Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, Momentum MEP Anna Donáth and Péter Márki-Zay, the opposition’s candidate for prime minister after the elections in April 2022
Whether Turkey, Israel or Hungary – the common rejection of the strong man in power is not enough as an electoral argument, says Der Standard author Jan-Werner Müller in a commentary about the Hungarian opposition.
According to the article in the Austrian newspaper, it makes sense for several opposition parties to join forces to have a chance of winning, but this would be no guarantee of success, because
it would also be necessary to show exactly what went wrong and how a different future could look.
Müller believes that Viktor Orbán, for example, allegedly used the first weeks after the “unfair elections”, when the opposition and civil society were still completely demoralized, to push through controversial measures and further fuel the “smouldering culture war” in the country.
In his view, “politics is all about the strong man”. “That is what populists want. They are brilliant at using polarization to their advantage,” writes Müller, who says the message from the leading politician is that “everyone is against me, the only politician who really represents the people”.
The failure of the Hungarian opposition has been the subject of much analysis in the Hungarian press. In the 2022 parliamentary elections, the joint prime ministerial candidate of the six mostly left-liberal parties participating in the coalition was Péter Márki-Zay, who was considered more right-wing, and who was expected in the international press to successfully win conservative voters from Viktor Orbán.
However, as it turned out after the election, the cooperation between the parties and the candidate was highly problematic, with the parties being forced into damage-control after several statements by the candidate.
The dominant force in the opposition remains the liberal Democratic Coalition, the party of former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány, who has a strong disapproval rating in the polls. Since the election, career politicians from several other parties have also transferred to the party. According to analysts though, even if DK is a strong party, it will certainly reach a glass ceiling.
The opposition’s image is also not helped by the fact that its members regularly lobby the European Parliament for proceedings against Hungary and for the withdrawal of funds.
Last year, Márki-Zay himself sparked the so called “dollar left” scandal when he said that his movement had received substantial sums from an American NGO.
Featured photo via Facebook/Márki-Zay Péter