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Opposition PM Candidates in Third Debate Promise to Help Winner’s Campaign after Primaries

Júlia Tar 2021.10.14.

The second round of the primary elections is underway, and yesterday the two remaining candidates for prime minister had their first one-on-one debate. Klára Dobrev and Péter Márki-Zay certainly did not agree on everything, but regarding several topics they did seem to be on the same page.

Blackmailing and women in politics – the disagreements

The debate started with something Péter Márki-Zay already mentioned during a joint press conference with Gergely Karácsony, where the latter announced his retreat from the race. According to Márki-Zay, the Democratic Coalition (DK), whose candidate is Dobrev, blackmailed several politicians. He named one person, Judit Popovics, a previous parliamentary candidate, who confirmed this. However, Dobrev claims that this is not true. She even called her opponent “unfit” for the position after he made such accusations. She also said that they should refrain from “Trump-type debates.”


Popovics registered as a civil candidate for the primary election in Komárom-Esztergom county constituency 1 (i.e. in and around Tatabánya), where DK’s and MSZP’s candidates were running against each other as well. In the summer, the DK deputy mayor of Tatabánya, Péter Lusztig, invited her for coffee, where he allegedly asked her to “stop bothering” with the elections as a civilian and independent, and to concentrate on her family life. She added that she had been promised over coffee that if she agreed to drop out of the race, she would “get a job as a state secretary anywhere.” Later, she said that after she refused to accept the offer, she received threats: first, she said, her cat was threatened to be dragged up onto a fence, and then her elderly parents and children were also mentioned. According to her, however, these were non-life-threatening threats. Popovics also claimed that DK president Ferenc Gyurcsány personally prevented her from receiving a statement of acceptance from any party. There is no evidence for any of the claims yet.

The candidates had another disagreement regarding the position of women. Balázs Rábai, who was the moderator of the debate, recalled that Márki-Zay emphasized how significant it was that Dobrev won the first round, especially as a woman. He also said that this shows that Hungarian society is evolving in this matter and that it is not a disadvantage anymore to be a woman in politics. Dobrev replied, “it is a terrible disadvantage, you can’t even imagine how much.”

Rivalry between Opposition PM Candidates Márki-Zay and Dobrev Getting More Intense
Rivalry between Opposition PM Candidates Márki-Zay and Dobrev Getting More Intense

The second, final round of the primaries closes on Saturday. After this, all six parties are supposed to back the prime ministerial candidate who gets the most votes.Continue reading

Klára Dobrev’s husband, the controversial former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány was also mentioned. The question was about his possible role in the case of a Dobrev administration. Dobrev said that he would only have as much of a role as DK’s president as any other party’s president and would not take any other public role.

A new constitution and pay raise- the agreements and promises

Despite the disagreements, the two candidates agreed on most of the elements of their program. They also agreed that a significant pay raise for teachers would be very important and to be implemented as soon as possible. Márki-Zay talked about the importance of being able to choose from textbooks and the digital tools that could improve the quality of education. Dobrev said that obtaining the first degree should be free for everyone to stop the decrease of people attending university.

A possible new constitution was also was on the agenda. Márki-Zay said that they do not agree with those parts of the current constitution that allow the exclusive authority to the government. Therefore, they would like a new one through a referendum in which a Public Law Conciliation Board would also help. The mayor of Hódmezővásárhely added that Fidesz should be part of this as well.

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Second Round of Primaries Underway with 78k Voting on First Day

The second round is about choosing the joint opposition's candidate who will challenge incumbent prime minister Viktor Orbán next year.Continue reading

“Every single crime must be accounted for,” said Dobrev about accountability. She thinks that this should be done based on the Italian model, the way they unraveled the background of the Italian mafia, step by step. Márki-Zay agreed that there should be accountability and it should be by someone who is credible. He said that there was no accountability in 2010 (after the eight years of Socialist-liberal governance, often referred to as the “Gyurcsány era”) nor in 2002 (after Fidesz’s first governance) and that is a problem.

The candidates both agreed that they will acknowledge the other’s victory and will help the winning candidate in their further campaign. They also agreed that they can only succeed working together.

The full debate, which was originally broadcasted on RTL Klub, can be viewed on their website, here.

Those who wish to vote can cast a ballot until 8 p.m. Saturday, October 16th.

Featured image: screen capture from the debate on RTL Klub