In Hungary, the opposition chooses a “conservative and believing” candidate against Viktor Orban

Peter Marki-Zay campaigning ahead of the second round of the opposition primary election in Budapest on October 10, 2021. MARTON MONUS / REUTERS

A provincial mayor, “Conservative and believer”, against Viktor Orban. Peter Marki-Zay, 49, won the second round of the Hungarian opposition primary on Sunday, October 17, with a view to the general elections scheduled for spring 2022. A historic first, this primary brought together more than 600,000 Hungarians to nominate a single candidate from six opposition parties ranging from the left to a formerly neo-Nazi formation to try to beat the nationalist prime minister who has governed continuously since 2010 this country of 9.8 million inhabitants.

According to the final results, Mr Marki-Zay obtained 56.7% of the vote against his opponent, Social Democrat MEP Klara Dobrev. The latter admitted defeat by immediately promising to line up behind the winner “To defeat the regime of Viktor Orban”. With this alliance, which he called “Coalition of the pure”, “we will be able to restore freedom in this country”, promised the nominated candidate in front of an audience of supporters gathered Sunday evening in the streets of Budapest. According to polls, the opposition is neck and neck with the outgoing Prime Minister’s Fidesz and has a chance to beat him, for the first time in twelve years.

But with his conservative convictions, this fervent Catholic, father of seven children, himself a former voter of Fidesz, presents a profile that is difficult to attack for a man like Viktor Orban who proclaims himself the best defender of a “Christian and conservative Europe”. “Their attacks cannot work against me”, also assured Mr. Marki-Zay Sunday evening, aware that this is why he won a spectacular victory in this primary where he faced national political figures such as the environmentalist mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karacsony, or Klara Dobrev, supported by the left-wing Democratic Coalition party led by her husband and ex-Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, Mr. Orban’s favorite enemy.

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Simple mayor of a municipality of 43,000 inhabitants in south-eastern Hungary, Hodmezovasarhely, Mr. Marki-Zay has managed to impose himself without means and at the head of his micro-party called Everyone for Hungary by repeating the local exploit which allowed him to be elected in 2018 in this stronghold of the former chief of staff of Viktor Orban. When The world had met him, newly elected, in his offices, he had drawn up a long plea to repeat at the national level the opposition union which had allowed him to win. “Such an alliance is not only possible, but it is necessary to beat Orban”, he had pleaded.

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