Candidate Marki-Zay: Attractive to opposition and Orban voters

Status: October 18, 2021 12:41 p.m.

In Hungary, Peter Marki-Zay is an opposition candidate who could pose a threat to Orban: As an economist with an extended family, he also picks up conservative voters – and he has already won against Orban’s party.

By Srdjan Govedarica, ARD-Studio Vienna

Peter Marki-Zay, winner of the primary of the Hungarian opposition alliance, appeared in front of his supporters late in the evening. His message is clear: After the primary, the opposition must hold together and fill in old trenches. “There is only one question left: Fidesz or no Fidesz? It’s the only question until the next election!” He says. Even for the supporters of the ruling party, it would be better if they switched to the opposition in April 2022.

An alliance from left-liberal to conservative

Marki-Zay will challenge Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party as the opposition candidate in the spring parliamentary elections. Because he clearly won the second round of the primary election of the Hungarian opposition parties for the free choice of a joint top candidate.

In order not to lose again to Prime Minister Orban’s ruling party Fidesz, this time the Hungarian opposition wants to send a joint candidate into the election campaign. Six parties – from left-wing liberal to conservative – belong to the alliance. Gergely Karacsony, the green-liberal mayor of Budapest, had a good chance of becoming the opposition’s top candidate. But in the last few meters, Karacsony withdrew his candidacy and made a recommendation for Marki-Zay.

On election evening he saw a reason to cheer: “We won! We all won ten million,” he called out to the Hungarians. “This day has only one loser. Only one person has reason to be sad. Only one has reason to pack his bags and tremble before the future. His name is Viktor Orban.”

Attractiveness to Young Voters?

The 49-year-old economist Peter Marki-Zay represents a classically conservative view of the family and was once a Fidesz sympathizer himself, but then turned away. Hardly anyone thought he would win the opposition primaries. Now he is considered the candidate with whom both disappointed Orban voters and some opposition supporters can live.

“He has a serious attraction. Especially among young people,” says political scientist Gabor Török from Corvinus University in Budapest. “You could see that he was able to involve new voters in the campaign.”

Marki-Zay already proved in 2018 that it can work with united forces: at that time, he completely surprisingly won the mayor’s office in the Fidesz stronghold of Hodmezövasarhely – with a strong opposition alliance behind him.

“Fidesz not prepared for this”

So now on the big stage against Orban. Here, too, the religious father of seven, Marky-Zay, is a serious opponent who could become a problem for Orban’s party, says Törok: “We must not forget that Fidesz is not prepared for something like this. The plan was different. In my opinion, from Fidesz’s point of view, the uncertainty has increased significantly. “

Marki-Zay prevailed against the social democrat Klara Dobrev from the Democratic Coalition party. In the area code, 662,000 voters had voted within six days.

A high number that exceeded the organizers’ expectations and did not go unnoticed at Fidesz party headquarters either. “I am sure that the Fidesz propaganda machine will start working on Monday morning,” warns Anna Orosz, party leader of the opposition Momentum movement. “And they will do everything to ensure that the opposition parties, the opposition voters, the opposition politicians attack each other. We must not allow that!”

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