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Péter Magyar's journey from Orbán ally to election rival

Péter Magyar's journey from Orbán ally to election rival
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Dimitri Korczak
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Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party have been in government for 14 years and seem to have an unshakeable grip on power. But in recent months, former ally Péter Magyar has emerged as a political rival and is mobilising a section of the Hungarian population against the country's hard-right leader.

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Peter Magyar rose to prominence following a scandal involving a presidential pardon in a child abuse case. 

He resigned from his position as public administrator, quitting the Fidesz party and condemning it as authoritarian and corrupt. 

Since then, Magyar has made one revelation after another about the party, raising his profile at meeting after meeting. 

Last April, he brought together almost 100,000 people onto the streets of Budapest.

Magyar embodies a more dynamic opposition, rejecting the left-right divide that has previously torn apart the established opposition. 

Without fully unveiling a political agenda, he and his party, Tisza (which means "respect and freedom"), are credited with 17% to 25% of voting intentions in the European elections.

"This is too much for the Hungarian people. It's too much for the whole country, economically, politically, legally and ethically. It's too much," declared Magyar in Debrecen, a Fidesz stronghold, where he gathered several thousand people for a rally.

A new challenge to Fidesz

The European elections seem to be just the first step and Magyar is already looking ahead to the parliamentary elections in April 2026. But the Fidesz mountain seems insurmountable. 

The political machinery put in place by Viktor Orban is designed to favour the party in elections. 

Similarly, Fidesz introduced numerous reforms that weakened the rule of law in the country, measures that earned multiple calls to order from the European Union, and even the partial freezing of funds earmarked for the party.

"It will be a challenge for him to maintain this success over time. Fidesz will do everything to discredit him on social networks. And Fidesz has unlimited resources to do so," says Melani Barlai, political scientist and co-founder of Unhack Democracy, an NGO dedicated to monitoring electoral processes in Europe.

The European elections, beginning on 9 June, will choose 21 Hungarian deputies to sit in the European Parliament. 

On the same day, local elections will be held in Hungary, a first step at a national level in this new context of opposition. The battle in Hungary will be one of the most intriguing contests of the election cycle. 

To see the full Euronews Witness episode, click on the video above.

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