In Hungary, the opposition in search of a “miracle” in the countryside

By Jean-Baptiste Chastand

Posted today at 5:00 p.m.

Peter Marki-Zay arrives in the central square of Csorna, a small Hungarian town of 10,000 inhabitants clinging to the Austrian border, to the west of this central European country, for his third meeting of the day. At the end of the afternoon of March 29, the leader of the Hungarian opposition, 49, who faces the nationalist Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, during the legislative elections, Sunday April 3, goes up on the small stage and pronounces thirty minutes of effective speech, without notes, to castigate the “Hungarian Putin”. Then he warmly shakes hands with each of the few hundred supporters who have made the trip, and leaves by car for a fourth and final meeting in another lost corner of Hungary. A pizza box sits above the dashboard.

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“One hundred people in Csorna is a lot”reassures the candidate, who was appointed in October 2021 as leader of the single list bringing together six opposition parties ranging from the left to a formation from the far right. “Here, we are in one of the most difficult constituencies for the opposition to win”he recalls, while the candidate of Fidesz, the party of Mr. Orban, had won the local mandate with more than 63% of the votes in the legislative elections of 2018. “At the national level, the polls show that we are only one or two points away from Fidesz, I am very optimistic”, insists Mr. Marki-Zay. Himself mayor of a small town in the south-east of Hungary, he constantly repeats “that he never won a poll, but also never lost an election”.

Peter Marki-Zay, opposition candidate, in Györ, March 29, 2022.

No sooner had he left than Ildiko Varga, the local opposition candidate, let out a prayer: “You have to believe in miracles”because “People who live in our small towns unfortunately only watch television propaganda”she despairs. “Anyway, if we don’t win this time, all we have to do is pack our bags and leave the country. » Pessimism may be a national character trait, but it is currently particularly widespread among all Hungarians who have placed their hope in the unprecedented unity of the opposition formed this year to prevent Viktor Orban from winning his fourth election in a row. With his Catholic faith pegged to the body, Peter Marki-Zay, who was appointed after a primary bringing together 800,000 voters in October 2021, even seems to be the last to still believe it.

Complex voting system

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