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After its rout against Orban, the Hungarian opposition is torn apart

Leader of the Hungarian opposition alliance Peter Marki-Zay, in Budapest, after the release of exit polls in the parliamentary elections, April 3, 2022.

The ferments of the division appeared in broad daylight on the evening of the rout. On Sunday April 3, when Peter Marki-Zay, the leader of the Hungarian opposition, took to the stage at the Budapest ice rink where he had organized his election evening, he was alone with his wife and children to acknowledge his heavy defeat against Viktor Orban in a sinister atmosphere. Of the six opposition party leaders who supported him for this election finally won with more than 54% of the votes by the outgoing nationalist Prime Minister, only two came next for a brief statement: the mayor of Budapest (ecologist), Gergely Karacsony , and MEP Anna Donath, leader of the liberal Momentum party.

Read also: Article reserved for our subscribers In Hungary, Viktor Orban crushes the opposition to the legislative

On the other hand, the leaders of the two most powerful parties of this unprecedented coalition, which had hoped to bring down Mr. Orban after twelve years in power, were discreet. And as of Monday, Ferenc Gyurcsany, leader of the Democratic Coalition (DK, left), and Peter Jakab, president of Jobbik, a formerly far-right formation, pulled out the knives against their candidate the day before. “He was not the best captain”, decided Mr. Gyurcsany; “He caused the downfall of the opposition”added Mr. Jakab, about this Catholic mayor of a small provincial town, designated opponent of Mr. Orban following an unprecedented primary in October 2021.

Chosen precisely for his profile as a moderate conservative, fiercely anti-corruption and pro-European, Mr. Marki-Zay, 49, has in fact failed to convince the electorate that he was precisely supposed to seduce: right-wing voters in the provinces disappointed by Fidesz of Mr. Orban and disgusted by the endemic corruption of those around him. But, between the previous legislative elections of 2018 and those of April 3, the opposition finally lost more than 800,000 votes, above all in the Hungarian countryside. The single list obtained only a humiliating score, gathering 34.35% of the vote.


This defeat can be partly explained by the provocative declarations and blunders of Mr. Marki-Zay, as well as by the lack of solidarity of the parties supposed to support him. But, if the Hungarian opposition had anticipated a narrow defeat – which it intended to attribute to the flagrant inequality of access to the media denounced by the OSCE observers – the extent of the defeat against Fidesz now forces to an in-depth review. “The explanation does not only lie in the functioning of the system, in the advantage in resources of power or in a few sentences pronounced during the campaign and falsely distorted by propaganda”acknowledged Donath.

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