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Hungarian opposition struggles to maintain united front in bid to dethrone Orbán

Hungarian opposition struggles to maintain united front in bid to dethrone Orbán
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Richard Good
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Fidesz has dominated Hungarian politics for 12 years, benefiting from the fragmentation of the opposition. But now a coalition has united in an attempt to break its stronghold.

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Fidesz has dominated Hungarian politics for 12 years. The party of ultra-conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has held an absolute majority in parliament, benefiting from the fragmentation of the opposition. But his opponents are now running together in an attempt to defeat him, forming a heterogeneous front that unites socialists, liberals and even a former extreme right party, which today claims to be centre-right.

The first challenge for the coalition came with primaries to choose a leader and candidate as prime minister.

The consultation was held last Autumn. Among the main contenders were the leftist Klára Dobrev, the mayor of Budapest, Gergely Karácsony, and the independent mayor, Péter Márki-Zay.

Karácsony withdraw after the first round and asked his followers to support Márki-Zay who won in the second round with almost 60% of the votes.

But who was this dark horse candidate, a fervent Catholic, father of seven children, and almost unknown outside his region?

To be a part of Putin's fan club doesn't make you a conservative. And that’s exactly what Orbán is.
Péter Márki-Zay
Hungarian opposition lead candidate

Would he have the charisma to take on the all-powerful Viktor Orbán? He certainly knew where he wanted to attack, from the beginning criticizing the close relationship between Orbán and Russian President Vladimir Putin:

"To be a part of Putin's fan club doesn't make you a conservative,” he said. “And that’s exactly what Orbán is. Orbán is betraying Europe, Orbán is betraying NATO, Orbán is betraying the United States."

But it’s not certain that the strategy has worked... Orbán has distanced himself from the Kremlin and has reluctantly supported most of the actions of the EU and NATO following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the opposition coalition has also had difficulty maintaining a united front, with rivalries and political differences emerging amongst its members.

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