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The battle for electing Viktor Orbán’s challenger has been narrowed down to two contenders. As the second, decisive round of the primaries will probably draw a higher turnout, both Klára Dobrev and Péter Márki-Zay seem to be setting a harsher, more critical tone against one another.

Treason accusation is back on the menu

Despite the fact that Gergely Karácsony made it clear that his withdrawal was in favor of Márki-Zay, a growing number of Socialist (who previously as a party, backed the incumbent Budapest mayor) politicians made it clear they are supporting DK MEP Dobrev in the final round. In a perhaps more surprising development, Párbeszéd’s (which party Karácsony presides over) spokesperson, Richárd Barabás, also voiced his support for Dobrev.

This has eventually led Márki-Zay to say that those politicians who previously supported Gergely Karácsony but are now backing Klára Dobrev were under intense pressure, some of them having been blackmailed, to change sides. He believes these people are now betraying not only the mayor, but also the country.

His words, however, angered Dobrev, who said that Márki-Zay crossed a line, saying that accusing opponents of treason has only been ruling Fidesz’s method up until now and was unheard of within the opposition cooperation.

Márki-Zay then apologized, saying that he was too tired, therefore his thoughts were badly articulated. However, he has not retracted his accusation of DK putting pressure on, even blackmailing politicians to stand out publicly by Dobrev.

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A failed common statement

Initiated by Márki-Zay himself, the two were additionally about to accept a common statement on the further principles of conduct. According to Dobrev, the wording, put together by her team, aimed to establish that the rivals would support one other even in case of a defeat, and that false accusations, such as blackmail, cannot be made from now on.

On the other hand, according to Márki-Zay, the initiative has failed because of one sentence that he wished to take out of the document. This line said that the two have equal chances against Viktor Orbán, an unacceptable phrase for him, who says that Dobrev, a controversial, more divisive candidate mainly due to her husband, former PM Ferenc Gyurcsány’s bad reputation, has definitely fewer chances against the incumbent prime minister.

Further war of words

The verbal skirmish, however, didn’t end there. On Tuesday, Dobrev criticized Márki-Zay’s allegedly populist, “Orbán- and Trump-like methods” and said he couldn’t even keep the opposition alliance together until December.

Márki-Zay, on the other hand, claimed that through DK’s “series of lies,” which now don’t even spare his family, they only wanted to divert attention from the fact that if he leads the opposition against Viktor Orbán, they can win together. “But if Klára Dobrev is the joint candidate, Orbán will remain prime minister. All the research of the last decade is consistent on one thing: just as no election has ever been won against Fidesz, we know of no poll that found Klára Dobrev could defeat Viktor Orbán,” he said on the same day.

Fact

Political analyst: it’s all normal

“What is going on is simply what usually happens in a double act election: the two opposing strategies are thriving to become more visible than before,” says renowned political analyst, Gábor Török.

“Márki-Zay wants to get out of the Gyurcsány world by any means necessary to achieve his goal and appeal to all those who are repulsed by Gyurcsányism but would otherwise vote for a non-Fidesz. For credibility, he needs volume and conflict. DK [on the other hand] seeks to depict itself as the only legitimate player on the left, a defender of unity, thus reaching out to all voters who fear the opposition’s unity. For credibility, it also needs volume and conflict.”

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.

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