In his speech on 15 March, Péter Márki-Zay, the opposition’s candidate for prime minister, promised a Hungary that is committed to the West, cohesive, successful, and free. The event was also addressed by Donald Tusk, the Polish President of the European People’s Party. The opposition formulated its demands in a series of points, reminiscent of the 1848 model.
Following the example of the 12 points of 15 March 1848, the opposition alliance also published a list of demands in points, made by the leading politicians of the parties, which could be interpreted as their joint, abbreviated election program.
Anna Donáth, president and MEP of Momentum, demanded freedom of the press and the abolition of “Russian and Fidesz propaganda.” In her opinion, propaganda is a tool for those in power to keep their power.
According to the Momentum president, a government with a “propaganda minister” but no health and education minister is not responsible. That is why they demand that there should be a minister of health and education in charge again in Budapest.
Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony called for the restoration of the rule of law. He said that at present, power is kept away from citizens, and self-conscious people are turned into obedient subjects.
Párbeszéd’s co-president also demanded equality before the law, regardless of gender, origin, and sexual orientation.
Jobbik leader Péter Jakab called for unity for the sake of peace and freedom.
“We demand the abolition of the land law and that farmers should receive EU subsidies, not the big landowners,” LMP’s co-leader said. According to Erzsébet Schmuck, one of the stakes of the election is the liberation of Hungarian farmers.
She stressed that without legal certainty there is no freedom, and without an independent judiciary there is no legal certainty. She promised that the new government would end the political pressure on the courts and “free” the prosecutor’s office from Chief Prosecutor Péter Polt, who she said had been an accomplice to crime instead of a criminal prosecutor.
The Socialist Party‘s leader called for a National Bank that serves the interests of the Hungarian people. Bertalan Tóth said Fidesz had been deliberately weakening the forint for 12 years, and the National Bank was acting as Fidesz’s home bank.
He also called for an army that would actually defend Hungary’s borders, noting that an unidentified foreign drone flew in Hungarian airspace for 40 minutes and then crashed in Croatia.
Democratic Coalition MEP Klára Dobrev called for a free country, free universities and the freedom of education.
The last demand of the opposition, also made public by Klára Dobrev, was the introduction of the euro. According to her, Hungary must commit itself to the European Union and the West “without cheating the market”.
Donald Tusk: the outcome of the elections is also a European issue
So far, Polish politicians have usually appeared at Fidesz celebrations and campaign events, but this year a leading Polish politician has spoken in support of the opposition. Donald Tusk, President of the European People’s Party, recalled that the two nations’ desire for freedom had met many times in the recent past, in 1956, during the Solidarity movement in 1980, and during the regime change in 1989. He also commemorated the legendary Polish general of the 1848 War of Independence, Józef Bem, who Tusk said would be taking part in the opposition demonstration today, not the pro-Fidesz Peace March.
He then spoke about Russian aggression against Ukraine, stressing that Ukrainians were fighting for Hungary, Poland, and Europe, too. He said that no decent person should have to question whose side they are on in this fight. For this reason, the outcome of the election is not only important for Hungary, he said, adding that Viktor Orbán and his government have done much to be perceived as the most pro-Putin in Europe.
He said Hungarians now have the opportunity to win their freedom on 3 April, not with a gun, but with a ballot.
Márki-Zay: We, Hungarians have only one good choice
The freedom-loving part of the world looked up to Hungarians with admiration and compassion during the 1848 and 1956 revolutions and wars of independence, as well as during the regime change in 1989, Péter Márki-Zay said. “We were on the right side of history on all three occasions, and we have always been proud of that,” he said.
However, the prime minister candidate of the opposition alliance thinks that the perception of Hungarians has changed, and the only reason for this is one man, he said, referring to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán but without mentioning his name. Márki-Zay said that Hungarians have become a single face in the eyes of the world, the face of this man, and wherever Hungarians are mentioned, this face appears before people. He believes that because of this, Hungarians abroad are no longer proud to declare their Hungarian identity, and that “this person” has poisoned the words of our people and nation, driving a wedge between neighbors, friends, and family members.
On April 3, Márki-Zay said, we must vote to be one nation again, adding that Hungarians must also put an end to that “the rules are written by only one man.” According to the opposition prime ministerial candidate, Hungary is lagging behind and on the wrong side of history because of the selfishness of its current leader.
We have one good choice: we have to choose Europe over the East, freedom over slavery, and a rising Hungary over destitution.”
Márki-Zay pledged that if the opposition wins, they will create a better, fairer, just Hungary, where people are more united than divided. He also made concrete election promises, such as no compulsory vaccination against the coronavirus; free coronavirus tests; affordable housing for young people; a significant increase in teachers’ salaries; and doubling the subsidies which have remained unchanged for 12 years.
Reacting to unfavorable opinion polls, the opposition politician said
I have never won an opinion poll and I have never lost an election”.
The opposition prime ministerial candidate said he believes that good always wins in the end and that Hungary will not remain “on the wrong side of history”. To do this, however, supporters of the opposition must convince three people each, and then they will win a two-thirds majority in parliament. (One of Fidesz’s election slogans in 2002 was “Everybody bring one more person” to vote.) Márki-Zay said he believes that after the election Hungary would be “truly free and democratic”.
I believe that the power belongs to the people, that Hungary will finally be a winner, that we will be one people and one nation again, and that we can again proudly say that we are Hungarians.”
In the featured photo, Donald Tusk, President of the European People’s Party, and Péter Márki-Zay, the opposition’s prime ministerial candidate at the United for Hungary movement’s March 15 commemoration event. Featured photo by Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI