Péter Márki-Zay to lead the united democratic opposition in bid to topple Orbán

In spring 2o22, for the first time ever, Hungary’s strongman ruler Viktor Orbán will face a united opposition running a single slate of candidates spanning Jobbik on the right to the Democratic Coalition on the liberal left. This rainbow coalition, more disciplined in maintaining the united front needed to finally topple the rule of Viktor Orbán than ever before, will be led by Péter Márki-Zay, a conservative Catholic mayor with seven children. In the second and final round of primaries, Márki-Zay won 57 percent of the vote and Klára Dobrev garnered 43 percent. Some 850,000 Hungarians cast ballots in the two rounds of voting — a figure that suggests a high level of political engagement in the ranks of people who desire an end to the current regime.

The 49 year old Márki-Zay’s political experience to date centres on his successful mayoral campaign in Hódmezővásárhely in February 2018, where he tore the southeastern Hungarian town of 43,000 residents from the grips of Fidesz. The campaign was his baptism by fire, so to speak. The centre-left opposition parties, still in disarray at the time, supported his candidacy, while Jobbik provided logistical and strategic assistance to his campaign. Despite the united opposition, Márki-Zay faced anything but a level playing field against Fidesz. His campaign was mostly denied coverage in the local media and Fidesz launched the sort of shrill campaign of hate and intimidation against the opposition’s local leader that is the bread and butter of “Christian Conservative” politics in Hungary. Márki-Zay, who was Chair of Parish Pastoral Council at St. Stephen the King Roman Catholic Parish, was publicly disowned by the pastor of his own church. Father László Németh used his homily at Sunday Mass to pressure his parishioners into voting for Fidesz. Father Németh went as far as to label the parish’s lay leader nothing more than a liar who puts on a “cheap theatrical performance.” Márki-Zay was accused of “worse,” including that he was doggedly set on erecting a mosque in Hódmezővásárhely — an accusation with absolutely zero grounding in fact.

Although Márki-Zay remains on the centre-right of the spectrum, and has a history of socially conservative views, his Everybody’s Hungary Movement (Mindenki Magyarországa Mozgalom) strikes a tone of inclusion and reconciliation.”The movement will build a bridge between different parties and ideologies…The members of the movement believe that Hungary needs a new political culture. To achieve this, they welcome every decent Hungarian who is interested in change”–the movement declares.

It’s a vague sort of manifesto, but the call to build a new political culture in Hungary is the basis of everything else.

Happily, it seems that this new political culture may be taking root — at least within the ranks of the opposition. Klára Dobrev, Márki-Zay’s left-centre rival in the opposition primaries, was gracious in congratulating her opponent’s win and calling on the entire opposition to maintain a united front. Although the Democratic Coalition’s politician scored several victories outside Budapest, she did not wait for the final results to offer her support and congratulations. “I congratulate him from the bottom of my heart. He is now the joint candidate for prime minister of the six-party opposition coalition. I have assured him of my full support”–Dobrev said, adding that the opposition must now turn its focus squarely on Viktor Orbán and on defeating him.

The Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), reduced to a shadow of its former self, also congratulated the united opposition’s new leader and defined its agenda priorities in the next election:

“We expect the Prime Minister-designate to help coordinate the work of the diverse coalition and represent a common agenda to build a country of equal opportunities for all, to be committed to increasing low Hungarian wages, abolishing the slavery law, strengthening the social safety net, raising low pensions, and ending the housing crisis. We also see him helping in the strengthening and improving of the quality of publicly funded education and healthcare, ending corruption, holding those who harm the Hungarian people to account, and restoring Hungary’s international standing. Peter, you can count on us!”

It appears as though Márki-Zay may have managed to mobilize more than 220,000 new voters — people who had not voted in the initial round of the primaries. It was only after that, and after Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony’s decision to leave the race and throw his support behind Márki-Zay that he became the front runner.  Márki-Zay promised to bring new voters into the opposition tent, and based on the second round results, he may have succeeded in this. But here’s a personal anecdote that suggests the same. Two weeks ago I spoke with a friend who is well-versed in Hungarian politics and who had not voted for the opposition in the past decade. He felt now, more than ever, that Fidesz was past its best before date. The systemic and blatant corruption had become intolerable. In the upcoming national election he could support Márki-Zay in a way that he could not support the politicians of the Democratic Coalition.

Viktor Orbán now faces the first real ballot challenge since returning to power eleven years ago. His many cronies face the prospect of being held to account.

11 Comments

  1. Why would anyone wish to topple Orban? The man is a hero for Hungarians who detest Globalism.

    • You just answered your own question. Why would they? Because he is like a fishbone stuck in the throats of globalists looking to fulfill at least a part of Marx’s vision, namely abolishing nations and establishing a one-world gulag.

      The increase in fertility in Hungary from 1.2 in 2010-11 to almost 1.6, means that there are about 10,000 more Hungarian children born every year, leading to a dramatic slowdown in the long-term population decline trend that Hungary has been on, along with the rest of the native Europeans. And Orban refuses to mass-settle ME-African colonists.

      Hungary’s economy is also on the mend. There are almost 1 million more people working compared with 2010. That helped to cut in half the number of people at risk of poverty. Consumer debt/GDP has been cut in half. The list could go on.

      So of course if you are a globalist, this is not the Hungary you want. You want a Hungary that is demographically set on the path to having the distinct Hungarian nation disappear, with a Multikulti stew replacing it, with no particular ingredients still noticeable. You do not want to see a healthy economy that can support that distinct nation. You want a failing one, as we saw in the 2002-2010 period, in order to better control it from outside whenever the need arises.

      As for Marki-Zay? He is the Macron candidate. The anti-system candidate of the system who helped to fool the French into getting their globalist leader, even though they had it with all their past globalist leaders. Marki-Zay is also the “conservative” choice of the globalists. An openly globalist candidate would have had no chance in Hungary. They hope to fool them with this guy. Hope Hungarians will show more wisdom than the French did. If they don’t, there will be no turning back. The globalists will do all that is needed to make sure Hungary will never ever claim this degree of sovereignty again. Most likely they will aim to hollow out its economy at a foundational level. They will stop the Paks project in order to get Hungary more dependent on the EU grid. They will stop some of the joint projects with countries like China, such as the EV buss and so on. They will also increase the debt/GDP levels dramatically. And when it will come time for Hungarians to try to fight back, they will realize that they are trapped. If they will try to rise again by voting a truly patriot government, they will be faced with economic obliteration.

      This is the Hungary they dream to see. A small piece in the global government puzzle that needs to be made to fit. Globalist-minded Hungarians are looking to do their part, while there are many useful idiots who have been duped into going along with it.

  2. Avatar Göllner András says:

    The 2022 electoral campaign is now on. Victory for the united anti-Orbán, democratic opposition next spring is a long shot. A massive turn-out is one of the pre-requisites. (In the last national elections, Orbán managed to secure over 60% of the seats in Hungary’s Parliament with just 27% of the eligible votes. (73% of the eligible voters either did not vote or when they did, they voted for a variety of parties other than Fidesz.) The Orbán regime’s crooked electoral system is the envy of Trump’s Republicans.

    Victory at the ballots, long-shot though it may be, is only half the battle. Orbán’s autocracy has been designed in a manner that makes the country virtually ungovernable by any other Party than Fidesz. Key levers in the machinery of state are in the hands of non-elected state officials personally loyal to Orban’s kleptocracy. Their positions are locked in place by Orbán’s constitution. Orbán may lose the electoral battle in 2022 but will very likely win the war of governance. No one bears a greater responsibility for this sorry state of affairs than the EU, which allowed Hungary’s rogue regime to make a mockery of the rules and values the EU had sworn to uphold throughout its territory.

    • There is one thing that the globalists will likely do if they win, in order to make sure that Hungary will never ever escape the grip of the globalists again, namely wreck its economy, make sure that it will never stand up for itself again. That should not be too hard. It is always easier to tear down, destroy than it is to build, achieve. In fact, they wrecked Hungary’s economy in the 2002-2010 period, without even trying to do so. Now imagine how much damage they can do if they actually try!

  3. Sounds like Papasha has been hitting the ha’zi pa’linka. Or maybe the store bought? Why would anyone want to topple Orban? Ask the 1 million Hungarians who are working outside of the country and who send money home because they can’t afford to live there on their low wages. Ask the young people who are being miseducation and taught false things. If the opposition wins, they will have to deal with China, to stop the Hungarian sell out, and to try and kick out Orban’s cronies. It’s kind of like in the US. Louis DeJoy is destroying the US Postal Service and is a Trumpist crony but they can’t easily get him out. If the people want it, then it will happen but you bet your Forints that this will be the dirtiest, most corrupt, vile campaign on the Fidesz side in history….

  4. Avatar Göllner András says:

    @Joe

    Nice try, but no cigar. It will be Fidesz once again who will try to destroy Hungary’s economy in the event it is voted out of office in 2022. That’s what it did, after losing power in 2002, and especially during the global fiscal crisis between 2007-2009 when it refused to cooperate outright with the Gyurcsány government in working for a common solution to the externally imposed challenges facing Hungary’s economy. The Fidesz approach to gaining power over the Party in power in Hungary is by destroying that Party’s ability, whoever it may be, to produce good results for Hungary’s long suffering citizens

    As far as your false claims about the Orbán regime’s economic performance, the facts speak loader than your lies. Here are just 10 facts for you to chew on:

    1. Orbán came to power promising to eliminate the country’s national debt. Instead of doing that he doubled it during his reign.
    2. The EU’s 2020 country report on Hungary, based on official and empirically verifiable data, does not mince words: “The proportion of the population experiencing difficult living conditions in Hungary is among the highest in the EU”.
    3. According to the figures provided by the European Union’s statistical office, Eurostat, Actual Individual Consumption in Hungary under Orbán has fallen second to last place in the EU.
    4. The Orbán regime’s tax grab on the low wages of Hungary’s working men and women is the biggest in the EU while the lean on corporate profits is the lightest on the continent.
    5. Orbán’s disinformation specialists also hide from the public’s view the fact that this regime takes the biggest bite in Europe out of those workers’ pay-checks who are on minimum wages.
    6. Consumption tax, or VAT levels in Hungary are higher than anywhere else on the planet. These exacerbate the hardship on the country’s underpaid, over-taxed workers.
    7. According to OECD and EU figures, direct and indirect taxes take a bigger bite out of the incomes of Hungarian workers than anywhere in Europe, and this is especially true in the case of those who are at the lowest end of the income scale.
    8. To add insult to injury, Eurostat figures show that Hungarian workers faced the sharpest increases in their health care costs in all of Europe along with the sharpest increases in the cost of public utilities during the past decade (the price of public housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels).
    9. Hungary registered the steepest rise in the number of its working poor in all of Europe under Viktor Orbán’s leadership between 2010 and 2017.
    10. The systematic exploitation of working men and women, and of their children along with the elderly did not diminish but increase as the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country’s shores in 2020. After an analysis of the Orbán government’s Covid ‘rescue package’ one of Hungary’s leading research economists, Mária-Zita Petschnig concluded that “The government is out to rescue itself and its friends rather than the ordinary citizens of Hungary … In order to preserve its power, it decided to gamble away the lives of those millions who are least able to resist, those who have been most severely affected by this pandemic”.

    • Avatar Reality Check says:

      Excellent talking points for the united oppoistion. I hope they take note.

    • “externally imposed challenges facing Hungary’s economy.”

      You mean the debt bubble that developed in the 2002-2010 period, which was all the more toxic given that it was dominated by FX debt? That was more of an internally inflicted challenge. In 2002 Hungary’s consumer debt/GDP was 8%, Government debt/GDP 56%, so combined 64%. By 2010 it reached over 120% and most of it denominated in foreign currency. Not sure how Fidesz is responsible for any of it. Nor is it clear how it was an “externally imposed challenge”.

      To your point about consumption, the combined government & consumer debt declined from over 120% in 2010, to under100%, even after the COVID crisis. The analogy here is similar to a household maxing out all its credit lines this year (2002-2010 period), then having to pay it down the next year. Debt deleveraging is always unpleasant, and in Hungary’s case it was needed, given the sorry state that leftist government left the household in.

      As for the rest? percentage of people at risk of poverty declined from 30% in 2010, to under 18% in 2020.

      https://www.statista.com/statistics/1012809/hungary-share-of-people-at-risk-of-poverty/

      It doesn’t fit very well with the picture you tried to produce, does it?

  5. Avatar György Lázár says:

    Joe, Hungary today one of the poorest in the EU, the poorest in V4. Looking at disposable income… money people can actually spend only Bulgaria and Croatia are behind Orbán’s Hungary. Orbán did not make Hungary great.. he made it poor. Look at the statistics…

    https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=File:Gross_household_adjusted_disposable_income_per_capita,_2018_(EU-27_%3D_100,_based_on_data_in_PPS)_FP20.png&oldid=492672

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