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Márki-Zay wins opposition primary

Elections

Péter Márki-Zay

Photo: Mindenkimagyarorszaga.hu

Hódmezővásárhely Mayor Péter Márki-Zay, representing the Everybody's Hungary Movement (MMM), has won the second and final round of the Hungarian opposition primary process, beating Democratic Coalition (DK) candidate Klára Dobrev.

Márki-Zay is set to lead the opposition as PM candidate in next year's general election against Viktor Orbán's Fidesz, headlining a joint list of opposition candidates. 

More than 660,000 people cast their ballots in the second round of the opposition primary, meaning that the turnout exceeded that of the first round. Márki-Zay received 56,71% of the votes, while Dobrev was supported by 43.29% of all voters.

According to data by elovalasztas2021.hu, Márki-Zay managed to open a wide gap ahead of Dobrev in the Budapest electoral districts, winning all but one of them. In the countryside, results are much tighter with both candidates managing to win several counties. A notable exception is Csongrád-Csanád County (where Hódmezővásárhely is located), where he beat Dobrev by about 31 percentage points.

Dobrev conceded defeat at a press conference shortly after 8 p.m. on Sunday, according to a report by telex.hu. She congratulated her opponent and noted that from now on, the main concern of the opposition should be "How the six-party alliance defeats Viktor Orbán and how it dismantles Viktor Orbán's regime."

Around 9 p.m., Márki-Zay spoke at press conference in Budapest, where thanked his family, supporters, and the parties backing his bid. Apart from MMM, which is not registered officially as a political party, his supporters included Momentum, the Socialist Party (MSZP), Párbeszéd Magyarországért (Dialogue for Hungary, the party of Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony who withdrew from the primary shortly before the start of the second round), and LMP (Hungary's Green Party).

According to a report by hvg.hu, he argued at the event that via the primary process, voters managed to change the face of the opposition, rooting out those who were open to corruption.

"Only with a 'clean opposition', a 'coalition of the clean', is there a chance to replace Orbán's regime next year: we will send 106 plus one winners to battle Viktor Orbán," he said.

"One question remains between now and the election: Fidesz or no Fidesz? If we replace them, even the Fidesz supporters will be better off," he argued.

A conservative candidate at the helm of a big tent coalition

Aged 49, an engineer, marketing professional, a Catholic, father of seven, pro-family conservative, and former Fidesz voter, Márki-Zay shot to modest national fame by winning a mayoral by-election as an independent in the southeast Hungarian town of Hódmezővásárhely in 2018.

“I believe in local municipal independence, checks and balances, and the control of the power of the state. I’m against the unlimited centralization which [Prime Minister] Orbán has been doing; I’m very much pro-European and pro-NATO," he told foreign journalists earlier this year. 

As somewhat of a political outsider without party affiliation, he ran in the primary as an anti-corruption candidate looking to hold both Fidesz and pre-2010 government politicians to account. In the first round, he outperformed polls and came in third behind Dobrev and Karácsony.

Round one results

In the first round of the opposition primary, the Democratic Coalition proved strongest in the selection of joint candidates for Hungary’s 106 individual constituencies, the most crucial element in Hungary’s 199-seat parliament. (The remaining 93 MPs are elected via party-list votes.)

DK secured 32 candidates, followed closely by Jobbik with 29, and the Socialists with 18. Momentum managed to win in 15 constituencies while Dialogue for Hungary secured seven candidates. LMP won in five constituencies. As MMM is not a political party, Márki-Zay, who secured his candidacy in Csongrád-Csanád county's fourth electoral district in the first round, earlier said that he would join the faction of Dialogue for Hungary in the Parliament next year.

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