the accusations begin. Márki-Zay accused Dobrev of bribing politicians to vote for her. And Dobrev, in turn, accused Márki-Zay of resembling Orbán and Donald Trump, the former president of the United States.
Opposition forces still have a long way to go to win over Fidesz, especially in smaller cities, according to Robert Laszlo of Political Capital, a research house in Budapest. Almost certainly, the main source of dissent will be the common list for the 93 eligible parliamentary seats, the analyst anticipates. At the same time, it is possible that a battle for domination between the allied forces will break out, which Fidesz will most likely provoke.
Meanwhile, Viktor Orbán, who controls two-thirds of parliament, will use any leverage to destroy his political rival. He would have preferred to face Karácsony or Dobrev, citing the fact that the opposition is being manipulated by former Prime Minister Gyurcsány. Well, it would be ineffective to fight a conservative mayor in the province like that. It will most likely attack the chaotic approach, its unpredictability and its preference for long speeches. He will certainly label him an “American agent,” given that he once worked in the United States.
From 2004-2009, Márki-Zay lived with her family in Canada and the United States and worked there as a telephone and auto parts salesman. Back in Hungary, Márki-Zay worked for various electrical engineering companies and taught marketing at the University of Szeged.
In a speech to his supporters on October 23, Orbán openly accused Brussels and Washington of interfering in the Hungarian election process and called on them to defend what their government has achieved over the past ten years. Reuters reports.
But even more certain is that Orbán will try to win the vote of the electorate with money. He has already promised to allocate two billion dollars in tax refunds for families at the beginning of next year, the minimum wage will increase, and retirees will receive special assistance in November, and additional payments will be made in January.
In addition, Orbán’s acolytes control almost all of the Hungarian media. The current prime minister can also count on the support of several oligarchs who have become even richer during his tenure. But despite these advantages, the polls give him a tie with his rival, Márki-Zay. If he wins, the latter has promised to mend ties with the EU and investigate the theft of European funds, a huge problem facing Hungary. At the same time, it wants to prepare the country for the adoption of the euro.
So far, Márki-Zay has already produced two surprises – he won the mayoral election in a city that traditionally votes with Fidesz, and then managed to win the primary election that brings him to the forefront of Hungarian politics. The third and biggest surprise would be to defeat the man who made Hungary synonymous with demagoguery. It will be the hardest, but not the impossible. Regardless of the outcome, he is a “nightmare candidate” for Fidesz and Viktor Orbán, according to sociologist Robert Laszlo.
Péter Márki-Zay announced a “revolution of the common people” and a “new, decent Hungary”.
SCORE. Márki-Zay obtained in the second round of the pre-selection, with a record turnout of 662,000 voters, 57% of the votes. His opponent, Klara Dobrev, from the Social-Liberal Democratic Coalition (DK), initially considered the favorite, was voted by 43% of the participants. POSITIONING. Márki-Zay is relatively inexperienced in politics. Instead, he is an excellent speaker and a good agitator. He says he is an anti-system candidate and stands out for his radical rhetoric. Paradoxically, the fact that he does not come from the establishment increases his chances in front of Viktor Orbán.
This article appeared in issue 127 of . magazine
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