Hungary PM challenger needs ‘miracle’ to beat ‘populist dictator’ Orban
Hungary’s opposition leader Peter Marki-Zay (pictured) says the odds are stacked against his six-party coalition taking on a “populist dictator” in Prime Minister Viktor Orban in the April 3 general election.
His cumbersome coalition includes the far-right Jobbik party and socialists and has little in common except an antipathy to Orban’s Fidesz government.
Polling suggests Orban will face his closest election in more than a decade.
Orban is running for a fourth consecutive term and has used his decade in power to exert a firm grip on the judiciary and media.
He says migrants threaten to replace Europe’s Christian culture and that they brought new coronavirus variants into Hungary.
Orban claims the pressure from west Asian and Afghan migrants is higher than during the 2015 crisis but Serbia and the European Union’s border and coastguard agency, Frontex, say the numbers trying to enter Hungary are being exaggerated.
Hungry’s police say more than 122,000 migrants tried to cross the border while Serbia’s Commissariat for Refugees and Migration reported that 4,276 migrants are in its reception centres and around 1,000 are sleeping rough.
Marki-Zay, 49, says Orban’s media control enables him to control the narrative on issues involving migrants. He admitted there were divides in his electoral alliance, will which presumably struggle to govern if elected. He said it was worth the risk of his government collapsing to remove the “corrupt” Orban, whom he blamed for poverty and the high coronavirus death rate in Hungary.
The Catholic conservative mayor of Hodmezovasarhely has seven children and has previously voted for Fidesz. Analysts have said Orban expected to face a member of the liberal elite and has struggled to portray Marki-Zay as a threat to Hungarian values.
Marki-Zay this week told an event at Chatham House, the foreign policy think tank in London: “Ever since I have been working on uniting the opposition, because that’s the only way in this system to defeat Fidesz and even with this unification, it would still require a miracle. But I did experience that miracle, not only in my own town but also during the primaries that nobody expected me to win, including me, of course. …With this opposition, it’s not going to be easy.”
To shore up Orban’s brand of populist politics ahead of the election, Hungary in March will host right-wing participants from the United States and Europe at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Santiago Abascal of Spain’s Vox party and Eduardo Bolsonaro, the son of Brazil’s populist president Jair Bolsonaro, are reportedly due to attend the March 25-26 event.
Donald Trump this month endorsed Orban as a candidate.
Peter Marki-Zay. Picture credit: YouTube