Péter Márki-Zay has been elected by a significant majority to lead the opposition alliance against Viktor Orbán and Fidesz-KDNP in next year’s general elections. According to the “runner-up,” DK’s Klára Dobrev, it is now time to focus on the future, while another former candidate, Gergely Karácsony, said voters made it clear that they wanted a different opposition, and Orbán was the only loser of the primaries. Ruling Fidesz, however, still only sees former PM Ferenc Gyurcsány behind the primaries and the surprising success of Márki-Zay.
Dobrev: Let’s focus on the future
From now on, we can no longer deal with each other, but with how we can defeat Viktor Orbán and then how we can dismantle the Orbán regime, Márki-Zay’s rival, Democratic Coalition MEP Klára Dobrev, wife of party leader Ferenc Gyurcsány, commented at the press conference held after the results came out.
Besides thanking all who participated in her campaign, she argued that DK came out of the primaries stronger and would continue its fight against the Orbán regime as the strongest party of the opposition.
In response to a question reminding her that she previously called Márki-Zay “incompetent,” Dobrev said voters made their choice, so they should now end debates and skirmishes among themselves. She refused to discuss the causes of her defeat, nor did she answer how she would continue in politics from now on. “The six-party alliance we have been building for more than two years has a real chance against Fidesz-KDNP,” she said, explaining that negotiations would soon begin to put together the opposition alliance by the end of the year.
Karácsony: Orbán is the only loser of the primaries
Gergely Karácsony (Párbeszéd), who withdrew in favor of Márki-Zay, was present at the winner’s event on Sunday evening. He said this was the victory of ten million Hungarians, with the only loser being Viktor Orbán. The incumbent Budapest mayor said it was a revolution of kindness and patriotism, explaining that many called him a patriot for his choice to step down. “The homeland above all else!”, he also said, quoting 19th-century poet and politician Ferenc Kölcsey.
Karácsony argued that voters made it perfectly clear that they wanted a different opposition, one that could work together, that would make all the right compromises and not any wrong ones. He said this would put an end to the civil war of the past 30 years.
Opposition parties: “Let’s do it”
Momentum, the first party to side with Márki-Zay after the first round, was happy about the outcome. According to the party’s temporary leader, this alliance is a guarantee for real change. Anna Orosz also thanked Gergely Karácsony for his resignation. “We don’t have another four years,” she insisted, arguing that the Orbán regime must be replaced in 2022, and that everyone will be needed on board to achieve this feat. She labeled the past few weeks a “peaceful revolution of conscious voters.”
In their congratulatory statement, the Socialists (MSZP) emphasized that Péter Márki-Zay is Hungary’s first democratically-elected joint opposition candidate for prime minister. “This day marks the beginning of a new chapter in our country’s history and Péter Márki-Zay’s election is a huge step forward (…) Civilians and parties alike, we will fight for this together, because our most important common goal is to change the government and the era,” the statement read.
Jobbik‘s president, who dropped out of the race in the first round, urged everyone to put aside offenses made during the elections and to take a stand behind Márki-Zay. “I stick to the primaries’ rules (…) We must all support the winner because that is the only way to defeat the Orbán regime. That is what I will do. I congratulate Péter on his victory, but the hard part is still to come. To all those who believe in the power of unity, I say: let us stick together, let us hold the line, and victory will not be lost,” Péter Jakab said.
Green LMP is hoping that under Márki-Zay’s leadership, the opposition will defeat the system of national cooperation (NER). “We must replace the Orbán government in spring, then start reunifying and rebuilding the country as quickly as possible, to fill in the ditches dug by Fidesz, to dismantle the traps built into the system and finally take meaningful steps to tackle the social and climate crisis,” the green-centrist party’s statement said.
Fidesz: “the Gyurcsány show goes on”
Ruling Fidesz first reacted to the outcome with Gyurcsány’s famed Love Actually-themed dance video (made before the 2006 election he won), suggesting that the primaries were only a theater orchestrated by the DK leader, who is now happy.
Fidesz’s group leader reacted in kind. “The Gyurcsány – Márki-Zay pact comes into force now,” Máté Kocsis wrote on social media, explaining that the left only wants power, which is conditional on the deal between the PM candidate and the largest left-wing party’s leader. In his view, Márki-Zay’s statement makes it clear that Ferenc Gyurcsány would return to power through him, so the situation remains unchanged.
“The second episode of the ‘show’ being over, “there has been everything, just like at the fair;’ Karácsony dropped out, Márki-Zay dropped in, but the main thing is that the show must go on,” he said, describing the primary process. He said the most amusing part of the new show is that the left, through Péter Márki-Zay, now wants to claim right-wing votes too in order to gain power, as there weren’t enough left-wing voters, so they’re making Márki-Zay seem like a rightist.
Over the past few months, Fidesz had been saying that Gergely Karácsony is Gyurcsány’s candidate and the result was pre-determined with conservative Márki-Zay having no chance. Interestingly enough, according to this logic, Gyurcsány’s real candidate was not his wife, Klára Dobrev, who also ran for the prime ministerial candidacy.
featured image via Péter Márki-Zay’s Facebook page