The political catchphrase of the Hungarian opposition parties in the run-up to the spring elections is “everything but Orban”.
The opposition held primaries on Saturday that will decide who will face populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
The choice has narrowed to two candidates: the moderate-conservative mayor Péter Márki-Zay, who returned to Hungary after his stay in the USA, and the center-left lawyer Klára Dobrev, who many as the wife of former Prime Minister Ferenz Gyurcsány . is known.
“After 12 years of right-wing Fidesz government, the injustices in this country have become unbearable and must not increase,” she said.
“We spend less than the EU average on health, education, pensions, social measures and much more, on corruption money disguised as economic development, or on individual subsidies.”
She is committed to renegotiating the EU’s seven-year cohesion agreement and the reconstruction fund.
In the first area code Dobrev took first place with just under 35 percent, Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony second with 27 percent and Péter Márki-Zay third with 20 percent.
But Karácsony dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Marki-Zay.
Peter Marki-Zay entered the political arena in 2018 when he ran as an independent candidate and won the election of mayor of a pro-Orban city in the south, Hódmezővásárhely.
Most of the opposition voters are left-wing or liberal, but the right-wing Márki-Zay sees this as no obstacle.
“As Viktor Orbán’s challenger, I now have a much better chance as a representative of the joint team, including Gergely Karácsony, reaching people in April 2022 who may not be voting for a leftist candidate,” he said.
Despite a fierce campaign, both candidates have promised to support the winner.
Those who ultimately triumph in the primary will lead a coalition of six political parties, ranging from far-right to socialists to environmentalists, all united against Orban and his Fidesz party.
Fidesz has dominated Hungarian politics for over a decade and Orban has used his two-thirds majority in parliament to change the political system to consolidate his and his party’s political power.
The final result of the primaries is expected on Sunday evening.